Frequently Asked Questions

General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Q-My back teeth have a lot of silver and gold. Is there a less obvious way to fill cavities?

A-New advances in tooth-colored porcelain and composite materials not only allow fillings to go unnoticed, but are stronger and more wear-resistant than silver and gold.

Q-There's a big gap between my two front teeth. Can that be changed?

A-Yes. Bonded veneers can close gaps and help create the smile you desire. Bonded resins generally require one office visit, while porcelain veneering takes two. Bonded veneers, along with good oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, are effective ways to enhance a smile. A cosmetic dentist can explain the various techniques and help determine which is the best suited to your specific needs.

Q-How can I make my discolored teeth whiter?

A-Tooth whitening, the process for lightening discolored teeth, can be accomplished in the dentist's office or with dentist-supervised, at-home systems. Teeth can be whitened to the desired shade over one office visit. At-home systems should be individually fitted by a cosmetic dentist.

Q-I don't like my teeth or my smile – what can I do?

A-A wide variety of options are available to improve how your teeth work and the way your smile looks. Check out our “Cosmetic Dentistry " section to see how other patients with similar problems were helped.

Q-How much does it cost to get a great smile?

A-Like most services, cost will vary based on the time required and the difficulty of the procedures. Generally, improving a smile will require a combination of treatment options such as bleaching, reshaping gums and using bonded materials (resin or porcelain) to improve the appearance of teeth. A great way to start is having a consultation with us to determine the ways that you can reach your goals. Improving your smile is an investment in you.

Q-What are some of the benefits of cosmetic dentistry?

A-A great smile should improve your self-confidence, which can have a positive impact on the social and professional aspects of your life. Cosmetic dentistry is not just about pretty smiles though. New techniques and materials are available for back teeth as well as the ones you see when you smile. Now your mouth can look great, get healthy and function better at the same time. Ask our dentists what's available for you.

Q-How many office visits will it take to fix my teeth and improve my smile?

A-That will vary for each person, depending on his or her needs. Sometimes, you can dramatically improve your oral health and appearance in just a couple of visits. Our team of dentists will work to make your treatment as convenient as possible, perhaps choosing slightly longer visits instead of more trips to the office. Talk to your dentist about your goals and concerns so the best plan can be developed for your individual situation. If you start today, a new smile can be yours sooner than you think.

Q-Is my new smile permanent?

A-With good home care and regular visits to your dentist, modern materials can last for many years and possibly decades. Like most things, excellent maintenance will extend the life of your dental restorations.

Tooth Whitening

Q- Why do my teeth have stains and discolorations?

A-Most stains are caused by age, tobacco, coffee, or tea. Other types of stains can be caused by antibiotics, such as tetracycline; or too much fluoride.

Tooth Whitening

Q- Why do my teeth have stains and discolorations?

A-Most stains are caused by age, tobacco, coffee, or tea. Other types of stains can be caused by antibiotics, such as tetracycline; or too much fluoride.

Q- What treatments are used for stained teeth?

A-Supervised bleaching procedures that are done in-office and at-home have become among the most popular treatment options. In some cases, the procedure is performed entirely in the office, using a light or heat source to speed up the bleaching process. In other cases, an oral health care professional gets the procedure started during an office visit and then gives you what you need to complete it at home. Still another popular procedure is one that you complete entirely at home.

At home procedures, sometimes called nightguard vital bleaching, consist of placing a bleaching solution, usually a peroxide mixture, in a tray (nightguard) that has been custom fitted for your mouth by an oral health care professional. The bleaching solutions may vary in potency and may be worn for an hour, or throughout the night. Your oral health care professional can advise you on the appropriate type of application and the length of time needed to whiten your teeth, based on the severity of tooth discoloration and your specific needs.

Q- How effective are bleaching systems?

A- Bleaching is effective in lightning most stains caused by age, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Based on clinical studies, 96 percent of patients with these kinds of stains experience some lightening effect. Other types of stains, such as those produced by tetracycline use or fluorosis (too much fluoride), respond to bleaching less reliably. If you have a tooth-color filling when your teeth are bleached, the filling will stay yellow—dental restorations do not change color when tooth whitener is applied.

Q-Should I bleach my teeth before I have other restorations performed?

A-Yes, should the restorations be visible when you smile, bleaching is advised to be performed before any cosmetic restorations to guarantee a perfect shade match.

Q-Are there any side effects to tooth bleaching?

A-In some studies, patients have experienced uncomfortable short-term side effects when having teeth bleached. Hydrogen peroxide can increase temperature sensitivity in the teeth, particularly at higher concentrations.

Therefore, bleaching is a procedure best done under the care of an oral health care professional . Still, the general health risks of bleaching systems are minimal as far as your body is concerned. Applications are controlled so that you don't swallow hydrogen peroxide.

Q-Can I get the same results with the over the counter products?

A-Most of the whitening products (such as the strips) on the market will either take much longer (3 weeks) to obtain less/similar results and some products such as the whitening toothpastes or gels are just not effective. A lot of the whitening toothpastes are very abrasive and are meant to just get rid of surface stains and not to actually bleach the teeth. In addition due to their abrasiveness they may cause tooth sensitivity in the long run.

Porcelain Veneers

Q-What are "dental veneers"?

A-Dental Veneers can be a less expensive and less invasive alternative to crowns. They are an ideal choice for people with severe staining and discoloration caused by coffee, soda or cigarettes. They can also be used to correct crooked, chipped, misshapen and oddly shaped teeth. Unlike tooth crowns, Veneers do not require the dentist to remove much of the tooth itself although in certain circumstances removing a part of the tooth might be necessary. Be sure to discuss these requirements with your dentist before the procedure. Veneers will not stain and they are very durable, lasting anywhere from ten to fifteen years and they are perfect for people looking to acquire a pleasant smile.

The first step in getting tooth veneers is to have your dentist cast moldings of your teeth. Once these moldings are cast, the veneers themselves are created. Veneers are essentially thin slices of porcelain or plastic molded to the shape of your teeth. The dentist will then lightly buff the outer layer of your teeth to allow for the added thickness of the veneer. In certain cases, he may also have to remove a part of your tooth. The dentist will then use cement to bond the veneer to your tooth. Be sure to request a temporary placement in the beginning to make sure you are happy with the results. Once you are satisfied with your new smile, the dentist will then cleanse your teeth with chemicals and replace your veneers using a permanent cement and a light beam to achieve a durable bond

Q-What is the difference between resin (bonding veneers) and porcelain veneers?

A-Bonding veneers are composed of a resin which is not as durable as the lab processed porcelain veneers and because they are a resin, they do tend to stain/ darken over time. Porcelain veneers are lab processed and are custom made to fit perfectly over the existing tooth. Both procedures require some reduction of the enamel to make room for the veneer or bonding. The porcelain veneers require two visits since lab work is involved; whereas the resin veneers may be performed in one visit.

Dental Implants

Q-What is a dental implant?

A-Dental implants are titanium bolts which are surgically screwed into your jawbone to allow for a realistic looking crown to be anchored in place. Implants can be a welcome alternative for people missing most or all of their teeth and can also be used to replace a single missing tooth. The procedure requires surgery and, depending on the size and shape of your jawbone, might also require a bone graft. However, once it has ‘taken', the implant will last a lifetime. The crowns anchored to an implant do have to be replaced every ten to fifteen years.

There are also a number of variables depending mostly on the shape of the jawbone and the number of implants that need to be placed. The surgery to insert the implant into your jawbone can require a three to six month healing period. In certain cases it might be possible to connect the prosthesis, whether it be a crown, a bridge or a full denture immediately after the surgery, this depends on each individual case.

But once the implant has fused with the surrounding bone, the resulting anchor is very strong and durable and makes for excellent results.

Q-What are the dental implant pros and cons?

A-Dental implants are a dependable and life long cosmetic dentistry procedure. Compared with bridges that require certain degree of adjacent tooth reduction, and dentures which sometimes feel loose and unstable, they provide a permanent solution that is both functional and natural appearing.

Dental implants are not without their downside. Other than the considerable expense involved, the procedure can also be time-consuming once preparation and healing time are factored in. There can also be some amount of pain involved throughout the procedure. Finally, as with any form of complex surgery, there is always the risk of complication.

Tooth Crowns

Q-What is a "tooth crown"?

A-There are a variety of factors that may contribute to the deterioration of teeth over the course of time. Age, tooth decay, defective fillings, improper bites and chewing patterns all play a role in the eventual wearing down and cracking of teeth. Dental crowns can reverse the effects of time by covering the entire visible surface of a tooth with enamel and porcelain to both strengthen the tooth and increase its durability. Crowns also improve the appearance of worn down and damaged teeth. Your dentist can tell you which problem areas in your mouth might be helped by the placement of a crown.

Crowns come in two basic types: porcelain fused to metal and full porcelain crowns. Porcelain fused to metal crowns are an option in cases where extra resistance is needed for any given reason. Full porcelain crowns are very popular as they can be made to closely resemble natural tooth color and transparency. Advancements in composite resin materials and bonding technology have also limited the need for metallic crown anchors that hold the crown in place.

Dental Bridges

Q-What is the dental bridges procedure?

A-A dental bridge is basically a false tooth (also known as a pontic) which is placed in the space left by a missing tooth. Porcelain crowns on either side of the tooth are bonded with resin to the pontic in what is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure can be used to replace one or more missing teeth.

Bridges reduce the risk of gum disease and help correct some bite issues. They can last for a long time.

Q-What are the pros and cons of dental bridges?

A-Bridges appear natural and blend in well with your existing teeth. They can also usually be set in only two office visits to your dentist. With a regimen of good oral hygiene they can last as many as ten years or more.

The biggest risk in having a dental bridge is the possibility of gum disease if a serious commitment to oral hygiene is not made. Another minor side effect is a mild sensitivity to extreme temperatures during the laboratory process, while you are wearing your temporal crowns.

Dental Bonding

Q-What is the dental bonding procedure?

A-Dental bonding is a procedure that uses a composite resin to restore and reshape damaged and decayed teeth in a variety of manners. Bonding can be used for everything from removing stains to closing gaps in teeth to correcting crooked or misshapen teeth. A cosmetic dentist will apply a bonding material to your tooth, shape and sculpt it and then harden the material using a high-intensity light. The resulting new surface is then finely polished. Composite bonds can last from seven to eleven years.

Minor dental bonding procedures can usually be completed in one office visit for small fixes and for replacing fillings. More complicated bonding procedures can require additional time and visits and may involve the casting of a mold and the use of temporary fillings while the permanent bond is cast by the lab. These types of bonds are usually made of porcelain, color-matched to your existing teeth and provide a durable and stain resistant solution to your problem.

Q-What are the pros and cons of dental bonding?

A-Dental bonding is an alternative to the use of silver fillings and has many advantages over them. Since the composite resin used for bonding can adhere directly to the tooth, bonds are more structurally sound. Also, composites can be color-matched to existing teeth and are therefore useful for fixing minor cracks, chips and gaps.

The only disadvantage to using composites for dental bonding is the additional cost involved.

TMJ -Temporomandibular Joint

Q-How is TMJ syndrome diagnosed?

A- TMJ syndrome is difficult to diagnose, not only because of its potentially large number of disparate symptoms, but also because any of those symptoms can be associated with other conditions. Before arriving at a diagnosis of TMJ syndrome, the doctor must first eliminate other conditions that could be producing the symptoms. A professional diagnosis is necessary, our professional will be glad to help.

Q- Why are ear symptoms associated with TMJ disorders?

A- Because of the close proximity of the ear tissues to the TM Joint. It is not uncommon to find on x-ray that the Condyle Head is improperly positioned in the Joint space such that it is in intimate contact with the Tympanic bone. The consequence often is ear pain in the absence of infection, a sense of fullness, or stuffiness, in one or both ears, and sometimes ringing in the ears.

Q- What is a "locking" episode?

A- A "locking" episode can occur during opening or closing movement. What happens is that the patient experiences an interruption of jaw movement - a "catch" or a "stop", and in order to complete the movement must jiggle, or somehow, self manipulate the jaw.


Q- How long will dentures last?

A- With normal wear and care most dentures should last 5-7 years. In fact, we recommend replacement after that time due to the wearing down of the acrylic and tooth materials. Plus, the bone and tissue in your mouth change as you age, so your denture just won't fit your mouth as well as it should anymore. When a denture is not fitting properly, health problems often result.

Q- How will dentures affect my appearance?

A- A new, properly fitted denture will help you look better by providing the support your lips need, and by giving your face and smile a more natural appearance. Having good-looking teeth also gives you the confidence and freedom to smile and live life to the fullest

A tell-tale sign that it's time to replace your dentures- when you notice sagging facial muscles, excessive wrinkling and protruding lower jaw.

Q-Will people know I wear dentures?

A- Our dentures are custom-crafted by hand to ensure a natural, life-like appearance. The acrylic has fibers throughout so it looks like real gum tissue. Plus, we provide our patients the choice of teeth in different shapes and sizes with shading and blending that mimics natural tooth enamel. We also work hard to provide you with the best possible fit to avoid slipping, clicking and slurred speech. The only thing people will notice is your beautiful, natural looking smile.

Q- What is a partial denture?

A- Partial dentures are removable dental appliances for patients who need to replace just a few missing teeth. (Full dentures replace all of your teeth, either upper, lower or both.) Arches are made consisting of replacement teeth and are attached with clasps to the remaining natural teeth for support and retention. Partial dentures can be used on the upper or lower arches.


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