Frequently Asked Questions

What is plaque and how is it bad?

Plaque is a clear film of bacteria that builds on all surfaces of your teeth. When you brush, you remove the film, and bacteria start to build again. Not flossing or brushing effectively leads the film to turn into plaque. Plaque starts to form on teeth within just 45 minutes of brushing, which is why we recommend patients brush and floss after each meal. 

An accumulation of plaque can irritate the gums, eventually leading to mild gum disease, called gingivitis. Eventually, this mild gum disease can turn into a more aggressive form of bone loss called periodontitis. Research shows that gum disease is linked to many health problems including stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, and pregnancy complications.

Plaque can be removed with regular brushing and flossing twice daily along with regular dental checkups for deep cleaning and plaque removal. Early stages of gum disease are often unnoticed. By the time you begin to feel pain or irritation, it has progressed to at least gingivitis. Regular checkups prevent plaque and tartar buildup, and the dentist can then check if the patient has any form of gingivitis or periodontitis.

What is the cause of bad breath?

When breath has an unpleasant odor, it's known as halitosis. 

The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and bacteria that collects at the back of the tongue can often be missed by daily brushing. The bacteria that accumulates on the back of the tongue is often the primary cause of halitosis.

Poor dental hygiene is another leading cause of chronic bad breath. If brushing and flossing is not conducted on a regular basis, bacteria and plaque can begin to form in hard-to-reach places. Poor dental hygiene can eventually lead to much more serious problems, including gingivitis and periodontal disease.

External factors such as smoking and chewing tobacco, medications, and coffee, tea, and wine are also some of the causes of frequent bad breath. These activities can also lead to the discoloration of your teeth.

Why are dental x-rays needed?

In dentistry, no mouth is the exact same. Some people have saliva that help them keep strong teeth, while other people don't have the same defenses. X-rays are taken in order for Dr. Will or Dr. Jones to assess your individual needs. X-rays help identify cavities, pathology and any underlying signs of bone loss or gum disease that can be undetectable otherwise.

The best way for us to make sure you are healthy is by doing an intra-oral exam and taking x-rays. In order to help with future comparisons, we may request additional x-rays during follow-up visits in order to determine what treatment will be needed as well as to identify any conditions that may require prevention.

How safe are dental x-rays?

X-rays are necessary for receiving the highest standard of care. The diagnostic benefits far outweigh any risk of radiation exposure. We provide 3D Cone Beam technology to help in early pathology detection and dental implant placement. With this cone beam, we only need to scan your teeth once while it would take 11,000 scans in one day before a patient would notice any radiation side effects. Think of it this way - you get more radiation exposure by eating multiple bananas or by flying in an airplane than you do by taking dental x-rays.

We are also careful to limit the amount of radiation exposure for patients by using lead aprons and digital radiography which reduces radiation substantially. Without the use of x-rays, cavities and disease will go undetected, which can lead to tooth decay and loss. 

Digital x-rays have minimal radiation, crystal-clear images, and unbelievable speed. With digital x-rays, the patient’s images appear instantly on a nearby monitor, giving us a convenient chair-side image to analyze and refer to throughout the dental visit. We are pleased to offer this dental technology that helps us detect, treat, and prevent serious oral diseases and complications for our patients.

How do I take care of my sensitive teeth?

One of the most important ways to prevent and protect sensitive teeth is by avoiding sugary sodas and other sugar-filled, syrup-laden beverages. The longer you consume sodas and other processed drinks, the more damage your teeth will sustain.

We advise our patients to cut out all sugary drinks, but if you feel the need to indulge occasionally, don't take 20 minutes to sip your soda. The same amount of soda can be much more damaging to your teeth if it takes you an hour to drink it rather than 5 minutes. When you do indulge in sugary drinks, drink water and brush well afterwards to remove residue from your teeth.

Our patients see a decrease in cavities when they limit their exposure level while brushing and flossing everyday. Our office recommends brushing twice a day and flossing at least once. For sensitive teeth, we also recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste.

What types of insurances do you accept?

Our office accepts several major insurances. Send us an email or give us a call, and we'll be happy to discuss our insurance and financial options with you.

Questions for Child Treatment

When will my baby start getting teeth?

Babies typically begin teething at six months of age. Usually the bottom lower front teeth emerge first, followed by the two upper front teeth. Children have 20 teeth, compared to adults that typically have 32. 

How often do I need to bring my child to the dentist?

In general, check-ups are recommended a minimum of every six months to prevent cavities or other dental problems. This can start when a child is just a few years old.

Every child has individual healthcare needs, therefore the frequency of dental visits will vary by situation. Regular visits keep children familiar with the dentist and his or her staff. These visits also build confidence and tend to be much more pleasant when the child is not forced to associate the dentist with emergency treatment due to tooth pain and dental neglect. Decay or breakdown of a tooth that is detected in the early stages is also easier and is less costly to treat.

How important are baby teeth? Aren't they going to fall out anyway?

Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, have three main functions. First, they allow children to chew. The importance of pain-free feeding directly relates your child’s diet, nutrition, and overall health. Second, baby teeth are important for speech development. Lastly, baby teeth provide a pathway for permanent teeth to emerge in a timely way. Premature tooth loss from cavities and infection allows for remaining teeth to move into the empty space and ultimately cause permanent teeth to emerge in the wrong location.

If my toddler has a cavity, should he or she get a filling?

The earlier a cavity is diagnosed and treated, the less invasive the overall treatment will be. Over time, cavities can spread and possibly lead to an infection. It is important to evaluate each situation on an individual basis to determine what is best for the child at any given time in terms of the child’s ability to cope with a procedure.

What are sealants and why does my child need them?

Sealants are a hard dental material that is placed into the grooves of the chewing surfaces of teeth in order to help prevent cavities. They work by blocking out the sticky, sugary foods and liquids that tend to get caught in the teeth. The application is quick and painless. Sealants are recommended based on the child’s diet, family history of cavities, and overall anatomy of the teeth.

Oral Healthcare at Home for Children

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A baby toothbrush and water will adequately remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to cavities for children 0-2 years. Caregivers should clean the teeth at least once a day, especially before bedtime, following the last feeding. Non-fluoridated toothpaste intended for infants can also be used. Until your child is able to spit out the toothpaste without swallowing it, we recommend use non-fluoridated toothpaste.

How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay and early childhood cavities?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water, and if swelling is present, place a cold pack on the area. Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) are recommended for pain. DO NOT place aspirin directly on the gums, as this can cause harm to the tissue. See a dentist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Is fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water good for my child?

Use of fluoride for prevention of cavities is documented to be safe and effective in decreasing cavities by making teeth less susceptible to decay when given in the correct dosage. If your water supply contains less than 0.6ppm (typically private wells), a dietary supplement may be recommended for your child  ages 6 months to 16 years.

If your child is unable to spit out the toothpaste, then it should be avoided until they are old enough. It is acceptable to begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with children 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is important to contact a pediatric dentist to make sure you child is not receiving excessive or inadequate amounts of daily fluoride.

If my child has tooth or mouth pain, what can I do to help?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water, and if swelling is present, place a cold pack on the area. Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) are recommended for any pain. DO NOT place aspirin on the gums, as this can cause harm to the tissue. See a dentist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.

What can I do to stop my child's thumb sucking and pacifier habits? Is it harming their teeth?

Many oral habits such as thumb and pacifier-sucking only become a problem if they persist for long periods of time. This is very normal in infants and young children. Most children stop these habits on their own by the age of three. Generally, habit-breaking appliances are recommended and used for children who want to stop but need an active reminder.

Long term oral habits such as thumb or finger-sucking, mouth-breathing, and tongue-thrusting can produce dental and skeletal changes. The amount of change is directly related to frequency, duration, intensity, and direction of the forces applied.

What should I do if my child has a tooth knocked out?

Remain calm. Locate the tooth. Always hold the tooth by the crown and not the root. Determine whether the tooth is a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. If it is a baby tooth, do not replace the tooth into the socket. For permanent teeth, re-implant by applying mild finger pressure. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the dentist.