Frequently Asked Questions
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal or gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a leading cause of tooth loss in American adults. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that is brushed and flossed away with proper oral care. When left on the teeth, plaque produces toxins that attack below the gum line in the sulcus, a shallow v-shaped crevice between the tooth and gums. This causes the bond between teeth and gums to break down.
What is TMD/TMJ?
TMD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, a group of often painful problems affecting the jaw and chewing muscles, which may ache constantly, cyclically or erratically. Along with sinus infection, tooth decay and gum disease, TMD is often responsible for chronic facial pain — pain in or around the ear, tender jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, headaches and neck aches.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Signs that you may have gum disease include:
- Gums that are red, swollen, tender, bleed easily or have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
But be warned – sometimes there are no warning signs! Proper dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are very important.
Why should I replace a missing tooth?
The healthiest thing to do when you lose a tooth is have it replaced. Otherwise, you risk problems with biting, chewing and speaking, headaches, muscle pain and an unattractive appearance.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants serve as the base for many tooth-replacement options, including bridges, dentures and individual artificial teeth. Implants are surgically implanted in the jaw to provide a comfortable, secure fit and a natural look.
What’s involved in dental implantation?
In the first one or two appointments, the post or anchor is implanted in the jaw. The replacment tooth, bridge or denture is fitted and installed when the bone and gums have healed. Surgery may be performed in an office or hospital with local or general anesthesia.
What are veneers?
Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells that are custom-fit and bonded to the front sides of teeth to close gaps, cover stains and discolorations, and correct chipped or misshapen teeth to give you a bright, even, attractive smile.
What are crowns used for?
Crowns are used to strengthen and improve the shape, size or color of teeth. They can support broken or weak teeth or those with large fillings; provide a smooth, strong, attractively contoured surface for stained, misshapen or otherwise abnormal teeth; and aid in the implantation of bridges and other implants.
What do bridges do? Are they the same as fixed partial dentures?
Bridges (also called fixed partial dentures) are natural-looking tooth replacements which help maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth.
What does in-office whitening or bleaching involve?
Bleaching products brighten teeth that have been stained or darkened by food, tobacco use, age, injury or other causes that cannot be corrected with regular brushing or professional cleaning. There are a variety of in-office and take-home whitening products to reduce or eliminate such stains. In-office bleaching, also called chairside bleaching, takes place over a series of one-hour appointments at your dentist’s office. First, your teeth will be examined and cleaned to make sure there are no cavities, loose fillings, gum problems or other issues that may be exacerbated by the bleaching process. You and your dentist will make a custom-fit mouthtray for your teeth. Then the bleaching gel, a hydrogen peroxide solution, is applied to your teeth in the tray, sometimes after another gel or rubber shield is fit over the gums to protect them. An ultraviolet light may be shone on the teeth to facilitate the process.
Why should I consider in-office rather than take-home whitening kits?
Advantages of in-office tooth whitening over take-home whitening include:
- Professional supervision
- Safe and simple
- No sensitivity