Frequently Asked Questions
Please select a question below.
- My teeth aren't as white as they used to be. What can I do to lighten them?
- What can I do to lighten them?
- What causes bad breath and what can be done about it?
- Why are my teeth so sensitive to cold, air and/or sweets? What can be done about it?
- Occasionally my jaw feels stiff and I wake up with headaches. I have also noticed 'popping' in my jaw joint. What is happening, and what can be done to correct it?
- What is a 'root canal'?
- I am missing several teeth. Why should I get a removable partial denture or fixed bridge?
- How do I know if I have gum disease? How is it treated?
- At what age should I bring my children to the dentist?
- What are implants? Can they really replace my dentures?
- What are crowns, and would I need one?
- What is a bridge, and why do I need one?
It is common for teeth to darken over time. This can also be due to several things such as drinking coffee, tea, or red wine; eating foods such as chocolate; smoking; and just plain aging. Fortunately, there is a new technique available to whiten teeth which is easy and inexpensive. Under your dentists' supervision, bleaching trays are custom fitted to your teeth. A bleaching paste is placed in the tray, and it is worn for a short period during the day or while you are sleeping at night. Usually after a period of 2 weeks, your teeth will be much whiter.
There are several reasons why someone may have occasional or frequent bad breath (halitosis). Certain foods such as garlic, onion, alcohol and coffee are often culprits. Having a dry mouth, which may occur for many reasons, is a factor. Dry mouth can be caused by certain medical conditions and medications. Improper oral hygiene and/or gum disease are also factors.
If you notice bad breath, try cutting out foods that are known culprits. Brush and floss properly (including brushing your tongue), and drink plenty of water. Do not use mouthwash more than once a day, as this will dry your mouth out and make the problem worse.
If you still are experiencing bad breath, please make an appointment to see your dentist to help determine what is causing it, and to help come up with a solution for it.
Having sensitive teeth is a common problem. This may be due to several factors. Exposed roots resulting from over-agressive brushing or gum disease is one factor. Teeth with decay in them is another. Clenching or grinding your teeth is another common cause of sensitivity.
A 'sensitive' type toothpaste or flouride rinse can often help, but a thorough dental exam is usually necessary to determine what is causing the sensitivity. The good news is that this problem can usually can be solved if you follow the dentist's recommendations.
Occasionally my jaw feels stiff and I wake up with headaches. I have also noticed 'popping' in my jaw joint. What is happening, and what can be done to correct it?
These are the common symptoms of 'TMJ' disorder. Other symptoms include frequent earaches, a locking jaw, sensitive teeth, limited mouth opening, and a jaw that tires easily. Although the root cause varies, 'TMJ' disorder usually involves clenching or grinding of the teeth, often at nighttime, and often without the person's knowledge that they are doing so. For most people, this disorder is easily treatable by your dentist. Treatment normally involves patient education with self-care techniques and fabrication of a acrylic splint, which is normally worn at night while sleeping. Treatment of this disorder is important, not only to relieve the symptoms, but to prevent excessive wear of the teeth, and weakening of the teeth from stress-induced cracks.
Root canal therapy is the only way to save a tooth once the pulp of the tooth becomes damaged or infected. This can happen from decay that has gone too deep or from some type of trauma to the tooth. Root canal therapy usually takes 1-3 visits and involves removing the bacteria from the root canal of the tooth, shaping the root canal, and filling the root canal with a putty-like substance. Root canal therapy has about a 90-95% success rate, depending on the individual case, and whether a permanent restoration has been placed over the tooth. A buildup of the tooth (core) and crown is usually needed to protect the tooth from breakage once root canal therapy has ben done. The final, restored tooth may last a lifetime, as long as healthy teeth and tissues are maintained. Make sure you visit the dentist regularly to evaluate and monitor the tooth.
There are 3 main reasons to replace missing teeth. The first is to help your remaining teeth stay in place. When there are spaces between your teeth, the teeth will tip and drift. Teeth that are tipped or out of position are harder to keep clean, and are therefore at greater risk for decay and gum disease. Chewing is also easier and more comfortable if the missing teeth are replaced. If teeth on one side only are missing, you may chew food only on the other side, which may place too much stress on that side. This may lead to further problems with the gums and teeth. Lastly, replacing missing teeth can also benefit your speech and appearance. Teeth maintain the natural shape of your face by supporting the lips and cheeks.
Gum disease is more accurately known as periodontal disease. It is caused by harmful bacterial toxins in the plaque and tartar around the teeth and under the gums. These toxins produce deep pockets around the teeth and erodes the bone surrounding the teeth. This infection will continue to cause deeper pockets and further bone loss until it is treated. If left untreated, tooth mobility and eventually tooth loss will be the result. Also, severe localized infections often develop in untreated periodontal disease. Symptoms are not always evident but commonly include red, tender or swollen gums; gums that bleed when you brush; bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth; and mobile teeth. Treatment usually requires 3-5 appointments. The stage of disease is determined first. The teeth are then cleaned and smoothed out above and below the gumline. Patient education on preventing the disease from starting again is also given. Once diagnosed, it is very important to have proper home care, and to come to the dentist for maintenance, usually every 3-4 months. If everything is done properly the success rate for treating periodontal disease is very high.
We recommend that the child be seen at age 3 for a checkup. This will also give the child a chance for a positive experience with the dentist at an early age. However, when teeth begin appearing in a child's mouth, parents should make sure that they are keeping their teeth clean, at first with a washcloth, then with a toothbrush. Keep in mind that prolonged exposure of the teeth to any liquid except water will cause decay on the teeth, even at this very early age.
If a parent has any concerns that the teeth are not developing normally or if any problem is noted suspected with the teeth, they should make an appointment with the dentist.
An implant is an artificial tooth that is surgically placed in the jaw. They feel much the same as natural teeth and can be used to replace any number of missing teeth, even if there are no teeth remaining. An implant consists of two parts, one below the gum and one above. An Oral Surgeon first places the part below the gum. After healing occurs (3-9 months), he will uncover that part so your general dentist can make the crown portion of the tooth and place that in position.
Crowns (also known as caps) are used to cover and protect teeth that have been weakened by decay around fillings or that are very damaged, decayed, chipped, discolored or misaligned. Crowns are usually required after a root canal or when a tooth cracks or breaks. Crowns are made of either gold, porcelain with a metal base, or all porcelain. Crowns are necessary when there is not enough tooth left to support a filling. They can be used for cosmetic purposes to whiten dark teeth or to straighten crooked teeth.
Bridges are tooth replacements that are attached to crowns placed on adjoining natural teeth. Bridges are better than partial dentures because once they are cemented into place, they look and feel much like natural teeth. However, the bone and gum around the tooth must be healthy, and bridges can only replace a limited number of missing teeth.
Bridges are necessary to keep natural teeth adjacent to and opposite the space in position, which in turn, keeps the gums and teeth healthy. The also aid in chewing, and helping you look better.
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