General Dentistry in Highlands Ranch, CO
- Cleanings & Check-ups
- Fillings & Sealants
- Periodontal Therapy
- Root Canals
Regular cleanings and check-ups allow us to practice preventative dental medicine and screen for potential problems and other conditions like gingivitis, gum disease, and oral cancer.
Schedule your next check-up and cleaning today!
If you’ve ever had a cavity, chances are you’ve also had a filling. Fillings are composed of artificial material used to repair decayed or broken teeth. Decay is a progressive disease that will advance into the tooth until pain, abscess, or tooth fracture result. If the decay is replaced with a filling, the disease process is stopped. The earlier a cavity is filled, the smaller the filling will be, and the better this is for the health of the tooth. Once the tooth is numb, having a filling done is a painless process.
We use tooth-colored composite fillings. Composite filling material is inert resin with color added to match the shade of the teeth. Initially it is soft like dough so it can be shaped to fit the tooth. When a curing light shines on the composite it is activated to harden so it is durable enough for chewing. With good home care composite fillings last 10 years or more.
Once the tooth has been numbed, the decay is removed. A bonding agent (essentially a glue) is applied with a small brush. The composite is placed in the tooth and light-cured. The final filling is polished smooth. The look matches your natural teeth. Composite fillings can be used for front teeth and back teeth.
To prevent cavities, visit your dentist and practice regular dental hygiene including brushing, flossing (or a waterpik), and fluoride treatment.
Sealants are a coating that fills grooves to prevent cavities. Permanent teeth with grooves should have sealants as soon as they erupt into the mouth. Grooves can be found in molars, premolars, and sometimes the back of the incisors. These teeth erupt from ages 6-13. A tooth with grooves that does not get a sealant is seven times more likely to get a cavity. We recommend sealants for all of our pediatric patients as their adult teeth grow in.
Periodontal therapy is care of the gums to promote healthy support for the teeth. Treatment can range from a simple cleaning every six months to surgical treatment of advanced gum disease. The goal of periodontal therapy is to make home care easier for you and to encourage optimal health of the gums.
Gum disease is caused by plaque. You are more likely to get gum disease if you have poor home care, smoke, have diabetes, or poor nutrition. Healthy gums do not bleed with brushing or flossing. Healthy gums have a shallow collar of gum tissue surrounding each tooth.
Gingivitis is mild irritation of the gums that may result in bleeding. If your gums bleed when you brush, this gingivitis can be eliminated with thorough, gentle toothbrushing and flossing. After two or three days of good home care, gingivitis will disappear.
If gingivitis advances to chronic gum disease the collar of gum tissue around the tooth gets deeper, creating an area where plaque and bacteria can hide, too deep for toothbrush and floss to clean out. If left untreated, chronic gum disease leads to bone loss around the teeth. As the bone level recedes, teeth lose their support, become loose, and can be lost.
For patients with healthy gums or mild gingivitis, a cleaning and dental exam are recommended every six months.
Calculus, or tartar, builds up on the inside of the lower front teeth (see pictures above) and in other areas. This hard, crusty build-up cannot be removed with toothbrush and floss. Plaque sticks more easily to calculus than to a smooth, clean tooth. Calculus and plaque irritate the gums and cause gingivitis and gum disease. Our hygienists are skilled at gently removing the calculus with instruments that clean better than home care.
For patients with chronic gum disease there is a phase of treatment to get the disease under control, and there is a phase of treatment to prevent the gum disease from returning.
Scaling The initial treatment for gum disease is a deep cleaning or scaling. Bacteria hiding in deep pockets is removed. The gums are numbed so there is no discomfort during this treatment. The gum tissue health will improve after this scaling treatment. About a month later the health of the gums is reevaluated. If healthy, cleanings may be recommended every three or four months instead of every six months. This will ensure maintenance of healthy gums. If the gums are not healthy after scaling the next level of treatment may be local antibiotics or surgery. In specific areas of deep pockets, an antibiotic powder can be placed to kill bacteria and improve gum health.
If needed, periodontal surgery allows for a clear view of the full root surface for better cleaning, and also removes excess gum tissue to make pockets around the teeth more shallow. Once you’ve had gum surgery it is recommended to have more frequent cleanings–every three or four months instead of every six months.
Laser Therapy We also offer laser treatment in conjunction with periodontal therapy. This laser is directed into the pocket of gum tissue around the tooth to kill more bacteria. Our hygienists will let you know if laser treatment is recommended in your case.
All these treatment options have the goal of changing deep pockets of gum tissue into more shallow pockets of gum tissue. Shallow gums can then be cleaned and maintained on a daily basis with toothbrush and floss. Healthy gums will support the teeth for a lifetime.
Recession & Gum Grafting Recession often happens in people without gum disease. The most common cause of recession is scrubbing too aggressively when using a toothbrush. Recession can lead to sensitivity of the teeth where root surfaces are exposed.
Gingival grafting can correct recession and restore the height of gum tissue. Covering root surfaces will reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity in these areas, and improve the aesthetics of your smile.
Root canal therapy removes pulp tissue from a tooth to replace it with a filling material. It alleviates the pain and swelling associated with an abscessed tooth. When the teeth are properly numbed a root canal is no more painful than having a filling done.
Once a tooth has had a root canal it becomes more brittle and at risk of breaking. A crown covers the tooth 360 degrees to strengthen it and reduce the risk of it breaking. This patient can expect to keep these teeth for many more years.
Once a tooth has had a root canal, it no longer has a nerve. This means the tooth should be free of sensitivity and be painless to chew on.
Surgery & Other Services
- Bite Guards for TMJ and Sleep Apnea
- Dental Implants
- Emergency Dental Services
- Sedation Dentistry
- Wisdom Teeth Removal
Bite guards for TMJ / TMD
A bite guard is made of plastic and snaps onto the teeth (in this photo the upper teeth). It is the treatment of choice for excessive tooth wear, pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), pain in the jaw muscles, or pain in the teeth caused by grinding or clenching. The bite guard is usually worn while sleeping because grinding is most common during sleep. It may also be worn during the day if grinding or clenching are daytime habits.
Why does a bite guard work? It limits wear and tear of the teeth. Even if you grind and wear out the bite guard it is better to wear out the plastic that can be replaced rather than your own teeth. When you grind or clench in your sleep the pressure on the teeth is many times greater than normal chewing forces when eating.
The bite guard also keeps the teeth apart or open a few millimeters when compared to the natural bite without the bite guard. This slightly-open position stretches the jaw muscles to a weaker position, so even if you continue to grind or clench is done with lower forces. These weaker forces are will reduce or eliminate pain in the jaws and teeth.
Furthermore, bite guard is flat. The lower teeth will skate smoothly along the bite guard. This also reduces the force of any grinding when compared to grinding on the teeth that interlock. Teeth without a bite guard that fully interlock suffer during grinding due to side-to-side forces on the teeth. Grinding on the smooth surface of the bite guard eliminates these damaging side-to-side forces.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses–like holding your breath–last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Sleep apnea is caused by the tongue or throat collapsing to block the airway (as shown by the white circle in the graphic on the left). These apnea events can happen through the night from 5 to 30 times every hour.
If I start breathing again, why is this a problem? Untreated sleep apnea has some serious negative health consequences. The most serious is heart disease that can lead to heart attacks and death. During apnea–think of what happens when you hold your breath – carbon dioxide levels are rising and oxygen levels are dropping. Blood pressure in the lungs is rising. When the apnea episode is over and you start breathing again the heart races to push through the blood pressure in the lungs, decrease carbon dioxide, and increase oxygen. Overworking the heart like this night after night leads to congestive heart failure and increases the risk of a heart attack. A racing heart and regaining oxygen are stimulating enough that the deeper levels of the proper sleep cycle are never reached. This causes non-restful sleep and all the negative effects of poor sleep (fatigue, narcolepsy, psychological stress, poor metabolism, weight gain, etc.). Loud snoring is also common in people with sleep apnea.
Treatment options for sleep apnea include a dental bite guard, a positive-pressure air flow mask (CPAP), and surgery of the soft palate. A special dental bite guard is designed to open the airway while you sleep. The only way the teeth will fit into the bite guard is with the chin slightly jutting forward. With the chin in this position the soft tissues of the tongue and throat are pulled forward, causing the airway to open and improving airflow, as shown in the lower half of the graphic above. Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, this bite guard can be the only treatment, or it can be used in combination with a CPAP device or surgery. Because a bite guard is minimally invasive, we recommend patients try it before committing to surgery. Most of our patients are satisfied and comfortable using a bite guard. Rarely we see patients who cannot tolerate them. A sleep apnea bite guard will also protect the teeth from grinding or clenching.
Patients who are candidates are those who have their own natural teeth or a well-fitting upper denture and their own natural teeth on the lower jaw. Patients are not candidates if they have a full lower denture or are missing all of their upper teeth without an upper denture. It takes a minimum of two appointments to make and fit the sleep apnea bite guard.
Proper breathing will provide a better night’s sleep and help keep the heart relaxed and healthy for a lifetime.
- Do your best to push the tooth back into the proper position.
- If the tooth has been knocked out completely, hold it by the white enamel end (not the yellow root end), rinse it gently with water only, (do not wipe it or scrub it). Rinse the tooth socket with water, and place the tooth back in the socket, as close to the proper position as possible.
- If the tooth has been knocked out completely and you can’t get it back in the socket, store the tooth in:
- Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution or Save-A-Tooth (available at pharmacies)
- Cool milk
- 0.9% saline water (available at pharmacies)
- Saliva. Have the person whose tooth was knocked out hold it inside their cheek. All these solutions have the purpose of keeping the cells of the tooth alive until it can be placed back in the socket.
- Call your dentist immediately. If the tooth is repositioned and stabilized in one hour or less, it has a much better chance of healing well and staying alive. If it takes longer than an hour, then it runs the risk of the body rejecting it as if it’s an extracted tooth.
When a tooth has been knocked out of place there are three areas that might be injured: the nerve inside the tooth, the ligament that secures the tooth root to the tooth socket, or the bone surrounding the tooth. Immediately repositioning the tooth gives the ligament the best chance at survival. If the ligament dies, the tooth may become fused to the bone, or the tooth may fall out completely. If the nerve is injured the tooth may need a root canal within a few days after the injury or even years later.
Baby teeth do not heal well if stabilized because they do not have enough root. If a baby tooth gets bumped, contact your dentist with any questions about what is best for your child.
Treatment for a dental injury to permanent teeth includes repositioning the tooth, stabilizing it, prescription medication, and evaluating the health of the nerve.
More than half of Americans delay seeking dental care due to anxiety. Delay in dental care may be the difference between a small filling and a root canal or extraction. The need for sedation dentistry to reduce anxiety is undeniable. In our dental practice, we offer three forms of sedation dentistry: oral, nitrous oxide, and IV sedation. Each offers a different level of sedation and relaxation.
Oral sedation is a prescription tablet that you take at home before coming to your dental appointment. Most commonly we prescribe Halcion, a sedative. This medication causes drowsiness and amnesia. When you take Halcion you must have someone else drive you to your appointment and drive you home afterwards. Patients who have taken Halcion report feeling relaxed or forgetting parts of their appointment. While some patients sleep through their appointment others will be comfortably relaxed. The medication will wear off within one to two hours after your appointment.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, causes mild anesthesia and reduces anxiety. It is always combined with 30 percent or more of O2 to ensure safe oxygenation. Patients report feeling heavy or relaxed and sounds seeming muffled. At the end of the appointment nitrous oxide quickly leaves the lungs while the 100% oxygen is given, before you leave the dental chair.
Intravenous sedation (IV sedation) is the most effective form of sedation. Medications are given with sterile water into a vein and have rapid effect. Patients report feeling that just a few minutes have passed and being surprised that the appointment is already over. You will need someone else to drive you home. Medications wear off in about an hour, though it is recommended not to drive or to operate a hazardous device for 24 hours afterward.
Dr. Morris completed his IV sedation training at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is certified by the state of Colorado to perform sedation.
Different sedation options may be used in combination. You may be prescribed oral sedation before coming to the office, then also receive nitrous or IV sedation once you arrive. The purpose of sedation is to eliminate fear or anxiety about dental treatment. It is a comfortable way to get dental treatment done.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I’m sedated will my mouth also be numb?
Yes. We still use local anesthetic to ensure your comfort during the appointment. Many patients report not being aware of when anesthetic was given because the sedation had already taken effect.
Will I be asleep?
Everyone responds differently to sedation medications. Some patients sleep while others remain conscious and relaxed. You will be given enough medication to ensure your comfort: anxiety will be gone, and you will have amnesia about some or all of your appointment. While sedated you will be able to talk to your dentist and answer questions, though you may not remember this.
Dr. Morris has helped hundreds of teens and adults through the process as painlessly as possible. Read more about these services (and our Internet pricing specials!) on our dedicated web page.