Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Visits, Services, and Procedures

Yes! Even if you are not currently experiencing any symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease, it is essential to visit your dentist regularly for a thorough examination and cleaning.

Despite daily brushing and flossing, your teeth can still accumulate tartar that can harbor bacteria. These bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if not professionally removed at your dentist’s office.

Your visit will begin with a general inspection of the condition of your teeth. If you haven’t visited the dentist in a while, the dentist may order X-rays. An oral hygienist will then use special metal instruments to gently scrape away tartar along your gum line. Later, your dentist will review your x-rays and discuss any symptoms you may have been experiencing. They will then recommend treatment (if applicable) and answer any questions.

Based on the results of your dental check-up, your general dentist may recommend that you return for treatment or follow a special at-home oral care plan. You may also be referred to a dental specialist to treat advanced oral health conditions. Our patients can expect a personalized treatment plan if needed.

Check out the home page of our website and our new patient page to see the most common insurances we accept. Feel free to call our office if you have questions! If your insurance is not in the network, we will gladly file for you and discuss the services covered and financing options for the remainder of the balance.

We will gladly file your insurance for you and help you figure out all your options for necessary treatment.

A dental X-ray is a common term for a dental radiograph. It is one of the dentist’s most common and critical diagnostic tools, giving your dentist a better picture of what’s going on with your teeth than simply looking in your mouth.

Using these X-rays, your healthcare provider can see the following:

  • Areas of decay, including those in between teeth or under a filling
  • Bone loss associated with gum disease.
  • Abscesses are infections at the root of the tooth or between the tooth and gum.
  • Tumors
  • Changes in the root canal

X-rays have different purposes, depending on what the dentist tries to see. Dental radiographs use a small, controlled burst of radiation to create a picture of the tooth. Cavities, infections, and other conditions show up as dark spots on the lighter image of the tooth.

New patients are advised to get X-rays to establish a baseline when visiting a dentist for the first time.

The American Dental Association recommends visiting a dentist “regularly” for a cleaning. For some people, the best frequency will be every six months. If you are at a higher risk for gum disease, you may need to visit a dentist more frequently.

You can call our office during our office hours to make an appointment. Feel free to call and leave a message or email us, and we’ll be glad to get back to you and book an appointment that works for your schedule.

You may need antibiotics before specific procedures, but our dentists will provide clear instructions. We will communicate a precise treatment plan; you are always welcome to ask questions or discuss treatment options.

Good oral hygiene is the best way to keep your teeth healthy between cleanings. This includes brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice daily and flossing once daily. Get familiar with techniques to brush and floss effectively, as well.

It’s good to get into the habit of flossing every time before you brush your teeth so that the toothpaste ingredients can work. The American Dental Association also recommends floss cleaning between the teeth once daily. Why waste your time with toothpaste if it’s not getting to where it’s supposed to be getting?

The floss removes food particles stuck between your teeth, breaks apart biofilm on the teeth, and allows the ingredients in the toothpaste to get to the proper areas and help your teeth.

Our office has a few products that our hygienists will gladly show you how to use. Feel free to ask your hygienist or the dentist for additional recommendations during your appointment, especially if you have special oral care needs!

Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold; porcelain;silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper); or tooth-colored, plastic, and materials called composite resin fillings.

  1. Durability: Silver fillings last 10 to 15 years and usually outlast composite (tooth-colored) fillings.
  2. Strength: They can withstand chewing forces.
  3. Expense: They may be less expensive than composite fillings.
  1. Poor aesthetics: Silver fillings don’t match the color of natural teeth.
  2. Destruction of more tooth structure: Healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling.
  3. Discoloration: Amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
  4. Cracks and fractures: Although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material – in comparison with other filling materials — may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction and lead to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures.
  5. Allergic reactions: A small percentage of people, approximately 1%, are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations.
  1. Aesthetics: The shade/color of the composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. Composites are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
  2. Bonding to tooth structure: Composite fillings micro-mechanically bond to the tooth structure, providing further support.
  3. Versatility: In addition to using as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
  4. Tooth-sparing preparation: Sometimes, less tooth structure needs to be removed than amalgam fillings when removing decay and preparing for the filling.
  1. Lack of durability: Composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); they may last less time than amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing and mainly if used for large cavities.
  2. Increased chair time: Because of applying the composite material, these fillings can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
  3. Additional visits: If composites are used for inlays or onlays, more than one office visit may be required.
  4. Chipping: Depending on the location, composite materials can chip off the tooth.
  5. Expense: Composite fillings can cost up to twice the price of amalgam fillings.

These fillings are made most often of porcelain and are more resistant to staining than composite resin material. This material generally lasts more than 15 years and can cost as much as gold.

This type of filling is made of acrylic and a specific type of glass material. This material is most commonly used for fillings below the gum line and fillings in young children (drilling is still required). Glass ionomers release fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay. However, this material is weaker than composite resin, more susceptible to wear, and prone to fracture. Glass ionomers generally last five years or less with comparable costs. The newest ones have an even better lifespan and, when placed in appropriate areas. are equal to composites.

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that provide a permanent base for fixed, replacement teeth. Compared to dentures, bridges, and crowns, dental implants are a popular and effective long-term solution for people who suffer from missing teeth, failing teeth, or chronic dental problems. Because they fit, feel, and function like natural teeth, dental implants are quickly becoming a new standard in tooth replacement.

Doctors use a titanium implant fixture that, over time, actually fuses to the living bone cells of the jaw. This union forms a strong and durable anchor for your new teeth, meaning there’s no slippage or other movement, which can sometimes happen with dentures. There are also no problems eating with dental implants, no need to repair them regularly, and no more worrying about smiling freely and openly.

Dental implants typically have three parts:

  1. The implant: A screw that serves as a root for your new teeth. This is what permanently attaches to your jaw.
  2. The abutment: A permanent but removable by your doctor connector that supports and holds a tooth or set of teeth.
  3. The crown (or prosthetic tooth) is part of the tooth you can see. It’s usually made of zirconium or porcelain for durability and good looks.

You can use dental implants to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or a full upper and/or lower set of teeth. Surgeons will place four implants and then attach a full arch of teeth, giving the procedure its name (all teeth, only four implants). If you need to restore a full arch, you may be a perfect candidate for the full mouth teeth replacement treatment.

Although thorough brushing and flossing remove most food particles and bacteria from easy-to-reach tooth surfaces, they do not reach the deep grooves on chewing surfaces of teeth. More than 75 percent of dental decay begins in these deep grooves (called pits and fissures). Toothbrush bristles are too large to fit and clean most of these areas. This is where sealants play a crucial role.

A sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers and protects the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars, and deep grooves or pits on teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas from decay.

Children and teenagers might need sealants. As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or throughout the cavity-prone years of 6-16.

  • Infants: Baby teeth are occasionally sealed if the teeth have deep grooves, and the child is cavity prone.
  • Adults: Tooth surfaces without decay with deep grooves or depressions that are difficult to clean.

Your dentist or dental hygienist easily applies sealants, which only take minutes per tooth. After the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution that helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, the sealant material is “painted” onto the tooth surface, where it hardens and bonds to the teeth. Sometimes a special light will be used to help the sealant material harden.

After sealant treatment, avoiding chewing on ice cubes, hard candy, popcorn kernels, or any hard or sticky foods is important. Your sealants will be checked for wear and chipping at your regular dental check-up.

Combined with good home care, a proper diet, and regular dental check-ups, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay.

Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many may not realize we have bad breath, but everyone has it occasionally, especially in the morning.

One may have bad breath for various reasons, but in healthy people, the primary reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that brushing the tongue reduces bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

  • Morning time: Saliva flow almost stops during sleep, and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
  • Certain foods:  Foods such as garlic and onions containing odor-causing compounds enter the bloodstream; they are exhaled through the lungs.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits: Food particles in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease: Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances: May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia): May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products: Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting: Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals: Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses: Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brush twice daily with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
  • See your dentist regularly: Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco: Ask your dentist what they recommend helping break the habit.
  • Drink water frequently: Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses: Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that alleviate bad breath and kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

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