Q: Why does the dentist take X-rays?
A: Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen with the naked eye when your dentist examines your mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
- Small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing fillings
- Bone loss
- Abscesses or cysts
- Developmental abnormalities
- Some types of tumors
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. The radiation exposure during dentistry have been drastically reduced with advancing technology and are absolutely safe for every age group. Feel free to ask for protective lead aprons commonly used in pregnant women and growing children.
Q: What should I do about bleeding gums?
A: Inadequate oral hygiene, stress, pregnancy, familial predisposition, chronic smoking, orthodontic treatment are some of the common reasons for bleeding gums. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. Instead, when gums are inflamed, brushing often and effectively is imperative. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.
Q: What is periodontal disease?
A: Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth mobility with eventual loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for systemic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits swollen gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed by regular cleaning whereas advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by visiting your dentist every six months and following recommended care plans.
Q: Why is flossing important?
A: You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria feeding on the food particles retained on your teeth. It is extremely important to floss at least once a day to clean the areas between the gums and teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to accumulate on your teeth which eventually hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing but only your dentist can remove tartar.
Q: What can I do about sensitive teeth?
A: Anti-sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. They are usually recommended for a few weeks/months followed by regular toothpaste as continuous use makes it ineffective. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in office to the exposed roots of your tooth to reduce the sensitivity. This procedure has to be repeated as and when the symptoms appear.
Q: How long does the effect of anaesthesia last?
A: When anesthesia has been used, your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. It is easy to bite or burn your tongue or lip while numb. It is recommended that you take some pain killer (1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed) before the anesthetic effect completely wears off. This will help to relieve any swelling or pain at the injection sites where the anesthetic was administered.
Q: HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING CAVITIES?
A: The best way to avoid cavities is by restricting sugary stuff in between the meals, rinsing after every meal, brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting your dentist every six months. Children and some adults can benefit by having Sealants placed.
Q: What do I do after a root canal?
A: Root canal therapy can be done in a single sitting but it often takes two or more appointments to complete. A temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth between appointments. After each appointment when anesthetic has been used, avoid chewing until the numbness has completely off to avoid hurting/burning your teeth, lips and tongue.
Between appointments it is common (and not a problem) for a small portion of your temporary filling to wear away or break off. If the entire filling falls out, or if a temporary crown comes off, call us so that it can be replaced.
It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment, especially when chewing. To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended. To further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with lukewarm saline water (a tsp. of salt in a cup of warm water, rinse-swish-spit).
If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them as prescribed, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone. To protect the tooth and help keep your temporary in place, avoid eating sticky foods (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth. It’s important to continue to brush and floss normally.
Q: What do I do after an extraction?
A: After an extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. That’s why we ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 30 to 45 minutes after the extraction. If bleeding or oozing continues after you remove the gauze pad, place another gauze pad and bite firmly for another thirty minutes. After that remove the gauze pad and eat ice cream.
For the next 24 hours, eat soft, bland and cold food. Avoid anything hot, hard or spicy. Drink lots of fluids and avoid alcoholic or carbonated beverages. Don’t: smoke, suck through a straw, rinse your mouth vigorously, spit or clean the teeth next to the extraction site. These activities will dislodge the clot and slow down healing.
After the tooth is extracted you may feel some pain and have some swelling. Ice packs are recommended for the first 24 hours intermittently. The swelling usually starts to go down after 48 hours. If antibiotics and pain killers are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time.
After 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water three times a day for 1-2 weeks to facilitate healing. Also, rinse gently after meals to keep food out of the extraction site. It is very important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours which include brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing at least once a day. This speeds healing and helps keep your breath and mouth fresh. Some oozing and discoloration of the saliva is normal.
Q: How do I care for my crown/bridge?
A: A crown is needed on a tooth when the tooth is weakened by either decay, fracture or a very large restoration. Root canal treatment is completed by the placement of a crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future. Multiple crowns joined together constitute a bridge. After cementation of crown/bridge, the gums may be sore for few days. Rinse three times a day with warm salt water to reduce pain and swelling.
Use medication only as directed. It is recommended to start eating soft food with the new crown and then gradually use it like any other natural tooth once you get used to it.
It’s important to continue to brush normally, but floss very carefully and pull the floss out from the side. If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent swelling or pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please visit us as soon as possible.
Q: WHY SHOULD I REPLACE A MISSING TOOTH?
A: Missing a single tooth can, over time, allow the misalignment of your remaining teeth and thus erode your current smile. A single tooth replaced with a dental implant and crown is the most predictable, conservative and long-lasting method of tooth replacement. Without a dental implant, the two adjacent teeth to a missing tooth must be reduced to anchor a bridge. Dental implants eliminate the need to modify natural teeth.
Q: WHO CAN HAVE DENTAL IMPLANTS & ARE THEY PAINFUL?
A: Every procedure in dentistry is performed after thorough numbing of the adjoining areas. The discomfort felt during dental implant placement is no more than any surgical extraction. Some amount of pain and swelling is expected after the procedure for 24-48 hours which is managed by appropriate medication. A temporary crown will be provided to take care of aesthetic appearance.
Dental implants can be safely placed in almost every case after thorough investigation and treatment planning. With recent advances, even patients who have low sinus cavities or a reduced level of bone density are now able to have dental implants. We provide sinus lifts and bone reconstruction to patients who have these issues to facilitate placement of dental implants in the best possible position, avoiding nerve canals and sinus cavities.
Q: HOW SUCCESSFUL & SAFE IS IMPLANT TREATMENT?
A: Modern dental implant treatment is highly successful, as a general guideline, the five-year success rate of dental implant is over 95% with the lower jaw (mandible) and about 90% with upper jaw (maxilla). The success rates may slowly decrease, as the implant stays longer in function. In difficult cases, the success rates are expected to be lower. Despite the overall high success rates with dental implant treatment, there is still the possibility of failure, which can be contributed by various factors and conditions, such as poor healing power, poor bone quality, smoking and diabetes, and most important of all -poor oral hygiene. Dental Implants are perfectly safe. With proper maintenance they normally last for up to fifteen years while some companies claim lifelong warranty. Regular dental checkups and diligently maintaining one’s oral hygiene is of utmost importance in preventing failure.
Q: Do over the counter whitening products work?
A: Commercial whitening toothpastes, strips or gels vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives without altering the intrinsic color of the teeth. These whitening agents may use harsh abrasives which on frequent use can damage tooth enamel and subsequently lead to tooth sensitivity. It is important to understand that tooth colored fillings and crowns cannot be bleached. It is imperative to consult with your dentist about the right bleaching protocol for you.
Q: AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I START TAKING MY CHILD TO THE DENTIST?
A: It is usually advisable to bring a child to the dentist within six months of eruption of the first tooth. Parents should make an earnest attempt to expose the child to the dental office at an early age so that he/she will learn that visiting the dentist is a regular part of health care. Do not instill your own fear or anxiety into your child’s mind by being nervous. When you talk to your child about going to the dentist, explain what will happen without adding things like “it won’t hurt” or “don’t be scared.”. Make the first visit a positive one – this helps build a relationship on trust and respect and can prove invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem.
Be sure to get an early start on regular dental care at home. Start cleaning your child’s mouth with a soft damp cloth before teeth come in and continue with a soft toothbrush once he or she has a first tooth. Limit sugary treats and focus on healthy food choices from the very beginning.
Q: What are the warning signals for oral cancer?
A: Cancer can be caused by all forms of tobacco
Watch out for some of these danger signs:
- Sores, swellings, lumps or thick red or white patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Soreness or feeling of something caught in the throat
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
- Numbness in the tongue or any other part of the mouth
- Hoarseness of voice
- Pain is rarely an early symptom. All tobacco users need to see their dentist regularly.
Q: Why should I visit the dentist regularly?
A: Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They go only when they have a problem. We call this “crisis treatment” as opposed to “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they are saving money, it usually ends up costing much more time and agony. The reason for this is that most dental problems do not have any symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. A simple example is tooth decay.
A tooth decay may not hurt until it approaches the nerve of the tooth. By that time, root canal treatment followed by a post, buildup, and crown are often necessary, instead of the filling which could have been placed several years earlier when the cavity was just beginning to form.
During the check-up, your dental professional will check your overall oral health for any trouble areas. During the cleaning, there is removal of any plaque and tartar buildup and polishing of your teeth. You should have a regular dental visit at least twice a year.