Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I brush every day, but my breath just is not fresh. Is there anything I can do?
A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing, daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings and careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several solutions.
First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacteria build-up on your tongue and significantly alleviates odor. Or we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.
Q: What is a crown and why do I need one?
A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to large aging fillings or cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are porcelain baked onto a precious nickel-free and mercury-free metal sub-structure, full cast metal (gold and silver alloys), or the newer all-ceramic zirconia materials, and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long lasting smile.
Q: I know I need x-rays, but I'd prefer to not be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital x-rays?
A: Yes, we do offer digital x-rays. Digital x-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film x-rays. We have found that the digital x-rays require only about 1/3 or less radiation that film x-rays required.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by resisting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a varnish, gel or foam that is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength fluoride varnishes, gels or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?
A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy or a combination of all these techniques. Dr. Blair will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, areas of concern and the overall condition of your oral health.
Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?
A: Dr. Blair has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of orthodontic treatment (braces). For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation.
Q: What are my options to replace a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and give your smile back its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist places a metal-reinforced porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking restoration. There are also options involving removable appliances.
Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?
A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical / dental health forms, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. x-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth and malfunctioning restorations. We also have an intraoral camera to help us find and show you problems that may be present. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We'll also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.
Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this? What can I do about it?
A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but don't remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a night guard. A custom fitted night guard protects your teeth from grinding & clenching in your sleep. Dr. Blair takes great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you suffer from headaches? You may find that a side benefit of your night guard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a night guard custom created for you.
Q: I want and need a lot of dental work, but I'm afraid I can't afford it. Do you offer monthly payment plans?
A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans with our financial partners, Care Credit™, Citi Financial and Wells Fargo. We provide a variety of ways for you to pay for your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Our team works with you to create the solution that accommodates you so you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you have always desired.
Q: My gums bleed. Why is this?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. This condition is called gingivitis. Timely treatment can reverse these problems. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis, in which bone is actually lost from around the teeth. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.
Periodontitis affects your gums, bone and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss - teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don't diagnose and treat periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
According to Caesy Dental Education, "Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart valves. Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacteria - Streptococcus sanguinis - may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack."
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth-premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Q: Sometimes when I chew I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?
A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture, or crack, in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing a crown, but sometimes requires even more advanced treatment (root canal therapy). You want to correct the pain as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the tooth. Contact us today to schedule a visit.
Q: What is a Prosthodontist?
A: A prosthodontist is a dental specialist in the restoration and replacement of teeth. A prosthodontist has completed three years of post-graduate studies beyond that of a traditional dentist, further exploring dental aspects such as surgery, endodontics, cosmetic, restorative, and implant dentistry. Additionally, prosthodontists work closely with other dental specialists and are concerned with the function and long-term health of your teeth, in addition to their appearance.
Q: As an older adult, do I really need to worry about my dental care?
A: Yes. No matter what your age, you deserve to look and feel healthy. A strong, beautiful, and functioning smile plays a major role in the quality of your life as you age. You'll appreciate a better diet, a younger appearance, and greater confidence. Perhaps you have put dental care off for so long that you believe it no longer matters. Not true! We can treat and improve virtually any dental condition. Some conditions are even reversible, even in mature adults!
Frequently, dry mouth can affect older adults, often as a side effect of various medications (blood pressure, heart and antidepressant medicines are high on the list). Without proper management of dry mouth, including a proper diet, the teeth can deteriorate very rapidly and even require extraction.
Even though there are few limitations on how old you can be to receive restorative dental care, it is always best to act sooner rather than later.