Ask The Dentist - Smile Exchange
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General Questions

How do I know if I have a cavity?

Cavities often cause sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and in many cases cause noticeable tooth pain. The level of pain or sensitivity may vary depending on the severity and location of the cavity, but if you have any of these symptoms you should visit one of our dentists for an examination as soon as possible.

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

Some early warning signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, receding gums, swollen gums, sensitive gums, constant bad breath, and toothache. If you regularly experience one or more of these symptoms, please contact one of our dentists immediately.

What are some signs of oral health issues?

The mouth is complex and there are many symptoms that may be early warning signs of serious issues. Some of the most common signs of oral health problems include pain, loose teeth, visible damage to teeth, bleeding gums, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, bad breath, and visible tartar buildup.

How long should I wait to get a cavity filled?

The sooner you get a cavity filled the better. Cavities do not heal naturally, so without dental care your tooth will continue to decay, eventually leading to the need to remove the tooth if not treated promptly.

What are fillings made of and are they safe?

Fillings can be made from a wide variety of materials including gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or composite resin. The latest filling materials have been studied extensively and are completely safe for both children and adults.

How long do fillings last?

Depending on the filling material, they can last up to thirty years. Most fillings need to be replaced in seven to ten years assuming the surrounding tooth stays healthy. If you are starting to experience pain or heat sensitivity in a filled tooth, it may be time to replace your filling with a new one.

Do crowns look different from my natural teeth?

One of the main benefits of porcelain crowns is that they look and feel the same as your natural teeth. You may feel them for the first few days as they will have a slightly different shape from the rest of your teeth, but friends and family likely won’t be able to tell which tooth is a crown.

Do you use metal or water picks for cleaning teeth?

We use both metal and ultrasonic scalers when we clean teeth. The ultrasonic scalers emit a water spray.

Should I arrive early for my first appointment?

Arriving a few minutes early for your first appointment is always a good idea. If you haven’t completed your initial appointment paperwork then you will need to arrive about 15 minutes early so that your information can be filled out in the office. You can save yourself the hassle by filling out the paperwork beforehand.

How long does an average appointment take?

An average appointment takes 30 to 50 minutes depending on the services provided and the condition of your teeth.

I’m pregnant, are there any risks to seeing a dentist?

No. Dentists are expert medical professionals who take sanitation and patient safety very seriously. Going to the dentist is safe for pregnant women unless your OBGYN expressly advises you not to go due to a preexisting condition.

I’m running late for my appointment, what should I do?

If you’re running late, please call the office. If we know what’s happening we’ll be able to prepare in a way that’s best for you and the other patients waiting for care.

If I have to cancel an appointment is there any charge or penalty?

We do have a $50 cancellation fee for patients that cancel within 24 hours of their appointment. If you have to cancel, please give us as much notice as possible.

Common Questions From Parents

How old should my baby be before I start brushing their teeth?
You can start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as one appears. A finger toothbrush and a small amount of baby toothpaste is all that you need. You should also brush your baby’s gums and tongue to eliminate harmful bacteria.
My baby fights me when I brush their teeth. What should I do?
Brushing a young child’s teeth can be a challenge, but there are some ways to make things easier on yourself. Making oral care a fun activity can lower your child’s resistance. Singing songs and reading stories while brushing can be a great way to lighten the mood. As your child grows, brushing your teeth in the bathroom with them will help encourage participation. If you simply want to distract your child for a few minutes, playing some YouTube videos on your phone can be a good way to keep them calm.
How old should my child be before they start to floss?
Unlike teeth brushing, flossing isn’t necessary until your child’s teeth start to move closer together. Teeth in close proximity can catch food and sugars between them that aren’t easily brushed away. When you start to notice tight spots in your child’s mouth that are hard to brush, it’s probably time to start flossing.
Are cavities in my child's primary teeth a big deal?
Yes, while your child’s baby or primary teeth will eventually be replaced with adult teeth, good oral care is still important for children. Cavities and tooth pain can lead to a variety of other issues such as impaired speech or behavioral problems in school. If you think your child has a cavity, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
My teenager plays sports. What can I do to protect their teeth?
The most important thing you can do for your child is get a mouth guard. Mouth guards provide protection for teeth and are readily available at most sporting goods stores. If your teen has trouble fitting their guard, please schedule an appointment with one of our dentists. Our team will take a closer look and recommend options for you.
How often should children visit the dentist?
Just like adults, children should visit the dentist every six months.
At what age should children start visiting the dentist?
Your child should visit the dentist shortly after their first tooth becomes visible.
Can I accompany my child in the exam room during their appointments and procedures?
Yes, you may accompany your child into the exam room during exams and procedures.
Are dental X-Rays safe for children?
Yes, dental X-Rays are safe for children.

Oral Hygiene Questions

What stains my teeth?

While there are many things that stain teeth, some of the biggest culprits are tabaco, coffee, tea, soda, and candy. Teeth also become discolored as you age. This is a natural process that can be reversed with whitening options like Zoom.

What are my options for teeth whitening?
Teeth can be slightly whitened by changing your diet and using whitening toothpaste. If you need a stronger solution, we offer Zoom teeth whitening to get teeth up to 8 shades whiter in only 45 minutes.
How long does whitening last?
The effects of Zoom teeth whitening can last up to a year with proper care. When you get the procedure done, you will be given a touchup kit that will help brighten your smile as the effects of the procedure start to fade.
Are there any risks involved with teeth whitening?
The light used during the Zoom teeth whitening procedure can damage eyes, but we provide protective goggles to prevent this from occurring. Some people experience slight teeth sensitivity directly after the procedure, but there is no long-term risk.
What can I do about bad breath?
The best way to attack bad breath is with regular brushing and flossing. The bacteria that cause bad breath often grow in between your teeth and in other hard-to-reach places. Scheduling both of your yearly dental cleanings also helps reduce bad breath as a hygienist can usually clean better than you can on your own. If the problem persists, talk to one of our dentists about additional options.

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