General dentistry is the first line of defense against common dental issues like decay and gum disease. Through regular exams and cleanings we are able to detect problems during their earliest stages when it’s easier to treat.
These routine oral exams may not seem very important. In fact, if you aren’t experiencing any dental issues or symptoms then everything must be fine, right? Well actually, many times people with dental problems don’t often experience any symptoms, so the only way we actually know there is an issue is with these preventive cleanings, xrays and checkups.
At Applewhite Dental Arts, we recognize that many of our potential patients have neglected their dental health due to fear of dentistry. Many people will not set foot in dental office until something has gone very wrong. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way of providing safe, anxiety-free dental experience to those who are afraid of “the dentist”.
We offer a variety of methods to treat patient with dental anxiety to dental phobia. We offer laughing gas and oral medication to calm those who only need a little bit of anxiety relief to moderate conscious sedation administered in an IV drip. Our goal is to accomplish every procedure in a safe and comfortable environment. You will be conscious and able to respond to commands at will, but no longer feeling anxious or scared.
Before any medication is dispensed for any type of sedation, we will need to evaluate your medical history, and a list of current medications. For IV sedation or oral sedation, you will need to have someone drive you to and from the office. You will be given ample time to ask questions and voice your concern prior to the procedure. There are only a few general dentists in Houston that have had the proper training and certification for offering IV sedation in their office.
Preventive care keeps your teeth and gums healthy. During your first visit, we take time to get to know you. We ask about your health history and any concerns you have about your teeth. This information allows us to tailor dental services to meet your needs.
Applewhite Dental Arts offers a full range of preventive services including:
Dental exams: We examine your entire mouth for problems such as gum disease and cavities. X-rays help us see the roots of your teeth and their positioning in your mouth.
Teeth cleanings: We remove buildups of sugar and bacteria (plaque) from your teeth. Regular cleanings can help you avoid dental problems.
Dental Sealants: Highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth, dental sealants are a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” is painted onto the surface of the tooth. Dental sealants effectively “seal” the deep grooves, acting as a barrier, and protect enamel from plaque and acids.
Dental sealants protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing can’t reach. Easy to apply, dental sealants take only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
A number of conditions may require oral surgery, including: Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop. Sometimes these teeth emerge from the gum line and the jaw is large enough to allow room for them, but most of the time, this is not the case. More often, one or more of these third molars fails to emerge in proper alignment or fails to fully emerge through the gum line and becomes entrapped or “impacted” between the jawbone and the gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can result in swelling, pain, and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause permanent damage to nearby teeth, gums, and bone and can sometimes lead to the formation of cysts or tumors that can destroy sections of the jaw.
Therefore, Dr. Pournik recommends people with impacted wisdom teeth have them surgically removed. It’s not just wisdom teeth that sometimes become impacted and need to be removed. Other teeth, such as the cuspids and the bicuspids can become impacted and can cause the same types of problems described with impacted wisdom teeth.
Dental implants are an option for tooth loss due to an accident or infection or as an alternative to dentures. The implants are tooth root substitutes that are surgically anchored in place in the jawbone and act to stabilize the artificial teeth to which they are attached. Suitable candidates for dental implants need to have an adequate bone level and density, must not be prone to infection, and must be willing to maintain good oral hygiene practices.
It is not a given that we must lose teeth as we age. If we maintain good oral hygiene and have regular professional cleanings and oral examinations, chances are we can keep our natural teeth for life. That involves not only caring for the teeth themselves, but also the structures that surround them: the gums and tooth-supporting bone. Gum disease, which is a bacterial infection, threatens these supporting tissues. That is why Dr. Pournik is always on the lookout for early signs that patients may not notice. When signs of trouble become apparent, periodontal therapy may be suggested.
Periodontal therapy can take various forms, but the goal is always to restore diseased tissues to health. Gum (periodontal) disease can spread from the gums to the bone that supports the teeth, and may even cause tooth loss in the most severe cases. There are very effective therapies to combat this, ranging from scalings (deep cleanings) that remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from beneath the gum line, to surgical repair of lost gum and bone tissue.
Periodontal therapy includes both surgical and non-surgical techniques to restore health to the tissues that support the teeth (gums and bone) and prevent tooth loss. They include:
Scaling and Root Planing: These deep-cleaning techniques are the best starting point to control gum disease. Plaque and calculus (tartar) are removed from beneath the gum tissues, using hand scalers and/or ultrasonic instruments.
Gum Grafting: Sometimes it’s necessary to replace areas of lost gum tissue so that tooth roots are adequately protected. This can be accomplished by taking healthy gum tissue from one area of the mouth and moving it to where it is needed, or by using laboratory-processed donor tissue.
Periodontal Plastic Surgery: When used to describe surgery, the word “plastic” refers to any reshaping procedure that creates a more pleasing appearance of the gum tissues.
Periodontal Laser Treatment: Removing diseased gum tissue with lasers can offer significant advantages over conventional surgery, such as less discomfort and gum shrinkage.
Crown Lengthening Surgery: This is a surgical procedure in which tooth structure that is covered by gum and bone tissue may need to be exposed either for cosmetic reasons (too make the teeth look longer and the smile less gummy) or to aid in securing a new dental crown.
Dental Implants: Today’s preferred method of tooth replacement is a titanium dental implant, which is placed beneath the gum line and into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. The implant is then attached to a realistic-looking dental crown that is visible above the gum line and indistinguishable from a natural tooth.
ORAL CANCER SCREENING
Early detection of oral cancer can improve a patient’s chances of successful treatment. That’s why many dentists recommend having regular oral cancer screenings that examine the entire mouth. Adults over the age of 20 should have a screening every three years while those over 40 should have annual screenings. People with risk factors – such as adults who use tobacco, are heavy alcohol drinkers, have human papillomavirus (HPV) and/or have a family history of cancer – should request an annual oral cancer screening.
An oral cancer screening begins with a clinical exam of a patient’s mouth and throat. Dr. Pournik will look for any type of abnormality, such as bumps, patches of color, ulcerations and swelling. All areas of the mouth will be examined, including the roof of the mouth, tonsils, inner cheeks, gums and tongue. She will also palpate the jaw, the neck, under the chin and the outside cheeks to feel for any unusual masses or firm nodules.
If any abnormalities are detected, Dr. Pournik will use VELscope technology to examine the oral mucosa and screen for tissue abnormalities by enhancing the visualization of pre-cancers, cancer, and other disease processes