Bellingham Family Dentistry | Dentist Bellingham WA

Common Procedures

Common ProceduresBridges

If you are missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference in chewing and speaking. Bridges can help restore your smile.

Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth and literally “bridges” the gap where one or more teeth used to be. Unlike a removable appliance, which you can take out and clean, only a dentist can remove a fixed bridge.

An implant-supported bridge attaches artificial teeth directly to implants embedded within the jaw beneath the gums.  The success of any bridge depends on its foundation, so it is important to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Crowns

A dental crown can improve the structural integrity of a tooth that is weak or damaged.  Crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of teeth that are discolored or malformed.  When teeth are missing, crowns can be used to attach bridges to supporting teeth or to restore dental implants.

Extractions

An extraction is the removal of a tooth, usually because of disease, trauma or crowding.  There are different types of extractions depending on the location and condition of the tooth to be removed.  In some cases, a specialist such as an oral surgeon is needed.  We have an excellent network of local specialists we work with and are happy to facilitate referrals for patients, when indicated.

Fillings

A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay.  The process involves removing the decayed tooth material, cleaning the affected area, and then filling the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.

By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps to prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), gold, porcelain, and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

Nightguards

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults.  Although the condition can cause symptoms including sore jaw muscles, a dull headache or tooth pain, it is not uncommon for there to be few symptoms, if any.  Sometimes the only evidence of tooth grinding or clenching are worn, cracked, or fractured teeth.

The most common way to prevent damage caused by bruxism is to wear a nightguard. This is an appliance that fits over one arch of your teeth and is typically worn while sleeping during the night.  The appliance covers and protects the teeth from clenching or grinding activity.

Sealants

The chewing surfaces of molars are rough and uneven and a favorite place for cavity-causing bacteria to hide.

Sealants are made from tooth-colored composite resin.  They provide a thin protective coating that fill and “seal” the grooves and pits of your back teeth to reduce the risk of cavities. 

Although sealants are no substitute for brushing and flossing, they can help keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.

Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child’s dental health.  According to the CDC, school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.

Veneers

Veneers are thin, custom-made restorations that are bonded to the outer surfaces of teeth.  They are a treatment option to consider for correcting stained, chipped, decayed or crooked teeth.  They are fabricated using tooth-colored materials such as porcelain or composite resin.