FAQs

FAQs

Adult Patients

The unfortunate fact about dental disease is that it typically presents without symptoms. Dental decay (cavities), cracked teeth, periodontal/gum disease, erosion, wear, and even abscesses are all conditions that may present without symptoms. If these conditions go untreated they can cause irreversible damage. The key is to catch problems early. Small problems tend to be less costly and take less time to fix.

Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate a dental problem.

  • Your teeth are sensitive to cold and/or heat
  • Your teeth hurt upon biting or chewing
  • Your gums are tender and/or bleed when you brush or floss
  • You experience persistent bad breath or have a bad taste in your mouth
  • You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
  • You have difficulty chewing or swallowing

There are many factors that influence disease risk. Certain lifestyle factors such as poor diet, tobacco usage, and alcohol consumption can greatly increase your risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. Genetics and overall health also play an important role. If you have a family history of gum disease, tooth decay or cancer, it’s important that you routinely see your dentist. We recommend twice a year check-ups.

Yes. As mentioned before, most dental-related problems don’t have any obvious symptoms. This makes it really hard to get an accurate assessment based off symptoms alone. The best option is to establish routine care with a dental provider so that they can fully assess your oral health and inform you of any problems developing.

Most dentists recommend a dental visit twice a year, or every 6 months. However, this can vary based on individual needs. If you have great oral health (no history of cavities or bone loss) then you may only need to see your dentist once per year. On the other hand, if you have many filings and/or active gum disease you’ll likely need to see your dentist more often.

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria are exposed to sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the tooth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the tooth, which we call cavities. In the early stages, cavities are typically not painful. However, if gone untreated cavities can progress, causing infection and abscess.

There is very little risk in dental X-rays due to advances in technology. Everyone in our office is especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which our patients are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. Digital x-ray sensors have drastically reduced the amount of radiation exposure. The radiation exposure for our most commonly taken films (periapicals, bitewings, and pantomographs) has been found to be less than the daily radiation exposure from our natural environment.

Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral that both helps prevent cavities from starting and once started, can prevent them from getting bigger. An application of fluoride varnish at 6-month cleanings can prevent a small cavity from growing into a large cavity. A small cavity doesn’t require a filling, but when the cavity reaches a certain size, a filling is often needed. The cost-benefit analysis of fluoride has been proven throughout the research. If we can prevent you or your child from needing a filling, we can save you time and money.

If you’ve been told you have an infected tooth, it is very important to have it treated as soon as possible. An infected tooth is often considered a ticking time bomb: we don’t know when it’s going to start causing you problems, but it is inevitable that it will. You may develop intense pain, pressure, facial swelling, or abscess if you wait. An infected tooth is a dental problem that can quickly progress into a very serious medical problem that may require more drastic and costly treatment.

Parents & Children

Depending on your daughter or son’s age, the first visit may vary. In general we try to keep the first visit short and simple. We want to focus on getting to know your child as well as giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will examine your child’s teeth for placement and health, and will look for any potential problems. We will likely do a brief cleaning and apply a protective fluoride varnish on the teeth. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for you child’s teeth as they develop.

  • Children between ages 1 and 3 are typically scheduled for what we call an infant/toddler exam. We will brush their teeth, do an examination, and put on a fluoride varnish. The examination allows us to see if their are any early signs of tooth decay, which usually present as white spots. The whole process takes only a few minutes and includes having mom and/or dad in the treatment room. Our main goal is to see that everything is going well and to answer any questions mom and dad may have. We’ll talk about tooth brushing techniques and appropriate products to use.
  • Children ages 3 to 6 are more tolerant of longer appointments. In these appointments we get your little one used to sitting in the dental chair and getting their teeth cleaned. We may get x-rays if the tooth position doesn’t allow us to see between the teeth. The whole appointment should last about 20 minutes.
  • Children over age 6 typically do well sitting through a cleaning and examination. They tend to be more independent and less reliant on their parents for tooth brushing. For this reason, we may spend more time talking with and educating your child on their brushing technique. However, it is important to understand that most children do not develop the coordination to properly brush their teeth until age 9 or 10. For this reason parental involvement with brushing and flossing is still encouraged. It’s also important at this age to take a pantomograph, which is an x-ray image of the entire dentition on a single film. This allows the doctor to visualize the entire dentition(both baby teeth and developing adult teeth) to aid in the discovery of developmental issues such as missing teeth, or clinically undetectable growths.

Although it is relatively unlikely for a 1 year old to have a cavity, it does happen. Our main goal at the first visit is to recognize early signs of decay so that we can offer suggestions on how to prevent it from progressing. This may include certain techniques, product usage, or diet modification. We also want to help the parents understand what to expect as their child grows and develops. For example, irritability and excessive drooling are common signs of teething and are typically not something you should be worrying about.

Find out more about your child’s development at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/eruption-charts

It is true that baby teeth will eventually fall out. All baby teeth have an average lifespan and will exfoliate as the permanent teeth start to erupt. Even though baby teeth are only temporary, they do serve an important role in your child’s development. Chewing ability, speech, and alignment of the permanent teeth are all affected by early loss of baby teeth. For that reason we like to keep baby teeth until their matching permanent teeth are ready to erupt.

As dentists we want to have a complete understanding of what’s going on. A thorough clinical exam gives us only some of the necessary information. X-rays allow us to see what our eyes cannot, and gives us the ability to detect problems sooner. For children this means discovering cavities between the teeth, and whether or not the permanent teeth are developing correctly. Having all of the information allows us to offer early intervention, as well as provide you with peace of mind knowing your child’s dental health is on track.

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Dentists who routinely see children are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. Digital sensors have drastically reduced the amount of radiation exposure.

Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral that both helps prevent cavities from starting and once started, can prevent them from getting bigger. An application of fluoride varnish at 6-month cleanings can prevent a small cavity from growing into a large cavity. A small cavity doesn’t require a filling, but when the cavity reaches a certain size, a filling is often needed. The cost-benefit analysis of fluoride has been proven throughout the research. If we can prevent you or your child from needing a filling, we can save you time and money.

The best preparation for your child’s first dental visit is to maintain a positive attitude about the upcoming experience. Children are great at detecting an adult’s apprehensions, and if they hear negative comments about going to the dentist, that child will likely dread the upcoming visit and act accordingly. Try to remain positive and talk about the importance of going to the dentist and how he/she will help keep their teeth strong. Another great tip is to show them pictures on the dental office website: creating familiarity is important and helps reduce certain fears.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a checkup every six months in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, we may recommend a more or less frequent recall schedule based on their personal oral health.

Although baby teeth don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s baby teeth do play an important role in his/her development. The primary teeth help your child speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to come in. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to trauma or decay) nearby teeth may move into that space. This can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. There’s also the potential for baby teeth to become infected, which if gone untreated can abscess and damage adult teeth.

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean their gums after feedings with a soft, moist washcloth. As soon as their first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. Most local drugstores will have toothbrushes designed for infants.

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean their gums after feedings with a soft, moist washcloth. As soon as their first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. Most local drugstores will have toothbrushes designed for infants.

Once your child’s first tooth appears, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. A child’s first tooth becomes visible in the mouth around the age of 6 months. AAP recommends using a smear (or roughly the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste for children from tooth eruption through age 2, and families should increase this to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 3-6. You should brush your child’s teeth for them until they are ready to take on that responsibility themselves, which usually occurs by age 9 or 10. Every child is a little different in this regard.

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria are exposed to sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities. In the early stages, cavities are typically not painful. However, if gone untreated cavities can progress, causing infection and abscess.

Be sure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride containing toothpaste. Daily flossing is also important, because the floss can reach spots between the teeth that the toothbrush bristles cannot. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain an overall healthy diet. And lastly, schedule regular dental appointments, so that your dentists can check the health of your child’s teeth. Cavities are easy to treat when they’re small.

Sealants cover the cracks and grooves in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore more susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for back teeth, which are the hardest to reach and to keep clean.

Many children’s sports involve physical contact. We recommend mouth guards for children active in any contact sports. If your little one plays football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouth guard made to protect his/her teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

Many children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If thumb or finger sucking continues after permanent teeth erupt, let us know as thumb sucking over time can cause teeth to shift and move out of place.

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