Frequently Asked Questions

Dental Questions Answered

What is the difference between DDS and DMD?

Dentists in the United States either have the initials DMD or DDS after their name. A lot of people may wonder what the difference is between the two. But the truth is that the only difference is in the name: The dental degree and the education are the same. DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine and DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. Some dental schools award the DMD degree while others award the DDS degree.

What is the difference between a general dentist and a specialist?

Both general dentists and specialists went to dental school to achieve a DDS or a DMD degree. Specialists however, went to another 2-6 years of post-graduate education to “specialize” in a certain area of dentistry. These areas include endodontics (root canals), periodontics (gums and implants), prosthodontics (crowns, bridges and dentures), oral surgery (removing teeth and placing implants), and orthodontics (braces). General dentists have been trained on a basic level in all these areas of dentistry and can legally perform all procedures necessary in dentistry. Most however do not feel comfortable taking on some of the more challenging cases, and when faced with these cases can refer their patients to the specialist for his or her support. Dentists and specialists work together to achieve the best possible outcome for their patients.

Are amalgam (silver) fillings dangerous and should I have mine removed?

Amalgam fillings have been used in dentistry for over 100 years. 76% of dentists still use amalgam fillings in their practices. The American Dental Association, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration have all submitted their support for the safety and use of amalgam fillings. It is our philosophy that in certain situations amalgam fillings are the proper material choice. We offer both amalgam and composite (white) fillings at our office, and make our decision on a case by case basis. Give us a call to examine which is right for you. ADA opinion on amalgam fillings

Do you treat children?

We see kids of all ages! Normally we like to see children around age 3. Sometimes to check for any problems, but mostly to get them used to coming the the dentist and get them comfortable with the surroundings. Give us a call to set up your child’s first appointment!

Do you take my insurance?

We accept most types of dental insurance. Give our office a call to confirm.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of factors. Fractured or chipped teeth, Teeth injured by clenching or grinding, Receding gums caused by gum disease or improper brushing are the most common causes.

There are many effective treatments for sensitive teeth including using a soft-bristle toothbrush, using specific toothpaste designed to insulate the nerve, and applying a fluoride rinse or gel. If you have sensitive teeth give us a call for a consultation so we can determine the cause and the best solution for you.

Does tooth whitening (bleaching) hurt your teeth?

Teeth whitening or “bleaching” is a safe procedure. The chemical reaction takes the color out of teeth but does not affect the structural integrity of the tooth itself. Our office offers three bleaching options of varying strength, price, and time. Give us a call to brighten your smile – call (206) 242-0066 or request an appointment online!

How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

You should have your teeth checked and clean at least twice per year, however depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, and your dental history, we may recommend more frequent visits. During your visit we do more than just clean your teeth. Many other things are checked and monitored including: health history review, update digital x-rays, oral cancer screenings, TMJ evaluation, examination of tooth decay, evaluation of gum disease, check stability of existing restorations, and removal of calculus (tartar). All of these actions are routine and maintain a healthy mouth. Give us a call if it has been awhile since your last check up.

How does your mouth effect your overall health?

Often taken for granted, the monotonous task of brushing and flossing our teeth daily has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and the risks gum disease place on our overall health. It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease, which has been linked to serious health complications and causes various dental problems that are often avoidable. Recent studies suggest gum disease may contribute to or be warning signs of potentially life threatening conditions such as: Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Chronic Kidney Disease and Premature Births.

How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Certain factors also increase your risk of developing gum disease including smoking, certain dental appliances, some medications, pregnancy, systemic diseases, and genetics. Signs and symptoms of developing gum problems include red, puffy gums, bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, pus around teeth and gums, receding gums, and tenderness or discomfort.
If you have any of these symptoms give us a call before the damage is irreversible.

I am worried about the radiation from dental x-rays. Are they safe and necessary at every appointment?

Dental x-rays are perfectly safe. With our new digital x-ray system, and patient lead aprons, the amount of radiation is less than what you get from a day in the sun. We recommend x-rays are updated at least once per year but sometimes it is necessary to do more often. X-rays are used to diagnose problems that the dentist cannot see just by looking in your mouth. Problems like abscesses, decay, and periodontal disease can only be detected using x-rays.

I am pregnant. Should I be worried that my dental visit will harm the baby?

Absolutely not! In fact, it is more important to visit the dentist when you are pregnant so that any problems you have in your mouth do not harm your baby or effect your pregnancy. Recent studdies have shown that gum disease is a risk factor for premature births. We will often forgo x-rays during pregnancy unless it is an emergency, however it is common for expecting mothers to develop gingivitis which can spread to the baby. Also, existing cavities, and bacteria in the mouth from plaque and calculus can be transferred to and harm your baby. It is important to keep up with your bi-annual cleanings to avoid any problems. If you are pregnant or considering the idea give us a call to make sure your oral health will not have any effects on your baby.

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