Healthy Smiles, Happier Families

Ask the Dentist

FAQ

  • Q: What Causes Tooth Decay?

    A: Tooth decay is caused by acids which are produced by bacteria in the presence of sugar. To prevent decay these bacteria, sugar and acids must be periodically remove by way of brushing and flossing.

  • Q: What Is the Best Kind Of Toothbrush?

    A: Generally speaking, a soft bristled toothbrush is best. Weather you use a manual toothbrush or an electric, anything harder than soft, is too hard. Stiff bristles may give you that clean feeling, but they can also abrade your teeth and cause gum recession.

  • Q: How Often Should I Get Checkups?

    A: For most people, a checkup and cleaning every 6 months is standard protocol. Depending on a person’s dental health, however, a dental cleaning every 3 to 4 months may be recommended.

  • Q: How Often Should I Get X-Rays?

    A: For most people, a complete radiographic survey should be done every 3 years. Check up or “recall” set every 6 to 12 months. A complete set of x-rays is estimated to expose you to the same amount of radiation you get on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. Doctors use x-rays as an aid in diagnosing problems. Without x-rays seeing: the problem will be difficult if not impossible.

  • Q: How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

    A: 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:
    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
    sings of oral cancer.

    Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.

    Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.

    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 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: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing 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.

  • Q: How often should I brush and floss?

    A: Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that causes 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. Tooth brushing. 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 freshens 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 gum line. 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 gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

  • Q: How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?

    A: You 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 effects 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 gums.

    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).
    • Pus around the teeth and gums. Sign, that there is an infection present.
    • Receding gums. Loss of gum around a tooth.
    • Tenderness or Discomfort. Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

  • Q: How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?

    A: If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.
    Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.
    There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.
    Cosmetic Procedures:

    Teeth Whitening: Bleaching lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.
    Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings: Also known as “bonding”, composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.
    Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-colored shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful individual smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discolored, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.
    Porcelain Crowns (caps): A crown is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.
    Dental Implants: Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to removable dental appliances.
    Orthodontics: Less visible and more effective brackets and wires are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients. Also, in some cases, teeth may be straightened with custom-made, clear, removable aligners that require no braces.
    Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make a difference in making your smile shine!

  • Q: What are porcelain veneers and how can they improve my smile?

    A: Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth. They are very durable and will not stain, making them a very popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile.
    Veneers may be used to restore or correct the
    following dental conditions:
    • Severely discolored or stained teeth
    • Unwanted or uneven spaces
    • Worn or chipped teeth
    • Slight tooth crowding
    • Misshapen teeth
    • Teeth that, are too small or large
    Getting veneers usually requires two visits. Veneers are created from an impression (mold) of your teeth that is then sent to a professional dental laboratory where each veneer is custom-made (for shape and color) for your individual smile.
    With little or no anesthesia, teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the front surface of the teeth to allow for the small thickness of veneers. The veneers are carefully fitted and bonded onto the tooth surface with special bonding cements and occasionally a specialized light may be used to harden and set the bond.
    Veneers are an excellent dental treatment that can dramatically improve your teeth and give you a natural, beautiful smile.

  • Q: What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?

    A: Since teeth whitening has now become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients, there are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.
    Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
    As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. The color of our teeth also comes from the inside of the tooth, which may become darker over time. Smoking, drinking coffee, tea, and wine may also contribute to tooth discoloration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discolored from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development can also cause teeth to become discolored.
    It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns to cover up such stains. Since teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is also important to evaluate
    replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins. Once the bleaching is done, your dentist can match the new restorations to the shade of the newly whitened teeth.
    Since teeth whitening is not permanent, a touch-up may be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.

    The most widely used professional teeth whitening systems:
    Home teeth whitening systems: At-home products usually come in a gel form that is placed in a custom-fitted mouth guard (tray), created from a mold of your teeth. The trays are worn either twice a day for approximately 30 minutes, or overnight while you sleep. It usually takes several weeks to achieve the desired results depending on the degree of staining and the desired level of whitening.
    In office teeth whitening: This treatment is done in the dental office and you will see results immediately. It may require more than one visit, with each visit lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
    While your gums are protected, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth. A special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent while the teeth are whitened.
    Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after having their teeth whitened.
    This sensation is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process,
    usually within a few days to one week.
    Teeth whitening can be very effective and can give you a brighter, whiter, more confident smile!

  • Q: What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

    A: A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. After a meal, if a toothbrush is not available at least take a damp cloth and wipe away as much as possible

  • Q: When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

    A: In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday.

  • Q: Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

    A: Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your dentist.

  • Q:: How do dental sealants work?

    A: Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

  • Q: What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

    A: Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard developed by a dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

  • Q: What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

    Q: What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
    A: The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the dentist.

  • Q: I am afraid of going to the dentist … What can I do?

    A: Fear of the dentist is quite common and many people are as fearful and your dentist and his/her staff are also well aware of this and are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these fears. Notify your dental team about your concerns and questions. You will find they are eager to work with you to make your visits pleasant. Asking questions about your mouth and proposed treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and give you an opportunity to become involved in your dental health. Most importantly, remember that your dental team is eager to work with you, not just on you, in order to achieve a mutual goal – maintaining the health of your smile.

  • Q: What if I have an emergency when the office is closed?

    A: During business hours, you will be seen immediately or we will work you into our schedule for the day. If your dental emergency occurs after our office is closed, call our main phone line and follow the menu options to be connected to our emergency service. Dr. Judy will promptly return your call and arrange to see you if needed.

  • Q: What insurance plans do you accept?

    A: Almost all of the major insurance carriers’ plans are accepted

  • Q: Are you accepting new patients?

    A: Yes!

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