Questions & Answers

What are dental sealants?

Sealants consist of painting a thin, plastic coating on the biting surfaces of the molar teeth to prevent decay in the pits of the teeth. Sealants are most effective in children as they are the most prone to cavities. Adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups.

Do whitening toothpastes actually work?

All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach. Over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface, as well as stains deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes come close to producing the bleaching effect you get from in office dental bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth’s color by about one shade.

What can I do about the shape or colour of my teeth?

Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth, or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, orthodontics, and re-contouring.

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and hardened, which ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth. A dental crown “caps” the entire tooth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth. Recontouring or reshaping the teeth is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth’s length, shape, or surface.

Each of these options differ with regard to cost, durability, “chair time” necessary to complete the procedure, stain resistant qualities, and best cosmetic approach to resolving a specific problem.

I’m terrified what can I do?

If you’re terrified of the dentist but need dental work…

Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth, or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, orthodontics and re-contouring.

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and hardened, which ultimately “bonds” the material to the tooth. A dental crown “caps” the entire tooth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth. Recontouring or reshaping the teeth is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth’s length, shape, or surface.

Each of these options differ with regard to cost, durability, “chair time” necessary to complete the procedure, stain resistant qualities, and best cosmetic approach to resolving a specific problem.

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be tailored to the individual to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of sedatives to help you relax, and in some cases even forget the procedure altogether. These options consist of nitrous oxide or oral sedation.

How safe are dental X-rays?

Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the use of digital x-rays. Digital x-rays use 75-90% less radiation compared to traditional x-rays and don’t release harmful chemicals into the environment. With these advances in x-ray reduction, the actual amount of radiation you’re exposed to is about the equivalent of flying across Canada in an airplane.

Should I come in if I am pregnant?

If you’re pregnant, when should you get a check-up or come in for treatment?

Having a baby is a very exciting but exhausting time in your life and maintaining proper oral health is extremely important during pregnancy. Since your body is giving up a lot of its resources to your developing baby, taking care of yourself has implications for both of you. It is recommended that pregnant women get check-ups done in the second trimester of pregnancy. This is because it is usually the most comfortable time to have the work done. If you are having dental problems that are affecting your general health though, dental work should be completed as soon as possible regardless of the stage of pregnancy. Having an infected tooth poses a risk to your developing baby, and there are no links to dental work and issues with prenatal development.

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