The following answers to frequently asked questions may be helpful in keeping your teeth healthy and attractive for many years to come.
- How often should I go to my Dentist for a Check-up?
- Do I really need x-rays?
- What is gum disease?
- How does a tooth decay?
- Do you grind your teeth and What is TMJ?
- Is tooth whitening safe?
- What is aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry?
- What is implant dentistry?
- Are dental procedures safe?
- What should I look for in a dentist?
- What procedures are right for me?
- Which type of toothbrush should I use?
- Is one toothpaste better than others?
- How often should I floss?
- What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?
- What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?
- What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?
- Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
- What factors influence the amount of chair time necessary for treatment?
Q: How often should I go to my Dentist for a Check-up? ( Back To Top )
A: Some people tend to have a rather strange attitude towards checkups. If the dentist does not find something wrong, their time has been wasted. As a matter of fact, a series of successful visits can discourage them from ever seeing their dentist and hygienist again. The idea that you should only see the dentist when something is wrong is not only unwise but can end up costing you a lot of money, comfort, time, and even your health.
Q: Do I really need x-rays? ( Back To Top )
A: Dental x-rays are taken routinely by your dentist. There are many diseases and dental defects, which can not be seen by the naked eye, especially where teeth are concerned. These may include such things as decay under old fillings, teeth trapped below the gums, cavities between the teeth, bone loss as a result of gum disease and changes in either jaw bone structure which can be affected by many systemic diseases.
Q: What is gum disease? ( Back To Top )
A: Gum disease (or periodontal disease or gingivitis) is the number one cause of tooth loss today. The reason you lose teeth from gum disease is because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone, which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque. If the plague is not removed on a daily basis it will form calculus, which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause periodontal disease.
Q: How does a tooth decay? ( Back To Top )
A: A substance known as plaque causes tooth decay. Plaque is a clear bacteria laden film, which develops on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque interact with the starches and sugars we eat and form an acid, which breaks down or de-mineralizes our teeth. As this process is going on, the properties of our saliva act to help re-mineralize teeth. When the demineralization process is faster than that of remineralization a cavity occurs.
Q: Do you grind your teeth and What is TMJ? ( Back To Top )
A: Often people who are under an unusual amount of pressure will deal with their tension and stress, by clenching or grinding their teeth while sleeping. Grinding your teeth at any time is considered a hazard and can affect the total well being of your mouth. Grinding your teeth can cause damage to the tempromandibular joint and can alter your bite. If you hear a clicking or popping in your jaw joints when you chew, you may suffer from tempromandibular joint dysfunction commonly called TMJ. Although stress-related grinding of your teeth at night is one cause of TMJ, other causes of TMJ have been traced to or associated with a bad bite, poor posture and even sleep positions. Injury or aging can also cause TMJ disorders. TMJ can create headaches, dizziness, buzzing or ringing in the ears and dull pain around the ears that radiates to neck, back and shoulders.
Q: Is tooth whitening safe? ( Back To Top )
A: Whitening teeth with carbamide peroxide under the supervision of a dentist has been shown to be safe for teeth and gums. Some patients have experienced increased tooth sensitivity and some temporary discomfort of their gums. These symptoms tend to disappear within 1-3 days after stopping the process. Usually after the sensitivity disappears the whitening process can be started again and usually the sensitivity does not return. In any case, any reaction should be reported immediately to your dentist or hygienist for their special instructions. Over-the-counter quick bleaching kits may cause problems that you may be unaware of such as irritation of the gums and surrounding soft tissue. Overzealous use of over-the-counter home bleaching can wear away tooth enamel, especially because these solutions have a very high acid content. We can not over emphasize that these types of procedures are best controlled at your dental office. Your progress will be monitored carefully which will certainly reduce most secondary effects. Only a dentist can safely make your teeth their whitest.
Q. What is aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry? ( Back To Top )
A. Aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry involves procedures such as teeth whitening, crowns, and veneers that are designed to beautify the patient’s smile and overall appearance while improving the overall health of the mouth.
Q. What is general and family dentistry? ( Back To Top )
General and family dentistry focuses on the health and care of the mouth. Common procedures treat cavities, wisdom teeth, and broken teeth, and also involve preventative care.
Q. What is implant dentistry? ( Back To Top )
A. Implant dentistry is a form of cosmetic oral care that involves installing customized prosthetics into the patient’s mouth to correct imperfections. Implant dentistry addresses problems such as missing teeth and bone loss.
Q. Are dental procedures safe? ( Back To Top )
A. While no form of medical care is one hundred percent foolproof, dental procedures are very safe and a great number of precautions are taken to ensure the well-being of patients. If you have any concerns about the safety of your dental procedures, do not hesitate to discuss them with your dentist.
Q. What should I look for in a dentist? ( Back To Top )
A. It is important that you choose a dentist who you are comfortable working with and who is an experienced professional. You and your dentist will work together to realize your goals.
Q. What procedures are right for me? ( Back To Top )
A. Dentistry is a profession that requires a great deal of customization based on patient needs. During your consultation you can explain your expectations to your dentist, who will create a treatment plan with procedures that are customized for you.
Q. Which type of toothbrush should I use? ( Back To Top )
A. The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.
Q. Is one toothpaste better than others? ( Back To Top )
A. Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
Q. How often should I floss? ( Back To Top )
A. Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.
Q. What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”? ( Back To Top )
A. These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as “crowns”. However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as “caps” and the gold or stainless steel ones as “crowns”.
Q. What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”? ( Back To Top )
A. Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.
Q. What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings? ( Back To Top )
A. Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting “white” or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they “bond” to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. While fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, “white” fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.
Q. Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown? ( Back To Top )
A. No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.
Q. What factors influence the amount of chair time necessary? ( Back To Top )
A. The position of the tooth in the mouth. The number of roots and the number of canals within these roots. Root curvatures and the length of the roots. The presence or absence of calcifications within the root canal space.