Preventative dentistry in Murrieta, CA, and elsewhere is, ideally, more like a marathon-style NASCAR race than a sprint-style drag race. Routine yet consistent care day in and day out really adds up – to a stunning and healthy smile. You can’t cut corners on preventive dentistry. But consistent oral hygiene at home and check-ups at Scola Family Dentistry ultimately save you time, as well as money and trauma.
More about Preventative Dentistry
Below are just a few of the ways that Dr. Valerie Scola, along with her exceptional hygiene team, partner with you and your family:
Check-ups that fit you to a “t”
The “standard” prevention program includes visits to the dentist’s office every six months. During these visits, our professional hygienists clean your teeth, and Dr. Scola examines your mouth for early signs of problems. She also conducts an oral cancer screening. Depending on your risk factors for dental decay and gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent check-ups. Routine appointments also present an opportunity for our hygienists to demonstrate cleaning techniques and make other suggestions that are specific to your needs and situation.
Professional products that lend a helping hand
Safe products that are clinically proven to support oral health are a great complement with the dental team’s friendly guidance on hygiene and other factors that can either help or hinder health, such as nutrition; for instance, Dr. Scola may recommend fluoride therapy. This beneficial mineral encourages remineralization of protective tooth enamel and helps to prevent cavities. Dental sealants also help to prevent tooth decay when applied to back teeth. Molars are susceptible to cavities because they are a.) hard to reach and b.) have natural pits and grooves that trap food and bacteria. Sealants are coverings that behave like raincoats to keep out substances that promote decay.
Advanced diagnostics that “see” what we cannot
At Scola Family Dentistry, we use advanced technologies, such as digital and panoramic x-rays and CBCT 3D imaging, to clearly and accurately detect those structures and abnormalities that cannot be seen with the naked eye. These tools are vital because problems such as gum disease often don’t cause pain and other symptoms until after they have progressed, and the damage is irreparable. Additionally, even with Dr. Scola’s trained eye, many oral problems and areas, such as impacted wisdom teeth, and the jawbone and sinuses, aren’t visible. Sophisticated imaging brings these conditions and structures to the surface.
Keep your oral health in check with gentle, precision dental technology in Murrieta, CA
Sometimes, you must get “under the hood” to pinpoint the source of that new sound or strange vibration. At Scola Family Dentistry, we do much the same thing, only we are not working on a car engine – we are working on the “engine” that supports your systemic health and overall wellbeing – oral health. Dr. Valerie Scola has invested in dental technology in Murrieta, CA, that renders clear and precise images of oral structures. Such technologies aid in accurately diagnosing the condition or abnormality at hand. With accurate diagnostics, we can effectively treat decay, disease, and other oral problems. Sophisticated equipment further detects slight abnormalities that otherwise might be overlooked. So, we can diagnose the condition earlier in the disease process when it is easiest to resolve fully. Plus, these technologies allow for your mouth to be evaluated in a way that is non-invasive (gentle), safe, and fast.
Not unlike panoramas or panoramic photos that you might take on your smartphone, panoramic x-rays also provide sweeping views. But, instead of a magnificent vista, panoramic radiographs, as they are also called, provide wide views of your entire oral cavity as one big x-ray. Besides, these images taken from the outside of the mouth show all the teeth, upper and lower jaws, and sinuses. This expansive look at your mouth allows Dr. Scola to quickly and precisely pinpoint conditions such as impacted wisdom teeth, bone irregularities, cysts, and tumors.
At Scola Family Dentistry, we also use digital radiography. Conventional imaging uses x-ray film to produce images of the teeth, gums, and other structures in the oral cavity. But digital x-rays use special sensors instead of film to produce clear images of oral structures. These sensors and associated plates require less radiation than traditional film x-rays. So, they are safe. Additionally, they can reveal areas that otherwise remain undetected, such as decay between teeth or underneath restorations such as crowns and fillings. Dr. Scola can review the images immediately on a computer monitor and enhance them to see details more closely.
Another type of digital technology, intraoral cameras, are wand-like instruments that are placed in the mouth to capture images of internal oral structures. As the wand passes over the teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues, Dr. Scola can transfer what the camera “sees” onto a monitor. You can review trouble spots alongside your dentist. This helps you to better understand the available treatment options. Also, patients love that the device is so unobtrusive and generally well-tolerated, even for those with a gag reflex or jaw pain.
CBCT Imaging Machine
CBCT stands for “Cone Beam Computed Tomography.” While that sounds like a mouthful, CBCT imaging is a variation on conventional computed tomography (CT) scans. The technology features an arm that will rotate around you 360 degrees. A large volume of high-quality images of your oral cavity and interconnected structures (ear, nose, throat) are captured from many different angles with an X-ray beam that is shaped like a cone. Precision images from various perspectives provide a fuller picture of your condition and needs than is rendered with a single scan.
Additionally, CBCT scans are convenient; a 20- to 40-second scan captures your entire mouth and related structures. A 10-second scan renders images of a localized, specific area. No preparation is required. And the process of getting scans is well-tolerated. CBCT is also considered to be the safer alternative to the original CT. Some units are associated with, on average, almost 80% less radiation than conventional CT systems.
Planmeca CAD/CAM Technology
Computer-Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology has been a mainstay of the engineering, architectural, and “built” worlds for decades. Now, we can use CAD/CAM software and hardware by Planmeca to design, fabricate, and refine dental restorations while you wait. With conventional equipment and approaches, restorations such as crowns would require at least two appointments: The first visit to plan and prepare the tooth and permanent crown and the second visit to place the permanent crown made in an outside lab.
Planmeca CAD/CAM technology essentially brings the lab to us. We have the in-house capabilities to plan, prepare, design, make, place, and adjust (as needed) the dental crown in a single visit. CAD software allows us to digitally scan and create a virtual, 3-dimensional model of your mouth. That simulation is used to design crowns, veneers, and other restorations. CAM hardware then allows us to “mill” the restoration from a quality block of dental porcelain. Adjustments can be made on-site. With all aspects of the restorative process available at our office, you also avoid the need to wear a fragile temporary crown while you wait for another lab to make your new crown. Get to know these and other advanced technologies for a stress-free dental visit by scheduling your appointment at Scola Family Dentistry.
Get back on the road to oral health; a guide to simple and surgical tooth extractions in Murrieta, CA.
Nine out of 10 people will develop complications related to their wisdom teeth. But that does not mean you have to suffer from the pain, swelling, and other symptoms associated with impacted wisdom teeth. During routine extractions, Scola Family Dentistry in Murrieta, CA, monitors how these last molars are developing. If Dr. Scola notices that a tooth is not erupting properly, she will recommend proactive removal to avoid the pain and other complications, while common wisdom tooth removal represents just one type of extraction. Except for impacted wisdom teeth, extractions are a “last resort” procedure.
Simple Tooth Extractions
As the name suggests, a “simple” tooth extraction is generally a straightforward, non-surgical process. It may be appropriate to remove a tooth that is broken or decayed. Enough of the tooth should be present above the gumline for us to loosen it in the socket with a specialized dental instrument (“elevator”). With the tooth loosened, we can easily remove it by using other tools to gently grasp and lift the tooth. For your comfort, local anesthetic is administered to numb the treatment site.
Generally, every effort is made to preserve natural teeth. We work closely with our patients on oral care and other preventive measures to protect teeth from damage caused by tooth decay, gum disease, sports-related dental trauma, and other oral conditions.
Surgical Tooth Extractions
Also known as a “complex” extraction, surgical tooth removal differs largely from simple tooth removal when teeth are so broken, decayed, or otherwise damaged that most or all the structure is underneath the gum tissue. In these situations, the tooth cannot be loosened, grasped, and lifted from the socket with specialized instruments. Incisions must be made to access the trouble tooth; for instance, a wisdom tooth may be impacted or fail to erupt fully through the gums.
Several factors are considered before determining the best technique to efficiently and precisely remove your tooth, including its position, the length of the roots (and how they are curved), the surrounding bone’s density, and your overall health. We will also discuss sedative options as appropriate, as well as instructions for care prior to and after treatment. It is important to follow nutritional guidance and other instructions, which supports healthy and prompt healing. Dry socket, for instance, occurs when the blood clot that forms at the extraction site is dislodged. It can be avoided with steps such as refraining from using straws, rigorous exercise, smoking, and other behaviors as instructed that could damage the wound.
Do not wait for problems to arise. A little care and “maintenance” can go a long way toward protecting the health, beauty, and function of your smile.
The cavity-fighting power of fluoride treatment in Murrieta, CA.
The California Department of Public Health attributes the marked decline in tooth decay on smooth surfaces (non-pitted or non-fissured teeth) to the prevalence of fluoride through community water supplies. Nationally, fluoridated water is considered among the top 10 notable accomplishments in public health in the 1900s. The CDPH recommends topical fluoride treatment to supplement municipal water sources among those with an elevated risk of developing tooth decay. When applied safely by Scola Family Dentistry in Murrieta, CA, fluoride bolsters the tooth’s natural protective enamel. In this manner, the tooth is less vulnerable to cavities and other forms of decay that can lead to the loss of the tooth.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is natural. The mineral is present (in trace amounts) within the water that we drink and food sources, from some types of fruit to grain. Products, including tea and coffee, represent common and easy ways to augment your intake of fluoride. Think of your enamel as the armor that shields the layers of your tooth from damage. While it is stronger than skeletal bone, enamel is not indestructible. Starches and sugars promote the build-up of bacterial plaque, which erodes the teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth’s natural defenses.
What treatments are available to me?
There are many different types of fluoride supplements that dentists, such as Dr. Scola, can recommend. Tablets may be taken by mouth, and gels and varnishes may be applied to the teeth. We also use Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), a fluoride product formulated with other ingredients to kill bacteria and remineralize the teeth. Applied as a solution, SDF presents a painless, safe, and quick cavity-fighting treatment.
We work closely with our patients to recommend oral hygiene techniques and oral products that are appropriate for their habits, lifestyle, age, underlying health conditions, and needs. We generally recommend that patients brush their teeth and other bacteria-harboring areas (such as the surface of the tongue) with fluoride toothpaste. Brush at least two times each day.
Excessive consumption of fluoride and, in turn, side effects, such as fluorosis, are quite rare. To further minimize the risks, we encourage patients to monitor their children when they brush. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that caregivers with children under the age of three use no more than a smear (a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. For children older than three, the AAP recommends a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Oral cancer is preventable and highly treatable with an exam at your Murrieta, CA, dentist.
Around 10 of every 100,000 Californians will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer. These cancers of the lips, tongue, pharynx, and mouth have a high rate of successful treatment when detected and addressed early. For instance, the California Department of Public Health reports localized mouth cancers (that have not spread) have a more than 85 percent five-year survival rate. Comparatively, the five-year rate for cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes and distant tissues is 62 percent and almost 38 percent, respectively.
Scola Family Dentistry in Murrieta, CA, plays an important role in identifying these cancers early. During a routine, six-month exam, Dr. Scola screens for suspicious abnormalities. She feels for suspected lumps and bumps. And any growths that may be missed with a visual inspection can be pinpointed with our use of sophisticated imaging. For instance, we use Cone-Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), which is a safe, non-invasive way to capture quality, 360-degree images of your oral cavity and associated structures. These advanced alternatives to traditional CT scans aid in an accurate diagnosis. And in these cases, accurate diagnostics can add years to your life.
Some of the symptoms of oral cancers include:
● Sores that never heal.
● Thickness or swelling inside of the mouth.
● Patches of white or red discoloration on the gummy tissues, tonsils, tongue, and inside of the cheeks.
● Functional problems, such as difficulty swallowing or moving your tongue.
● Sore throat or the feeling that something is “stuck” inside your throat.
● Numb lips.
If you have risk factors for these cancers, we recommend more frequent visits to our office so we can monitor any changes proactively. The use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products is the single biggest and most preventable cause of oral cancer. Smoking and smokeless tobacco have also been linked causally to cancers that arise in at least seven additional major cancer sites. The Oral Cancer Foundation also lists heavy use of alcohol consumption and poor diet as risk factors. Not unlike skin cancer, oral cancers that arise on the lips are associated with unprotected exposure to UV light from the sun’s rays or from tanning beds and other artificial sources. Knowing that prevention is the best form of treatment, we will work with you to manage these risks and minimize your chances of developing mouth cancer. Do not wait for scary symptoms to arise. If you live in or around Temecula, Menifee, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Sun City, and Canyon Lake, contact us to schedule your appointment at our office in Murrieta.
Preserve your healthy smile; protect your teeth from decay with dental sealants in Murrieta, CA.
The California Department of Public Health reports that the rate of decay on smooth tooth surfaces among children has “declined markedly” over the past 50 years. The CDPH attributes this significant improvement in dental decay to the “widespread exposure of fluorides” through the likes of municipal water systems. Now, most of the decay among school-aged kids is found on non-smooth surfaces. Yet even these pitted and fissured teeth have a powerful ally to prevent early childhood cavities and tooth loss: dental sealants. Scola Family Dentistry in Murrieta, CA, may recommend this conservative, non-invasive, tooth-preserving, fast, affordable, and safe preventive treatment to protect your child’s back teeth. These molars feature pits and fissures that can trap food debris, which promotes the build-up of bacterial plaque that eats through the teeth and inflames the gums. Due to their location, molars can be very hard to clean effectively.
The sealant quite literally “seals out” food particles and other harmful substances. A thin, BPA-free coating is applied as a liquid to teeth that are clean and dry. Dr. Scola securely “bonds” or fixes the coating to the teeth by preparing them with a gel-like, texturizing product. Then, she hardens the sealant to the underlying tooth structure with a specialized dental instrument. That is it! During six-month check-ups, your dentist will evaluate the condition of your sealants. They are quite durable, but we want to ensure they are in good working order. So that way, they can effectively keep out bacteria and other destructive elements. Sealants will be replaced as needed.
Sealants Not Just For Kids
We may recommend this preventive procedure as soon as the first molars come in, usually around the age of six. This is a proactive approach to warding off dental decay by not giving lingering food the chance to get caught in hard-to-reach and grooved surfaces. However, we can place sealants for adult patients, too. Over time, medical conditions can result in new challenges to your oral health. Sealants provide another layer of protection, on top of good oral hygiene and professional cleanings at our office, to keep your teeth healthy and decay-free.
We are proud to serve adult and pediatric patients from throughout the area — Temecula, Menifee, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Sun City, Canyon Lake, and surrounding communities. Schedule your appointment at our Murrieta, CA office today.
A guide to dental exams and cleanings in Murrieta, CA.
Almost 28% of California kindergarteners have untreated tooth decay, and 45% of middle-aged Californians have lost at least one permanent tooth due to dental decay or disease. These figures from the California Department of Public Health are sobering, but dental damage and tooth loss do not have to be a fact of life. Scola Family Dentistry understands that, just like maintenance on your car, routine care at the dentist’s office keeps your smile looking and functioning well for the long haul. Dental exams and cleanings in Murrieta, CA, at the office of Dr. Valerie Scola, allow you to get the most “mileage” out of your natural teeth by preventing the leading causes of tooth loss – dental decay and periodontal or gum disease.
Patients schedule an appointment at our office at least once every six months. These visits include a “check-up” and professional cleaning by one of our hygienists. During the evaluation part of the visit, we will ask about changes to your medical history. New illnesses and the medications used to treat them can present challenges to your oral health. For instance, dry mouth is associated with hundreds of prescription drugs. Dry mouth or xerostomia puts you at increased risk of developing tooth decay. Likewise, existing oral conditions, such as periodontal disease, are also associated with poor diabetes control.
Dr. Scola gently examines your teeth and gums for signs of conditions that require treatment. Often, gum disease is “silent” in its earliest stages. So, it is vital to have your mouth evaluated regularly. What she cannot see with visual inspection alone can be detected with sophisticated x-rays or radiographs. We use digital, panoramic imaging, and other diagnostic technologies to detect tumors, impacted teeth, and other “hidden” abnormalities clearly, precisely, safely, comfortably, and quickly.
The Professional Cleaning
During your appointment, one of our hygienists will use his or her specialized training and dental instruments to remove sticky dental plaque and hardened plaque or heavy tartar. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth and gums. If it is not removed properly by brushing and flossing, the plaque builds up. Once plaque hardens, it sticks to the teeth and must be removed with professional tools and care. Tartar erodes at the teeth and inflames gum tissue. Our hygienists also measure the depth of the space between the gums and teeth. These spaces or pockets grow larger as gum disease progresses. After the plaque is removed from the surfaces of the teeth and from under the gumline, we will polish your teeth to remove any stains and bacteria that linger.
As partners in your oral health, we will make recommendations on oral care products, techniques, and nutrition. All of these factors play an important role in the health of your smile and your overall well-being. No exam is complete without screening for abnormalities that might indicate oral cancers and warrant further investigation.