Different Types of Dental Treatment

Dental treatment has changed in emphasis in more recent years. Proper treat­ment planning has become pivotal. Dentists now manage patient’s problems, as well as treat them. In other words the patient comes first, the mouth second, and the treatment third. As a result, dentistry has become less interventionist. Partly this is because it is now realized that small decay­ing spots in the enamel may repair themselves in the absence of plaque and especially with fluoride applica­tions or environment. So they can be left and watched. Partly it is because the role of plaque in tooth and gum disease was only realized in the late 1970s and only then could real preventive measures be taken. And it is also because techniques have changed. Changes in cavity preparation mean smaller holes; operations on the gum (gingivectomies) are rare, and apicectomies are performed less often.



Sealing is an attempt to prevent decay occurring in a tooth by covering the ‘fissures’ on the biting surface of the permanent back teeth of young people. The tooth surface is roughed with acid (etched), a composite plastic is placed on the tooth surface and intensified light hardens it.



Routine x-rays (bite-wings) are taken at your first visit and as necessary (depending on the state of your mouth) subsequently. Today’s x-rays give a very low dose of radiation. The bite-wing is a small, rigid frame clenched between the back teeth, which holds the x-ray film at right angles to the teeth. It gives a side view of the teeth and bone. This enables the dentist to see how much bone has been lost around teeth, and whether there is decay on the tooth surfaces between the teeth. Decay shows up as darker patches in the enamel and dentine. It also shows how deep the decay goes, and whether it is likely to involve the pulp (the ‘nerve’). Whole-tooth and other x-rays show abscesses, cysts or areas at the end of the root; buried roots, and unerupted or partly erupted teeth – wisdom teeth in particular. Most of these x-rays are taken on small films that you hold in position. Pan-oral x-rays show the whole mouth, laid out in one flat x-ray, and are used in orthodontic or oral surgery treatment.


Temporary Dressings

These are used in emergencies, for example in a broken tooth or to treat a holiday toothache prior to proper treatment at your own dentist. Generally made of zinc oxide and eugenol (clove oil, which is bland and soothing to dentine) or glass-ionomer. However, even with added resins, zinc oxide is not robust and care must be taken when eating. Glass-ionomers are stronger. Dressings are also used when work is in progress on a tooth, such as with root treatments, temporary .crowns, bridges and inlays.

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