What’s included in a dental exam?
A dental exam gives an honest evaluation of a patient’s dental health, gum condition, and oral health. To that end, a dentist will inspect your teeth for cracks, chips, cavities, and stains and make a note of any crooked, missing, or infected teeth. Your gums will be examined for gingival recession (receding gums), pocket depth (height between the tissue around the neck of your teeth and the bone underneath), and inflamed gums. Your dentist will inspect your gums, tongue, and inside of your cheeks for signs of oral cancer.
Do teeth whitening toothpastes actually work?
A great smile increases your confidence, improves your outlook, and (studies show) makes a positive impression on those you meet. It is no wonder that many people spend time and money trying to whiten their teeth. Most over-the-counter whitening toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide and gentle polishing agents that clean teeth and provide to stain removal on the tooth’s surface. While this will brighten your smile somewhat, it is not as effective as in the light-activated whitening procedures available in some dentist’s offices. These processes will leave your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
I experience great anxiety when I visit the dentist’s office. Is there any way to make an appointment less terrifying?
Ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. Many dentists now offer sedation for anxious or frightened patients, with the type and level of sedation varying according to the type of dental work being performed. Conscious sedation makes a dental appointment as relaxing as a nap.
Why would I need a crown or bridge?
Crowns cover one or more cracked or damaged teeth. Bridges fill a gap left by missing teeth and prevent any remaining teeth from shifting. Both are fixed prosthetic devices cemented onto existing teeth. Crowns and bridges improve your appearance and help you speak and eat as you would in spite of having damaged or missing teeth.
Should I get dentures or dental implants?
If you have missing teeth your ability to eat, speak, and even breathe is compromised. Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth. There are various denture options – partial dentures, full dentures, plastic, plastic and metal – and your dentist will consider your needs, concerns, and budget to determine the best choice for you. Dentures can be removed for cleaning, repair, replacement, or comfort.
Dental implants provide a permanent way to replace teeth. Many people find dental implants a more viable option than dentures, as slipping or shifting dentures can be problematic when eating, speaking, and smiling. A dentist will evaluate your teeth and your oral and overall health to determine if dental implants are right for you.
Why do people need root canals?
Root canals are necessary when the tooth pulp, which lies in the tooth’s root, becomes infected often due to an untreated cavity or a fracture. The pulp cannot heal on its own because blood supply to this area is reduced. A root canal will prevent the infection from spreading and necessitating removal of the tooth. It will also relieve the pain that comes with such a situation, including extreme sensitivity to hot and cold sensations.
Should I get tooth-colored fillings or are silver fillings safe?
Amalgam (silver) fillings are composed of a mixture of metals. They are strong, long-lasting, and economical but may contain an elemental trace of mercury. The FDA considers silver fillings safe for adults and children older than six, but many people do not like the appearance of such fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are made of composite resin, have no known health risks, and are more pleasing to the eye. They are, however, more expensive than dental amalgam fillings. Whether to choose amalgam or composite resin fillings is a personal choice best discussed with your dentist.
What if I have heart problems? Do I need to take antibiotics before seeing a dentist?
In order to prevent possible complications from infection, the American Heart Association advises taking antibiotics before dental treatment if you have one of the following heart problems:
- An artificial heart valve
- Previous infective endocarditis
- A previous heart transplant when there are problems with a heart valve
- Certain heart defects, such as unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease
Other heart conditions, such as mitral valve prolapse or rheumatic heart disease, do not require such precautions.