Frequently Asked Questions in a dental clinic

At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

The biological process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age. Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics. It is recommended that every child receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven. Treatment may take a little longer for adults. Because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be accomplished with braces alone and may require surgery.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is nothing more than a metal screw (made of surgical grade titanium steel) that is placed into the jawbone. It acts as an anchor for a false tooth or a set of false teeth.

What are cavities? How do they occur?

Cavities are simply decayed tooth enamel. Cavities are a result of food particles containing carbohydrates lingering in the mouth. Acid-producing bacteria thrive off these food particles. Over time these acids break down the tooth enamel, resulting in cavities.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles become worn out or frayed. A hard, brittle brush can do more harm than good and actually injure your gums. Children's brushes may need to be replaced more often, as they can wear them out more quickly.

Under what circumstances should I see a dentist immediately?

When you have any of the following:

  • Pain stimulated by heat that lasts for more than a second.
  • Pain stimulated by chewing.
  • A broken tooth or broken filling.
  • Swelling in the mouth or face.
  • An area that is red or white on the floor of the mouth or sides of the tongue.
  • If you notice any sudden or unusual changes in your mouth.

Is mercury used in fillings a health risk?

No. Dental amalgam (containing small amounts of mercury) has been used in tooth restorations worldwide for more than 100 years. Studies have failed to find any link between amalgam restorations and any medical disorder. Amalgam continues to be a safe restorative material for dental patients. We do not believe silver fillings (fillings that contain mercury) are a health risk. With today's technology, however, one can have teeth filled without using silver. Patients in this office are given the choice based upon their requirements and needs.

Is there anything I can do about cold sensitivity?

Cold sensitivity can be a sign of other problems; check with your dentist to make sure your teeth are healthy. Our office will be happy to assess your personal situation. For those people not suffering from underlying causes, most will find relief from using sensitive toothpaste. There are medications that can literally be painted on areas of teeth to reduce or eliminate sensitivity.

What causes bad breath?

Many factors can cause bad breath, such as certain foods, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, a dry mouth (xerostomia), tobacco products or a medical disorder. When bacteria accumulate because of poor oral hygiene or gum disease, or when saliva is lacking, bad breath can result. Sometimes a sinus infection, postnasal drip or other respiratory tract infection can cause bad breath. Most bad breath is a result of excessive sulfur compounds accumulating in the mouth. There are methods to measure these sulfur gases and to neutralize them. If bad breath is persistent, contact your dentist to determine whether the cause is of dental origin.

How can I whiten my teeth?

Teeth can be whitened by several methods. 1. Chair-side bleaching is done in the dental office and usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes. A shield protects the teeth from the oxidizing agent, which is "painted" onto the teeth. A special light may be used at five-minute intervals to help activate the agent. Sometimes the teeth may become sensitive following bleaching treatments. 2. With night guard bleaching, a mouth guard is custom-made. A dentist dispenses the bleaching gel to the patient. The patient places the gel into the mouth guard, which is worn up to six hours daily or at night for about two weeks.