COMMONLY ASKED DENTAL QUESTIONS
Dr. Kim is here to help you understand dentistry.
Why should I get screened for oral cancer?
Many people believe that because they have no risk factors (like smoking and drinking alcohol), they do not need to worry about oral cancer. Up to a quarter of oral cancer cases happen on people who had no risk factors! When it comes to oral cancer, early detection is the key. Getting screened is an effective way to discover oral cancer at an early, highly curable stage. The procedure is painless and takes only minutes.
Why does a tooth crack?
- Chewing on hard objects or foods such as ice, nuts or hard candy
- An accident, such as a blow to the mouth
- Grinding and clenching your teeth
- Uneven chewing pressure
- Loss of tooth structure through wear, large fillings or other restorations
- Exposure of tooth enamel to extreme hot and cold, such as when you eat hot food swallowed by drinking ice water
- Brittleness of teeth with root canals
How is a cracked tooth treated?
Treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the size and location of the crack and the symptoms you are experiencing. Sometimes no treatment is necessary at all, since tiny cracks are common and usually do not cause problems. But if treatment is necessary it may involve one or more of the following:
- Repairing the tooth with a filling material
- Placing a crown (cap) to protect the tooth from further damage
- Endodontic (root canal) treatment if the pulp (tooth nerve) is involved
- Extracting (pulling) the tooth if the tooth is severely cracked and cannot be saved
What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin porcelain covering that is placed over the front (visible) part of the tooth. Veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure that can correct a wide range of dental issues such as:
- To lighten front teeth that can’t be whitened by bleaching
- To correct some cases of chipped or worn teeth
- To fill in uneven spaces or a large gap between the upper front teeth
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a virtually invisible solution to straighten teeth using a series of clear, removable aligners. You will visit our office every month or two to allow us to check the progression of movement and get new aligners. The average treatment time is about a year.
What is bruxism and how is it treated?
Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Clenching means you tightly hold your top and bottom teeth together. Grinding is when you slide your teeth back and forth over each other. Nighttime bruxism is actually one of the most common sleep disorders, and unfortunately, many people are not aware that they suffer from it because they exhibit no symptoms. Others with bruxism may wake themselves or others in the middle of the night with a loud clenching or grinding sound. People who exhibit symptoms may experience the following:
- Sore jaw
- Frequent toothaches
- Facial pain
- Worn or cracked teeth or fillings
- Loose teeth
We can treat bruxism with a protective “night guard” worn over the teeth while sleeping. This helps to protect the teeth from the harmful forces of grinding, but does not stop a person from doing these movements while they are sleeping. We can also repair damaged teeth with fillings or crowns, if necessary.
What is periodontal (gum) disease and how does it develop?
Gum disease is a progressive and destructive disease of the supporting structures of teeth (gums and bone). It develops when plaque and tartar (calculus) forms around the teeth causing a state of chronic inflammation that results in the progressive destruction of the bone around the teeth. It can be widespread over the entire mouth, or only localized in certain areas or particular teeth. It can also be a chronic condition (causing few physical symptoms) or acute (causing swelling and pain). Many factors contribute to its development, including smoking, drinking alcohol, poor hygiene (not visiting the dentist regularly to remove tartar), certain drugs, certain diseases like diabetes, and genetics. If your parents lost their teeth due to gum disease, you could be at higher risk for developing it. If caught early, it can be controlled effectively with conservative methods. The later stages of the disease many times require surgery or the removal of infected teeth, which is why it’s important to make sure a periodontal screening is done at your check up appointments.
How do I know if I have periodontal disease (gum disease)?
Some people have periodontal disease with few warning signs, or none at all. If you notice any of these signs, come see us for an evaluation:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Do you have digital x-rays and are they safe?
Yes! Our office is completely digital and that includes our x-rays. Digital x-rays require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. You receive more radiation flying on a plane than you do when getting your x-rays taken with us!
What is an implant?
Implants are “artificial teeth” that are used to replace or restore a missing tooth. They are made of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. Implant dentistry is a multi-step process that usually involves a specialist’s office. Our office teams up with an oral-surgeon or periodontist to help complete the surgery and restorative steps involved in completing your case.