FAQ: Cosmetic Dentistry

Q. Am I A Good Candidate For Cosmetic Dentistry?

A. If you are interested in achieving a straighter or whiter smile, then you are certainly a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry. If for any reason you are uncomfortable with your smile because of crooked, discolored, or chipped teeth, your smile can be changed with cosmetic dentistry.

Q. Will I Need To Be Sedated During Cosmetic Dental Procedures?

A. Most people do not require a high level of sedation during cosmetic procedures, however, you may receive the level of sedation necessary for the procedure you are having. This may depend on a few factors such as your health and medical history, the procedure being preformed, and your dentist's recommendation.

Q. What Can Be Done If I Have Old And Unsightly Fillings?

A. Old, unsightly fillings can now be replaced with aesthetic filling materials such as resins, porcelain fillings or porcelain crowns. It is no longer necessary to have dark silver fillings with the safe, lasting new materials available.

Q. I Have, What I Have Been Told, Is Called A "Gummy Smile." What Can Be Done If I Have Excessive Or Uneven Gums?

A. Excessive or uneven gums can be corrected with a gum lift, resulting in a more even, pleasing smile.

Q. What Can Be Done If I Have Missing Teeth?

A. We will discuss the option that is best for you. Bridges can be made to replace missing teeth, filling the spaces made by lost teeth as well as support the teeth closest to, and opposite, the missing teeth. A dental implant may also be recommended to fill the space.

Q. What Tooth Whitening Choices Are There If I Am Interested In Whitening My Teeth?

A. If you have stained or discolored teeth, but otherwise like your smile the way it is, all you may need are whitening procedures to give you the smile you've always wanted. There are different ways to whiten teeth. One is an in-office power bleaching method or a dentist supervised, at home whitening system.

Q. How Long Will It Last?

A. Currently this process, also known as Zoom Whitening, will hold stable for approximately 3 years. Re-treatment is very simple using an original mouthpiece, new touch-up kit, and new chemicals.

Q. How Long Will The Procedure Take?

A. The Zoom Whitening method takes about one hour. Approximately two to four weeks for each arch when using bleaching trays.

Q. Does Bleaching Harm My Teeth?

A. The chemicals in the Zoom Whitening procedure have been used for many years with no harmful effects documented or reported.

FAQ: Dental Health

Q. Are Sugarless or Sugar-Free Foods and Drinks Safe For Your Teeth?

A. No, they may not always be safe for your teeth. Sugarless often times means that there was no sugar added during processing, but these foods are not necessarily completely sugar-free. They contain natural sweeteners such as honey, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, barley malt, rice syrup, or fructose. These types of natural sweeteners have the same amount of calories per serving as sugar does and can be harmful to your teeth.

Q. Is Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Good For My Teeth?

A. Studies have shown that a sweetener called Xylitol, exhibiting a sweet-as-sugar taste and is low in calories, has been found to help reduce and prevent cavities. This natural sweetener is found in plants and fruits and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 1986. It is now appearing in sugar-free gum, mints, and toothpaste.

Q. Is There A Way To Prevent Teeth Stains?

A. Yes, there are ways to avoid stained or discolored teeth. As we get older, the outer layer of the tooth enamel fades away. The primary layer, dentin, is a yellow color. This is why it is essential to avoid teeth stains in the first place, especially after whitening. Brushing regularly and maintaining dental appointments throughout the year will significantly lower your chances of stains and discoloration.

Q. What Causes Discoloration Of The Teeth?

A. Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by several factors. They include staining, aging, or substance damage to teeth. The most common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, tea, cigarettes, significant amounts of soft drinks, and coffee.

Q. What Are The Benefits Of An X-Ray Examination?

A. Many diseases of the teeth and the surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth. An X-ray examination reveals the present status of the hidden areas in your mouth. An X-ray may expose small areas of decay in between or below fillings, infections of the bone, gum disease, abnormalities, or tumors.

Q. How Can I Avoid Tooth Decay?

A. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. There are several ways to avoid such attacks and prevent decay. First, remember to brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, clean between teeth every day with floss, visit your dentist frequently for cleanings and oral exams, and always eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

Q. I'm Confused Over What Toothpaste To Use, Which One Should I Buy?

A. Choosing toothpaste is a personal choice, but there are factors you should consider. Make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride and the box has the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance visible.

Q. What Is Gum Disease?

A. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. Because gum disease is usually painless, many do not know they have it. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky coating of bacteria that forms on the teeth. This bacterium creates toxins that damage the gums.

Q. What Is The Best Way To Brush My Teeth?

A. Remember to use a short back and forth motion or a small circular motion. The biggest mistake some people make is brushing too hard, this may wear away your gums. Brush the outside, inside, top and bottom of your teeth.

Q. Is Tobacco Harmful To My Teeth?

A. Yes. Tobacco is a great threat to your health because of its connection to oral cancer. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop mouth and throat cancer.

Q. How Can I Prevent Or Avoid Bad Breath?

A. Bad breath can be caused by various reasons and dental problems. It can be easily prevented with proper home and professional care. Brush your teeth, tongue, and gums after meals and floss daily. If your dentist advises it, rinse with a mouthwash, and visit your dentist frequently for an exam and cleaning.

Q. What Is Plaque?

A. Plaque is a soft, yellow-white substance composed of several species of bacteria found on teeth and gums. While the plaque is soft, a person is able to clean it off with a toothbrush and floss. When plaque hardens into tartar, a dentist must remove it during a professional cleaning.

Q. How Can I Protect My Teeth From Vigorous Sports Activities?

A. Even if a tooth has been knocked out or if you find a chip or crack, it may often be repaired if you get to the dentist quickly enough. In order to prevent these situations from happening, you may protect yourself by using a mouth guard or helmet.

Q. What Can I Do If I Have Sensitive Teeth?

A. You may switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and use desensitizing toothpaste. It is also important to practice good oral hygiene, which means flossing and brushing at least twice a day. Brush gently while holding the toothbrush by your fingertips and not by the palm of your hand. Also, avoid acidic foods and drinks.

Q. How Often Should I Visit The Dentist For A Check-Up And Cleaning?

A. Most children and adults should see their dentist for a cleaning and check up every six months. Those at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental checkups more than twice a year.

Q. How Do You Feel About Tartar Control Toothpaste?

A. Tartar control toothpaste reduces the severity of tartar formation and makes its removal somewhat easier for the patient. Some people develop a burning sensation from these pastes and either switch to another brand or stop their use. A number of our patients have developed more sensitive teeth after using tarter control toothpaste. We recommend they stop using these toothpastes.

Q. When Do I Change My Toothbrush?

A. With regular use, you should change your manual toothbrush every 3 months.

Q. Do I Need An Electric Toothbrush And If So Which One Do You Prefer?

A. The SONICARE has shown dramatic improvement for our patients who are not proficient with manual brushing and flossing. Depending on your maintenance level you may benefit from the SONICARE.

Q. Do You Have To Floss With The Sonicare Toothbrush?

A. Yes, it does not eliminate the need for flossing.

Q. Why Do I Need To Be Pre-Medicated Before A Dental Visit?

A. Millions of bacteria are present in the mouth even a routine cleaning can cause these bacteria to enter the blood stream and settle on a damaged heart valve or Prosthetic and produce a life threatening infection. See your physician for an accurate diagnosis and recommendation of your specific needs.

Q. Do You Recommend The WaterPik?

A. It is most useful for removing plaque AFTER flossing for people with extensive bridge work or patients with braces. Although not completely effective in plaque removal it can be helpful in reducing gingivitis especially when used with Breathless or Peridex.

Heart Health

Q. Do Clean Teeth Promote Heart Health? What does dental health have to do with heart disease? I've heard that gum infections raise your heart disease risk. True?

A. Yes, recent research suggests that the bacteria that cause gum infections can also lead to or worsen atherosclerosis, the arterial disease that leads to heart attacks and strokes. A new study published in the February 8, 2005 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that people with the highest level of the bacteria that cause gum disease also had the worst atherosclerosis. The study confirmed the long-suspected connection between gum disease and heart disease.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City recruited 660 older men and women for their study. They compared levels of oral bacteria to ultrasound measurements of the thickness of the carotid arteries that carry blood to the brain. They found that the association between oral bacteria and atherosclerosis existed only when they looked at the specific bacteria that cause gum disease, not all the bugs found in the mouth.

Infections that lead to gum disease usually are long-standing. The researchers explained that if the causative bacteria aren't eliminated or reduced, they trigger an inflammatory response that promotes a gradual thickening of artery walls throughout the body.

To avoid this, you need regular dental checkups so that any gum disease can be identified and treated promptly. When infections are found, the treatment is deep cleaning of the gums often followed by local antibiotics to eliminate bacteria. And, of course, it is vital to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to avoid the buildup of small amounts of food that attract and nourish bacteria.

You might also consider toothbrushes incorporating ultrasound that have been clinically shown to treat gingivitis more effectively than regular tooth brushes. Ask your dentist about them.

Incidentally, another recent study found that people who brush their teeth after every meal tend to remain slimmer than those who don't brush as often. Japanese researchers discovered this effect when they compared the lifestyle habits of nearly 14,000 people whose average age was the mid-forties. They concluded that tooth brushing is a good health habit that could play a role in preventing obesity. The study was published in the Journal of the Japan Society for the Study of Obesity.