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Questions & Answers

Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?

A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It's unnecessary to "scrub" the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.


Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?

A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.


Q: How often should I floss?

A: Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.


Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?

A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns". However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as "caps" and the gold or stainless steel ones as "crowns".


Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?

A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.


Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?

A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. While fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.


Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?

A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.


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Q: How often should I have a dental exam or teeth cleaning?

A: You should have examinations and cleanings at least two times per year.  Regular dental visits are critical in preventing dental problems and keeping your teeth and gums healthy.  Not only are your teeth cleaned and examined for cavities during these visits, but there are a number of other things that are checked to help maintain your health such as oral cancer screenings and examinations of existing restorations.  We are dedicated to providing you with excellent care.  In order to do this we must see you on a regular basis.


Q: I am told I grind my teeth at night, how do I prevent this?

A: Night-time grinding definitely can have a negative impact on your oral health.  When you grind your teeth, you can wake up with a sore jaw and headaches.  Sometimes grinding can even loosen, wear and fracture your teeth.  A common and effective solution for this is a mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.  We make them specifically for your mouth by taking a dental impression.  Your night-guard is ready a few weeks later.


Q: Why are x-rays necessary and are they dangerous?

A: X-rays are important because many diseases can exist beneath your teeth and gums and cannot be seen without the use of radiographs.  An X-ray is a valuable tool enabling us to safely and accurately detect hidden problems.  The amount of radiation you receive from digital dental radiographs is minimal and is outweighed by the risk to your health from untreated dental.


Q: Why are my teeth sensitive?

A: Sensitive teeth can often occur if your gums have receded slightly.  This recession allows underlying dentin to show through which gives water and food easier access to the sensitive nerve.  There are a number of toothpastes, gels and even some dental procedures that can be applied to manage this.  Discuss this with us in more detail at your next appointment if you are experiencing sensitive teeth.


Q: Is Teeth Whitening safe?

A: Definitely!  Teeth whitening has been around in some form since the 1700s!  Modern take-home whitening kits uses safe and effective bleaching gel to erase stains and discoloration.


Q: I brush regularly, but my breath just is not fresh.  Is there anything I can do?

A: In your checkup, we can look for causes of your bad breath.  Some patients get bad breath from tooth decay gum disease or a smelly substance put off by bacteria.  With modern procedures to promote fresh breath, our team can help you regain your confidence!


Q: My gums bleed after I brush or floss.  Is this something to be concerned about?  

A: Bleeding gums indicate gingivitis and possibly gum disease.  Our hygienists can educate you on effective flossing and brushing techniques to help eliminate the problem, but you do need to make an appointment for a thorough examination.  Gum disease can lead to serious oral health complications and should never be ignored.