Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Care

FAQ about dentistry dental careOur team has been caring for our community for a while now & we’ve noticed many patients come to us with the same questions over & over again. Always feel free to ask us questions when you have them! In the meantime, check out the FAQ & answers below to learn more about your oral health.

    1. What causes tooth sensitivity & should I be worried about it?

      Patients often notice tooth sensitivity as pain when eating hot or cold foods or beverages. Tooth sensitivity is caused when the tooth’s surface has been worn away (leaving underlying dentin layer bare) or when gums have receded, exposing the sensitive root of the tooth. This exposed dentin allows heat, cold or pressure to reach your tooth’s nerve directly, resulting in pain. Tooth sensitivity can be a precursor to other dental problems, because exposed dentin is more vulnerable to decay & receding gums is a sign of possible gum disease. If you have sensitive teeth, please tell us right away so we can make recommendations on how to deal with it.


    1. How often do I need to visit the dentist?

      You should visit us every six months for a teeth cleaning. Your regular teeth cleaning appointments are not just an opportunity to get your teeth much cleaner than you can just by brushing & flossing at home, they’re also an opportunity for us to examine your mouth for potential problems. We generally take x-rays of your mouth at least once a year at your cleaning appointment, if not more often, so we can detect hard-to-see cavities & other issues. However, we should note that if we have diagnosed you with gum disease (periodontitis) or the beginnings of it (gingivitis), the doctor may ask that you come in more frequently so we can treat your condition & keep it from getting worse.


    1. What is better, a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

      With the proper technique, both manual & electric toothbrushes perform about the same. However, if your manual brushing techniques are less than optimal, an electric toothbrush may help you be a bit more thorough. Many electric toothbrushes have a built in timer that can help you make sure you brush for the recommended two minutes. If you are interested in an electric toothbrush, we’d be happy to talk with you about the options that would be best for you.


    1. What is gum disease?

      Gum disease, known clinically as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is when bacteria surrounds your teeth & invades your gums. The disease generally starts with little or no symptoms, so unless you visit the dentist regularly you may not even know you have it. Early stages of gum disease, often called gingivitis, can start with red, swollen gums that bleed easily & have started to recede from the teeth (your teeth might start to look longer than they used to), persistent bad breath, & gum sensitivity to acidic foods. Later stages of gum disease include abscesses, tooth pain, bone loss in the jaw & tooth loss. Gingivitis is treatable in it’s early stages, but if it becomes gum disease, it cannot be cured, only managed. Your best option is to prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene habits, visiting us frequently for professional cleanings & checkups, & telling us right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above.


  1. My teeth don’t hurt & they look just fine. Why do I need to see the dentist?

    There are many dental problems that have no detectable symptoms, at least not at first. It’s possible to have cavities & tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, tooth grinding, an infected tooth or oral cancer & not have any obvious symptoms. Even if you aren’t experiencing pain, sensitivity, swelling or bleeding & can’t see anything wrong with your teeth in the mirror, there may still be a problem. That’s why we use all the latest technologies & techniques at our office, so we can detect potential problems even when you haven’t told us that something is bothering you. Visiting us every six months for a teeth cleaning & a brief dental exam is important to detecting potential problems before they become both costly & painful! We’re not trying to scare you or shake you down, we just want to keep you smiling!

No Need to Fear the Dentist

staying calm at the dental clinic no fearWith today’s modern sedation techniques & better understanding of the causes & solutions for dental phobia, there is no reason to fear the dentist. As dentists, the thing we fear the most is our patients being in pain or experiencing other challenges due to not visiting the dentist for checkups & treatment. Dentists & dental professionals are caring & compassionate people who got into dentistry to help others. Our primary goal is always your health & comfort, so if you experience dental phobia or fear, we will do everything we can to make visits to the dental clinic easy for you.

If you have dental fear or anxiety, it is very important that you tell the dentist, the dental hygienist, the dental assistant, & any of the other dental clinic staff who you directly interact with (for example, the receptionist or even the financial advisor). Don’t be afraid to tell us you’re uncomfortable! There is no way it’s the first time we’ve heard this & you are not alone. Plus, if we know you might be fearful or nervous, we can pull out all the stops to make sure you’re as comfortable & relaxed as possible.

We also recognize that dental anxiety can be a generalized anxiety about going to the dental clinic, or anxiety about a specific dental procedure or routine. For example, if you’re fairly comfortable at the dentist but feel anxious at the sound of an ultrasonic dental scaler, be sure to let us know so we can attempt to make you more comfortable.

We’re also aware that there’s such thing as dental phobia, that is more generalized & not necessarily rational. No matter your level of anxiety or fear, there are many ways we can put you at ease at our dental clinic & restore a positive relationship with your dental care.

Creature Comforts

For those with fairly mild dental anxiety, we can offer you creature comforts to distract or insulate you from certain irritations. If the sounds of certain dental procedures bother you, we can offer you earplugs. Or, you can wear headphones & listen to music that you find calming or that will distract you. We can offer you headphones if you do not bring your own. We can also provide sunglasses to protect your eyes from the light the dentist may be using to see inside your mouth.

Calming Techniques

From breathing exercises to simply talking to you, our dental hygienists & dentists are happy to walk you through calming techniques to guide you away from anxiety & back to calm. We’ll be encouraging when you’re doing well & understanding when you are not. If you’re starting to get uncomfortable, just signal us & we’ll pause the procedure until you’re able to go on.


Sedation is a fantastic option for those who have dental anxiety or fear. And just like there are different level of dental anxiety, there are different levels of sedation to go along with it.

Intravenous or I.V. sedation is the most powerful form of sedation & is sometimes referred to as “being put under”. I.V. sedation is usually administered by an anesthesiologist or a dental professional certified in anesthesiology. With I.V. sedation you will be unconscious during your dental procedure & may have very little memory of it when you wake up. You’ll be groggy afterward, so a friend will need to take you home.

Pill sedation involves taking an oral sedative prior to your visit or procedure. This can be prescribed by the dentist once you have had a conversation about your dental anxiety. You will receive instructions on how soon before your appointment to take your pill so it will be in full effect during your visit. Similarly to I.V., you may be groggy as the sedation wears off, so a friend should help you get home.

Lastly & probably most common is nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” sedation. This involves inhaling a scentless gas that calms & relaxes you. Unlike the more powerful options of I.V. & pill sedation, nitrous oxide sedation only lasts while you are inhaling it. That means that after your procedure is over & the inhalation device has been removed, you’ll be back to normal without any grogginess.

Once again, we have to emphasize that it’s very important for you to tell us if you have dental anxiety. The last thing we would want is to put you in an uncomfortable situation that could have been eased or avoided by having a conversation about your anxiety. We have lots of experience working with anxious patients & we encourage you to think of us as a partner in healing & alleviating your dental anxiety.



The Vital Reasons Why You Should Replace Missing Teeth

seniors with dental implants experience no bone lossThe goal of modern dentistry is for each & every patient to keep all their teeth for their entire lifetime. As dental health awareness & dental technology have advanced over the last half century, we now see fewer older people who are missing all their teeth (a condition dentists call edentulism). Still, we find that people may loose a tooth or a few & not think much of it. The reality is that a missing tooth is far more than just a gap in your smile: it can have serious oral health & psychological effects down the line. Read more