Questions About Your Dental Care
- Can I complete the new patient forms before my first appointment?
- What do I do if I have a dental emergency?
- What if I need to reschedule my appointment?
- What are some tips for daily oral care?
- How can I tell if I have gingivitis or gum disease?
- How often should I visit the dentist?
- It is really that important to floss every day?
- What causes bad breath?
- What is "dry mouth"?
- What causes dulling and discoloration of teeth?
- What causes sensitive teeth?
- Do you do teeth whitening/bleaching?
- How can jagged teeth be corrected?
- What are dental sealants? Are they really necessary?
- What can be done for missing teeth?
Can I complete the new patient forms before my first appointment?
Yes, you can download and print the forms on the new patient forms page. Fill them out and either mail the forms to us or bring them with you during for your first appointment.
What do I do if I have a dental emergency?
Call our office any time you have an emergency, even if it's after regular hours. If the office is closed, there will be a recording with instructions on what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency.
What if I need to reschedule my appointment?
Every patient is important to us and we schedule carefully to set aside the time everyone needs to receive the best treatment possible. However, we understand that there may be times when you must change your appointment. If you need to reschedule, please call our office no later than 48 hours before your scheduled appointment. We ask that you try to avoid last-minute cancellations whenever possible.
What are some tips for daily oral care?
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day, twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush.
Make sure the size and shape of your brush allows you to reach all areas easily. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. A fluoride mouth rinse, in conjunction with brushing and flossing, can also help prevent tooth decay.
Another important procedure is to clean between the teeth once a day with floss or inter-dental cleaners; this removes plaque from between the teeth where the toothbrush can't reach, and is a key element in preventing gum disease.
We also stress the importance of eating a balanced diet and having regular dental checkups to keep teeth healthy and your smile always looking its best.
How can I tell if I have gingivitis or gum disease?
Four out of five people are walking around with periodontal disease (gum disease) they don't even know they have. Because gum disease is often painless in the early stages, many people ignore or don't notice the early signs. Since you could have periodontal disease without evident symptoms, it is essential to come in for regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations. That way, we can help detect and correct the problems caused by periodontal disease.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Bad breath that doesn't go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
How often should I visit the dentist?
That depends on the state of your dental health. For patients with healthy gums, little or no history of decay, good home care and no significant medical conditions, we can usually help you maintain optimal dental health with cleanings and check-ups twice a year. However, everyone is different and some patients may need more frequent cleanings or certain dental procedures. After performing a comprehensive dental exam, we will discuss your treatment needs and options, develop a customized treatment plan, and discuss all of your treatment options and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
It is really that important to floss every day?
In a word – Yes. Regular flossing loosens food particles in the tight spaces where your toothbrush can't reach, gets rid of plaque build-up that toothbrushes can't remove, and exercises your gum tissues. These actions all help to prevent gum disease.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis), while an unpleasant and often embarrassing condition, is usually avoidable and treatable. It can be caused by improper dental hygiene, lifestyle or a dental condition.
Maintaining good oral health – at home as well as through regular cleanings and dental checkups – is essential to reducing bad breath. Brushing and flossing daily is critical because food particles which remain in the mouth collect bacteria, which in turn cause bad breath. Without putting too fine a point on it, food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque and brush your tongue as well. Use floss or an inter-dental cleaner once a day to clean between teeth. For our patients who need extra help in controlling plaque, we often recommend using a special antimicrobial mouth rinse.
Bad breath can also be a by-product of what you eat (such as onions or garlic); foods that have a strong odor convey that odor through the air we exhale as they are being digested and eliminated by the body. Even if you do brush, floss and use mouthwash, this only masks the odor temporarily until the food is eliminated. Tobacco products also cause bad breath. If you use tobacco, come to us for tips on kicking the habit.
Dry mouth (xerostomia), a decrease in saliva flow, is a condition which can cause halitosis (more details follow below). One of the jobs of saliva is to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor, so a decrease in saliva flow becomes a problem. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, we may prescribe artificial saliva or suggest you suck on sugarless candy to induce saliva flow and increase your fluid intake.
There are many medical disorders that can affect your breath such as a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, and liver or kidney ailment. If an exam reveals that your mouth is healthy, we might refer you to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath.
If you think you have constant bad breath, keep a log of the foods you eat and make a list of medications you take (some medications may play a role in creating mouth odors). Tell us if you've had any surgery or illness since your last appointment. If you find you are constantly using a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, come see us for an examination, as this could signal an underlying medical or dental condition of which halitosis is a major symptom.
What is "dry mouth"?
Reduced saliva flow – or dry mouth – can be caused by a number of conditions. It doesn't sound very serious but left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth and gums. Some medications can lead to dry mouth such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics. We can help find the source of your dry mouth and recommend methods to restore moisture to your mouth once the cause is determined, such as artificial saliva, sucking on sugarless hard candy and increasing fluid intake.
What causes dulling and discoloration of teeth?
Discolorations can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Smokers and people who drink coffee or tea on a regular basis accelerate the discoloration and require cleaning more often. This is among the most common reasons for teeth whitening.
What causes sensitive teeth?
The pain of tooth sensitivity can be sharp, sudden, and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.
This discomfort, felt in one or more teeth, is triggered by hot, cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks, tooth grinding, or even by breathing cold air.
The cause of sensitive teeth is the exposure of the underlying layer of your teeth (dentin) as a result of receding gum tissue (the protective covering of the tooth roots.) There are many factors that may lead to sensitive teeth, including brushing too hard, tooth decay near the gum line, recession of the gums or plaque build-up.
Do you do teeth whitening/bleaching?
We want you to look your best and whitening your teeth is one way we do that. We will take an impression of your upper and lower teeth and make a custom tray for you that you can use at home. At your convenience, you simply place the whitening gel in the tray and wear the bleaching trays once or twice a day. Whitening your teeth is painless and easy. However, some people have experienced a slight increase in tooth sensitivity during the process, so we recommend using sensitivity toothpaste for a week prior to starting and during the whitening process.
How can jagged teeth be corrected?
In some cases, simply reshaping (contouring) the front teeth may produce a dramatic result to correct jagged, chipped or slightly uneven teeth. A cosmetic dentist simply utilizes sanding discs and creativity, to create a natural look with existing teeth. In other cases, additional cosmetic consultation is desired to determine if additional treatments like bonding or veneers would create a better long term outcome.
What are dental sealants? Are they really necessary?
Dental sealants are a preventive dentistry measure that protects molars from developing cavities. They are a polymer resin that is brushed on the chewing surface of your adult teeth and then bonded to the tooth surface with high intensity light.
Because your teeth have many grooves on the chewing surface, food particles and bacteria can accumulate in these grooves. As the bacteria consume the food particles, they release an acid which destroys tooth enamel. The end result is a cavity. The sealant acts as a protective coating of the pits and grooves. They fill the deep grooves with acid-resistant resin, deny the bacteria a place to live and render the tooth surface more cleanable. This process is considerably less expensive than filling a cavity.
What can be done for missing teeth?
We will usually install a "bridge" – a false tooth or teeth which anchor to the bordering teeth – designed to replace missing teeth. A bridge is both cosmetic and restorative in that it fills the unsightly space left by lost teeth and also helps support the teeth adjacent and directly opposite to the missing teeth. Depending on your situation we might recommend a dental implant to fill in the space instead.