Q. How often should I see a dentist?
A. The American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines recommend visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and professional cleaning. Our office also recommends a minimum of three visits per year.
Q. What should I expect during my appointment?
A. One of our staff members will compile your medical and dental history during your first visit. We will then examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, take X-rays of your teeth as needed and complete a TMJ (temporomandibular or jaw joint) exam. After we review your dental profile, we will discuss a diagnosis with you. If treatment such as a root canal (endodontics), braces (orthodontics) or oral surgery is needed, we will plan to treat you in our office or refer you to a specialist. We will discuss your options for treatment and fee payment and help you determine the best plan to fit your needs. During regular follow-up visits, we will examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, clean your teeth and make plans for treatment, as needed. We will discuss any pain or problems you may be experiencing and answer any questions you may have.
Q. Why must I have X-rays?
A. Many diseases of the oral cavity (which includes the teeth and surrounding tissues and bone) cannot be seen when the dentist examines your mouth. An x-ray exam helps us see the small areas of decay between the teeth and fillings; bone damage from a tooth infection or cyst; bone loss due to periodontal (gum) disease; developmental defects; some types of tumors; the effects of trauma; and the position on un-erupted teeth in children and adults. We are now able to offer our patients a new type of x-ray, the digital radiograph, which offers benefits beyond the traditional x-ray. A sensor placed next to the teeth sends signals to a computer which are translated into large, crisp, electronic pictures of your teeth, supporting bones, and gums. The pictures can be enlarged and colored for clarification and are stored in your file for future reference. Digital x-rays use 75-90% less radiation than conventional film x-rays and are more accurate. It is our policy that patients new to our dental practice have a full set of 18 x-rays taken at their first visit; if a recent set of good quality has been taken within two years is available from a former dentist, we are glad to use those. Although there is no law requiring X-rays for patients seeking a dental cleaning, a state regulation requires a dentist to conduct an oral exam before a cleaning. The exam must occur at least once every 13 months, and professional standards of dentistry include X-rays as part of the exam. We recommend a full series of x-rays every 3 years and bitewing checkup x-rays yearly. Here is a video for more information about digital x-rays:
Q. What does “painless dentistry” mean?
A. Painless dentistry is a means of ensuring your total experience in our office is as stress-free and pain-free as possible. We will discuss treatment options that may require no local anesthetic and whenever possible, alleviate pain by the means most comfortable to you.
Q. What if I have an emergency?
A. Please call our office as soon as you determine that you have a dental emergency. We will be glad to work you in to our schedule if you have a dental emergency during regular business hours. If you are a patient of record and have an emergency after hours, over the weekend or during holidays, please call our office for the doctor’s emergency contact number.
Q. Are payment plans available for my dental treatment?
A. Yes. We offer in-house financing through Care Credit
to make cosmetic and restorative dentistry affordable for all our patients who desire it. We also accept most major credit cards.
Q. Do you accept assignment from my insurance company?
A. Our office is committed to helping you maximize your insurance benefits. Because insurance policies vary greatly, as well as the complexities of insurance contracts, we cannot in good faith guarantee coverage. We ask that your entire dental bill be paid at the time of service. As a courtesy to our patients, we will submit your claim electronically to speed your direct reimbursement.
Q. Can the dentist whiten my teeth?
A. There are several methods available for bleaching the teeth: in-office, overnight or daily. One session of in-office bleaching generally lasts one and a half to two hours, and you can read or relax during the treatment. For overnight bleaching, we make an impression of your teeth and create a mouthguard that fits your bite. Each day you fill the mouthguard with a small amount of bleaching gel and wear it overnight or for a few hours during the day. The overnight bleaching process takes approximately two weeks.
Other over-the-counter daily bleaching products are available, but it is important to use any bleaching product only under the supervision of a dentist. To achieve the whitening results you desire, the ADA recommends that you seek the professional advice of a dentist, including examination and diagnosis of the cause of tooth discoloration, before you begin any bleaching program.
Q. What if I have a gap in my teeth, a chipped tooth or teeth that do not respond to normal bleaching methods?
A. We have many different procedures that can help these problems. Porcelain veneers are designed to look like your natural teeth and are individually attached to the fronts of your existing teeth. Veneers can be positioned to close gaps. Bonding utilizes a composite material made of plastic to fill in areas of your teeth and correct chipping and shape problems. Both porcelain veneers and bonding are color-matched to the rest of your teeth.