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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to our most commonly asked questions around your dental treatment.

Why should I go to the dentist regularly?

Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as “crisis treatment” versus “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they’re saving money, it often ends up costing much more in money, time and discomfort. This is because many dental problems don’t have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It’s typical to hear, “Nothing hurts… I don’t have any problems.”

Tooth decay often doesn’t hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It isn’t uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. The dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This early detection can help you prevent root canal treatment.

Why do I need dental x-rays?

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. An x-ray examination may reveal:

  • Small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
  • Infections in the bone
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Some types of tumors.

Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, and often unnecessary discomfort. x-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, x-rays may even help save your life. The dentist will evaluate your need for x-rays based on the conditions present in development. There are many benefits to having x-rays taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.

I’m afraid of the dentist. What can I do?

Many times these sorts of fears are anchored in childhood or previously bad dental experience, just like you associate some feelings or memories to a smell or sound. These feelings can often be extremely deep-seated.

The very best thing a patient can do is talk to us and let us know how they feel. In our experience, the biggest help is having someone who is empathetic, listens without judging, and tries to understand how you feel. Then, together you can explore all the options. In many cases, building trust and confidence with someone can set a patient’s mind at ease enough to get past their dental fears.

We believe dentists have to earn their patients’ trust – it isn’t something that is obtained automatically. We encourage people who are afraid of the dentist to come into our practice, meet our staff, and check out the place. We cannot overstress how important it is to be non-judgmental about how long it has been since patients last went to the dentist or what treatments they may have chosen in the past. The dentist’s role is to make them feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible, so we help them get the very best out of their dental health.

How can I prevent myself from getting cavities?

Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.

Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers, and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and brush your teeth afterward.

If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water, which can help remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing escalates the flow of your saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance. And don’t forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.

Why should I floss? Isn’t brushing enough?

Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque, which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to, like the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you don’t floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually, it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist can remove tartar.

Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.

If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water, which can help remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing escalates the flow of your saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance. And don’t forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.

What is fluoride, and why is it important to dental health?

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale and spinach, apples and skim milk. Some city water contains fluoride, so by drinking tap water, you will acquire fluoride. If drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available.

The lack of exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in your mouth.

Studies have shown that children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had less dental decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay and help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes degenerative bone loss. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about whether you’re getting the daily amount of fluoride you need.

Do whitening toothpastes work?

Commercial whitening toothpaste varies greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives.

However, unlike professional whitening, some whitening toothpaste does not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth. Toothpaste that is effective in removing stains can also destroy tooth enamel in the process.

These toothpaste use harsh abrasives. With repeated use, harsh abrasives begin to damage tooth enamel and can contribute to increased tooth sensitivity. If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, consult with your dentist first.

What should I do about bleeding gums?

People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation.

More importantly, you should see your dentist have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of the disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.

It is also worth noting that chronic dental pain and discomfort are obvious signs of a problem. Over-the-counter drugs may provide some temporary relief. These medications usually only mask the existence of a problem and should be taken on a temporary basis. It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pus coming from around the teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding gums.

Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.

I knocked out a tooth. Can it be saved?

Oral injuries are often painful and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. If you have knocked out a tooth, these tips may be able to save it:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • Get to the dentist. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk.
Are getting dental implants painful?

Most patients do experience some minor discomfort the first day after their dental implant surgery and may still have a little residual pain the second day, but when compared to tooth extraction, dental implants tend to be less painful.

I just found out I’m pregnant. How does this affect my mouth?

About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness, or tenderness in the gum tissue.

A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that holds teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby.

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