Dentistry Questions & Answers

1. What can be done for chipped, rotated or malformed teeth? Veneers or crowns are usually the best for creating the most aesthetic and longest lasting restoration. Bonding is another option and is usually done in one appointment.

2. What is a veneer? A veneer is a porcelain shell or "fingernail" that covers the front, sides, and biting edge of your teeth. It will not discolor and is as strong as your tooth once it is properly bonded to your tooth.

3. What is a crown? A crown is a restoration that covers your whole tooth. Crowns are also referred to as caps and are used to restore your tooth to its original shape and size. The majority of crowns are placed to repair teeth that have broken, have cracks, or have large fillings that can not safely support the placement of another filling. They are also placed on teeth that have had root canals because these teeth have had the nerve and blood supply removed and are thus much more brittle than natural teeth.

4. What is bonding? Bonding is the placement of composite (tooth colored filling material) in order to build up or cover enamel imperfections. It is usually the most conservative and least expensive restoration of cosmetic dentistry. Disadvantages of bonding are that the bonding portion of the tooth may discolor over time and is more prone to breakage.

5. How long will crowns or veneers last? The longevity of dental work varies from person to person and is greatly dependent on home care and maintenance. Regular cleaning and flossing are essential along with eating/chewing habits and overall condition of teeth before restorations are placed. Insurance will usually replace crowns every five years but with the proper brushing, flossing, and preventive care they can last much longer.

6. What can I do about crooked teeth? There are many options which include orthodontics, invisalign, recontouring, veneers, bonding, or crowns. The best way to determine what is needed is to do a consult and have diagnostic wax ups done so that we can give you an idea of what the restorations will look like.

12. How do I know if I need a root canal? Symptoms of needing a root canal are sensitivity to hot or cold, spontaneous pain or throbbing/lingering pain, or severe decay or insult that creates an infection (abscess) in the bone.

13. Why spend money on a root canal when I can have the tooth extracted for much less? Although a root canal may seem expensive upfront, it is generally cheaper than trying to replace the tooth in the future. By saving the tooth it helps to maintain the space and keeps other teeth from shifting. It also eliminates the cost and time of having to do an implant or bridge in the future.

14. What do I do if my temporary crown comes off? If your temporary crown comes off, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can get you in to re-cement it. It is important that it be placed back in your mouth to keep the teeth from shifting and to protect the tooth from temperature changes in the mouth. If the crown feels loose, you can place a small dab of toothpaste, Vaseline, or denture adhesive paste in the crown and then place it on your tooth.

15. How can I replace a missing tooth? There are several options which include implant, bridge, or partial denture. These treatment choices are very dependent on the amount of bone present, the condition of other teeth in the mouth and the amount of teeth that are being replaced.

16. What do I do if my child has knocked out his/her front tooth? If the tooth is a permanent tooth, gently rinse off the tooth under cool running water (do not scrub the tooth), place the tooth back in the socket, and call the office immediately. If it can not be placed back in the socket, place the tooth in a glass of milk and call the office. We will see the child as soon as possible.

17. Is whitening safe? The whitening products that we use in our office have all been granted the seal of approval by the American Dental Association. There have been numerous studies showing that bleaching or whitening is safe and effective. The products that we use in our office have all been used by our staff and they are able to answer any questions you may have.

7. Can veneers correct crooked teeth or spaces faster than orthodontics? Absolutely, they are able to correct spaces, malformed, discolored and mispositioned teeth in much less time than orthodontics. A diagnostic wax up would be done to show the size/shape of what the final result will look like.

8. How many veneers are needed to create a new smile? This is really dependent on the desired result of the patient. If only one tooth is out of alignment or discolored, one veneer may be able to create the look the patient is seeking. For a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing smile it may be necessary to do anywhere from 4 to 8 veneers depending on how many teeth show when the patient smiles. We will do a diagnostic wax up to show the patient a life like version of what the smile will look like before beginning treatment.

9. What is periodontal or gum disease? Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum and bone that supports your teeth. It is what causes your teeth to become loose and if left untreated will result in tooth loss.

10. What are the signs of periodontal or gum disease? Signs of periodontal disease include gums that are red, swollen, irritated, or sore. Bleeding upon brushing or flossing, bad breath, bad taste, and losing of teeth are also signs.

11. What is a root canal? A root canal is the removal of the infected or irritated nerve tissue. It is this nerve tissue that is causing the pain and resulting in abscess. Depending on what tooth, there may be anywhere from 1 to 4 nerves in the tooth.

18. What are the side effects of whitening? Slight gum irritation and tooth or teeth sensitivity are the symptoms that some feel after using either the Zoom or the take home bleach kit.

19. How does whitening work? The active ingredient in the whitening products that we use is carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These ingredients penetrate into the enamel and react with the stain to release it from the tooth surface. The Zoom whitening uses a stronger concentration of the hydrogen peroxide and a bright light to initiate and speed up the bleaching process.

20. Can my crowns, fillings, or veneers be whitened? No, neither porcelain nor composite will change color when they come in contact with the whitening gel.

21. Am I a candidate for whitening? The vast majority of people are, but there are some who may not have that option. If you have very sensitive teeth, teeth with little or no enamel, tetracycline stain, active cavities or extensive composite (bonding) restoration on your front teeth, you may not be a candidate for whitening.

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