Below you will find a wide array of interesting and educational links and answers to common questions that we feel will benefit your knowledge and understanding of your dental health and treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
If my filling is still in place and my tooth does not hurt, why does my dentist want to replace the filling?
Constant pressure from chewing, grinding and/or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip, and even crack. If the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the filling. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to deeply infect the tooth and even cause an abscess and/or eventual loss of the tooth. Again, regular dental checkups enable us to monitor areas of concern and help keep you in optimal oral health. When restorations are large, or if recurrent decay is extensive, there might not be enough remaining tooth structure to support a replacement filling. In these cases, we may need to replace the filling with a natural looking porcelain crown.
Is there anything that can calm my nerves during a procedure?
Nitrous oxide is one of the safest anesthetics used in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is a colorless blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide gases with a pleasant, sweet smell and taste. It is also known as "laughing gas." Inhaling nitrous oxide creates a sense of well-being and relaxation, and it is used effectively to help individuals who experience anxiety or fear about dental treatment feel more comfortable and at ease. Nitrous oxide has few side effects and/or risks. It is non-addictive, and patients remain fully conscious during treatment. Nitrous oxide is administered comfortably with a mask over the mouth and nose, and a pleasant feeling of calm and sedation are felt almost immediately.
Another way to calm your nerves during your exam or treatment is “oral conscious sedation.” You may benefit from conscious sedation if you suffer from stress, fear, or anxiety related to your dental procedure. This is sometimes referred to as "sedation dentistry" or "relaxation dentistry.”
Upon arrival at our office, you will be given a pill that makes you feel very relaxed and drowsy. You will then be placed on a monitor to carefully watch your vital signs during the entire appointment. Because you are so relaxed, you will probably not remember most, if any, of the dental procedure.
When your treatment is completed, a relative or friend will need to drive you home, where you can climb into bed for a soothing, relaxing nap. Please note: You should not operate a motor vehicle for 24 hours after receiving oral conscious sedation.
What should I do in case of a dental emergency?
Let's face the facts: accidents happen, and especially when it comes to our teeth and mouths, they can be pretty frightening. Being careful is good prevention, but being prepared promises reassurance in any oral health emergency. It's important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary, so here are some guidelines to help you through common situations:
Toothache/Sore Gums. Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over the counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to tooth or gums), and see Dr. Pedraza if the pain persists.
Chipped Tooth. Save the pieces, if you can, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. See Dr.Pedraza as soon as possible.
Broken Tooth. With recent advancements in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, you might not lose your tooth. If there’s enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Pedraza can create a crown that will “grab onto” your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal.
Knocked Out Tooth. Depending on the situation, find the tooth and, holding it by the crown only, rinse it briefly with warm water and place it in a container of milk. See Dr. Pedraza as soon as possible—if treated within 2 hours, the tooth may be salvaged.
Soft Tissue Injuries. Soft tissues such as gums, cheeks, lips, and the tongue tend to bleed heavily, only because the tissue contains a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, first rinse with a warm, mild salt water solution. Apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. In the event of a serious soft tissue injury, in which the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it's best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to the emergency room.
Am I candidate for dental implant restorations?
Dr. Pedraza and our team work hard to stay on the leading-edge of restorative dentistry. If you or someone you love struggles with ill-fitting, uncomfortable dentures or a retainer with false teeth, we have a permanent solution. Quickly becoming the preferred method of dental replacement, implants can give your smile a second chance. They are useful in denture stabilization, but they can also be used in conjunction with crowns, bridges, and in single-tooth replacements. Most patients are candidates for implants and this treatment can change lives. It can give you back the confidence you need and the ability to enjoy food again. Set up an appointment with Dr. Pedraza today to find out how dental implants can work for you.
What are the benefits of a dental radiograph (x-ray) examination?
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are commonly used in dental exams of patients of all ages. Panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth and are particularly useful diagnostic tools. Panoramic x-rays are taken with a machine that circles your head, providing a complete overview of all the teeth and roots, the upper and lower jawbones, the sinuses, and other hard surfaces in the mouth. Many problems with teeth and the surrounding tissues cannot be seen when we visually examine your mouth. A dental x-ray examination is needed to reveal:
• Small areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
• Deep cavities
• Infections that can develop in the mouth bones
• Periodontal (gum) disease
• Abscesses or cysts
• Developmental abnormalities
• Some types of tumors
• Some types of TMJ Dysfunction
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you unnecessary discomfort, money, and time. In cases where x-rays help us detect oral cancer and periodontal disease early, radiographs can also help save your life!
When I floss, my gums bleed. Is it really a big deal?
Bleeding gums that apparently have no cause are always a warning sign, often indicating such conditions as gingivitis or even gum disease. Gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums) is not a one-way ticket to gum disease; in fact, if it’s caught early enough, gingivitis can be treated and even reversed. The first lines of treatment when it comes to gingivitis are lifestyle changes. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and high levels of stress can all contribute to gingivitis. Choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles can ease gum damage, too, and getting regular dental cleanings will control plaque and tooth decay. It's important to stop gingivitis before it progresses, as studies have shown more and more serious illnesses are associated with gum disease. The good news is bleeding gums can be treated, so see Dr. Pedraza for an evaluation of your gum tissues.
How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile. Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.
There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dentistry can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth makeover. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.
Teeth Whitening: Bleaching lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.
Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings:
Also known as “bonding”, composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.
Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-colored shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discolored, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.
Porcelain Crowns (caps):
A crown is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.
Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to removable dental appliances.
Less visible and more effective brackets and wires are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients. Also, in some cases, teeth may be straightened with custom-made, clear, removable aligners that require no braces.
Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make your smile shine!
What should I do if I have bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning. There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue can reduce bad breath by as much as 70 percent.
What can cause bad breath?
Morning time: Saliva flow almost stops during sleep. Its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
Certain foods: Foods containing odor-causing compounds (such as garlic and onions) enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
Poor oral hygiene habits: Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
Periodontal (gum) disease: Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
Dry mouth (Xerostomia): May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
Tobacco products: The tar and nicotine in cigarettes accumulate on surfaces inside the mouth, drying out the soft tissues and allowing odor-causing bacteria to grow on teeth.
Dieting: Chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals: Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
Certain medical conditions and illnesses: Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.
Cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances may also contribute to bad breath.
Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.
What can I do to prevent bad breath?
Practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
See your dentist regularly. Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
Stop smoking/chewing tobacco. Ask your dentist what he recommends to help you break the habit.
Drink water frequently. Water keeps your mouth moist and washes away bacteria.
Use mouthwash/rinses. Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.
In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.