Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?
    • What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?

      A: We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year! If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we may be able to actually save the tooth. Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly reimplanted if we act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps:

      1. Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.
      2. DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk. If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.
      3. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.

      Ways to transport the tooth

      • Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately. Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place. Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and
        swelling as needed.
      • If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk. You can also place the tooth under your tongue or
        between your lower lip and gums. Keep the tooth moist at all times. Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
      • Consider buying a “Save-A-Tooth” storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit. The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

      The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive and possibly last for many years. So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.

      You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

      • Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports
      • Always wearing your seatbelt
      • Avoiding fights
      • Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc
  • What should I do if I have bad breath?
    • Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning. There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

      What may cause bad breath?
      • Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
      • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
       Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
      • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
      • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
      • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
      • Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
      • Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
      • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
      • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

      Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with you dentist.

      What can I do to prevent bad breath?
      • Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
      • See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
      • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
      • Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
      • Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

      In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

  • How often should I brush and floss?
    • Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

      Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

      Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

      Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an
      ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

      • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that
      you always feel the bristles on the gums.
      • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
      • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
      • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

      Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

      Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

      • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about
      2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
      • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a
      sawing motion.
      • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss
      up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
      Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

      Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

  • Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
    • Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

      According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

      The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

      Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

      There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.

  • How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
    • You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.

      Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect,

      prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:
      • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications,
      and illnesses, gives us insight to your overall health and also your dental health.
      • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts,
      and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
      • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs
      of oral cancer.
      • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal
      • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental
      • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
      • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for
      sometime 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: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing
      and scaling.
      • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric
      dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
      • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.

      As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.

  • How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
    • Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

      Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

      Smoking or chewing tobacco – Tobacco users are more likely than nonusers to form plaque and
      tartar on their teeth.
      Certain tooth or appliance conditions – Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or
      defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
      Many medications – Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral
      contraceptives. Some medications have side affects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and
      plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
      Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty – Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing
      gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
      Systemic diseases – Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
      Genetics may play role – Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of
      periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their

      Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
      Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
      Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
      Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
      New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
      Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the
      tooth to the bone).
      Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
      • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

      Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing
      periodontal disease.

  • Why is it important to use dental floss?
    • Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

      Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. 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 (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease How to floss properly:

      • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about
      2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
      • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a
      sawing motion.
      • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss
      up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

      Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

      Daily flossing will help you keep a healthy, beautiful smile for life!

  • When are sealants recommended?
    • Although thorough brushing and flossing remove most food particles and bacteria from easy to reach tooth surfaces, they do not reach the deep grooves on chewing surfaces of teeth. More than 75 percent of dental decay begins in these deep grooves (called pits and fissures). Toothbrush bristles are too large to possibly fit and clean most of these areas. This is where sealants play an important role.

      A sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers and protects the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars, and any deep grooves or pits on teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas free of decay.

      Who may need sealants?

      Children and teenagers - As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.

      Infants - Baby teeth are occasionally sealed if the teeth have deep grooves and the child is cavity prone.

      Adults - Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions that are difficult to clean.

      Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process only takes minutes per tooth. After the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution that helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, the sealant material is “painted” onto the tooth surface, where it hardens and bonds to the teeth.

      Sometimes a special light will be used to help the sealant material harden.

      After sealant treatment, it’s important to avoid chewing on ice cubes, hard candy, popcorn kernels, or any hard or sticky foods. Your sealants will be checked for wear and chipping at your regular dental check-up.

      Combined with good home care, a proper diet, and regular dental check-ups, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay

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