General Treatment

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Family Dentistry in Durham, NC

Fillings | Root Canals | Tooth Extractions | Crowns & Bridges | Dentures & Partials

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Here at Dr. Clifton's Durham dental office, we take every measure to ensure that you are treated with the most professional care available in a warm and safe environment. Dr. Clifton and his team offer a wide array of general dental treatments for patients of all ages. Our Durham, NC family dentistry practice is your one-stop-shop for all of your family's dental needs.

Our emphasis is on total preventive care for our patients, which starts with regular hygiene visits, check-ups and continued home oral health routines. For patients who require more specialized care, our Durham dentist offers the highest-quality services for restoring mouths that have been damaged by dental disease, injury and common problems. In addition endodontics and early dental care, we offer the following general dental treatments.

Fillings

The concept of a "filling" is replacing and restoring your tooth structure that is damaged due to decay or fracture with a material. We offer tooth colored composite and amalgam materials. Fillings are used to correct the following conditions:

  • Cavities
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Teeth that have been worn down from misuse

Root Canal

A root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, reshapes the canal and replaces it with strengthening filler.

A cavity is the result of superficial decay of the enamel of the tooth. Left long enough, this decay can burrow into the deeper reaches of the tooth, causing extensive damage to tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, dentists can perform a root canal (or endodontics), preserving the tooth and retaining its original integrity; thereby, saving a tooth that in the past would have to have been pulled.

This procedure involves:

  • The patient undergoes anesthesia.
  • A dental dam is used to isolate the tooth.
  • The tooth is opened to allow for removal of infected or dead dental pulp.
  • The tooth is comprehensively cleaned, including any cracks and canals.
  • With special tools, the doctor reshapes the canals.
  • The tooth is filled again with cutting edge biocompatible filling material.
  • A temporary covering is used to cover the access opening.
  • Patients must see their regular dentist quickly for a permanent restoration of the tooth.

Tooth Extractions

General Extractions

An extraction is the complete removal of a tooth. Extractions are sometimes necessary if:

  • A primary tooth is preventing the normal eruption of a permanent tooth
  • The tooth has suffered extensive tooth decay or trauma that cannot be repaired
  • The patient has gum disease
  • The tooth is impacted (usually the wisdom teeth)

Depending on the complexity of the case, an extraction can be performed surgically or non-surgically. Dr. Clifton offers a mild anesthesia or sedation to make the patient as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, or your third molars, usually appear in the late teens or early twenties. These molars often lack the proper space in the jaw to erupt fully or even at all. This common condition is called impaction. When any tooth lacks the space to come through or simply develops in the wrong place of your jaw and becomes impacted, problems can arise. Primarily, damage to adjacent teeth and crowding occur.

In certain cases, the wisdom tooth that cannot come through becomes inflamed under the gums and in the jawbone, causing a sac to develop around the root of the tooth that then fills with liquid. This can cause a cyst or an abscess if it becomes infected. If either of these situations goes untreated, serious damage to the underlying bone and surrounding teeth and tissues can result.

To potentially stave off this result, an extraction of one, several or all of the wisdom teeth may be advised. If that is the case, we will refer the patient to one of the area practices specializing in oral surgery.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns

A crown is a permanent covering that fits over an original tooth that is decayed, damaged or cracked. Crowns are made of a variety of different materials such as porcelain, gold, acrylic resin or a mix of these materials. Porcelain crowns generally have the most natural appearance, although they can often be less durable.

The treatment plan for a patient receiving a crown involves:

  1. Numbing the tooth to remove the decay in or around it.
  2. Re-sculpturing the tooth to provide an ideal fit for the crown.
  3. Making an impression of your teeth in order to create a custom-made crown (usually takes one to two weeks).
  4. Making a temporary crown out of acrylic resin and fitting it onto the tooth during the interim period when the permanent custom-made crown is being created.
  5. Applying the permanent crown (when received from the lab) by removing the temporary crown and fitting the permanent one onto the tooth.
  6. After ensuring that the crown has the proper look and fit, the dentist cements it into place.

The process for lab-fabricated crowns consists of 1-2 visits over a three to four week period. CERAC crowns can be completed in one appointment. Once the procedure is completed, proper dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, is required to maintain healthy, bacteria-free teeth, gums and crowns. This helps in the prevention of gum disease.

Bridges

A bridge is a dental device that fills a space that a tooth previously occupied. A bridge may be necessary to prevent:

  • Shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and resultant periodontal disease.
  • Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.

There are two main types of bridges, namely:

  • Fixed bridge- this is the most popular and consists of a filler tooth that is attached to two crowns, which fit over the existing teeth and hold the bridge in place.
  • The Cantilever bridge is often used when there are teeth on only one side of the span. A typical three-unit cantilever bridge consists of two crowned teeth positioned next to each other on the same side of the missing tooth space. The filler tooth is then connected to the two crowned teeth, which extend into the missing tooth space or end.

Dentures

Partial Dentures

Here at Dr. Clifton's Durham dentistry office, we offer custom-made partial dentures that fit seamlessly alongside your natural teeth. Today's partials are comfortable and keep your other teeth from shifting into the space left by missing teeth, safeguarding you from further tooth decay and gum disease that could cause you to lose more teeth. Partials also will keep your natural teeth from becoming crooked or tilting into the gap, which can cause difficulty chewing, and jaw pain when you bite down. With new partial dentures, you will be able to comfortably eat the foods you like. And because partial dentures support your cheeks and lips, you will look better and be able to speak more clearly.

Leading-edge technology using high-quality, lifelike materials will give your partial a look so natural it will be nearly undetectable. Dr. Clifton will conduct an initial exam, listen to your needs and answer any questions that you might have. Then, he will advise you on the best type of partial for your needs. Skilled specialists will custom craft your partial dentures from impressions and models we make of your teeth and mouth.


At our Durham dentistry practice, it is our primary goal to help our patients of all ages achieve and maintain their optimum level of oral health. If you are a resident of Durham, NC or one of the surrounding areas and are interested in the dental treatments that we offer, please feel free to contact our office, and we will be happy to answer any questions that you might have or schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you!