Do you use white fillings?
Yes, we place composite resin fillings because they have some qualities superior to the older silver fillings. First off, they are bonded to the tooth rather than simply packed into the cavity space. This bonding process creates a seal to keep bacteria out. As they were first developed over 30 years ago, the white fillings had questionable strength and wear resistance. Over time, that has been solved and composite resin fillings provide excellent support for your bite. Combined with the fact that having a naturally-appearing "white" filling is esthetically more pleasing, the composite resin fillings are an excellent restorative material.
How might I know if I have oral cancer?
We conduct a detailed intraoral exam to check for signs of oral cancer. Some suspicious signs are thickened patches, tender or sore areas, bleeding spots, and other questionably appearing areas. It is important to check regularly, and is something we take very seriously. In addition to checking the appearance of the cheeks, lips, and gums, we also check for enlarged lymph nodes, saliva glands, and most importantly, how your tongue looks.
What is the best way to whiten my teeth?
The three most common methods are: over-the-counter products, custom take home systems, in-office whitening procedures. Each of these has benefits and limitations, and can be fantastic when used correctly. The most consistent results are the custom take home whitening or the in-office procedures which should be discussed with us to determine how the benefits and limitations of each option would apply to you.
How long does a filling last?
It's hard to attach a specific answer to this because of how many variables are involved. These variables include the size of the filling, the type of material, the way the person bites on the specific tooth, the location of the filling on the tooth, and also which tooth in the mouth it is. There are many factors to influence how long the filling can last. When the correct material is chosen for the specific tooth, it is reasonable for fillings to last 10 years or more.
Are implants expensive?
The initial cost of implant placement and restoration can certainly be eye-opening. The benefit to an implant restoration is in how long it can last, and that it is the closest thing we have to a natural tooth. When the implant is placed and heals in the bone, it forms a stable base for a crown, and avoids the need to prepare adjacent teeth, and join teeth together as is the case with a fixed bridge. Implants also have a functional life expectancy approaching 20 years, which is not what we usually expect for a cemented fixed bridge.
Is tooth whitening safe?
The process of whitening teeth generally uses a carbamide peroxide gel, which is converted to hydrogen peroxide, the active chemical to lighten the teeth. When used in custom made trays, the gel is held to the teeth, and does not move around your mouth. If it does make its way into your mouth, or if the trays don't seal properly, your saliva has been shown in multiple studies to be capable of neutralizing FIFTY TIMES the amount of hydrogen peroxide used for whitening in under 2 seconds. So from that standpoint, the real drawback is that if your trays don't seal properly, your saliva will neutralize the bleach and you won't get results! The changes to your enamel during the whitening process have been shown to be reversed within two weeks of completion of the whitening process as well. So, yes, whitening is very safe!
When should my kids see a dentist?
The best answer is that you should at least speak to a dentist about your kids as soon as they get teeth. A dentist will be able to give you excellent advice regarding dietary concerns, cleaning habits, and eruption patterns of baby and adult teeth. Most kids aren't ready to have a professional cleaning before the age of 3, but we encourage parents to bring in young children for exams to determine if there are any early warning signs of potential problems as soon as the child has teeth.
What kind of toothpaste should I be using?
The main factor here is to be sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. The benefits of decay prevention provided by fluoride have been documented endlessly for decades. There are some patients who are against fluoride, and while we respect the decisions each patient may make, there is no solid evidence to support some of the negative claims being made. We encourage everyone to carefully consider the reasons why they are avoiding fluoride. Individual taste preferences will also be a deciding factor for your toothpaste choice. Beyond that, consideration for sensitivity pastes or other specific products should be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
Do I have to get x-rays?
When we conduct an exam, we are able to see the external surfaces of all the teeth and gums. But we cannot see between the teeth where cavities commonly occur, underneath existing fillings, or bone levels below the gums. Regular dental x-rays allow evaluation of these areas which are where problems most frequently occur. In our office, we use digital x-rays which cut the radiation dose to a fraction of traditional x-rays. It is important to be judicious in prescribing x-rays, and we are very conscious of when we use them. The amount of radiation exposure of regular dental x-rays is comparable to standing outside in the sun for a few hours.