FAQs

  • Endodontics

    What is endodontic therapy?

    Endodontic therapy is the removal of a damaged or infected pulp. Following removal, the root canals and pulp chamber are thoroughly cleaned, filled with strengthening filler and sealed with a temporary covering.

    Who provides endodontic treatment?

    All dentists receive some endodontic training. However, endodontic specialists are dentists who limit their practice to endodontic procedures. They complete an additional two years of post-graduate training in endodontics following dental school. After passing a sequence of exams, these specialists are designated board certified by the American Board of Endodontics.

    What are the advantages of endodontic therapy?

    In terms of functionality, there is no real substitute for your natural tooth. Endodontic therapy is significant because it is designed to save a tooth that otherwise would have to be removed.

    What causes the pulp to become damaged?

    The pulp can become damaged due to periodontal disease and as a result of a traumatic injury. However, the most common reasons for pulp damage are extreme decay and a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria that stimulate infection.

    Is endodontic therapy painful?

    A local anesthetic is applied to ensure that you experience little to no pain during the procedure.

    How long will the tooth last?

    Although the tooth is more fragile, with a proper restoration, along with daily brushing, flossing, routine follow-ups and a healthy diet, the tooth may last a lifetime.

    Can endodontic therapy save all teeth?

    Unfortunately, not every tooth can be saved. If there is adequate bone support and the canals are accessible and can be thoroughly cleaned and sealed, the treatment can be performed.

    What alternatives are available?

    The only other option is to remove the tooth. Extraction can stimulate the formation of periodontal disease and additional tooth loss. Failure to replace an extracted tooth will cause the adjacent teeth to shift and negatively impact chewing and biting.

  • Orthodontics

    Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

    No, it is not. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

    At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

    The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition.

    Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

    No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

    How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

    If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail or fill out our appointment request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.

    What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

    Upon arriving, each patient and parent will be seen by the staff and doctor who will acclimate you to our office and prepare for the initial exam. We will take the necessary photographs and X-rays to allow us to make a proper diagnosis. The doctor will then complete a brief, but thorough, exam.

    To read more about your first visit, see our First Visit Page.

    What will I learn from the initial examination?

    There are five essential questions that we will cover during the initial examination:

    • Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
    • What must be done to correct the problem?
    • Will any teeth need to be removed?
    • How long will the treatment take to complete?
    • How much will the treatment cost?

    Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

    Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

    How long will it take to complete treatment?

    Treatment time obviously depends on each patient's specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The "average" time frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months.

    How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

    It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.

    How often will I have appointments?

    Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every five to 10 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

    Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

    Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled five to 10 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.

    Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

    Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.

    Do braces hurt?

    Generally, braces do not "hurt." After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, "It does not have to hurt to work!"

    Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?

    Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.

    Do you give shots?

    No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

    Do you use recycled braces?

    Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.

    Can I still play sports?

    Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.

    Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?

    Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

    Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

    Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.

    How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

    Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day - after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

    What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

    If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.

    Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

    Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient's growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.

    What is Phase One (early) treatment?

    Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 12-21 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image.

    Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?

    It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the "resting period," during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

    Will my child need an expander?

    At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.

    Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?

    A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is "too old" to wear braces!

    Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

    Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth.

    Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist?

    Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.

  • Oral Surgery

    What is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?

    Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the only dental specialists recognized by the American Dental Association who are surgically trained in a hospital-based residency program for a minimum of four years. They train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology, and spend time in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), plastic surgery, emergency medicine and other specialty areas. This training focuses almost completely on the bone, skin and muscle of the face, mouth and jaw. Oral and facial surgeons have knowledge and expertise that uniquely qualifies them to diagnose and treat a number of functional and esthetic conditions in this anatomical area.

    The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) represents more than 9,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States, supporting specialized education, research and advocacy. AAOMS fellows and members comply with rigorous continuing education requirements and submit to periodic office anesthesia evaluations to ensure that office procedures and personnel meet stringent national standards.

    Do I have to have a referral to see an oral surgeon?

    We recommend that each patient has a referral from their general dentist, orthodontist or other specialist as this indicates what specific procedure has been recommended by the referring doctor. We do not want to discourage self referrals from those who do not have a referral directly from a doctor.

    What should I expect during my first visit?

    A clinical examination will be performed by your specialist, which will include a review of your radiographs, and oral exam. A thorough review of your health history and medical conditions will be completed. An individualized treatment plan will be presented to you, for your approval, prior to proceeding with any treatment. Our office will notify you of your insurance benefit and coverage. Your financial obligations will be presented to you. Please bring the following to your initial appointment: dental/medical insurance cards, referral slip and radiographs, if provided to you by your referring doctor, for your specialty appointment.

    Are payment plans available for my dental treatment?

    Our office accepts most insurance plans. We will submit a claim to your insurance upon the completion of your treatment. We ask that you make payment for any deductible fees or any fees that are not covered under your dental/medical plans on the day of service. We accept most major credit cards. We also offer credit thorough an outside credit agency, but this is subject to individual qualification.

    What if I have an emergency?

    If you are patient of record of our specialty office, please contact your surgeon for any emergency treatment. An appointment can be arranged for further evaluation and treatment. If you are not a patient of record with our specialty office, please contact your dentist first to determine the nature of your emergency. A referral can then be made to a surgeon, if necessary. Our offices are available after hours by phone to address an emergency situation. Please call the surgeon you were referred to initially. You will be instructed to contact the on-call doctor by our answering service.

  • Pediatric Dental

    How should I clean my baby's teeth?

    A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for infants. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.

    At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?

    "First visit by first birthday" is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, certainly no later than his/her first birthday.

    Why should my child see a pediatric dentist instead of our regular family dentist?

    Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.

    What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can I prevent it?

    Baby bottle tooth decay is a pattern of rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing. It happens when a child goes to sleep while breast-feeding and/or bottle-feeding. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. He/she should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

    Can thumbsucking be harmful for my child's teeth?

    Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. If they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist. Most children stop these habits on their own.

    What are dental sealants and how do they work?

    Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught, causing cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.

    When should my child start using toothpaste?

    Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 3. Earlier than that, clean your child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

    If my child gets a toothache, what should I do?

    To comfort your child, rinse his/her mouth with warm salt water and apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth on your child's face if it is swollen. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area, but you may give the child acetaminophen for pain. See us as soon as possible.

    Is my child getting enough fluoride?

    Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person's chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it, but to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child's primary source of water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially in communities where the water district does not fluoridate the water or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

    How safe are dental X-rays?

    With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high-speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

    My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?

    A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard fitted by our doctor is your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.

    When do the first teeth start to erupt?

    At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.

    What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?

    First of all, remain calm. If possible, find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

    How can I help my child through the teething stage?

    Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast or a frozen teething ring. Your pharmacy should also have medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort.

    I noticed a space between my child's two upper front teeth. Is this cause for concern?

    Usually, the space will close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt. We can determine whether there is cause for concern.

    If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?

    Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.

    What causes tooth decay?

    Four things are necessary for cavities to form -- a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.

  • Periodontics

    What is a periodontist? Do I need to see one?

    A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gum disease, other gum related issues, as well as dental implants. Periodontists have additional training of up to three years after dental school to obtain the necessary education to perform procedures in periodontics. Your general dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you exhibit the symptoms of gum disease or other gum problems; however, you may schedule an appointment on your own if you have concerns about your oral health.

    What is periodontal disease, and am I at risk of developing it?

    The term "periodontal" simply means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is mainly attributed to the bacteria in dental plaque, which causes the gums to become inflamed and infected. Other factors, such as smoking or tobacco use, poor nutrition, stress or pregnancy, may put you at risk of developing gum disease.

    Is periodontal disease contagious?

    Although it is not an airborne disease, research has indicated that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be passed through saliva. Therefore, families and couples who may be in close contact with a person with gum disease are also at risk. We recommend being screened for periodontal disease regularly if you are potentially at risk.

    My gums bleed when I brush my teeth. Is this normal?

    Healthy gums should not bleed when you brush your teeth. This is one of the early signs of gum disease. You should schedule an appointment with your periodontist for a complete periodontal screening.

    Are there any ways to prevent periodontal disease?

    A good oral hygiene regimen is imperative in preventing periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing, in conjunction with regular dental visits for professional cleanings twice a year or more, will help keep your smile healthy for life.

    Are dental implants the best restoration option?

    Your periodontist can determine if dental implants are your best restoration option for your individual case. Dental implants have a natural look and feel and can help prevent shifting of surrounding teeth. Implants are often preferred to bridges and dentures because they are more secure and can help prevent bone loss. Also, adjacent teeth are not affected by the placement of implants.

    If I have periodontal disease, do I need surgery? What are my options?

    Whether you need surgery or not will depend on how advanced your periodontal disease is. There are non-surgical treatments, such as root scaling and planing available, for those with mild gum disease. If you are in the advanced stages of gum disease, you may benefit from having surgery. With the latest technology and advanced techniques available today, many surgical procedures can be performed in an office setting with little discomfort.

    What is maintenance therapy?

    Maintenance therapy is used to help prevent further infection from occurring in patients who have already received periodontal treatment. Your periodontist will tailor a program to fit your needs, which will include periodontal checkups, plaque and tartar removal and sometimes polishing your teeth or checking your bite. The frequency of visits varies from case to case, from every few weeks to four times per year. 

    I have a "gummy" smile. What can be done to correct this?

    A procedure called crown lengthening can correct "gummy" smiles. "Gummy" smiles make teeth appear too short. With crown lengthening, the gums and supporting tissues are reshaped to expose more of the tooth.

    My gums are receding and my teeth appear "long." Can this be fixed?

    Soft tissue grafts can fix this condition and also prevent further recession or bone loss. In the procedure, gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source. This tissue is then placed over the exposed roots, which helps to even out the gum line and reduce sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.

  • Prosthodontics

    What is a prosthodontist?

    A prosthodontist is a specialist in the replacement or restoration of teeth and jaw structures utilizing artificial materials. A prosthodontist must complete three to four additional years of training in a prosthodontics program accredited by the American Dental Association. This extensive training includes literature review, lectures, patient treatment and restoration fabrication in the laboratory.

    Why should I use a prosthodontist?

    Known as experts in dental restoration and rehabilitation, prosthodontists have extensive training in many procedures including: dentures, removable partial dentures, crowns, bridges, caps, veneers, and dental implants. Prosthodontists also undergo training in placing dental implants surgically.

    How is a prosthodontist different from a cosmetic dentist?

    While the American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties, it does not recognize "cosmetic dentistry" as a specialty. During their three- to four-year graduate programs, prosthodontists receive extensive training and experience in dental esthetics and cosmetics. Many cosmetic dentists receive training through weekend or weeklong seminars or a series of courses.

    What if I have an emergency?

    Please call our office as soon as you determine that you have a dental emergency. We will be glad to work you in to our schedule if you have a dental emergency during regular business hours. After hours, over the weekend and during holidays, please call our office for the doctor's emergency contact number.

    Are payment plans available for my dental treatment?

    Yes. We accept many types of dental insurance and will process your claim for you upon receipt of your co-payment. We offer a low interest rate payment plan and also accept most major credit cards, including MasterCard and Visa.

    What if I have a gap in my teeth, a chipped tooth or teeth that do not respond to normal bleaching methods?

    Porcelain veneers are designed to look like your natural teeth and are individually and is attached to the fronts of your existing teeth. Bonding utilizes a composite material made of plastic to fill in areas of your teeth and correct chipping and shape problems. Both porcelain veneers and bonding are color-matched to the rest of your teeth.

    Why do teeth need dental crowns?

    A crown is a custom-made covering that fits over an original tooth that is either decayed, damaged or cracked. A crown may be recommended to strengthen a tooth, restore a tooth to its original shape or to improve the appearance of a tooth. New technology allows us to fabricate crowns completely from resin or porcelain, ensuring the most natural life-like results.