Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Why do I get cavities?

Dental cavities happens when the germs in your mouth eat the sugar you take in to form acids on your teeth. The acids literally dissolve the teeth, making the holes we call cavities. As the holes get bigger, they trap more germs, so the cavities continue to grow to the point where an abscess will form if the cavity is not cleaned out and repaired.

How do I prevent cavities?

  • Daily effective oral hygiene measures at home including brushing, flossing, oral irrigators etc., to remove bacteria, plaque and accumulating acids.
  • Early detection of open crevices on teeth and leaking old fillings to eradicate decay in its earliest stages.
  • Reduction in dietary sugars to minimize the germs that cause harmful acids.
  • Children and adults should use prescription-strength Fluoride treatment to harden teeth, making them more resistant to decay.
  • Most importantly, consistent professional dental examinations, cleanings and x-rays when appropriate to keep you apprised of your dental condition, increase home care effectiveness and clean the spots that are hard for you to get.

Do adults need fluoride?

Numerous clinical studies have evaluated the cavity protection offered by topical application of specific fluoride products. Most studies of early cavities involved the permanent teeth of children. The clinical results involving adults, however are positive. The same protective mechanisms that are active in children also apply to adults.

Your dental professional can best advise you whether Fluoride treatments are necessary. The bottom line is that many adults can benefit from Fluoride treatments.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the most common periodontal disease, affecting 90% of the population. It is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria that form plaque. When left to accumulate, the proportion of harmful bacteria grows, causing inflammation of the gum tissue. Eventually, the plaque hardens and forms deposits called calculus or tartar.

If not properly treated, gingivitis may lead to the loss of bone that supports the teeth.

What is gum disease?

The American Dental Association says that over 75-80% of all adults have or will have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It can be divided into several categories. The first stage is called “gingivitis” and is characterized by gum tissue that is red, puffy, and bleeds easily when touched with a toothbrush, floss or dental instrument. The second, third, and fourth stages are initial, moderate, and advanced “periodontal disease”, respectively. These stages are different from gingivitis because the infection has destroyed the bone supporting the teeth, causing eventual tooth loss.

Teeth Whitening

Who can benefit from tooth whitening?

Almost anyone! However, treatment may be more effective for certain types of discoloration. We perform a thorough oral examination with tooth shade assessment to help predict your level of success with tooth whitening procedures.

Do many people whiten their teeth?

More people than you might imagine. A bright, sparkling smile can make a big difference for anyone! Multiple advances in tooth whitening make the process easier, faster, and more dramatic than ever before.

Is there any difference between tooth whiteners available at the pharmacy and products available at your office?

Absolutely! While over-the-counter tooth whitening strips, brush-on gels and toothpastes work, they take months to whiten your teeth only a few shades. The results require patience, diligence, and expense for modest results. Only a dentist can get your teeth this white, this fast.

What causes tooth discoloration?

There are many causes. The most common include aging and consumption of staining substances such as coffee, tea, colas, tobacco, and red wine. These stains respond extremely well to whitening. Certain antibiotics especially tetracyclines or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration during tooth formation. These types of stains respond to treatment but less dramatically than “garden-variety” staining described above.

How long do the results last?

The results of whitening are long-lasting but not indefinite. Continuing the foods that originally stained the teeth will eventually start to stain the teeth over time. However, following simple post whitening care instructions, will keep your teeth bright.

Is whitening safe?

Yes. Extensive research indicates that whitening teeth under the supervision of a dentist is safe. In fact, many dentists consider whitening the safest cosmetic dental procedure available. Although generally safe, we do not recommended or offer whitening for pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children under 14 years of age.

Will my dental insurance cover this procedure?

No. As with most cosmetic dental procedures, insurance will not cover the treatment cost.

Porcelain Veneers

What makes porcelain veneers so unique?

The uniqueness of veneers is their ability to produce the most natural white teeth appearance possible. This “natural teeth” appearance is a result of the inherent translucency of the veneer material. In most previous approaches, the light reflected off the surface of the restoration result in a clean but “flat” look to the restored tooth. Porcelain veneers allow light to penetrate the wafer shell and reflect only from the inside surface of the tooth structure. This penetration of light produces a translucency which is very natural looking and attractive.

How long would porcelain veneers last and will they stain over a period of time?

Porcelain veneers will last for 7 to 10 years or more provided routine care is taken to maintain good oral health,. Porcelain Veneers may need replacement if they are damaged, chipped or indicate a loss of bonding with the underlying tooth structure.

How to maximize the life of a porcelain veneer:

  • Practice good oral home care. Decay in the underlying tooth structure may result if regular oral hygiene is not maintained.
  • Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth (”Bruxism”). These actions put tremendous forces on the teeth and can break or move the veneer. An occlusal guard is frequently recommended to prolong the life of the veneers.
  • Avoid biting on hard things, such as bottle caps, fingernails, ice cubes etc.

When can veneers be used?

Porcelain veneers can be an effective method to make cosmetic changes in teeth that are chipped, stained, crooked, or worn out. The decision on whether or not porcelain veneers are a good choice is only possible after a thorough cosmetic evaluation and examination by a dentist. In general, veneers are recommended for patients when:

  • Teeth are crooked or badly stained.
  • Minor orthodontic improvements to straighten appearance of the teeth
  • Closing unsightly gaps in the front teeth of the mouth.