Dental Frequently Asked Questions:

 

What should I do to care for my baby's teeth?

Caring for your baby's teeth starts as soon as they erupt into the mouth.  It is important to start brushing them every morning and every night.  For children younger than 3, you can use a fluoridated toothpaste but in the size of a grain of rice, and encourage spitting as soon as it is age appropriate.  You should never put a child to bed with a bottle, this can cause extensive tooth decay.  After their last bottle before bed, it is important that you brush their teeth.  If they are still eating in the middle of the night, clean their teeth before laying them down.  This can be accomplished by brushing or taking a wet washcloth and wiping off their teeth before placing them back in bed.  Please feel free to contact Dr. Heidi with any other questions you have about your child's teeth.

 

What can I do about my sensitive teeth?

Many patients suffer from sensitive teeth.  There are many causes of sensitive teeth.  Some of the common possible causes are:

  • cavities

  • gum disease

  • fractured teeth

  • Exposed root caused by recession

 

Some of the treatments that may be suggested by your dentist are:

  • fillings

  • bonding to cover areas of recession

  • crowns to repair fractured teeth

  • Root canal treatment to repair very deep decay or fractures that are affecting the nerve

  • fluoride or desensitizing toothpaste, prescription and/or over-the-counter

  • professionally applied fluoride varnish

 

What are my options with dentures?

There are several options when considering denture.  There is the conventional denture which is created after the teeth are removed and placed several months after the bone has had some time to heal.  There are immediate dentures that are fabricated before the teeth are removed and then placed at the time of removal, so that the patient never has to be without teeth.  When using this method, the dentures will need several soft relines and a final hard reline because the bone is constantly remodeling in the beginning and the reline allows for a good fit in between.  The third option is usually for the lower arch.  It is an implant supported denture, which is held in place and locks onto usually two implants.  This makes the process more expensive but it also makes the lower denture tolerable and stay in place.  The upper arch however does not usually need this process 

 
What is a root canal and do they hurt?

Root canal treatment is needed when the nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth become infected.  During a root canal, the dentist will access the nerve through the top of the tooth and proceed to remove that diseased tissue.  They will clean all the internal areas of the tooth and fill it and seal it back up so that it cannot become reinfected. 

Several things can cause a tooth to become infected:

  • a deep cavity

  • repeated dental procedures

  • a crack in the tooth or a broke tooth

  • trauma to a tooth

Regular checkups allow us to evaluate the teeth for cavities and not allow them to get to this point. If necessary though, a root canal is a simple procedure with only minimal discomfort during and after the procedure.   Root canals get a bad rap, it is usually the discomfort that causes you to come into the dentist that gives them the bad rap and not the procedure itself. They can usually be completed in one-three visits.  If indicated, it can save your tooth and your smile.

Wisdom teeth:

As we age, we gain wisdom and also our third molars, better known as wisdom teeth!   Originally, wisdom teeth earned their name because they erupt at a mature age: between ages 17 to 21.


 When your wisdom teeth begin to erupt, it is normal to feel some discomfort, however if you are experiencing pain, don't hesitate to call our office for an examination @ 614-882-2249. 

 

What does it mean if my wisdom teeth are "impacted"? 

When wisdom teeth are impacted it means they have not erupted and are still under your gums. Wisdom teeth can cause issues if there is not enough room for them or they come through in the incorrect position. As your wisdom teeth begin to erupt, your dentist will be supervising your mouth for the following: 

  • Since wisdom teeth are so far back- they are very susceptible to cavities. 

  • Wisdom teeth positioning can affect your ability to properly floss. 

  • Wisdom teeth that have only partially erupted can lead to swelling, pain and stiffness in your jaw.

  • If you do not have enough room for your wisdom teeth they can cause crowding or possible damage to your adjacent molars. 

  • If a wisdom tooth is impacted it can cause a cyst on the impacted tooth.  This could damage the roots of neighboring teeth or injure your jaw bone.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 

Reasons to remove wisdom teeth: 

It's important to understand that each person's mouth is different, but overall, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of  risks such as:

  • Pain

  • Infection

  • Cysts

  • Tumors

  • Damage to adjacent teeth

  • Gum disease

  • Cavities (if it is not possible to restore)

  • Orthodontics (Braces)

 

Before making any decisions, Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi will need a panoramic x-ray.  This image goes all the way around your head to determine the condition of your jaw bone, joint and position of your wisdom teeth.  Together, you and Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi can coordinate the most beneficial treatment plan for your health.

Reasons to keep wisdom teeth: 
If wisdom teeth are not removed, it is important to schedule regular dental cleanings so Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi can monitor your dental health. Continue to brush and floss around your wisdom teeth thoroughly because as people age they are at higher risk for health issues, including problems with their wisdom teeth. 

Is thumb-sucking bad for my child's teeth and when do they have to quit?

Thumb-sucking is a natural response children have to comfort themselves, discover and learn about the world or to help them fall asleep.  Once permanent teeth come in, thumb-sucking can affect the growth of the mouth, including the roof of the mouth and the position of the teeth.

Pacifiers are similar to sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break.

The intensity of the sucking is what determines whether or not dental problems may result. If children's thumb-sucking intensity is more gentle, they are less likely to have difficulty compared to those who firmly suck their thumbs. 

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking between the ages of 2 to 4 years old, or once their front permanent teeth are ready to come in.  

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumb-sucking?
  • Positive reinforcement: praise your child for not thumb-sucking.

  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling anxious or experiencing the need to be soothed.   It's important to address why your child is feeling this way? (environment, relationships, anxiety- consult your pediatrician for recommendations) 

  • If your child is older, get them involved with choosing the way to break the habit. 

  • Have Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi explain to your child how thumb-sucking affects their teeth. 

  • Bandage the thumb or place a sock on your child's hand at night.

  • Your dentist or your pediatrician may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb. 

What is gum disease?  How is it treated?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is infection in the pocket of your gums and is a major reason adults lose teeth.  Many people do not know they have gum disease because in general, it is painless. The cause of gum disease is plaque: the sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth.

These are the symptoms of periodontal disease:

  • gum bleeding

  • red, puffy, tender gums

  • gums recession

  • bad breath 

  • loose permanent teeth

  • change in bite

  • change in fit of your denture or partial

 

The factors that increase your changes of periodontal disease are:

  • neglecting your oral hygiene

  • smoking or chewing tobacco

  • family genetics

  • crowded teeth that are hard to keep clean 

  • pregnancy 

  • diabetes 

  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

 

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, puffy and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing, a fluoride toothpaste and having a professional dental cleaning.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. It can lead to the loss of gums and bone that support the teeth and the severity can increase over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and become mobile. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can happen at any time. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression depending on your life circumstances.

Aggressive periodontitis is a highly damaging form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy (a possible factor in this case is genetics). Common features include increased loss of tissue and bone and may occur in your entire mouth.

While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with conditions such as diabetes or stroke.  It is possible to have gum disease and have no pain. Proper dental care at home is vital to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to take charge of your dental health. 

Do I need to pre-medicate prior to my dental visit?

Pre-medication, also known as Antibiotic Prophylaxis, is when a patient takes antibiotics prior to a dental visit. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth and a number of dental procedures such as, extractions, root canals or a deep cleaning, can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream. 

Prior to 2012, the American Dental Association and American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons required pre-medication for those with heart problems or orthopedic joint replacements, even though there was not scientific evidence to back up these guidelines. In January 2015, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs published a new standard, which continued to discourage pre-medicating with antibiotics. The guidelines are re-evaluated frequently to stay current with scientific data. 

Who does pre-medicating help?

Patients with weak immune systems (including those with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, chemotherapy, and chronic steroid use), may require pre-medication.  It is always best to discuss with your dentist and physician about whether pre-medicating before dental visits is best for you and your health. 

What are dental sealants? 

A sealant is a protective, plastic-like coating that adheres to the chewing surface of your molars or premolars. 
Since molars and premolars have fissures (grooves), children and teenagers are the best candidates for sealants to prevent future decay. However, adults without prior dental can have sealants placed in their molars as well.  It's important to regularly schedule dental cleanings to determine if you are in need of sealants. 

 

How are sealants placed? 

Sealants are quick and easy! The first step is placing etch (an acidic cleansing gel) to clean the tooth surface.  After a few seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth before applying the sealant onto your tooth. Your dentist will then use a blue curing light to harden the sealant. 

Pinhole Surgical Technique: 

Pinhole Surgical Technique is a gingival grafting procedure to treat gum recession.  It is scalpel-free and suture-free treatment.  Previously, gum grafting involved a painful procedure which included removing a tissue graft from the roof of the mouth to treat recession.  Pinhole Surgical Technique allows Dr. Heidi to move the existing gums up to cover the recession, reduce sensitivity and improve aesthetics.  This technique is successful if the gums are healthy and there is no gum disease prior to surgery.  If you have questions or are interested in scheduling a consultation, feel free to call 614-882-2249.