Are x-rays really needed?

Yes. X-rays are the only way that we have to evaluate the condition of the roots, the bone around the teeth, and the areas in between the teeth where the teeth touch. We are very conservative in the number of x-rays that we take, and take only needed x-rays. We also use a new technology that reduces the amount of radiation that each film requires by up to 90%. This technology is called “computer generated x-rays” or “digital radiography.” For more information see our web pages on new technology.

Why do I need to floss every day?

The bacteria that causes tooth decay produce a glue that helps them stick to the teeth. After you brush and floss, it takes about 24 hours for the bacteria to reattach to the teeth. Therefore, if you floss every 24 hours the bacteria don’t have time to do any damage. Floss is the only tool that gets to the area between the teeth where the teeth touch. Floss is also the only tool that is able to reach the gums between the teeth. Floss disturbs the bacteria in the gum pockets around your teeth. This helps prevent gum disease.

Why do I need my teeth cleaned so often?

Different periodontal conditions require different intervals between cleanings. Healthy teeth or teeth with mild gingivitis usually require cleanings only every 6 months. The more gum pockets you have, the more places you have for bacteria to hide under your gums and the harder it is for you to maintain healthy gums. It is not unusual for us to recommend a 3 or 4 month interval between cleanings in order to prevent further periodontal damage.

Why would anyone need root canal treatment?

Root canal procedures save teeth that are in serious trouble. Problems can result from a pattern of tooth grinding, injury or trauma, or even from a well-made, large filling. Here’s what happens: a deep cavity or fracture leads to infection of a tooth’s pulp. An abscess forms at the root tip, causing discomfort, swelling, and even bone damage. Without root canal treatment, the tooth could be lost.

First of all, sealants are a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth–premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Why is fluoride so important for my child’s teeth?

Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally. Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay when ingested systemically (in tablet or drop form) or applied to the teeth topically. Some of the primary benefits of fluoride are remineralization–a process that can reverse the beginnings of decay, and strengthening of the tooth’s surface, making it more resistant to decay.

What is the “usual and customary” fee the insurance company mentions? And if my insurance company pays 100%, why do I still have a charge?

Good question. The usual and customary fee is determined by the insurance companies and every insurance company has a different allowable fee for any given procedure. In general, insurance companies do not survey dentists to calculate the so-called allowable fee and these fees are not changed to keep up with the rate of inflation on a consistent basis. Your dentist must calculate his or her fees to be fair and reasonable. The fees that your insurance company pays are the contract established between you and the insurance company. If the insurance company has a “copay,” (that is, a fee that the patient must pay in order to receive service), it is insurance fraud if the dentist does not charge this, and can result in the loss of the dentist’s license to practice. Should you have any questions regarding your billing, contact your dental office!

My neighbor has the same insurance company as I do. Why do they pay more for his fillings and crowns than for mine?

Each group within an insurance company has different plans, which means that sometimes the same dental procedures are paid for at different amounts. It is very important to study the booklet you receive from your company regarding your insurance. We can help by checking on your insurance benefits via a computer program, but we can’t guarantee the information we receive is completely reliable. A very important aspect of your insurance benefits to note is the maximum amount your insurance will pay yearly. Although we generally keep track of how much there is available yearly, we have no information on any dental charges made elsewhere. For instance, if you’ve been to an endodontist for a root canal, we would not have any records as to how much of your yearly benefits were used for that treatment. We’ll work together with you to help you get the most out of your insurance benefits.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a way to replace a lost tooth or teeth by use of a titanium “tooth root” that is surgically placed to fuse with the jawbone. A crown is fabricated to precisely fit the titanium root. The result is a tooth (or teeth) that look, feel and work just like natural teeth.

Wisdom teeth are often removed because they are, in many cases, nonfunctional. This third molar may began to erupt and cause crowding of teeth and/or are susceptible to decay and gum infection. They may cause problems even if they are not present in the mouth. However, this does not mean that all wisdom teeth should be removed in all circumstances. Each case should be evaluated by a dentist. If extractions are recommended, it is far easier to remove them at age 18-19 rather than later on in life since the roots continue to form and may “lock in” the teeth. Often the removal of wisdom teeth is referred to a specialist, due to the location and possible complications.

I came in for a filling that I needed to have done for a while. When the filling was done, you told me that the decay was deep and close to the nerve. The tooth hurt on and off, and then I needed a root canal and a crown. The tooth hadn’t hurt before the filling, so why did this happen to my tooth?

Teeth with large fillings, deep decay or fractures can contribute to problems with the nerve that is inside the tooth. The nerve can cause tooth sensitivity and/or the nerve inside the tooth may decide to die, creating the need for a root canal (endo). If the nerve has died, there may be no pain until an abscess turns into a toothache. The more drilling that is needed on an area of decay, the more likely the chance of nerve damage. Because we would like to help you prevent the chances of this happening, we recommend regular six month check-ups, annual x-rays and good daily dental hygiene. Our goal is to help you maintain your dental health in the most positive way possible!

The last time I was at the dental office for my regular six month cleaning, I waited for ten minutes while other people were taken back. Why did others get to go before me?

Good question. At times the hygiene rooms are running on time and the Doctor’s rooms are a little behind. If your appointment is with the dentist, you may see other patients going ahead of you. However, these patients are scheduled to see someone else and are not being given a higher priority than you. We know that your time is valuable and we strive to be on time for your appointments. We schedule restorative and hygiene patients in advance so that our time is used efficiently. We also want to see patients that have emergencies such as a broken tooth or a painful toothache. Our policy is to keep you informed of our schedule changes. We appreciate, too, our patients keeping us informed if your schedule changes. 24 hours advance notice gives us time to make the necessary adjustments.