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Dentist answering questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Which type of toothbrush should I use?
Is one toothpaste better than others?
How often should I floss?
What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?
What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?
What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?
Does sugar cause cavities?
How does fluoride help my teeth?
Why do my teeth feel sensitive?
Is there anything I should do before my appointment?
What are X-rays?
Are X-rays safe?
What are Dental Insurance Coverage types?
Dental Insurance:  What is a yearly maximum?
How does your mouth affect your overall health?


Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleaning.

Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.

Q: How often should I floss?
A: Flossing once per day helps to prevent cavities forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing regularly also helps to keep your gums healthy.

Q: What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure , and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as “crowns”. However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as “caps” and the gold or stainless steel ones “crowns.”

Q: What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.

Q: What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health-related reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), some patients today are requesting “white” or tooth-coloured composite fillings. Even though composite fillings cost more than amalgam fillings, patients like the way they match the tooth colour. Other patients like the cost effectiveness and durability of amalgam fillings. Most of the time, the patient’s preference determines what type of filling is used. So be sure to tell the dentist if you have a preference. However, fillings cannot be used in every situation and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.

Q: Does sugar cause cavities?
A: Plaque is a material that forms on your teeth daily. When sugar combines with the bacteria in plaque it produces acids that damage the enamel on your teeth. Although decreasing sugar intake will help, it is impossible to avoid sugar completely, as it is naturally in many of our foods, including fruits and vegetables. In order to maintain healthy teeth and gums, you must brush and floss daily using proper techniques.

Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Tooth enamel is hard but has microscopic pores in it. Sugar combines with the bacteria in plaque, which forms on your teeth daily, to produce acids, which seep into the enamel pores. This causes the enamel to demineralise and become weak, contributing to the formation of cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the natural remineralisation  process. This keeps your teeth strong and healthy. Fluoride also fights cavities by reducing the amount of acids that are produced by plaque.

Q: Why do my teeth feel sensitive?
A: Tooth sensitivity is often experienced because the surface of the tooth has been worn down. One of the most common reasons for adults is that the roots of the teeth are exposed because the gums are receding away. This allows the effect of heat and cold to penetrate to the pulp where the nerves are located. The problems gets worse as you tend not to brush your teeth properly if it is causing you pain. If you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, let us know so we can assess your situation and recommend the best treatment to take care of your discomfort.

Q: Is there anything I should do before my appointment?
A: There are a few things that you should keep us informed about in order to ensure that we are most effective when treating you. Please keep us informed about:

• Whether your teeth or gums are more sensitive to heat, cold or sweets
• Changes in your gums, like changes in colour, tenderness or bleeding when you brush or floss
• Whether your floss catches on rough edges of teeth that cause the floss to tear
• Changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth, such as changes in colour
• If you clench or grind your teeth, or it your neck and jaw muscles are tense or sore
• If you are pregnant
• Any medicine you are taking
• If your medicine has changed since your last check-up
• Health problems or medical condition that you are being treated for
• Changes in your general health


Q: What are X-rays?
A:  X-rays help us see problems in the early stages of development; this helps us treat problems long before they become serious. If we catch a cavity early, we may be able to treat it without even having to fill or restore the tooth. If decay is not detected soon enough, you may not know you have a problem until it is causing you some pain or discomfort. Major tooth restoration may be needed to repair a tooth is the decay has advanced enough. X-rays reveal:

• Cavities between teeth, under the gums and around old fillings.
• Bone loss due to periodontal disease.
• Inside the bone and gums enabling us to monitor eruption teeth.
• Problems below the gums such as long or crooked tooth roots when evaluating for root canal treatment.


Q: Are X-rays safe?
A: You are always exposed to low levels of radiation from the environment on a daily basis. This is caused by natural sourced of radioactive substances in the earth, the sun, and from naturally occurring radiation in our bodies.  This is commonly referred to as background radiation. The amount of radiation you receive during a single x-ray is equivalent to a few days of background radiation. In addition to the low levels of radiation used we target the x-ray machine only at those areas we need to review in order to ensure that you have healthy teeth. We also cover the remainder of your body with a lead apron providing you with additional protection.

Q: What are Dental Insurance Coverage types?
A: Most dental insurance companies break down dental services into three coverage types. They are typically:

• Basic (cleaning, examinations, fillings, root canals, extractions,  bite planes)
• Major (crowns, veneers, bridges, dentures and partial dentures) and
• Orthodontics (which would be separate and typically has a lifetime limit for use)

Check with your insurance provider to find out precisely what kind of coverage you have and what your maximums are for each category or calendar year.

Q: Dental Insurance: What is a yearly maximum?
A:  The amount varies and can be anywhere from $500 to an unlimited yearly maximum. The typical policy spans the calendar year, January to December, although some plans start at different times of the year.

Q: How does your mouth affect your overall health?
A: Gum disease is a serious dental problem which has also been linked to heart disease and strokes. Ask us about how you can prevent gum disease and protect your overall health.