Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Care

What causes cavities?

Plaque is a clear bacteria laden film, which develops on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque interact with the starches and sugars we eat and form an acid, which breaks down or de-mineralizes our teeth. Plaque and sugar interact with one another to form an acid, which breaks down the enamel of the teeth, resulting in a cavity. Proper removal of plaque will also greatly reduce the risk of getting cavities.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

Parents are encouraged to schedule their child’s first dental visit at 6 months or no later than his/her first birthday.

Baby teeth fall out eventually. Are baby teeth really that important?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Early loss of baby teeth can negatively impact the eruption of adult teeth.

What are sealants and how do they protect my teeth?

A sealant is a tooth colored resin material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants work by filling in the grooves and depressions of the teeth. Sealants act as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

How does fluoride help my teeth?

Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash.

How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which patients are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation exposure.

I am afraid of going to the dentist ... What can I do?

Fear of the dentist is quite common and many people are as fearful and concerned as you may be. However, because fear of the dentist is so common, your dentist and staff are also well aware of this and are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these fears. Notify your dental team about any questions or concerns that you may have. You will find they are eager to work with you to make your visits pleasant. Asking questions and understanding your proposed treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and will help to make your visit more comfortable and rewarding.

What is a crown, and why might I need one?

If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth, while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are porcelain, ceramic, or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.

What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?

By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will give your smile back its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, a bridge fills the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and stability than removable prostheses.

I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help improve the appearance of my smile?

Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you.You may be interested in a few minor adjustments, or you may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy; or, a combination of these techniques. Your treatment plan will be based on your goals, areas of concern, and the overall condition of your oral health.

What can I expect during my first appointment?

During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical/dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We’ll also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you at this time.

My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?

It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing; however, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper and rough brushing instead of gentle brushing motions; using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods, or if the bleeding occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set up an evaluation appointment.

Still have questions about dental care?

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Phone: 210.920.8481