Q: I brush every day, but my breath just is not fresh; is there anything I can do?
A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing; daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several alternative solutions. First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.
Q: What is a crown, and why do I need one?
A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long lasting smile.
Q: I know I need X-rays, but I’d prefer to not be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?
A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film X-rays. You will find that in our dental practice, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?
A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns or bridges, gum contouring, periodontal therapy or a combination of all these techniques. Dr. Sexton will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, areas of concern, and overall condition of your oral health. Contact us for a complimentary smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.
Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?
A: Dr. Sexton has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of unsightly braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation. Attention to detail, respect for the individual and a true concern for each patient are the hallmarks of our personal care and our quality products. We are committed to helping you fulfill your ultimate self-image.
Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?
A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently and by, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces, which may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.
Q: What are my options to replace a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will give your smile back its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, Dr. Sexton places a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.
Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?
A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical / dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth and malfunctioning restorations. DIAGNOdent™, a specialized laser, will also be used on your teeth, notifying us of early areas of decay that are not visible on the X-ray or digital photographs. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in the earliest possible stages. We will also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.
Q: I want and need a lot of dental work, but I’m afraid I can’t afford it. Do you offer monthly payment plans?
A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans with our financial partner, Care Credit™. We provide a variety of ways for you to pay for your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Rachel and Bethany work with you to create the solution that accommodates you so that you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you have always desired.
Q: I want cosmetic dentistry. Does my insurance pay for it?
A: Dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying for your dentistry; however, most procedures are not fully covered by your insurance. And cosmetic dentistry, in particular, is not covered by most dental insurance plans. To help you afford your smile, we offer a variety of payment options, in addition to a monthly payment plan provided by our financial partner, Care Credit™. We also pay special attention to maximizing the benefits that your insurance provides. Ask us how you can comfortably afford your dentistry, while also maximizing your dental insurance benefits.
Q: What different payment options do you provide?
A: In order to help you fit the care you need into your life, here are several payment options available to you:
- Cash Courtesy Discount – as a special service to you, we offer a cash courtesy discount if you pay for your entire treatment plan in-full, in advance.
- Payment by Appointment – this option lets you spread out the payments according to your treatment plan.
- Credit Card or Debit Card Payment – for your convenience, we accept Discover, MasterCard, and Visa. This option will let you comfortably budget your payments.
- Insurance on Assignment – we will file your insurance as a service to you. We accept assignment of benefits to lower your immediate “out of pocket” expenditures. We ask that you take care of your estimated portion at the time of service.
- CareCredit® Healthcare Finance – for any long-term or extended payments, we offer Care Credit Healthcare Finance. This option lets you make small monthly payments, spreading those payments out over a desired period of time.
Q: Why do my gums bleed?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions; however, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat. Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If we don’t diagnose and treat your periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery in order to save your teeth and to put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?
A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing; however, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following scenarios: improper, rough “scrubbing” instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled tooth brush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods or if it occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set up an evaluation appointment.
Q: What is periodontal disease?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat. Periodontitis affects your gums, bone and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or they must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth, which may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems. According to Caesy™ Dental Education, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include: respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart valves. Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacteria – Streptococcus sangguis – may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars.) This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Q: I want my teeth to be whiter. Do you recommend at-home or in-office whitening?
A: Both dentist directed at-home whitening or in-office whitening procedures are effective ways of brightening your smile. In either case, your dentist customizes the treatment to ensure your happiness with the results. Your custom home whitening kit involves a special tray that is customized to fit over your teeth. You also receive prescription whitening gel, which is inserted into the tray before you wear it. Dr. Sexton gives you detailed instructions about how long you should wear the tray each day, and you should expect the entire home whitening process to take between two and four weeks, leaving you with a dazzling smile. If you desire immediate results, visit Dr. Sexton for an in- office whitening procedure. Again, the treatment utilizes a special tray that fits around your teeth. However, with your dentist’s supervision, a much more powerful whitening gel is used, giving you amazing results in just a few hours!
Q: How can I safely whiten my teeth?
A: There are a number of procedures available to help whiten your smile, from at-home whitening products to in-office supervised treatments. Dr. Sexton evaluates the potential for whitening your teeth based on their current color and the causes of any discoloration. Once you decide on the most appropriate method, you will spend anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks undergoing a series of simple whitening treatments.