Frequently Asked Questions About Dentistry

Please use the following information to learn more about common dental problems, oral conditions and the wonderful treatments modern dentistry can offer. If you have any questions, please consider one of "America's Best Dentists" for a consultation, examination and care.

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What Should I Ask My Dentist?

What Should I Ask My Dentist?
  • Do you see emergencies?
  • Do you guarantee your work?
  • Do you see children?
  • Are you accepting new patients?
  • Do you have before and after photos I can look at?
  • Is your office friendly, comfortable and modern?
  • Do you accept my insurance? Do you have payment plans?
  • I dread the dentist. Can you help me?
  • Do you do dentures, implants, cosmetic dentistry, fillings ...
  • I need ____ treatment. Will it hurt?

What Dental Specialties Should I Know About?

What Dental Specialties Should I Know About?
  • Endodontist: Root canals
  • Oral Surgeon: Extractions, Wisdom teeth, Implant surgery
  • Orthodontist: Braces
  • Pedodontist: ChildrenĎs specialist
  • Periodontist: Gum disease, Implant surgery

Why Replace a Missing Tooth?

Why Replace a Missing Tooth?

A full set of healthy teeth is crucial for oral well-being and overall health. Even a single missing tooth can be cause for concern. Here is what happens when a single firs molar is removed:

  1. Top tooth moves down. Tooth in back tilts forward, tooth in front tilts back
  2. Food and bacteria catches develop leading to root cavities, inflammation, bleeding gums and jaw bone periodontal disease.
  3. Teeth now take bite forces on angles leading to fractured cusps
  4. Bite shifts forward so front take more stress. Spaces develop between front teeth as they are pushed forward.
  5. Jaw bone where tooth was removed atrophies and shrinks making tooth replacement less ideal or more difficult.

How to Replace Missing Teeth?

How to Replace Missing Teeth? How to Replace Missing Teeth? How to Replace Missing Teeth?

Basically, Three Ways exist to replace missing teeth.

  1. Removable Partial DentureTraditionally this was a plastic appliance held in place by metal clasps or hooks. More recently, many ways to hide clasps have been developed, including clear or white clasps, flexible plastics with gum-colored clasps, and hidden snaps that connect to crowns or dental implants.
    • Advantages: Least expensive. Can replace multiple teeth with one appliance.
    • Disadvantages: Not as natural as other alternatives. Lower partials can be difficult to wear.
  2. Fixed Bridges: A crown (cap) is placed on the teeth in front and back of your missing tooth with one or more replacement teeth locked into the crowns. When the crowns are cemented, the replacement teeth are cemented with them.
    • Advantages: Comfortable, natural biting. Many insurance plans may cover close to half the cost.
    • Disadvantages: You can still get decay (cavities) under the crowns, so you must be careful to keep crowns clean and check them every six months. More expensive than partials. Bridges typically last 10-15 years.
    One variation of fixed bridges are bonded bridges, which use porcelain veneers or metal plates glued (bonded) to the teeth adjacent to your space. Bonded bridges are not strong enough for many situations.
  3. Dental Implants are artificial roots placed into the gum and bone tissue where your tooth once sat. Crowns, bridges, partials, and full dentures can be cemented or snapped onto implants. Titanium implants are made of the same material as artificial hips and knees and are well tolerated by the body.
    • Advantages: The most natural and comfortable tooth replacement technique.
    • Disadvantages: Cost. Requires surgery and a waiting period of several months, typically, before tooth replacements can be put on them. May need grafting to fit implants.

What is a Root Canal?

What is a Root Canal?

Inside every tooth is hollow canal that is filled with the same kind of tissue that is in your arm or any other part of your body. If you get a cut in your arm, bacteria can enter and produce an infection. Likewise, if bacteria get into the tissue inside your tooth (usually from a deep cavity or broken area) that tissue inside will also get infected. Why Do Teeth Abscess? Infections in teeth often spread into your jawbone and general system. That is what we call them an abscess. Classic signs and symptoms include pain and swelling, but extensive infections often occur without symptoms; before suddenly erupting into a severe problem. How is Root Canal done? Once you clean infection out of your tooth, the infection that spilled into your jaw and body system will normally heal. To clean out the root canal infection, dentists use tiny pipe cleaner-like instruments and antibacterial solutions until they are completely clean, and sealed. Do Root Canals hurt? Unlike years ago, modern techniques make root canal fast, easy, very successful and virtually pain-free. Millions of teeth have been saved with root canals all over the world.

Bonding...Veneers...Crowns? What's the Difference?

Bonding...Veneers...Crowns? What's the Difference?

Modern cosmetic dentistry offers a variety of treatment to improve the looks, feel, and function of teeth. If youíd like to transform the appearance of your smile or restore a damaged tooth, the doctor will explain your options and help you decide the best one for your unique needs.

Cosmetic Bonding: Dental resin tinted to match natural tooth color can be applied to one or more teeth in order to eliminate chips, close small gaps, and give teeth a more aesthetically appealing appearance. The resin bonds with natural structure and is polished to look and feel like your own enamel. Bonding offers a cost-effective alternative to porcelain veneers, but it doesnít last as long. Itís a good option to improve the appearance of the teeth that show when you smile. Veneers: Made from dental porcelain that reflect light like natural tooth enamel, veneers cover teeth to alter shape, size, and/or color. Custom veneers are designed by a dentist and handcrafted in a lab. Theyíre permanently bonded to teeth that have been altered slightly be smoothing away some natural enamel. Minimal-prep veneers require little or no alteration of tooth enamel and can be removed by the dentist to reveal your natural smile. Crowns: A dental crown is a covering in the shape of a natural tooth. It restores the form and function of a tooth damaged by fracture, severe decay, or wear. Crowns can be made from porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or metal. The location of your crown and the chewing forces it will endure dictate the type of material used. A crown delivers durable, long-lasting protection to preserve a damaged tooth.

What Causes a Toothache?

What Causes a Toothache?

Tooth pain can range from mild sensitivity to a severe ache that impacts the jaw and face. Because nerve fibers in your teeth work differently than nerves in the rest of the body, determining the source of tooth pain can be difficult. Nerve fibers that connect to the teeth send pain signals to the brain, but they donít specify the location. For example, a damaged molar may cause the entire jaw to ache, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of discomfort.

Common causes of tooth pain include:

  • An old filling that has cracked or become loose
  • An abscess from a deep cavity
  • A cracked or fractured tooth
  • Infection from gum disease
  • Dental sensitivity caused by receding gums
  • Jaw joint (TMJ) problems
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching

Sometimes, more serious health conditions such as heart disease, oral cancer, or nerve disorders can elicit pain in the teeth or jaw. For this reason, itís important to consult a dentist right away if you experience discomfort. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination to identify and remedy your tooth or mouth pain.

Why are Regular Dental Checkups Important?

Why are Regular Dental Checkups Important?

Regular dental checkups are the first line of defense against damaging oral disease and decay. You've likely heard of the proven link between dental disease and overall well-being, and you understand the benefit of taking proactive steps to preserve the health of your mouth Ė and your body. A dental checkup is a crucial step on the path to lifelong oral wellness. As in all facets of your health, prevention is key. Most doctors recommend dental checkups every six months to monitor oral health and keep track of whatís going on with your smile. Some patients need more frequent checkups. Your doctor will let you know the right regimen for you. At your dental checkup, the doctor will assess your teeth, gums, and jaw to identify and treat problems in the early stage and prevent irreparable dental damage. A comprehensive dental assessment may include:

  • A tooth-by-tooth check for decay
  • Analysis of the health of your gums
  • A check of how well your top and bottom teeth fit together (called occlusion)
  • An oral cancer screening
  • An evaluation of jaw joint function

X-rays may be taken, as well. Some doctors use a small intraoral camera to take pictures inside your mouth. These pictures aid in the diagnosis of dental disease and let you become a proactive partner in your treatment. Your doctor may also employ magnification and transillumination to examine teeth for tiny fractures and small areas of decay not visible on X-rays. Following your exam, itís important to follow your doctorís recommendations to maintain or improve your oral health. A strong smile free from disease and decay is a critical component affecting whole-body health. Dental checkups give you a head start on a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?

Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?

Evidence continues to grow illustrating the link between oral and overall health. Numerous studies show that the bacteria that cause gum disease can gain entry to the body and spread throughout, damaging internal systems and contributing to a lessened quality of life. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) indicates that approximately 3 out 4 people have some form of gum disease.

Steps to Combat Gum DiseaseEarly-stage gum disease (gingivitis) can be eliminated with a deep dental cleaning and effective brushing and flossing at home. Advanced cases of gum disease are often treated with topical antibiotic therapy. Severe cases of gum disease may require the services of a specialist called a periodontist. Here are a few things you can do to lessen your risk of gum disease:

  • Brush as directed by the dentist, floss daily, and attend regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Donít ignore the warning signs of gum disease, which include bleeding when brushing, chronic bad breath, loose teeth, and red, swollen gums.
  • Follow a good homecare regimen and keep your dental appointments.
  • Read up on gum disease and talk to your dentist about reducing risk factors.

Can a Dentist Remedy Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

Can a Dentist Remedy Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

An estimated 80 million people in North America snore. Many snorers are unaware of the noise they make until theyíre informed by someone else! Snoring is an annoying sound made when air forces its way through blocked passageways. Snoring itself isnít a dangerous condition, but the sleep apnea with which itís often associated can pose serious health risks, including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. First of all, what is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing repeatedly halts for periods of 10 seconds or longer throughout the night. The causes include obesity, soft tissues at the back of the throat that relax and collapse in on each other, the tongue falling back to block the throat, or a genetic propensity. When the brain senses a lack of oxygen, it alerts the body to wake up and breathe. Sleep apnea sufferers may fully awaken or enter a lighter sleep stage Ė several times a night. I snore. Do I have sleep apnea?The two conditions are often related. In fact, 12 to 20 million Americans suffer some degree of sleep apnea, and many of these people snore, as well. Answer the following questions to assess if you may suffer from sleep apnea:

  • Is it difficult for you to fully awaken in the morning?
  • Do you experience drowsiness that lingers throughout the day?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating?
  • Do you feel stressed and irritable during the day?

A dentist can perform a comprehensive examination to evaluate your symptoms and may refer you to a sleep medicine doctor for a confirmed sleep apnea diagnosis. Following a confirmed diagnosis, your dentist may recommend a customized nightguard to eliminate your apnea episodes and associated snoring.

Whatís a night guard?

Whatís a night guard?

A night guard is a small, plastic, oral appliance, similar to an athletic mouthguard, that's designed specifically for your mouth. It fits comfortably over teeth and holds the jaw slightly forward to keep airways open and eliminate sleep apnea and its noisy counterpart, snoring.

Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?

The name "wisdom teeth" likely originated from the fact that these large third molars typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, a "wiser" stage of life beyond childhood. The majority of people have between one and four wisdom teeth. Problems Caused by Wisdom Teeth As wisdom teeth journey through gum and bone on their way to eruption, they can become stuck, or impacted in bone tissue (called a bony impaction) or gum tissue (called a soft-tissue impaction). Impaction can cause pain, pressure, and swelling. Cysts may form at the site of impaction and further disrupt oral function, comfort, and health. When wisdom teeth do emerge through gum tissue, they may crowd or cause damage to other teeth. Our jaws typically donít have space for these large third molars, so existing teeth bear the brunt by being forced out of position. Dental crowding increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Itís not esthetically pleasing, either. Wisdom Teeth Extraction Early treatment is key to prevent damage and pain. Even if youíre not experiencing any outward symptoms of wisdom teeth eruption or impaction, itís important to undergo a wisdom tooth assessment. X-rays can help the dentist identify the location of wisdom teeth and recommend the wisest course of action. Removal of wisdom teeth will eliminate problems with eruption or impaction to keep your smile healthy, comfortable, and functioning properly.

Can Bad Breath be Prevented?

Can Bad Breath be Prevented?

Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is a common condition that affects an estimated 90 million people.

The causes of bad breath include:

  • The aging process
  • An accumulation of odor-causing bacteria on dentures or partials
  • Decaying food particles and bacteria in the mouth
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Radiation treatment for cancer
  • Untreated medical conditions

Over-the-counter mints, gum, and mouthwash can mask, but not eliminate, the odor. But bad breath is treatable. At your dental checkup or exam, the doctor will perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine the cause of your mouth odor. Often, regular dental cleanings by a hygienist and effective brushing and flossing at home will cure bad breath. The doctor may recommend cleaning your tongue with a specially designed scraper to effectively remove odor-causing bacteria. If your bad breath is caused by gum disease, gentle, non-invasive treatments are available to renew periodontal health and reduce mouth odor. Eliminating bad breath can dramatically increase your self-esteem and may improve your social and professional relationships. Youíll speak and laugh with confidence, knowing that your breath is fresh and your mouth is healthy.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

If you dread seeing the dentist, youíre not alone. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that dental anxiety keeps 25 million Americans from visiting the dentist. For dental phobic patients, sedation dentistry offers a safe, effective solution to alleviate fear and make dental visits comfortable and peaceful.

Sedation dentistry may be a good choice if you:

  • Experience mild to severe dental anxiety
  • Gag easily
  • Are limited on time and want to complete your dental work in as few appointments as possible
  • Have difficulty getting numb
  • Want to rest comfortably while receiving dental work
  • Dislike the sights, sounds, and smells of a dental office
  • Continually make, then reschedule, dental appointments because of fear
  • Find it hard to sit still or keep your mouth open for long periods of time

The doctor may recommend nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation, or IV sedation to replace your anxiety with a soothing sense of calm. Sedation dentistry seems to make time fly, and you wonít remember treatment details following your procedures. The effects of sedation diminish gradually to let you return to your normal routine in a timely manner.

How Can Dental Emergencies be Prevented?

How Can Dental Emergencies be Prevented?

There are many ways you can prevent a dental emergency. The American Dental Association (ADA) provides excellent precautionary guidelines to avoid dental discomfort and trauma. For example:

  • Wear a mouthguard to greatly reduce your chance of an oral injury on the playing field
  • Avoid risky habits like chewing ice or hard candy that can cause your teeth to chip or crack
  • Donít use your teeth to help open stubborn plastic packaging or cut tape
  • Be aware of situations in which falls might occur
  • Drive safely to prevent accidents
  • Brush and floss daily and attend regular dental checkups to keep your smile in optimal condition

Additionally, be aware of tooth or mouth pain and seek treatment before significant damage or an acute injury occurs. Remember, pain is a signal from your body, warning you that somethingís wrong. Even if oral discomfort subsides for a while, it doesnít mean that the underlying problem has disappeared. Common causes of tooth pain include:

  • An old filling that is no longer sealing a tooth
  • Dental abscess from a deep cavity
  • Cracked or fractured tooth
  • Infection from gum disease
  • Tooth sensitivity from gum recession
  • Dental joint (TMJ) problems from teeth grinding or jaw clenching

Sometimes, though, even your best efforts can be hampered by an unexpected problem or injury. If this happens, call your dentist right away. The doctor will assess your condition and provide care to relieve your situation.

What is "No-Drill" Dentistry?

What is No-Drill Dentistry?

If you dread hearing the word "cavity" at the dentist's office because you hate the dental drill, the youíll be happy to hear about "drill-less", or "no-drill," dentistry. Today, small cavities can often be repaired using air abrasion instead of a drill. And you may not even need a numbing shot! How does air abrasion work? The air abrasion instrument sprays a fine stream of air and abrasive particles at dental decay. Think of it as a tiny, comfortable sandblaster. Powered by compressed air or gas, the air abrasion tool propels silica, aluminum oxide, or baking soda particles at dental decay to whisk it away. The dentist can target the decayed area of a tooth with minimal disruption to healthy, surrounding tooth surface. What are the benefits of air abrasion?

  • The tool produces no heat, pressure, or vibration.
  • If a cavity is small, you likely wonít require anesthesia.
  • The work area is left fairly dry, which aids in the placement of fillings.
  • It lessens the risk of a tooth sustaining a chip or microfracture, both of which may compromise the strength of restorations.

Is air abrasion safe? Yes, minimally invasive air abrasion is safe. Itís great for kids and adults and results in comfortable, "no-drill" dentistry to restore the form, function, and comfort of a decayed tooth.

Can Dental Numbing be Reversed?

Can Dental Numbing be Reversed?

Numbing medications deliver a comfortable, stress-free dental care experience. Without them, dentistry wouldnít be the same! But, if youíre like most folks, you dislike the numbness of the lips and tongue that can linger long after you leave the dental office. This numbness can limit your ability to speak, drink, and eat, and may cause you to drool. There is a solution: Oraverse.

What is Oraverse? Oraverse is a medication the dentist can inject to reverse the numbing effects of local anesthetic. (The injection will be made into already numb tissue, so you wonít feel it.) Studies show that patients receiving Oraverse experience a return to normal sensation 50% faster than patients not receiving this breakthrough medication. Oraverse is proven safe and effective for adults and children over age 6. Is Oraverse Right for Me? Answer these questions to discover if you would benefit from Oraverse:

  • Do you dislike the way local anesthetic makes your lips and tongue feel following a dental appointment?
  • Do you often have to schedule dental appointments before or during work or school, or when itís crucial that you quickly regain clear speech?
  • Have you experienced the embarrassment of drooling in public because of the lingering effects of numbing medications?
  • Do you want to be able to eat or drink soon after leaving your dental appointment?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Oraverse may be a good solution to reduce the effects of numbing medications and get you back to your normal routine. Ask about it at your next dental appointment.

Why Choose Dental Implants?

Why Choose Dental Implants?

Dental implants are widely accepted as the optimal option to replace missing teeth. Here are some reasons why you should consider replacing a single missing tooth or an entire mouthful of teeth with dental implants.

  • Improved quality of life. Old-fashioned dentures can make you look older, cause embarrassment if they slip or click, and make chewing uncomfortable. Implant dentures are permanently secured, offering much greater comfort and stability.
  • Affordable tooth replacement option. With proper care, dental implants may last a lifetime. Other tooth replacement options must be replaced every 8 to 10 years. Dental implants can save you time and money in the long run.
  • 98% success rate. Replacement of missing teeth with dental implants is backed by 50 years of research. Scientific journals report that dental implants boast an overall success rate of 98.5%.
  • Preservation of healthy teeth. Dental implants donít rely on surrounding teeth for support, so they wonít damage natural teeth or cause additional tooth loss. Dental implants also provide ďanchorsĒ for neighboring teeth to prevent them from drifting out of position.
  • A younger-looking you. Missing teeth will lead to significant bone loss which can result in a shrunken or sagging facial appearance. Dental implants promote bone regeneration to support a more youthful facial profile.
  • Wide range of eligibility. Candidates for dental implants can be young, middle-aged, or older adults. Even patients with health concerns such as existing medical conditions, gum disease, and bone loss can receive dental implants with a little additional planning.

Why Does Gum Disease Affect the Heart?

Why Does Gum Disease Affect the Heart?

Numerous studies report a link between gum disease and heart health, proving that maintaining a health smile is a crucial first step to maintaining a healthy body. Ways Gum Disease Impacts the Heart

  • Coronary Artery Disease: Gum disease may double your risk of developing coronary artery disease. This disease occurs when fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances form plaques in artery walls. Bad oral bacteria may travel through these arteries and attach to the plaques, increasing the potential for blood clot formation.
  • Heart Attack: The total bacteria count in your mouth affects heart health, with a high bacteria count increasing the risk of heart damage. Additionally, two oral bacteria associated with gum disease may increase heart attack risk.
  • Infections: If youíve had a heart transplant, have artificial heart valves or other cardiac prosthetics, or suffer from a congenital heart defect, your doctor may prescribe preventive medication for you to take prior to dental visits. This is to prevent bacterial endocarditis from occurring if oral bacteria enter the bloodstream during a dental procedure.

To keep your smile Ė and your heart Ė healthy and strong, brush twice a day or as directed the dentist, floss daily, and attend regular dental checkups and cleanings. Always tell your dentist about any changes in your medical history and whether you have a known heart condition.