Frequently Asked Questions

1. I brush & floss my teeth thoroughly every day. Why do I still need to see a hygienist for cleaning?

Regular dental visits are important primarily because they help keep your teeth & gums healthy. During the checkup, your dental professional will check your overall oral health for any trouble areas & remove any plaque & calculus buildup. Plaque forms on your teeth every day & is sticky. If all of it is not removed every day calculus forms & the only way to remove this is by a professional cleaning. Also an oral cancer screening is done at each recare visit.

2. Why do I need to see the dentist twice a year?

Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler & more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

3. I’ve heard I don’t really need to floss. Is this true?

Flossing removes plaque from in between your teeth to prevent decay, gum disease & reduces inflammation & bleeding. It cleans the plaque & bacteria that cannot be reached with a toothbrush. It is very important to floss once a day.

4. At what age should children first visit a dentist?

Children should start seeing a pediatric dentist 6 months after their first teeth erupt usually around age 1. In our office we usually start seeing children at age 3.

5. I’m not in pain. Why do I need dental work done?

Having cavities does not always hurt. Decay starts in the enamel. Once through the enamel it gets into the dentin (the inside soft part of the tooth) & will eventually go into the pulp, (the nerve of the tooth). This is when the tooth will hurt & your dental treatment will be more involved & more costly & you could even lose your tooth.

6. Why do I need x-rays of my teeth?

Dental x-rays can detect even the slightest traces of oral hygiene problems at the earliest stages including cavities, gum disease, oral infections & even some types of tumors can be detected on the panorex x-ray.

7. What should I expect during my appointment?

On your visit to have your teeth cleaned we will take x-rays if needed, remove plaque, calculus & stain from your teeth. We will also do a thorough exam including periodontal screening to check your gum health, check for decay & do an oral cancer screening.

8. What do I do if I have a dental emergency?

Call our office if during regular office hours. If we are not open we will have an on call dentist that will return your call & take care of you.

9. I am very nervous about visiting the dentist. What should I do?

We will take it slow & easy with you. On your first visit just let us know & we will discuss options for sedatives that can calm you before each visit.

10. What causes cavities?

Plaque & sugar feed bacteria in the mouth & those bacteria form acid. The acids in plaque remove minerals in your tooth’s hard outer enamel. The erosion causes openings or holes in the enamel-the first stages of a cavity. Once the enamel is worn away, the bacteria & acid can reach the next layer of the tooth, called the dentin.

11. Does whitening really cause tooth sensitivity?

Possibly. A chemical reaction occurs during the teeth whitening process. The dental plugs within the tubules are released. These plugs have been formed in the dentinal tubules to reduce sensitivity. When released, there is fluid flow internally which excites the pulpal tissue & causes sensitivity. Replacing these plugs with at home fluoride varnish & sensitive toothpaste will help alter the pain sensations while whitening.

12. How do I choose the best toothbrush?

Toothbrushes should have soft bristles that are gentle on teeth & gums & the brush head small enough to fit your mouth. We like the Sonicare electric toothbrush because the power helps better remove all of the plaque & keeps you from brushing too aggressively which can harm teeth & gums.

13. How do I choose the best toothpaste?

For the best protection find a toothpaste with fluoride & ADA stamp of approval. Everything else is a matter of your preference. The most important part is removing the plaque every day.

14. Should I be using mouthwash?

Mouthwash complements brushing & flossing but doesn’t replace it. If you have a dry mouth it is better to use a mouthwash with no alcohol but good to use a mouthwash that has fluoride. If you have gum disease it is better to use a mouthwash with alcohol or chlorhexidine; this will help minimize bacteria. Also it is best to swish with water after meals if brushing is not an option.

15. Do whitening toothpastes work?

Yes. Whitening toothpastes are usually more abrasive than regular toothpaste & /or have whitening ingredients that can remove some surface stains but cannot remove stain deeper than the surface.

16. Do whitening kits from the drugstore work?

Yes, most whitening kits work. You must follow the directions. Understand that crowns & tooth-colored fillings will not whiten & whitening can cause sensitivity. Look for the ADA seal of approval. It is better to ask your dentist if you are a candidate for whitening before making a purchase.

17. What kind of floss should I buy?

Generally, we recommend unwaxed floss. Everyone has different spaces so it is important to find a brand that works well for you.

18. Is a Waterpik better than flossing?

No, a Waterpik does not remove plaque. However, it does remove food & combined with flossing you can achieve great results.

19. How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Every 3 months or sooner if bristles are frayed.

20. How can I prevent bad breath?

Bad breath or halitosis can be prevented with proper home care daily including brushing, flossing & antibacterial mouthwash. Regular dental visits are a must. Occasionally, halitosis can be caused by a dry mouth due to medication. Also make sure to brush your tongue.

21. What is better: a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

Although a manual toothbrush works well when used correctly an electric toothbrush can make it easier to brush for the proper amount of time & the vibrations of a Sonicare really remove plaque well.

22. Why might I be referred to a specialist for root canal, extractions, or periodontal issues?

The decision is based on various reasons including the history of the tooth/teeth involved, the patient’s health history, or the complexity of the treatment needed. Ultimately, we want to do what is best for the patient & sometimes that means we refer the patient to be treated by a specialist.

23. How much radiation do I get from digital dental x-rays?

Research shows that you would have to have 2,000 dental x-rays to equal the radiation in 1 mammogram or 10,000 dental x-rays to reach your maximum safe yearly dose. To put things in perspective, flying by airplane from coast to coast gives you 4 millirems of background radiation or the equivalent of 8 dental bitewing x-rays. There is also background radiation from concrete building, roads & the sun. In general, the benefits of receiving dental x-rays to detect problems such as cavities, gum disease, abscesses & cancer outweighs the small amount of radiation you will receive.

24. If a crown comes off, how soon do I need to be seen by the dentist?

As soon as possible. Teeth can shift quickly causing the crown to not seat properly. If this happens it could create the need for a new crown. Recementing a crown is much more cost effective than replacing a crown. If it will be a few days before you are able to be seen by the dentist you can get denture adhesive (Fixodent, Polygrip, etc) & place a small amount inside of the crown & place it back over the tooth. This will hold it temporarily.