Common Dental Questions

What are the benefits of fluoride?

Fluoride makes a natural contribution to your dental health. It plays a role in the formation of strong bones and teeth when consumed internally, from water or supplements. When applied topically it also fights tooth decay and sensitivity.

Why do I get so many canker sores and what can I do for them?

Canker sores are small shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable.
The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores. Certain foods including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, strawberries) can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Motrin, is another common cause. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.
Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency; and gastrointestinal tract disease, such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
Pain from a canker sore generally lessens in a few days and the sores usually heal without treatment in about a week or two. If sores are large, painful, or persistent, your dentist may prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse, a corticosteroid ointment, or a prescription or non-prescription solution to reduce the pain and irritation.
In the early stages they can also be treated with a dental laser which results in a much quicker recovery. The ideal time for this is when you first get that tingling or burning sensation prior to the appearance of the sores.

When should I bring my child to the dentist?

It is recommended that your child has their first visit to the dentist around his or her first birthday, but it could be as early as you like if you notice something that concerns you. B abies can get cavities soon after teeth appear. Cavities can interfere with eating and sleeping and can be painful.
At Richmond Centre Dental Clinic, when the first dental visit happens at a young age, we try to make it a fun experience for your child. The dentist will check your child’s teeth for any signs of tooth decay. This is a good time to talk with your dental hygienist about tooth brushing, eating habits and fluoride.

Can I have dental work done if I’m pregnant?

It’s important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums while you are pregnant. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk of developing gum disease which in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) can cause embarrassment, create social and psychological barriers, and even affect personal relationships. The majority of bad breath problems begin in the mouth. It can be caused by a number of factors:
Dead and dying bacterial cells release sulfur compounds which gives the breath an unpleasant odour. Bacterial plaque and food debris accumulate on the back of the tongue. The tongue’s surface is extremely rough and bacteria can accumulate easily in the cracks and crevices, making it a frequent source for bad breath. (we suggest brushing your tongue.)
The teeth attract bacterial plaque and if not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, this can result in bad breath. Deteriorating fillings and areas of decay also harbour bacteria (regular dental check-ups are encouraged to detect these problems early).
People with periodontitis (gum disease) often experience bad breath due to the bacteria accumulating in areas that are not cleaned easily, such as the deep pockets around teeth (frequent professional cleanings can help reduce build-up in pockets around the teeth).

Other reasons for bad breath (other than the mouth) include:
infections, especially in the sinuses or lungs
diabetes mellitus (may result in an acetone odor of the breath)
kidney failure (can produce a fishy odor)
malfunction of the liver
disorders of metabolism (foul, fishy odor that comes and goes and may be difficult to diagnose)
fasting (when the body is not provided with fuel in the form of food, fat and protein will begin to be broken down; the result is bad odour from the waste products of this metabolism)
medications, mouth breathing, poor lip closure or any other factor that may cause dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath.

Will my insurance cover the treatment?

At Richmond Centre Dental Clinic, we try to work within your dental insurance coverage to the best of our ability. Unlike medical insurance, however, your dental insurance is a private plan that your employer has negotiated with an insurance company as a benefit of your employment. And unlike medical insurance, your private dental plan does not always reflect your required, basic dental needs. Limits on your insurance may be in place that restricts certain dental procedures or you may have a limit of a certain dollar amount annually. In addition, insurance benefits for each year cannot be carried over to the next year.

The amount of coverage is dependent on your specific plan, the amount of benefits you have used in the current year and their staff persons’ perception of your need for the treatment. Some plans will not cover major work like crowns. Some plans classify a procedure under one category while others classify it as another (i.e., one plan may place root canals under basic dentistry, whereas another company may classify it as major dental treatment).

Due to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, sometimes dental insurance companies will not provide us with information regarding your insurance. Please call us any time you receive information from the company please don’t assume they will send a copy to us. Your insurance information may change and we will not necessarily be informed of the changes. In addition, it can be exceedingly challenging dealing with dental insurance companies as we are often placed on hold for extended periods of time. These are just some of the many reasons why many dental offices will no longer deal with dental insurance companies.

As a service to you, however, we continue to work with your dental insurance and we try our best at Richmond Centre Dental Clinic to keep you informed of your insurance coverage and the limits that are in place. However, as there are literally hundreds of dental plans that can be subject to change without our knowledge, we ask you to kindly understand that while we will do our utmost, ultimately we cannot be responsible for your insurance claims.

Please feel free to discuss any specific questions you may have with us at any time. If you need to know exactly how much coverage you will have for a particular procedure, we can submit a predetermination of benefits to the company on your behalf. We want to do all we can to ensure that you do not have any unexpected surprises regarding your dental insurance as part of having a positive and comfortable experience with us!

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a number of factors dental decay, tooth wear caused by grinding or erosion, orthodontic movement, old deteriorating fillings, gum recession or trauma. It is best to consult with a dentist prior to self-diagnosis or self-treatment.

In some instances the solution may be as simple as using a fluoride toothpaste or rinse to help block exposed dentin tubules. Perhaps an old filling requires replacement. Ignoring the problem could lead to bigger problems replacing a filling is much less traumatic and less expensive than a root canal that might be required if the problem is ignored. A dental consultation is recommended.

Are Amalgam-Type Fillings Safe?

Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-coloured fillings, otherwise called amalgams. Because amalgams contain the toxic substance mercury, some people think that amalgams are responsible for causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Both the Canadian and American Dental Associations, and numerous public health agencies say amalgam fillings are safe, and that any link between amalgam fillings and disease is unfounded.

How white can teeth get?

Some whitening procedures claim they can whiten your teeth by up to nine shades or more. Just a change of two or three shades will make a significant difference in just about anyone’s smile. There is no one standard system in the dental field to measure and determine tooth colour. The most often heard about, however, is the Vita shade guide. This guide divides tooth colour into four basic shade ranges:

A (reddish brown)
B (reddish yellow)
C (gray)
D (reddish gray).

In the A range there are five levels of darkness. Ranges B, C and D, each have four levels.

Not all of your teeth are the same natural colour. Usually your eye teeth tend to be darker than the others, your front teeth are typically the whitest, and molars tend to be a shade between the two. The goal for everyone is to achieve their individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural. At Richmond Centre Dental Clinic, during your first consultation for tooth whitening, your dentist will go over what you personally can expect for your specific smile. How white teeth will become from a given procedure will vary from person to person. The structure of your teeth and the type of procedure implemented will affect the outcome.

Are whitening products safe?

Tooth whiteners are not drugs and therefore are not regulated. The active ingredient used in dental office whitening products has been safely used in both dentistry and medicine for decades.

Adverse effects associated with tray teeth whitening/bleaching techniques may develop when it is used inappropriately. Inappropriate usage of the method includes “over use” of the technique and also utilizing it with inappropriate tooth whiteners. The proper use of dentist monitored at home teeth whiteners containing 10% carbamide peroxide have been well studied and have not been shown to produce a carcinogenic risk. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide created by these whiteners is low, in the order of 3.5%. Studies of hydrogen peroxide at this same concentration have not shown a carcinogenic risk.

The actual contact of teeth whitener to a person’s soft tissues (“gums”) in dentist made bleaching trays is minimal. One of the human body’s major defenses against the adverse affects of peroxides is a compound found in saliva. This compound has been calculated to effectively neutralize about 30mg of peroxide in one minute. The typical single application of carbamide peroxide tooth whitener is only 3.52 mg. Calculations have been made and on average, the daily total peroxide a person is exposed to from bleaching their teeth is less than .1% of the daily production of peroxide by their liver.

Studies involving 10% carbamide peroxide whiteners have found minimal or no effect on the microhardness or mineral content of tooth enamel surfaces. Scanning electron microscope studies of the enamel of teeth that have been bleached have typically not shown any damage. In relative terms, studies have shown that exposure to soft drinks and fruit juices cause comparable or greater alteration of tooth enamel than tooth whiteners.

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