Services and Technologies
Gulf Coast Dental Care has provided personalized dental care to thousands of families. Our patients come from near and far to experience the warm, individualized care we provide. We pride ourselves in utilizing the most modern equipment and methods available.
In order to provide nothing but the best to our patients, our office uses state-of-the-art technologies in all our procedures. These new technologies allow us to detect dental concerns at early stages, treat your dental issues with precision, and provide stunning and customized restorations. Our premium dental software system maximizes your time and our office efficiency. When you visit our office you can be confident that you are receiving the finest and most advanced in dental care.
Click the Services below for more information on each subject.
MTM Clear Aligner
MTM Clear Aligner is the easy and affordable way to align your smile without the cost and inconvenience associated with many other aligners and wire braces. It's a comfortable fit with your lifestyle and budget.
MTM Clear Aligner is a quick and simple solution for correcting minor tooth misalignment's such as crowding or gaps, including treatment of orthodontic relapse.
- Virtually Undetectable: no attachments, nearly invisible.
- Surprisingly Affordable: costs less than traditional braces or many other clear aligners.
- Treatment completed in as little as 3-10 months
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly-chipped, discolored or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, we place a white filling on your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling "bonds" with your teeth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.
Bonding can also be used in place of regular amalgam fillings. Many patients prefer bonded fillings, because the white color is much less noticeable than the silver of the amalgam fillings. Bonding fillings can be used on front and back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and breaks more easily than other cosmetic treatments like porcelain veneers.
If your bonding does break or chip, please let us know We can generally patch or repair bonding in one visit.
CROWNS AND BRIDGES
Crowns and bridges are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to replace missing teeth. A crown, also called a cap, is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens a tooth, but it can also dramatically improve a tooth's appearance, shape and alignment.
Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly-shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
A bridge is an ideal method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge is one or more artificial teeth that are cemented into place using the real teeth on either side for support--hence the name. This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. Bridge materials include gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all-ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only 25 to 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. A routine dental cleaning should include scaling, root planing and polishing.
Scaling and root planing is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces with a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has led to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. Both electric and manual scaling methods can be combined to achieve the best results. Polishing completes the cleaning, making the surface of the teeth smooth and minimizing future plaque build-up.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. There are two types of dentures available: partial dentures and complete dentures. Partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain and complete dentures are used to replace all teeth. Dentures are made to resemble your natural teeth so there should be no noticeable change to appearance. In fact, dentures may even improve a smile!
Complete Dentures – This restoration method is used to restore smile and mouth function if all teeth have been lost. The dentures are custom-created to resemble natural teeth and are positioned into a patient's mouth to take the place of where the natural teeth used to be. Complete dentures are removable and may require adjustments in order to create a proper fit with the gums and mouth.
Partial Dentures – A removable partial denture is used when one or more natural teeth still remain in the upper or lower jaw. They usually consist of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base that is held in place in the mouth. A fixed partial denture is similar to a removable denture, but it is cemented into place using the adjacent teeth for support. This fills the space created by missing teeth and creates a support for remaining teeth in order to prevent shifting.
Good oral hygiene is a must, because the loss of a single tooth can have major impact on overall oral health and appearance. Although dentists will use every measure to prevent tooth loss, there are still some occasions when a tooth needs to be extracted. A tooth may need to be extracted if the following occurs:
- Severe decay
- Advanced periodontal disease
- Infection or abscess
- Orthodontic correction
- Malpositioned teeth
- Fractured teeth or roots
- Impacted teeth
The dentist may advise to have a tooth extracted after careful examination and treatment—often taking x-rays to understand the shape and position of the tooth and surrounding bone before extracting the tooth. Based on the degree of difficulty, a dentist may refer you to a specialist called an oral surgeon.
A certain amount of pain and discomfort is to be expected following an extraction, but it can be minimized with pain killers and ice packs applied to the face for 15 minutes at a time. Discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks.
If you experience prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, call our office immediately.
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and fill the cleaned-out cavity with a filling material. This filling will help prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria might enter.
There are a variety of filling materials available including gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. We will work with you to determine which material is best for you, depending on the extent of repair, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Each of the filling materials is briefly explained below:
- Gold fillings are custom-made in a laboratory and then cemented into place. While gold fillings are often the most expensive choice, many consider gold as the best filling material. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissues and may last more than 20 years.
- Amalgam (silver) fillings are a more inexpensive choice and are also well-tolerated. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not recommended for fillings in very visible areas such as front teeth.
- Composite (plastic) resins are custom-made to the exact color of the patient's teeth, creating a more natural appearance. While these white fillings may be less noticeable than other materials, they usually only last between 3 and 10 years. They may not be ideal for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
- Porcelain fillings are created in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are about the same cost as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.
Halitosis is the sophisticated word for "bad breath". Depending on the cause, bad breath may happen only occasionally or may be a more persistent condition. The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria. Because the mouth is moist and warm, it creates perfect conditions for the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth. In fact, approximately 80% of bad breath is caused by something in the mouth.
Bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth can be easily treated. Brushing your teeth, tongue and gums after meals as well as flossing and rinsing with mouthwash will usually take care of the problem. Regular visits to our office for a deeper, professional cleaning and exam will also help you.
Most types of occasional bad breath, such as "morning mouth," are considered fairly normal and are not usually health concerns. However, persistent bad breath may be a sign of more serious problems with the gums and teeth.
Bad breath may be caused by the following:
- Poor oral hygiene, which can leave food particles to decay in the mouth
- Infections in the mouth such as periodontal (gum) disease
- Respiratory tract infections such as throat infections, sinus infections or lung infections
- External agents including foods such as garlic, onions, and coffee, as well as cigarettes and chewing tobacco
- Dry mouth caused by salivary gland problems or by breathing through the mouth
- Systemic illnesses such as diabetes, acid-reflux disease, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus problems and others
In treating bad breath, the dentists will perform a physical examination of the patient's mouth to determine the cause. If they discover that systemic problems are the cause, they may refer the patient to their family physician. In severe cases of gum disease, it is recommended that a patient visit a periodontist, a doctor that specializes in treating gum disease.
Call our office promptly if you have bad breath with painful, swollen gums that bleed easily or loose teeth.
PERIODONTAL (GUM) TREATMENT
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation for one's teeth. All structures are also referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium include: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. Any of these may be a sign of a problem. With proper gum treatments, however, it may be possible to return gum tissue to a healthy state. If you're having a problem, come in and see us so we may treat it right away. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with local antibiotic agents. If the gum disease gets too severe it may need to be treated through surgery or extraction. This is why it is important to have it treated at the first sign of a problem.
A dental implant is an ideal tooth restoration for people who are missing one or more teeth for a variety of reasons like injury or periodontal disease. To begin the implant process, a metal post is surgically positioned into the jaw. Once it is in place and the bone surrounding the implant has had time to heal, a replacement tooth is attached to the post. While implants are typically more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, they provide superior benefits. Implants are stronger than natural teeth and generally last 10-20 years. They are also a more favorable approach than bridgework, because they do not depend on neighboring teeth for support.
Implants require healthy gums and adequate bone. A patient must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits, as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
Invisalign is an attractive alternative to traditional metal braces. It is a series of clear, custom-fit removable mouth trays that apply a controlled amount of force to your teeth, slowly straightening them. The system provides the same beautiful results as traditional braces, but they are virtually invisible. Because Invisalign trays are removable, they can be taken out while eating, drinking, brushing and flossing.
The Invisalign system begins in the dentist or orthodontist's office with taking molds to design a patient's trays. Patients switch trays every two weeks, slowly shifting the teeth. They system requires a visit to the office every six weeks so the treatment can be monitored. Once treatment is complete, a patient will likely be given a retainer to maintain the smile.
The cost of Invisalign varies according to the complexity of the case. However, Invisalign is generally more expensive than traditional braces. Insurance policies generally cover Invisalign to the same extent that they cover traditional braces.
Veneers are a common cosmetic procedure in which the outside of the tooth is covered, improving the appearance. LUMINEERS® BY DenMat are a special kind of porcelain veneers that offer a painless way to a permanently whiter and perfectly-aligned smile. These "smile shapers" are as thin as contact lenses and can be applied to your teeth without any grinding or shaving. They create a beautiful and natural-looking smile. LUMINEERS can even be placed over existing crown or bridgework without having to replace them.
Our team has taken numerous advanced training courses in this procedure. To see if you are a candidate, call our office for a consultation.
NIGHTGUARDS / MOUTHGUARDS
Custom-designed mouthguards and nightguards are made of flexible plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth. Mouthguards are recommended to protect the jaw , tongue, cheek lining and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, or other activities where your mouth might get hit. Nightguards are recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night to protect their teeth. Guards generally last 3-10 years.
If you have decided a guard is right for you, we will take an impression of your teeth that will be sent to a lab to make a custom-fit guard for you.
ORAL HYGIENE MAINTENANCE
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things a patient can do for their teeth and gums. It's ultimately up to the patient in between visits, but the dentist is here to help and offer tips. Healthy teeth enable patients to have a smile that is both attractive and functional, and good oral health is vitally important to overall well-being.
Daily preventive care in between regular dental visits can greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. Consider incorporating these habits:
- Brush thoroughly twice a day and floss daily
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including fluoride toothpaste
- Rinse with a fluoride mouth rinse if your dentist advises you to
- Make sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area
Feel free during your visit to our office to ask us any questions regarding your oral hygiene habits. We are here to help you.
Orthodontics is the art of using special appliances to straighten and align the teeth and bite. Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment. In this method, arch wires are threaded through brackets that are bonded to the surface of the teeth. The arch wires act as a track, and guide each tooth to its proper position. There are several types of orthodontic braces available, including the more traditional metal braces, ceramic "tooth colored" braces, as well as clear plastic braces.
Sealants are a common preventive treatment in dentistry. Some teeth have fine grooves or pits that accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn't brush, but because the grooves are too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. When plaque accumulates, it can lead to cavities and other types of tooth decay. To apply sealants, a plastic material is brushed onto the tooth, filling these narrow grooves and preventing the cavity-causing buildup. Sealants make healthy teeth possible.
NITROUS SEDATION FOR DENTAL ANXIETY
Dental sedation is a technique that can be used when a patient suffers from dental anxiety or dental phobia. We are happy to offer a number of solutions for our patients to make their dental visit as comfortable as possible. Sedation dentistry techniques enable patients - who might otherwise avoid the dentist - to receive dental treatment necessary for a healthy smile.
Depending on the extent of the anxiety or phobia, varying degrees of dental sedation can be utilized as described below.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous Oxide sedation, also known as "laughing gas" is commonly used to make treatment more comfortable. This sedation is inhaled through a mask that allows you to breathe in the medication and induces a state of relaxation. Local anesthetic will be administered in conjunction with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain.
SLEEP APNEA TREATMENT
Problems with sleep can quickly and negatively impact overall well-being. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, brain damage, depression, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, weight gain and more—all of these can be caused by sleep apnea and snoring. Solve your sleeping struggles at the dentist's office? It's definitely possible.
Oral sleep appliance therapy can be a very effective treatment option for patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. These custom-fit appliances shift the lower jaw forward and open the bite and airway.
Following are some common symptoms of sleep breathing disorders:
- Daytime drowsiness or fatigue
- Loud, recurring snoring
- Choking or gasping for air in your sleep
- A man with neck size greater than 17 inches
- A woman with neck size greater than 16 inches
- Stop breathing while asleep
- Unexplained weight gain/trouble losing weight
- High blood pressure
- Acid reflux
- History of stroke or heart attack
- Fall asleep during the day when activity is low
- Family history of sleep apnea
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, come into our office for a consultation. We will review the severity of your condition and discuss dental sleep treatment. It is always best to have had a sleep study conducted to determine the severity of your problem. However, this may not be necessary in treatment for simple snoring.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and is used to describe dysfunction or disorders related to the joint. "Temporo," refers to the temple area of the skull; "mandibular," refers to the lower jaw; and "joint" is essentially where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a trauma, misalignment of the teeth, or excess muscle tension. The two bones that meet at the jaw are buffered by cartilage and five different muscles, so TMJ can cause a variety of troubles.
Common TMJ symptoms:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, and more. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If TMJ is left untreated and reaches extremes, surgery may be required to repair the badly damaged joint.
Veneers are a cosmetic dental procedure in which a thin layer of porcelain or composite material is placed over the outside of the tooth. They are used to improve esthetics or help with tooth damage. Veneers are usually only done to the part of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The procedure can be direct or indirect.
The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using bonding. Because of that, the direct technique is usually referred to as bonding.
The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers are fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions are taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. The veneers are back from the laboratory after two or three weeks. The temporaries are removed, and the veneers are bonded to the teeth.The laboratory-fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic, and are esthetically pleasing.
The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less of the tooth material has to be removed, and the procedure is generally less uncomfortable. Veneers are recommended for patients who have large fillings or little tooth structure.
WHITENING INCLUDING ZOOM!®
Teeth whitening is a popular procedure to make your teeth whiter and brighter, and therefore more attractive. Bleaching can be used to whiten stained and discolored teeth, or simply to enhance a dull smile. Either way, tooth whitening is a safe and relatively painless procedure for most patients. Our office offers two methods of whitening: in-office whitening and tray whitening.
ZOOM!® is a common in-office whitening procedure and is ideal if you want immediate results. The whole process takes about an hour, taking little time out of busy lives. A protective gel is applied to your gums to protect the soft tissue. Then a special light-activated gel is applied to your teeth and light or laser is used to enhance the action of the agent. Finally, the patient receives a take-home gel and instructions to keep the smile bright. The result is dramatically whiter teeth that will last for years.
Please consult us about use of over-the-counter whitening treatments.
WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTIONS
Wisdom teeth are the last molars, or "third molars" that develop on each side of the jaw. They usually emerge in the back of the mouth between the ages of 16-20.
Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. Often, however, they cause problems and require removal. When the jaw isn't large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth may grow sideways, emerge only part way through the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.
A wisdom tooth extraction is a relatively routine procedure. The dentist will numb the area in the mouth with a local anesthesia or use IV sedation so that the patient is asleep during the procedure.
After the tooth (or teeth) is removed, the patient is given gauze and bites down softly for a recommended amount of time to limit any bleeding. Some pain and swelling may occur, but it will usually go away after a few days.
Please call our office if, after following post-op instructions, you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever.
Click the Technologies below for more information on each subject.
Xrays are a focused beam of xray particles that pass through bone to produce an image on special film, showing clearly the structure through which it passed. This creates the familiar black and white images doctors and dentists use to diagnose problems and diseases. Without an xray of the whole tooth and supporting bone and gum tissues, there would be no way to detect infection or pathology that requires attention.
Digital radiography uses an estimated 4090 percent less radiation than conventional film xrays. Digital xrays use a digital image capture device rather in place of traditional film, sending an image immediately to a computer. The result is a highly detailed image of the mouth, and its contrast and resolution can be enhanced to more easily diagnose dental problems and determine the very best treatment for each case.
We use digital imaging software in our office, which allows us to take a digital picture of you and use our imaging system to predict how a particular treatment or cosmetic procedure would change the appearance of your teeth. This software is beneficial for patients who are considering cosmetic procedures but are not sure if they're ready for dramatic changes. Digital imaging also allows us to document your dental case and procedures very well. We take digital images of your face, teeth and smile to provide us with a permanent dental record and to provide a visual documentation of treatment.
Our office utilizes electronic claims processing. This means that rather than sending your dental claim through the mail, it is sent electronically to your insurance company with the click of the button. By filing your claim electronically, information is submitted more efficiently and with fewer errors. This benefits our patients because the turn around time on claims is faster and fewer claims are returned or denied. We are happy to submit your dental claims to your insurance company on your behalf.
The dentist performs most of his dental procedures while wearing a pair of funny looking glasses called surgical telescopes. These powerful glasses have magnifiers on them, allowing the dentist to see fine details that would go unnoticed to the naked eye.
We use small cameras about the size of a pen, called intraoral cameras, to help clearly see the condition of your teeth and gums.
With this advanced technology we can zoom in on small diseased areas, cracks, chips and worn metal fillings with extreme precision. The full-color images taken with the intraoral camera are sent to a computer screen so we can clearly see and diagnose dental problems much earlier than with traditional dental technology. Because images are displayed on our screens, patients will also be able to see areas being worked on and are able to gain a better understanding of dental procedures being performed.
Our office is a completely digital (paperless) dental office. This means all x-rays and charting are made and recorded with the aid of the computer. This technology allows us to maintain your dental records electronically, and cuts down the unnecessary paperwork used with traditional paper charting. Traditional paper charting is difficult to keep standardized from doctor to hygienist to assistant. Even handwriting differences and coding make the charts look different. The computer eliminates this problem by using consistent charting methods that are accurate and precise, making it easy to read your dental chart and see up-to-date information. Digital charting standardizes the charting process so it is clear, easy to understand, and enables us to provide on the most accurate and precise care to our patients. When needed, this method also allows us to quickly and securely share information with your other health care providers.
CAD/CAM CHAIRSIDE RESTORATION SYSTEM
Our office utilizes CAD/CAM technology. CAD/CAM stands for "computer-aided design" and "computer-aided manufacturing". This technology allows the dentist to use an intra-oral scanner inside your mouth to take a digital scan of a tooth that has been prepared to receive a crown. Using special software, the data from the scan is used to generate a design (CAD) for a custom crown. This program will also generate a custom blue print and guide lines to manufacture the new crown (CAM). This software, paired with a state-of-the-art milling machine, enables our office to create precise and custom crowns, inlays and onlays in one single dental visit.
Laser dentistry is the latest advancement in dental technology, treating a wide range of dental and cosmetic problems from cavities to gum disease to teeth whitening. The lasers we use in laser dentistry at our practice are an alternative to the common hand-held scalpel, drills, or other tools. These lasers direct an invisible energy beam onto problem areas and allow us to efficiently treat decayed teeth, enamel, and gums. The benefit of laser dentistry is that they minimize the pain most often associated with dental procedures, meaning more comfort to our patients. Clinical studies show that approximately 96% of all patients require no anesthesia when lasers are being used during dental treatments. Dental lasers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are safe for both adults and children.
Soft Tissue Laser
Soft tissue lasers are used to safely remove soft tissue, such as excess gum tissue. The soft tissue laser can also be employed to destroy bacteria in gum pockets, preventing infection and allowing the tissue to return to a healthy state. The soft tissue laser enables the dentist to treat our patients with extreme accuracy and eliminates the need for most stitches.
Providing the absolute best service to our patients is of the highest importance to our office. To aid in achieving this goal, we use a new high-tech device called the DIAGNOdent. This small tool is a portable laser that allows us to detect cavities on the chewing surface of the back teeth that would have otherwise gone undetected by previous methods. Diagnosing cavities in the back of the mouth using traditional methods is difficult; studies even show that 50% of cavities are left undetected in these areas. However, the new DIAGNOdent enables us to locate and treat these cavities, putting a stop to further decay. The laser is easy to use, harmless, and will alert us with an audible signal if it detects a cavity. It will even calculate the approximate size of the cavity so we can better plan treatment. By using this device, you can rest assured that cavities will be accurately detected and treated in their infancy.
AUTOMATED APPOINTMENT REMINDERS
We will provide a 14 day appointment reminder, then a 4 day confirmation by TEXT and EMAIL and then a 2 hour reminder. We will then call you if no text or email was received.