General Dentistry – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I really do not like visiting the dentist, is there anything you can do to help me relax?

A: Many people are uncomfortable with visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority, and The Tooth Doc office is designed so that you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. Nitrous oxide is also offered to keep you feel comfortable and relaxed. For higher levels of anxiety all our doctors are trained in conscious sedation. We can provide your favorite music or play your favorite videos on Netflix.

Q: I brush everyday, but my breath just is not fresh. Is there anything I can do?

A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis (or bad breath) despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing, daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings and careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem still persists, we can offer several additional solutions.

First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue and significantly alleviates odor. Or we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may also suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or underlying digestive condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.

Q: What is a crown and why do I need one?

A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes decay is removed, leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long lasting smile.

Q: I know I need X-rays, but I’d prefer to not be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?

A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film-based X-rays. You will find that at The Tooth Doc, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that best promote your overall health, safety and comfort.

Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?

A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnishes, gels or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?

A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy or a combination of all these techniques. Your dentist at The Tooth Doc will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, areas of concern, and the overall condition of your oral health.

Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?

A: Your dentists at The Tooth Doc have a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of unsightly metal braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation. Attention to detail, respect for the individual, and true concern for each patient are the hallmarks of our personal care and our quality product. We are committed to helping you fulfill your ultimate self-image.

Q: What are my options to replace a missing tooth?

A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will restore your smile to its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist at The Tooth Doc will place a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural-looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.

Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?

A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical / dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We’ll also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.

Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?

A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. The Tooth Doc’s reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things: our good work and your beautiful smile. Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.

Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this? What can I do about it?

A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a night guard. A custom fitted night guard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Your dentist will take great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your night guard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a night guard custom created especially for you.

Q: What different payment options do you provide?

A: Helping to make your dental care financially comfortable and affordable is important and we proudly offer a variety of options:

• Cash or personal checks
• VISA/MasterCard/American Express/Discover
• CareCredit
• Lending Club

We are happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursement before starting recommended treatments and will gladly file insurance forms for you.

Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice at The Tooth Doc and we do not base our treatment on what insurance will or will not pay. We base our treatment on what is best for you and any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.

Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?

A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing. However, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough ‘scrubbing’ instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled tooth brush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods or occurs every time you brush, contact The Tooth Doc to set up an evaluation appointment.

Q: What is periodontal disease?

A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis, however, is much more difficult to treat. Periodontitis affects your gums, bone and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

According to many dental studies, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart valves. Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacteria may cause blood clots that can block your arteries or even trigger a heart attack.”

Q: How do sealants protect teeth?

A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Q: Sometimes when I chew I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?

A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture, or crack, in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing an inlay/onlay, a porcelain crown, or with more advanced treatment. You want to correct the pain as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage to the tooth. Contact The Tooth Doc today to schedule a visit.

Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?

A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns including: gaps in teeth; chips and broken teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means; “gummy smile” (showing too much gum when one smiles); and crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten and beautify most any smile. Veneers can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many patients feel like this was the best improvement that could have been done for their overall confidence. Ask us about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile at your next visit or send us an email.

Q: How can I safely whiten my teeth?

A: There are multiple ways to whiten your teeth.

  • At home whitening trays. These products use peroxide-based gels to bleach your teeth. At The Tooth Doc, we trust Opalescence® home whitening kits. The process involves the daily application of the gel in a formed “mouth guard” for about two weeks. Side effects may include short-term tooth or gum sensitivity. Your dentist will explain everything you need to know.
  • Porcelain veneers. Many people who have tetracycline stained teeth and cannot whiten their teeth with traditional means, or people who want a more permanent solution, will opt for porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are a great way to whiten your teeth in a more permanent fashion. The veneers do not stain with time and also correct many other concerns that you may have including crooked teeth, gaps in teeth and a gummy smile. Most of the smile makeovers you see on television are accomplished with porcelain veneers.
Q: I’m looking for an office that doesn’t refer me all over for specialty work. Do you offer all types of dentistry?

A: Our doctors at The Tooth Doc have experience in all areas of general dentistry and it is rare that a patient is referred to a specialist for any procedure. We know that once you have gained trust with us it is desirable to have us do all your dental work. However, patients always have the option to see a specialist if they choose to do so.

Q: What is comprehensive dentistry?

A: It’s important to understand that your oral health is about more than your teeth and gums. Comprehensive dentistry takes this into account. When The Tooth Doc team talks about practicing comprehensive dentistry, we mean we examine the entire mouth, including the muscles used for chewing and movement and the soft tissues of the oral cavity. This is because it is often these other factors that have an overall effect on the bite itself, and may be the origin of common dental problems. By looking at your oral health in a comprehensive way, your dentists at The Tooth Doc can better serve you, giving you the best treatment options for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.

Q: I’ve heard that poor dental health affects my whole body. What is the connection?

A: You may not realize it, but what goes on in your mouth can affect your body overall, and vice versa. While performing an exam, your dentist might see a sign or symptom of an overall medical problem that you might not even know you have. Many diseases and conditions can affect your oral health. A weakened immune system, for example, might manifest itself orally. Likewise, medication you may be taking for other conditions also can affect the health of your mouth.

Having a vigilant dental team that understands these issues is a great way to protect your overall health. The dental team at The Tooth Doc practices comprehensive dentistry to ensure that you can live a long, healthy life.

We want to see your smile!