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Here are some of our past and most frequently asked questions.

1. What is a Root Canal?
Although teeth hard on the outside, in the middle of the tooth and its roots is the pulp (or nerve). Once this becomes infected or irritated, a root canal may be necessary.

The Doctor will remove the affected pulp or nerve by going through the top of the tooth and using specialized instruments to clean the entire pulp out of the tooth and its roots. The Doctor will then fill and seal the roots. Root canals are usually not painful and only take a little longer than a filling.

2. What is a Sealant?
A sealant is a plastic material that covers the grooves of a tooth to keep decay from starting.

3. What is a Crown?
A crown is usually used to strengthen a tooth that has little remaining tooth structure left. A crown can be made from gold, porcelain, or a combination of both.

The Doctor will reduce the tooth on all sides in order to make room for the gold and/or porcelain. An impression or mold of the prepared tooth is then taken and sent to a dental lab where a technician custom-makes the patients crown. This process usually takes 2-3 weeks. During that time, the patient will be wearing a temporary crown that will be removed when the completed crown is ready and cemented in place.

4. What is a filling?
A filling replaces missing tooth structure. If there is decay in a tooth, the Doctor removes the decay and fills the tooth with either amalgam (silver filling material) or composite resin (tooth-colored filling material). If the cavity (decay) is left untreated, then the tooth will likely need a root canal or extracted.

5. What is a Bridge?
A bridge can be used to replace one or many missing teeth. The missing tooth is usually made out of porcelain and is then anchored to the teeth on either side of the missing space. Many times the teeth on either side of the missing tooth will need to be shaped by the Doctor and covered with porcelain similar to a crown (see: what is a crown).

6. What is an implant?
A dental implant is a great way to replace a missing tooth or to add stability to a loose denture. The Doctor will place a titanium implant that simulates the root of a tooth into the jawbone. There is then usually a period of healing where the patient’s bone heals around the implant and the implant becomes part of the bone. The Doctor will then take models of the patient’s mouth and have a crown made if the implant is to replace a missing tooth, or the Doctor will fit the patient’s denture to the implants.

7. What is a veneer?
A veneer is a piece of porcelain that covers the outside of a tooth. These are most often used for cosmetic purposes. The Doctor will shape the tooth (or teeth), make a model, and a technician will custom-make the veneer for the patient. The patient will typically be wearing a temporary material during this process, which will be removed when the veneer is cemented into place.

8. What is a Partial?
A partial is more properly known as a partial denture. This is a custom-made appliance that replaces multiple missing teeth. The Doctor will make models of the patient’s teeth and will work with a dental laboratory technician to custom-make the partial denture. The patient should remove the partial nightly and place in water to avoid an oral infection and to properly clean the prosthesis.

9. What is a Denture?
A denture is made when a patient is missing all of their teeth on the upper or lower jaw. These are sometimes referred to as “plates.” The Doctor will take molds of the patient’s mouth and a series of measurements. He or she will then work with a dental laboratory technician to custom-make the denture. The patient should remove the denture(s) nightly and place in water to avoid an oral infection and to properly clean the prosthesis (es).

10. What is an inlay or an onlay?
Inlays and onlays are a way of replacing missing tooth structure. Part of the tooth may be missing due to either decay or breakage. An onlay is larger and typically covers part of the tongue or cheek side of the tooth. An inlay is on the inside of the tooth. Inlays and onlays can be made out of gold, porcelain, or composite resin (specially formulated plastic).

The Doctor will properly shape the tooth and make a model of the tooth. He or she will then work together with a dental laboratory technician to custom make the inlay or onlay. The patient will be wearing temporary material until the inlay or onlay is completed when the final restoration is cemented in place.

11. Why is my tooth sensitive to sweets, heat, or cold?
Any of these symptoms must be evaluated by a dentist ASAP. You may simply have receding gums that can be treated with a de-sensitizing agent at the dentist’s office. You may also have a cavity that needs a filling, or the pulp (nerve) of your tooth is damaged and you may need a root canal.

12. Why are my gums bleeding?
Bleeding gums are most commonly an indication of irritation or infection. If you do not brush and floss properly, your gums will likely bleed. They will also bleed even with proper brushing and flossing if you have not had regular professional cleanings.

13. How many times a day do I need to brush?
The proper number of times to brush is twice per day. Once in the morning and once before you go to bed. After brushing, you should also floss before you go to bed. Plaque can be the most damaging to your teeth and gums at nighttime, so it is very important to make brushing and flossing a part of your bedtime routine.

14. How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?
The most common recommendation is every six months. You may need to go more often if your dentist prescribes it. This may be due to your specific oral condition.

15. What is plaque?
Plaque is the film left on your teeth that causes tooth decay. Plaque can be removed with proper brushing and flossing.

16. What is tartar?
Tartar (or calculus) is plaque that has been on your teeth for some time and has hardened. This must be removed by a dental hygienist or a dentist. This can also become very detrimental to your gums.

17. What is Scaling and Root Planing?
This is a procedure performed by a dental hygienist or a dentist that removes calculus from below the gum level. Patients typically need this because they have not had regular cleanings or they have very deep periodontal pockets that need to be properly treated. The patient is usually numbed in order to keep them comfortable throughout the procedure.

18. What is a periodontal pocket?
This is the space between the gums and the tooth. When plaque and calculus form here, it creates an infection and inflammation that destroys the jaw bone in that area. These pockets are measured in the dental office in millimeters, and 2-3mm is typically a healthy measurement.

19. Why does my jaw click or pop?
This is a condition that may be associated with TMD (temporomandibular disorder). There is a disc between your lower jawbone (mandible) and your skull that acts as a shock absorber. Something (usually a traumatic event) happened to cause your jaw to slip off of the disc, and now it clicks or pops as it jumps on and off of the disc. You should see a dentist very soon to be sure that the condition does not worsen. Keeping to soft foods and a warm compress may help soothe the area.

20. Why do I have to have my root canal redone?
Sometimes root canals become re-infected and need to be retreated. This can be because a proper permanent filling was not placed over the initial root canal causing bacteria to re-infect the root canal system. This can also be because the root canal system may have had an extra canal that may now be evident since it was done the first time.

21. What is the proper way to floss?
Pull about an arm-length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the floss from the ends around your middle fingers until there is about two inches remaining. You may then use your index fingers to direct the floss in between your teeth. Move the floss in a see-saw motion until you go beneath where the teeth touch. Then push the floss against the back tooth to form a C-shape and move the floss up and down three times. Now pull the floss forward and repeat the process on the front tooth. Do this between all of your teeth to properly floss.

22. What is the proper way to brush?
Proper brushing should take two entire minutes and it helps to have a routine. First of all, place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your brush. Begin on the cheek-side of the top right teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle pointing toward your gums. Gently jiggle the toothbrush in order to clean the tooth and your gums as well. Being careful not to apply too much pressure, move around the outside of your top teeth until you reach the top left side. Then bush the chewing surfaces of your teeth and move back around to the right. Now brush on the inside of your top teeth until you reach the inside left. Repeat this process on your bottom teeth.

23. Why do I have to have my wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth can be very problematic, and can cause discomfort, shifting of teeth and cysts to form. As we age, the process of removing these teeth can be much more difficult and come with a higher risk of complications such as nerve damage.

24. How can my teeth be straightened?
The different options are conventional, metal braces, a clear aligner system, and active retainers.

25. What are braces?
Conventional braces are usually made up of metal brackets that are glued to your teeth and a wire connecting them. This method has been around for a long time and produces great results. The brackets can sometimes be clear or white. The wire moves the teeth into the proper position and the results are very accurate. Treatment time is very variable. After treatment is complete, the brackets and wires are removed and a retainer is made.

26. What are clear aligner systems?
This is a more cosmetic way to straighten teeth. The patient wears clear, plastic trays for 2-3 weeks at a time. Each time a tray is changed, the teeth are slowly moved. This method depends on the patient to properly wear the trays all day, every day except while eating. The result may not be as precise as conventional braces, but typically are.

27. What are active retainers?
This method is usually used for very slight movements. The retainer has a spring-loaded bar that pushes the teeth to the proper position.

28. Why does my tooth hurt after I got a restoration (filling/crown/inlay/onlay)?
The most common reason is that the pulp (or nerve) of the tooth is inflamed. The most common sensitivities following a restoration are to cold and biting. The cold sensitivity will usually go away after a couple of weeks, but if the tooth is sensitive to biting it needs to be adjusted by the doctor. In some cases, the pulp may be irreversibly damaged by the decay that was present prior to the filling. In this case, the new filling has sealed the tooth so well, that the pressure builds inside the tooth and a root canal may be necessary. The tooth did not hurt prior to the filling because the previous restoration did not seal the tooth as well and allowed pressure to be released. This means that infection was present in the tooth and was slowly damaging the tooth and its surrounding bone.

29. Why do I need a crown after a root canal?
Following root canal therapy, the tooth is now weaker and easily fractured. Should a fracture occur the tooth may need extracted. If there is enough natural tooth remaining following a root canal, a crown may not be needed. This can only be determined by your dentist.

30. How often should dentures/partials be replaced?
This varies depending on each individual case. Generally, the lifespan is about 5-10 years

31. What type of toothpaste should I use?
Anything with fluoride! As long as you find toothpaste you like and brush properly, any fluoridated toothpaste is acceptable. Be careful about those with baking soda and some whitening toothpastes, because they can be abrasive and wear away your teeth and gums if one brushes too hard.

32. Post-extraction discomfort
One may use a warm compress to sooth the area. This will help promote circulation and speed healing. Biting a moist teabag releases tannic acid which helps naturally relieve discomfort. Taking 2-3 ibuprofen with 1 extra-strength acetaminophen can be as effective as prescription pain killers as well (be careful not to exceed the maximum dose!).

33. What is a toothache?
Inside of the hard surface of a tooth is the pulp (or nerve) of the tooth. This area contains the blood vessels and nerve fibers of the tooth. When the pulp is irritated either by temperature changes, a cavity or a fracture, the pulp becomes inflamed. An inflamed pulp causes pressure to build inside the hard tooth structure, causing discomfort.

34. Why do I need to brush my teeth?
Brushing your teeth removes the film that builds on your teeth called plaque. If plaque is not removed, it eats away tooth structure causing cavities.

35. What do I do if I broke my tooth?
Contact a dentist ASAP! If the missing piece can be located, keep it clean and moist. You may either keep the piece in your cheek, in some milk, or at least in a glass of water. The doctor may be able to put the tooth back together, or treat it as needed otherwise. If you cannot reach a dentist, you may be able to sand down a sharp piece of the broken tooth with an emery board.

36. What to do if a tooth gets knocked out?
Contact a dentist ASAP! Keep the tooth clean and moist. Do not scrub the tooth; only rinse any dirt or debris off of the tooth with water. Store the tooth in your cheek, in some milk, or at least in a glass of water. The doctor will likely put the tooth back in its proper position.

37. What do I do if a tooth is knocked out of line?
Contact a dentist ASAP! The doctor will try and move the tooth back in line, or advised you how to do so over a period of time.

38. Why do I need to floss?
Brushing your teeth alone cannot remove the plaque trapped between your teeth. The only way to properly clean your teeth includes brushing and flossing.