Common Dental FAQ

Why do I need X-Rays?

X-Rays are a necessary part of regular dental checkups. They give us vital information that we can’t get from any other source.

  • Find cavities between the teeth

  • See tartar on the roots

  • Find worn-out fillings and cavity under fillings

  • Locate receding bone levels from periodontal disease.

Why should I floss my teeth?

Most cavities and periodontal disease begin between the teeth. While brushing is important, the bristles of your brush simply don’t reach between teeth. You must remove the plaque between your teeth at least once a day. That’s why your dentist recommends dental floss. All floss work almost the same way. Wind about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving about five inches between your hands. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers and leave about one inch in between to work with. Gently guide the floss down between the teeth using a side to side motion. If your teeth are too tight to floss, or if it catches or tears, let your dentist know about it. These are problems that need to be fixed. If your gums are infected, they’ll bleed when you floss. That’s to be expected if you are just beginning to floss. After a week or so of regular flossing the bleeding should go away. See your dentist if it doesn’t.


What’s a cavity & how does it form?

Cavity is decay in the tooth. It is primarily caused by acids in mouth. Plaque is the sticky film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. It’s hard to see plaque without staining it. If you don’t remove the plaque every day, these bacteria produce acid that which eventually create a hole in your tooth. That is what a cavity is a small hole in the outer layer of your tooth.

Finding cavities is sometimes easy, but sometimes it is more difficult. For hard-to-find cavities, a dental explorer and X-rays are used. Cavities show up as dark spots. It’s far better to catch and restore decayed areas while they’re still small and in the enamel layer of the tooth. Once they’re in the softer dentin layer, they really grow quickly. If they make it to the pulp chamber, we have a whole new set of problems and a different treatment to discuss – root canal therapy.


What is a Root Canal?

The white outside portion of a tooth is called the enamel. Inside the enamel is another hard layer, the dentin. There’s a small chamber at the center of the dentin called the pulp chamber. Inside the pulp chamber is the tooth pulp, a soft tissue made up of nerves, arteries, and veins. The pulp extends from the pulp chamber all the way to the tip of the root, through a narrow channel called the root canal. When the nerve of a tooth becomes infected, root canal treatment can save the tooth. Germs causes infection in root canal and that builds up pus at the root tip. This can create a hole in the bone.
An infected tooth will never heal on its own, it only gets worse, and it will continue to be a source of infection that weakens your immune system. This can affect your entire body. This damage to the bone and the swelling inside the bone can also be excruciatingly painful, and even life-threatening. Years ago, an infected tooth would have to be extracted, but today, we can save your tooth with root canal treatment.


When do I need a crown?

Small cavities can be fixed with fillings because there is still plenty of healthy tooth structure. However that is not the case with large cavity. When there is a large cavity in the tooth or previously filled large cavity starts breaking they should be fixed by crown. Without a crown to strengthen it, the tooth can break. A crown strengthens a damaged tooth by covering and protecting it.


When do I need a bridge?

Like other things, teeth need each other for support. When one tooth is lost, the biting force changes on the teeth next to the space, and they begin to shift. When a tooth no longer has anything to chew against, it begins to extrude out of the socket. You can eventually end up losing the tooth. As your bite changes, it gets harder and harder to chew your food. This can cause damage to your jaw-joint the TMJ. It’s much harder to clean teeth that have shifted. Harmful plaque and tartar accumulate in these new hard-to-reach places, which can result in cavities, gum disease, and permanent bone loss. Like other bridges, a dental bridge uses abutments for support to hold it in place. Bridges are custom-crafted in a dental laboratory to precisely fit your teeth. A missing tooth really changes a person’s smile, but a bridge is a good way to get your smile back!


What are Periodontal (gum) diseases?

Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.

In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.

There are many forms of periodontal disease. The most common ones include the following:

Aggressive Periodontitis is a form of periodontitis that occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy. Common features include rapid attachment loss and bone destruction and familial aggregation.

Chronic Periodontitis is a form of periodontal disease resulting in inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth, progressive attachment and bone loss and is characterized by pocket formation and/or recession of the gingiva. It is recognized as the most frequently occurring form of periodontitis. It is prevalent in adults, but can occur at any age. Progression of attachment loss usually occurs slowly, but periods of rapid progression can occur.
Periodontitis as a Manifestation of Systemic Diseases, often with onset at a young age, associated with one of several systemic diseases, such as diabetes.

Necrotizing Periodontal Diseases is an infection characterized by necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions including, but not limited to, HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppressant.


What are the advantages of all porcelain crowns and bridges?

The crowns used to be made of porcelain and metal. But with the new technology available today, they can be made entirely of porcelain. To have enough strength to withstand biting forces, porcelain crowns used to always be built upon a metal core. The dark metal inside the porcelain/metal crown causes a dark blue line to show at the edge of the crown. All-porcelain crowns maintain a translucency that makes them hard to tell from natural teeth. Without metal, the problem of the dark blue line at the edge of the gums is eliminated. This allows your dentist to place the edge of the crown above the gum line, which is healthier for your tooth and gums. When you want to improve your smile, all-porcelain crowns are a beautiful and natural-looking choice.


How do I know if I have periodontal (gum) disease?

You may not realize that persistent swollen, red or bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, and bad breath are warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease — a serious infection that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.

Jot down your answers to the following questions to find out if you have the symptoms of periodontal disease.
Do you ever have pain in your mouth?
Do your gums ever bleed when you brush your teeth or when you eat hard food?
Have you noticed any spaces developing between your teeth?
Do your gums ever feel swollen or tender?
Have you noticed that your gums are receding (pulling back from your teeth) or your teeth appear longer than before?
Do you have persistent bad breath?
Have you noticed pus between your teeth and gums?
Have you noticed any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite?
Do you ever develop sores in your mouth?


What should I do in a dental emergency?

If a tooth is knocked out, it can still be saved. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently in running water but do not scrub as tissue may be attached. Try to place and keep the tooth in its socket or put the tooth in a cup of milk or cold water if milk is not available. Take your tooth and get to the dentist immediately. Try not to touch or hold the roots of the tooth. If a tooth is broken, clean the injured area with warm water. Use a cold compress on the area to decrease swelling and see the dentist right away. If you suspect the jaw may be broken, do not move the jaw. Cold compresses will help swelling. Emergency dental attention is absolutely necessary. When the tongue or lip is accidentally bitten and bleeding is present, direct pressure needs to be placed on the bleeding area, preferably with a clean cloth. A cold compress may be needed if there is swelling. If bleeding does not stop, a trip to your dentist or to the hospital may be needed.


What is deep cleaning?

The space between the tooth and gums (called the sulcus) increases when you have gum problems. When it becomes more than 3 mm, it is called pocket. Pockets are notorious hiding places for plaque and bacteria. It requires different tools and techniques to thoroughly remove the plaque between your teeth and gums. This is called deep cleaning.