Overview

As a family dental clinic, we provide services in all areas of dentistry to address whatever needs each patient brings to the table. From age 1 to 100, we’ve got you covered. We are constantly re-evaluating our methods to stay in touch with the best available techniques. Whether well-established, cutting edge, or somewhere in-between, we only provide services that are proven effective by well reputed scientific research.

Preventive

Cleanings/Periodontal Therapy

There are two types of teeth cleanings you may receive from our dental hygienists:  a prophylaxis or periodontal therapy.

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A prophylaxis is a cleaning for someone who has either healthy gums or gingivitis, which is a superficial infection limited to gum tissue. However, when infection spreads to the underlying bone, it is called periodontal disease. Treatment of periodontal disease requires a different type of cleaning, called periodontal therapy, to stop the progression and prevent recurrence of the disease. Periodontal treatment consists of two phases.  The initial therapy phase consists of deep cleaning, called Scaling and Root Planing.  The maintenance phase is called periodontal maintenance.  If these treatments are ineffective, referral to a periodontist for surgical periodontal therapy may be necessary in certain circumstances.  Left untreated, periodontal disease may eventually lead to tooth loss.

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Fluoride

Fluoride has many benefits for your oral health and can be found in tooth pastes, mouth rinses, other materials provided in our office, and often in drinking water.

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Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally.  It has been incorporated in most drinking water, toothpastes, and mouth rinses.  The two most significant benefits of fluoride are:  1) Its antibacterial properties, which allow it to kill harmful bacteria in your mouth, and 2) Its ability to become incorporated into the crystalline structure of the tooth, creating a stronger molecular bond and making the tooth less susceptible to tooth decay and breakdown from harmful acids found in sodas and other beverages.  Fluoride is not only effective when the teeth are forming, but modern research indicates that fluoride also is incorporated into tooth structure during adulthood, after the teeth are fully formed.  Professional strength fluoride treatments from our office include take-home rinses and gels, custom-fit home fluoride trays, and in-office gels and foams.

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Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin plastic barrier applied to the chewing surfaces of most molars and some premolars, where decay occurs most often.

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Many teeth are formed with deep grooves on their biting surface, which tend to accumulate plaque.  It can be very difficult to adequately clean these grooves with a toothbrush.  If the grooves are not cleaned properly, tooth decay often results.  Dental sealants are placed on a healthy tooth, often at a young age, in order to fill the grooves and provide a smooth surface that is easier to clean by brushing your teeth.

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Nightguard

Nightguards are thin pieces of a firm, plastic material that are molded to fit your teeth.  They are worn at night to protect against subconscious clenching and grinding of your teeth.

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Bruxism is the term for grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth. This condition affects both children and adults. Most people who are bruxers can benefit from having a night guard made that protects their teeth and supporting structures from the harmful effects of clenching and grinding.

Some people with bruxism unconsciously clench their teeth together during the day, often when they feel anxious or tense. This is different from tooth grinding or clenching that occurs at night, which is called sleep bruxism. Most children who are bruxers do so at night, while adults are either daytime or nighttime bruxers.

Bruxism may be mild and may not even require treatment. However, it can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, and damaged or worn teeth, among other problems. Unfortunately, people with sleep bruxism usually are not aware of the habit, so they remain unaware of the continual harm being done to their teeth and supporting structures until complications occur. That is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism.

If you are a bruxer, you may be an excellent candidate for wearing a nightguard/mouthguard splint. A splint is custom fit to your upper teeth to prevent teeth clenching and grinding. It can be worn during the day or night.

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Restorative

Composite Fillings

Composites are a white, resin filling material that produce an esthetically pleasing and long-lasting restoration

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When bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar that you eat, they produce an acid that is deposited on your teeth. The resultant decayed tooth structure is what we refer to as a cavity. In order to fix the decayed tooth, we must remove the decay with a high speed drill and replace it with filling material.

Composite filling material is a glass or quartz filler in a resin medium. Composite has two major advantages over amalgam. The first is the vastly superior esthetics. Composite comes in many different shades, allowing the dentist to match each tooth’s color individually. The second advantage is the ability of composite to chemically bond to the tooth structure, making placement of composite a superior choice in certain areas of the mouth. It also allows the dentist to create a smaller cavity preparation in the tooth, which results in a more conservative filling. Amalgam lacks the ability to chemically bond to teeth.

The cost of composite is usually different than amalgam because it requires more time, more materials and is more technique sensitive.

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Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam is a silver, metal filling material that produces a strong, sturdy restoration

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Amalgam is a mixture of metals including silver, copper, tin, and mercury. This results in a silver color. Due to the mercury content in amalgam, it is the most heavily researched and scrutinized dental material. In spite of the countless scientific studies regarding the safety of amalgam, there has yet to be a single credible study that shows any negative long-term health effects due to placing amalgam fillings. The American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration both recognize amalgam as a beneficial restorative material.

The most significant advantages of amalgam are its strength and ease of placement. The high compressive strength of amalgam makes it a great restoration in areas of heavy biting, especially the molar area. The ease of placement allows for greater success rates in areas where a tooth simply cannot be kept dry enough to place a composite restoration.

The major disadvantages of amalgam are its silver color and its inability to chemically bond to the tooth. This forces the dentist to cut more of the tooth away, when compared to a composite cavity preparation, in order to create retentive features within the tooth to hold the silver filling in place.

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Crowns

A crown is a cap that is placed when a single tooth has become structurally compromised due to the presence and/or future risk of decay, cracks, etc.  The crown is intended to strengthen the tooth and improve its likelihood of long term health.

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Crowns have been used in various forms for hundreds of years. Today, gold alloy and ceramic are the main materials used. In the front of the mouth, ceramic crowns are often used because of their remarkable ability to mimic the esthetics of a natural tooth. In the back of the mouth, most crowns are either entirely gold alloy or are made with a base of gold alloy and a porcelain cover to make it look like a tooth.

In order to prepare a tooth to have a crown, 1-2mm of the surface of the tooth is reduced. An impression of the prepared tooth is sent to the lab where the crown is fabricated. While the crown is being fabricated (usually about 2 weeks), a provisional crown is placed on the prepared tooth. At the final appointment, the finished crown is cemented on the prepared tooth to re-establish the ideal contour, appearance, and bite.

The esthetic capabilities of ceramic crowns are remarkable, and we work with a lab that has the highest possible reputation in our area in order to ensure the best result for our patients.

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Bridges

A bridge is a multi-unit crown that is used to fill in a gap where a permanent tooth was lost.

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When a tooth is lost, problems can result. These problems include adjacent teeth drifting into the empty space, teeth from the opposite jaw moving up or down into the empty space, and more difficulty with cleaning the space appropriately. A bridge is designed to prevent these problems from occurring by restoring the shape and function of the teeth in the area.

In order to prepare for a bridge, the teeth on either side of the space are prepared as if they were going to have individual crowns. Then, a multi-unit crown, known as a bridge, is made that spans from one tooth to the other, filling in the gap.

Bridges can be difficult to clean around, but when well cared for, a bridge can effectively replace lost teeth for many years.

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Root Canal Therapy

Root Canal Therapy consists of removing an infected soft center of the tooth and sealing off the resulting empty canal so the infection won’t return.

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When deep tooth decay or fracture occurs, it can spread all the way to the pulp of the tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels are located that provide vitality to the tooth. At this point, an infection develops and a root canal is necessary in order to save the tooth. The procedure generally takes two appointments. At the first visit, the dentist removes the infected pulp, cleans out the resulting canal, and places a temporary filling to seal the area. At the second visit, the empty space in the center of the tooth is filled with gutta percha, which is a rubber-like substance, and a liquid sealer to fill any tiny gaps. At this point, the tooth is ready to be restored. A filling must be done to replace the tooth structure that was decayed or fractured. However, with no blood supply and with less healthy structure remaining, the tooth becomes more susceptible to fracture. That is why, in most circumstances, a crown is needed in order to prevent fracture and ensure the best possible long term health of the tooth.

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Extractions

Tooth Extraction is the removal of a tooth that is either harmful or potentially harmful in the future.

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There are many reasons why teeth need to be extracted, including severe decay, root fracture, and periodontal disease.  When the dentist determines that a tooth has been compromised to the point that it can no longer be saved by modern restorative dentistry procedures, it is time to remove the tooth.  But don’t worry, there are several options for replacing missing teeth, including bridges, dental implants, and removable partial or complete dentures.  If you are missing teeth and want them replaced, the dentist will work with you to determine which tooth replacement option is best for your specific situation.

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Dentures/Partials

Denture is a general term for a removable device that replaces missing teeth.  Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when only some of the teeth are missing.

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Missing teeth can limit the function of your mouth, especially to chew and speak. Replacing these missing teeth with dentures is a way to get those functions back and improve the esthetics of your smile at the same time. They’ll never be quite like your original teeth, but the improvement in your quality of life after having missing teeth is remarkable.

Most dentures are made with a pink resin base, which mimics the gums in color, and white acrylic teeth, which come in various shades and shapes to match the look you want. When a partial denture is made, a metal bar is also incorporated to provide more strength. There are many variations of both complete and partial dentures which are used in different situations, but the basic principles remain the same.

Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque.

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Dental Implants

A dental implant is a titanium screw that is placed into the bone that acts as a prosthetic root to replace a missing tooth.

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Dental implants have been in use since the 1980’s and the progression of the technology has been astounding. Missing teeth can be replaced by dental implants in most circumstances with an incredibly high success rate of over 98%. Today, dental implants have become the “Gold Standard” in dentistry for tooth replacement.

The implant itself is a titanium alloy screw that is placed into the bone where the tooth’s root originally was. A crown is placed on top of the implant, and is held in place by a connector piece called an abutment. The implant, abutment, and crown together replace a single missing tooth.

In situations involving multiple missing teeth, multiple implants can be placed and used in combination with crowns, bridges, or removable dentures.

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Cosmetic/Aesthetic

Tooth Whitening

Whitening occurs by removing stains that have accumulated on the tooth’s surface, which exposes the underlying, healthy, white tooth enamel.

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Stains can be removed in multiple ways, including friction (whitening toothpastes), chemicals (professional bleaching products), and lasers (in-office laser whitening). The simple idea is that an ultra-thin layer of enamel is worn away while the molecules that are staining the tooth are removed. This exposes healthy, white tooth structure while causing minimal harm to the tooth. Overuse of whitening products can lead to too much loss of tooth structure and, in turn, sensitivity. Over the counter products can work well, but professional strength products available at our office work faster and better.

Typically, you will be sent home with a tray that fits your teeth and a bleaching gel. The bleach is placed in certain areas of the tray and then worn at night. The teeth will progressively get whiter until your desired tooth shade is reached.

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Ceramic Crowns

See “Crowns” section under “Restorative” tab

Veneers

Veneers are thin sheets of porcelain that are placed on the front side of the front teeth to create a more esthetically appealing smile.

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Veneers can be extremely useful in certain situations, particularly if the front teeth have stains or are slightly misaligned. The tooth is left intact, or slightly shaved down, and the porcelain veneer is bonded onto the front surface with cement.

The main disadvantage with veneers is that the tooth will not be as strong as it once was. Also, an all-ceramic crown can usually provide the same esthetics with a stronger foundation. Depending on the situation, veneers might be the right choice for you if you aren’t happy with your smile.

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Consultation/Referral

Consultation

We are always available to sit down and speak with you about your specific situation in order discover a treatment plan that fits your needs and desires.  If you ever have any questions, we will sit down with you and answer them.  If you’re on the go, we’re only a phone call away.  It’s our job to make sure you have all the information you need so that we can appropriately make treatment decisions together.

Referral

Difficult circumstances can sometimes require the assistance of specialists. Over the years, we have acquired a network of specialists that we know will provide you with the best dental care available. Some of the areas of dentistry that occasionally require referral are…

Root canals – Endodontist
Tooth extraction – Oral Surgeon
Gum and bone surgery – Periodontist
Extensive childhood oral issues – Pediatric Dentist
Straightening teeth – Orthodontist
Other complicated oral issues – Oral Medicine Doctor

Since 1982, Dr. Kenneth Russell has served as a dentist in Covington, WA providing the best care that dentistry has to offer.  Dr. Russell, Dr. Kyle Blair, and their staff are dedicated and compassionate dental professionals who strive to improve, as well as maintain, each patient’s oral health.