FAQ

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. Click on a question below to see the answer.

Preventitive Care

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, but it also 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.

Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, but it also disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

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 (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gum line, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

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, many other things 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 into 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 a hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time 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 involve 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.

Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning. There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

What may cause bad breath?

  • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the bloodstream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
  • Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?

Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.

  • See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
  • Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

Restorative Dentistry

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease

  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
  • Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

How will I know if I need to have them removed?

After your dentist examines your wisdom teeth and evaluates your x-rays, he may recommend you have your wisdom teeth removed if:

  • Your mouth does not have enough space for more teeth.
  • They are impacted or are coming in at an odd angle that can damage the roots of neighboring teeth or destroy bone support around the teeth.
  • They are too far back to properly floss or brush.
  • They will interfere with braces or other orthodontics. Because it is a surgical procedure, your dentist at Westdale Dental will refer you to an oral surgeon for a wisdom tooth removal.

What will wisdom teeth surgery be like?
Wisdom tooth surgery should take 45 minutes. You will be given a local anesthetic, and most people are sedated for oral surgery, so you will not be fully conscious, and you won’t feel any pain. Some are given general anesthesia. If your surgeon needs to cut your gums or bone to get the teeth out, she or he will carefully stitch the wounds shut to enhance healing. The stitches should dissolve after a few days.
What should I do to prepare for surgery?
There isn’t much for you to do to prepare for a wisdom tooth removal. Care for your teeth as usual and make sure you have followed all instructions given to you by your oral surgeon. Stock up your fridge with plenty of soft food: yogurt, ice cream, puddings, etc. Due to the sedation, you will also need a ride from someone following the surgery, so plan for that by asking a friend or family member for help.
What can I do to recover quickly?

  1. After surgery, follow all instructions given to you by your oral surgeon.
  2. Keep your head elevated above your heart the rest of the day.
  3. Rest! Take a couple of days off work/school.
  4. Take over-the-counter pain medicine. Or, if you need more help, your dentist may prescribe enough prescription-strength pain medication for a couple of days.
  5. Drink plenty of liquids.
  6. Don’t smoke.
  7. Be sure not to drink through straws for 2 weeks.
  8. Don’t eat popcorn or nuts for 3 weeks.
  9. Eat soft foods for as long as you feel it is necessary.
  10. Continue to brush your teeth, carefully, avoiding the back of your mouth for about three days.

Crowns are a common restorative dentistry practice used to fix a broken or fractured tooth. Sometimes, a crown can replace the top part of the tooth if the bottom part of the tooth still has a solid root or if the tooth has had a root canal. A crown provides a good shape and size that can be essential to chewing food. It also protects the broken tooth structure and ensures a strong replacement.

Reasons for a Crown

  • Broken tooth.
  • Cracked tooth.
  • A tooth with a root canal.
  • A tooth that is weakened by a large filling.
  • Mal-positioned tooth.
  • Mal-formed or discolored tooth.
  • Crowns are less invasive, less time-consuming, and more affordable than dental implants. Sometimes, crowns are used to create dental bridges. For the purposes of this blog post, we are focusing on individual dental crowns.

Dentists typically have access to these types of dental crown materials:

  • Porcelain/Ceramic
  • Zirconia
  • Metal
  • Combination of materials
  • Porcelain/Ceramic is the most popular material for crowns. Porcelain is extremely durable and can last many years. It also looks like natural tooth material, which makes your smile look like it should.
I Chipped My Tooth, What Do I Do?

First things first, contact your dentist immediately. It is very important to see your dentist in a timely manner because neglecting a broken tooth can lead to future damage or decay.
If the tooth is sharp and uncomfortable, cover the jagged edge with a piece of wax paper. Make sure you avoid eating and biting down on the broken tooth. If you must eat, choose soft foods.

I Knocked My Tooth Completely Out, What Do I Do?
If you get your tooth knocked out completely, you need to react quickly and try to get to a dentist within 30 minutes of the tooth falling out. Make sure you look around and find the tooth quickly, and try to not pick it up by the root. If the tooth has dirt on it, rinse it very gently while avoiding scrubbing it. Do NOT dry it.
Instead, try to place the tooth back in the socket and close your mouth gently to hold it in place, or keep the tooth moist by placing the tooth in milk to preserve it. You can also place the tooth inside your cheek if need be. Acting swiftly and carefully after getting a tooth knocked out can help increase the chances of saving the tooth.

Treatment The treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on the severity. If you are only missing a small piece, the repair can usually be done in a simple office visit. Here are a few ways your tooth may be repaired:

Chipped Tooth If you chip your tooth and can find the missing piece, the dentist may be able to glue it back on.
Can’t find the missing fragment? Your dentist can use a tooth-colored filling material to build the tooth back up.
Chipped a tooth that is further back in your mouth, you may need to get a crown or filling.
If the tooth is badly damaged to the point of nerve damage, you may need a root canal.
For a minor chip, the dentist may just smooth it down.

Knocked Out If you get your tooth knocked out, your dentist will use a dental splint for two weeks to help keep it in place.
Place the tooth back into the socket yourself, your dentist will take X-rays to make sure it is inserted correctly.
If you preserve the knocked-out tooth in milk, the dentist will place the tooth back in before splinting it.
Unfortunately, if you can’t find the tooth after it’s been knocked out, you will need to talk to your dentist about your options, like dentures, bridges, or implants.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth. They are very durable and will not stain, making them a very popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile.

Veneers may be used to restore or correct the following dental conditions:

  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Unwanted or uneven spaces
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Slight tooth crowding
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Teeth that are too small or large

Insurance

Prevention and early intervention are always good investments. Waiting could result in more cost and more time. It is often less costly to pay in full for prevention and early intervention treatment than copayments for more complex treatments that are covered by insurance.

There are many tools available to pay for dental treatment. This includes dental plans, membership plans, cash, check, credit cards, Care Credit, etc.  Any combination of these can be used.  The first step is to make a treatment plan and then prioritize the plan. Find out what can wait.  Do what you can now.  Spreading out treatment plans can make the cost more manageable.

For your convenience, we offer a 10% discount for cash or check payments at the time of service, no interest financing through CareCredit, or major credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover) and debit cards.

Don’t wait. Schedule your appointment today!

Kids

Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will be, too. Getting your children to brush their teeth starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their first birthday, or 6 months after their first tooth pops in.