Below are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please let us know.
Click on the question below to see the answer.
A: If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental procedures may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.
Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.
There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full dental make-over. Ask Dr. Andow how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.
- Teeth Whitening
- Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings
- Porcelain Veneers
- Porcelain Crowns
- Dental Implants
A: Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth. Veneers change the size, shape and color of your teeth. This procedure is used to repair fractured teeth, teeth darkened by age or medication, or a crooked smile. They are very durable and do not stain, making them a very popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile.
A: Having white teeth has become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients. There are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile so Dr. Andow has done extensive research to provide you with the most effective and safest teeth whitening system available today.
A: You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though Dr. Andow or his dental hygienists may recommend more visits if they feel that you would benefit with more frequent check-up appointments.
Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. Click here to see what we do at your check-up appointment.
A: Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning. There are various reasons for bad breath, but in healthy people the major reason is due to bacterial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70%.
What may cause bad breath?
- Morning time– Decreased saliva flow during sleep reduces cleansing action allowing bacteria to grow.
- Certain foods– Garlic, onions, etc.
- Poor oral hygiene habits– Food remaining in the mouth promotes bacterial growth.
- Periodontal (gum) disease– Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
- Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances– May also contribute to bad breath.
- Dry mouth (Xerostomia)– Caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
- Tobacco products– Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
- Dieting– Certain chemicals are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
- Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals– Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
- Certain medical conditions and illnesses– Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.
A: Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. The frequency that you should brush and floss will be determined on how well you control this plaque and bacteria.
Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.
Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.
Toothbrushing– Brush your teeth at least two to three times a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Dr. Andow recommends the Rotadent® as it is more gentle on the gums, reducing your chance of toothbrush abrasion.
Flossing– Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces but it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Rinsing– It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with Dr. Andow or his dental hygienists on its appropriateness for you.
A: Brushing your teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, your toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal disease.
How to floss properly:
- Take 12-16 inches of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches of floss between the fingers.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
- Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
A: Four out of five people have gingivitis or periodontitis and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have gingivitis or periodontitis without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.
Gingivitis begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning stages of periodontitis. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Red and puffy gums– Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Bleeding gums– Gums should never bleed, even with vigorous brushing flossing.
- Persistent bad breath– Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- New spacing between teeth– Caused by bone loss.
- Loose teeth– Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- Pus around the teeth and gums– Sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gums– Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Tenderness or Discomfort– Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Q: How do you treat gingivitis or periodontitis?
A: Gingivitis or periodontitis is a chronic condition that needs immediate attention. Through a series of periodontal cleanings, root planing & scaling and/or local antibiotics, this condition can be controlled. Periodontal surgery is only necessary for severe cases.
A: Sensitive teeth often come from the fact that your gums have slightly receded. This recession of the gum line allows the underlying dentin to show through which allows water and food easier access to the sensitive nerve. To manage this, there are a number of toothpastes and gels that can be applied. Speak to us in more detail if you have sensitive teeth.
A: Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.
Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them.
Because of Dr. Andow's philosophy, holistic approach to dental treatment and the toxicity of mercury, he has felt that it is safer and healthier for his patients not to place amalgam fillings in their teeth.
Q: What is a Dental Implant?
A: A dental implant is a replacement for a missing tooth or tooth root. Made from titanium, this screw-like object is inserted under the gum and directly into the upper or lower jaw. There is usually minimal discomfort involved with this procedure. After a period of a few months, the dental implant and the bone fuse together (integrate). This creates an anchor for a new crown or bridge to be placed on the dental implant.
With major advancements in dentistry and dental implants, most people are candidates for dental implants. There may be exceptions due to chronic illness, heart disease, and severe osteoporosis. With routine dental hygiene appointments and proper home care, a dental implant can last over 20 years.
The benefits of dental implants
- Dental implants look and function like natural tooth.
- Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth.
- Dental implants are maintained by routine hygiene visits.
- Dental implants decrease the possibility of bone loss, periodontal disease, tooth movement and further tooth loss.
- Dental implants replace the need for a removable full or partial denture.
- Dental implants focus only on the tooth or teeth that are missing. A traditional bridge would involve the two adjacent teeth.