Porcelain Dental Crowns

For most people, a trip to the dentist is pretty far down on the priority list. Even when we have dental problems, most of us tend to put them off until they’ve caused us a significant amount of pain. In the case of a broken tooth, or a tooth suffering from decay, this tendency can be disastrous – leading to further damage and more expensive dental work than would have originally been necessary. The staff at Sunset Dental has extensive experience treating both of these issues and may be able to use a dental crown to save your tooth, even if it’s been badly damaged.

What are dental crowns used for?

Dental crowns can be used to fix a number of dental issues. From holding together a tooth that has been broken, to protecting a decayed or weak tooth from further damage, dental crowns are a useful treatment for many issues. They also have a place in cosmetic restorations: covering dental implants and correcting the look of teeth that are improperly shaped or that have become discolored

What is involved in placing a dental crown?

The first step in placing your dental crown will be taking a digital x-ray of the tooth to determine how bad the damage is. In some cases, it may be necessary for the dentist to perform a root canal or build up the tooth with a traditional filling or a dental bonding before the dental crown can be placed. The tooth will be numbed, and then prepared for the dental crown. This involves slightly filing down the tooth’s surface so that there is room for the crown to fit properly, and then taking an impression of the tooth. This impression will be sent to a laboratory where your custom restoration will be made. Next, we will place a temporary dental crown over your tooth until your next visit. Once the crown has been made, you will return to our office, and the dental crown will be permanently cemented into place.

Caring for your temporary crown

Your temporary dental crown will require some special care procedures to ensure it does not become damaged or dislodged. You will need to avoid chewing with the side of your mouth where the temporary crown is located, and avoid any foods such as caramel or chewing gum. You will also need to avoid particularly crunchy or difficult to chew foods while your temporary crown is in place. Brush your teeth very gently, and use caution when flossing.

If you have any more questions about dental crowns, or would like to know if this restoration may be a good treatment option for you, contact Sunset Dental today to schedule your consultation. We look forward to helping you achieve a bright and healthy smile once more.

Dental Sealant

What is Dental Sealant?

Dental sealants (also termed pit and fissure sealants, or simply fissure sealants) are a dental treatment intended to prevent tooth decay. Teeth have recesses on their biting surfaces; the back teeth have fissures (grooves) and some front teeth have pits. It is these pits and fissures which are most vulnerable to tooth decay, partly because food sticks in them and they are hard-to-clean areas. Dental sealants are materials placed in these pits and fissures to fill them in, creating a smooth surface that is easy to clean. Dental sealants are mainly used in children who are at higher risk of tooth decay, and typically they are placed as soon as the adult molar teeth come through.

How Effective is Sealant?

Sealants are accepted as an effective preventive method for cavities and as long as the sealant remains adhered to the tooth, cavities can be prevented. It is for this reason that sealant success is now measured by the length of time a sealant remains on the tooth, rather than the decay experienced in sealed and unsealed teeth. The ability of a pit and fissure sealant to prevent dental caries is highly dependent on its ability to retain on the tooth surface.

How Long Will Sealant Last?

Although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time, they have the potential to remain effective for five years or longer, despite the heavy pressures endured by teeth during chewing each day. Longevity of the dental sealants is also dependent on the type of material used for the fissure sealant. It is not uncommon for fissure sealants to be retained into adulthood. It is believed that bacteria and food particles may eventually become entrapped under the dental sealants, and can thus cause decay in the very teeth intended to be protected. Fissure sealants are inspected during routine dental visits to ensure that they are retained in the fissures of the teeth. One of the major causes to the loss of sealants in the first year is salivary contamination.

How Is the Dental Sealant Applied?

The first step in applying a dental sealant to your teeth is cleaning them thoroughly and making sure there are no dental health issues that require treatment before the sealants are applied. Once assured that your teeth are healthy, your dentist will place a gel to the surfaces of your back teeth that will prepare them for the sealants. After a few minutes, this gel will be rinsed away, and your teeth will be dried carefully. Finally, the sealant will be painted onto your teeth and allowed to harden (a process that takes only a few minutes). This procedure is completely painless and requires no numbing shots, drilling, or abrasion of your teeth.

Root Canals

Endodontics, or root canal therapy, is employed when the nerve supply to a tooth has been irreversibly affected by damage or decay. It is a way to prevent or help resolve a dental infection and save a natural tooth from extraction. A root canal is performed when there is enough sound root and crown structure remaining to eventually restore form and function to the involved tooth.

Inside every tooth is either a single central chamber or multiple ones that contain connective tissue, a nerve supply, and blood vessels. These core tissues, known as the dental pulp, help your tooth to grow and mature before it emerges into the mouth. A root canal procedure is required when this dental pulp is irreversibly damaged or has died.

Root canal therapy involves cleaning and shaping each canal, and then filling them with a special inert material. Following this they are sealed to prevent any subsequent infection. Once root canal therapy has been completed, the tooth should be fully restored as recommended.

Call Sunset Dental for an appointment or use our convenient contact form for any questions.

Dental Implants

Dental implant surgery is a procedure that replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. Dental implant surgery can offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that doesn’t fit well and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don’t allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.

During surgery to place the dental implant, your oral surgeon makes a cut to open your gum and expose the bone. Holes are drilled into the bone where the dental implant metal post will be placed. Since the post will serve as the tooth root, it’s implanted deep into the bone. Once your gums heal, you’ll have more impressions made of your mouth and remaining teeth. These impressions are used to make the crown — your realistic-looking artificial tooth. The crown can’t be placed until your jawbone is strong enough to support use of the new tooth. Sunset Dental will then attach the crown to the post.


TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) is a condition which affects the jaw and facial muscles surrounding the mouth. These areas control the movement of the jaw as well as the chewing motion. There are estimated to be more than 10 million people who suffer from this disorder, and innumerable others who have yet to be diagnosed. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is typically the culprit in cases of TMJ. The TMJ is the joint which connects your jaw to your skull. When the TMJ suffers a trauma or injury of some sort, it may be unable to move as it should and can cause complications while chewing or speaking. This can not only be a frustrating problem, but it can often be a painful and uncomfortable one as well.

What causes TMJ?

There is no one specific cause that has been identified as the clear culprit behind TMJ, though there are a number of factors that dentists believe may help lead to problems with the TMJ. These factors include:

  • Bruxism (tooth grinding), or clenching of the jaw, which can put an unusual amount of stress and pressure on the TMJ
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis of the TMJ
  • Stress, which may cause you to tighten your facial and jaw muscles and clench your teeth, which can lead to injury of the TMJ
  • Dislocation of the disc or soft cushion between the ball and socket of the TMJ
  • Injuries to the TMJ or jaw, as well as the head and neck, such as whiplash or certain sports injuries.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

Severe pain and discomfort can result from TMJ. Common but unusual symptoms of TMJ include toothaches, neck aches, dizziness, toothaches, and even earaches and hearing problems. Other symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face that radiates to the jaw, neck, shoulders, and ears when you talk, chew, or open your mouth wide to yawn.
  • A clicking, popping, or other sound in the jaw when opening or closing the mouth. This may or may not be accompanied by pain.
  • Limited ability to open your mouth wide
  • A suddenly uncomfortable bite or difficulty chewing – this may feel as if the top and bottom teeth are not fitting together properly.
  • A generally tired feeling in your face
  • Swelling on either side of the face
  • Jaws that seem to “lock” into place, either open or closed.

How is TMJ diagnosed?

Before performing a thorough oral examination, your dentist will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms to determine possible areas of concern. During their examination, your dentist carefully examine your TMJ for tenderness and pain, and listen for distinct sounds when you move your jaw. They will check to determine if there is any inflammation or tenderness in your face or jaw, and examine your bite and the state of your teeth (looking for any problems with your bite or the condition of your teeth which could be causing the TMD). In certain cases, your dentist may need to request full-face x-rays in order to view your entire jaw. They may also recommend an MRI of your soft tissue, or a CT scan of the bony areas of your TMJ.

How can a dentist help me if I have TMJ?

There are several treatments for TMD that can help to remedy the problem. If your dentist finds that your TMD is mainly caused by grinding your teeth, then they may recommend a night guard or a treatment plan that will fix your dental issues. In certain cases braces, implants, bridges and crowns can help to fix any bite problems that are exacerbating your TMD. If your temporomandibular disorder is being caused by stress, then your dentist may recommend muscle relaxers or relaxation techniques, so that you no longer clench your jaw, which can lead to TMD. The dentist will also probably suggest that you avoid chewing gum and foods/drinks that are high in sugars or especially difficult to chew.

There are a few things you can do on your own to help relieve the symptoms of your TMD, though they are not a substitute for professional treatment:

  • Apply heat or cold packs – placing a warm, damp washcloth to your face for about five minutes a few times each day may help to keep the muscles around the TMJ and jaw relaxed.
  • Avoid chewy foods – chewing gum, caramels, and taffy can cause unnecessary stress on your jaw, which may need to TMD. You may also need to avoid hard foods such as raw carrots, pretzels, or hard rolls. Softer foods are the best choice when you’re experiencing the symptoms of TMD.
  • Over-the-counter medications – In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may help ease the inflammation and pain that occur with TMD.
  • Relax – learn some relaxation techniques that can help reduce your stress levels. Regular exercise, combined with practices such as meditation or yoga may help ease the symptoms of TMD. You may also consider stress reduction therapy or massage.

In some cases, simpler therapies just aren’t enough to correct your TMD. In these instances, your dentist may recommend that you see an oral surgeon who specializes in TMD treatments. These may include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, or open-joint surgery.

If you believe you may suffer from TMD, call Sunset Dental today for an appointment or use our convenient contact form to learn more.