Frequently Asked Questions | San Diego Dentist


Porcelain Veneers

What are porcelain veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin ceramic shells bonded directly to the front surfaces of the teeth. They can cover many minor flaws but don’t actually correct anything such as crookedness or gaps. In one procedure, they cover all flaws, which makes them a very convenient and easy cosmetic treatment if you would prefer not to have a succession of separate treatments.

What can porcelain veneers do for me?

Porcelain veneers can correct the appearance of one or many dental problems in one procedure.

They are sometime referred to as “instant orthodontics” because they can give your teeth a well-aligned look without you having to wear braces.

Porcelain veneers can correct the appearance of:

  • Chips and cracks
  • Broken or misshapen teeth
  • Gaps
  • Crooked teeth
  • Discoloration
  • Unevenly sized teeth

Learn more by reading our Questions about Porcelain Veneers

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Porcelain Crowns

What is a porcelain crown?

A porcelain crown is a cover for your entire tooth, replacing the outside surface and preserving what remains of the interior. It is colored and shaped to perfectly match your natural teeth.

Why are crowns used?

They give more coverage and strength than fillings. They can prolong the life of an otherwise weak tooth, one with large areas of decay, or one which has had a root canal.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Porcelain Crowns

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Porcelain Fillings

What can a filling do for me?

Porcelain fillings repair cavities (holes) in your tooth. Any decay is removed first. A porcelain filling is made in the dental lab to fit exactly in the cleaned cavity, and requires two visits. This differs from traditional metal fillings and white composite fillings, which are placed directly into the tooth as soon as the decay is removed. They need only one visit. But all dental fillings seal the cavity and with good dental hygiene, protect your tooth from sensitivity and further decay.

What is an inlay?

It is a relatively small porcelain filling, contained inside the tooth’s cusps (small projections on the top surface). They are  made from porcelain which matches the color of your natural tooth, so that nobody but a dentist can tell you have a filling.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Porcelain Fillings

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Smile Makeovers

What is a smile makeover?

It’s a one-of-a-kind set of dental procedures that you and Dr. Coleman would devise. The goal would be to transform your smile by successively correcting several defects. An example would be: Tooth Whitening plus Dental Bonding to fill a small gap and hide slight crookedness, plus two porcelain inlays to replace old metal fillings. Your smile makeover will not happen until you have decided on it with Dr. Coleman, because all other makeovers have been different.

What can a smile makeover do for me?

The possibilities are endless. Among many improvements to your smile, we can:

  • Straighten teeth
  • Replace missing or broken teeth
  • Whiten your teeth
  • Repair worn or chipped teeth
  • Correct an uneven gum line
  • Replace unsightly metal fillings with porcelain fillings

Learn more by reading our Questions about Smile Makeovers

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Dental Bonding

What is dental bonding?

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dentistry procedure which addresses many of the same problems as porcelain veneers. It uses a soft dental composite (dental bonding) to repair or correct the tooth and needs only one visit. The term bonding can refer to either the procedure or the material used. It can also refer to the dental cement used to attach veneers and crowns, although in those procedures, it’s a thinner type of dental bonding.

How is it done?

First the tooth’s surface is slightly roughened and a thin coating of a plastic material is applied. Then white dental bonding is applied and sculpted until the problem is corrected. It might be filling a small gap or chip, or slightly changing the shape of a tooth. Then a high-intensity light hardens the bonding, and the surface is finely polished.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Dental Bonding

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Tooth Whitening

What causes tooth discoloration?

Over time everyone’s teeth will become dull. Many factors contribute to staining and discoloration including:

  • Consuming staining foods and beverages such as coffee, black tea, red wine, or dark berries
  • Excessive fluoride
  • Tobacco use
  • Dental trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Metal fillings

How does tooth whitening work?

Dr. Coleman offers the Zoom! In-Office Whitening system, which uses a light activated gel to whiten your teeth. The active ingredient is Hydrogen Peroxide.

We also offer a gentle, more gradual at-home whitening system which uses customized trays and a similar whitening gel.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Tooth Whitening

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Amalgam Fillings vs. White Fillings

What are the advantages of white over amalgam fillings?

There are three categories:

  • Appearance – amalgam is dark and obviously a filling
  • Dental health – amalgam weakens teeth
  • Overall health – the mercury in amalgam is thought by many to give off a vapor in response to hot substances which over time will threaten overall health. Mercury is a toxic chemical element.

How do amalgam fillings affect the look of my teeth?

They are often placed in highly visible areas, but there is more than just the metallic appearance of the new amalgam filling to worry about. Over time they become dark and tarnished, they can leave dark stains on your teeth, and they can show through the enamel.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Amalgam Fillings vs. White Fillings

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Non-Surgical Gum Treatment

What can non-surgical gum treatment do for me?

Lasers have forever changed the care we can provide. In Dr. Coleman’s office, lasers are utilized to recontour gum tissue for a more pleasing appearance, to treat periodontal disease and even to detect decay in teeth much earlier than dentists have been able to in the past.

Dr. Coleman offers gum recontouring and periotherapy using a diode laser.

What is gum recontouring?

It is another name for a gum lift. Dr. Coleman can use the laser to painlessly remove excess gum tissue. This will  improve the look of teeth which appear too short, correct a “gummy” smile, and straighten an uneven gum line. Uneven gums can make your teeth look crooked.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Non-Surgical Gum Treatment

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What is Invisalign?

Invisalign straightens your teeth without the need for unsightly braces. Instead, it uses a system of clear trays.

How does Invisalign work?

Invisalign uses a series of clear aligners, much like retainers, to gradually move your teeth into the proper position. Dr. Coleman would take  impressions of your upper and lower teeth, and enter them into his imaging system. He would morph those two images step by step to two final images where all teeth were correctly positioned.

For each step, Invisalign would create a pair of trays for you. Each pair would exert gentle pressure against selected teeth. After wearing one set for two weeks, you would discard them and start wearing the next set in the series. Gradually the entire series would adjust your teeth in very tiny increments, until they reach the proper position.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Invisalign

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What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), also known as Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) and Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MFPS), is a painful and often debilitating neuromuscular condition. It consists of a misaligned jaw joint, usually with misaligned teeth. The jaw muscles continually try to correct the misalignment, but they continually fail, and this builds up chronic tension in the entire jaw area, leading to many painful symptoms.

Can TMJ be successfully treated?

Yes, TMJ can be successfully treated! But only a qualified neuromuscular dentist has the training and equipment to do it well.

Learn more by reading our Questions about TMJ

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Sedation and Sleep Dentistry

What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses a combination of sedative pills and nitrous oxide to relax you, minimizing discomfort and making you more responsive to numbing medications. You will be conscious enough to respond to Dr. Coleman, but will feel too calm and relaxed to get anxious about anything.

What is sleep dentistry?

Sleep dentistry uses general anesthesia and you will not be conscious at all during the procedure. Sleep dentistry must be performed by a certified sleep dentist such as Dr. Coleman. It is a good choice for those who have not been able to tolerate dental procedures in the past.

Learn more by reading our Questions about Sedation and Sleep Dentistry

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What is endodontics?

Endodontics is that area of dentistry which treats the interior of a tooth. Fillings and crowns are dental restorations, and they treat damaged tooth enamel, protecting and strengthening it. When decay damages only the enamel, these procedures are appropriate, and will prolong the tooth’s life without any endodontics being necessary.

However, when decay is more severe, and spreads through the enamel to the next layer, the dentin, and through that to the interior of the tooth, more thorough-going treatment is needed to restore the tooth and avoid having to extract it. This is where endodontics comes into play.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is the space inside a tooth. It is a tunnel, or canal, running down from the tooth’s crown area (visible area) through the root, where the tooth in anchored in the jawbone. The term root canal is used in two senses:

  • To refer to this interior vertical space; and
  • To refer to treatment of that space.

A tooth’s root canal is not an empty space. It contains what is called the tooth pulp, consisting of the tooth’s nerve, connective tissue, and the blood vessels which nourish it. When you get a toothache, it is because decay and infection have entered the root canal and are affecting the nerve.

Eventually the nerve will die, if no treatment is done, and the toothache will disappear. But the bacteria will continue to spread, infecting the gums and jawbone, and possibly entering the bloodstream to carry the infection elsewhere in the body. This is known as periodontitis (gum disease).

Learn more by reading our Questions about Endodontics

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