704.861.1208
1725 South New Hope Road
Gastonia, North Carolina 28054

Glossary

Many of our services are defined here in alphabetical order to aid in understanding.
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Term Definition
Assessment of tooth position

The teeth are part of a larger system of chewing that includes the jaws, TMJ, and a complex system of muscles that extend over the face and head and into the neck. The harmonious function of this system is assessed. Bite disease, myofacial disorders, and joint disorders, if present, are investigated. The relationship or the jaws position and motion and its effects on the teeth, including cracks, heavy wear, and discomfort in biting are recorded. Malocclusion (crooked teeth) is also evaluated.

In addition to these diagnostics and the use of radiographs, study models, photographs and other diagnostic tools may be used to both record the state of the teeth and to educate patients about conditions to better make treatment decisions. The comprehensive examination is not only diagnostic, the appointment generally concludes with treatment planning and counseling on the next step to treatment and better oral health.

Bite Guard (aka Night Guard, Appliance)

There are many circumstances and conditions that greatly benefit from the use of an occusal splint appliance. Splints (commonly known as bite guards or night guards) are a thin, hard acrylic appliance that covers the biting surface of either the upper or lower arch of teeth. They are typically worn every night during sleep or as needed to provide comfort. Splints are useful for a variety of treatment goals and diagnosis. Night time bruxism (grinding) is a common condition experienced by many. This grinding and clenching can wear down teeth, crack teeth, chip front teeth, cause mobility, and inflammation sensitivity around the ligaments supporting teeth. Splints are adjusted to an ideal biting contact with the opposing arch of teeth that correlates with the natural position of the TMJ joint and biting muscles. This comfortable position reduces stress on the joint and relieves tension by relaxing the muscles of mastication (chewing) in the face, jaws, neck and head. In addition to preventing destruction of tooth structure, splints can reduce symptoms of many TMJ disorders and myofacial pain caused by bite disease and misalignment of the teeth in relation to the correct and natural position of the jaw and joint. The splint is for this reason often used prior to major dental restorative dental procedure to establish the correct position of the jaws to determine ideal tooth position. There are many "bite guards” available in drug stores and on the internet- in fact some people even try using mouth guards sold in sporting goods stores. Beware, all of these over-the-counter products, while protecting the teeth from contact, pose a significant risk to the joints and muscles. While they may fit snug to the teeth they are not made to specifically adjust to the patients bite. If you think you are having signs or symptoms that may indicate a guard, do yourself a favor and consider a proven professionally made splint.

Dr. Kelly does not simply suggest to patient’s that, “You need a night guard because you grind your teeth”. Most dentists do this, it is appropriate in some cases, but simply making a plastic shell to cover the teeth and sending a patient home with it limits many of the primary objectives and uses of this appliance. Most dentists, 90% use orthotic appliances this way and another 5% do not use them at all. Around 5% use them to their fullest potential, as Dr. Kelly does. Most often when Dr. Kelly fabricates a splint appliance for his patients they are entering an active therapy, not just being guarded. He spends the time necessary over multiple appointments defining the bite relationship with the appliance until a comfortable ideal jaw position is found. This process leads to his successful ability to relieve pain and discomfort and diagnose the underlying problem, often leading to addressing the issue as it relates to the teeth.

Bridges

Bridges are very similar to crowns except that they are used to replace missing teeth. They attach to teeth on either side of a space to span the gap of missing teeth. Bridges are permanently cemented and not removed from the mouth after insertion. Like crowns, bridges can restore natural beauty and the function of your smile.

CEREC CAD/CAM In Office Restorations

Dr. Kelly is one of the few dentists in the area to own and use the state of the art CEREC machine. This computer-based machine uses an optical impression system to create a digital model for making ceramic crowns, inlays, and onlays. When appropriate this can eliminate the need for temporaries and two appointments. This is possible by milling the restoration in a robotic device in-office on the same day as the procedure. Dr. Kelly’s patients are raving about this new technology!

Complete Dental Restoration

In complex dental treatment, a comprehensive approach is absolutely necessary using a combination of procedures. When multiple teeth require extensive treatment the harmony of a patients bite must be considered. Many missing teeth or severe deterioration of most teeth may require complex reconstruction using a combination of periodontal therapy, crowns, bridges, veneers, fillings, and possibly dental implants.

Complete examination of teeth and existi

This includes recording existing dental work and conditions that warrant treatment.

Complete set of radiographs

Current radiographs are imperative in diagnosing decay, bone loss, pathology, pulp health, jaw disorders, and tooth position. Without radiographs the dentist is working essentially blind.

Composite Resin

Composite resin (tooth colored fillings or bonding) is bonded directly to the tooth to correct a variety of problems. It can replace small dark fillings or fix small cavities before they become large. Composite resin bonding can also improve smiles by correcting chipped, stained and worn teeth by closing spaces between them. This versatile material, when indicated, allows enhancement of your smile in just a single visit.

Comprehensive evaluation of soft tissues

The dentist will search for abnormal condition of the oral tissues and examine the head and neck. This includes screening for oral cancer.

Comprehensive Exam

New patients at Kelly Dentistry find the comprehensive exam a rewarding and personal experience with the dentist that assists in identifying treatment needs and goals. Before you become a patient of record and enter a hygiene program for a regular cleaning you have the opportunity to spend an exclusive time to evaluate your oral health and address questions. It is imperative that patients receive a thorough examination and deserve individualized attention prior to extensive treatment or even entering our cleaning recall. During a complete dental examination you can expect a complete set of radiographs.

Crowns (aka "caps")

are restorations that cover the entire tooth. Crowns are used to correct badly broken or worn teeth, large cavities, or teeth that have undergone root canal therapy. In some cases, large amounts of front teeth are compromised and crowns are used instead of veneers for a cosmetic solution. Crowns are often used to strengthen weaken and cracked teeth. Severally worn teeth can have function restored by using the crown to create an appropriately shaped biting surface. When adjacent crowns are connected (splinted) together, they can stabilize loose teeth. Crowns can be made from various porcelains, porcelain fused to gold cores, or new high strength porcelain. Dr. Kelly typically uses all ceramic crowns, without metal cores for a more natural appearance and to avoid gray lines at the gums. Crowns are fabricated by a laboratory to provide strength, precision, enhanced esthetics and a stable bite. CEREC crowns are also available for certain situations to allow crowns to be made in office in a single visit. A quality crown designed with care, where indicated, will last a very long time.

Dentures and Partial Dentures

Dentures are removable dental appliances use for replacing missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made to closely resemble natural teeth and may even enhance your smile. Complete dentures are made when all of the teeth are missing and partial dentures are made when some of the natural teeth remain. Complete dentures can not only replace teeth but also add lost dimension to correct a "shrunken in" smile and lower face. Complete dentures can be supported by dental implants to create a snap in fit. A partial denture not only replaces teeth, it also prevents damage that occurs to other teeth through prevent of shifting. Some partial dentures can be made in conjunction with specially made crowns that create a very precise "button in" fit. Modern materials and Dr. Kelly’s meticulous care can produce amazing cosmetic results.

Equilibration (aka Teeth Balancing)

Equilibration is the process of conservatively reshaping the enamel surfaces of teeth to achieve a more ideal bite in relationship to the jaws and muscles. The equilibrated mouth is less likely to experience joint problems, muscular pain, and teeth problems including soreness, sensitivity, cracking, chipping, and mobility. Equilibration also stabilizes the bite so that Dr. Kelly can restore segments of teeth in phases. Often patients have no idea how great their bite can feel until it is equilibrated.

Fillings

Fillings are used to correct areas of small decay to replace the hole left by removing infected tooth structure. They can either be made with composite resin (white, tooth colored material) or with traditional alloy material. While each have their advantages in restoring small decayed areas, Dr. Kelly typically uses composite resin when indicated for a more esthetic and natural appearance. In situations where a great deal of tooth structure is compromised with decay; inlays, onlays and crowns are indicated to restore teeth as a more durable option.

Gum Lift

A low or asymmetrical gum line can be corrected by gingivectemy or "gum lift" surgery. This relatively simple procedure serves as an adjunct to other restorative and cosmetic procedures or can stand alone to enhance "gummy" smiles. Patients typically report very low post operative discomfort after this procedure.

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American Dental Association           American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry            Pankey Institute Alumni