Frequently Asked Questions 

These are the most frequently asked questions about dentistry that we hear from patients:

How often do I actually need to visit the dentist? 
- Dentists always recommend a dental visit every six months to help prevent cavities and other problems.

What age should a child see a dentist?
- The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?
- You should get dental X-rays either every six months or every. Children and teenagers may need more frequent X-rays.

What exactly is a cavity?
- A cavity is a hole that can grow bigger and deeper over time. Cavities are also called dental caries, and if you have a cavity, it's important to get it repaired. But why would your tooth develop a hole? Blame plaque. That's a sticky, slimy substance made up mostly of the germs that cause tooth decay.

How do I know if I have a cavity in my tooth?
- Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold.
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth.
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth.
- Pain when you bite down.

How long will my dental restoration last?
- Silver amalgam fillings can last from 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. Composite resin fillings don't last as long. You may need to replace them every five to seven years.

What are sealants?
- Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria.

- Sealants are most commonly used with children.

How long will the results of teeth whitening last?
- Like other investments, if you whiten your teeth, the length of time you can expect it to last will vary. If you smoke, drink red wine or coffee, or consume other acid-containing foods, your bright smile may begin to yellow more quickly than you expect. In general, a teeth whitening procedure can last up to a few years. And even though the results can fade, occasional touch-ups can be done to regain luster.

Why do my gums bleed?
- Bleeding gums are caused by inadequate plaque removal. Plaque contains germs which attack the healthy tissue around the teeth. If plaque build-up occurs, gums become inflamed and irritated, which may cause them to bleed when brushing or flossing. This is called gingivitis and is the first stage of gum disease.

What is a tooth pocket?
- A tooth pocket is the normal space that encircles the tooth structure, where the gum tissue fits snugly around the tooth. An important part of your daily routine is to keep this space clean by flossing and lightly brushing the gums with a soft toothbrush.

- Tooth pockets are considered healthy when they are less than 3 mm in depth and do not bleed. Dentists and dental hygienists use a special tool to measure the depth of tooth pockets. Over time these pockets can become inflamed or infected, causing bleeding, recession of the gum or bone loss. Deeper pockets around the tooth provide a larger area for the bacteria to live, making your at- home dental care more difficult. During regular cleanings, the dentist or hygienist will clean and remove any hard deposits from the tooth pockets.