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FAQ

My gums bleed. Is that normal?

No, that is not normal. Bleeding Gums are a sign of infection. Start brushing and flossing and seek professional care.

If I brush my teeth regularly at home, do I need to use dental floss?

Yes you need to floss because flossing cleans in between the teeth where even the best brushing cannot clean..

If my gums bleed, is that caused by too little vitamin C?

Vitamin C is necessary for good health, but unless the patient has acute scurvy, a severe vitamin C deficiency, bleeding gums is due to bacterial infection.

My gums have receded; can that be fixed?

Gum recession can often be repaired by periodontal reconstruction procedures. Even if the tooth has a filling or crown, it can usually be done.

My gums receded and the tooth is sensitive, can that be stopped?

The sensitivity can be treated by fluoride treatment, repairing the gum recession or placing a bonded filling in the tooth, depending on the situation. Finding the cause of the recession is very important so the process can be stopped or it will continue.

I’ve always had gum problems, will I lose my teeth?

If you don’t stop the gum problems, it is likely that you will lose teeth. However, gum disease can be successfully treated and controlled with modern state-of-the-art periodontal care as long as you catch it soon enough. Do not wait till it gets so bad that it is too late.

My parents had gum problems, is it hereditary?

A. Everything, to some extent, is hereditary including gum problems. But your parents probably didn’t get the best dental care either. Today much more can be done than years ago, so even if you inherited low resistance, you can have healthy gums.

Does gum disease cause bad breath?

A. Most bad breath is caused by bacteria and bacterial by-products in the mouth. Gum disease is a major cause of bad breath

My gums are red, why is that?

A. Redness is usually a sign of gum infection. The classic signs of infection, whether in the gums or any other part of the body are swelling, increased temperature and redness.

Does the monthly menstrual cycle affect your gums?

A. Hormonal changes affect all of the body, including the reaction of our gums to the germs in plaque. In other words, the plaque causes gum problems. The hormonal changes lower the body's resistance to plaque. Extra flossing and brushing should stop bleeding gums during menstrual cycles and pregnancy.

Do certain medicines cause bleeding gums?

No, they don’t cause gums to bleed. Germs cause gums to bleed. However, certain medicines, like anti-convulsion drugs such as dilantin and blood pressure drugs, do make your gums more sensitive to plaque that is already there, resulting in more bleeding.

My gums are receded but don’t bleed or hurt, is that a problem?

Yes, it is a problem. When the gums recede, the bone that holds the teeth also recedes. That can reduce the support for the teeth and result in tooth loosening and ultimate loss of teeth.

My gums hurt. What could cause that?

A. Pain in the gums is the result of an acute gum infection. Causes could be gum abscess, or an abscess originating from a tooth. Virus infections such as herpes can make gums sore. Canker sores, cold sores and trench mouth (ANUG) can also make the gums hurt.

I have a bump on my gum that comes and goes. What could that be?

It is probably an abscess that is draining through the gum tissue. It is very important to cure the infection because damage to the bone is happening all the time, even when the bump goes away.

My gums have a whitish color between the teeth. What could that be?

A. It could be a sign of a gum infection called ANUG. This also used be called Trench Mouth and typically occurs in teenagers and young adults who don’t brush and floss regularly when they are going through a period of high stress.

My gums have receded, especially in the front in between the teeth. What could that be?

It could be due to teeth clenching or grinding, damaging the bone. As the bone recedes, so does the gum tissue causing gum recesion.

I have a bad taste in my mouth. Could that be from my gums?

Yes, it could. Bacteria and bacterial products such as sulfur compounds can accumulate and putrefy. These compounds taste and smell like rotting meat - a most unpleasant taste and smell. Unfortunately, most people cannot smell their own breath and don’t notice the foul taste of gum disease because they get used to it.

I am concerned about bad breath. Could that come from gum disease?

Gum disease is by far the number one cause of bad breath. But it can be treated.

Does Listerine help treat gum disease?

Listerine can kill some germs but not the germs that cause periodontal disease, so it is not an effective treatment for gum disease.

Are there any toothpastes or mouthwashes that can prevent gum disease?

Today, the most effective toothpastes and mouth washes to fight periodontal disease are the ones that contain chlorine dioxide. They are designed to neutralize and break up the volatile sulfur compounds that are made by bacteria to break down the gum tissue.

Can’t you just take antibiotics to kill the germs in the plaque?

In the short run, especially for acute gum infections with abscess or pus, you can take antibiotics, but in the long run, antibiotics are not the solution. Effective brushing, flossing and, most importantly, regular dental care is the best answer.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a film that accumulates on the teeth and contains bacteria, bacterial by-products and food particles.

What is calculus or tartar?

hey are both the same thing. If plaque builds up on the teeth and is not removed every day, calcium in the saliva may be deposited into the plaque, creating a hard layer on the teeth, not unlike barnacles on the bottom of a ship. If that is not cleaned off by your dentist, it encourages more plaque to form and leads to gum disease.

Is plaque the problem or is it tartar?

The problem is the bacteria and bacterial by-products in plaque. Tartar or calculus on the tooth makes plaque accumulate faster and together leads to bone loss and gum disease.

How can I have gum disease, my gums don’t hurt?

Gum disease rarely hurts. In fact, sometimes the only sign of gum disease is when a patient notices a tooth has become loose or a bad taste develops in their mouth. At that point, it may be too late to save the tooth. Regular cleanings and check-ups are the key to discover these problems before they get too bad.

How often do I need professional cleanings?

The frequency of professional cleanings depends on the individual. Everyone is different. Some people need more sleep than others to be properly rested, and cleanings are no different. People with good plaque control, daily brushing and flossing and high natural resistance can have cleanings twice a year and still maintain optimal dental health. People with less effective plaque control at home and lower natural resistances need cleanings three or four times a year.

I’ve heard hard brushing can cause gum recession. Is that true?

Hard brushing with a hard toothbrush could cause gum recession over a long period of time but hard brushing is usually not the problem, especially if you use a soft brush.Gum recession is usually due to other factors such as tooth grinding.

What kind of toothbrush is best for your gums?

The best type of brush to use is a soft brush with round ended bristles in the case of a manual brush. Electric brushes are good too.

I have a receded area on my gums and the dentist put in a filling because the tooth was sensitive. Can the recession still be fixed?

Even if there is a filling in the tooth in the receded area, it probably can be fixed. You’ll need to consult with a Periodontist to be sure. The procedure is to remove the old filling or even a crown, graft the gum tissue to fix the recession and, in the case of a crown, make a new one. In the case of a filling, a replacement is usually not needed.

My teeth are all filled can I still get decay?

Yes, you can. A tooth that is filled is actually weaker than a tooth that has not been filled because the seam between a filling and a tooth is not as good as a solid undecayed tooth. In addition, the unfilled tooth area can also decay, just as it did before.

My teeth don’t hurt; why do I need a check up?

Pain is a good indicator that there is a problem, but it is also a late indicator. All dental problems start small and don’t hurt. That is the time to fix them, before they hurt. When a tooth hurts, it may already be abscessed and require a root canal. Don’t wait for pain.

My tooth is sensitive to cold drinks. What could that be?

Sensitivity to cold means that the nerve of the tooth is inflamed. If the sensitivity goes right away after the cold food or beverage is swallowed, the inflammation is usually reversible by fixing the cause, such as a deep cavity, grinding your teeth, or gum recession. If the cold sensitivity lingers, the tooth may need a root canal.

My tooth is sensitive to hot drinks and food. What could that be?

Sensitivity to hot is usually more serious. That often means that the tooth inflammation is more advanced and may not be reversible unless root canal is done.

When I bite down on hard foods, it hurts. What is that?

Biting down on hard foods means that there is inflammation at the top of the root, just like walking with a stone in your shoe would cause your foot to hurt. If it is due to biting too hard on the tooth, such as would be the case with a new filling that is too high, or tooth clenching or grinding, fixing the bite will help. If it is due to an infection in the tooth, a root canal is probably needed.

My teeth have chips in the front. What causes that?

Chips in teeth are caused by mechanical trauma such as a blow to the tooth or, more commonly, tooth grinding. You can see if the chipping is due to tooth grinding by putting your top and bottom teeth together edge to edge, and seeing if the chips or worn spots on the top and bottom teeth line up.

I have little notches in my teeth along the gum line. What causes that?

We used to think that little notches in teeth along the gum line were due to brushing too hard. Now we know that they are actually due to tooth grinding or clenching that literally bends the tooth breaking off the enamel.

I keep getting cavities. What can I do?

You don’t have to keep getting cavities. You have to stop what is causing them. Cavities are due to either eating too much sugar relative to the strength of your teeth and not flossing, or due to old fillings leaking and letting decay under them. You need to discover the problem and then cut down your sugar, start flossing and fix leaking old fillings. Using a prescription strength fluoride is helpful too.

I don’t like ugly black fillings. What are my options?

Today, you do not need to have old fashioned metal fillings in your mouth. Bonded fillings, inlays and crowns are all natural tooth color and can be used to replace old fillings to give you a younger, natural look.

If you cap a tooth, can it ever decay again?

A tooth with a cap is much less likely to decay than one with a big silver filling that is more prone to cracking and leaking. However, a cap is not a permanent solution to prevent decay. You still have to brush and floss and avoid sugar foods because where the cap ends the tooth can still decay.

If I lost a tooth, do I need to replace it?

Except for wisdom teeth, teeth that are lost should generally be replaced because when a tooth is lost, several things happen. The other teeth may start to shift, causing food traps which can lead to more decay or gum disease. In addition, it can throw the bite off leading to bite problems. The last problem is difficulty with chewing, leading to poor digestion and eating processed foods which aren’t as healthy as harder to chew fresh fruits and vegetable and high fiber breads and cereals.

I get food, particularly meat or stringy foods, stuck in between my teeth. Why is that?

Food traps between your teeth may be due to cavities between the teeth, fillings that are breaking or your teeth may be shifting if you have lost and not replaced missing teeth. It is important to fix these problems because the trapped food can cause gum disease in addition to being annoying.

I have fillings in my teeth but they don’t match the color of my teeth.

If you have fillings that do not match the color of your teeth, you can have them replaced with new bonded fillings. Over time, tooth-colored fillings, especially the older ones, can discolor, or the color of your teeth may have darkened due to food or beverage stains. Modern bonded fillings hold their color for much longer than older materials. .

Do you have to cap a tooth that had a root canal?

Usually a tooth has root canal due to severe decay. In that case, a cap is needed to fix the tooth properly so it does not continue to decay or break. Ask your dentist about your specific situation.

My teeth are generally sensitive. What can I do?

Generalized sensitivity of teeth is usually due to gum recession caused by gum disease or tooth grinding due to a bite problem. You need to find the source of the problem and fix it. If it is only one tooth, then it could also be due to decay.

Can I get white fillings instead of dark metal ones?

Yes. Many dentists today do not even use dark silver mercury fillings at all. In our practice we have not used anything but modern, bonded tooth colored fillings for over 15 years.

Is mercury safe in teeth?

The safety of mercury fillings is very controversial. The American Dental Association and many other organizations says it is. Many other people are concerned that it may not be safe. Several European countries do not permit its use in children. The instructions supplied by manufacture of silver mercury fillings in the USA say not to use it in patients with kidney disease or compromised immune systems. The Environmental Protection Agency says that when dentists do a silver mercury filling in a patients tooth, any unused filling material must be stored in a covered container and disposed of as medical waste. Dentists are not allowed to store scrap filling material in an open container. This leads us to believe that there may be a problem,

Why don’t you use silver mercury fillings?

We do not use silver mercury fillings for several reasons. First, they tend to corrode and leak, permitting further decay. Second, they have a tendency to expand over time like ice cubes and can cause otherwise healthy teeth to fracture. Third, they are unattractive and tend to darken teeth. Fourth, although the books says that they are acceptable for continued use, there is some concern about the safety of mercury and some people are intolerant to mercury in fillings.

I want my mercury fillings taken out. Can that be done?

Silver mercury fillings can be removed easily and replaced with tooth colored materials. The dentist does it all the time if there is decay or if they are leaking or broken. They can be removed for cosmetic reasons to lighten dark teeth as well, as if the patient requests it.

I heard gold is best for teeth, but I want a natural look. What are my choices?

Gold is a very excellent material but some people object to its appearance, even in back teeth. Now there are several choices of materials to repair decayed or broken teeth. Laser bonded composite fillings are used for small-to-medium-sized cavities. They are natural tooth color. Gold or porcelain inlays are used for very large cavities. The traditional gold, while an excellent material in terms of durability and strength, is generally not selected in areas where it would be visible. Porcelain, on the other hand is very natural looking. In the case of even more extreme tooth damage, a porcelain crown can be used.

Is there such a thing as a permanent filling?

A. There are three reasons why a restoration in a tooth could fail. First, the material could break or wear out. Second, the remaining tooth could break or start to decay. And third, some conditions such as gum disease could damage the support of a tooth or cause gum recession that would cause a cosmetic problem with an otherwise successful restoration. Based on this, considering that people bite, chew and swallow 24 hours a day, eat cold foods and drinks as low as 35 to 40 degrees (F) to hot beverages as warm as 150 degrees (F), there is nothing that could be considered "permanent". That said, if the material selected is appropriate for the size of the cavity and the individual brushes and flosses daily, eats minimal sugar and uses prescription strength fluoride, most dental repairs will be very long-lasting.

Weak teeth run in my family. How can I help my kids avoid cavities?

To help your kids avoid decay, make sure they are getting optimal fluoride in water or by prescription and minimal sugar. In addition, make sure they are getting dental check-ups twice a year to catch problems while they are small and practice effective plaque removal at home.

How can I get decay when my teeth are already filled?

Teeth that are filled can get more decay if the filling chips or cracks open and starts to leak. That is why the material selected must be strong enough. In fact, an extensively filled tooth is generally weaker than an unfilled tooth. In addition, if the person does not practice effective plaque control and continues to eat too much sugar for their own system, decay can start in the remaining unfilled tooth structure.

What is the best way to check for decay?

To check for decay, you need to use a combination of dental x-rays to "look" in between the teeth where you cannot see. In addition, it is necessary to use a video enhanced system to magnify the size of the image so small cracks or chips in the filling that allow decay can be found. Very large cavities often form under what appears to be acceptable old fillings. These cavities can easily be missed unless the teeth are carefully evaluated.

Are x-rays safe?

X-rays, when used properly, are definitely safe. Over the years, the amount of radiation has been going down as better systems have been developed. Today, the average set of dental x-rays provides far less radiation than a day in the sun. And remember, the dental technician uses a lead apron to cover your neck, chest and stomach to minimize radiation exposure.

How often do you need dental x-rays?

At Kulkarni Dental Care centre, we believe that we must strike a reasonable compromise between making sure that problems are detected and minimizing x-ray exposure of our patients.

Why do you need dental x-rays?

You need dental x-rays because there are some areas like in between the teeth or under the gum line that are just not visible any other way. If the doctor does not catch decay, infection or bone tumors while they are small, and waits for the patient to complain of pain or other symptoms, little cavities can grow to the point where root canal is needed.

I have broken several teeth and had a cap made. Why do teeth break?

Most commonly, teeth break due to large cavities weakening the remaining tooth structure. That is why, with large cavities, they usually need to be fixed with a material that can strengthen the tooth, such as a crown. The other reason teeth sometimes break is from the pressure of tooth clenching or grinding, which is far more common than most people think.

If you have decay, will an x-ray find it?

If you have decay, an x-ray may not find it depending on where the decay is located on the tooth and whether there is a metal filling in the tooth that could block the x-rays. That is why you need to combine dental x-rays and a careful, video enhanced dental examination.

Don’t you have to eat some sugar for energy?

No. The body cannot turn table sugar directly into energy. The body must convert table sugar (sucrose) into glucose to burn it for energy. This is exactly what happens to all carbohydrates and fats we eat, like breads, pasta and potatoes, as well as fruit sugar (fructose) and sugar from grains (maltose). You actually never need any table sugar at all. Ever.!

Do some people just have soft teeth?

Just like the three little pig's houses, some people’s teeth are definitely stronger than others. However, even the little pig with the straw house was doing fine until the Big Bad Wolf came along. People with naturally harder teeth, like the pig living in the brick house, can take more sugar without crumbling, but people with naturally weaker teeth won’t get decay either if they limit their sugar contacts.

If you brush right after eating can you brush away the sugar before it causes decay?

The germs in the plaque begin to eat the sugar as soon as it enters your mouth. By the time you start to brush it’s way too late.

I only eat natural foods, so I have nothing to worry about right?

This is one of the biggest lies of all. Natural just means grown from the soil. There are other "natural" substances like alcohol, tobacco and cocaine that aren’t very good for you either. The only difference between brown or "natural" sugar and white processed sugar is the color. Sugar is sugar.

I brush my teeth 5 to 6 times a day; do I still need to floss?

From a decay point of view, two good brushings a day will clean the places a brush can reach. The problem is that the brush can’t go between the teeth where most decay forms. No amount of brushing will replace flossing. They just don’t do the same spots. Just like cleaning the kitchen 6 times a day doesn’t make the bedroom clean. You need to brush and floss.

If I only eat a little sugar at a time is it less likely to cause decay?

More frequent sugar contacts cause much more decay. The truth is that the number of times per day that you eat sugar is more significant than the total amount of sugar you eat. Follow this logic. The germs in the plaque are very small. In the first bite of a sugar food, they get all the sugar they can eat. It takes the germs about 30 minutes to digest the sugar and turn it to acid before they are ready to eat more sugar. After the first bite of sugar, they are full. If you eat a pie in one sitting, that’s one sugar contact. If you cut it up into 24 pieces and eat one per hour, it is 24 sugar contacts. It may be no less fattening, but it is twenty- four times as decay causing as eating it in one sitting.

If adults outgrow decay, can’t they eat more sugar than kids?

That is like saying that you can out-grow the damaging effects of bullets. In our office, the real truth is that the number of cavities per adult patient is much higher than the number of cavities per child patient.

Can I eat all the sugar I want since my teeth are all filled already?

The filling doesn’t seal the tooth as well as a solid tooth that has no filling. Sugar can seep into these cracks more easily so filled teeth are actually more likely to decay again than unfilled teeth. Always ask the dentist if a cavity is a new one, and caused by sugar, or due to a broken old filling so you understand what your problem is.

Don’t some people have weak teeth and they just can’t avoid decay?

If you cut the number of sugar contacts down below your own threshold, you won’t get decay. Period. Since you don’t know the number for yourself, you can make a simple food diary. Simply write down everything you eat or drink for four consecutive days including weekends and weekdays. Then circle anything that either has sugar in it or that you add sugar to. Then count them up. If you are decay prone, cut the number of times you eat sugar down to three times a day. You’ll watch decay disappear.

Isn’t it hard to get sugar contacts down to the three a day range?

These days, with all the processed foods it isn’t easy. But now that you have some more information, you’ll see how easy it really is. You just need to pick and choose.

My teeth are yellow. What are my options?

Yellow teeth can be whitened by bleaching them or by putting porcelain veneers or crowns on them. If the teeth are not extensively decayed or filled and generally good looking, except for the yellow color, bleaching is the easier, most conservative and least expensive option.

If my teeth are crooked, do I have any options besides braces?

In addition to braces, teeth can be straightened by using porcelain veneers or crowns. This method is especially useful with adults who want a result in two weeks, instead of two years. In addition, if the teeth are dark or have decay or unattractive old fillings, that can all be corrected at the same time.

Is tooth whitening safe?

Tooth whitening is absolutely safe and many studies have demonstrated that tooth whitening does not weaken or damage the teeth.

How old do you have to be to whiten your teeth?

The company who supplies us with the tooth whitening materials we use recommends that it is safe and effective for children age 12 and up.

Can you be too old to whiten your teeth?

You cannot be too old to whiten your teeth. Some of our most excited tooth-whitening patients have been in their seventies and eighties as they found that tooth whitening quickly and easily takes years off their appearance.

I want to improve my smile, but I don’t want fake looking teeth. What can I do?

A dentist trained in proper cosmetic dental procedures does not create the "white chicklet" tooth look you may have seen. We can discuss the shape, color and arrangement of your teeth so you get a great "natural" looking smile.

Is it possible to get a preview of how my teeth could look before doing any cosmetic work?

Yes, you absolutely can get a preview before your work is done. Cosmetic Imaging is a system where we take a picture of your smile and then, in our computer, change your teeth so you can see how great you would look with cosmetic dental treatment.

Can adults get braces or is it just for kids?

Braces are a great option for children and adults. In our practice at Kulkarni Dental Care Centre, we offer braces as well as cosmetic porcelain veneers so the patient can always have the option that is best for their individual situation and lifestyle.

I don’t have a lot of money, can I still improve my smile?

Many cosmetic procedures, such as tooth whitening and cosmetic contouring, which reshapes crooked and misaligned teeth, are not very expensive and can make a big difference in your smile.

I’d like to cap my teeth but I hate it when it looks dark at the gum line. Can that be avoided?

The dark area at the gum line with traditional caps is usually due to metal in the crowns. At Kulkarni Dental Care Centre, with teeth that show when you smile, we avoid metal in crowns whenever possible and use all ceramic crowns.

I don’t have much time, how long does it take to do cosmetic work?

Cosmetic dental procedures can be accomplished in as few as two visits over as little as a week or two. Of course, every patient's situation is different so you need to discuss your specific requirements and circumstances with us prior to starting any cosmetic work.

If I get a cap to whiten my teeth, does that mean I need a root canal?

Getting a cap does not require that the tooth get a root canal.

Bleaching

Does bleaching always work?

A. Bleaching is an inexpensive process that is designed to take the dark pigments out of the teeth. It will not whiten fillings or crowns on teeth. In addition, certain types of discolorations tend to respond better to bleaching than others. Based on our experience bleaching , we can give patients a reasonably accurate predication of the results they can expect with tooth bleaching, but there can be no guarantee of results.

Can you bleach old fillings or crowns?

Bleaching only affects natural tooth structure, not artificial fillings or crowns.

I want to bleach my teeth, but I have fillings or crowns on my teeth. If they won’t bleach what do I do?

If you have old fillings or crowns, don’t be concerned. Bleach your teeth and then, when you are happy with the results, we can replace old fillings or crowns to match your new whiter smile.

Can bleaching weaken my teeth?

Bleaching only takes the dark pigments out of teeth and does not weaken them in any way.

Is bleaching bad for my gums?

The bleaching materials we use today were actually developed originally as a treatment for periodontal disease. Researchers noticed that, while they had no long term benefits for gum disease, the oxygen released during the bleaching process did help kill certain types of bacteria during the actual bleaching sessions.

How long do porcelain veneers take to get?

Porcelain veneers can be done in as little as one to two weeks.

Do porcelains veneers discolor over time?

Porcelain veneers are very strong and the glazed surface is generally impervious to stains. Just like a porcelain dinner plate can be washed, porcelain veneers can be cleaned and professionally polished to keep them looking great.

How long do porcelain veneers last?

Porcelain veneers last for many years. As long as the patient exercises proper home care to prevent decay or gum problems, gets regular professional cleanings at least twice a year and avoids unreasonable force on their teeth, they can expect many years of service from porcelain veneers. You cannot abuse them by using your veneered teeth to crack open nuts, pull pins out of shirts, or as one of our patients said, "use your teeth like a Swiss Army Knife". Doing so would likely cause breakage.

Can I eat normally with porcelain veneers?

You can eat normally with veneers. Foods like corn, apples, chicken, ribs, fresh fruits and vegetables, carrots, etc., are all fine. So are sandwiches and bagels. You cannot use your teeth to break open nuts or eat stale breads that would require a hacksaw without causing veneers to develop cracks or actually break. Repeated abuse of veneered teeth will weaken them and then, one day, something might break while you are eating a tuna fish sandwich on white bread. This would only happen if the veneers had been damaged by prior abuse.

What do you do if something happens to a porcelain veneer?

If a veneer chips or cracks, it can usually be repaired successfully. If it completely breaks, it may need to be replaced.

What is the difference between a porcelain veneer and a crown?

A classical porcelain veneer covers just the outside and biting edge of a tooth and requires a minimal amount of tooth reduction. A crown would go completely around a tooth and require more then twice the amount of tooth reduction. That is why we recommend porcelain veneers unless the tooth is extensively decayed beyond the point where a crown is necessary. Sometimes, in one patient, we use a combination of porcelain veneers and crowns to get the best most conservative result.

Can a porcelain veneer close spaces between my teeth?

Porcelain veneers are an excellent way to close spaces in between teeth in just two weeks with no braces.

Can a porcelain veneer make crooked teeth straight?

Porcelain veneers are an excellent way to make crooked teeth straight in just two weeks with no braces.

Can teeth darken after tooth whitening?

It depends on how they are whitened. The same process that lets us bleach teeth can let them darken again. Teeth are permeable. That means stains can go in and out. Generally teeth that have been bleached will darken a little over time but it would take at least several years for them to return to their original color. If the teeth are whitened with veneers or crowns, they will not darken significantly at all.

If teeth do darken after whitening, what can I do?

If they darken more than you want, you can bleach them again. As long as you save your models and bleaching trays, you can do a touch up bleaching for a few days at any time in the future by purchasing an inexpensive touch-up kit of bleach material.

What can cause teeth to be dark?

Some people simply start out with darker teeth than other people. Anything that could stain a white cloth can cause your teeth to darken. The worst offenders are smoking of any kind, dark beverages like red wine and cokes, and dark gravies and sauces. Skipping regular cleanings also lets deposits build up and penetrate into the tooth to darken them.

If I smoke or eat and drink foods that tend to stain teeth, does that mean I can’t whiten my teeth?

Regardless of your habits, you can have whiter teeth. If your teeth are dark and your habits tend to stain your teeth, you will get a less than desirable result from the tooth bleaching and will have to do it longer and more frequently. You do have other options, such as porcelain veneers, that can give you the color you want without relying on tooth bleaching.

Root Canal

Does root canal have to take many visits to the dentist?

Root canal is done to remove the infection and seal the canals in the tooth. This can often be done in one visit. Sometimes two or three visits are needed depending on the individual tooth and degree of infection.

What does root canal hurt?

Root canal treatment is done in the case of an infected nerve. Usually a tooth having root canal treatment can be made numb with a local anesthetic and it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes, a tooth with an infected nerve does not react to Local anaesthesia as well as a normal tooth and takes more work to get it completely not sensitive.

I had a root canal and then my tooth broke. Why did that happen?

The root canal treatment was fine. The problem is the tooth was weakened by prior decay and required a cap to fix the tooth. If that was not done, the tooth. even with a successful root canal, can break.

Why do people need root canal?

Root canal is needed due to an infection in the tooth. This is usually due to an extremely deep cavity or, less often, due to a blow to the tooth. A tooth could have a deep cavity and the doctor might not know that the tooth needs a root canal because nothing shows in an x-ray and the patient has no pain. Then, a week or a year or many years later, something may show up in an x-ray or the patient could report pain. If that happens, root canal treatment would be done at that time.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal is a process where infection is cleaned out of the inside of the tooth and the canal is sealed to prevent re-infection.

Gum Treatment

If I have my gums treated, can gum diseases come back?

Gum disease can be controlled and slowed down, but in cannot be permanently cured. Anyone with teeth can develop gum disease. If you have already had problems with your gums, you know you have the potential for future problems. However, you do not need to lose your teeth because of it. If you can control the cause of gum disease, your gums can be returned to a state of health and you can consider yourself a "healed periodontal patient".

If my gums aren’t that bad, do I still need surgery?

Periodontal surgery is done in a case where there is extensive gum disease, bone loss or gum recession. In cases where the gum disease is more moderate, more conservative procedures such as scaling and root planing may be performed.

Is there any options besides gum surgery for bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums is a sign of infection but bleeding gums alone do not tell us how extensive the damage is or what treatment is needed. Unless there is an acute abscess, we always start with cleanings, scaling and root planing and, especially, home care instructions. Sometimes that is all that is needed to treat the gum infection.

Can gum recession be prevented?

Gum recession can usually be prevented by detecting a condition that could cause the recession and then stopping it before recession occurs. Examples of causes of gum recession are gum inflammation that could lead to recession and bone loss, tooth clenching and grinding that can lead to bone loss, developmental defects in the gum tissue or cheek muscles and, rarely, people who brush compulsively with a very hard tooth brush.

How is gum recession treated?

Gum recession is treated by first stopping the cause. Then periodontal grafting procedures can be performed to replace the missing gum tissue.

If my tooth is loose, how can it be tightened?

Loose teeth are a sign of bone loss. A tooth with healthy bone will never be obviously loose. If the damage is not too severe, especially if it is due to tooth clenching or grinding, the damage can usually be reversed by fixing the bite. If the tooth is moderately loose due to bone loss, it is often possible to join it to a stronger adjacent tooth, often with a cap to strengthen it. If it is very loose due to severe bone loss, it may not be treatable at all.

Wisdom Teeth

Does everyone have to get their wisdom teeth removed?

Not everyone has to get their wisdom teeth removed but the majority of people simply do not have room for their wisdom teeth to grow in straight and assume a healthy position in their mouth. If they can’t grow in all the way, there is a gum flap that tends to trap food and bacteria. This area is highly prone to infection, and due to the poor blood supply in the area, the infections can get nasty.

My wisdom teeth sometimes hurt and then it goes away. What does that mean?

A. Many people with impacted wisdom teeth - wisdom teeth that have no room to grown in all they way - experience chronic infections. It doesn’t necessarily get serious, but it doesn’t get better either. If they sometimes bother you, it is very likely that they are infected and should be removed before a serious infection develops.

Is there anything you can do if your wisdom teeth hurt?

If your wisdom teeth hurt, the best thing to do is to seek professional care. If you just take pain medicine, the infection can worsen and get out of control, causing severe pain and swelling. Until you can get to a dentist, you can use warm salt water rinses of 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of water. Rinse every hour or two until the symptoms get a lot better and get professional help.

What can I get to make wisdom tooth surgery easier on me?

To make wisdom tooth extraction easier, don’t wait for them to get really infected. At the first sign that they are impacted or could become problematic, schedule a time to remove them. In addition, take extra vitamins and minerals to enhance healing. This can be started 1 - 2 weeks prior to surgery. And lastly, make sure the dentist is experienced in wisdom tooth extractions.

What can I do to heal faster after wisdom tooth surgery?

Faster healing depends on following the doctors instructions of rest after the surgery, using ice on the outside of your jaw, keeping pressure with gauze on the extraction site and keeping your head elevated. In addition, extra vitamins and minerals will aid the body to repair the surgical site.

Do you need stitches after wisdom tooth extractions?

Stitches or sutures after wisdom teeth extractions are often used to securely position the tissues to speed up post extraction healing. Sometimes they are not needed, so it depends on your individual situation.

What is a dry socket?

After a tooth is extracted a blood clot forms in the socket. Then, over the next several weeks and months, the new gum and bone grows into the blood clot and replaces the blood clot. If the blood clot dissolves prematurely, the extraction socket is justify empty, so it is called a dry socket. This leaves the bone uncovered and can be quite painful. This is not an infection so antibiotics are rarely needed.

How is a dry socket treated?

A dry socket, if it occurs is treated to keep the interior walls of the tooth extraction site, under the gum line, covered to take away the pain. Once the blood clot breaks down, there is nothing that can be done except to place medicine in the extraction site until it starts to heal on its own. Some people might need this done once and others might need it done every day or two for a week or more along with appropriate medicine for pain. Although it is quite uncomfortable, it almost always heals uneventfully.

Can a dry socket be prevented?

Studies have shown that premature loss of blood clots happens in 8% to 10% of wisdom teeth extractions. To get the odds in your favor, follow the instructions of the doctor and take extra vitamins and minerals to enhance the healing potential of your body.

Orthodontic Treatment (Braces)

Can braces be removable so I can take them out myself?

Braces can either be fixed on the teeth or they can be removable. The removable type of braces usually are for more minor tooth movement so most orthodontic work is done with non-removable braces. If the orthodontist makes a removable appliance for you, you must still wear it almost all the time, except when eating, in order for it to create the tooth movement you want. Taking it in and out frequently lets the teeth move back and it will take a much longer time to get the results you want.

Can braces be done on the inside so they don’t show?

Braces can sometimes be done on the inside so they are not visible, but not always. Also, it is more difficult to work with braces on the inside and so it usually takes longer and is more expensive.

How long does it take to straighten teeth with braces?

A typical orthodontic case takes around two years but can vary considerably due to the specifics of the individual case. Sometimes young children are treated in two stages, for example, with one to several years in between.

Can adults get braces?

Braces can be used for both adults and children. Typically most orthodontists have 30% to 50% of the patients as adults.

Do you have to get teeth extracted to get braces?

In the past, many patients had some permanent teeth removed in the process of braces. Now, modern orthodontic treatment prefers to keep all of the permanent teeth unless there is severe crowding and there is just no room for all of the teeth.

Do braces cause white spots on teeth?

Braces do not cause white spots on the teeth. White spots are due to the person having braces on their teeth and not properly cleaning their teeth.

Do braces cause teeth to decay?

Braces do not cause decay. Too much sugar and plaque accumulation cause decay. However, braces make it a lot harder to effectively clean your teeth. As a result, we recommend adults and children with braces get their teeth cleaned every three months, use a Water Pik or Hydrofloss irrigator to assist in home care.

Can teeth shift back after braces?

The objective of braces is to move teeth into a position where the bite is good, the smile looks great and the teeth are stable so they won’t shift back. Sometimes this is not done and long-term retainers need to be used or the teeth will tend to shift.

Is there an easy way to keep teeth clean when you have braces?

There is no easy way to keep teeth clean with braces. We recommend that anyone with braces come for professional cleanings every 3 months

I get headaches. Could that be from my teeth?

Headaches are a very broad category of problems and include dozens of potential causes. Dental causes of head, neck or facial pain could include cavities, abscessed teeth, gum infection, cysts, tumors of the jaw bones or swollen glands, broken or cracked teeth and TMJ dysfunction syndrome.

What is TMJ dysfunction syndrome?

TMJ dysfunction is any pain that results from a conflict between the biting surfaces of the teeth and the jaw joints. It is only one specific problem that can occur with the jaw joint. Unless it can be proven that the pain is caused by a conflict between the teeth and jaw joint, it is not TMJ dysfunction.

I get jaw or neck aches. Is that TMJ?

It could be TMJ dysfunction, but it might not. The only way to be sure is to go to a dentist who has specific training in treating TMJ dysfunction and be tested. TMJ dysfunction is easy to misdiagnose and so you need to be sure the dentist has the pre-requisite training.

I have TMJ but was told its stress. Is that true?

Stress does not cause TMJ dysfunction. A conflict between the biting surfaces of the teeth and jaw joint is the cause. Stress can take a patient, who has been tolerating this discomfort, and reduce their tolerance to the point that the pre-existing dental condition begins to cause pain.

I get earaches but nothing the doctor does helps. Could that be due to my teeth?

Earaches have nothing to do with your teeth or TMJ dysfunction. However, if you put your finger in your ear, you can see how close it is to your jaw joint and teeth. If you open and close your mouth while your finger is in your ear, you can actually feel your jaw joint move. As a result, what may feel like a ear ache may in fact be a jaw joint problem.

This dentist said my teeth are fine but I still get head, neck or facial pain. What do I do next?

If the dentist has ruled out tooth problems, then you need to be checked for TMJ dysfunction by a dentist who is specifically trained in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ dysfunction. Most dentists have not had this training.

I had braces, so how could my bite cause headaches?

Braces are great but they have limitations. First, your teeth may be straight but there still could be a conflict between your teeth and jaw joints even after braces. Second, things may have shifted since the braces were taken off.

I have been getting headaches for many years. Isn’t is just stress?

Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. You need to checked by a dentist trained in TMJ dysfunction.

I don’t grind my teeth so how could I have TMJ?

Most people who do grind their teeth do not realize it. Look at your teeth very carefully to see if there is any wear that could be due to tooth grinding, even if you don’t think you are doing it.

What is TMJ? Is it stress or tooth grinding or what?

TMJ dysfunction is the pain that results, and can be proven to be caused, by a conflict between the teeth and jaw joints. The pain is actually muscle pain or cramping from the jaw muscles. These jaw muscles wrap around the entire head.

Could a tooth infection cause headaches?

A tooth infection could definitely cause headaches, particularly an infection in a molar tooth.

Could wisdom teeth cause headaches?

A wisdom tooth problem could definitely cause head pain.

Could gum infection cause head or jaw pain?

A gum infection could also be the cause of head pain.

If I get a headache, I just take a pain pill. Why do I need to do anything else?

Taking a pill to mask the pain of a headache does nothing to solve the problem. Symptoms can continue to worsen even if it doesn’t hurt. Many patients who wind up with severe jaw problems that may require major surgery started out as a TMJ problem caused by the bite that was not properly treated.

How do I find out if I have a bite problem that is causing head, neck or facial pain?

You need to find a dentist with specific training in diagnosing and treating TMJ dysfunction. Most dentists do not have this training so you will need to be very specific in questioning the dentist to determine their qualifications.

If my bite is the problem, do I need braces?

If your bite is the problem, braces could be the solution but may not be needed. The objective is to eliminate the conflict between the teeth and the jaw joints and other methods include a bite splint as a temporary measure and reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth (bite equilibration) as a long term solution.

Would a bite guard help me?

A bite guard, if it is properly made, will definitely take away pain that is due to TMJ dysfunction, as long as it eliminates the conflict between the teeth and the jaw joint. However, it only works when you are wearing it. As soon as you take the bite splint out, your bite goes back to where it was before, so it is not a long-term solution.

I got a bite guard and it didn’t help. Does that mean that I didn’t have a bite problem?

If a bite splint didn’t help, either it was not adjusted well enough to eliminate the conflict between the teeth and jaw joint or, if it was, your bite is not the problem.

Can’t I just use a mouth guard that they sell in a sports store?

The bite guard they sell in a sports store is designed to act as a cushion to protect your teeth in case of a blow to the face. The TMJ bite splint is not

designed to act as a cushion but as a substitute for a properly fitting bite. A properly made bite splint is like when you have a wobbly table in a restaurant. The waiter puts a matchbook under the leg of the table so you have a temporarily stable table. However, when the matchbook is removed, the legs are not equal and the table will wobble again. The solution is to shorten the legs of the table until they are all equal. This is the equivalent of evening the bite by equilibration.

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