Smile Again Frequently Asked Quesitons

Click on the Links below to get a full description of each dental FAQ.

What will a Professional Dental Cleaning include?

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:

  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources. Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient's exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each x-ray.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient's individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Reasons for dental implants

  • Replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth
  • Resolve joint pain or bite problems caused by teeth shifting into missing tooth space
  • Restore a patient's confident smile
  • Restore chewing, speech, and digestion
  • Restore or enhance facial tissues
  • Support a bridge or denture, making them more secure and comfortable

What does getting dental implants involve?

The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months. X-rays and impressions (molds) and sometimes Cat Scans are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue, and spacing available for an implant. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself onto the bone for up to six months.

Depending on the type of implant, a second surgery may be required in order to place the "post" that will hold the artificial tooth (crown) in place. After healing and implant bone integration, crowns are made and fitted in order to provide function and estethics. They will provid long term stability and comfort. You will receive care instructions when your treatment is completed. Good oral hygiene, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new implant.

Reasons for porcelain veneers

  • Cosmetically, to create a uniform, white, beautiful smile
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Teeth that are too small or large
  • Unwanted or uneven spaces
  • Worn or chipped teeth

What does getting porcelain veneers involve?

Getting veneers usually requires two visits to complete the process. The teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. A mold or impression of the teeth is taken and a shade (color) will then be chosen by you and the dentist.

On the second visit the bonding cement is placed between the tooth and veneer and a special light beam is used to harden and set the bond. You will receive care instructions for veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new veneers.

Reasons for composite fillings

  • Chipped teeth
  • Closing space between two teeth
  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Decayed teeth
  • Worn teeth

How are composite fillings placed?

Composite fillings are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay as necessary. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when composite fillings are first placed, however this will subside shortly after your tooth acclimates to the new filling.

Reasons for crowns

  • Broken or fractured teeth
  • Cosmetic enhancement
  • Decayed teeth
  • Fractured fillings
  • Large fillings
  • Tooth has a root canal

Reasons for a fixed bridge

  • Fill space of missing teeth
  • Maintain facial shape
  • Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
  • Restore chewing and speaking ability
  • Restore your smile
  • Upgrade from a removable partial denture to a permanent dental appliance

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present
  • Swelling and/or tenderness

Reasons for root canal therapy

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
  • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth

What does root canal therapy involve?

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist). While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed. At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.

Reasons for dentures

  • Complete Denture - Loss of all teeth in an arch
  • Partial Denture - Loss of several teeth in an arch
  • Enhancing smile and facial tissues
  • Improving chewing, speech, and digestion

Benefits of denture stabilization

  • Restores proper chewing, allowing a better diet and improved health
  • Improves speech and confidence
  • Increases comfort with less irritation of gum tissue
  • Ends the cost and inconvenience of denture adhesives
  • Often can utilize your existing denture
  • Minimally invasive procedure