FAQ

Some dental diseases are not painful but can do some serious damage to your overall health.

1- Q: What causes tooth decay?

2- Q: My dentist told me that I have periodontal disease (gum disease). What is that?

3- Q: How do I know if I need braces?

4- Q: Are metal braces the only alternative?

5- Q: What are dental implants?

6- Q: I have always wanted white teeth. What are my options?

7- Q: What are porcelain veneers?

1- Q: What causes tooth decay?

A: Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that form colonies in what is called plaque and biofilm. This plaque and biofilm can be removed by brushing and flossing. However, if not removed, decay can occur. There are specific types of bacteria that cause tooth decay. The bacteria consume carbohydrates (sugars) when we eat. Their waste product is acid, which starts to break down the enamel. Enamel is a very tough protective layer on our teeth. Once this armor is breached, decay can progress very rapidly. There are many factors that increase a person’s risk for tooth decay. These include genetics, the molecular structure of the enamel and dentin, salivary flow, the type and number of bacteria present in the mouth, oral hygiene, diet, and condition of previous restorations in the mouth.Top

2- Q: My dentist told me that I have periodontal disease (gum disease). What is that?

A: Gum disease is a very general term that includes many different diseases. We’ll focus on the two major types; gingivitis, and periodontitis. Gum disease is caused by specific types of bacteria. Some of the risk factors include genetics, oral hygiene, pregnancy, smoking, and diabetes. Gingivitis is limited to the gums. Periodontitis affects the gums and bone that surrounds the teeth. In both types of diseases, the patient may notice bad breath and bleeding gums. In periodontitis, the patient will also lose bone around the teeth which may ultimately lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis has also been linked to increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and premature births in pregnant mothers.Top

3- Q: How do I know if I need braces?

A: Braces are used to correct problems with the position of teeth. Patients with crowded teeth, spaces between their teeth, or with teeth that do not fit together properly may benefit from braces or other types of orthodontic treatment. One of the main reasons people seek orthodontic treatment is to improve the appearance of their smiles. Another great reason is that straight teeth allow better oral hygiene and could prevent some decay and gum disease.Top

4- Q: Are metal braces the only alternative?

A: No. The metal brackets that are attached to the teeth during orthodontic treatment are still the most widely used. However, today we have tooth colored brackets that can be used for a more natural appearance. Certain patients can also be treated with Invisalign. Because Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners to position and straighten teeth, they’re virtually invisible.Top

5- Q: What are dental implants?

A: Interestingly, dental implants have been performed for thousands of years. Egyptian mummies have been found with gold wire implants in the jawbones. Modern implantology began in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. However, popularity really grew in the 1980’s with the increased success of the titanium implant. Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. The implant is placed where the root of the tooth used to be. The implant over a period of a few months becomes integrated in the jaw bone. At that point the final restoration can be made. The final restoration can be a single crown to replace one tooth, multiple crowns or a bridge to replace several teeth, or even a complete removable denture that would clip onto the implants for retention and stability of the denture. The implant surgery does not require general anesthetic. Local anesthetic is used to numb up the area, the implant is placed, and the patient is expected to return to work the next day.Top

6- Q: I have always wanted white teeth. What are my options?

A: With today’s modern materials and techniques anyone can have beautiful white teeth. Teeth whitening is a very popular option. There are many types of whitening systems available. The effectiveness of whitening depends on the type and concentration of whitening solution that is applied to the teeth and the length of time that the solution remains in contact with the teeth. Over the counter whitening systems are often low concentration or don’t contact the teeth well enough for predictable results. Your dentist can make impressions of your teeth that would be used to fabricate precisely fitted whitening trays. This ensures that the whitening solution applied to the teeth gets where it needs to and stays there to whiten the teeth. The whitening solutions available to dental offices is highly concentrated and should only be used with custom made trays and under your dentist’s supervision. You should have a thorough examination before any whitening is attempted to treat any tooth decay or gum disease.

Every individual has a limit to how much their teeth will whiten. Some stains are very difficult or impossible to remove completely. Whitening touch ups are usually needed every 6-12 months to maintain the results. In cases with heavy staining porcelain veneers maybe a good option following whitening.Top

7- Q: What are porcelain veneers?

A: Think of porcelain veneers like contact lenses for your teeth. They are thin porcelain laminates that are custom made for each individual tooth and then bonded in place. They are used to permanently whiten teeth, correct minor crowding and spacing, and correct misshapen teeth. The teeth are first reshaped slightly, an impression is made and sent to the lab, and temporary veneers are placed for a period of a few weeks. When ready the final veneers are tried on and bonded in place. Once bonded in place veneers are very durable. Your dentist may recommend that you wear a night guard while you sleep to protect your veneers if there’s evidence of previous wear on your natural teeth or you have a history of chipped teeth. With good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, veneers should be at no higher risk for decay or fracture than natural teeth.Top