Below is a list of some of the questions our patients most frequently ask. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to give us a call and our team at Healthy Smiles Family and Cosmetic Dentistry will be happy to assist you.
Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums
- How often should I visit the dentist?
- How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
- What is the proper way to brush my teeth?
- What is the proper way to floss?
- What is plaque?
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
- What is periodontal (gum) disease?
- What are the signs of periodontal disease?
- How can I prevent periodontal disease?
- Why do our teeth turn yellow?
- What are the different types of teeth whitening options?
- How long does teeth whitening last?
All About Dental Implants
- Are implants the right decision for me?
- Are implants or bridges a better choice?
- Can implants be used to restore multiple teeth?
- Are implants expensive?
- How long do implants last?
- What if I do not have enough bone in my jaw for implants?
- When an implant is surgically placed, how long until I get my new tooth?
- How can I get a full set of teeth in one day?
- What are veneers?
- How much of my tooth is removed with veneers?
- Will my veneers change color?
- How long does it take to get a set of veneers, or even just one?
- How many veneers do I need?
- How long do veneers last?
Other Common Questions
- What can I do about bad breath?
- What is cosmetic dentistry?
- What is the easiest way to improve my smile?
- What are composite fillings?
- Should I get my mercury fillings removed?
- What are the options for mercury replacement?
- Is the mercury dangerous to remove?
Answers to FAQ
You should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before they get worse and harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well.
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly:
- Make sure to use a soft bristled brush. Hard bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth
- Place your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gum line. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gum line
- Use short back and forth strokes or tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth
- Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque, while too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth
- Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth
- Don't cut your brushing short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes
The following guidelines are important to flossing correctly:
- Take 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle finger of each hand. You can use these fingers to take up floss as it becomes dirty. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss leaving 1–2 inches in between for cleaning
- Gently move the floss up and down in the spaces around your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage
- As you move the floss down into the space between two teeth, slide it up and down against the surface of one tooth. Gently clean at the gum line as well. Repeat this for the other tooth
- Repeat this process for all of your teeth
Plaque is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth, from food debris and bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum disease and cavities. Regular dental check ups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens, often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing and tooth loss.
The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of these:
- Gums that bleed while brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Bad breath that doesn't go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly. Also make sure to eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth
While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow color substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint.
Below are the three most popular teeth whitening options available today:
In-office Teeth Whitening
In-office teeth whitening works by producing a significant color change in your teeth in a short amount of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is done at the dentist's office, by applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield.
Professionally Dispensed Take-home Whitening Kits
These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks, depending on the product.
Over the Counter Whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are cheaper, they typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist because of the low concentration gel. Additionally, over the counter trays are not custom fit for your teeth, which can result in irritation to your gums while wearing the trays.
Teeth whitening usually lasts from one to three years, before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Additionally, once your teeth have been initially whitened, typically only "touch ups" are required to maintain the whiteness.
Implants are made of titanium, a biocompatible material. They are used to replace one or more teeth, and can be an attractive option for most people. Some benefits to implants include:
- They are integrated into bone and act like a tooth root to support new teeth
- They do not decay or have the same gum disease risk as natural teeth
- Implants look, feel, and act like natural teeth, unlike other options
A missing tooth would historically be replaced by a bridge. To anchor a bridge, the majority of the external tooth structure of the teeth on either side of the gap must be removed. With an implant, you only need a crown made on top of the implant itself to restore it, leaving the neighboring teeth undisturbed and completely intact.
Implants can also be used to restore multiple teeth, a full set of fixed or removable teeth or even a complete denture. If you experience tooth loss, the bony ridges in your mouth start to decrease and be lost as well. Implants are placed and prevent bone from shrinking, leaving you many future options for tooth replacement not available otherwise.
To replace a single tooth an implant is usually less expensive than any alternative in our office. The cost of implant care increases with the complexity of the case, the history of tooth loss and the position of the implant in the mouth.
Research has shown that implants are 98% successful: a higher success rate than almost anything else in dentistry! Under professional care, implants have a potential for lifetime durability. Ask us about our warranty.
Minor grafting can improve and restore the bone lost from your extraction years ago. We do this in the office frequently where additional bone is required for success of our implant care. It is possible to have an implant for virtually any situation with expert care and planning.
For front teeth we strive to place teeth the same day in a temporary form. Posterior teeth are often left to rest 6–8 weeks prior to placing a functional chewing force on them. In cases where there is uncertainty about the strength of the bone, more time may be required to ensure longevity (7–10 months). In every case, clinical experience along with the prevailing research guides our decision to finalize the implant restoration. We always plan for long-term success and we do not rush.
With the use of CAT scan planning we can plan for immediate teeth replacements and the ultimate in surgical precision. Planning takes all the time in these cases, however we can deliver exceptional care quickly and never leave you without teeth, regardless of your particular need or treatment.
A porcelain veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that covers the front, the edge, and a small portion of the back of an anterior tooth. Veneers are used for cosmetic as well as reconstructive purposes: to cover up stained and worn down teeth, as a means to straighten slightly crooked teeth, to change the shape and color of your teeth or to restore teeth with failing older, unsightly white or mercury fillings.
Compared with older fashioned crowns, you don't have to take away a lot of enamel with veneers, and some veneers don't require any removal of tooth structure at all! Proper planning and expertise always leads to the optimal aesthetic success and beauty.
Porcelain doesn't stain like most other dental materials or even natural teeth, keeping the shade of the veneers stable for their lifetime.
We can work quickly if that is your request, or we may take a longer period of time to ensure your satisfaction with the aesthetic result. Cosmetic dentistry is an art as well as a technical exercise. It is not always easy to arrive at the beauty that is in your mind's eye. We take the time necessary to produce exquisite smiles. We can also work as quickly as one week from start to finish, if that is the request.
This question is best answered by looking into your own smile. If you check out your upper smile from the side as well as the front, a veneer candidate will frequently count from 8 to 10 teeth that matter in the display of a good smile. The lower teeth may matter less, or even more so to some people. Frequently a full makeover entails 20 teeth. A conservative plan considers 4 to 8 for a moderate change.
Veneers can chip or break under severe conditions and may have to be replaced. In my experience, only the strongest materials we have today are more durable than the teeth they are restoring! We stand by our work unconditionally for 2 years.
Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, so you can take steps to eliminate it.
Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups with the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth, which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease) caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.
Are you unhappy with your smile? There are several possible ways to improve your smile with cosmetic dentistry. Options can range from whitening to veneers to crowns, with or without Clear Correct orthodontics preceding your care. Essentially, anything to improve your smile could be considered in this field, however, our dentists has studied extensively and committed a large part of the practice to offering exceptional smile transformations, from the most subtle nuanced changes to extreme makeovers televised on the networks and in magazines.
The least invasive route is whitening your teeth. This can be done in the office or at home. Keep in mind, whitening does not work well for tetracycline stained teeth, and does not whiten tooth-colored fillings or porcelain very much.
Composite is a tooth-colored resin/ceramic filling material of many different forms that can be bonded to your teeth to create an excellent restoration. Resin is used for white fillings and, in some cases, as an in-office veneer material. Resin veneers are less expensive and less invasive than porcelain veneers, but don't have the same longevity. These materials are not the most ideal since the resin plastic is excellent but not as strong as the porcelain restorative choices available.
Our position on mercury-based "amalgam" fillings is that their potential for toxicity, poor appearance and inability to bond to tooth structure makes them obsolete for most of our patients. The statistics from Harvard dental school list a 90% rate of decay under mercury fillings. Most have existed long after their designed lifetime. In our office we offer replacement options for every mercury filling we encounter.
The answer is a very definite: It depends! The larger the existing filling and defect, the more research shows that reinforcement with stronger materials is necessary. Today's onlay restorations are frequently made of extremely durable pressed ceramics. Smaller restorations can be replaced with cost-effective white fillings. These fillings can last quite some time but, again, size is the limiting factor as they are 1/3 the strength of porcelain or ceramic bonded restorations. We will advise you when we see you as to your options.
For those concerned about the metal debris, we are prepared to use special measures to protect you. Removal is not considered a health risk by the profession.