Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: I brush every day, but my breath is still not fresh. Is there anything I can do?
A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing, daily flossing, and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, Old Town Dental can offer several solutions.
First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially-prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually breakdown the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem, such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.
Q: What is a crown and why do I need one?
A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.
Q: I know I need X-rays, but I would prefer not to be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?
A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film X-rays. You will find that at Old Town Dental, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth (usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam), that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel, or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?
A: Dr. Hunley has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of unsightly braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation.
Attention to detail, respect for the individual, and a true concern for each patient are the hallmarks of our personal care and our quality product. Old Town Dental is committed to helping you fulfill your ultimate self-image.
Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?
A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently and by putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces, and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.
Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or an implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will restore your smile to its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, Dr. Hunley places a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.
Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?
A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical/dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as many of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We will also assess your gums and will recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.
Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?
A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Old Town Dental’s reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things: our good work and your beautiful smile! Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.
Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this, and what can I do about it?
A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom-fitted nightguard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Dr. Hunley takes great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you suffer from headaches? You may find that a side benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask your Old Town Dental team about having a nightguard custom created especially for you.
Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?
A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing; however, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough “scrubbing” instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or, gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods, or if it occurs every time you brush, contact Old Town Dental to set-up an evaluation appointment.
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is 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 and guarding against disease-causing bacteria.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Q: Sometimes when I chew I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?
A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture, or crack, in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing an inlay/onlay, a porcelain crown, or with more advanced treatment. You want to correct the pain as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the tooth. Contact Old Town Dental today to schedule a visit.
Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?
A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns, including: gaps in teeth; chips and broken teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means; “gummy smiles” (showing too much gum when one smiles); and, crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify most any smile. This procedure can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like this was the best improvement they could have made for their overall confidence. Ask your Old Town Dental team about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile at your next visit, or send us an email.
Q: I want my teeth to be whiter. Do you recommend at-home whitening?
A: Dentist-directed, at-home whitening is an effective way of brightening your smile. Dr. Hunley customizes the treatment to ensure your happiness with the results. Your home-whitening kit involves a special tray that is customized to fit over your teeth. You will also receive prescription whitening gel, which is inserted into the tray before you wear it. Dr. Hunley gives you detailed instructions about how long you should wear the tray each day, and you should expect the entire home whitening process to take between two and four weeks, leaving you with a dazzling smile.
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