Frequently Asked Dental Questions

Smile to Success in Elizabethtown KY

Maintaining Dental Health

Maintaining dental health involves the combination of two things — proper at-home dental care and professional dental exams and care. Simple maintenance of your dental health can help greatly to reduce the chances of tooth loss, as well as to reduce the need for restorative or cosmetic dentistry in the future.

How can I prevent tooth decay?

Good oral hygiene starts at home, though it needs to be supplemented by regular visits to the dentist. Steps you can take to prevent tooth decay include:

Thorough Brushing

Brush at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. This helps prevent tooth decay, to maintain periodontal health, and it can help reduce the need for costly cosmetic or restorative dentistry in the future. Replace your brush every two to three months.

Proper Flossing

Flossing is crucial to the health of your teeth and gums. When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader or Super Floss®.

Regular Dental Visits

At regularly-scheduled dental appointments you should have a dental/oral examination that includes a thorough periodontal exam and evaluation, and at certain intervals digital x-rays. For those who are found to have no periodontal disease a dental cleaning (prophylaxis) is usually all that is required. Those who do have periodontal disease should have periodontal therapy (a much more extensive and thorough cleaning that includes the thorough cleaning of the root surfaces below the gumline and bacterial reduction treatment of the gum pocket that surrounds the base of each of our teeth. The use of antimicrobial rinses (Peridex/chlorohexidine) has been popularly used but it is only effective for a few hours and the rinses usually must be repeated twice daily. Today we can do laser therapy that involves the shining of a diode laser in the gum pocket around each tooth. The laser very effectively kills the bacteria and breaks up the bacterial colony (biofilm) that builds up in the gum pockets.

How does fluoride help prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride helps reverse and prevent tooth decay in three ways:

Fluoride Promotes Tooth Remineralization

Acids can demineralize a tooth — that is, create a weak spot that develops into a cavity. Fluoride helps promote the opposite process, called remineralization, which can reverse the very early stages of tooth decay.

Fluoride Helps Teeth Become More Resistant to Tooth Decay

Fluoride actually strengthens teeth, giving them natural protection against future tooth decay.

Fluoride Disrupts Oral Bacteria’s Ability to Create Tooth-Attacking Acids

Fluoride disrupts bacteria’s ability to metabolize sugars, the process that leads to the attack of tooth enamel.

What are the stages of gum disease? How is gum disease treated?

To be considered healthy (no periodontal infection), all of a persons periodontal (gum) pockets should be 3mm deep or less with an absence of any inflammation (bleeding or swelling/puffiness) in the gums.

A person can also be healthy as described above but with a past history of gingival (gum) infection. When there is a past history of gum disease the odds of having a return of gum disease is significantly higher.

If there is any bleeding or swelling in the gums or any pocket, (even if it is just one pocket) 4mm deep or more this is considered Perio Type I, this is commonly called gingivitis. This is considered to be periodontal disease/infection and the patient should have periodontal therapy in an attempt to return to a healthy state of no perio (gum) disease.

If there is any pocket present that is 4-5 deep (even if it is just one pocket) this is considered to be Perio Type III commonly called chronic periodontitis and perio therapy is indicated.

If there is any pocket (even just one) present that is 6mm deep or greater the periodontal infection is considered to be Type III this is called aggressive perio and perio therapy is indicated and the patient may need to be referred to a periodontist (a gum disease specialist).

What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of factors. The porous part of the tooth, called dentin, is the region that registers pain, and dentin can become exposed due to:

  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Teeth injured by clenching or grinding
  • Receding gums caused by gum disease or improper brushing
How can sensitive teeth be managed?

Pain from sensitive teeth often comes and goes, but if you experience constant pain, you may have a more serious problem.

There are many effective treatments for sensitive teeth, including:

  • A soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent gum irritation
  • Toothpaste designed to insulate the nerve that registers pain
  • A fluoride rinse or gel

Let us know if you have sensitive teeth. Often we can help determine the cause of your pain and provide some helpful answers.

What are the causes of bruxism (teeth grinding)?

Teeth grinding can be caused by a range of factors; often, both emotional and physical factors are involved. Causal factors can include stress, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth.

How can bruxism be treated?

Once the cause or causes of bruxism are determined, your dentist can develop a course of treatment. Treatment methods may include:

  • Relaxation techniques if stress is at the root of the problem
  • Analgesics/anti-inflamatory medications
  • A plastic tooth guard to wear at night during sleep

Bruxism can cause serious pain and headaches, as well as dangerous wear on the teeth.

How do I keep my child’s teeth healthy?

Following a few simple guidelines can help keep your child’s teeth strong and beautiful for life:

Start oral care early

Oral care should start soon after your child is born. After feeding, clean your child’s gums using gauze or a clean, damp cloth. As soon as your child’s teeth appear — as soon as four months after birth — they should be brushed. Each day, brush your child’s teeth with a soft, wet toothbrush and at most a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Prevent nursing-bottle mouth

Nursing-bottle mouth, also known as baby-bottle tooth decay or baby-bottle syndrome, can cause a baby’s front teeth to rapidly decay, which can lead to a lifetime of dental difficulties. Preventing nursing bottle mouth is easy: If you give your baby a bottle at nap or bed time, simply fill it with plain water rather than formula, milk, or juice—never let your child fall asleep with a bottle filled with a liquid other than water. In addition, check your child for brown spots near the gums because they are a warning sign for tooth decay.

Take your child to the dentist

In general, preventative dentistry should start early. A child’s first dental visit can take place as early as 6 to 12 months after birth. Regular fluoride treatments, administered by a dentist, are especially helpful in strengthening enamel and arresting tooth decay for children.

Take advantage of dental sealants

Dental sealants are a popular and effective way to protect your child’s teeth against cavities.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a plastic coating painted on the grooved, hard-to-reach surfaces of the back teeth. Pits and fissures on these surfaces are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. Dental sealants can be used to seal out cavity-causing bacteria from damaging the teeth.

How are dental sealants applied?

Dental sealants can be quickly and easily applied. The chewing surfaces of teeth are first prepared, and then the sealant is painted on the tooth surface. The sealant material bonds directly to the tooth and hardens with the aid of a special curing light. Dental sealants hold up well under the force of chewing, and they provide protection against cavities for about five years. During regular dental visits, one of our dentists will check the state of sealants and re-apply them if necessary.

How do dental sealants protect teeth?

Because fluoride is effective in preventing decay from forming on the smooth surfaces of teeth, and dental sealants protect the grooves of teeth, these treatments are best used in combination.

Dental sealants are particularly effective for protecting children's teeth. The first permanent molars emerge when a child is about 6. A dental sealant treatment performed shortly after these first permanent teeth emerge protects the teeth from developing cavities. Another good time for applying sealants occurs when a child is about 12, when the second permanent molars emerge.

We may also recommend sealants for adults who are at a particularly high risk of tooth decay.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is more popular than ever before, and for good reason. Today's cosmetic dentistry techniques yield impressive, long-lasting results.

How does professional teeth whitening work? Is it safe?

Dentist supervised teeth whitening systems such as Opalescence® are widely considered to provide the safest cosmetic dentistry treatments. Teeth whitening is a conservative method for completely making over your smile.

Chairside teeth whitening procedures are performed with a specially formulated peroxide gel that allows oxygen to permeate your tooth enamel, lifting stains. The structure of your tooth enamel is not affected. The most common side effect is temporary tooth sensitivity.

Do you offer tooth-colored fillings? Can they replace my old metal fillings?

The placement of tooth colored composite fillings is one of the most commonly performed general dentistry procedures in our office. In addition to filling new cavities, these beautiful restorations can replace old metal fillings that have blackened, fractured, popped out, or that simply take away from the beauty of your smile.

What are cosmetic porcelain veneers?

Dental porcelain or ceramic veneers are custom-designed shells of tooth-like ceramic material that, when applied over the surface of a tooth, can cover worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, and chips or cracks.

Dental ceramic veneers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they create a bright, white smile with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth. Even better, the translucent ceramic quality of today's veneers provides a more natural look than what's been available in the past.

Today's ceramic veneers can often be ultra thin, often requiring little or no grinding on the teeth and often not requiring dental anesthesia.

Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve most or even all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:

  • Worn enamel: Over time, the thin, hard white substance covering your teeth (enamel) may become worn, dulled, and discolored. Such wear and discoloration may be natural or the result of a genetic predisposition; however, it is often a result of your habits (soft drink, tea, or coffee consumption, smoking, medication use, etc.).
  • Wear and tear: Teeth naturally wear down as people age. Aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or a generally uneven appearance.
  • Genetics: Certain people may be born with abnormal spacing between the teeth that grows wider as they age.
  • Uneven teeth: Uneven teeth can result from tooth grinding or general wear and tear.

Replacing Missing Teeth

Missing teeth is a common complaint among our patients. Luckily, our practice features several methods of filling gaps in a patient's smile, some taking advantage of the wonderful technological advances in recent years.

If I am missing one or more teeth, what are my options?

Patients today have an array of options for replacing missing teeth. Fixed dental bridges, flexible acrylic removable partial dentures that have no unsightly wires to show, and dental implants all have their advantages and disadvantages, though modern cosmetic and restorative dentistry has come to favor dental implants because they look and function just like real teeth and require no special care.

If you have lost a tooth or several teeth, we urge you to seek treatment. Adjacent teeth can shift into the gap left by a lost tooth; in addition, a missing tooth can lead to bone loss, hygiene problems, difficulties with speaking and eating, and much more. Today’s dental restorations are better than ever, and they can give you a strong bite and a beautiful smile.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Elizabethtown KY

Comfortable General and Cosmetic Dentistry

Going to the dentist does not have to be associated with anxiety and discomfort! We work hard to make sure our patients are relaxed and comfortable while receiving the best in dental care.

Is there any alternative to dental shots and drills?

We are very happy and proud to have two state of the art Biolase®Waterlase dental lasers in our office. We have been told that our office is probably the first in the state of Kentucky and the Louisville, Kentucky area to have two dental lasers.

While not everything can be done using dental lasers, many procedures can be done with dental lasers. Dental lasers are a truly wonderful and amazing advanced technology and they are helping us to provide the best and most comfortable treatment possible for our patients. Many procedures can now be done either without, or with a much lessened need for the dental drill and dental anesthetic "shots."

Does it cost any more to have fillings or treatment done with a dental laser?

No, dental treatment provided using dental lasers costs no more than regular dental treatment using dental drills. Dental fillings and procedures done with a dental laser are covered by dental insurance no differently than the same procedures when they are done using the dental shots and a dental drill. There are no special added fees when we are able to use a dental laser.

As everyone knows, the newest, most exciting, and best technologies are not cheap, but we are determined to provide the best for our patients at affordable prices.

Do you offer laughing gas?

We do have available nitrous oxide conscious sedation, "laughing gas."

Keeping Dentistry Affordable

We are participating or preferred providers in most popular dental insurance plans, we participate in more plans than most other dental offices in our area!

Does it cost any more to have fillings or treatment done with a dental laser?

No, dental treatment provided using dental lasers costs no more than regular dental treatment using dental drills. Dental fillings and procedures done with a dental laser are covered by dental insurance no differently than the same procedures when they are done using the dental shots and a dental drill. There are no special added fees when we are able to use a dental laser.

Do 'ONE DAY CROWNS' cost more?

No, one day crowns are ceramic crowns and are covered no differently by your dental insurance than the same crowns when they are sent off by us to a dental lab to be made while you wear a temporary crown for two to three weeks before coming back for a separate appointment to get the crown. The difference is that we now have the milling machine (that would be used by the dental laboratory where we send the crown to be made) actually in our office, allowing us in most cases to make your crown right away and eliminating a great deal of time and hassle on your part. In some cases, this has allowed us to actually reduce crown procedure fees, helping us to make great dentistry more affordable!

Payment Options

We accept payment by a variety of methods, including most major credit cards and employee health flex spending accounts.

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Financing Dental Treatment (Payment Plans)

Dental treatment in our office is becoming more advanced, and can be more affordable than ever before.

How can I finance my general, cosmetic, or restorative dentistry treatments?
CareCredit in Elizabethtown KY

We offer an array of financing options that allow patients to spread the cost of their general or cosmetic dentistry over time. One of these is CareCredit® which provides several payment options.

CareCredit