Cleaning & Prevention

Woman smiling in a field

Dental Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:

Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Examine of intraoral photos: visual inspection of teeth, restorations and gums Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc. Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Dental Hygienists on healthy mouths. Your professional cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:

Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Removal of calculus (tartar) above the gums: Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above the gumline can be removed with special ultrasonic instruments.
Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling


Metal-Free Restoration


There is a paradigm shift in today’s modern dentistry. Mercury fillings and metal crowns were once the standard of care in restorative dentistry. Even today some dental offices are placing these types of restorations in patients mouths. Not only are there serious health risks to this type of treatment, the results are downright unattractive.

At Southern Smiles, we believe in using the latest materials on the market today. Metal-free restorations have the combined advantages of high strength and beauty.

We have been metal-free for the past seven years and have no intention of turning back. Metal-free restorations are a bit more time consuming and technique sensitive, but definitely worth the investment.

We refuse to compromise the health of our patients or offer a treatment that we know to be inferior to alternatives that are available. We are committed to staying current with the latest materials and techniques in dentistry. With new advances in cosmetic dentistry, everyone at every age deserves the best available dental care. At Southern Smiles that is exactly what every patient gets!


Orthodontics for Children & Adults

Girl smiling with braces

We believe that every person deserves the best care possible. That is why every patient is has their bite evaluated for proper form and function. We have the necessary skill and training to treat patients of all ages that have malocclusions or improper bites.

The alignment of both the teeth and more importantly the jaws are critical to not only the health of the mouth, but the health of the entire body. Correction can occur in a variety of ways, depending on the age, growth potential and nature of the malocclusion. An examination of the airway, facial symmetry, profile and patient posture are evaluated on every patient to determine if improvement can be made.

Functional Appliances are often used in early childhood to help guide the patient and use growth to promote a more favorable development of the mouth and face. This type of treatment includes palatal expanders and appliances that are fastened to the patient’s teeth to guide the jaws into their proper position.

Traditional Braces are still the most widely used method to move teeth. The brackets and bands are made of stainless steel, which makes them very durable particularly for active children, or patients that need a lot of tooth movement. In our technique no headgear is required!

Ceramic Braces can be used when minor tooth movement is needed or when the patient is mature enough to care for them. These are identical to the traditional braces except that these are made of porcelain instead of stainless steel. Therefore, the same tooth movements can be made but with brackets that are less noticeable.


Periodontal Therapy


The gums and bone surrounding the teeth are the foundation of the dentition. Like the foundation of anything else, this foundation is the most important part of dental health. In our office we take periodontal health very seriously. We start with a complete periodontal examination at the very first visit and every year thereafter. We probe the pockets around every tooth, chart gum recession, and update the digital x-rays to detect any signs of periodontal disease. There are five stages of periodontal disease ranging from healthy gums to inflamed gums (gingivitis) to advanced bone destruction (periodontitis). We make an initial diagnosis for each patient and make the appropriate treatment recommendations.

Periodontal disease is primarily a condition created by bacteria that is in our mouths and the individual’s immune response to that bacterial presence. The goal of periodontal therapy then is to eliminate the bacteria and control the body’s response.

At Southern Smiles, we use technology driven treatment to combat periodontal disease. Ultrasonic instruments and soft tissue lasers are used to provide painless effective nonsurgical therapy. This treatment is done sequentially or one quadrant at a time. Each session we go back to the section treated before so that at the end of the treatment, the area that had the most damage was treated repeatedly a total of four times. This technique is very effective and results in much healthier gums and can even result in stimulation of new bone growth!


My-Fit Custom Dentures

Man with custom dentures

Edentulous patients, or patients without teeth, are treated as full mouth rehabilitation patients in our practice. These patients deserve special attention and so often do not get it. We have advanced training from world experts in the field of dentistry on how to best meet and in most cases exceeded patients’ expectations.

The My-fit custom denture system involves restoring the patient back to proper form, fit and function. The goal is to have beautiful, well fitting teeth that allow the patient to speak, chew and swallow comfortably without pain, slippage or damage to the delicate structures beneath the dentures. If the patient does in fact need more support of their dentures, at Southern Smiles we can place dental implants to secure them. Many times we are rebuilding a collapsed bite to its proper position so not only does the patient receive their smile back, but they also get a more youthful and natural facial appearance as well!


Composite Restorations


A composite (tooth colored) restoration is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth will be removed and then filled with a composite restoration. There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth. Composite restorations are the most widely used today. Because composite restorations are tooth colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth. Composite restorations can be used for chipped teeth, small cavities, worn front teeth or closing spaces between teeth. As with most dental restorations, composite restoration will not last forever and may someday have to be replaced. They are very durable, and will last many years, giving you a long lasting, beautiful smile.

How are composite restorations placed?
Composite restorations are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay and old filling as necessary. The area will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new composite restoration is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. The composite restoration will then be precisely placed, shaped, and polished, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.

It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when composite restorations are first placed, however this will subside shortly after your tooth acclimates to the new restoration. You will be given care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new composite restoration.


All-Porcelain Crowns


In this day and age it seems absurd to still be placing metal restorative materials in people’s mouths. Yet there are still offices today (many of them pediatric offices) that fill children’s teeth with mercury and place metal crowns in adult’s mouths. They will steadfastly defend the use of these materials even though many countries around the world have made their use illegal when used on children and pregnant mothers. At Southern Smiles we feel that not only is that type of dentistry obsolete, it is also dangerous to the patients. Mercury is one of the single most toxic substances to the human nervous system.. Since most of the harmful mercury exposure occurs during the placement and removal of these fillings, we will not eliminate old worn out mercury fillings without properly protecting our patients from exposure to mercury vapors. While we do not insist on removal of every mercury filling from our patients’ mouths, we do watch them very closely as they are a primary cause of fractured teeth.

We are unwilling to jeopardize the welfare of are patients by placing these types of materials when there are safer, more esthetic alternatives. That being said, the technique sensitivity of placing non-metal restorations makes the proper training and strict adherence to the placement protocols a must for a successful outcome. If you read the protocol for placing any bonded restoration, step one is to place a dental dam. We are the only office in Hilton Head that does this required step.

That same philosophy goes for our crowns and bridges. The typical crown or bridge is a metal substructure that is covered with porcelain. Not only are there frequently tissue responses to these metals, these are non precious alloys that can when in proximity to other metals set up an electrical field inside your mouth. All-porcelain crowns and bridges are available today that are strong, safe and beautiful. That is the type of restoration that we prefer to place.


All-Porcelain Bridges


There are several types of bridges. You and your dentist will discuss the best options for your particular case. The "traditional bridge" is the most popular type and is usually made of porcelain fused to metal. Porcelain fixed bridges are most popular because they resemble your natural teeth. This type of bridge consists to two crowns that go over two anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) and are attached to pontics (artificial teeth), filling the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years, however they may need replacement or need to be re-cemented due to normal wear.

Reasons for a fixed bridge:

  • Fill space of missing teeth
  • Maintain facial shape
  • Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
  • Restore chewing and speaking ability
  • Restore your smile
  • Upgrade from a removable partial denture to a permanent dental appliance

What does getting a fixed bridge involve?
Getting a bridge usually requires two or more visits. While the teeth are numb, the two anchoring teeth are prepared by removing a portion of enamel to allow for a crown. Next, a highly accurate impression (mold) is made which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the bridge will be fabricated. In addition, a temporary bridge will be made and worn for several weeks until your next appointment. At the second visit, you permanent bridge will be carefully checked, adjusted, and cemented to achieve a proper fit. Occasionally your dentist may only temporarily cement the bridge, allowing your teeth and tissue time to get used to the new bridge. The new bridge will be permanently cemented at a later time. You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new permanent bridge.


All-Porcelain Crowns

Close up of veneers

Veneers are very thin pieces of durable, tooth shaped porcelain that are custom made (for shape and color) by a professional dental laboratory. They are bonded onto the front of teeth to create a beautiful and attractive smile. Veneers can completely reshape your teeth and smile. They can often be alternatives to crowns and the ideal solution in treating many dental conditions. They are very durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

Reasons for porcelain veneers:

  • Cosmetically, to create a uniform, white, beautiful smile
  • Crooked teeth
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Unwanted or uneven spaces
  • Worn or chipped teeth

What does getting porcelain veneers involve?
Getting veneers usually requires two visits to complete the process, with little or no anesthesia required during the procedure. The teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. A mold or impression of the teeth is taken and a shade (color) will then be chosen by you and the dentist.

On the second visit the teeth will be cleansed with special liquids to achieve a durable bond. Bonding cement is then placed between the tooth and veneer and a special light beam is used to harden and set the bond. You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers


Zoom! Whitening

Zoom Whitening

The Zoom™ whitening procedure is quick and easy. It’s a revolutionary tooth whitening procedure that is safe, effective and extremely fast. In just over an hour, your teeth will be dramatically whiter. Take your first step to feeling good, looking great and making a memorable impression every time you smile. You owe it to yourself!

Your smile is important. It's one of the first things you notice when you meet someone. A whiter, brighter smile is beautiful - it can help you feel better about yourself and make a memorable impression

Your lifestyle and the aging process can stain and darken your teeth. Many things we do on a regular basis can contribute to stained teeth, such as drinking coffee, tea, cola and red wine or smoking.

Whitening can get your smile looking its best. Non-professional procedures and clinically unproven teeth whitening tips can often lead to unsatisfactory results, you should look for a whitening procedure that is:

  • Fast and convenient
  • Long lasting
  • Low sensitivity
  • Proven to be safe and effective
  • Performed by a Dental Professional

Clear Correct

Clear Correct Braces

Looking for an alternative to metal braces? ClearCorrect is the clear and simple choice. No wires. No brackets. Just clear, convenient comfort—every reason to smile.

With ClearCorrect, your dentist or orthodontist can straighten your teeth using a series of clear, custom, removable aligners. Each aligner moves your teeth just a little bit at a time until you eventually get straight teeth.


Sedation Dentistry


Candidates For Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is for patients with:

  • High fear
  • Traumatic dental experiences
  • Difficulty getting numb
  • A bad gag reflex
  • Very sensitive teeth
  • Complex dental problems
  • Limited time to complete dental care

People who...

  • Hate needles and shots
  • Hate the noises, smells and tastes associated with dental care
  • Are afraid or embarrassed about their teeth

Sedation Dentistry Information
You are given a small pill to take an hour prior to your dental appointment. Your companion will accompany you to the office. By the time you arrive you will be very drowsy.

When you arrive in our office, you will be escorted into the comfort room, covered with a thick, warm blanket and placed on a monitor to watch your vital signs. After you are comfortable our experienced clinical team will take care of your dental needs.

When your treatment is completed your companion will return you home to finish your comfortable, relaxing day.

It Really Works! You really can relax through your dental appointment.

It Is Safe! You take a small pill prior to treatment, no intravenous tubes or needles. You will have little or no memory of the experience. You won't remember any sounds or smells.

You can relax for up to five to six hours after taking the pill. The time you are relaxing will vary depending on your needed treatment.

Complex dental treatments that often require six to eight appointments, can be done in as little as one! All while you relax.
People who have difficulty getting numb will find that sedation dentistry eliminates this problem.

Sedation dentistry is a safe way to reduce the fatigue of extended dental treatment requiring long visits.

Answers To Questions About Sedation Dentistry

Will I feel any pain?
No. You will feel nothing!

Will I be unconscious?
No, you will be in a deeply relaxed state, and you will be responsive.

Will I be monitored?
Yes, one of our team members is always with you and your vital signs are monitored during the entire visit. You are never alone.

How long will I be relaxing?
Depending on your needs, from two to six hours.

Will someone need to accompany me?
Yes, due to the sedative effects of the medication, you will need someone to drive you to our office and home again.



Teeth X-Ray

What are Implants?
Dental Implants have been used successfully for many years. The implant itself is a post that is surgically placed in the jaw. A prosthesis (artificial tooth or teeth) is then attached to the post.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
With the exception of your natural teeth, nothing looks more natural than an implant. One important benefit of implants is that they slow the shrinking of bone and gum tissue from the area of the missing tooth, thus preventing premature aging.

  • Of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64, approximately 49% are missing at least one tooth
  • Dental implants are the most advanced tooth replacement system ever devised
  • More than nine out of ten implants last longer than 15 years
  • Dental implants never develop decay
  • Dental implants never require root canals
  • Dental implants preserve the jawbone, which can prevent premature aging
  • No one can be disqualified for implant treatment solely because of their age -- some patients receive implant treatment when they are in their nineties!

How are Dental Implants placed?
Step One: The gum is gently folded back and a space is prepared for the implant to be placed.
Step Two: The dental implant "anchor" is put into place.
Step Three: The gum tissue is replaced over the implant and the implant is left alone for several months so the bone can attach to the implant and create a secure anchor.
Step Four: After the implant has had a chance to attach to the bone tissue, the excess gum tissue is removed from above the implant.
Step Five: The temporary cap is removed from the anchor and a post is attached to the anchor.
Step Six: The implant is now ready for a prosthesis. Your restorative dentist will add the prosthesis.

Considering a Dental Implant?
If you are considering a dental implant, contact Southern Smiles for an evaluation appointment. Dr. Canham will perform an evaluation to determine whether you are a good candidate for a dental implant. If you are a good candidate for an implant, Dr. Canham will provide you with further information to help you decide.


Bone Grafting


Today, more than ever, advances in medicine and dentistry have led to new and expanded areas of treatment. Two such areas, bone grafting and guided bone regeneration (GBR) in the jaw bones and around teeth, have recently experienced tremendous growth. Procedures to repair and grow new bone, unheard of just a few years ago, are now part of routine dental surgical care. This brochure will help you better understand what bone grafting and GBR are, what options are available to you and what benefits you may gain from these procedures.

What are bone grafting and GBR?
Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that replaces missing bone with a material called a bone graft. This material not only replaces missing bone, but also helps your body regrow lost bone. This new bone growth strengthens the grafted area by forming a bridge between your existing bone and the graft. Over time the newly formed bone will replace much of the grafted material. GBR is a procedure in which a membrane is placed over the bone graft site. This membrane further encourages new bone to grow and also prevents the growth of scar tissue in the grafted site.

Why are bone grafts and GBR needed?
Bone grafts and GBR are needed when a part of your body is missing bone. This missing portion of bone is frequently called a "bony defect". Examples of jaw bone defects are: defects surrounding roots of teeth (periodontal defects); defects which occur following tooth extraction; generalized decrease in quantity of jaw bone from trauma or long-term tooth loss; defects surrounding dental implants; defects resulting from cyst or tumor surgery.

Are bone grafting and GBR painful procedures?
These procedures are usually done in the doctor's office under local anesthesia. The procedures themselves are without pain. Post-operatively, normally there will be some swelling and some mild to moderate discomfort, especially from other procedures performed, such as tooth extraction, cyst removal, etc. Your doctor will prescribe an oral analgesic to help relieve your discomfort. If a more invasive second procedure is required to obtain bone (i.e. from your hip, chin area, etc.) then your post operative discomfort will be increased but still manageable

How are bone grafting and GBR procedures performed?
The following is one example of these procedures following tooth extraction.


TMJ Dysfunction Therapy

TMJ Dysfunction Therapy

What is it?
TMJ itself stands for temporomandibular joints, a complex system of bone, muscle, nerves and soft tissue located just in front of your ears. They are the most frequently used joints in the body... and are prone to misalignment, which can lead to chronic recurrent headaches as well as ear, facial and neck pain. Until recently, these symptoms, appearing unrelated, were frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as migraine, tension headache, neuritis, neuralgia, or stress. When standard treatment remedies for these types of disorders proved unsuccessful, patients were frequently labeled as hypochondriacs, "it's all in your head", or mental. These often unexplained, undiagnosed and therefore untreated symptoms are related to a group of problems called, TMJ Dysfunction. TMJ Dysfunction is considered "The Great Imposter" because problems within this disorder can produce a myriad of symptoms which, at first glance, might appear unrelated to the jaw complex.

If you suffer from TMJ dysfunction, you may experience any of the following:

  • Headache or facial pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Tingling in the arms or fingers
  • Back pain
  • Ringing or stuffiness in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Pain when chewing or yawning
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the TMJ
  • Limited jaw opening or locking

Treatment Our conservative jaw positioning therapy is designed to allow the body an opportunity to heal itself. Through use of modern technology and state-of-the-art equipment such as JVA (Joint Vibration Analysis), Jaw Tracking, EMG and imaging to show the relationship between the jaw and skull, we are able to minimize the trauma (injury/irritation) to the joints and maximize the healing effects through proper positioning of the temporomandibular joint(s).

The proper positioning of the joint(s), using orthotic appliances, is imperative in the healing process. Physical therapy and protection of the jaw during healing including a healthy diet plan go hand in hand to maximize repair of the damaged tissues. Non-invasive therapies such as ultra sound, iontophoresis, infrared, radio frequency, and cold laser therapy may be recommended for optimum healing. Medications may also be necessary to reduce inflammation and relax muscles to speed healing. Normal healing time is 8-12 weeks. This may vary depending on an individual’s capacity to heal and the extent of their injury.

At the completion of this therapy, usually 3-4 months, final records will be taken to evaluate for possible weaning from the orthotic appliance or the need for permanent stabilization of the joint. Surgery is rarely indicated and is always the last resort.


Snoring/Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than generally understood. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. Its name means "want of breath." There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea, which is less common, occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the breathing muscles to initiate respirations. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common and occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person’s nose or mouth although efforts to breathe continue.

In a given night, the number of involuntary breathing pauses or "apneic events" may be as high as 20 to 60 or more per hour. These breathing pauses are almost always accompanied by snoring between apnea episodes, although not everyone who snores has this condition. Sleep apnea can also be characterized by choking sensations. An individual with sleep apnea can have breathing stop or interrupted so often that oxygen is reduced to the brain and other vital organs. In order to breath, the body has to wake itself over and over thus reducing the quality and quantity of sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness, snoring, memory impairment and personality changes. Dr. Canham can make a dental appliance to maintain the body's airway which reduces snoring and apnea episodes. If you or someone you know in the Hilton Head area might be suffering from sleep apnea, ask one of our dental team for more information.


Neuromuscular Dentistry


Neuromuscular Dentistry is a concept in which there is a position in space where the jaws are in their proper physiologic position. The muscles of the jaws, face, and neck determine this position. At this position these muscles should be in a completely relaxed state and the TMJ is in its proper position. This position is called physiologic rest position (PRP). In this position there is muscle harmony and pain is eliminated. From PRP we can determine with great certainty, where the person’s bite should be. When the patient has a neuromuscular bite, the muscle activity is balanced and the biting forces are directed in the correct direction. From this position the patient will have better long-term dental health,

This information guides us in making treatment decisions in reconstructive dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, TMJ therapy, orthodontics, denture fabrication, elimination of tooth wear, elimination of facial pain, and elimination of airway obstruction.

It is a difficult concept to fully understand. That is why it takes intensive training and a large investment of time and money to offer this advanced dentistry to our patients. Once a dentist understands this concept, how much sense it makes, and how it can benefit people its hard to do dentistry any other way. So when you come to Southern Smiles you will most assuredly experience dentistry like never before.