General Dentistry Services


General Dentist Westford MA

Our comfortable office environment allows you to relax as we take care of your dental needs. Whether you simply need a cleaning or a crown, or want to enhance your smile with Cosmetic Dentistry, we are here to take care of you! Dr. Wu and Dr. Santamaria offer a wide range of dental services including:


Preventive Services


An oral examination is a visual inspection of the mouth, head, and neck, performed to detect abnormalities. Radiographs allow for a more complete examination, helping the doctor to detect cavities, problems in existing dental restorations, gum and bone recession or other abnormal conditions within the mouth, head and neck area.
A dental cleaning, also known as an oral prophylaxis, is the removal of dental plaque and tartar (calculus) from the teeth. Specialized instruments are used to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth. First, an ultrasonic device that emits vibrations and is cooled by water is used to loosen larger pieces of tartar. Next, hand tools are used to manually remove smaller deposits and smooth the tooth surfaces. Once all the tooth surfaces have been cleaned of tartar and plaque, the teeth are polished.

Cosmetic Services


Invisalign® takes a modern approach to straightening teeth, using a custom-made series of aligners created for you and only you. These aligner trays are made of smooth, comfortable and virtually invisible plastic that you wear over your teeth. Wearing the aligners will gradually and gently shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements your dentist or orthodontist plans out for you. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten. You just pop in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks, until your treatment is complete. You’ll achieve a great smile with little interference in your daily life. The best part about the whole process is that most people won’t even know you’re straightening your teeth.
Whitening, also known as bleaching, is the procedure used to brighten teeth. There are two different ways to achieve a desired whiter smile, In-Office Bleaching and At-Home Bleaching.

In-Office Bleaching usually requires only one office visit. A protective gel or a rubber shield is placed over the gums to protect the soft tissue. A bleaching agent containing carbamide peroxide is applied to the teeth, and a laser light is then used to enhance the action of the whitening agent .

At-Home bleaching requires an impression of the teeth to be taken to make a customized mouth guard to hold the whitening gel, containing carbide peroxide, against the teeth. Once the mouth guard is made, it is worn for a period of time, as instructed by our office. The amount of time may vary from a couple hours a day, or all night, for up to four weeks or longer, if desired.

Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain used to recreate the natural look of teeth. To place a veneer, a very small amount of the original tooth enamel must be removed. Afterwards, an adhesive layer is placed between the slightly prepped tooth and the veneer. The veneer is then hardened with a curing light.

Restorative & General Dentistry


A crown is a dental restoration that completely covers the outside of a severely decayed tooth. Dental crowns can be completed in two visits. During the first visit, the tooth is prepped (shaved down) and an impression is taken. A temporary crown is placed while the permanent crown is being made. During the second visit, the permanent crown is fitted comfortably and then cemented into place for a permanent restoration.
A bridge replaces missing teeth without the use of a denture or dental implant. A false tooth is held in place by being attached to a neighboring tooth. In order to fabricate a bridge, crowns are made for the teeth on either side of the space and a false tooth is placed in between the crowns, as a support.
Dental implants are the replacement of tooth roots in the mouth. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth. Dental implants are small anchors made of a biocompatible metal called titanium, which are placed in the jawbone. The anchors begin to fuse with the bone over a few months. After the fusing process, known as osseointegration, abutment posts are inserted into the anchors to allow for the permanent attachment of the replacement teeth.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth. There are two types of dentures, complete (full) and partial dentures.

Complete (Full) Dentures are made after all the teeth in the upper and/or lower jaw have been removed and the gum tissue has healed. The denture includes an acrylic base that is custom made in the dental laboratory and are made to look like natural gums, which sits over the gums or can be anchored to dental implants.

Removeable Partial Dentures are made only when a few teeth need to be replaced. The removable partial denture either attaches to crowns on either side of the denture or to a metal framework that is attached to the teeth on both sides of the partial denture. Partial dentures can be removable or they can be anchored in place by attaching them to dental implants. Removable partial dentures can be supported in place by attaching them to dental implants when wearing them during the day.

Root canals are most often necessary when decay has reached the nerve of the tooth or the tooth has become infected. When root canal therapy is performed, infected or inflamed pulp is removed from the tooth chamber. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and disinfected before filling and sealing to limit the possibility of future infection. Soon after the root canal is performed, the tooth is restored with a dental crown or filling to protect the tooth and restore normal tooth function.
A tooth that can not be saved with restorative materials may need to be removed. Before removing your tooth, the area will be numbed with anesthesia. The tooth is then loosened using a special dental instrument known as an elevator. After it is loosened from the socket, it is gently removed by a forcep, a dental instrument commonly used in dental extractions. Stitches may be necessary after the removal of a tooth.
Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure used to treat gum disease. During the scaling process, specialized dental instruments are used to remove dental plaque and calculus from beneath the gums. Planing is the procedure used to smooth the tooth’s root after the scaling process. Root planing helps the gums heal and reattach themselves to a cleaner and smoother root surface.
Tooth-colored fillings are the most lifelike material used to fill cavities. Composite fillings can be done in one visit. Once the decay is removed from the tooth, it is filled with this composite material and left to harden immediately afterwards.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is similar to a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

To treat TMJ disorders, first the cause has to be identified. In less severe cases TMJ disorders can be treated with self-managed care (easting soft foods, using ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movement) or nonsurgical treatments (anti-inflammatory medications, Botox injections, stabilization splints).

Lasers in dentistry allow for many dental procedures to be performed with no noise, very little pain and fewer appointments. All lasers work by delivering energy in the form of light. When used for surgical and dental procedures, the laser acts as a cutting instrument or a vaporizer of tissue that it comes in contact with. When used for “curing” a filling, the laser helps to strengthen the bond between the filling and the tooth. When used in teeth-whitening procedures, the laser acts as a heat source and enhances the effect of tooth-bleaching agents. The procedures performed with dental lasers are minimally invasive and preferable to conventional surgery.

Other benefits of laser dentistry over traditional methods can include:

Reduced heat and vibration
Little or no need for anesthetic
Faster treatment time
Increased rate of retention
Less post-operative complications

Some of the dental treatment provided by lasers are as follows:

“Cure” or harden fillings
Whiten teeth
Reshape gum tissue
Biopsy or remove soft tissue lesions and ulcers
Remove areas of tooth decay
Eliminate pockets of infected gum tissue
Root canal therapy
Correct ankyloglossia (tongue-tied)
Oral surgery and extractions

CAD/CAM is an acronym that stands for computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing. CAD/CAM technology is used to help the dental team fabricate precise shapes and sizes for dental restorations including inlays, onlays, crowns and bridges. This technology provides patients with durable, esthetic, well-fitted single and multiple tooth restorations in a more efficient manner. The first step in using CAD/CAM technology is tooth preparation. Next, a digital impression is taken that sends the prepared tooth’s exact dimensions into a computer. Afterwards, the computer software creates a virtual restoration replacement part for the missing areas of the tooth. The software then sends the virtual restoration data to the milling machine, where the replacement part is carved out of a solid block of ceramic or composite resin. The restoration is adjusted in the patient’s mouth and cemented or bonded in place.
Biomimetic Dentistry is defined as the reconstruction of teeth to emulate their natural biomechanical and esthetic form and function. Simply put, biomimetic dentistry means to copy what is life-like. With biomimetic dentistry, only the damage and decayed part of the tooth is removed and the final restoration is bonded to the remaining healthy natural tooth structure. Biomimetic restorations include stress-reduced direct composite restorations and porcelain/composite inlays and onlays that restore the biomechanics of broken and damaged teeth. Traditional dental treatments do not follow the biomimetic approach.

When restoring damaged, broken, and decayed teeth, the goal is to return the tooth to its original strength, function, and esthetics. Biomimetic dentistry accomplishes all of this in a conservative, strong, and attractive approach.


General Post-Op Instructions


Crowns and Bridges may take one to three visits to complete. The dentist will inform you of your treatment options and the time needed to complete the procedure. You may have some sensitivity following treatment with tenderness around the gum and tooth for a day or two. If the tenderness or sensitivity lasts longer than this please contact our office. If anesthesia is used, avoid chewing, biting, and eating until the numbness has worn off. If you have a temporary placed eat softer foods and avoid foods that are particularly crunchy, chewy or hard. If the temporary restorations become loose or break, please call us immediately.

Carefully clean around the restoration, brushing and flossing daily. When flossing, take extra care not to loosen the temporary restoration by removing the floss too roughly. You can slowly thread the floss out by one end if necessary to avoid too much pressure on the temporary.

Once your final restoration has been placed avoid chewing on hard, crunchy or sticky foods for 24 hours in order to give time for the cement to fully bond. Mild sensitivity to hot or cold foods is not unusual and should dissipate after a few weeks. If sensitivity lasts more than six weeks please let the office know, although this happens infrequently.

Ongoing care for your restoration includes brushing your teeth after every meal and snack, and flossing at least once a day before bedtime. Rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash with also help to remove any additional particles that may have been missed during brushing and flossing.

Please call our office if you are in pain or have any questions regarding your treatment.

Do not eat or chew until any numbness from anesthesia has worn off. If you are supervising a child who had treatment, make certain that they are not eating or chewing while numb. Please make sure they do not bite their lips or tongue as it can cause serious injury to their soft tissue. Avoid sticky, crunchy or hard foods for 24 hours.

Sensitivity to cold and heat, as well as any soreness, shouldn’t last more than a few days. Please call our office if you experience pain or discomfort for more than a few days.

You may have discomfort for a few days after receiving your final dentures or partials. Dentures and partials will often need several adjustments in order to fit comfortably. To help adjust to your dentures you can practice reading aloud for a little while each day. At night you should remove your dentures and clean them. They should be stored in a clean container filled with denture cleaning solution. Dentures should be removed for at least 6 hours a day to give your mouth and gums time to rest. Food particles can become trapped under dentures causing inflammation or sore spots. Brush the roof of your mouth, your tongue and lightly brush your gums after removing your dentures.

Ongoing care for your restoration includes brushing your teeth and surrounding tissues after every meal and snack, and flossing at least once a day before bedtime unless you have full dentures, in which case brushing them is very important. Rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash will also help to remove any additional particles that may have been missed during brushing and flossing.

You should visit our office at least once a year to have your dentures or partial adjusted and checked by the doctor. Wearing ill-fitting dentures or partials without proper care and adjustment can cause severe bone loss and very serious oral disease. Please call our office at the first signs of any symptoms or if you are experiencing ongoing pain or discomfort.

Scaling and root planing therapy includes removing tartar and bacterial plaque from the root surface below the gum line. This helps reduce inflammation and infection and improves the depth of periodontal pockets, therefore allowing more efficient flossing and brushing.

For the first 24 hours you may experience some cold and heat sensitivity. Do not eat, drink, chew or consume hot foods or beverages until the numbness has worn off following anesthetic. Avoid vigorous physical exercise as well as foods and are extremely hot or spicy for the first 24 hours. Do not consume alcoholic beverages or smoke for at least 48 hours. Some bleeding following a deep cleaning is normal, but if you experience excessive bleeding please call our office.

You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen according to the instructions on the label or those provided by your doctor as needed. A warm salt water rinse, approximately one teaspoon in an eight ounce glass of water, three times a day can be helpful. Brush and floss gently following a deep cleaning, resuming normal brushing and flossing when the soreness is gone.

Follow any other instructions provided by our office on your visit. Please take all medications as prescribed.

Thank you for selecting us for your root canal therapy. Please follow the guidelines below and contact us with any questions.

  1. For the next 30 minutes, do not eat or drink anything. You have a temporary filling that takes about 1/2 hour to harden. Please do not feel around your tooth with your tongue.
  2. If any prescriptions were given, please have them filled promptly. If no prescriptions were given and you are not allergic, you may use any ibuprofen type of medication such as Motrin or Advil, 3 tablets (600mg) every 6-8 hours as needed for discomfort and alleviation of swelling. Alternatively, you may use Tylenol, 1000mg every 6-8 hours as needed. Do not exceed the guidelines printed on the label for any medication. If you are unable to achieve adequate pain control, please call our office.
  3. You may find using an ice pack to the affected area helpful. Please do not apply ice directly to the skin; have a cloth between the ice and skin at all times. You may apply the ice for up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the next 6-8 hours as needed.
  4. Once you begin to eat and drink, avoid chewing or biting on the area worked on until your permanent restoration is in place. The area may be more sensitive due to swelling. The temporary in place is a soft composite that is vulnerable to fracturing (cracking) with hard substances such as peanuts, pretzels, hard candy, ice cubes, etc. You will need to see a restorative dentist within a month to have a permanent crown placed. Please contact your restorative dentist to make an appointment at your earliest convenience. Waiting longer than a month increases the chances that the temporary will fracture and/or decay will develop, in which case, you are at fault and will be responsible for all costs to have it redone.
  5. Please keep the area worked on clean by gently brushing the area and flossing regularly.
  6. It is rare for a temporary filling to fall out although it may divot while in use. If the temporary falls out please contact your general dentist as soon as possible. If your temporary falls out after office hours you may purchase some temporary filling material from most pharmacies and follow the included instructions.
  7. Some discomfort following the root canal is normal for 2 to 4 days after the treatment. In some cases the tooth and surrounding tissue may be sore for a few weeks following the treatment.
  8. Normal brushing and flossing are okay, unless otherwise specified by your doctor. Follow any other instructions provided by the office on your visit. Please take all medications as prescribed.

THIS SECTION IS VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

While flare-ups are rare, they occur in about 5% of the cases and cause significant pain. They occur with teeth that are extremely irritated and/or infected or with teeth that have a history of prior treatment. These sometimes occur randomly, even on patients that have had root canals done in the past without problems. If you have a flare-up you may experience moderate to severe pain, swelling, throbbing or general discomfort; please contact our office. You may be prescribed additional medication such as antibiotics and/or you may be asked to come to the office for further treatment. Should you experience any of these symptoms, please contact the office, even after hours.

Immediately following surgery, keep the gauze pad placed over the surgical area with pressure applied by biting down until the bleeding stops. A certain amount of bleeding is to be expected following a surgical procedure. Placing the gauze pad over the area and biting firmly may control excessive bleeding. Slight bleeding, oozing, or redness in the saliva is not uncommon. Repeat as necessary within a one-hour period following surgery.

If you have been prescribed pain medication besides aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), do not drive, operate heavy equipment, work around machinery or tools or engage in any other activity that may be unsafe when groggy, as your reflexes and judgment will be affected by the medication. Do not take more than 800mg every 4-6 hours. Medication should not be taken on an empty stomach. If you have been placed on antibiotics, take the medicine as directed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help prevent infection.

Swelling around the face, eyes and surgical site is not uncommon. This swelling may not appear until the day following the surgery and may become more noticeable two to three days following surgery. You can help to minimize the swelling by applying a cold compress on the face near the extraction site alternating on for 20 minutes then off for 20 minutes. After 36 hours the ice will have no further impact on swelling. After this period, the application of moist heat to the sides of the face can help reduce swelling.

For 24 hours following your surgery, do not suck on a straw, brush, rinse, spit, or smoke. Avoid hot and spicy foods, carbonated and alcoholic beverages. During the first few days after surgery restrict your diet to liquids and soft foods such as soups, yogurt, juice, and smoothies. Restrict your activities on the day of your surgery, avoid excessive work or play and resume normal activity the following day as tolerated.

After the first day, gently rinse with a warm salt water rinse, approximately one-half teaspoon of salt in an eight ounce glass of water, three times a day.

If any sutures were required, they will dissolve on their own in 7-10 days. It will not be necessary to return to the office for sutures to be removed.

Children should be supervised after having an extraction to make sure they do not bite or their tongue or lips as it can cause serious injury to their soft tissue.

Please call our office if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding or swelling, or if you have any questions or concerns. In the event of an emergency, please call our office. If you are experiencing a serious or life threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

For the first 48 Hours Following Bleaching:

Teeth are more susceptible to staining for 48 hours after bleaching treatments. For the 48 hours after whitening, it is best to avoid dark-colored food or beverages that can stain your teeth. Any item that can stain your clothes, can also stain your teeth.

Avoid: berries, cola or other dark sodas, red wine, coffee and tea, tobacco and ketchup, soy or other dark sauces.

Using Your Custom Trays:

Follow the instructions given by our office, placing the bleaching gel in the center of each tooth position on the tray so that the gel will rest against the anterior surface of the teeth once it is placed in your mouth. Wear trays for the recommended time. Rinse the mouth and gently remove any gel remaining on your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush. Clean the trays.