Procedures and Questions
New Patient Exam and Cleaning
Every new patient to our practice will be asked to fill out a personal information and health questionnaire form. We will review your medical history pertaining to dental treatment and oral health. Your first appointment starts with a full mouth series of x-rays to visualize teeth, roots, and supporting bone, followed with a thorough comprehensive examination evaluating your teeth, gum health, and an oral cancer screening. During your new patient examination, we will have a joint discussion of your oral health, answering any questions and concerns you may have. We will then do a routine, gentle cleaning and reappoint any other necessary treatment, such as a deeper cleaning.
Does my insurance cover my exam and cleaning?
Most insurance should cover preventative care (exams and routine cleanings) and most do not have an out-of-pocket patient portion. We will check with your insurance for your coverage. If you do not have dental insurance, call our office as we offer a discount membership plan!
I am concerned about radiation from dental xrays.
Dental x-rays are crucial in diagnosis and during certain dental treatment. They show inside and in between the teeth where our eye cannot see even with the highest magnifications. With newer technology in digital x-rays, the radiation from the digital dental radiographs are now lower than ever. Routine x-rays are equivalent in radiation as a short 1-2 hour flight flying in an airplane high up in the sky. Nevertheless, we are always mindful in using lead aprons and thyroid protectors and only take x-rays when needed. We recommend routine check-up x-rays once a year. If you are pregnant or may think you are, please let us know and we will accomodate accordingly.
We will first assess over the phone what type of dental emergency you are experiencing. If there is severe pain, swelling, a broken front tooth, we will always attempt to bring you in as soon as possible to take x-rays of the area and discuss your treatment options.
What can I do in the meantime?
Over the counter pain medications can help relieve pain temporarily. Warm salt water rinses can help any gum bleeding or discomfort.
Scaling and Root Planing
During our dental exams, x-rays and gum measurements are taken to assess the conditions of the gums and the underlying bone level. Otherwise known as a “deep cleaning”, scaling and root planing may be necessary for patients with periodontal “gum” disease. Scaling and root planing is the removal of plaque and tartar underneath the gums. In general, we numb one side of the mouth and perform the scaling and root planing procedure on that side and you will return for the other side at a following visit.
What is a periodontal maintenance cleaning?
A periodontal (gum) maintenance cleaning is done every 3-4 months afte the scaling and root planing procedure. A periodontal maintenance cleaning does not require numbing, but we still clean under the gums to help maintain the peridontal (gum) health.
What is gum surgery?
When the gum health is more severe, you may eventually lose your tooth. More advanced gum disease will be referred to the periodontist (gum specialist) as they can perform specific periodontal surgeries on the affected sites to help improve gum health.
Dental fillings may be needed for early cavities (tooth decay) and small chips on teeth. Although a small to medium sized cavity usually has no symptoms, it is important to remove the cavity before the condition gets worse. During a filling appointment, we will numb the tooth by using special techniques such as a special numbing jelly to make the experience as comfortable as possible. We will remove the cavity and then place a tooth colored filling (known as a composite).
Is that a stain or a cavity?
If discoloration is present on a tooth, we will diagnose whether it is a stain or a cavity. A cavity will feel soft or sticky when checked with the dental instrument, and a stain will not. Stains do not present any negative consequences besides a possible esthetic issue.
Do you offer white/tooth colored fillings?
Yes, we do the white/tooth colored fillings, called composite resin fillings. Composite fillings have become very durable and have the benefits of matching your tooth in color.
Can I replace my silver fillings with white fillings?
Silver amalgam fillings were commonly placed on posterior teeth in the past. It is our philosophy to repair them only if they are broken or have a cavity. If it is a great esthetic concern, we will discuss with you the best possible solutions - informing you of the benefits and risks.
A root canal may be needed to save the tooth when a large cavity has reached the nerve in the center of the tooth. Sometimes a root canal may also be needed due to tooth trauma or a cracked tooth. During the procedure, we remove the nerve, clean the canals, and then seal the canals. There is then a hole on the top of the tooth where the root canal was done that will require a build-up filling followed by a crown. If a root canal is postponed, the infection can result in an abscess and severe swelling.
My tooth has pain - do I need a root canal?
A root canal is a possibility, but there are many other causes of tooth pain as well that may not require a root canal. We recommend a thorough evaluation of the area to first diagnosis the problem.
Crowns and Veneers
A crown is a “cap” that provides support to a weaker tooth. A crown may be needed when the cavity is larger, the tooth is broken, or after a root canal. We create a space for the crown on the weak tooth and take an impression of the tooth. We then bring you back at a following appointment to place the crown on the tooth. A veneer is a half crown for the front teeth to improve the esthetics of the teeth.
What material is the crown made of?
Nowadays our crowns are made out of all porcelain and are very durable. For front teeth, we use a more esthetic porcelain for improved cosmetics. If the patient prefers, we can still do a gold crown for back teeth as they work very well in those locations.
When a tooth is severely broken, infected, or loose, the tooth may not be salvageable and a tooth extraction may be the only option. We do our best to profoundly numb the entire area first. After the extraction, a bone graft may be recommended on the same day. The bone graft helps to preserve the bone level at the extraction site.
Will I feel pain after a tooth extraction?
It is normal to feel some pain afterwards. As the healing site improves, the tenderness around the area improves after a couple weeks. Being gentle around the wound site and following the home care instructions will decrease the chance of complications and speed up the healing process. If the pain persists or you feel that the wound site is not healing well, we advise to have the extraction site checked.
Dentures are removable appliances that are an option to replace missing teeth. Dentures can be complete or partial depending on the number of remaining teeth. Generally, it takes 4-5 appointments to fabricate dentures.
What is the process of having a denture made?
Dentures usually require 4-5 appointments to fabricate and follow up appointments for denture adjustments. We first take upper and lower jaw impressions at the office, then bite measurements and shade matching are done at the following visits. The dentures are fabricated at the dental lab, and the final visit involves delivering the denture and going over home care instructions. It is common to return for follow up visits for adjustments.
Dental Implants and Bridges
Dental implants and bridges are a "fixed"/non-removable replacement for missing teeth. A bridge is three crowns connected to replace a missing space: one crown over the missing space and two retainer crowns on adjacent teeth on each side of the missing tooth. A dental implant consists of a titanium implant with a crown to replace each missing space.
What if I did not replace the missing space/tooth?
We recommend replacing the missing space/tooth to improve your chewing function, balance the bite, restore esthetics, and to prevent the adjacent teeth from tilting into the missing space.
Clear aligners are clear trays that help straighten crowded teeth, close spaces between teeth, or improve any bite issues. We first want to do a comprehensive evaluation and address any issues prior to clear aligner treatment - this can range from repairing cavities to improving gum health. We then take an impression of your existing teeth and clear aligner trays are fabricated. New trays are changed out about every two weeks and the treatment length depends on the complexity of the case.