Dental FAQs

We want our patients to feel informed about dentistry and their oral health. If you have a question that's not addressed below, please feel free to contact us. We're happy to help!

Should I replace my silver fillings with composite fillings?

 Silver (amalgam) fillings have been the go-to standard for the last decade, but composite fillings have become a popular method.

Silver fillings are durable, lasting on average at least 10 to 20 years. They are very strong, making them ideal for the back molars. They also tend to be less expensive than composite fillings, but usually require more invasive preparations. The biggest drawback to silver fillings is aesthetic—they are grey in color.

Composite fillings are composed of glass and quartz materials to match the natural color of your tooth. Composite materials are also versatile and can be bonded to teeth. Compared to amalgam, composite fillings are slightly less durable and are better suited for teeth with light or moderate bite pressure.

What are the signs for gum disease?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, half of U.S. adults have gum disease. The prevalence of gum disease increases with age, due to worn-down teeth, gum recession, and sensitivity. If your gums feel tender or sore, or if they look red and swollen, you may be at risk for gum disease. Other signs include bleeding and/or receding gums, pain or sensitivity in your teeth or persistent bad breath.

We recommend coming in for a dental evaluation after these signs become apparent. While surgery is still an option and sometimes needed, many cases are now treated with less invasive techniques such as deep cleanings, local antibiotics, and special rinses.

Will cosmetic dentistry improve my life?

Cosmetic dentistry has been shown to boost an individual’s level of self-confidence. This is actually one of the leading reasons why people visit their dentist every day. Cosmetic dentistry will improve your life because you will feel more confident to show off your new smile!

Advancements in dental technology have made it possible for dentists to improve both the health, structure, and the appearance of teeth. Most if not all dental treatments aim to improve the appearance of your teeth, gum shape, and smile can be considered cosmetic in nature.

I have worn down teeth that needs to be replaced. Should I get dental crowns?

Dental crowns, often called "caps”, cover teeth to restore them to their appropriate shape and size. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, cover dental implants, restore discolored or misshapen teeth, and to protect a weak tooth. Crowns can be made of all-porcelain (ceramic)material, porcelain fused to metal (for added strength), gold alloys (high noble), or base metal alloys (non-noble).

All-porcelain restorations closely mimic natural tooth appearance. Porcelain fused to metal alloy restorations are tooth-colored and stronger than porcelain crowns. Gold alloy crowns are durable and resistant to wear and tear. Base metal alloy crowns are similar to gold alloys such as strength and durability. However, an allergy to the non-noble base metals may be an issue for some patients.

Crowns can be placed in as little as two appointments. For porcelain crowns, it may take more than one visit to achieve natural-looking results. If a crown is placed before a tooth fractures, a root canal may be needed.

While crowns are highly resistant due to normal wear, they will need to be re-cemented or replaced. Six to nine percent of teeth that are damaged, needs a crown and may require a root canal in the future.

What should I know before my root canal appointment?

The center of your tooth is also known as the pulp. The pulp, or nerve, delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Once this nerve is damaged, it causes an abscess to form at the root of the tooth.Root canal therapy is a procedure where the pulp is removed from an infected tooth. This helps prevent further damage and potential tooth loss.

Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, sensitivity, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. X-rays and a thorough dental examination determine whether a root canal is your best option.Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve pain and discomfort, including nitrous oxide and oral sedation.

Afterward, over-the-counter pain medication alleviates immediate post-operative discomfort. Most patients return to normal activities the very next day. Root canal therapy is highly successful for preserving your tooth for a lifetime!

I‘m really anxious to go to the dentist. Is oral conscious sedation safe for me?

Oral conscious sedation medications are measured and evaluated by pharmacists on a safety scale called the therapeutic index. As such, the higher the number is on the scale, the better the drug’s safety rating. The most common ones used today include Valium®, Halcion®, and Sonata®.

Before considering you for oral conscious sedation, there are several factors such as age, weight, and level of dental anxiety we take into account. Your medical history and habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking should be discussed with your dentist. Even certain fruit juices can affect the reaction of sedation medications in the body. For example, patients should not drink grapefruit juice within 72 hours before or after dental treatment with sedation.

Prior to your visit, we will discuss the proper preparation steps. We recommend making diet adjustments and arranging a companion to drive you to and from your appointment.

When patients feel anxiety, their threshold for pain is lower so they might feel uncomfortable or stressful during their appointment. Oral conscious sedation helps alleviate anxious patients who want to get a beautiful smile. This is commonly used for anxious patients and patients with special needs.

Most patients experience little to no discomfort from a sedation dentistry visit. Immediately after treatment, you might feel a little wobbly while the medication wears off, but we will give you simple, helpful instructions for the rest of your day.

Are dental implants right for me?

Our team works hard to provide you with cutting-edge restorative dentistry. If you or someone you love struggles with uncomfortable dentures or false teeth, dental implants are a permanent solution. Quickly becoming the preferred method of dental replacements, implants are natural-looking and durable. They are used for denture stabilization, but can also be used in conjunction with crowns, bridges, and single-tooth replacements.

Most importantly, dental implants function like natural teeth so you can chew, talk, and smile with confidence again. The implant preserves your natural tooth and prevents bone loss.

Many patients suffering from advanced tooth decay, root canal failure, trauma to the mouth, or extreme wear and tear benefit from dental implants. Implants are best performed in adulthood because the teeth and jaw bones are fully developed. To ensure that you get the treatment that’s right for you, keep us informed and up-to-date about your entire medical history and dental habits.

What is a dental radiograph (x-ray) exam and how does it help me?

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are commonly used in dental exams for patients of all ages. Panoramic x-rays are taken every five to seven years to visually depict the entire mouth. Panoramic x-rays are taken with a machine that circles your head providing a complete overview of all teeth such as tooth roots, upper and lower jawbones, the sinuses, and other hard surfaces in the mouth.

An X-ray examination is needed to reveal:

  • Small areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
  • Deep cavities
  • Infections that can develop in the mouth bones
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Some types of tumors
  • TMJ Dysfunction

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you unnecessary discomfort and time!

Should I worry if my gums bleed when I floss? I feel fine, but is this a big deal?

Bleeding gums are always a warning sign often indicating conditions such as gingivitis or gum disease. Gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums) is not a one-way ticket to gum disease; in fact, if it’s caught early enough, gingivitis can be treated and even reversed.

The first line of treatment for gingivitis is making lifestyle changes. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and high levels of stress can contribute to gingivitis. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to ease gum damage. Getting regular dental cleanings also helps to control plaque and tooth decay. It's important to stop gingivitis before it progresses, as studies have shown. Heart disease, strokes, diabetes, even osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis have been linked to poor oral health.

Though not the first suspect with bleeding gums, oral cancer is also a possibility. Oral cancer can be difficult to diagnose because of its association with other medical conditions. They include mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, jaw movements, or continuous pain in the mouth.

Regular check-ups are vital to oral cancer prevention, as is good oral hygiene. Inform your dentist if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms.

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