Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I see a dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends a patient visits their dentist at least twice per year for a routine visit.  However, each and every persons dental needs are different.  Your dental hygienist and dentist will be able to determine how often you should be seen depending on your oral health condition and prior dental history.  This allows us to monitor you oral health and catch problems before they become too severe.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath, or halitosis, is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also be caused by retained food debris, periodontal disease, or sinus problems.  It can also be a sign of respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.  Proper oral hygiene including brushing, flossing, and use of an antiseptic mouth rinse should help.  Don't forget to brush all areas of your mouth including your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth.
Are silver fillings, fluoride, or x-rays a danger to my health? What are the alternatives?
DENTAL AMALGAM, or silver filling material, is a mixture of mercury, and an alloy of silver, tin and copper.  Hundreds of studies have been done to determine if there are any negative effects from the release of mercury from silver fillings.  The amount of mercury released from silver fillings is so minute, that patients have a higher exposure from daily food, air, and water.  In some cases the use of silver fillings is recommended.  There are alternatives to silver fillings.  We ultimately leave the decision of its use up the patient after all treatment options have been discussed. 

FLUORIDE is a compound of the element fluorine.  Fluoride is found naturally in water, soil, air and in most foods.  Fluoride is absorbed quite easily into the tooth enamel, especially in the developing teeth of children.  Once the teeth have developed, fluoride makes your teeth more resistant to decay and can even help to remineralize areas of weakened tooth structure.

RADIOGRAPHS, or X-RAYS, are used to help complete a thorough examination of your mouth.  They help to see areas of your mouth not visible to the naked eye.  They can be used to detect small problems before they become larger ones, such as cavities, periodontal conditions, abscesses, etc.  As your dental provider we know patients are concerned about their exposure to radiation.  By using state of the art Digital Radiography, we can greatly reduce your exposure to radiation as compared to older techniques while producing a crisp clear image.
What should I expect during my appointment?
Our dental team will compile your medical and dental history during your first visit.  We will then examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, and take x-rays of your teeth as needed.  After we review your dental profile, we will discuss a diagnosis with you.  If treatment is needed, we will discuss your options for treatment and the investment and help you determine the best plan to fit your needs.

During regular follow-up visits, we will examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, clean your teeth and make plans for treatment, as needed.  We will discuss any pain or problems you may be experiencing and answer any questions you may have.
Can I finance my dental treatments?
Yes. Third-party financing is available, often at low or no interest for qualified applications, through CareCredit.  Please call our office for more information about CareCredit or visit their website
What causes tooth decay?
Eating patterns and food choices are important factors that affect tooth decay.  Tooth decay is caused by the buildup of plaque and debris in your mouth.  Each and every time bacteria come in contact with sugar or starch in the mouth, acid is produced.  The acid attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more.  Acid also erodes enamel and dentin.  This can eventually cause tooth decay.  If left untreated, decay can cause severe pain and infection resulting in tooth loss.  A healthy diet can help prevent tooth decay.  The ADA recommends limiting the intake of beverages and foods high in sugar.  Some soft drinks contain as much as 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving!  Diet soft drinks can also cause tooth damage due to phosphoric acid or citric acid.
What if I have an emergency?
Please call our office as soon as you determine that you have a dental emergency. We will be glad to work you in to our schedule if you have a dental emergency during regular business hours.  After hours, over the weekend and during holidays, please call our office for the doctor's emergency contact number.
What is the difference between a white and silver filling?
SILVER FILLINGS - Known as Amalgam have been around for decades. Made from a metal alloy, it was the best restoration for fillings. The metal expands and contracts with the heat and cold placed in the mouth. This allowed for little bacteria to enter a tooth once filled; keeping the tooth healthy and strong.

WHITE FILLINGS - Also known as composites are often made of plastic or glass polymers. These cosmetic fillings allow us to fill a cavity with a substance that will look and feel just like your existing tooth structure. This restoration is created with a resin material and fits tightly into a tooth to prevent decay. Rather than a gray or silver material in your mouth, the composite color will match the tooth color.
What are crowns?
A crown is a permanent procedure that covers the entire tooth.  It will change the size, shape, and color of the tooth.  Crowns can be done in one to two dental appointmens.  Our office uses a CAD/CAM program to design and make your crown while you wait and we also work with an outside lab.  Your dentist will determine what type of crown fits your dental needs best.
What are dental implants and how do they work?
Dental implants are an ideal option for replacing missing teeth.  An implant is composed of a titanium screw that firmly attaches to your jawbone.  Once the implant is placed by an oral surgeon, an abutment and a crown are attached to the implant.  Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, support a bridge, or used to help anchor a denture.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a procedure that is performed to save a tooth in which the pulp/nerve has been damaged.  The pulp is accessed through a small opening on the chewing surface of the tooth.  The pulp is then removed using very small files to clean and prepare the pulp space.  Once the canals have been cleaned, they are filled with a rubber like material called gutta percha.  This seals off the tooth and prevents infection in the area around the tooth.  Once a root canal is performed, it is often necessary to place a crown.  A root canal allows a patient to keep a severely damaged tooth rather than have an extraction.
When is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars are the last set of teeth to erupt in the adult dentition.  It is often necessary to remove them due to their position in the mouth.  They are difficult to clean and are prone to decay.  Often, wisdom teeth can become impacted and cause damage to the adjacent teeth.  The dentist will help you determine if and when it is necessary to have your wisdom teeth extracted.  In some cases we may refer wisdom teeth extractions to an oral surgeon, where you may chose to be sedated for the procedure.
My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?
Bleeding is usually a sign of a problem.  When gums bleed, the cause usually stems from brushing too hard or early-stage gum disease, called gingivitis. We can show you the proper toothbrush and pressure for safe, effective daily oral care.  If your gums show signs of periodontal disease, we may recommend a hygiene treatment to alleviate your symptoms. If you notice your gums bleeding when you brush, seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible as it may be a sign of a bigger problem.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease or periodontal disease is a disease that causes the destruction of the supporting structures around your teeth.  It is caused by the bacteria that reside in plaque and tartar.  These bacteria, if left untreated will cause an infection that will cause the gums to swell and bleed easily.  Gum disease progresses steadily to cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and causes the bone to resorb around the teeth.  Eventually the teeth become loose and you may even lose teeth because of the disease.  Gingivitis, which is the first sign of the disease, is the reversible bleeding and swelling of your gums.  Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for American adults and has been linked to many overall health problems, including stroke, heart attack, and respiratory issues. Untreated, gum disease can significantly damage your health, so call for an assessment now.
What is scaling and root planing?
Scaling and root planing is a procedure used to treat the adverse effects of periodontal disease.  Tartar that forms on your teeth below the gum line is filled with harmful bacteria.  This procedure removes the tartar from the root surface and stops the progression of the disease and promotes healing of the gingival tissues.
What is laser therapy?
We treat periodontal disease with gentle scaling and laser assisted therapy.  We use instruments to remove plaque and tarter from your teeth.  After removing the plaque and tarter we use a diode laser to treat the infected tissue around your teeth.  The laser destroys harmful bacteria that contributes to gum disease and activates the healing process of soft tissue.
What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
WHAT - Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars), to prevent tooth decay.  The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the pits and fissures of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

WHO - Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in.  In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.  However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

HOW LONG - Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.
What age are my children supposed to see a dentist?
We recommend between 18 and 24 months.  Generally at your child's first visit we will just take a look and discuss proper diet and hygiene with the parent.  The first visit is necessary to help the child become more comfortable in the dental chair.  Some children require a bit more time to be comfortable.  The last thing we want is a child's first visit to be a traumatic one.  If you notice any area of concern or if your child complains of tooth pain, they should see a dentist as soon as possible.
Why is it important to fix baby teeth?
It is important to keep baby teeth as long as possible.  Premature loss of baby/primary teeth can cause delayed eruption of the permanent teeth and can cause problems in the future.  Infected baby teeth can also damage the developing permanent teeth such as permanent staining and altered shape of the teeth.
Should my child wear an athletic mouth guard?
We truly believe prevention is the best medicine.  Proper use of an athletic mouth guard is important to help prevent injuries to the teeth and jaw.  We recommend all children and adults playing contact sports to wear a mouth guard. Our dental team can make a mouth guard customized for your mouth.