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Waters Family Dentistry

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can we help you?

In order for you to make the best decisions about your oral health, it is important to have answers to your questions. Here are a few common questions patients may have. If your question isn’t listed, please give us a call or send us an email using our online contact form.

We believe it is best to “inform before we perform.” We have found patients feel the most comfortable when they know what to expect.  

Other

The best way to help prevent cracked teeth is to prevent tooth decay. Daily oral hygiene habits of brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing are very important.  These habits minimize the destructive action of mouth bacteria. Regular dental visits are also needed to detect early decay and any cracks that may be starting.

If you have a cracked tooth you may experience sensitivity to biting or extreme temperatures. Sometimes the pain is not consistent. To diagnose a cracked tooth several tools can be used.  During your dental examination, the dentist may ask if you grind or clench your teeth or frequently chew hard foods. A dental x-ray can be made to check for decay. The dentist will visually and tactically examine the area. In addition, our office uses a “tooth sleuth” to check for biting sensitivity.  This plastic device is placed on isolated cusps of teeth and the patient is asked to bite together. A cracked tooth can often be difficult to diagnose as the cracks are sometimes internal and not detectable during an examination. If a cracked tooth progresses it may even cause a tooth fracture.

 

The treatment for a cracked tooth varies depending on the severity of the crack. Unlike broken bones, cracked teeth will not heal.  If the crack is isolated to the cusp or the area of the tooth above the gum line, the dentist can often repair the tooth with a filling or a crown.  However, if the crack extends farther into the tooth, a root canal and crown procedure may be needed. In some cases, the crack has spread so much that the tooth is not able to be saved.  

Great question! As there are hundreds of dental insurance companies out there, there is a possibility our office may be considered out of network for your dental insurance. It is a situation we have handled before, and you’ll be happy to know it doesn’t exclude you from being a patient in our office! In fact, for some of our existing patients, we are considered out-of-network for their dental insurance company. In many cases, we have found the differences between in and out of network to be negligible for routine care insurance reimbursement.

When you consider dental insurance, it’s important to understand, dental insurance typically covers basic care and is viewed as a method of payment and not a method of treatment. It’s interesting to note that in 1967, the annual maximum for most insurance was $1,000. If that amount was translated into today’s dollars, it would be over $7,000.

Sometimes we have patients whose employer changes the dental plan they offer. This typically happens at the beginning of a new calendar year. Occasionally we have found insurance websites don’t have the latest information about your coverage and we get better results with a phone call. To find out about your specific situation, we offer a complimentary insurance review and would be happy to answer any of your questions.

For years, the manual toothbrush has been the primary oral hygiene tool for removing plaque on a daily basis. Manual toothbrushes play an important role and can still do the job. However, with the evolution of the power toothbrush, many patients are choosing this alternative.

For most of us, brushing has become so routine we don’t give it much thought. The result is that many times we short-change our brushing time. We may be thinking about our “to-do” list and not pay attention to which teeth we have brushed or how long we brush in each area. Power brushes can greatly assist by providing audible beeps that prompt you to move your brush. They also have built-in timers that brush for a standard two minutes. With some brands, you can even customize the length or amount of vibration in your brushing sessions.

Power brushes can also be an advantage for getting children engaged in brushing. There is an “entertainment” factor, and the built-in timers help establish healthy habits. Regardless of which type of brush is used, parents should be supervising their children while they are brushing until they are age seven. This is to make sure they don’t miss the hard to reach spots like the inside surfaces of teeth near the tongue or the back molars.

Mechanical brushes vary in their mode of action; some vibrate, and others oscillate or spin. Sonicare is the brand we recommend in our office. It offers up to 31,000 vibrating strokes per minute. Beyond the mechanical cleaning of the brush, a secondary cleansing action occurs when the speed of the bristles disrupts the plaque. Studies have shown that power brushes can remove up to seven times more plaque than traditional manual toothbrushes.

For patients who have dexterity issues due to carpal tunnel, arthritis or stroke, the power brush requires less strength and movement from the wrist and elbow. It is also beneficial for orthodontic patients to clean around their braces effectively.

Whether you choose a manual or power toothbrush, it is important to angle your bristles at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline. At your next appointment with our hygienist, we can review your oral hygiene technique and discuss any areas in your mouth that may need additional care.

To schedule your dental cleaning appointment, please call our office at (308) 382-1734, and we will find a convenient time that works with your schedule.

If you clench or grind your teeth, a mouthguard will protect your teeth and spread out the chewing forces of your jaw.

 

To prevent a crack due to injury, wear a mouthguard while playing sports and participating in activities like skateboarding.   

 

Avoid chewing hard items like candy, pens, ice cubes, and popcorn kernels.

The two main reasons teeth crack are linked to diet and environmental factors.

Sugars in our diet provide fuel for the bacteria that live in our mouths.  If these bacteria are not removed on a daily basis the acid by-products of the bacteria will begin to destroy tooth enamel.  This is the beginning of tooth decay. When decay progresses, the enamel is weakened causing a cavity. A small cavity is similar to a small chip in your car windshield: the longer you leave it, the greater the chances the chip will spread and become a crack. A diet high in sugars combined with poor oral hygiene habits, cause more acid damage and more weakening of the tooth.  Eventually, teeth can crack.

Teeth also crack because of the force that is placed during chewing and grinding. The human jaw has been shown to produce on average over 150 pounds of chewing force. If the tooth has already been weakened by decay or has a small crack in an existing filling, the damage can deepen due to the daily force that is placed on it.

Injury can also cause a tooth to chip or crack. A sudden, excessive force placed directly on the tooth may cause damage.  This can occur with contact sports and accidental injury situations.

Cleanings & Exams

The beginning of a cavity (also known as tooth decay) occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produce acid. If not thoroughly removed on a daily basis, this acid can destroy the enamel or outer surface of your tooth. This damage in the early stages does not usually cause pain.  So if you don’t have discomfort that is good news! However, as the destruction progresses into the tooth, it can eventually reach the pulp. Once the decay reaches this point, you will most likely need a root canal and a crown. More advanced stages of decay are likely to cause pain.  Sometimes the tooth has extensive decay, and the only option is to extract it.  

As a general rule, tooth decay won’t hurt less or cost less than it does the day it is diagnosed. 

During your dental examination, the dentist will evaluate your teeth both visually and with a dental explorer. Sometimes cavities can appear discolored, but that is not always the case. He also will review any x-ray and Spectra (diagnostic tooth) images. Decay on an x-ray can appear as a darker shadow between teeth. You may hear the dentist mention you have an “incipiency.” This is the earliest stage of a tooth decay located in the enamel or outermost portion of the tooth. More good news - decay can even be stopped at this stage with daily oral hygiene efforts and a healthy diet. However, once the decay progresses into the next inner layer (dentin), the cavity will need to be removed and a dental restoration placed.

Crowns & Bridges

When a tooth becomes decayed or broken beyond repair, extraction is often necessary. Once a tooth is removed, it leaves a space. This space creates a problem for the way your teeth bite together. It is much like when a book is removed from a bookshelf and the books on either side tip into the gap. Because there is nothing left for the teeth above or below the space to bite on, those teeth will “super erupt” or grow into the space.

All of these adverse effects can create more issues than just a gap in your smile. Tooth loss can lead to bone loss in the area of the missing tooth and also around the surrounding teeth. Over time, the drifting and shifting will disrupt the way your teeth come together when you bite. In some cases, the bite disruption leads to problems with your jaw joint.  

Because a tooth is missing, you lose some of your ability to chew food.  In fact, for each tooth, you lose about 10% of your chewing ability.  This can cause difficulty in chewing certain foods and can also put more stress from chewing forces on the remaining teeth.  

There are also cosmetic concerns related to missing teeth.  Due to shifts in your bite that can occur, you face may actually appear shorter. Also, the tissues of the cheek and face may sink into the spot where the tooth previously was located.  Tooth loss can cause loss of self-esteem, especially if the space is visible when you speak or smile.  

The best course of action is to replace missing teeth with implants, bridge, partials, or dentures.  To find out what options are best for your dental condition, please call our office to schedule an exam.

Family Dentistry

It may help to know you are not alone. Our dental team realizes many people experience some form of anxiety related to dental appointments. A large part of overcoming your fears is finding the right dental office where you feel your concerns are heard and you feel comfortable. This motivates our staff to provide a friendly, accommodating environment.  

We strive to make you as comfortable as possible. The evening before your new patient visit, Dr. Waters or Dr. Crouch will call you to give you an opportunity to ask any questions. This is the perfect time to discuss any dental concerns or specific fears you may have.  When you arrive for your appointment, we begin with an office tour and staff introductions. During this first appointment, our team will ask you about barriers to dental treatment you may have experienced in the past.  We have found that communication is critical in helping our patients reduce their dental anxiety, and we encourage your honesty.  

Waters Family Dentistry is pleased to offer a Comfort Menu. This menu highlights the services and amenities we offer that will help your visit go smoothly. Our dentists are also aware that, for many people, the anesthesia portion of the appointment can cause the greatest anxiety.  He uses several techniques to make this as comfortable as possible; in fact, many patients tell us they are happily surprised by their experience.   

Periodontal Treatment

Most people are aware of how tooth decay can damage teeth. However, not as many understand the process of gum disease and how common it is in adults. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects nearly half of American adults. It begins when the sticky film of bacteria known as plaque is not thoroughly removed from teeth. The bacteria build up on the teeth and begin to cause red, irritated, and swollen gums. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Since gingivitis rarely causes pain, most patients are unaware they have the disease. These patients may notice slight bleeding of their gums when they brush or floss.  

If left untreated, gingivitis can advance and cause gums to recede and destroy the supporting structures around the teeth. Teeth become loose and may need to be extracted. In fact, it is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults. 

In addition to tooth loss, science has shown there is a connection between the health of our mouth and the health of our bodies. Research has shown there is a relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, heart disease, low-birth-weight babies, and even respiratory disease. More recent studies are leading scientists to believe many of these associations are tied to inflammation factors found in these diseases. 

The good news is that the effects of gum disease can be stopped. Future complications can even be prevented by establishing good oral hygiene habits like brushing after meals and daily flossing. If you have concerns about the health of your gums and teeth, call our office today to schedule your dental examination.  

Tooth Replacement

When a tooth becomes decayed or broken beyond repair, extraction is often necessary. Once a tooth is removed, it leaves a space. This space creates a problem for the way your teeth bite together. It is much like when a book is removed from a bookshelf and the books on either side tip into the gap. Because there is nothing left for the teeth above or below the space to bite on, those teeth will “super erupt” or grow into the space.

All of these adverse effects can create more issues than just a gap in your smile. Tooth loss can lead to bone loss in the area of the missing tooth and also around the surrounding teeth. Over time, the drifting and shifting will disrupt the way your teeth come together when you bite. In some cases, the bite disruption leads to problems with your jaw joint.  

Because a tooth is missing, you lose some of your ability to chew food.  In fact, for each tooth, you lose about 10% of your chewing ability.  This can cause difficulty in chewing certain foods and can also put more stress from chewing forces on the remaining teeth.  

There are also cosmetic concerns related to missing teeth.  Due to shifts in your bite that can occur, you face may actually appear shorter. Also, the tissues of the cheek and face may sink into the spot where the tooth previously was located.  Tooth loss can cause loss of self-esteem, especially if the space is visible when you speak or smile.  

The best course of action is to replace missing teeth with implants, bridge, partials, or dentures.  To find out what options are best for your dental condition, please call our office to schedule an exam.

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