Healthy smiles begin with a focus on comfort, function, and esthetics. We want to help you maintain your oral health for a lifetime, and educate you in understanding the cause of dental disease and how it can be treated or prevented in order to minimize the care you need over the years.
Unless you have an urgent dental issue, your initial appointment will be with one of our dental hygienists. Most patients then get the standard Full Mouth Series of x-rays, as well as a comprehensive exam with one of our doctors, including a periodontal examination, oral-cancer screening, and an evaluation of your existing dental work. If we determine you only need a basic cleaning, that is usually completed that day as well. For those who may need a more thorough cleaning, we likely will have to schedule a second appointment to complete that treatment.
We are happy to provide exams and second opinions for any patient seeking out their full treatment options.
It is not uncommon for one dentist to examine a patient and discover they have a certain number of cavities, yet another dentist may do a similar examination and have a very different finding.
The differences in opinion often reflect the cumulative effect of several factors, including: where the dentist trained, their personal experience, their particular practice philosophy, the patient's history and habits, among many other considerations.
Those factors combine to create different thresholds between different dentists for deciding when a tooth needs treatment. Some dentists are more conservative, while others take a more proactive approach.
Here at Inman Park Dentistry we tend to be on the conservative side. For instance, we may opt to simply monitor an old filling, such as one with minor wear/chipping around the edges, or superficial cosmetic staining, rather than replace the filling. We may "watch" such a filling for years, looking to see if/when there are signs of further wear and tear, and at that point then we would repair the tooth as appropriate.
While that conservative approach may sound great, for certain patients that may be the wholly wrong approach, particularly in a patient with more aggressive cavities or someone with general poor home oral-hygiene habits. In such a patient, waiting for it to get worse is a recipe for disaster. In those cases, the best advice is to fix even the smallest issue as soon as possible.
The key to being confident with your dentist is asking questions. That does not mean "questioning" their diagnosis, but simply asking to discuss the factors that led to their findings, so that you may be involved in the decision-making process. We only proceed with treatment that has been agreed upon by both patient and doctor.
Research shows the majority of Americans have at least some form of gum disease, or periodontitis, and the statistics get much worse as we age. Staying ahead of it is key, and thus regular professional cleanings (in addition to being consistent with your routine at home), are essential.
For patients with good oral-care habits at home and only minor signs of gingivitis, the regular "basic" cleanings twice a year are sufficient. For other patients with early signs of gum disease and/or simply inconsistent oral-care habits at home, then often a "deeper" cleaning is needed, called Scaling and Root Planing.
For those patients with more severe gum disease issues, proper treatment may involve referral to a Periodontist.
Doctor Rodriguez gets excited when talking about this subject and "nerds out" on the details!
By combining 3D x-rays with non-invasive 3D tooth scans, we are able to plan dental implant surgeries virtually, completely in-house by our doctors. Using 3D modeling, we digitally position an implant in the ideal location for the future crown, as well as in relation to your particular bone density and shape, while avoiding critical nerves and blood vessels. Then a 3D-printed surgical guide is designed and made here that snaps onto your teeth as a template to guide the surgery with a level of precision unheard of a generation ago. The result is a faster procedure, with a wider margin of safety, and better long-term positioning for handling the chewing stresses for a lifetime.
Considering cosmetic treatments? The materials we have available these days to restore teeth are amazing. We no longer have to have the conversation about the compromise between strength and esthetics, as now we can have it all! At Inman Park Dentistry our primary focus is your oral health, and not the esthetics. Nevertheless, we love making things pretty! Crowns, veneers, cosmetic bonding, tooth-whitening... we do it all! (Well, not quite. We leave orthodontics to the professionals. See below).
Popular since the 1980's as a way to achieve an ideal smile, modern porcelain veneers are stronger than ever and look beautiful! Each one is custom made for your individual tooth, and is essentially an entirely new front for your tooth. Often done in sets of 4, 6, 8 or more on the front teeth, veneers can cover many esthetic issues, provide ideal contours to a misaligned smile, and give you the smile you always wanted in much less time than other options!
However, a veneer is permanent medical procedures that cannot be undone. Thus at Inman Park Dentistry we will assess your teeth, consider your esthetic goals, evaluate your bite and how your teeth function against each other, before deciding if it is an appropriate option.
In some cases, crowns may be a better choice because they cover more of the tooth and are a bit more durable. Or perhaps your teeth just need a bit of straightening, and so orthodontics may be the better long-term option. Or maybe all your teeth need is a little shaping and contouring with some tooth-colored plastic. Curious about your options? Just ask!
We excel in many areas of general dentistry, but correcting very crooked teeth is best left to an orthodontist. While straightening teeth is actually pretty easy, keeping them straight over the decades is a whole other challenge, and requires a comprehensive understanding of the skeletal growth and changes that occur over a lifetime. There are several excellent orthodontists that we work with regularly that we can recommend.
For some patients, direct-to-consumer orthodontics may be a solution for you (e.g. SmileDirectClub™). This DIY-level of orthodontics is cheap, so don't expect perfect results. And in general, we strongly recommend you see a quality, licensed orthodontist, because there are numerous interconnected factors to consider. But if cost is your chief concern, and the orthodontic issue is minor, it may be an appropriate option.
Tooth whitening is safe and effective. Whether you prefer custom whitening trays, over-the-counter products, or the one-visit treatment, we have options that work for you. The biggest side effect tends to be tooth sensitivity. Although it goes away with time, we recommend discussing the issue with our doctors if you have particularly sensitive teeth already.
We do have options for mild sedation, if that is helpful for your visit.
Most of our patients find dental treatment under local anesthetic (the simple shot near the tooth) comfortable enough for all routine procedures. But some people desire more anti-anxiety options.
We can add nitrous-oxide (laughing gas) to any appointment for an additional fee. Nitrous oxide does not put you "out of it", but can help you relax (similarly to a large glass of wine). Plus, once turned off, it is out of your system within minutes. Nitrous oxide is helpful and safe for mild anxiety, but for more moderate anxiety we can prescribe anti-anxiety medications (e.g. Valium, Xanax, Ativan) that you would take prior to your appointment. Depending upon the strength and duration of the medication, we can help alleviate mild to moderate anxiety. Please keep in mind that these medications can be impairing, and may require someone to bring you and take you home.
For severe anxiety issues, we recommend patients see a fully-sedation trained dentist who can do IV sedation for your needs.
We only provide metal-free restorations. White "composite" is our material of choice for basic fillings (see our FAQ for more information about the types of fillings).
As a general rule, fillings are appropriate when the issue/cavity with the tooth is small-to-medium. Once an issue becomes more than half the size of a tooth, then any filling material will struggle to withstand all the chewing forces for any significant length of time. That's when we switch to something more durable, like an onlay or crown. Small fillings can last 30+ years, but very large fillings have shorter lifespans of 5-10 years.
Onlays are half-way between a filling and a crown, and is the preferred option for a medium-sized tooth issue. Made from a solid block of ceramic that is then custom shaped and fit to your tooth, onlays are more durable than fillings and can handle greater chewing pressures, yet less invasive than a crown. Like composite fillings, they can be done in one visit, and are ideal when the issue with the tooth involves more than half of the chewing surface, especially if one of the tooth cusps is broken or cracked. The typical lifespan of an onlay is 15-25 years.
A "crown", or "cap" is the longest lasting and strongest restoration a tooth can receive, and it is a routine procedure for any dentist. Gone are the days of dark crowns because of the metal backing. Modern crowns use no metal, look extremely natural, and are stronger than your natural tooth ever was! Quite simply, when a tooth needs ultimate strength, a crown is the answer. A well sealed crown, with a patient who has excellent oral hygiene, can last a lifetime. For more details about crowns, see our FAQ section.
Like many dental offices these days, we have the technology to make your crown in one visit. However, for most of our patients we still recommend the lab-made crowns, as it is a more durable product over the decades.
Nevertheless, the digital technology we use allows for such treatments when appropriate. We use a computer to scan your tooth, and another machine to carve your crown out of a solid block of ceramic. There is no need for a temporary crown, as the final product is glued on that day. If you are curious if that is appropriate for you, ask the doctor.
Everyone clenches and grinds their teeth a little, but often it can flare up and get much worse with stress and other issues. Whether your issue is short-term and induced by stress, or chronic with pain in your jaw muscles or severe wear on the teeth, we have therapies to help.
Options include medications, exercises, and custom splint therapy ("night guard"). For more complex issues, a referral to a specialist may be appropriate.
Endodontic Therapy, also known as root-canal treatment, is the cleaning out and disinfecting of the inside of the tooth, and is a service we provide regularly.
When it is appropriate, root canals can provide relief from an infected or otherwise "dying" tooth. If we believe you need a root canal, we will evaluate the tooth to see if it is a tooth that we, as general dentists, can treat effectively. If the tooth is a bit more complicated, you will be referred to an Endodontist who specializes in the treatment.
Dentistry in the 21st Century is getting more and more digital, and years ago we jumped in feet first and are now experts on the subject! Dr. Rodriguez even trains dentists at other clinics on the technology.
We use digital x-rays, 3D scanning, 3D x-rays, and 3D printing daily. And by combining non-invasive digital scans of your mouth with 3D x-rays, we are able to do surgeries "virtually", before we ever work in your mouth, and evaluate things in ways simply not possible a generation ago.
Overall, digital technology means we can be better prepared so that procedures go quicker, and with a wider margin of safety than with traditional techniques.