• Preventative Dentistry

  • Preventive dental care is extremely important in maintaining a healthy mouth and beautiful teeth. Having regular preventive care is the best way to make sure your teeth last your entire lifetime. Preventive dental saves money by helping you avoid having to undergo major dental procedures because problems will be caught early. Preventative actions keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthier. On your own you can regularly brush and floss your teeth as well as clean your tongue to keep your smile bright and healthy between visits to the dentist.

    Scheduling regular dental check ups with our practice in Charleston is vital so that problems can be found early and tooth decay can be prevented if possible. Parents should teach their children at an early age how to take care of their teeth and get them used to visiting the dentist on a regular basis. This will allow Dr. Alterman to find any potential problems and take care of them early so that children and teens can develop a beautiful smile and have healthy teeth and gums as they grow into adulthood.

    Prophylaxis consists of a thorough examination of your teeth and gums and is done by the Dentist or Hygienist on staff. This is a preventive measure to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. The procedure involves a thorough professional teeth cleaning removing tartar build up in hard to reach areas of your mouth as well as diagnosis of potential gum disease. The latest equipment is used to provide scaling, polishing and debridement when needed. Our dentist recommends very strongly that patients have their teeth professionally cleaned every three to six months depending on the current oral health of the patient.

    Dental Sealants

    A dental sealant is a very thin invisible plastic coating applied in the grooves on the surface of the back teeth where chewing occurs. This sealant protects them from decay. Some teeth have very deep crevices and grooves, which tend to collect germs and food particles. The sealant acts like a band-aid by blocking the harmful debris from collecting in those areas and potentially causing decay. Most kids and teenagers who get cavities at an early age are advised to get sealants in order to prevent decay in baby teeth or newly erupted permanent molars.

    When our dentist in Charleston applies the dental sealant it takes very little time, is easy and pain free. First the tooth is thoroughly cleaned  with a flavorless polish then a gel which gets the tooth ready to bond with the sealant material is applied on the chewing surface of the tooth for just a few seconds. The tooth is washed of the gel then the sealant is simply painted on the surface of the tooth. To help the sealant to harden a light is shined on it. This is a very simple and pain free procedure that requires no injections and the result is a shield that will protect the tooth for many years to come

    Fluoride Treatments

    Fluoride is a natural mineral existing in food and water. Fluoride treatments help in the prevention of tooth decay as well as protecting the surface enamel of the teeth. Our practice offers fluoride treatments as part of providing excellent dental care for our patients. The fluoride treatments carried out in our dental office in Charleston contain enough fluoride to make it effective in fighting decay and in strengthening the enamel but not too much to harm the tooth or body in any way.

    Root Canal Therapy

    Root canal therapy or endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits. We examine and radiograph the infected tooth. A local anesthetic is administered and after the tooth is profoundly numb a protective sheet is put over the area to isolate saliva from the tooth during the procedure. An opening in the crown or top of the tooth is made in order to clean out the infection found in the pulp chamber and root canals of the lower half of the tooth.

    After the space is cleaned the root canals are filled with biocompatible material. A gutta percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canal. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening.

    The patient will eventually have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure a post may be put inside for restoration.

     


    Oral Cancer Screening

    Early detection is the best way to combat any form of cancer and oral cancer is no different. Diagnosing oral cancer through regular screenings is key to preventing and effectively treating the condition. Our goal is to find oral, neck and head cancers as soon as possible when patients come in with symptoms of bleeding, pain, dysphagia or otalgia. Our dentist can carefully examine the mouth and neck, which usually only takes a few minutes. This short exam is critical to the prevention, treatment and cure of early stage oral cancer.

    About 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Only 57% of those will be alive in 5 years. The reason that oral cancer has such a low survival rate is due to it being diagnosed in late stages. It is usually found after it has metastasized. This is not because it is difficult to find but because people are not being checked for it.You are the most important factor in early detection of oral cancer. Although we screen for cancer when you have your teeth cleaned or when you come in for a complete exam, sometimes you will notice changes in between visits which should be evaluated.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Things to look for at home

     
    • Sore that doesn't heal in 2-3 weeks
    • Red, white or blue patch
    • Lump or thickening in cheek
    • Numbness in mouth that didn't used to be there
    • Swelling that causes dentures to fit poorly (not to be confused with a denture sore)

    These symptoms could be caused by problems which are less serious but should be checked to rule out oral cancer.

    Risk Factors

     
    • Alcohol and tobacco use
    • Human Papilloma Virus
    • Unknown (5%) -- Genetics suspected
     

    Historically, nearly 75% of oral cancer was related to alcohol and tobacco use and was found in the 50+ age group. Recently, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has started to change the trend. Younger, non-smokers are the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients. This means that people ages 20 and up are at risk even if they don't smoke.

    Oral Cancer Screening

     
    • Check face for assymetry, swelling, discoloration, ulceration
    • Palpate lymphatic chains
    • Evaluate lips (inside and out)
    • Evaluate cheeks (inside and out)
    • Evaluate tongue (both sides, and underneath)
    • Evaluate floor of mouth
    • Evaluate soft palate
    • Check tonsils