Q: I don’t have insurance, so I haven’t been to a dentist in a few years. Nothing hurts so do I really need a checkup?

A: Having regular checkups prevents major problems. Unfortunately, many dental problems occur without any warning. Nothing hurts until there is a significant problem. Before you know it, you’ve got problems. Extensive dental care is often required for patients who delay, postpone and avoid regularly scheduled visits. Prevention is the key to avoiding costly, extensive dental care. Undetected decay, cysts, tumors, and dental abscesses often lie “silently” below the surface – causing no pain or swelling. Why wait for these problems to surface through the onset of a painful experience?

Q: I have been told I have bad breath. What over the counter product can I buy to prevent this?

A: 80% of bad breath (a condition called halitosis) comes from tooth decay, gum disease and bacteria on the tongue. Only about 2% comes from certain stomach conditions. Your best bet is to talk to your dentist about this. A complete examination of the teeth and gums is necessary in order to determine the source.

Q: My teeth don’t hurt, but my dentist says I have problems with them. Is that possible?

A: As with medical problems, many times you are unaware until there is a significant problem. Undetected dental problems such as decay, abscesses, wear from a misaligned bite, tumors, oral cancer, cysts, and periodontal disease often lie dormant with no signs of pain or swelling. Your dentist can often diagnose these problems before they turn into nightmares! If you are unsure about the diagnosis you’ve been given, tell your dentist. In most cases your dentist will be more than willing to help you to actually “see” the problems through the use of dental x-rays, intra-oral cameras and digital cameras.

Q: My gums don’t bleed but my dentist says I have gum disease? Is that possible?

A: Periodontal disease (gum disease) is often referred to as a “silent disease” that can lead to bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Although bleeding gums can be an early indication of periodontal disease, bleeding is not always present. A periodontal charting evaluation can be performed to measure the depth of detached tissue around the root structure of your teeth. This measurement will indicate the severity of the gum disease and help your dentist to monitor improvement as periodontal treatment is performed. If you are a smoker, the odds are significant that you will have gum disease and your gums may never bleed. Ask your dentist for an evaluation.

Q: How often should I have my teeth cleaned?

A: The simple answer is that you should have your teeth cleaned as often as your hygienist and your dentist recommends. The more detailed answer is that it depends on the health of your gums and how committed you are to your oral hygiene program.

For example, if your gums are healthy and you follow a sound oral hygiene program, you need to have to have your teeth cleaned every six months. I strongly recommend that everyone come to the dentist twice a year to be checked for oral cancer and signs of other diseases whose symptoms first appear in the mouth.

On the other hand, if someone has moderate to advanced gum disease or isn’t willing to actively participate in a oral hygiene program, it may be necessary—if he wants any hope of keeping his teeth—to have them cleaned every 3 to 4 months.

The actual frequency will depend on the severity of your gum infection and how effective you are at doing your part.

Q: What can I expect at my appointment?

A: At your first dental visit we will review your medical and dental history, and take digital dental x-rays if required. Afterwards, Dr. Deniz or Dr. Fattore will examine your teeth and gums, perform an oral cancer screen and complete a TMJ (temporomandibular or jaw joint) exam. The dentist will then review the findings and determine a personalized treatment plan to help you reach your goals. We will explore the options available and their cost and help you determine the best plan to fit your needs.

During regular follow-up visits, we will examine your teeth and gums, perform oral cancer screens, clean your teeth and make plans for treatment, as needed. We will discuss any concerns and answer any questions you may have.

Q: What if I feel nervous before an appointment?

A: If you feel anxious or nervous before your appointment, don’t worry you are not alone. At South Georgetown Dental Care we offer a variety of sedation techniques available such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oral sedation, and can arrange for I.V. sedation and general anesthesia if needed. In addition, you may also want to avoid any stimulants such as caffeine and sugar prior to your appointment. Our goal is to make sure you feel comfortable and to make your experience enjoyable.