Patient Education

These are some of the more common questions asked to us by patients. If you would like more information about a topic, please see our services menu.

When should a child first be seen by the dentist?

A child should first be seen by a dentist shortly after the first tooth erupts or by the child’s first birthday, whichever comes first.

How often should I get my teeth cleaned?

The short answer: it depends. Some people need more frequent cleanings (every 3-4 months), such as those with many cavities or restorations, those in braces, pregnant women, those with active gum disease and those who build up tartar more heavily. Some people need less frequent cleanings (every 6 months), such as those with no history of decay, very little buildup and those no history of gum disease risk factors.

What’s the difference between a regular cleaning, a deep cleaning and periodontal maintenance?

A routine cleaning is a meant for a healthy mouth to help prevent gum (periodontal) disease. A deep cleaning is gum infection therapy to treat periodontal disease. A periodontal maintenance is ongoing periodontal therapy following non-surgical or surgical treatment.

Why do I need an exam or xrays if nothing is bothering me?

During a comprehensive dental examination, a dentist visually examines the teeth, gums, jaws and joints. He/She will also use xrays to see what cannot be seen clinically. These include things such as tooth position, impacted teeth, cavities (both on and in-between teeth), tartar below the gumline, fractures, the roots of the teeth, how the bone relates to the teeth, extra teeth and pathology. The use of a clinical and radiographic exam help paint a better picture of a person’s overall oral condition.

How often should xrays be taken?

Short answer: It depends. Some patients are high risk for cavities and periodontal disease. These patients may require more frequent xrays. Some patients are very low risk for cavities and periodontal disease. These patients usually require less frequent xrays. Xray recommendations are highly individualized per patient. Please discuss any concerns with your dentist.

Why do I need fillings, crowns (caps) or root canals if nothing is bothering me?

A filling, crown or a root canal is recommended based on the size of a cavity and the existing restoration. Depending on the size of the cavity and the remaining healthy tooth structure, a recommendation for a restoration is made. Because everyone has a different pain threshold, the lack of discomfort should not be a reason to delay treatment. A cavity is like mold: it will continue to spread and get bigger until it is addressed. If treatment is put off too long, then a tooth may not be restorable and the only option remaining is to extract or pull the tooth.

What are my options if I don’t want a root canal?

A root canal is usually the last step in attempting to save a tooth. If a patient chooses to not have root canal therapy performed, then the only option may be to extract a tooth and discuss future restorative options.

Can an adult have braces? And why should they?

Adult orthodontics helps create a better smile, have teeth fit better together and helps decrease the risk of future age-related dental problems. Straighter teeth can help improve overall dental health. Orthodontics truly is age independent.

Do I have to replace a missing tooth?

The truth be told, there is very little in dentistry you have to do. The real questions are: Do YOU want to replace a missing tooth and should you replace a missing tooth? There are benefits and risks of treatment and consequences of non-treatment. Because these are individualized per patient, it is best to discuss care with your dentist.

Do I need all this recommended treatment?

We want you to have a positive experience in our office. Any concerns with treatment recommendations should always be discussed with your dentist. We are here to help you make the best decision possible for your overall oral health.

While there are many more questions and answers, these are the more common ones. If you have any questions or concerns about your care, our office is here to help you make an informed decision.

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