Prevention & X-Rays
A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, our dentist, and our entire dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions. Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. At Harborn Dental, it is continued in our office by the efforts of our dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and dental X-rays in our Mississauga office. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth. Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by our dentist at your initial dental visit. At the end of the exam a treatment plan specifically tailored to your condition will be made for you.
At regular check-up visits, both our dentist and hygienist will perform the following:
Examination of diagnostic X-rays (radiographs): Check for decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help to determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination for tooth decay: Check all tooth surfaces for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Harborn Dental always provides a safe and clean environment. We meet or exceed all guidelines set forth by the CDA and the Centre for Disease Control.
In these days of concern about the spread of contagious disease, we want you to know that patient protection is top priority in our office. We’re doing everything within our capabilities to assure the sterility and safety of our working environment. By following the guidelines, as well as continually reviewing updates on infection control materials and techniques, we are optimizing our ability to achieve this in our office. Our commitment is to provide you the same standards that we expect and demand for our own families and ourselves.
Between each patient, the treatment rooms are thoroughly wiped with a surface disinfectant. The instruments are put through a system of ultrasonic scrubbing (the same system that a jeweller might use to clean fine jewelry) and then sterilized with a large, pressurized steam oven called an autoclave. The instruments are packaged in such a fashion that ensures they are never touched before actual set-up in the treatment room, and when the instruments are touched, it is with gloved hands. All of our handpieces (drills) are also thoroughly wiped with the surface disinfectant and then sterilized in a pressured steam oven. All of our prophy angles (cleaning and polishing instruments) are disposable so that you and your family can be assured that you will always have a fresh one every time you have your teeth cleaned. We use disposable products whenever possible to eliminate cross-infection.
Our autoclave is checked on a monthly basis by an independent company for sterilization efficiency. It is certified to be working correctly for patient safety and peace of mind. It also meets CDA standard.
Oral Cancer Exams
According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient. The good news is that oral cancer can easily be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.
Oral cancer is a pathologic process that begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable. This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important. Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma, and melanoma. The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma. This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues.
Oral Cancer Exams, Diagnosis and Treatment
The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process. During the visual part of the examination, we’ll look for any abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Lasers that can highlight pathologic changes are also a wonderful tool for oral cancer checks. The laser allows us to look below the surface for abnormal signs and lesions that would be invisible to the naked eye.
If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia, or lumps are apparent, our team will implement a diagnostic impression and treatment plan. In the event that the initial treatment plan is ineffective, a biopsy of the area will be performed. The biopsy includes a clinical evaluation which will identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.
The following signs will be investigated during a routine oral cancer exam:
Red Patches and Sores
Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.
This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.
Soreness, lumps, or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.
Reasons for Oral Cancer Examinations
It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. Our dentist can provide you with literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.
When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective. Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth, or the surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible. During the oral cancer exam, both your dentist and dental hygienist will be scrutinizing the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.
There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:
Oropharyngeal region (throat)
Dental radiographs (X-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information that isn’t visible during a clinical examination. Our dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and provide an accurate treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental X-Rays May Reveal:
Abscesses or cysts
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
Decay between the teeth
Poor tooth and root positions
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save your time and money and keep your teeth safe.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of X-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources. Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. At Harborn Dental, we take necessary precautions to limit our patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental X-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, digital radiographic technology that cuts down the exposure time of each X-ray.
How Often Should Dental X-Rays Be Taken?
The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Our dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary X-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age, and risk for disease.
A full mouth series of dental X-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bitewing X-rays (X-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.
The cephalometric X-ray is a unique tool that enables our team to capture a complete radiographic image of the side of your face. X-rays in general offer our dentist a way to view the teeth, jawbone, and soft tissues beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. Cephalometric X-rays are extraoral, meaning that no plates or films are inserted inside the mouth. Cephalometric and panoramic X-rays display the nasal and sinus passages that are missed by intraoral bitewing X-rays.
Cephalometric X-rays are usually taken with a panoramic X-ray machine. The adapted machine will have a special cephalometric film holder mounted on a mechanical arm. An X-ray image receptor is exposed to ionizing radiation in order to provide our dental team with pictures of the entire oral structure. The advantage of both cephalometric and panoramic X-rays is that the body is exposed to less radiation.
Important Functions of Cephalometric X-Rays:
Provide views of the side profile of the face
Provide views of the jaw in relation to the cheekbone
Provide information about “bad bites” or malocclusions
Allow measurement of teeth
Identify fractures and other injuries to the teeth and jawbone
Assist in orthodontic planning
Cephalometric X-rays are completely painless. The head is placed between the mechanical rotating arm and the film holder, which is placed on another arm. The arm rotates around the head capturing images of the face, mouth, and teeth. The clarity and sharpness of these images will depend on the positioning of the body. The images are usually magnified up to 30%, so any signs of decay, disease, or injury can be seen and treated.
After capturing cephalometric X-rays, we will be able to see a complete side profile of your head. This can assist in orthodontic planning and allow an immediate evaluation of how braces might impact the facial profile and teeth. Another common use for this type of X-ray is to determine specific measurements prior to the creation and placement of dental implants.
How Are Panoramic X-Rays Taken?
The panoramic X-ray provides Harborn’s dentists with an ear-to-ear two-dimensional view of both the upper and lower jaw. The most common uses for panoramic X-rays are to reveal the positioning of wisdom teeth and to check whether dental implants will affect the mandibular nerve (the nerve extending toward the lower lip).
The Panorex equipment consists of a rotating arm that holds the X-ray generator and a moving film attachment that holds the pictures. The head is positioned between these two devices. The X-ray generator moves around the head taking pictures as orthogonally as possible. The positioning of the head and body is what determines how sharp, clear, and useful the X-rays will be to the dentist. The pictures are magnified by as much as 30% to ensure that even the minutest detail will be noted.
Panoramic X-rays are an important diagnostic tool and are also valuable for planning future treatment. They are safer than other types of X-rays because less radiation enters the body.
Panoramic X-rays (also known as Panorex® or orthopantomograms) are wraparound photographs of the face and teeth. They offer a view that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. X-rays, in general, expose hidden structures such as wisdom teeth, reveal preliminary signs of cavities and also show fractures and bone loss.
Panoramic X-rays are extraoral and simple to perform. Usually, dental X-rays involve the film being placed inside the mouth, but panoramic film is hidden inside a mechanism that rotates around the outside of the head.
Unlike bitewing X-rays that need to be taken every few years, panoramic X-rays are taken on an as-needed basis. A panoramic X-ray is not conducted to give a detailed view of each tooth, but rather to provide a better view of the sinus areas, nasal areas, and mandibular nerve. Panoramic X-rays are preferable to bitewing X-rays when a patient is in extreme pain, or when a sinus problem is suspected to have caused dental problems, and prior to any major dental work being undertaken or orthodontic treatment.
Panoramic X-Rays Are Extremely Versatile in Dentistry and Are Used To:
Assess patients with an extreme gag reflex
Evaluate the progression of TMJ dysfunction
Expose cysts and abnormalities
Expose impacted teeth
Expose jawbone fractures
Plan treatment (full and partial dentures, braces and implants)
Reveal gum disease and cavities
If you have questions or concerns about panoramic X-rays, please contact us.
A sports mouth guard is a dental appliance used to help lower the risk of oral injuries during physical activities, such as contact sports. Accidents can happen when participating in any athletic activity. Without the use of a mouth guard, injuries that could occur include chipped or broken teeth, damage to the root of the tooth, broken crowns, fractured jaws, and concussion. For this reason, any athlete - adults and children alike - should be fitted for a mouth guard.
There are many different options available such as stock mouth guards and the boil-and-bite variety of mouth guard, which can be purchased at your local sports store. However, the safest and most effective option is a custom-fitted mouth guard that can be made by our dental professional at Harborn Dental. With custom-fitted mouth guards, our dental professional makes an impression of your teeth and uses the impression as a mold to create the custom-fitted mouth guard. This allows for the mouth guard to cover all the teeth and stay firmly in place, offering maximum protection against injury.
Simple Tooth Extractions
There are numerous situations in which a simple extraction can help alleviate pain or prepare you for another cosmetic or restorative procedure.
Some Common Reasons for Extraction Include:
Advanced periodontal disease that has loosened the tooth roots
Extra teeth or baby teeth that impede adult teeth
Preparing a patient for orthodontic treatment
Removing a fractured or malformed tooth
Severe tooth decay that cannot be remedied with root canal therapy
Wisdom Teeth Extractions
Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four of 32 teeth to erupt (surface) in the mouth, generally making their appearance between the ages of 17 to 25. They are located at the back of the mouth (top and bottom), near the entrance to the throat. The term “wisdom” stems from the idea that the molars surface at a time typically associated with increased maturity or “wisdom”.
In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth does not allow the wisdom teeth to erupt properly and become fully functional. When this happens, the tooth can become impacted (stuck) in an undesirable or potentially harmful position. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to infection, damage other teeth, and possibly cause cysts or tumours.
There are several types, or degrees, of impaction based on the actual depth of the teeth within the jaw:
Soft Tissue Impaction:
The upper portion of the tooth (the crown) has penetrated through the bone, but the gingiva (gum) is covering a part or the tooth’s entire crown and is not positioned properly around the tooth. Because it is difficult to keep the area clean, food can become trapped below the gum and cause an infection and/or tooth decay, resulting in pain and swelling.
Partial Bony Impaction:
The tooth has partially erupted, but a portion of the crown remains submerged below the gum and surrounding jawbone. Again, because it is difficult to keep the area clean, infection will commonly occur.
Complete Bony Impaction:
The tooth is completely encased by jawbone. This will require more complex removal techniques.
How Is a Tooth Extracted?
As a precaution, your dentist will first take X-rays of the tooth or teeth in question to help plan the procedure. After preparing a method of extraction, you will be given a local anesthetic that will prevent you from feeling pain during the procedure. Next, we will use a tool called an elevator to lift the tooth and loosen ligaments and gum tissue around the base of the tooth. Finally, your dentist will use a pair of forceps, to gently rock the tooth back and forth until it breaks free of the ligaments holding it in the gum tissue. Occasionally, a stubborn tooth will resist the dentist’s soft tug, refusing to come out. In these and more complex cases, the tooth may need to be broken up into smaller pieces for removal. Once removed, we will pack gauze into the socket and have you place pressure on the area by biting down. If necessary, the dentist will place stitches to close the socket.
Our dentists will ensure that they give you the best treatment available. Call us to make an appointment.