frequently asked questions
How often should I floss?
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.
What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?
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. White fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they 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.
Why do I need a crown?
A tooth may need a crown to strengthen it if it has lost significant structure due to decay, chipping, or the need for root canal therapy. A crown may also be needed to help prevent the propagation of cracks in a tooth, and in some cases to improve the appearance of a tooth.
Will I need a root canal before a crown?
It is not always necessary to have a root canal before a crown. In fact, crowns are sometimes performed in order to avoid root canals by preventing further fracture of a tooth or filling, or leakage of an existing filling.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is mainly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. Other factors that have the potential to cause gum disease may include tobacco use, clenching or grinding your teeth, certain medications, and genetics.
Types of gum disease include:
- Gingivitis: The beginning stage of gum disease and often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.
- Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response. This is a condition in which the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.
How long does the bleaching effect last? Do I have to do it again?
The bleaching results vary from patient to patient, and depend on a patient’s habits such as smoking, foods and drinks that stain the teeth, etc. Usually the results last 1-2 years before touch-ups may become necessary.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is the reduced flow and altered composition of saliva. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces. Gingivitis, gum disease, and severe tooth decay often occur if dry mouth is left untreated.
What is tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard calcified tissue that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in our bodies. The saliva in our mouth contains calcium, which helps to strengthen and remineralize the teeth; however, remineralization cannot occur when a great deal of acid is present. The high amount of acids in the food and drink that you consume can cause tooth erosion (for example, soft drinks and pure fruit juices contain a high amount of acid). Tooth erosion can also be caused by medical factors such as a decrease in saliva, acid reflux disease, certain gastrointestinal conditions, and the eating disorder bulimia.
Are implants better than bridges?
In most cases, implants are better restorations for missing teeth than bridges because implants are easier to maintain. However, not all patients are good candidates for receiving implants, nor do all situations indicate them. A thorough evaluation is necessary before recommending either of the options. Ask your dentist if implants might be an option for you.
What’s the difference between a bridge and a partial denture?
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.