Frequently Asked Dentistry Questions
If you have questions about your dental care, that’s great! It simply means that you want to learn more about looking after you and your family’s oral health, and like all things, knowledge is power when it comes to keeping you and your loved ones’ teeth looking and feeling great. To quickly boost your dental IQ, we’ve answered some of our most popular questions below. If there is anything else you’d like to know that we haven’t covered here, feel free to give us a call anytime—we’re always happy to talk to you!
How often should I visit the dentist?
For the average healthy person, our dentists (as well as the American Dental Association) recommend that they should attend at least one checkup and cleaning appointment every six months. These routine visits are the best way to make sure small problems are caught and treated early before they can turn into major issues that require more extensive care.
When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?
Dr. Tong recommends that a child should attend their first dental appointment as soon as they can after their first teeth come in, or no later than their first birthday. This visit will just consist of a gentle exam, and then Dr. Tong will go over the best ways you can take care of your brand new smile.
I/my child is really nervous about visiting the dentist…can you help?
Certainly! Comfort is always one of our top priorities, which is why we offer a number of sedation services specifically designed to help anxious patients feel more relaxed while in the dental chair. Our team even includes a dedicated dental anesthesiologist to ensure our sedated patients get exactly what they need.
How should I replace my missing teeth?
This answer is different for every patient depending on their particular needs, but in most cases, our first recommendation is dental implants. In short, they simply offer the most complete, natural-looking, and longest-lasting results of any tooth replacement available today. Plus, unlike other dental offices in Tappan, we can actually perform the entire procedure in one convenient location! To learn more about this treatment, you can read our full page about it here.
Is it possible to straighten my teeth without metal braces?
Yes! With Invisalign, all a patient has to do to correct their misaligned teeth is wear a series of custom-made, clear plastic aligners. They have a very subtle appearance that blends into any smile, and you can even take them off whenever you want to eat or brush. It’s the most discreet way to get the smile you’ve always wanted, and we offer it right here at Smile More Dentistry.
I don’t have dental insurance. Is there another way I can save on my dental care?
Yes! When you sign up for our Oral Health Savings Plan, one flat-fee is all that’s needed to completely cover your routine dental care for 12 months. You’ll also receive considerable discounts on a long list of restorative treatments. Basically, our plan offers many of the same benefits as traditional insurance, but for a smaller price and with less red tape! To learn more about our plan and sign up, contact us today.
Why should I go to the dentist regularly?
Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as "crisis treatment" versus "preventive treatment." While these patients may feel they are saving money, it often ends up costing much more in dollars and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It is typical to hear, "Nothing hurts... I don't have any problems."
Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. The dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This early detection can help you prevent root canal treatment.
How can I prevent cavities?
Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.
Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and brush your teeth afterwards.
If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water - which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing deskulates the flow of your saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance. And do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.
Why does the dentist take x-rays?
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
- small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
- infections in the bone
- periodontal (gum) disease
- abscesses or cysts
- developmental abnormalities
- some types of tumors
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, X-rays may even help save your life. Dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on the conditions present in development. There are many benefits to having X-rays taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce - if not eliminate - the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
How can I get my kids to brush their teeth?
Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Ask the dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.
Getting your children to brush starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their first birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth.
Do whitening toothpastes work?
Commercial whitening toothpastes vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives. However, unlike professional whitening, some whitening toothpastes do not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth. Toothpastes that are effective in removing stains can also destroy tooth enamel in the process. These toothpastes use harsh abrasives. With repeated use, harsh abrasives begin to damage tooth enamel and can contribute to increased tooth sensitivity. If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, consult with your dentist first.
How long will the results of teeth whitening last?
Like other investments, if you whiten your teeth, the length of time you can expect it to last will vary. If you smoke, drink red wine or coffee, or consume other acid-containing foods, your bright smile may begin to yellow more quickly than you expect. In general, a teeth whitening procedure can last up to a few years. And even though the results can fade, occasional touch-ups can be done to regain luster.
What are cavity-fighting sealants?
The American Dental Association cites sealants as an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria.
Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about half the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth. Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for you or your children.
I just found out I am pregnant. How can this affect my mouth?
About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm, low birth-weight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that's born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.
Why do I have to take antibiotics before my dental appointment?
There are certain conditions that require pre-medication with an antibiotic prior to dental treatment to prevent adverse effects and infection that can be caused by bacteria that enter the blood stream during certain treatment. You will want to consult with your dentist about this prior to treatment.
I am undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation for cancer treatment, how can this affect my mouth?
Chemotherapy and Radiation can cause a number of problems in the mouth, some of which might include: mouth sores, infections, dry mouth, bleeding of the gums and lining of the mouth and general soreness and pain of the mouth. It can be harder to control these things while undergoing treatment as the immune system is generally compromised as a result of the treatment. There are some special mouth rinses that can be prescribed to help with discomfort during treatment. It is very important to see your dentist before treatment begins and then to continue with recommended follow-up care. These treatments can cause dry mouth, and recommendations might be made for additional care both in-office and at home.
Is smokeless tobacco harmful?
Smokeless tobacco may be smokeless, but it isn't harmless. These are some of the potential hazards:
- A sore that does not heal
- A lump or white patch
- A prolonged sore throat
- Difficulty in chewing
- Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
- A feeling of something in the throat
- Pain is rarely an early symptom. All tobacco users need to see their dentist regularly.
I have diabetes. Why is my dentist concerned?
Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to talk with your dentist. And don't forget to mention any changes in medications.