FAQ’s

What causes sensitive teeth?

In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and your teeth’s hard enamel shell. Microscopic holes in the dentin, called tubules, connect back to the nerve triggering pain when irritated by certain foods and beverages. Dentin can be exposed by: Receding gums caused by improper brushing or gum disease. Fractured or chipped teeth. Clenching or grinding your teeth.

What is a cavity?

Tooth enamel is hard and porous. It consists of many closely packed rods made of minerals. When you eat, acid forms on the outside of the tooth and seeps into the enamel’s pores. This demineralization process can produce a weak spot in the tooth’s surface. If the weak spot is left unchecked, a cavity may form, requiring a filling. If decay is allowed to spread, it may penetrate the root and enter the pulp (nerve) chamber, causing an abscess and requiring root canal treatment.

What causes cavities?

There are hundreds of different types of bacteria that live in the mouth naturally. Most do not cause any diseases. The main bacteria involved in decay are Mutans Streptococci. These bacteria produce a sticky substance that allows them to stick to the tooth surface. The bacteria feed on sugar and produce an acid byproduct that can demineralize tooth enamel. If the enamel is not remineralized, it will continue to breakdown causing a hole or cavity. Once a cavity is formed, only a filling can restore the tooth.

What can I do to prevent tooth decay?

The most important things that you can do to prevent tooth decay are to brush and floss and maintain good oral health. Fluoride also helps strengthen tooth enamel, making it harder to demineralize. Fluoride can also help tooth enamel to remineralize. Having fluoridated water and using toothpaste with fluoride can help your teeth resist decay. Another prevention strategy is to have sealants put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. For more see Preventative Counseling…

What about my diet? Can that make a difference?

The decay causing bacteria feed on simple sugars. In the mouth, complex carbohydrates (starches) start to breakdown to simple sugars. It is not possible to avoid all sugars and starches. In fact, it would not be healthy to do so. What you can do is take a look at the form and frequency of sugary and starchy foods that you eat. Cookies, candy and other dessert foods should be eaten with a meal. During the meal, your mouth produces much more saliva. Saliva helps clear away remaining food and buffers acids in the mouth. Frequently snacking on sugary or starchy foods increases the risk of decay. Sipping sugary drinks like soda pop or fruit juices all day increases the risk for decay. Snacking on sugary or starchy foods that stick to the teeth can also be a problem. It is best to eat three healthy meals a day and limit snacks. Have desserts with meals and choose foods like cheese, popcorn or carrots for snacks.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria which is constantly forming on teeth. Saliva, food and fluids combine to produce these deposits that collect on teeth and where teeth and gums meet. Plaque build-up is the primary factor in periodontal (gum) disease. Fighting plaque is a life-long component of oral care. Plaque begins forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing, which is why it is so important to brush at least twice daily and floss daily. For more info see Periodontal (GUM) Disease…

When should I bring my child in for their first dental visit?

The time in which your child will get their teeth varies greatly. It is important to brush their teeth the moment they start getting them. Although there is no set time for a child’s first visit, we usually tell parents between the ages of 3-4 yr. old. At this time, we allow the child to get to know us and the dental environment. We will show them all the things we use to help keep their teeth clean and also evaluate their brushing technique. It is best for this first visit to be a positive one. If the first visit for a child is because they are in pain, they will have a bad perception of the dentist at subsequent visits. Therefore, the first visit is important for the child’s overall experience.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are also referred to as 3rd molars. Most of us have four of them in each corner of our mouth. They are the final teeth to develop and usually present themselves in our late teens/early twenties. More often than not, wisdom teeth require removal due to lack of space available. Often, they become trapped (or impacted) within your gums and bone.

I am aware of grinding my teeth, what can I do?

Bruxism is the clenching or grinding of your teeth while you are asleep and sometimes you may find yourself clenching during the day in response to stressful situations. It is not just an annoyance; it exerts thousands of pounds of pressure on the biting surfaces of your teeth. If your bite is not in harmony with your jaw joints, you may unconsciously clench and grind your teeth, in an effort to wear down or break off the points of the teeth that are in the way – a situation that dentists term malocclusion. You may grind in order to eliminate a spot, which is too high, or so as to find a comfortable place to fit the upper and lower teeth together. This can be very rough on the teeth themselves, as well as the bone, which supports the teeth, the gums, and the jaw joints. A nightguard can be fashioned to help protect your teeth. For more info see TMD/Bruxism…

What is a sealant?

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth — premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. For more info see Prevention…

When should thumbsucking stop?

Children should have ceased thumbsucking by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four years. Sucking often gradually lessens during this period as children spend more of their waking hours exploring their surroundings. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop. Some studies show that thumbsucking behavior is viewed negatively by classmates. Children with these behaviors may have more problems making friends.

Can a child lose a primary tooth too early?

Sometimes a primary tooth is lost before the permanent tooth beneath it is ready to erupt. If the primary teeth are lost too early, nearby teeth can tip or move into the vacant space. When the permanent teeth are ready to come into the mouth, there may not be enough room. As a result, teeth may erupt out of their proper positions, leading to malocclusion. To avoid such future problems, your dentist may recommend using a space maintainer to reserve space for the permanent tooth.

What are the risk factors for oral cancer?

Frequent use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco)
Excessive consumption of alcohol
Genetics (a family history of oral cancer or any type of cancer)
Excessive exposure to the sun at a young age
Recently however 25% of all newly diagnosed cases have been in patients under the age of forty with none of the known risk factors

What are the warning signs of oral cancer?

Early symptoms of oral cancer include: a sore on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat that does not heal; a lump on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat; a red or white patch found anywhere in the mouth; unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth; swelling of the mouth; and any difficulty or discomfort felt in chewing or swallowing. Frequently, oral cancers are not painful or noticeable to the patient in its early stages.  Like all other cancers, early detection is key.
Recently approved by the FDA, the VELscope system is a revolutionary hand-held device that dentists and hygienists use to aid in early oral cancer detection. The VELscope examination is a non-invasive, painless procedure that takes only a few minutes. The dentist shines a blue light into the mouth to cause it to fluoresce. This fluorescence helps the dentist visualize abnormal tissue, which may be or may lead to, oral cancer. http://www.velscope.com/default.aspx?id=17&cat=patients

I am a new patient, should I have my old records transferred before my visit?

Yes, if possible. Your dental history is important in evaluating and planning for your dental future, even if you have not had any problems. Please have your x-rays and a copy of your records sent to our office by your previous dentist if possible. Sometimes they will have you sign a release to give them permission to forward the records and x-rays.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Treat yourself to a new soft bristled toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become worn, splayed or frayed. A hard, brittle brush can injure your gums. Children’s brushes may need to be replaced more often, as they can wear them out more quickly.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a way to save your tooth if your nerve becomes infected by a cavity or exposed due to fracture.
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:
Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting
Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
Severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess (infection) in the bone.
For more see Root Canal…

What is a crown?

A crown is also called a cap. A crown completely covers your tooth thereby making an entirely new tooth. For more see Crowns…

I have a missing back tooth, how can I replace it?

Many options exist, but the two most common ways to replace a single missing back tooth is a bridge or an implant. A bridge is a restoration that replaces missing teeth by using the teeth around the space to form a bridge. Its fabrication is identical to how a crown is made except there is more the one tooth prepared.  An implant is a restoration which can replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.   For more see Crown and Bridge…OR Implants

What is a veneer?

A veneer is a type of restoration made of composite (tooth colored filling material) or porcelain used in highly esthetic areas to create an even, beautiful smile. For more see Veneers…

How can I fix the spaces between my front teeth?

Bonding is a painless way to fill in small chips, disguise cracks, bridge a gap, or cover discolored teeth. For more see Bonding, Veneers…

I don’t like the color of my teeth, what can I do?

Whitening (AKA bleaching) is a safe way to lighten the color of your teeth and usually in just a few days time. For more info see Whitening…

What is an implant?

An implant is like making a new tooth. They are devices that replace the roots of lost teeth, and are used to support crowns and dentures. The process requires surgery and may take 4-12 months to complete. For a more detailed description see Implants…

Why are healthy gums so important?

Most people think that if they take good care of their teeth, they’ll keep them for a lifetime. That’s only partially true — good gum care is just as important. The fact is, the leading cause of tooth loss isn’t cavities, it’s gum disease. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease, and if left untreated, it can lead to the more serious condition periodontitis. The result of periodontitis can be tooth loss. For more info see Perio Disease…

How do I know if my gums are healthy?

There are some warning signs you may notice that might indicate your gums need extra care. They include: Tenderness or sensitivity, especially when brushing or flossing, Red or swollen gums, Gums that bleed when brushing, Bad breath/bad taste in your mouth. For more info see Perio Disease…

Is an implant retained denture better than a conventional denture?

A person’s chewing ability with complete conventional dentures is only about 15% of a person with natural teeth. Implant retained dentures can significantly improve a person’s ability to function. It’s embarrassing to have your replacement teeth get in the way of your speech. But there’s no need to struggle with floating, slipping, ill-fitting dentures any longer. Dentures are prosthetic devices designed to help patients without teeth chew food and improve speaking habits. Additionally, dentures improve the patient’s facial aesthetics and self-esteem. The absence of teeth can lead to a sunken, collapsed appearance to the mouth-area; by restoring the physical presence of teeth, this malformation is corrected and the patient may be seen more “normal” according to human standards. As a denture wearer, are you confident that your dentures are secure? Do you have the confidence to smile and laugh or eat your favorite foods? If you can’t say “yes” to these questions, then, like many partial and full denture wearers, you may be assuming that a loose fit and discomfort are simply part of being a denture wearer. However, the fact is, having a comfortable and secure denture is possible with implant-retained dentures For more see overdenture/implant-retained Dentures…

Why do I need x-rays?

Dental x-rays are essential preventative diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.  Dentists and dental hygientists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities.  Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.  Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort and your teeth.

What is Digital radiography (x-rays)?

Digital radiography is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays.  This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer.  This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygientist detect problems easier.  Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental film x-rays.

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment.  Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional film x-rays.  Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take which reduces your time in the dental office.  Also, since the digital image is captured electronically there is no need to develop the x-rays thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.