General Dental Terms & Services

Family 1st Dental holds all of our offices to a high standard of excellence in personalized dental care.

There are many general and specialized services available at our locations. Below is a small portion of the most recognizable general dental services and terms. They include, but are not limited to the following:


Fillings are the restoration of lost tooth structure with metal, porcelain, or resin materials. There are many different types of materials used for fillings. You and your dentist can discuss the options and choose the right tone for you. Most are durable and will last you many years, but they are not permanent and may need to be replaced in the future.

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(silver) and Composite(tooth colored) fillings both restore teeth back to function.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both.

Please visit with your dentist on the type of filling that is best for you and your long term dental health.

Amalgam (Silver) Filling

Advantages Include:

  • Least expensive restorative material
  • Durable

Disadvantages Include:

  • Noticeable as they are silver in color
  • Can weaken the tooth over time depending on size
  • More natural tooth is removed to support filling
  • Tooth sensitivity is possible
  • Take longer to harden

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Composite (Tooth Colored) Filling


  • Improve cosmetic appearance as the fillings blend in naturally with your teeth and are less noticeable
  • More natural tooth is preserved
  • Material bonds directly to your tooth
  • Less tooth sensitivity with proper bonding techniques
  • Hardened with the use of a light


  • Cost is more than other filling materials
  • Has shorter life span

If you have questions or want to know the right type of filling that is best for you, please visit with your dentist.

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Comprehensive Dental Exam

The exam is performed at your initial dental visit and at following check-up exams that your dentist or hygienist will perform. Do not let the name General Dental Exam fool you, this is a comprehensive dental exam that will include all of the following main points:

  • Digital X-Rays
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Gum disease screening
  • Examination for tooth decay
  • Examination of previous work done (existing restorations)

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Periodontal Exam

A periodontal examination is used to assess the health of your gums and teeth. It can help your dentist diagnose the gum diseases gingivitis and periodontitis. A periodontal exam also can reveal receding gums, exposed roots, tooth grinding and other problems. The exam includes periodontal probing which simply means taking measurements of the spaces between your teeth and gums. Either the dentist or the dental hygienist can measure these pockets. If your dentist has concerns about your gum health, they may recommend a deeper cleaning or more frequent maintenance visits to help control and slow the advancement of the gum disease.

Here is what your dentist will evaluate during a periodontal examination:

  • Any lumps or other abnormal areas in the mouth — these may include changes in the color of the gums, inner cheeks, tongue or floor of the mouth.
  • Whether any of your teeth are missing or loose, and how loose they are — loose teeth can be a sign of periodontal disease.
  • The color, texture, size and shape of your gums — healthy gums are firm and pink. Diseased gums may be: reddish or bluish-red, puffy or spongy, enlarged or swollen, and shaped differently than normal.
  • Whether you have any fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures or implants and how these restorations contribute to the health of gums. Are they trapping food? Are they broken?
  • How much plaque is on your teeth — plaque is a coating on the teeth that contains large numbers of bacteria. These bacteria can cause decay and/or periodontal disease. The amount of plaque gives your dentist an idea of how well you brush and floss your teeth.
  • The depth of the space between your tooth and gum — to measure these spaces, the dentist uses a periodontal probe. This is a tiny millimeter ruler with a blunt tip. Your dentist slides the probe between the tooth and gums at various places around each tooth. Healthy gums cling tightly to the tooth with pockets less than 3mm deep. Diseased gums tend to swell and detach from the tooth. Pockets become deeper. Any pocket measuring more than 4mm deep is considered to be unhealthy.   In severe forms of periodontitis, the pocket can be more than 10 millimeters deep.  The deeper the pocket the more soft tissue and bone that anchor the tooth in place have been lost.
  • Whether your gums bleed during probing, receding gums, and how your teeth come together when you bite.

To complete the examination the dentist will also likely need X-rays of your teeth that show both between your teeth and the bone around the roots of the teeth.

Many dentists check all of these factors at every dental visit. Repeating these measurements helps your dentist track the progress of treatment.

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The crown of the tooth is the portion of a tooth above the gum line that is covered by enamel . When someone says “you need a crown” they are referring to a treatment that covers the entire visible portion of your tooth.  The artificial crown, sometimes call a “cap”, can be made of porcelain, ceramic, composite, or metal and is cemented on top of the damaged tooth. Porcelain or ceramics are the most popular choice because they are extremely strong, tooth colored, and resemble your natural teeth. Much like fillings, crowns are highly durable and will last you many years, but they may need to be replaced in the future.

Typical reasons a crown might be needed include: a tooth that has had a root canal, badly decayed teeth, large fillings that are no longer repairable, broken teeth, cracked teeth, or for cosmetic enhancement.

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Technology today is changing our everyday lives. Many people; however, are not aware that technology also is impacting dentistry in new and exciting ways. Cutting-edge innovations in dental instruments are requiring less time in the dental chair, causing less discomfort and creating satisfying results. One breakthrough instrument, called CEREC®, allows dentists to quickly restore damaged teeth with natural-colored ceramic fillings, saving patients time and inconvenience. The whole process takes less than a few hours.

To learn more speak with your doctor.

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A bridge is a non-removable dental prosthesis used to fill the space of a missing tooth or teeth which can help restore your smile or maintain the ability to chew and speak.  Also called a fixed partial denture, a bridge is cemented or bonded to supporting teeth or implants on either side of a space.  The most common bridge is made of ceramic because it most resembles your natural teeth. Just like fillings, there are many types of bridges and you and your dental team will discuss the best options for your case. They are very durable and will last you many years, but like other dental restorations they may need to be replaced.

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Dental Implants

In addition to dentures and partials, implants are also an alternative to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are permanent, stable tooth replacements that are commonly used to replace one missing tooth, but if you have several missing teeth you may still be a candidate. Implants provide you with a replacement tooth that is easy to clean, maintains your bone health, and looks very realistic.

A small titanium screw is surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone where a tooth is missing. It serves as the tooth root and anchor for the crown, bridge, or denture that is placed over it. Like other restorations they are very durable and strong and will last many years, but may need to be re-tightened or replaced in the future.

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Inlays or Onlays

Inlays and onlays are similar to fillings in that they replace missing tooth structure.  The major difference is the way in which they are made.  A traditional filling is said to be made directly, meaning that it is made on your tooth in your mouth.  An inlay or onlay is made on a digital or stone model and then cemented or bonded onto the prepared tooth.  An inlay restores tooth structure that resides within the walls of the cusps of a tooth while an onlay replaces one or more cusps.  Inlays and onlays can be made of ceramic, porcelain, or metal.

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Dentures and partials are removable replacements for missing or extracted teeth that closely resemble natural teeth and gums. We understand the emotional effect of the appearance of your smile, especially when you have teeth missing, so going even a day without a denture or partial is very uncomfortable.

Two types of dentures are available:   

  • Complete Dentures: are used when all the teeth are missing.
  • Partial Dentures: are used when some natural teeth remain.

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Is the removal of a tooth.

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Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is a soft, custom fitted device that is inserted into the mouth and worn over the teeth to protect them from impact or injury. Many of our offices have the capability to make Sports Mouth Guards in-office. Mouth Guard material comes in many colors, allowing them to be customized to your school's colors or for your favorite sports team. Talk to your Family 1st Dental office to see if this option is available and right for you!

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Night Guard

A removable acrylic appliance that fits over the upper and lower teeth used to prevent tooth wear and temporomandibular damage caused by clenching, grinding, or gnashing of the teeth during sleep.

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Nitrous (N₂O)

A gas (also called laughing gas) used to reduce patient anxiety. Many of our offices offer this type of sedation to help reduce the anxiety of going to the dentist. Ask your Family 1st Dental office about your sedation options.

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Root Canal

Endodontics is the specialty branch of dentistry that focuses on the health and treatment of the nerve tissues of the tooth.  Root canal therapy is necessary when a tooth is infected and will not heal on its own. Symptoms that indicate a root canal treatment might be needed include pain when biting or chewing, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, constant aching or discomfort.  A root canal treatment may also be needed if the dentist can visualize an abscess at the tip of the root of the tooth.  These abscesses may be painful but in some cases they present with no symptoms at all.

A tooth is composed of three layers, the inner most layer of the tooth is called the pulp.  Pulp tissue is composed of nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients and feeling to the tooth itself. These structures are housed in a small chamber, or canal, within the tooth. When these tissues become damaged due to infection or trauma, they must be removed, the canal area is then cleaned and sealed.

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A thin, clear or white resin that is applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent decay. A sealant is most often applied when a permanent tooth first erupts or comes into a child’s mouth. This is when sealants are needed most because there is a low contamination of bacteria in the grooves of their teeth. It is also important to have sealants applied to your children’s teeth due to lack of interest in brushing at a young age.

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Gum Disease – Periodontal Disease / Gingivitis / Periodontitis

Periodontal disease is a serious bacterial condition that damages and destroys the gum tissue and bone that support your teeth. Untreated periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Except in its earliest stages (gingivitis), periodontal disease cannot be completely cured. It can only be controlled and managed. Current research shows some alarming new information about the effects of periodontal disease. Many studies, including several published in the Journal of Periodontology, confirm that people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk for other serious illnesses. That is because infected gums release significantly higher levels of bacteria into the bloodstream which then spread to other organs in the body. There are many stages of periodontal diseases and it is important to discuss your individual situation with your doctor.  There are many stages of periodontal diseases and it is important to discuss your individual situation with your doctor.

Periodontal bacteria may contribute to: Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and pre-term and low birth weight babies.

Contributing risk factors include but are not limited to: age, smoking, stress, poor dental care, diabetes, genetics, hormonal changes, medications, other systemic diseases, poor nutrition, uneven bite forces, clenching, and grinding teeth.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco: Tobacco users are more likely than non-users to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.
  • Certain tooth or appliance conditions: Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
  • Many medications: Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
  • Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty: Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
  • Systemic diseases: Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
  • Genetics may play a role: Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis due to bacterial transfer between parents and children. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:

  • Red and puffy gums: Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Bleeding gums: Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
  • Persistent bad breath, caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • New spacing between teeth, caused by bone loss.
  • Loose teeth: Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • Pus around the teeth and gums is a sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gum or loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Tenderness or discomfort is caused by plaque, calculus, and bacteria which irritate the gums and teeth.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

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Dentist South Sioux City

South Sioux City Location

3220 Plaza Drive,
South Sioux City, NE 68776

(402) 494-2144

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