When should I get my regular checkup?

The American Dental Association recommends a check-up at least once every six months. Medical research continues to show that poor oral health negatively impacts your entire system. Regular checkups can ensure your dental wellbeing, and help us catch problems early. Then we can affordably and quickly treat your issues.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

If your gums bleed, feel swollen, look discolored, you have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, or your teeth feel loose, you may have gum disease. The main concern with periodontal disease or “gum disease” is that in more advanced stages irreversible damage can occur to your gums and the supporting bone structure that anchors your teeth in place. Loss of bone and gum tissue can result in loose teeth and a less healthy-looking smile.

Will a root canal help my toothache?

In many cases, toothaches are the result of root canal infections. Teeth that have been comprised by decay and damage are often vulnerable to bacterial infections. Bacteria will get inside the tooth and infect the root canals, which causes pain and irritation. Most of the time, a root canal will alleviate the discomfort and cause instant relief.

Are Dental Xrays Safe?

Yes. According to the Radiological Society of North America the amount of radiation you are exposed to during a chest x-ray, which effects a dosage 10x more than a dental x-ray, is equivalent to the same dosage you receive from simply being alive for 10 days. That’s right, we are exposed to very small doses of naturally occurring radiation every day such as cosmic radiation from outer space. X-rays are a necessary part of the diagnostic process. They are used to detect cavities, evaluate bone health, monitor developing dentition, evaluate traumatic injuries, and plan for orthodontic treatment. With proper shielding and use of digital sensors, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. It is important to realize that dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.

Are over the counter bleaching products the same as the kind you get from the dentist?

There are a few differences between OTC and professional tooth whitening products. The key to successful tooth whitening is having a strong enough product being in contact with the tooth surface for a sufficient amount of time to get a result. The active ingredient in both OTC and professional products is some form of peroxide, whether that be hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The professional products have a significantly higher concentration of this ingredient in them. The other benefit of professional whitening is that the product is staying in contact with the tooth surface for a longer amount of time, due to the delivery system of either a custom tray which fits intimately over your teeth, or the direct application while you are in the dentist’s chair. The drawback of the OTC product in this aspect is that with strips, paste, or paint on products, it is more quickly rinsed off the tooth by your own saliva. Finally, many professional products have additional ingredients which minimize side effects such as sensitivity or discomfort. These ingredients include potassium nitrate, fluoride, and water, to keep the tooth hydrated (dehydration can be a cause of post-treatment sensitivity). OTC products are not harmful, and are worth a try if you have never whitened your teeth before. If you do not get the result you desire, seek out the advice of a dentist. Most people can benefit from tooth whitening; depending on how committed they are to the process. You should remember that keeping your teeth white is something that needs to be maintained throughout your life. One more thing…don’t be fooled by miracle bleaching products you may hear about on the radio or TV. THESE DO NOT WORK. Reviews on these products can be found on Amazon.com.

Why worry about fixing my six year-olds baby tooth? Isn’t it going to fall out eventually anyway?

Yes, But…. Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important and serve many purposes. Primary teeth help children speak clearly, chew, and smile. Most importantly, they also act as a “spaceholder” for the developing permanent teeth. Some of the baby molars save the place for a permanent tooth until 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, decreased nutrient intake, missed school days, and premature loss of teeth with future orthodontic issues are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.

Why is my tooth sensitive following a recent filling I had placed?

Tooth sensitivity after having a new filling placed, especially composite or tooth colored fillings, is a common thing. Sometimes the sensitivity is the result of the new filling being a little bit “too high” which can be fixed with a quick 5 minute adjustment.

Some sensitivity is normal after any tooth has been worked on, especially if there has been tooth decay. Decay irritates the tooth, and working on that tooth irritates it further, to where it can develop into a painful sensitivity. Generally the bigger the cavity, the bigger the filling, and consequently the greater the likelihood that you will have some sensitivity.

The decay could have been close to the pulp of the tooth. In this situation, some bacteria will always be present in the thin porous dentin between the filling and the tooth. With the tooth being irritated from being worked on, it creates a situation in which the tooth can easily become infected. If the sensitivity persists, it indicates that the tooth is not recovering from this tooth infection and will need a root canal. This is fairly uncommon however, but still important to be aware of.

Most of the time the tooth will gradually get better, usually within a couple of days, but it can last for several months. As long as the tooth gradually improves, there should be no cause for concern.