Dental Services FAQ

When I floss, my gums bleed. If they don’t hurt and my teeth look fine, is it really a big deal?
If your gums are not sore, it’s safe to assume your bleeding gums are not the result of hard brushing or flossing. Bleeding gums that apparently have no cause are always a warning sign, often indicating such conditions as gingivitis or even gum disease. Gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums) is not a one-way ticket to gum disease; in fact, if it’s caught early enough, gingivitis can be treated and even reversed. The first lines of treatment when it comes to gingivitis are lifestyle changes. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and high levels of stress can all contribute to gingivitis. Choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles can ease gum damage, too, and getting regular dental cleanings will control plaque and tooth decay. It’s important to stop gingivitis before it progresses, as studies have shown more and more serious illnesses are associated with gum disease. Heart disease, strokes, diabetes, even osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis have been linked to poor oral health.

Though not the first suspect in a simple case of bleeding gums, oral cancer is also a possibility. Oral cancer can be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are associated with other medical conditions. They include sores, difficulty swallowing or moving the jaw, bleeding gums or cheeks, and a continuous pain in the mouth. If Dr. Haynes finds no other causes for your bleeding gums, he may recommend a visit to a specialist.

Regular check-ups are vital to cancer prevention, as are good oral hygiene, avoiding tobacco, and maintaining a balanced diet. Inform our team if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. You’d go to the doctor if a cut on your hand were infected—do your gums the same service! They’ll thank you later.

How can I tell if I’m at risk for gum disease?
According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, about 80 percent of U.S. adults currently have some form of gum disease, ranging from gingivitis to serious periodontal disease. The prevalence of gum disease increases with age, because as we age, our teeth wear down, our gums naturally recede, teeth can become more sensitive, and medications can affect some oral changes. If your gums feel tender or sore, or if they look red and swollen, you may be at risk for gum disease. Other signs include bleeding and/or receding gums, pain or sensitivity in your teeth (and even loose teeth, caused by weakening gum fibers and/or bone loss), and persistent bad breath. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss as well as various other health problems. More and more life-threatening illnesses are being linked to the presence of dental diseases.

The first thing to do is get a thorough dental evaluation. If you have any degree of periodontal disease, Dr. Haynes can help. He strongly believes in and focuses on the importance of healthy gums for a healthy mouth and body. Gum disease used to require surgery more often than not. While surgery is still an option and sometimes needed, many cases are now treated with less invasive techniques first, such as deep cleanings, local antibiotics, and special rinses. Please come in and let Dr. Haynes help you achieve and maintain healthier gums for a healthier you.

What can I do about bad breath?
If you feel constantly worried about bad breath, you’re not alone. Bad breath (halitosis) is an all too common problem, not to mention embarrassing and distracting for you and others around you. Deducing what is most likely causing your bad breath will help determine what you can do to prevent it.

Greatly reduced saliva flow during sleep (the cause of morning breath), certain foods (such as garlic, onions, and peppers), poor oral hygiene, periodontal (gum) disease, dry mouth, tobacco, dieting, dehydration, and some medical conditions (including sinus infections and diabetes) can all cause bad breath. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and at night) is the first thing to start doing, if you are not already in the habit. Brushing after every meal is even better, if you can. If not, chewing sugar-free gum after meals can get food particles out of your teeth. Additionally, clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners, and remember to brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue, especially the back areas, can make a big difference in how clean your mouth feels and smells. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. Toothbrushes should be replaced every couple months.

Biannual dental cleanings and checkups at our office will not only keep your teeth and gums in good shape, but seeing you regularly will also allow us to better detect any problems, such as gum disease, dry mouth (Xerostomia), or other dental conditions (like decay), that may be the cause of persistent bad breath. If you have gum disease, more frequent visits to our office might be recommended for your oral and overall health.

Breaking a tobacco habit (smoking or chewing tobacco) can significantly improve your oral health and the way your breath smells. Ask us about ways we suggest to help break a tobacco habit. Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy also keeps your mouth moist and more free of bad bacteria. Mouth rinses can help, too, but ask us which rinses actually kill the germs that cause bad breath, because some only mask odor as a temporary solution.

When bad breath is a symptom of a larger bacterial problem in your mouth, Dr. Haynes can help. If he finds that your mouth is healthy, we may refer you to your physician for further consultation and more comprehensive treatment.

I don’t have a toothache, and I brush and floss regularly. Do I really need a check-up?
Biannual teeth cleanings performed by a skilled dental hygienist are central to keeping teeth and gums looking, feeling, and functioning well. If you have gum disease, more frequent visits to the dentist will probably be recommended for your oral and overall health.

During cleanings, plaque and calculus (more commonly known as tartar) are removed from teeth. Plaque is a sticky deposit on teeth in which bacteria grow, and tartar is basically calcified or hardened plaque, so it is more difficult to remove. When tartar builds up under the gumline, causing gum disease, more extensive treatment than a standard cleaning is needed to remove it and help ensure healthier gums. Hygienists also polish teeth, floss (partly to test the condition of gums, to see if they bleed), and they document any bleeding along with stains they noted during the cleaning in a patient’s file.

Dental exams with Dr. Haynes make it so problems can be diagnosed and treated before they grow to be big, often painful and expensive. A typical exam includes a visual assessment of teeth and occlusion (bite), along with an appraisal of current restorations. When x-rays have been taken, Dr. Haynes will carefully review them to identify areas of decay and other possible areas of concern for cysts, tumors, and other disorders of the mouth. Panoramic x-rays are especially revealing and beneficial to this process. Dr. Haynes will perform a general screening for early detection of gum disease and oral cancer, as well.

In between cleanings and exams at a dental office, brushing teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and at night) is the most important thing you can do to take care of your teeth. Brushing after every meal is even better, if you can. If not, chewing sugar-free gum after meals can get food particles out of teeth. Additionally, clean between teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners, and remember to brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue, especially the back areas, can make a big difference in how clean your mouth feels and smells, and how clean it actually is. Restorations, such as bridges and partial dentures, should be cleaned thoroughly, too, just like natural teeth. Toothbrushes should be replaced every two to three months.

Is smoking really that bad for my teeth?
Smoking isn’t just bad for your teeth—it affects the health of your entire mouth, especially your gums. Lighting up stains your teeth, causes bad breath, and promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar. Cigarette smoking is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Worst of all, smoking has been linked to the development of periodontal disease and may lead to the loss of taste and smell. Smokers also tend to require more dental treatment, due to the damage done by smoking. Certain procedures, such as dental implants and oral surgeries, can be less successful in smokers due to damaged gum tissue. This results in a higher cost of dental healthcare and often more frequent (and complicated) treatment.

Pipes and cigars aren’t any safer, causing similar rates of tooth and bone loss even if the smoke is not inhaled. Smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco also pose great health risks to your gums, increasing your risk for both oral cancer and cancers of the throat, esophagus and lips. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of sugar, which when pressed against your teeth for long periods of time can lead to tooth decay.

So what’s the verdict on tobacco? Seek help on how to quit using, or just don’t start.

What is “comprehensive dentistry”?
Our aim is to have all concerns and issues known – to us and to you – and hopefully resolved before an emergency. We want everyone to have healthy, attractive, and stable teeth and smiles. (Nobody likes a toothache or broken tooth, especially since they never happen at convenient times.) This means that we see patients for many reasons with many different needs. Our office offers total dental care, with services ranging from routine preventive care to life changing restorative and cosmetic treatment, so we have something to offer everyone to address their personal chief concern and needs.

The second half of this equation is the development and fulfillment of ongoing maintenance plans. This minimizes the chance of original problems reoccurring. We will do everything we can to customize your maintenance plan based on your individual situation.

Maintaining good oral hygiene at home is important, but man cannot live by toothbrush alone. In-office exams are critical to keeping your smile clean and healthy. Our team has the ability to remove plaque your toothbrush can’t, which reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. We can also use panoramic x-rays and intraoral cameras to monitor structures that aren’t so obvious to the naked eye.

Although preventive dentistry is fairly predictable, our goal is to have all issues and concerns known – to us and to you – in order to reduce your risk of dental emergencies. We want you to have a healthy and stable smile, but we also know that accidents happen. In a way, “comprehensive” care really refers to our commitment to total dental care, including the present and the future of your smile. Not only do we want to keep it healthy, we want to make it beautiful, and make it last.

Are there any specific oral health concerns associated with diabetes?
While having diabetes does not automatically put your dental health at risk, it does make a person more susceptible to certain conditions. Uncontrolled diabetes causes high glucose levels in saliva, which can promote the growth of bacteria in the mouth and increase the risk of cavities. Diabetes also reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which can make an individual more likely to develop illnesses such as gingivitis or even gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis, which is an early form of periodontal disease, are red, sore, receding, or bleeding gums; if you notice these to any degree, be sure to make an appointment with our office. Other, less serious, problems that can occur include thrush (a treatable infection in the tongue and cheeks), ulcers, and dry mouth.

Interestingly enough, this connection is a two-way street. For patients with severe gum disease, the infection in the gums can affect the blood glucose levels and the immune system, actually increasing the overall risk of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes, you know the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Smoking can be particularly damaging to diabetics, as it causes excess dryness and damage to the gum tissue. Ultimately, the most important factor is blood sugar. If you keep your diabetes under control with a healthy lifestyle and maintain good oral hygiene through regular check-ups, diabetes won’t get the best of your smile.

I’ve heard a lot about laser dentistry lately. What is it, and what is it used for?
Advancements in laser technology have reinvented a variety of dental procedures. Lasers are not only remarkably precise, but they can also shorten procedure time, minimize pain, and speed the healing process of many treatments. Even better, lasers are as useful in common procedures as they are in complicated ones, having been incorporated into everything from cavity detection and fillings to complex periodontal surgery. During routine cleanings or surgical procedures, lasers can reduce or completely eliminate the need for drills, scalpels, anesthesia, and sutures. Surgery without sutures carries less risk of infection and need for repeat visits.

Just as doctors use different scalpels for different procedures, dentists have different lasers for the various surfaces in your mouth. There are lasers for cavity detection, for teeth whitening, for viewing purposes, and lasers for surgical procedures. Hard tissue lasers are used on teeth and bone, to prepare teeth for certain treatments, remove decayed areas, or repair fillings. Soft tissue lasers, as the name implies, are better suited for gum, cheek, and tongue tissue, and as they seal blood vessels in the process, these lasers can reduce the pain and healing time associated with surgery.

The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) has been actively researching technology and developing standards of excellence since 1993, and is dedicated to educating and certifying dentists internationally in the safe use of laser technology. Though most experts agree that lasers are the future of dentistry, it’s estimated that only around 5% of dentists currently offer them in their offices. At Modern Family Dental Care we are pleased to offer a soft tissue laser.

What are the benefits of a dental radiograph (x-ray) examination?
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are commonly used in dental exams of patients of all ages. Panoramic x-rays, which are taken every five to seven years and show the entire mouth, are particularly useful diagnostic tools. Panoramic x-rays are taken with a machine that circles your head providing a complete overview of all the teeth as well as the roots, upper and lower jawbones, the sinuses, and other hard surfaces in the mouth. Many problems with teeth and the surrounding tissues cannot be seen when we visually examine your mouth. An x-ray examination is needed to reveal:

  • Small areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
  • Deep cavities
  • Infections that can develop in the mouth bones
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Some types of tumors
  • TMJ Dysfunction

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you unnecessary discomfort, money, and time. In cases where x-rays help us detect oral cancer and periodontal disease early, radiographs can also help save your life!

Why is fluoride good for my teeth?
Each day, foods and acids feed bacteria in your mouth, which can accumulate on your teeth to form plaque. Plaque wears away at a tooth’s enamel in a process known as demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can promote the remineralization of enamel, replacing important minerals that strengthen your teeth and can protect them from decay. Fluoride can also help reverse early stages of decay.

Children with newly-erupted permanent teeth benefit a great deal from fluoride exposure, but adults should make sure their teeth come into contact with it, too. The safe and easy way to ensure your teeth are getting enough fluoride is to use fluoride toothpaste, available at drugstores in a variety of types and flavors. If Dr. Haynes recommends more intense fluoride treatments, there are a number of gels, rinses, or even in-office procedures that can do the trick. Though the most fluoride is absorbed from direct contact with the teeth, many public drinking water systems contain small, safe amounts of fluoride that can have positive health effects.

If my filling is still in place and my tooth does not hurt, why does my dentist want to replace the filling?
Constant pressure from chewing, grinding and/or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip, and even crack. If the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the filling. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to deeply infect the tooth and even cause an abscess and/or eventual loss of the tooth. Again, regular dental checkups enable us to monitor areas of concern and help keep you in optimal oral health.

When restorations are large, or if recurrent decay is extensive, there might not be enough remaining tooth structure to support a replacement filling. In these cases, we may need to replace the filling with a natural looking porcelain crown.

Hot or cold, my teeth hate both! Why are they so sensitive, and how can I stop the pain?
If you’ve been avoiding that ice cream cone or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don’t have to! Sensitivity is a common complaint, and can be the result of a number of factors. Involuntary grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive, because the usually-protected layer of dentin–the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel–is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.

Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it’s important to ask Dr. Haynes which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter fluoride rinses to protect your enamel against further damage, and our team can even provide an in-office procedure to coat your teeth with a protective agent.

A couple of my teeth have been worn down and need to be replaced. Should I opt for crowns?
Crowns, often called “caps,” cover teeth to restore them to their appropriate shape and size after large fillings, fractures, and/or weakening forces such as intense grinding. In all of these cases, crowns not only cover teeth but provide added support as well. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, cover dental implants, restore seriously discolored or misshapen teeth, and even as a preventive measure to protect a tooth in danger of breaking. Crowns can be made of all-porcelain (ceramic) material, porcelain fused to metal (for added strength), gold alloys (high noble), or base metal alloys (non-noble). Each of these restorative materials has its advantages and disadvantages. All-porcelain restorations most closely mimic natural tooth appearance. Their strength depends on adequate porcelain thickness, thus this material requires more extensive preparation. Porcelain fused to metal alloy restorations are tooth-colored and stronger than all-porcelain crowns. Gold alloy crowns are very strong and wear resistant. They are well tolerated in terms of biocompatibility, but metal colors do not match natural teeth. Base metal alloy crowns are similar to gold for strength and durability. However, allergy to the non-noble base metals may be an issue with some patients.

Crowns can be placed in as few as two appointments. For porcelain crowns, properly matching the aesthetics of teeth can take more visits but the natural looking cosmetic results are worth it to most patients. Crowns in general are very strong restorations, and they help to protect teeth. If a crown is placed before the tooth is so badly decayed or so weak that it fractures, the necessity of a root canal can often be preempted. This can also help prevent a broken tooth from becoming so bad that it needs to be removed, which would require a bridge or implant for restoration.

In light of their excellent restorative capabilities, crowns have few disadvantages. As they are more extensive restorations than fillings, their relative cost is higher. However, if Dr. Haynes recommends a crown it is because we want to help you keep your teeth healthy and looking good for years to come. The problems crowns help to prevent and repair offset the cost.

Also, while crowns are highly resistant, due to normal wear they will eventually need to be re-cemented or replaced. Six to nine percent of teeth that are damaged enough to need a crown may someday need a root canal.

Is professional teeth whitening safe?
You have a number of options when it comes to whitening your teeth. Depending on your schedule and your brightening expectations, you and our team can decide which is best for you. With in-office whitening procedures, you can get a brighter smile in just 45 minutes-1.5 hours. With a special gel and light placed directly on your teeth, our treatment can take your smile up to 8 shades brighter. During this safe treatment of 15-minute sessions, you can watch TV, listen to music, or just relax. Afterwards, you’ll leave with immediate, long-lasting results. For the convenience of whitening in your own home, there are a variety of over-the-counter gels, strips, and toothpastes designed to whiten your teeth, but they contain less concentrated ingredients and can take up to a month to show results.

As far as safety goes, numerous studies have examined the effects of whitening and bleaching methods. Some products, including certain whitening toothpastes and take-home kits available through your dentist, have been evaluated and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). While having the ADA seal of acceptance is a good sign, many safe and effective products don’t have an ADA seal simply because their manufacturers did not seek one. Bleaching is not recommended for children under 16, as their teeth are still developing, and is also not recommended for women who are pregnant.

The most common side effects of teeth-whitening–both the in-office and take-home varieties–are teeth and gum sensitivity. This sensitivity is usually temporary, and should subside soon after you’ve stopped using the product.

Am I candidate for dental implant restorations?
Dr. Haynes and our team work hard to stay on the leading-edge of restorative dentistry. If you or someone you love struggles with ill-fitting, uncomfortable dentures or a retainer with false teeth, we have a permanent solution. Quickly becoming the preferred method of dental replacement, implants can give your smile a second chance. They are useful in denture stabilization, but they can also be used in conjunction with crowns, bridges, and in single-tooth replacements.

Permanent implants are not only more durable and long-lasting than traditional tooth replacements, they also look and feel more like natural teeth. Most importantly, they function like natural teeth, so you can chew, talk, and smile with confidence again. Because the implant procedure allows for more of your healthy tooth structure to be saved, fixed implants can even prevent bone loss.

Many patients suffering from advanced tooth decay, root canal failure, trauma to the mouth, or just extreme natural wear and tear on teeth are benefiting from this revolutionary option in restorative dentistry. However, there are still some things to consider before you decide on dental implants. For example, they are best performed after adolescence, when the teeth and jaw bone are fully developed. Additionally, the implant procedure can be more complicated for individuals with periodontal (gum) disease, active diabetes, immune deficiencies, and for patients who smoke. To ensure that you get the treatment that’s right for you, keep Dr. Haynes and our team informed and up-to-date about your entire medical history and dental habits.