Dental FAQs

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     Some Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why is it necessary to have 2 to 4 cleanings a year?

The bacteria in the mouth is also proven to be associated with proven to be associated with heart diseasE, sTROKe  and diabetes

There are many illnesses associated and linked with "gum" disease like Osteoporsis, PREGNANCY & Hormones and RESPIRATORY DISEASES. (Click on the above links to read articles about the issues).

Keeping your teeth clean through good hygiene habits and home, AND through regular dental cleanings benefits your entire body and not just your mouth.

For those people who do have periodontal disease (it is estimated that 80% of adults have some type of periodontal disease) the recommendation is to have cleaning every 3 to 4 months.



Q: What is the real difference between "silver" fillings and "white" fillings?

A: Studies on "silver" vs. "white" fillings differ depending on what report is referenced.  In 1993, the U.S. Public Health Service did issue a report stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings).  More dentists and patients are preferring composite (white fillings) as the subject becomes more widely discussed. Our office places composite fillings for several reasons. One of main reasons is that they create a stronger bond to the tooth, where amalgam fillings stay in the prepped tooth by expanding tightly against the tooth. The bond created by the composite material actually helps strengthen a tooth that is weakened by decay.

     Amalgam (silver) fillings         

                                                          Composite (white) fillings



Q: Why does my dentist say I have to have a crown when a filling is less expensive?

A: That is a great question! Sometimes the damage to the tooth is too great to try to restore it with a filling.  Some of the instances that require crown treatment are:

1) If a tooth has an existing very large filling that breaks and/or has re-decay around it, the chances are that a crown is the prescribed treatment. To try to place a filling is very risky, as the damaged tooth may not even "hold" a filling. Even if the filling can be placed initially, the chances of the filling falling out and/or the tooth breaking is an increased risk of failure.

2) Also, if a tooth has a large area of decay in it, again, the chances are that a crown is the prescribed treatment. Anytime there is a significant amount of tooth structure gone from damage, there is need of a crown.

3) If a tooth is cracked and/or broken, c crown is normally the only option for restoring the tooth. A cracked tooth is generally diagnosed by the patient coming into the office with pain on biting, and sometimes continual pain. The crown creates a "cap" over the entire structure which preserves the tooth and most often keeps the tooth from further damage. 

4)Which brings us to the difference between the terms "crown" and "cap".  "Crown" is the proper term. "Cap" is the lay term that many patients use.


               Crown Process 



Q: What is the benefit of having a mouthguard / nightguard made?

A: There is a great benefit to having a mouthguard / nightguard made.  We are seeing more and more broken teeth in dentistry. Because stress levels are ever increasing in our society, the tendency is bruxism (the act of clenching and grinding teeth). While people can brux at any time, they tend to do so more at night.  The human being can exert up to 600 pound of pressure per square inch on the teeth when bruxing. When the teeth have a "buffer" between them, the subconscious reaction is to relax the bite. Be sure to ask about this type of appliance if you are having symptoms such as sore teeth and/or jaws when you wake up, if your spouse or partner complains of you grinding your teeth in your sleep, if your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) hurts, you have trouble opening or closing your mouth, you have ringing in the ears, you have constant headaches, you are chipping your teeth, and any other symptom that you may feel is originating from bruxism. Take a look at this figure that shows all of the many muscles involved in opening and closing the mouth:


The Amazing, Complex TMJ....



Q: What are the current studies on bleaching / teeth whitening showing?

A: There is exciting new information coming from bleaching studies!! Dr. Van B. Haywood is considered one of the top authorities in bleaching: bleaching methods, products, timelines, and new concepts and experiments!

According to Dr. Haywood, the best method of bleaching is using bleach trays during the night, or even overnight. The best product is a prescription carbamide peroxide. Dr. Haywood's studies show that the in-office light bleaching (1 hour) methods do not offer the superior results as tray bleaching. When light bleaching is performed, the teeth are completely isolated from saliva in the mouth, and thoroughly dried. The fact here is that teeth are several shades lighter when they are not hydrated (wet).  So within a few hours after light bleaching, the teeth are immediately several shades darker again.  Additionally, light treatments are frequently very painful due to excessive sensitivity to the process. Dr. Haywood does say that for a person who want immediate results (for weddings and proms at last minute planning) the light technique will achieve lighter teeth with one or two treatments.  But that is where the benefit of this technique ends.

Experimentation proves that a person can achieve lighter teeth over time with tray use.  Not only are the results better, but the teeth stay lighter longer AND the result is achieved at a fraction of the cost compared to light bleaching.  There is also typically less sensitivity with tray bleaching.

THIS is only the primary benefit of tray bleaching if studies continue to point positively in the direction the research is going!

Although studies are ongoing and dentists and suppliers cannot sell bleaching based on preliminary trials, there is exciting new information being studied in relation to tray bleaching.

Preliminary studies are showing that tray bleaching raises the ph in the mouth to 6 and over.  The belief is that at ph 6 and over, it is not possible for cavities to form.  Nursing home studies are proving that use of night bleaching helps "burn" plaque and bacteria off of the teeth, significantly helping those who are not able to thoroughly brush and keep teeth clean avoid caries.

Click here for Dr. Haywood's website

Click here to Read Dr. Haywood's articleS and Reasearch

Click here to see Dr. Haywood Before and After Pictures 

Before                        After 

If you find that you are interested in bleaching, please let us know!



Q: Is Fluoride really important?

A: According to a report (linked to "Fluoride" in the above question) by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors Fluorides Committee and published in September of 2007: Title: "Fluoride Varnish: an Evidence-Based Approach Research Brief" says, "The American Dental Association (ADA) defines the term 'evidence-based dentistry' as an approach to oral health care that requires careful integration of systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence related to the patient's oral and medical history, the dental professional’s expertise, and the patient’s needs and preferences. (ADA, 2003) The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) review of evidence-based health care found that, despite benefits from rapid growth in medical research and increasing expenditures for health care in the United States, far too much time is spent on health care activities that do not improve health, and not enough time is spent on healthcare activities that will. (Olson, Aisner, McGinnis, 2007) The use of fluoride varnish to prevent and control dental caries in children and adults is expanding in both public and private dental practice settings and in non-dental settings that incorporate health risk assessments and counseling. These settings include Head Start programs and Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); medical offices; well-child clinics and home visits conducted by public health nurses; childcare programs; and other, sometimes overlapping, community programs. Outcome evaluations will be critical for developing optimal protocols and evaluating the cost-effectiveness of this new prevention strategy in various public health settings, especially when coordination of services is complex."

We are very excited to be using fluoride varnish on a daily basis, and witnessing results that are positive! Studies show that fluoride varnish has a 77% effective rate, as opposed to a 33% effective rate for the passé in-office fluoride tray gels and mouthwash treatments.

Additionally, over-the-counter fluorides do not hold a candle to prescription and in-office treatments. The prescription fluorides are suspended in glycerol bases, and do not break-down as quickly as water-based products. Over-the-counter fluorides are water suspension products. This means that as soon as toothpastes, mouth rinses, etc., that are purchased over-the counter, the fluoride immediately begins to break-down - rapidly. The products are mixed and packaged, then shipped to warehouses, then shipped to stores (sometimes months later) and have been losing effectiveness as soon as they are made. The reality is that when you purchase products over-the-counter there is very little fluoride benefit left in the products by the time you begin using it.

Make sure to ask about the value of prescription toothpastes and rinses. They are not very expensive, and can save $$ on future dental care later on.



Q: What is an implant?

A: A dental implant creates an artificial tooth root, placed by a periodontist or oral surgeon into the bone of the jaw.  Your regular dentist can then make a crown to fit onto the "root". This is an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason. Additionally, implants are used to help "anchor" dentures where there is not enough bone in the mouth to hold the denture steady.  Dental implants are high-tech, and can replace teeth where a conventional bridge will not work. The implants are natural looking and feeling. Long-term studies continue to show improving success rates for implants.

Before dental implant 

Before dental implant

After dental implant 

After dental implant

Q: Who is a good candidate for dental implants?

A: Patients must have good general and oral health. The existing bone in the jaw must be healthy, with good oral health  and hygiene habits.  Smokers are generally not good candidates for implants.

Q: What is implant treatment like?

A: Implants involve a team effort between you, the implant specialist, and your general dentist.  The specialist and your general dentist will most certainly consult with each other over the course of the treatment. The first thing that normally happens is a consultation with the specialist, and then a complete work-up of the anticipated case, with study models and case studies. The specialist will set an appointment date for the surgery. Sometimes it is necessary to have bone grafts placed in separate appointments. After placement of the implant, you will be referred back to your general dentist for impressions and placement of the crown restoration.

Q: What can I expect from post-treatment?

A: Just like your "real" teeth, implant therapy requires routine home care and regular dental visits. Brushing and flossing still apply!! (Many times, if home health and regular cleaning routines are followed, implants are not needed if they are due to periodontal disease). Your specialist and general dentist will continue to monitor the implant, and follow-up appointments are required.

Q: Does insurance pay for implants?

A: More and more insurances are paying implants as a "major service".  As with other major services, insurance normally pays 50% of the cost.  You can call you insurance provider to get exact amounts allowed the individual plan on implant services.



Q: Is there a difference between a "bridge" and a "partial"?

A: Bridges and partials (partial dentures) are both designed to replace missing teeth.

The bridge is an appliance that is permanently attached to abutments (teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth).  Bridges can also be placed on implants.

A partial denture is a removable appliance that attaches by clasps to existing teeth. It is designed to be easily removed by the patient.

 Bridges are the closest to natural teeth, and after they are cemented into the mouth, the patient often forgets that they are there.  Partial dentures tend to be harder for patients to get used to, and often patients wear them "in their pockets" rather than using them consistently in the mouth.  Reasons for choosing a partial denture over the bridge are

1) The patient does not have sufficient existing teeth to use as         abutments or

2) Cost. Although the bridge is more costly, in the long-run a bridge is the treatment of choice when usefulness and ability to wear them far outweighs the partial denture.

Dental Bridge        

                                              Dental Partial



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(Top Photo by Rhonda)   © 2016 HardyDDS. All rights reserved.