Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I brush my teeth?

You should brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth removes plaque which causes cavities and can lead to gum disease. Always use a soft bristled brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride. When brushing use gentle back and forth strokes, brushing all sides of the teeth. Always brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Why can’t I just wait until my teeth break or hurt and then have them fixed?

You could and many people do this. But once the teeth break, the subsequent dental work is more extensive and expensive than if the teeth were restored earlier. In restoring these teeth earlier, we can avoid future root canal therapy, extraction, surgery, etc. The savings in time and money can be enormous.

Are you accepting new patients or referrals?

We welcome them! The greatest compliment you can pay us is trusting us with the care of your friends and family.

Are silver (amalgam) fillings safe?

Dental amalgam is a blend of various metals with mercury which has been safely used in dentistry for over 100 years. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), The Center for Disease Control (CDC), and Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings. However, as newer materials are developed that are tooth-colored, the number of amalgam fillings placed continues to decline.

What can I do to whiten my teeth?

Dental bleaching (whitening) is a popular cosmetic service. It is a conservative, simple, and cost-effective way to whiten natural teeth. Home teeth whitening products come in a gel that is placed into custom-fitted mouth guards and worn for a specified period of time. It usually takes several weeks to achieve the desired results. Over the counter products are also available but are much less effective.

It should also be noted that since bleaching products work only on natural tooth enamel, we must evaluate the need to replace older fillings or crowns before bleaching, since these do not lighten with whitening products.

If periodontal (gum) disease is such a problem, why doesn’t it hurt?

This is unfortunately a good question. Periodontal problems can become quite serious and extremely advanced without any pain whatsoever. That is why it is important to be attentive of warning signs- bleeding gums when brushing and flossing, swollen gums, and teeth changing position, just to name a few.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

The sooner the better! As soon as the teeth appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than two years of age.

As a senior adult, do I really need to be concerned about cavities anymore?

Actually, cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. Life-long exposure to fluoride through community water and toothpaste may not have been a possibility for some of our oldest seniors — it simply wasn’t available. Also, adults are more likely to have decay around old fillings.

In addition, cavities in the tooth root are more common, as gums begin to recede exposing the root surface to decay. Also, dry mouth resulting from the natural aging process and certain medications can lead to more tooth decay. Without an adequate amount of saliva, food particles cannot be washed away and acids produced by plaque cannot be neutralized

What are veneers and how can they improve my smile?

Porcelain veneers are very thing shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth. They are durable and will not stain. Veneers are used to correct the following dental conditions:

  • Discolored or stained teeth
  • Unwanted or uneven spaces
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Slight tooth crowding
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Teeth that are too small or too large

What are the early signs of oral cancer?

Early symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • A sore on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat that does not heal
  • A lump on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat
  • A red or white patch found anywhere in the mouth
  • Unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth
  • Swelling of the mouth
  • Any difficulty or discomfort while chewing or swallowing

Which is better: a manual toothbrush or an electric one?

Comparisons have been made between electric toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes to look at the ability of each to remove plaque and prevent or reduce calculus (tartar) buildup, thus reducing gingivitis. The recent studies have shown both toothbrushes to be equally effective when used properly. So probably in practical terms, which brush you use is not the critical factor but how you use it.

What are sealants?

Sealants are a thin plastic coating that is painted on and bonded to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent tooth decay. Actively brushing and flossing can remove food particles from smooth surfaces of teeth but they cannot always get into the deep grooves of the back teeth. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by sealing out plaque and food debris.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as these teeth erupt. In this way, dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity prone years of ages 6 to 14.

Do I really need x-rays?

This simple diagnostic procedure is commonly misunderstood. Patients are often understandably concerned with radiation exposure. The following is some useful information to put things in perspective:

  •  Mammography (breast exam) — 1000 mR of exposure
  • Upper G.I. series — 535 mR of exposure
  • Dental bitewing x-ray — 0.5 mR of exposure

Each time you fly from coast to coast you receive 4 mR of background radiation. When you weigh this against all the serious conditions that can go undetected without x-rays, it seems like a fair tradeoff.