Frequently Asked Questions


General

What are dental sealants, how long do they last and who should get them?

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Exposure to all sources of radiation, like the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, or dental X-rays, can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:

  • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your overall health and also your dental health.
  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing and scaling.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
  • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health. As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.

How often should I brush and floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums. Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth. Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands. Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Children

How should I clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. You can use any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, at least once a day at bedtime.

When should my child have the first check-up?

Your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday, in order to prevent any dental problems.

What is the difference between a family and a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists are specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry, they have two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only.

Are baby teeth important to my child?

Primary, or so called baby teeth are important for many reasons. Not only they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, but they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, you can rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain and see a dentist as soon as possible.

Insurance Plan

What is assignment and non-assignment of benefits?

As a service to patients, a dental office may accept assignment of benefits whereby they agree to have the patient request that his or her dental plan provider pay the dental office directly for the percentage of the cost covered. The patient is responsible for paying the co-payment when treatment is provided. 

In a non-assignment office, the patient is responsible for paying the full cost of treatment at the time it is provided

Why do I have to pay for treatment when it's covered by my plan?

Dental offices are entitled to reimbursement for services at the time treatment is provided. A dental plan is a contract between a patient and/or their dental plan carrier. As a service to patients, some offices will accept assignment of benefits whereby they agree to accept payment for the covered portion of treatment directly from the dental plan provider. Dental offices are not obligated to do so, and in some cases, are restricted from doing so as the dental plan carrier will only reimburse the patient.

Why has my dental office asked for a deposit for treatment?

It is not uncommon for dental offices to request a deposit prior to treatment, as the dental office may incur various expenses in preparation for the commencement of your dental treatment.

Crowns

What is a dental crown?

A Dental Crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is put over a tooth to improve the tooth overall appearance and strength. Dental Crowns help damaged teeth by covering them and by helping to keep them together. Crowns can help with size, shape, and color issues as well.

Why would I need a dental crown?

There are different reasons why the crown is recommended by dentist. Sometimes a crown is placed over a tooth that has had a root canal, or a large filling, to help keep the tooth strong for biting and chewing. Crowns can also be used to hold a dental bridge in place or to cover a dental implant. A dentist may also recommend a crown to protect a discoloured or weak tooth or to cover a broken tooth.

What types of materials are crowns made of?

There are a wide variety of materials that the crown can be made of.

Metal Alloy – Dentists may choose to use a metal alloy (a mixture of metals) for a crown, including gold alloy or a base-metal alloy, which gives a silver appearance. Metal crowns are very strong and therefore tend to last longer than other crown materials.

Porcelain (including Ceramic and Glass-Like materials) – The porcelain crown is the most natural looking since its colour and translucency can be designed to closely match surrounding teeth. Because it is not as strong as metal, porcelain crowns may break or fracture due to heavy biting or grinding.

Porcelain Fused to Metal – Covering a metal crown with porcelain creates a more natural looking crown. The metal provides an additional level of strength to the crown, even though the porcelain may still be prone to fracture.

How long does a dental crown last?

Dental crowns don’t last forever. But with good care they can last a long time! Current research shows that 50 to 80% of crowns will last between 15 and 20 years. It’s important to remember that the life of your crown depends on how you care for it.

Can I have a bridge fitted straight after having a tooth removed?

Generally it can take up to 6 months for the gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means a temporary denture for 6 months might be needed before the bridge is fitted.

Implants

What is involved in getting dental implant?

The first step in the dental implant process is the development of an individualized treatment plan. The plan addresses your specific needs and is prepared by a team of professionals who are specially trained and experienced in oral surgery and restorative dentistry. This team approach provides coordinated care based on the implant option that is best for you. Next, the tooth root implant, which is a small post made of titanium, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted metal post, anchoring it securely in the jaw. The healing process can take from six to 12 weeks. Once the implant has bonded to the jawbone, a small connector post — called an abutment — is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. To make the new tooth or teeth, your dentist makes impressions of your teeth, and creates a model of your bite (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). The new tooth or teeth is based on this model. A replacement tooth, called a crown, is then attached to the abutment. Instead of one or more individual crowns, some patients may have attachments placed on the implant that retain and support a removable denture. Your dentist also will match the color of the new teeth to your natural teeth. Because the implant is secured within the jawbone, the replacement teeth look, feel, and function just like your own natural teeth.

How painful are dental implants?

Most people who have received dental implants say that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. Local anesthesia can be used during the procedure, and most patients report that implants involve less pain than a tooth extraction. After the dental implant, mild soreness can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol or Motrin.

How do I care for dental implants?

Dental implants require the same care as real teeth, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.

Aare there any risks of the body rejecting dental implants?

The body completely accepts placement of dental implant material (like orthopedic materials which are similar) within bone; therefore, today’s dental implants meet with great success.  Obviously, there are some dental implants that have not been successful.  However, success has more to do with proper patient selection, proficiency of the practitioner, and the patient’s commitment to proper hygiene and preventive maintenance.  Another factor in success is regular follow-up care, just like other dental treatment.

How long does the whole dental implant process take?

The first phase of treatment, after a detailed evaluation and treatment plan, usually is the actual placement of the implants.  This procedure is generally done in the doctor’s office during one visit.  Most implants will remain covered, underneath the gums, for 3 to 6 months.

The second phase of the procedure is usually 3-6 months after implant placement.  At this time, the top of the implants will be uncovered from under the gums and a small metal post or extension will be attached to the implant(s).  Your periodontist or restorative dentist will make any necessary modifications to your temporary teeth to allow you to continue wearing them after post attachment.

In the third phase, which usually starts 2-6 weeks after the second phase, your new replacement teeth are created and fitted.  This phase involves a series of appointments to make impressions of your mouth and to “try-in” your replacement teeth at key steps in their fabrication. The third phase is usually completed within 4 to 8 weeks.  Total treatment time for most implant cases will usually be 5-8 months.  It could be longer if bone or gum procedures are needed.

Bridge

What is a dental bridge?

Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth. Unlike dentures that can be removed, dental bridges are permanently fixed  to your teeth and become part of your smile.

What does a dental bridge do?

Dental bridges are a solution for a wide range of mouth and teeth problems.

Dental bridges can help with:

  • Restoring your smile
  • Restoring your ability to properly chew, eat, and speak
  • Maintain the shape of your lips, and hence the shape of your face
  • Preventing the remaining teeth from shifting, i.e: moving out of position

Why should I replace missing teeth?

The appearance is one reason, but another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain is put on the teeth at either side. A gap can also affect your ‘bite’, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.

How are missing teeth replaced?

There are two main ways how to replace the missing teeth.

The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth – a partial denture.

The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.

Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?

Bridges are possible only if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide what is the best way to replace missing teeth.

What are bridges made of?

Bridges are usually made of porcelain bonded to precious metal. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base for strength. There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of strong porcelain.