Frequently Asked Questions

What different procedures does cosmetic dentistry entail?
To enhance your smile, we have several options. Bleaching, such as our in-office ZOOM! process, can whiten your teeth up to 10 shades. For front teeth that are misshapen, misaligned or badly chipped, porcelain veneers can be bonded to the teeth to achieve an attractive, youthful appearance. Teeth that are broken-down and need crowns may often be restored with metal-free highly esthetic porcelain crowns.
What is a root canal, and why would I need one?
If a tooth has deep decay that reaches the dental pulp, often the pulp (which is comprised of the nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth) must be removed or eventually the bacteria from the decay will cause infection or painful inflammation. Sometimes a patient comes to the office with an emergency where this has already occurred. Teeth may also need root canal therapy because of fracture or trauma.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease involves infection and inflammation of the gums, and destruction of the bone that surrounds the teeth. There are many factors that contribute to the disease process, including poor oral hygiene, heredity and misalignment of teeth. The goal of treatment is to bring the gums to health and to effectuate your ability to maintain health through proactive home care. Recent studies have linked cardiovascular disease to periodontal disease.
I wear false teeth and my bottom denture won’t stay in when I eat, even with paste. What can I do?
Again, implants are a wonderful option, where two or more can be placed, and the denture made to clip onto the implants, keeping it stable.
My uncle wears false teeth where he has metal hooks that show. Is there another way?
When a patient needs a partial denture, when they are missing some, but not all of their teeth, the appliance stays in by clasping onto the remaining teeth. We offer Valplast partials where the clasps are made of a flexible, gum-colored material that is virtually unnoticeable. If some of the remaining teeth need to be crowned, internal attachments can also be made inside the crowns to hide any clasping.
If I lose a tooth, how can it be replaced?
One option is a fixed bridge, where the teeth on either side of the space are prepared for crowns. A restoration is fabricated, where the crowns are connected with a false tooth in between, and then it is cemented in place. A more conservative treatment is one that is growing in popularity, the implant (which is fabricated from biocompatible material) which in effect replaces the tooth’s root and is placed into the bone where the missing tooth was removed. After healing, an attachment is placed into the implant and then a crown is placed over that. The implant’s greatest advantage is that the adjacent teeth are not involved in the restoration.
What's the latest word on the safety of amalgam-type fillings?
Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-colored fillings, otherwise called amalgams. Because amalgams contain the toxic substance mercury, some people think that they are responsible for causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis.The American Dental Association (ADA), the FDA, and numerous public health agencies say amalgams are safe, and that any link between mercury-based fillings and disease is unfounded. The cause of autism, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis remains unknown. Additionally, there is no solid, scientific evidence to back up the claim that if a person has amalgam fillings removed, he or she will be cured of these or any other diseases.In March of 2002, the FDA reconfirmed the safety of amalgams. Although amalgams do contain mercury, when they are mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they form a stable alloy that dentists have used for more than 100 years to fill and preserve hundreds of millions of decayed teeth. The National Institutes of Health conducted several large-scale studies that concluded in 2006 that amalgam fillings were safe. In addition, there has been concern over the release of a small amount of mercury vapor from these fillings, but according to the ADA, there is no scientific evidence that this small amount results in adverse health effects.
How do whitening toothpastes work and how effective are they?
All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office through chair-side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
I'm interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and recontouring.• Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and hardened with a special light, which ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth.• Dental crowns are tooth-shaped "caps" that are placed over teeth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. • Veneers (also sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth. • Recontouring or reshaping of the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth's length, shape or surface. Each of these options differ with regard to cost, durability, "chair time" necessary to complete the procedure, stain resistant qualities, and best cosmetic approach to resolving a specific problem. Talk to your dentist to see if one is right for you.
I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I know I need to. What should I do?
If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 15% of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn't take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medications (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax), use of lasers instead of the traditional drill for removing decay, application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, acupuncture, and other mental health therapies), and perhaps even visits to a dentophobia clinic or a support group.
There are so many toothpastes to choose from; how do I know which one to use?
Here's some advice. First, when purchasing a toothpaste for you or your child, select one that contains fluoride. Fluoride-containing toothpastes have been shown to prevent cavities. However, one word of caution: check the manufacturer's label; some toothpastes are not recommended in children under age 6. This is because young children swallow toothpaste and swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.It is also wise to select a product approved by the American Dental Association. The ADA's Seal of Acceptance means that the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek the ADA's Seal of Acceptance. Although these products may be safe and effective, these products' performance have not been evaluated or endorsed by the ADA.Next, when considering other properties of toothpaste -- such as whitening toothpastes, tartar-control, gum care, desensitizing, etc. -- the best advice for selecting among these products may be to simply ask your dental hygienist or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth at this time. After consulting with your dentist or hygienist about your oral health's greatest needs, look for products within that category (for example, within the tartar control brands or within the desensitizing toothpaste brands) that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.