Frequently Asked Questions

Read questions that are typical of dental patients.  You may find the answer you were looking for.

Why do I need to floss my teeth?

Dental floss is able to reach areas between your teeth and below the gum line where the bristles of your toothbrush cannot. These are areas where bacteria exist which cause odor, inflammation, and bone loss. You should floss once a day along with brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day. In some people, other products that reach between the teeth (like a Waterpik) may actually be more effective than flossing. Check out these tips on how to properly floss your teeth.

What causes cavities?

Cavities are damage to the surface of the tooth caused by acids, which can come from certain bacteria or from foods and drinks that we consume. Sugar is a food source for these bacteria, which then produce acid. Proper home care is necessary to prevent decay, as is avoiding acidic and sugary foods and drinks (some candies and gums, citrus fruits, diet and regular soda, energy drinks, “sports” drinks, fruit juices, etc.). These types of products can be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation by most people, but care should be taken to clean the mouth after consumption. A dry mouth, caused by a variety of factors including many medications, can also be a risk factor for developing cavities.

How do you get rid of yellow teeth?

Do I need to use a mouth rinse?

Unless there is a specific therapeutic reason for a rinse (odor, surgery, dry mouth, high rate of decay), rinses are usually not beneficial. Many rinses are actually acidic and/or alcohol-containing, which can actually be detrimental to oral health.

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by cavities, an acidic oral environment (due to certain foods and drinks or a dry mouth), clenching or grinding the teeth, loss of enamel, exposed root surface, use of whitening or tartar control toothpaste, orthodontic tooth movement, and other causes.

How much do dental implants cost?

The cost of dental implants varies depending on the patient's condition and the amount of work needed to replace lost teeth. Schedule a consultation or contact our office to receive an accurate estimate based on your needs.

Why should I visit the dentist if I’m considering taking a medication for osteoporosis?

Use of certain medications used to treat osteoporosis can result in significant problems with the jaw bone. It is important to have a thorough dental examination and healthy mouth prior to and during treatment with these medications.

What causes canker sores and cold sores?

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are painful sores in the mouth which can result from trauma, irritation, stress, allergies, medications, heartburn, acidic foods, ingredients in toothpaste, immune system problems, and other causes. They are not contagious and typically go away in 10-14 days. Other than treating the pain or perhaps using certain lozenges, there is not much that can be done to shorten the duration of the sore. In very serious cases, certain medications may be prescribed. Cold sores (herpes simplex virus) may appear similar to canker sores and usually go away in less than two weeks. Unlike canker sores, cold sores can be contagious. There can be common causes that the two share and medication can be used at the very beginning of a cold sore outbreak in order to prevent the sore. Once the sore is present, these medications typically do not significantly shorten the duration or severity of the sore.

Why do I need to get my wisdom teeth removed?

In many cases, there is simply not enough room for wisdom teeth to come in straight. If teeth are not straight or are impacted (trapped below gums and/or bone), they cannot be properly cleaned and can lead to infection, pain, swelling, and bone loss. They can also damage the roots of nearby teeth. In rare cases, impacted wisdom teeth may lead to cyst or tumor formation.

Why do I need x-rays?

X-rays (or radiographs) are essential in evaluating the oral condition, including the jaws, teeth, and the bone that supports them. Although “check-up” x-rays every year are usually adequate in order to diagnose disease in a timely manner (resulting in more conservative treatment), some people may not need them as frequently. A panoramic or other x-rays may be used less frequently in order to view a bigger area and diagnose other problems. Dental x-rays result in negligible exposure to radiation, and in offices which utilize digital x-rays, it’s much less.

Why are my dentures loose?

Loose dentures can be due to a lack or loss of bone over time, wearing down of the biting surfaces of the teeth, or changes in forces applied to the teeth. Relining or remaking dentures may be necessary, and utilizing implants to help hold dentures in place is also very useful and predictable.

Why do I need a crown?

A dental crown is typically used in order to protect and rebuild a tooth when it has sustained significant damage due to decay, fracture or a crack. Some teeth with root canals may also require crowns in order to reinforce them. There are a variety of materials that can be successfully used to make crowns. While smaller restorations (fillings) are also commonly used to restore teeth, they cannot always be used to recreate ideal form or to protect a tooth from normal forces over time.

Why do I need a root canal?

A root canal is typically used to treat infections inside the tooth (the pulp). These infections (or death of the pulp) can result from deep decay, trauma, and cracks. It is a process of cleaning, shaping, disinfecting, and sealing the inside (the chamber and canals) of the tooth. The tooth must be then restored with a filling or crown after this procedure in order to prevent leakage or breakage.

Why is CariFree’s CTx3 rinse more beneficial than an over-the-counter option?

The CTx3 rinse contains a perscription level of fluoride, anti-cavity, and an alkaline pH that helps to buffer acidity that causes decay. Over-the-counter rinses to do not have the same level of fluoride and are often acidic. Also, the may contain alcohol, which can irritate soft tissues and dry the mouth.

Who is the CariFree CTx2 spray beneficial for?

The CariFree CTx2 spray is beneficial for those with a dry mouth due to age, medications, or other reasons. The spray provides comfort, stimulates salivary flow, and has xylitol.

What toothpastes do you carry?

We carry Clinpro, a toothpaste made by 3M with a prescription level of fluoride and has a low relative dental abrasivity (RDA). We also carry Flouridex, a toothpaste free of SLS.

Are the Sonicare electric toothbrushes more effective than manual toothbrushes?

Our Sonicare electric toothbrushes tend to be more effective in removing plaque than a manual counterpart.

What are the benefits of Waterpiks?

Waterpiks are extremely effective in removing plaque and debris from in between teeth and below the gum line. Waterpiks often go beyond what floss can do. Click here to learn more about the products we carry

Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?

If your teeth come in straight and you can easily clean them regularly, then you may keep your wisdom teeth. However, wisdom teeth removal is common due to complications such as limited jaw space, impacted teeth, cyst or tumor formation, and more. Read more to learn whether wisdom teeth removal is the right treatment for you.

Why do people have to get their wisdom teeth removed?

People usually have to have their wisdom teeth removed because their isn’t enough space on the jaws to keep them, or if the teeth are impacted or angled in a way that makes them too difficult to clean.

Does everyone have to have their wisdom teeth removed?

No, If there is enough space on the jaw, and the teeth come in straight, an individual may not have to remove their wisdom teeth.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

In removing wisdom teeth around the ages of 16-22, one can generally avoid structural damage and has the best chance of healing without problems. Click here to learn more about your wisdom teeth

How does dental insurance differ from health insurance?

Usually, after a required deductible is met for that year, the plan will cover a certain percentage of allowed procedures up to a yearly maximum. The rate of coverage is an agreement between you (or your employer), and the insurance company. Click here to learn more about dental insurance

How severe of a problem are cracked teeth?

Cracked teeth can range from being superficial with little to no symptoms, to being so extensive that removal of the tooth is required. Generally speaking, cracks always worsen, but the rate of this progression can vary.

How are cracked teeth caused?

Large fillings, unrestored and unworn teeth, and habits such as a strong bite, ice chewing, and repeated cycling of hot and cold over the years can all lead to the cracking of a tooth.

Will I need a crown or onlay if I have a cracked tooth?

A crown or onlay may be required if we are unable to completely remove a crack and place a filling.

Will I need a root canal if I have a cracked tooth?

If we are unable to fill a crack, and a tooth has become symptomatic to temperatures or pressures, a root canal may be required. If a crack extends below the bone and causes bone loss or inflammation, a tooth removal and replacement option such as an implant, bridge, or partial denture may be necessary. Click here to learn more about cracked teeth

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints that I hear about. The causes are many: decay, wear, heavy plaque, tooth grinding, unstable bite and root exposure are a few. It is important to diagnose the cause of the sensitivity in order to make sure that the cause of the symptom doesn’t get worse and to make sure that you can achieve comfort. A common cause for tooth sensitivity is abrasive toothpastes. A low-abrasive toothpaste is good to use so that you can keep your teeth comfortable and not wear away tooth structure. Here is a list of various toothpastes based on their relative dentin abrasivity (RDA):

Very Low Abrasive

04 Toothbrush with plain water

07 Straight baking soda

08 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder

15 Weleda Salt Toothpaste

18 CTx4 Gel

30 Elmex Sensitive Plus

30 Weleda Plant Tooth Gel

35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care

37 Sensodyne ProNamel

Low Abrasive

40 Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel

42 Arm and Hammer Metadent Advanced Whitening

42 Arm and Hammer Peroxicare

45 Weleda Calendula Toothpaste

45 Oxyfresh

48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive

49 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Tartar Control

49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive

52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular

53 Rembrant Original

54 Arm & Hammer Sensitive Whitening

54 Arm & Hammer Sensitive Freshening

54 Arm & Hammer Sensitive Multi-Protection

54 Arm & Hammer Complete Care Stain Defense

57 Tom’s of Maine Children’s

62 Super Smile

63 Rembrant Mint

65 Arm & Hammer Complete Care Plus Enamel Strengthening

68 Colgate Regular

70 Colgate Total

70 Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive

70 Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint

Medium Abrasive

78 Biotene Gentle Dry Mouth

79 Sensodyne

80 Aim

83 Colgate Sensitive Maximum Strength

91 Aquafresh Sensitive

93 Tom’s of Maine Regular
94 Rembrant Plus

95 Crest Regular

95 Oxyfresh with Fluoride

97 Oxyfresh Powder

High Abrasive

100 Colgate Optic White

101 Natural White

103 Mentadent

103 Arm & Hammer Sensation

104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening

106 Colgate Platinum

106 Arm & Hammer Advance White Paste

107 Crest Sensitivity Protection

110 Closeup Paste/Gel

110 Colgate Herbal

113 Aquafresh Whitening

117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel

117 Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control

120 Close-Up with Baking Soda

120 Colgate Baking Soda Paste

124 Colgate Whitening

125 Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief, Enamel Repair

130 Crest Pro Health

130 Crest Extra Whitening

133 Ultrabrite

144 Crest MultiCare Whitening

145 Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening Formula

145 Colgate Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening

Harmfully Abrasive

150 Pepsodent

165 Colgate Tartar Control

168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint

176 Nature’s Gate Paste

200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control/ Whitening or Icy Blast/Whitening

200 Crest White Vivid

260 Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening