10. How can I make my teeth whiter?

A: There are many products and procedures available to brighten your smile. Before you purchase any number of the tooth whitening products in the store or online, it is important to understand what is causing your teeth to stain; the risks, as well as the benefits, to whitening your teeth. Your first step should be to schedule an examination and cleaning of your teeth. Very often many surface stains can be removed and if your teeth have tartar (hard deposits) build-up the whitening agent would not penetrate that to whiten the teeth. Sometimes staining can be due to caries or pulpal damage, which should be treated. At the time of your exam, your dentist or hygienist can review your oral health with you and medications that you may be taking, as well as make recommendations for any dietary changes or teeth whitening products or procedures that will work for you.

9. I do not have any dental insurance. Where can I get affordable dental care?

A: Many people do not seek regular dental care because they do not have dental insurance coverage nor have they budgeted for dental care. First of all, on a little bit of context about dental insurance or what we call dental benefits. Dental benefits only do three things on planet Earth that we have been able to figure out after 20+ years of dealing with them. They pay for preventative services and that is a great benefit. They pay for some single tooth or single quadrant (i.e. upper right front tooth, or lower left back tooth) dentistry within a calendar year, with emphasis on the word SOME. Typically if a patient needs a root canal and a crown, they will exhaust their benefits. Finally, there may be a special benefit, such as orthodontic treatment, and that’s a great benefit if that’s what the patient needs. Other than that, that’s about all dental benefits do. So most patients, even those with dental benefits, must find other options. Our office offers a variety of ways to help you fit your dental care into your budget, so please consult with us about your situation and we will see if it can be worked out.

8. When should my child first see a dentist?

A: This is a common question asked by many first time patients. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child’s first dental visit should take place around one year of age. However, we are not a pediatric dental office and we have found that what works best in our office is to see your child around 3-4 years of age, depending on their level of maturity. We normally schedule a Happy Visit on your child’s first trip, at which time we will let them sit in the dental chair for a ride and show them some of the instruments we will use, in order to familiarize them with the surroundings. Obviously if you notice something is wrong or suspicious with your child’s teeth before the age we recommend, it is important to schedule an appointment for an exam. At that time, we will determine if any treatment is necessary and whether it would be best to see a pediatric dentist for the treatment.

7. What is a missing tooth clause?

A: About 90% of dental insurance plans have what is called a missing tooth clause. What this clause means, is that the dental insurance will not provide coverage, (will not pay), for any dental procedure that replaces a missing tooth or teeth prior to the date in which that dental coverage became effective. In other words, lets say that you had a tooth extracted on March 1, 2006. Your dental coverage did not begin until August 7, 2006. It is now October 26, 2006 and you have consulted with your dentist about options for replacing a missing tooth. (A partial, bridge, or implant) Because the tooth was extracted in March, but your dental coverage did not begin until August, your insurance will not pay for the partial, bridge, or implant if the policy has a missing tooth clause.

6. My dentist told me I need a root canal. What is a root canal procedure?

A: A root canal procedure is a procedure by which the nerve, (pulp tissue), is removed from the inside of the tooth. There are many causes of pain in your dental nerves. Decay and trauma are the two most common causes. This irritation of the nerve is called pulpitis. The tooth is held into the jawbone by 1-3 roots, depending on the tooth. Inside each root is an area called the pulp chamber. The nerve branches off from the center of the tooth into each root. Whenever the nerve becomes sore and irritated, the nerve begins to die. This dead nerve tissue and miscellaneous debris needs to be removed from the inside of the tooth to treat any infection and to help prevent future infections. The root canal procedure is a relatively painless procedure and many patients are relieved when the tooth no longer hurts. This procedure is also a necessary procedure in order to save the tooth. If an abscessed tooth is left untreated, other dental problems can occur such as bone loss, swelling, and severe toothaches.

5. How often should x-rays be taken?

A: If you are a new patient, if you have had a full set of x-rays taken within the past year, ask to have your x-rays transferred to your new dentist. If you have not had x-rays taken within a year, a full set of x-rays may be taken on your first visit. Depending on your overall health and oral health, you may only need x-rays once every year. Other people will require more frequent x-rays due to continued treatment, diet, oral hygiene, and/or health related issues. Consult with your dentist or hygienist and together come up with an x-ray schedule that is right for you. Our office has the latest in digital x-ray technology which reduces radiation exposure by up to 90%. Our x-ray equipment is tested for safety every 2 years.

4. What is a dental implant?

A: Dental implants are the most advanced tooth replacement system ever devised. They are placed and restored in doctors’ offices with minimal discomfort and have a 95% success rate. They look and function like natural teeth. Dental implants represent a conservative treatment option where the adjacent teeth are left untouched. They improve comfort, appearance, and speech; they never develop decay, never need root canals and can help people of any age.

3. Which toothpaste should I use?

A: There are many varieties of toothpastes on the market. There is everything from gels, whitening toothpaste, tartar control toothpaste, to natural toothpaste, toothpaste made for children, and sensitive teeth. The brand of toothpaste you choose is not as important as what is in the toothpaste itself. Even if you have fluoride in your drinking water, it is still wise to choose toothpaste that contains fluoride. Another thing to consider is this: the more chemicals that are added to the toothpaste, the higher the risk for your teeth and gums to become irritated and sensitive. Before using any of the whitening, tartar control, sensitive, etc. toothpastes, consult with your dentist or hygienist to see if any of these toothpastes are recommended for you.

2. What is a dry socket?

A: When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in the hole where the tooth once was. This blood clot is very important because it protects the bone tissue underneath, as well as supplying the surrounding tissue with nutrients to help the healing process. If this blood clot fails to form properly or becomes dislodged, the bone tissue is exposed to air and debris. When the bone is exposed to air, it will begin to dry out. This is what the term dry socket refers to. A dry socket is very painful and must be treated immediately in order for proper healing to take place and reduce the risk of other complications. When a dry socket occurs, the dentist will clean out the socket and pack it with a medicated dressing. The medicine will ease the pain as well as promote proper healing of the extraction site.

1. How can I relieve a toothache?

A: Many people experience a toothache late in the evening, the middle of the night, or when they are not able to rush off to the dentist. Some people wait the toothache out to see if the tooth feels any better tomorrow because they just really hate going to the dentist. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your tooth is hurting and you are not able to see a dentist right away, you can relieve the toothache by placing clove oil on the tooth. Clove is a natural sedative for the nerve in your tooth and it will help to calm the nerve down and ease the toothache. You do not need to drown the tooth in clove oil for it to work. All you need to do is take a Q-tip and dip it in the clove oil. Dab the Q-tip on a piece of sterile gauze to get the excess oil off the end. Then place the Q-tip on the tooth and swirl it around the tooth. You should begin to feel some relief. Repeat as necessary. You will also want to take some over-the-counter pain reliever, at the recommended dosage and interval, even if the clove oil relieves the pain. The medicine will work throughout the day and evening to keep the toothache at bay. It is much easier that having the medicine wear off and then trying to treat the toothache when its at its peak. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to evaluate what is causing that toothache. Do not wait. It is much easier to treat a dental problem when it is diagnosed earlier than later.

Have a question you don’t see on this list? Send us an email 🙂