How It Works Log In Sign Up

These are just general guidelines and not everything stated here will apply to you.Your final treatment must be personalized and discussed with your dentist.

What is the right way to brush my teeth?

Before you brush your teeth, you should always floss first. The reason why is this clears up any bacteria and food between your teeth. Then, when you use your fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride can get in between those spaces and remineralize/strengthen your teeth.

To brush correctly, angle the toothbrush towards your gums and teeth. That means you should point the toothbrush downward for the lower teeth, and slightly upwards for the upper teeth. If using a manual toothbrush, brush in a circular motion or away from the gums. Brushing hard in a see sawing motion will often times cause you to brush your gums away permanently, and can even cause you to brush away your tooth structure over time. This may cause sensitivity and is less esthetic!

Example - Imagine if you just got a brand new car. If a bird pooped on it you would not take a wire mesh to clean it off. You would take something soft to clean it off so you do not damage the paint. So treat your teeth the same as you would your new car! Be gentle and spend time brushing your teeth.

Explanation of dental treatments

Root Canal Treatment -

Root canal treatments are needed when bacteria that cause cavities reach the dental pulp. One telltale sign usually is that the tooth with hurt spontaneously without any stimulation. The dental pulp contains the nerve and blood supply to the tooth. During root canal treatment, the dentist will use small files to remove the nerve and blood supply to clean out the infection. Afterwards, a filling material will be used to seal off the area before a build up and crown will be used to seal off the tooth.

Bacteria in your nerve - sounds painful, and it is! So how does a dentist get you out of pain? They take out the nerve from inside the tooth with the root canal treatment! Small files are used to remove it, and afterwards a filling material is used to seal off the area. There isn’t much tooth left after the root canal treatment, but your tooth will still be treated like royalty as a crown is usually placed on top for your tooth to be happy and restored.
Dental Implant -

A dental implant is a small titanium alloy screw that is placed into the jaw bone. The implant usually takes about 3 months before fully integrating and healing with the surrounding bone. After the implant is placed, an abutment is placed onto the implant. A crown is then placed on the abutment, giving the patient the complete tooth.

Yes, its a little titanium screw thats placed into your jaw bone. Sounds painful, but really it isn’t. The implant part itself takes 3 months for it to fuse with the surrounding bone, and like a tooth will get a crown at the end to give you a new shiny tooth. Pretty sweet, wouldn’t you say?

Common questions about implants -
How much pain will I be in?

In most cases, there should not be much pain during or after the implant placement. Bone generally does not have nerves, and only has nerves if they are using bone as a pathway to other structures, like teeth. Since there is no tooth in the area, discomfort is usually minimal. Your surgeon may take extra radiographic images like CT-scans to help visual critical anatomical structures to prepare for the implant surgery.

Pros - Implants do not need to involve the neighboring teeth, so they function just like the original tooth. Because they are also made of titanium alloy, it is impossible to have cavities on a dental implant.

Cons - Healing time for dental implants can be lengthy, as it takes 3 months for the bone to fuse with the implant. Not all patients will also be candidates for implants as it requires the patient to have enough bone to support the implant.

Bridge -

Like a dental implant, a bridge is another option to replace missing teeth. Bridges are done by preparing the neighboring teeth around the empty tooth space for crowns. Then, a 3rd crown is soldered to the surrounding crowns, and the whole thing is cemented to give you the tooth back.

Got missing teeth, with a tooth in front and back of it? Then you might be able to get a bridge! Obviously called because it spans the gap, it is done by preparing the front and back tooth as if it needed crowns, and gluing another one in between. Pretty clever, right?

Pros - Non surgical way to get a missing tooth back. Bridges can often be done within 2 weeks, so the final treatment and replacement tooth can be finished sooner than a dental implant.

Cons - Neighboring teeth often have to sacrifice tooth structure in order to make the crowns that will support the bridge. Bridges may also be more difficult to keep clean because patients are unable to floss through them as they are one piece.

Cavities

Cavities are defects in teeth caused by bacteria. When you foods such as sugars, bacteria take those sugars to feed on themselves and create acid as a byproduct. These acids are what allow bacteria to melt through your tooth's enamel layer and invade the tooth.

Cavities are caused by bacteria. But you already knew that! When you eat sugars, bacteria take those sugars to feed themselves and create acids as their version of poop. The acids allow the bacteria to penetrate into your teeth and destroy them.

Symptoms of cavities -

Teeth with cavities may be sensitive to hot, cold, or when biting on the tooth. Pain is another symptom when the cavity becomes larger and approaches the nerves inside the tooth. Because these symptoms can also be associated with other dental issues, a consultation with a dentist is necessary to determine the underlying issue.

Diagnosis of cavities -

Cavities will appear on x-rays as a black line or darker lesion, most commonly found right where neighboring teeth contact. Upon oral examination, cavities are often black lesions on teeth. When they become more severe, pieces of the tooth may fall off due to the underlying decay, leaving a noticeable hole in the tooth.

Treatment of cavities -

Cavities are treated by removing the bacteria from the teeth. Afterwards, a filling material or crown may be used to protect the tooth.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial plaque build up. Gingivitis is known to cause red, irritated gums that often bleed when brushing. If gingivitis is not treated with a cleaning, it will eventually lead to more severe problems like periodontitis.

Treatment of gingivitis -

Proper tooth brushing habits and a dental cleaning should be sufficient to treat gingivitis. Flossing is also very important, as regular toothbrushes are unable to reach between teeth.

Periodontitis

Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis causes permanent damage around the bone that supports teeth. Over time, if oral hygiene is poor or if the patient is not seeing the dentist for cleanings regularly, bacteria migrate under the gums and begin to form pieces of calcified bacteria called calculus. Calculus is formed when bacteria on the surfaces of teeth absorb the minerals in saliva. As the bacteria and calculus migrate under the gums, they get in closer and closer proximity to the bone around the teeth, causing an inflammatory process destroying the surrounding bone.

Diagnosis of periodontitis -

Periodontitis is diagnosed using x-rays and a complete periodontal exam. Signs of periodontitis on x-rays would include build up of bacteria and calculus on teeth and loss of bone around teeth. During the complete periodontal exam, the dentist will use a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the periodontal pocket. When the gums and periodontia are healthy, the pocket depth should range from 2-3 mm. Whenever the pocket depth starts to become 5 mm or deeper, a deep cleaning may be necessary to facilitate cleaning of the area.

Treatment for periodontitis -

Scaling and Root Planning (Deep Cleaning) Since the cause of periodontitis is bacteria and calculus, treatment focuses on their removal. The first stage of treatment for periodontitis is usually a deep cleaning. Anesthetic is often used in conjunction with the treatment to allow the dentist to remove the bacteria under the gums with patient comfort.

Osseous/Gum surgery

For patients with more advanced stages of periodontal disease, a deep cleaning may not be sufficient. For these patients, a small surgical procedure may be necessary to allow the dentist to clean out the deep pockets and to remove any defects in the bone caused by periodontal disease.

Extractions -

Indications -
Extractions are done when the tooth is too broken down to be saved as in the case for a cavity, or if there is not enough bone remaining to support the tooth (periodontal disease). Other reasons to perform extractions would be on a wisdom tooth that can negatively impact the health of neighboring teeth, and to create space for braces.

What to expect
Extractions are done under local anesthesia, and are usually well tolerated. After being numbed, the patient generally should only feel pressure during the procedure and no pain.

Dentures FAQ

Q: Why does my denture no longer fit as well as they used to?

A: The denture is made of acrylic. It will not change. However, your body does change. Imagine if you stopped walking for a year. Now, a year later, when you get up you won’t be able to. Your leg muscles will have shrunk due to the lack of stimulation (atrophy). Similarly, the bone that surrounds your teeth will shrink and atrophy without the presence of teeth. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this process unless dental implants are placed. Dental implants can mimic teeth, providing the stimulation necessary for the bone to remain.

Q: Will I be able to chew steaks or corn with dentures?

A: A denture is a prosthesis. Imagine if you lost your arm, and now you have a prosthetic arm. You certainly will not be able to function the same. Neuromuscular control is a very important factor as to whether or not you will be able to function well with the denture. There are some people who have no problems, and are able to chew nuts, corn and steak with it. But for the vast majority of people, your chewing force is about 20 times less powerful with a denture than with natural teeth.

Q: How can I make my experience with dentures better?

A: Some patients may be candidates to have dental implants. The dental implants help you keep the bone around the implant, and they can also be used to keep dentures locked in and stable. There is often a significant benefit of having dental implants especially for the lower denture, since this one tends to be looser and more mobile.

Braces FAQ

Q: How long is typical orthodontic treatment?

A: Most orthodontic (braces) treatment can be completed within 2 years. However, this varies significantly depending on the doctor, the type of braces treatment, and the complexity of the patient’s individual case.

Q: Do I need to get teeth removed for braces?

A: This is again another case by case question that will be answered best by your orthodontist. Usually teeth will be removed when there is not enough space in the patient’s mouth. However, most people will not have to have teeth removed. This also depends on your orthodontist, what your goals of treatment are, and your individual case.

Q: Do braces hurt?

A: There is commonly a bit of soreness for a couple days after the wires are tightened, but in general there should be no pain. The soreness is comparable to how your muscles would feel after going to the gym.

Q: Is there an age limit for braces?

A: No, absolutely not! You can be 70 years old (and still very young!) and braces will work for you. Just make sure that you get all decay, and gum problems dealt with prior to starting orthodontic treatment.

Q: I hate the look of braces, but want straighter teeth. What can I do?

A: There are now a lot of treatments that can be done with clear trays that hide the fact that you are having your teeth straightened. Please consult your dentist for more details.

Invisalign -

Invisalign is great for patients who wish to straighten their teeth and improve the function of their teeth without wearing braces. Patients instead will be given clear trays that will be worn to get the teeth straightened out. Make sure to consult your dentist on whether you are a candidate for Invisalign since it cannot be used for every person.

Teeth Whitening -

Most of the in office and over the counter products contain peroxide as the active ingredient. Both in office and over the counter products work and will whiten your teeth when used as directed. Because the strength of the whitening products are usually higher in the dental office, in office treatment will usually get your teeth whiter than using over the counter products. However, not everyone is a candidate for teeth whitening. It is important to make sure your mouth is healthy, and ideally without active disease such as cavities or periodontal disease. Always consult with your dentist prior to any treatment.

How long does whitening treatment last?

Think of your white teeth as a white shirt. Whatever can stain your white shirt can also stain your teeth. When you do teeth whitening, they will stay white for as long as you can avoid restraining them. Any colored foods, such as dark sodas, coffee, and wine will stain your teeth. Some ways to help keep your teeth whiter longer may be to use a straw after whitening.

Why do my teeth get sensitive after teeth whitening?

Like your skin, your teeth have pores. These pores can become clogged with stains. The peroxide found in the whitening treatments can dissolve the stains. However, because peroxide is also abrasive and can be an irritant, it can leave your teeth feeling sensitive. If this occurs, use a fluoridated toothpaste with anti-sensitivity properties and the discomfort should be gone in about two weeks.

Night guard -

A nightguard is usually recommended to protect your teeth from grinding at night. A majority of people actually grind their teeth due to stress, they are just not usually aware of it unless it is very severe or if someone hears them do it while they sleep. Most of the wear and tear of teeth usually occurs due to bruxism, or a habit of grinding their teeth. The nightguard is an acrylic piece that prevents your teeth from coming together. Because it also keeps the mouth slightly open, it may help some people snore less by opening the airway.

Veneers -

Veneers for teeth are like the veneers you put on the wall. They mainly are for esthetics and not function. Likewise, veneers are usually placed on the front of your teeth to make them look better and achieve tooth whiteness that is unachievable by other means. They can sometimes be done without removal of any of the existing tooth structure, but other times some removal of the teeth may be required to facilitate a more esthetic result.

Wisdom Teeth -

Why do dentists recommend removing them?

Most wisdom teeth do not erupt in the mouth properly. For the vast majority of people, if they are observable from the mouth they grow in at awkward angles. Most commonly, they grow towards the tooth in front and become stuck, (impacted). Because the area is difficult to clean and food will get stuck between the wisdom tooth and tooth in front, cavities often form affecting both teeth. This can lead to removal of BOTH the wisdom tooth and important tooth in front, whereas if the patient just removed the wisdom tooth earlier, it keeps the tooth in front more hygienic. Therefore, removal of wisdom teeth is usually for preventive purposes since they often cause only problems.

Do I need to be put to sleep to have my wisdom teeth removed?

No, the vast majority of people are able to tolerate wisdom teeth removal under local anesthesia. As with all extractions, you will feel some pressure during the procedure but there should be no pain.

Types of Dentists -

General Dentists - These dentists are the family doctors of dentistry. They typically are the dentists that you know of, who are highly competent on diagnosis, consultations, and cleanings. However, many general dentists are also proficient in many of the different specialties of dentistry, such as braces and implant treatment.

Endodontist - These dentists specialize in root canal treatments. They typically receive 2 years of additional training in a residency program to become an endodontist.

Periodontist - These dentists specialize in severe periodontal/gum health. They also are trained in soft tissue management and grafts for teeth with gingival recession. As one of the surgical specialities in dentistry, most periodontists also have significant training in the placement of dental implants.

Orthodontist - These dentists specialize in braces. They receive advanced training after dental school to focus on bite problems and to straighten teeth.

Prosthodontist - These dentists specialize in difficult restorations. “Protho” is for prosthetics. They typically receive 3 extra years of training after dental school just on dentures, bridges, and restorations on complex full mouth cases.

Pediatric Dentist - These dentists specialize working with children. They typically receive 2 years of additional training after dental school.

Oral Surgeon - These dentists specialize in larger surgical procedures. They typically receive advanced training in removing difficult wisdom teeth and placing dental implants.