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Email us at PatientCare@piedmontdental.com or give us a call at (704) 225-8555 during normal business hours! 

Preserving Smiles FAQ

Questions about how to preserve your smile for a lifetime- click on a question to expand. If you have a question that has not been answered here, call us at (704) 225-8555 during normal business hours, or email us at PatientCare@piedmontdental.com anytime!

Home Care / Oral Hygiene

Is there any real benefit to those fancy toothbrush systems I see at the store?

These days there are several options for electric toothbrushes- it can get overhelming! We recommend 2 main brands: The Oral B, by Braun and the Sonicare by Phillips.

Electric toothbrushes are generally more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. Other features that electric toothbrushes offer:

 

  • Pressure sensors that prevent patients from brushing too hard, therby reducing gum recession.

  • Timers that encourage patients to brush for the recommended time: 2 minutes. 

  • Reminders to change the brush head. 

  • Different brushing modes; useful for sensitive teeth or gum-massaging action.

 

The main difference between the Oral B and Sonicare toothbrushes is the brushing: Oral Bs are known for their oscillating technology, Sonicares, for sonic technology.

Cavity Prevention

What are cavities?

Quite simply, a cavity is a hole in a tooth caused by decay (caries). In the early stages, cavities do not hurt, and don't have any real symptons, but as the decay progresses through the inner layers of the tooth, you may begin to feel some pain, or sensitivity, or even see some discoloration.

 

It is always better to address a cavity when it is small, since the treatment may include a small filling or even periodic observation coupled with home care modifications. The larger a cavity is- particularly, if it is large enough to see, and/or cause pain- the higher the chance that you will need root canal therapy, a crown, or possibly an extraction.

 

One important point to remember: caries is the disease process that causes cavities. So, the best approach is not only how to fix the cavities, but how to prevent the disease.

What is the difference between "caries" and "cavities?

Dental caries is the disease process that leads to dental cavities. The disease, caries, is caused by a several bacteria found in saliva (most notably,Streptoccocus Mutans and Lactobacilus Acidophilus) that create an acidic environment around teeth. The acidic environment, in turn, causes the enamel on the teeth to lose essential minerals-- a process called demineralization.

 

The more the enamel is demineralized, the weaker it becomes until, eventually, it cavitates. Hence, a cavity.

 

Some important things to remember:

  • The cavity-causing bacteria turn starchy/sugary food into acids. Note: carbohydrates and regular sugar can all be turned into acid-- which in turn, will demineralize enamel. 

  • Saliva is your best defense against cavities: As the acid demineralizes the enamel on the teeth, your saliva puts the minerals back- a process called remineralization. Everyones mouth  goes through a constant battle of demieralization and remineralization. Most of the time your saliva wins, so your teeth won't have cavities. But if your teeth lose more minerals than it can put back, you will have a cavity.

  • Saliva needs time to work- about 30 minutes. Once you put something sugary in your mouth, the acidic destruction begins. After you are done eating, it takes your saliva 30 minutes to neutralize the acid attack.

  • The cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from one person to another. 

  • Filling a tooth does not prevent dental caries, it fixes dental cavities. A tooth filling simply fixes the destruction caused by the disease (dental caries). To prevent future cavities, we have to control, or eliminate the disease process. 

Checkups

How often do I need to visit the Dentist?

It is recommended that you visit your Dentist every six months for a routine checkup or 'recall' visit. Sometimes your Dentist may schedule a more frequent recall schedule.

When should my child begin to see the Dentist?

As soon as he or he has teeth! Teeth can begin to decay as soon as they erupt into the mouth- particularly in children who drink from a bottle or 'sippy' cup. It is important to schedule regular appointments to monitor and preserve their healthy mouths. Besides, the earlier a child visits the Dentist, the less apprehensive he or she will be.

I am three months pregnant. Should I continue to see my Dentist?

Absolutely. Besides the obvious maintenance benefits, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to a form of gum disease known, appropriately enough, as pregnancy gingivitis- which can be maintained with periodic recall visits. Additionally, research has begun to show a correlation between periodontitis and low birth weight babies. Talk to your Dentist or Physician for more information. Be sure to mention that you are pregnant when you visit your Dental Office- she may decide not to take x-rays or even to postpone or alter certain treatments and medications until after consulting with your Physician or OBGyn.

"Deep" Cleanings

What exactly is a 'deep' cleaning? At my last dental visit, my Dentist told me that I would need a 'deep' cleaning- She even suggested that I would need at least four visits to complete it!

If your Dentist or Hygienist recommended a deep cleaning, that means that you have some form of gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis.

 

Research now shows that gum disease can be symptomatic or even contribute to more systemic diseases including diabetes and heart disease- and current treatment regiments reflect the seriousness of the diagnosis. Though the severity of gum disease can only be ascertained by a dental examination, look out for these warning signs:

 

  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing,

  • Loose teeth

  • Swollen gums 

  • Visible accumulation of plaque or tartar

  • Bad breath

 

These symptoms can indicate the presence of periodontitis.

X-rays

I’m a new patient. Before I moved here I had x-rays done, why do I need them again?

Dental x-rays help us visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. In addition, x-rays help us find and treat dental problems early in their development, which can potentially save you unnecessary discomfort, and even expensive treatments. 

 

No examination would be complete without a set of current x-rays, which typicallymeans once a year. So a good rule of thumb is: if it has been more than a year since your last xrays, you are more than likely due for an update. But if your xrays are current, we would likely request them from your previous dental office.

 

There are 4 types of xrays that we typically use: 

  •  

  • Full Mouth Series (FMX),

  • Bitewings, 

  • Periapicals ("PAs") 

  • and Panoramic xrays (Panorex).

What kind of x-rays do dentists take? And how often do they have to take them?

There are four types of xrays that most dentists take and use:

 

1. Full Mouth Series ("FMX"): The full mouth series of xrays are designed to take detailed images of each tooth and the surrounding structures. We usually prescribe them every 3-5 years and are used to diagnose most dental conditions like gum disease, cavities, dental abscesses, and pathological lesions.

 

FMX xrays consist of a mixture of Bitewing and Periapical xrays.

 

2. Bitewing xrays ("Bites"): These are typically taken once a year and are used to screen for cavities. Bitwing xrays are not typically used on front teeth and are not used to diagnose gum disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Periapical xrays ("PAs"); PAs show the whole length of the tooth and, like Full Month Series xrays, are used to take detailed images of a single tooth, as well as the surrounding teeth and supporting structures. They are usually prescribed in situations where the focus in on a single tooth- as when a patients comes in with pain.

 

4. Panoramic Xrays ("Panorex", "Pans"): These are taken for an overview of the oral cavity (mouth), as well as the entire maxillofacial area- which includes the midface, upper and lower jaws and surrounding areas. They are used more routinely by Oral Surgeons and Orthodontists during treatment planning, but have considerable less diagnostic value to the General Dentist who need more detail.

 

Nightguards

What is a nightguard?

A nightguard is a custom-fit plastic device that is placed over the teeth to prevent clenching and grinding (bruxism). Most have the the look of a mouthguard as used in sports but it much thinner and therefore more comfortable.

 

OK, but I don't grind my teeth. At least I don't think so!

Most people grind their teeth are not even aware of it! However, there are four main signs that you are grinding your teeth:

 

 

  • The surfaces of your teeth are cracked, chipped or smooth: This is the most common symptom exhibited by patients who grind.

  • Deep notches on the side surfaces of your teeth that are not caused by decay: These lesions (defects) are known as abfractions and a common  consequence of grinding.

  • Sensitive or painful teeth with no decay or gum disease: Habitual grinding can teeth to be hypersensitive- and feel like a toothache.

  • Painful jaw muscles, or 'tension' headaches, particularly in the morning: Because the muscles that move the jaw around are overworked, they can get cramped and fatigued. 

 

Most grinding patients exhibit one or all four of these symptoms. And in each instance a mouthguard is recommended to reduce the trauma of teeth-on-teeth grinding.

Do I really need to go to the dentist for a nightguard? I mean, they sell them at Walmart!

You’re right, nowadays all sorts of dental products are available in stores and even online- and some patients have even success with them. But the bottom line is that any store-bought nightguard will not be customized to fit your mouth. As such, they tend to be loose and bulky and when used incorrectly can actually make the muscular pain worse!

Will my insurance cover a nightguard?

More and more we are finding that a lot of insurance companies are affording coverage for nightguards as treatment for grinding (bruxism). In our office we have also found that giving submitting a pre-treatment estimate to the insurance company is a more predictable way of finding out if your insurance comapany does cover it and how much it will cover.

I just can't sleep with something in my mouth! Is there no other way?

The function of a nightguard is to physically keep your teeth from unconsciously grinding against each other. While there are other treatments and therapies that aim to prevent the physical act of grinding, a nightguard simply reduces or completely eliminates the destruction and side-effects that are the result of grinding (tooth fracture and wear, headaches, sensitivity, mobility, etc). So if the goal is to eliminate the effects of grinding, rather than its underlying causes, a mouthguard is imperitive.

 

The good news is that there are various types of mouthguards: from hard to soft; from ones that cover the whole arch to those that only cover a few teeth, all of which can be custom-tailored to maximize your comfort!

Halitosis

I need help with persistent bad breath, do you offer anything?

Bad breath (Halitosis) can be caused by a number of factors including gum disease, cavities, dental abscesses, poor oral hygiene or even systemic diseases such as post-nasal drip and acid reflux. Since each one of these causes require different approaches it is necessary for your dentist or hygienist to first nail down the cause of persistent bad breath, prior to treatment.

 

Most bad breath can be linked to bacteria which, if unremoved, cause the emission of volatile sulphur compounds, or VSCs which can cause bad breath. While in many cases, most mouthwashes can mask, special mouthwashes that contain Chlorine Dioxide can actually eliminate VSCs, while simultaneously killing 99% of germs within seconds.

 

For daily maintenance of persistent halitosis we recommend: -

 

  • Proper brushing and flossing twice a day.

  • Use of a tongue scraper on the back part of the tongue. This is where most of the halitosis-causing bacteria reside

  • Use of a Chlorine Dioxide mouth-rinse, twice daily. We recommend, and offer,  Closys Antiseptic Oral Rinse to our patients. However, any chlorine-dioxide based mouthwash should do.

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