As soon as you start to see teeth. Many of us remember being scared of the dentist as a child (or we know people who had a bad experience). It is important to us to create a fun and safe environment for children. To help accomplish this, we offer FREE HAPPY VISITS for young children. Meeting a child with the parents, picking out a toy or maybe making a balloon animal – these things go a long way toward building a rapport with a child, so they see us as friends and caregivers. This also gives us a chance to make sure the teeth are developing normally and answer any questions you may have about oral health and diet.
Do baby teeth need to be filled if they have cavities?
Maybe. If a baby tooth is loose or close to falling out, it often doesn’t make sense to put a filling in it. But, if a cavity is present in a tooth that we anticipate won’t be falling out for awhile, then it makes more sense to save the tooth with a filling. There are a few different reasons for this. First, baby teeth can develop an abscess which can cause a toothache, just like in adult teeth. Second, baby teeth act as space maintainers for adult teeth. So, if a baby tooth develops a toothache and has to be removed, the other teeth may shift slightly. This can create complications that may require braces (or more extensive braces) as the adult teeth try to grow into a space that may now be crowded by shifting teeth. Third, there have been studies that indicate that decay left in baby teeth will later spread to the adult teeth.
Why do I need an exam by the doctor if all I want is a cleaning?
This question comes up when a patient, new to our office, calls in to request just a cleaning. In Oregon, a dentist is required to evaluate a new patient before initiating treatment. Some individuals have health conditions that may require the attention of the doctor before a cleaning can be safely performed (they may require pretreatment antibiotics or a holiday from a blood thinner). Other individuals may have undiagnosed periodontal disease. This can lead to the loss of the bone and gums supporting the teeth. Areas with bone loss may require extra attention during the cleaning.
How often do I need a cleaning?
For most patients, a cleaning every 6 months will be sufficient to keep your teeth clean and healthy. This also gives your dentist the opportunity to evaluate your dental health and observe areas he may be keeping an eye on. Some patients who have issues with bone loss (periodontal disease) may require more frequent cleanings.
How does bleaching teeth work and is it safe?
Our patients are often concerned that their teeth are not as white as they would like. Bleaching under the supervision of a dentist is a safe way to improve on this. If the enamel (outer portion of the tooth) is stained, a good cleaning can leave the teeth looking whiter. In most cases the inner tooth (dentin) is dark in color and the more transparent enamel lets this show through. When we “bleach” the teeth, we use a carbamide peroxide to break up the stain particles within the dentin. Bleach trays are custom made for each individual to improve the whitening process and help minimize excess material on the gums. This type of cosmetic dentistry is quite popular.
What about laser bleaching?
There is some controversy about this in the dental community. The theory behind laser bleaching is that the heat from the “laser” light acts as a catalyst to speed up the bleaching process. While some studies seem to suggest that this ends up being a more efficient way to bleach the teeth, other studies have questioned any benefit as just being transient. Laser bleaching usually uses a very concentrated form of peroxide and many feel that the process dehydrates the tooth making it look whiter. The problem is, as the tooth rehydrates, there is a rebound to the darker color that then requires the use of home trays to continue the bleaching process.
I will admit that I receive a lot of questions about this from friends and acquaintances, outside of the dental office, who are interested in the latest techniques. And, in our office, we invest in proven technology for our patients. The problem is that most of the “dental gurus” that I respect in research and on the lecture circuits still are questioning laser bleaching effectiveness. If and when the process is perfected, we will feel comfortable offering it as a service to our patients.
You can read a little more about this on the following link. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89514447
How about implants? Do you place them or do I have to go to an oral surgeon?
Yes, we place implants and restore them. One of our new patients was a real catalyst for dental implant restoration in our office. She had been referred out of her previous office to have a painful tooth removed. She was going to have to wait quite awhile before she could have it removed. Quite by accident, she ended up at our office and we removed it that day. When it was time to replace the lost tooth we sent her for an implant consult with a specialist. It was too cost prohibitive and we were guilty of sending her somewhere else for treatment. An implant was the only treatment option to replace the tooth, so it became apparent that we had to offer implant restoration in our practice to at least try to make the option more realistic for our patients.
We have been conducting implant restoration ever since (and I am proud to say that patient has become a big advocate for our practice). Placing the implant also gives us more control over the result of the final restoration. A successful implant isn’t just one that integrates into the bone, the final tooth needs to be functional and look good. We can discuss and plan with you how best to restore the implant to replace missing teeth or stabilize a denture.