Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Are you taking new patients?

YES.  Because our patients love us they often refer their friends and family.  They want them to receive the same level of care they have come to know.  We are proud of the confidence our patients have placed in us, making us a referral-based practice.

How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though we may recommend more frequent visits.

Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums.  At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities.  Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health.  These include:

  • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses gives us insight into your overall health, which affects your dental health.
  • Examination of diagnostic X-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts and bone loss. X -rays also help verify tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat and gum tissues for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Detection of tooth decay: Besides examining X-rays, all tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special instruments.
  • Examining of existing restorations: Current fillings, crowns, etc. will be checked
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): When plaque is left on the teeth for some time, it becomes mineralized and firmly attached to the tooth surface, and is called calculus.  It forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, whitish film that forms on the teeth.  It is composed of living bacteria, food, debris and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums.  This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric toothbrushes (we prefer the Sonicare toothbrush), special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
  • Application of fluoride: Children and some adults with special conditions (high decay rate, dry mouth, moderate to severe root exposure, etc) receive a fluoride application after their cleaning.
  • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.  When called for, we make nutritional recommendations to improve your oral health.
What should I do to prevent gum disease and tooth decay?

Good oral health care starts at home.  Brushing and flossing on a daily basis is the best way to take care of your teeth and gums.  By maintaining a daily routine, you will greatly minimize the risk of gingivitis or tooth decay as you age.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a condition caused when bacteria (plaque ) surrounds the teeth and gets under the gum tissue.  The gums can become irritated, inflamed and often bleed.  In order to prevent the condition from worsening, regular hygiene visits are essential.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is a quiet disease that begins with little or no symptoms.  It starts as Gingivitis.  Gingivitis left untreated can lead to Periodontal Disease.  Bacteria left on tooth surfaces causes an infection below the gums, which causes a “pocket” between the tooth and the gums.  Left untreated, this pocket becomes deeper and eventually leads to bone loss.  Periodontitis may result in loose, shifting teeth and tooth loss.  Recent evidence also suggests that periodontitis may be associated with other medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Some signs of Periodontitis are red, puffy, swollen, sore or pus-filled gums, receding gums, loose teeth, and changes in the way your teeth fit together, suggesting shifting of the teeth.

How do you treat Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is a chronic disease that requires immediate attention.  We treat the beginning phases of the disease with Root Planing and Deep Scaling, sometimes in conjunction with local or systemic antibiotics.  In more advanced cases we make a referral to a periodontist, who will evaluate your condition and treat accordingly, often with surgical procedures.

How can I improve my smile?

There are several ways to enhance your smile.  Certain procedures include:

  • Tooth whitening
  • Bonding
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Porcelain crowns

We have the capability to improve your smile using all or some of these procedures.  We will consult with you about your options and expectations and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

What is Tooth Whitening?

Tooth Whitening, or Bleaching, is a cost-effective and safe procedure to create a beautifully healthy smile.  We are currently offering the “Sinsational Smile” bleaching system which requires only 20 minutes in the office and includes a take-home kit that allows further bleaching and future “touch-ups.”  We are seeing great results, and better yet, it is about half the cost of our former method.

What is Bonding?

Bonding is a cost-effective procedure used to fill in spaces between front teeth and to change a tooth’s color.  The immediate results can be very dramatic, but like tooth whitening, can stain and change color over time due to coffee, tea, cola and wine.

What are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded directly onto the front of your natural teeth.  This procedure is usually done in two visits and often requires a very thin layer of your natural tooth to be shaved or drilled away to allow for the thickness of the porcelain.  An impression is then taken and sent to the lab where the porcelain veneer is fabricated.  Dental veneers can change the size, shape and color of your teeth.  It is used to repair fractured teeth, teeth darkened by age or medication, or an uneven smile.  Many time patients ask for Porcelain Dental Veneers to simply feel and look younger, with a straighter, whiter smile.  Unlike Bonding, Porcelain Veneers do not stain, discolor or wear. If you have any further questions visit our porcelain dental veneers post and then feel free to contact us.

What are Crowns and why are they necessary?

Crowns (or Caps) are custom-made restorations that cover the entire tooth restoring it to its original shape and size.  They can be all metal, porcelain fused to metal, or all porcelain.  Dental crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with regular fillings.  They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings, as well as those that are badly decayed.  A Crown is usually (but not always) required after a Root Canal has been performed, because Root Canals render teeth more brittle and prone to fracture.  Crowns are a two-visit procedure: the tooth is prepared or shaped, a temporary crown is fabricated, and an impression is taken and sent to the lab for fabrication.  A couple of weeks later, the temporary crown is removed and the permanent Crown is fit and cemented.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental Implants are synthetic, artificial “roots” that are surgically placed into the jaw, usually by a specialist that we will refer you to.  They are used to replace one or more missing teeth.  After a period of a couple of months, the time it takes for the titanium implant to integrate into the bone, you will return to our office where we will fabricate, with the lab, crowns, bridges or dentures to fit and attach to the implant.

What are the advantages of Dental Implants?

Dental Implants:

  • Look and function like your natural teeth
  • Are maintained by routine visits
  • Decrease the possibility of bone loss, periodontal disease, tooth movement and further tooth loss
  • Focus only on the tooth or teeth that are missing.  A traditional bridge would involve cutting down the two or more adjacent teeth.
  • Because an implant, like a natural tooth, can be easily flossed and brushed, it is able to function much longer than a fixed bridge, and therefore can be a permanent, life-time solution for missing teeth.
What is the advantage of Digital X-rays over conventional X-rays?

Digital Radiography allows a greater diagnostic value while decreasing exposure to radiation, about 70-80% less than conventional X-rays.  After your Digital X-rays are taken in our office, they are immediately available to be viewed on our computer monitor.  We can review the images with you while you’re in the office and zoom in so that you and Dr. O’Keeffe can see and discuss problem areas together.  Dr. O’Keeffe can view the image in many formats, allowing her to gain more diagnostic information.