No More Metal Fillings!

Metal CavityA few decades ago, dental cavities were filled with a mixture of different metals. Today, dentists are using more tooth-like materials that are safe and predictable to help create a natural and unnoticeable looking filling! Because the tooth filling is made up of resins and porcelains that mimic your natural tooth, the material is less susceptible to breaking. So while it’s best that you maintain a healthy mouth to avoid cavities, it no longer means obvious fillings.

About Your Teeth

One of the hardest natural materials for humans to produce consistently is enamel—that’s why it’s so important that you take care of your teeth to avoid enamel erosion. Tooth enamel is the hard substance found in the shell of each of your teeth that is visible when you look in your mouth. Below the enamel is dentin, a living material that is extremely sensitive. If your tooth has eroded, you may experience sensitivity that could indicate your need for a filling.

With dental porcelain fillings, our team can easily imitate the enamel of the tooth, eliminating a visible filling. If your enamel has eroded further into the dentin, we will use dental composite resins to fill in the part of the tooth where the natural dentin should be.

Why This Material Is Better

Metal fillings can cause further damage to teeth, not repairing the erosion or infection. We have access to tooth-colored fillings that mimic the same materials that your teeth are made of, therefore looking more natural and lasting longer than metal fillings. Using this new type of filling even requires that less of the tooth be removed in the process and possibly less pain during the procedure, which means you get to keep more of your natural smile!  To seal your teeth, we use a dentin resin coasting to seal and protect the surface of your tooth from bacteria and sensitivity.

The Process

If you feel you may have a cavity, make an appointment with our office right away. A technician will take X-rays of your mouth, then examine the X-rays, your teeth and gums to diagnose any issues. Based on our evaluation, we will provide you with a treatment recommendation.

If you just so happen to need a filling, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Once we identify the infected tooth, we clean the area thoroughly and remove debris. We then apply the filling solution into the missing area to provide more support to the tooth. A special light is held over the bonding material to harden the solution and bind it to the tooth.

The filling material can be shaped to match the contours of your natural tooth so that the relationship between the upper and lower teeth is preserved.

In some cases after a filling, you may experience intermittent pain. For the few days after you receive your fillings, it may be smart to avoid extremely hot or cold food or drink, as this may cause sensitivity.

Already have a metal filling? We can replace it with a more visibly natural and durable filling!  This is an easy way for us to improve your smile with a minimum amount of work.

Pefect TeethHow to prevent cavities

Some indicators that you may have a cavity can include a toothache, tooth sensitivity, mild or sharp pain when eating or drinking, visible holes or pits in your teeth, brown, black, or white stain on the surface of a tooth, and pain when you are biting down.

The easiest way to avoid cavities is by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, and flossing at least once a day. Flossing can help remove plaque and food debris that can breed with bacteria and cause erosion. You should brush with a soft bristled brush for at least two minutes per brushing. Using a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains fluoride will help protect your teeth- it is a compound that can help reverse the progress of early cavities and sometimes prevent the need for corrective treatment. Mouth rinses will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, reducing your chance of infection.

If you are having any of the following symptoms, or would like to replace your metal filling with a more natural and durable filling, contact our office today! Our professional and experienced team looks forward to serving you.



A Toothache… Might be a Tooth Abscess

Girl with sore cheeckPatients may feel that their toothache is run-of-the-mill, however, if you have a severe, continuous toothache, you may have an abscessed tooth.

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection, usually occurring from an untreated dental cavity, injury, or prior dental work. In some cases, dentists will be able to save the tooth with a root canal treatment, but may need to be pulled depending on the condition of the tooth. Leaving an abscessed tooth untreated can lead to serious complications— a patient could even develop sepsis, a life threatening infection that spreads throughout the body. Patients with weakened immune systems are even more at risk for developing serious disorders from a tooth abscess.

The main symptom of a tooth abscess is a toothache, which could be described as gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing. If you have a tooth abscess, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Severe/persistent/throbbing toothache
  • Sensitivity to pressure of chewing, biting, or hot and cold temperatures
  • Fever
  • Swelling the face or cheek—extremely serious symptom
  • Swollen glands under the jaw or neck
  • Foul-smelling or foul-tasting fluid in your mouth and pain relief if abscess ruptures
  • Breath odor
  • Bitter taste or pain when chewing

Sometimes, there will appear to be swelling of the gum over the infected tooth, which could look similar to a pimple. Poor dental hygiene and a diet high in sugar can increase your risk of tooth abscess. It’s important to remember to properly take care of your teeth and gums by brushing at least twice daily and flossing once per day. Frequently eating or drinking foods high with sugar can contribute to dental cavities that turn into a tooth abscess.

The goal of our treatment is to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent any complications.

To treat the infection, we will need to evaluate your condition by doing the following:

  • Tapping on your teeth: a tooth abscess at its root is generally sensitive to touch or pressure. This is how we find out which tooth the abscess is associated with.
  • X-ray: an X-ray of the aching tooth can help identify an abscess.

Treatment options include:

  • Draining the abscess: the dentist makes a small cut into the abscess, allowing pus to drain out, then wash the area with saline water.
  • Perform a root canal: this procedure can help eliminate the infection and save your tooth. To do this, the dentist drills down into your tooth, removes diseased pulp, and drains the abscess. Then the dentist seals the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals, and caps with a crown.
  • Pull the affected tooth: in some cases, the tooth may not be able to be saved.
  • Prescribe antibiotics: if the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you might not need an antibiotic. But, if the infection has spread to nearby teeth or other areas, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading further.

Once you have the treatment, there are some small things you can to do help the infected area heal and to ease discomfort:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol or Advil, as needed

Once the treatment has healed it’s important to take care of your teeth to avoid another infection from occurring. Our suggestions are:

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Use dental floss daily
  • Replace your toothbrush head every three months
  • Eat a healthy diet, with limited sugar and in-between meal snacks

If you are having symptoms that correlate with a tooth abscess, it’s important to see a dentist right away. Contact our office to set up an appointment! Click here or call us at 239-936-0597.


Frequently asked questions in a dentist’s world

Girl in dentist chairMany patients have similar questions when they come for a dentist visit. So today, we’re going to address some of the most commonly asked patient questions!

Q1. How many times can I floss per day?
You should be flossing your teeth at least once per day to achieve a healthy, gum disease free mouth! I doesn’t really matter what time of day you do it; before breakfast, after lunch or—as long as you are flossing every day. Flossing is important because it removes food debris and bacteria that can cause cavities or gum infections. You can actually floss your teeth more than once a day, but many times may cause the gums to be sore or bleed.

Q2. How many times should I brush per day?
Brushing your teeth at least once a day is recommended. Three times per day after every meal is optimum, but twice per day is the minimum number of times you should be brushing your teeth daily. When you brush your teeth, you should do so for two minutes or more. To make this easier for you, try to play one of your favorite songs that lasts just a few minutes, and brush for the entire song. The time will pass you by!

Q3. How do I get cavities?
When a tooth is exposed to acid frequently (if you eat or drink often) the repeated cycles of acid cause the enamel to lose minerals. An early sign of decay is when the tooth develops a white spot, this means that minerals have been list in that spot. At this point, the tooth decay can be reversed or repaired with saliva, and fluoride from toothpaste or mouth rinse.

If this decay process continues and more minerals are lost over time, the enamel becomes weakened and forms a cavity. From there, the dentist will have to repair the tooth with a filling. The good news is, with new technology, your filling can show up white, and no one will ever notice!

To prevent cavities, you need to protect your teeth with fluoride—this can be found in toothpastes or mouth rinses. When you visit our office and it appears as though the tooth has suffered a small amount of decay, we will apply a fluoride gel or varnish of the tooth surfaces to help seal the tooth.

Q4. Are dental x-rays safe?
May patients are concerned with the radiation associated with getting dental x-rays. Radiation can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and sometimes can lead to the development of cancer. The good news is, there is only a small amount of radiation a patient is exposed to when receiving x-rays. At our advances facility, we have low radiation machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being x-rayed. We use lead-lined full body aprons to protect the body from possible stray radiation and place film-holders in-between the patient’s teeth.

Q5. What are dental sealants?
Sealants protect your teeth from decay. They are a thick plastic coating that is painted on the surface of the teeth where you chew, which is generally your premolars or molars. Sealant quickly bonds into the depressions of the tooth and serves as a shield over the enamel of each tooth. Those who benefit from sealants are generally children when they receive their permanent molars, and adults who have tooth decay or fillings.

Q6. Should I have an electric or manual toothbrush?
Selecting a type of toothbrush can be a challenge, but when you are choosing between manual or electric toothbrushes, it really just depends on your individual needs and comforts.
Manual toothbrushes are very reasonably priced and accessible. They are also

  • Easy to travel with because of the size and it doesn’t need to charge
  • Doesn’t put as much pressure on your teeth and gums (too much pressure can cause tooth enamel decay, sensitivity, and increased risk of tooth decay)

Electric toothbrushes are a great innovation. The key is to choose one right for you. Electric toothbrushes can sometimes clean harder to reach spots in your mouth, and is good for people with limited ability to move their shoulders, arms and hands because of the larger handle. Electric toothbrushes with bristles rotate together in one direction and then switch and rotate in the opposite direction (known as rotating-oscillating) appear to be more effective than manual brushes, because they spin in other directions, whereas a manual toothbrush only moves in one direction.

Q7. How often should I change my toothbrush?
Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm. When replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head, be sure it has soft bristles.

We hope this quick fact guide was helpful in answering all of your questions. At Shane McDowell, we are here for you and aim provide the best dental care for all of our patients! If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 239-936-0597 or email us at