Smile Institute FAQs

1. What precautions do you take to ensure patient safety?

As your dental professionals, we care about both your health and safety. Our practice follows a variety of precautions to ensure your well-being while you are in our office. We have a specific area in our office designed to centralize sterilization and monitor aseptic instrument management. We remain current with OSHA standards attending annual update seminars for safety compliance requirements. Your safety is our top priority.

2. What different payment options do you provide?

We strongly feel that both the patient and the practice benefit from a good understanding of financial arrangements and procedures prior to treatment. We want you to be able to get the dental treatment that you want and need, so we offer a variety of arrangements for payment. You may pay with cash or by check and we accept Visa, American Express, Discover and MasterCard. We also work with CareCredit and Lending Club Patient Solutions. These are great patient financing options that allow patients to initiate treatment immediately upon approval.

3. I’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes. Are there any dental problems that are associated with this disease?

Infections and other problems such as receding gums and periodontal disease are common afflictions among diabetics. Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to fight off infections, decreases blood flow and circulation to gum tissue, and in many cases elevates the sugar levels within the oral cavity. These factors tend to promote gum disease and tooth decay.

4. How can I safely whiten my teeth?

We offer a variety of professional tooth whitening systems to our patients. Different patients have dark or discolored teeth for a variety of reasons. We offer in-office whitening and professional home whitening treatments for the brightest smile possible.

5. What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?

When a tooth is lost, a whole series of events can begin to occur. Chewing on the affected side becomes more difficult and over time, the remaining teeth can actually tilt and erupt into the open space. Depending on the location of the missing tooth, we would most likely recommend either a dental implant, bridge or partial denture.

All of these options have their benefits and drawbacks. Contact us if you would like more information for specifics of your case.

6. What can I do if I have a dry mouth?

The basic problem in dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a lack of saliva. This can be caused by diseases of the salivary gland, medications that decrease salivary flow as a side effect or as a natural result of aging. This decrease in saliva can lead to a number of severe dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and mouth infections.

The best way to combat this problem is to use sugar-free candy or gum and to drink plenty of water. Do not use sugared candy or soda, as they can lead to rapid dental decay in patients with dry mouths. Several over-the-counter products are also available that can help with some dry mouth symptoms. If you’re concerned that you may have xerostomia, contact us or your physician to determine its cause and see what might work best in your situation.

7. I have a temporary crown in my mouth; what happens if it comes off or breaks?

Sometimes, a temporary can come loose before your final crown is fabricated. Please contact the office if this happens at any time and we will re-cement or make a new temporary as soon as possible.

8. Do you accept my insurance plan?

We are participating providers with Delta Dental and Moda Insurance. As a courtesy to you, our staff will file your insurance claims. We also will file any other PPO insurance plans for you as a courtesy.

9. What do I do if I have an emergency when the office is closed?

If you have an emergency, please call our office number right away. Our phone message will direct you to the number to call for immediate assistance. We provide 24-hour emergency care for patients of record.

10. At what age should my children first see a dentist?

We encourage routine checkups for all members of the family. We recommend the first dental visit and cleaning at four years of age. Your pediatrician may advise a sooner visit if developmental problems are noted.

11. Why don’t my dentures seem to fit anymore?

If you’ve had your dentures for more than three to five years, it’s possible that they actually don’t fit anymore.

You are probably aware that the bone of the mouth holds and supports the teeth. But the teeth also support the bone. When the teeth are removed, the bone loosens the support once provided by the teeth and enters into a lifetime of constant shape change and atrophy (shrinkage). As a result, dentures that were made to fit your mouth several years ago don’t fit now. People often try to compensate for this by using more denture adhesive until the desired fit is achieved. Unfortunately, this can cause faster loss of bone and an even worse fit.

We have some options available to treat these problems. In these cases, we may recommend we either reline your existing dentures for a better fit or make a new set of dentures.

12. How do I know when it’s time to come in for a checkup?

We know your schedule is busy, so we’ll remind you when it’s time to come in to see us via text messaging, email or phone confirmation. We usually schedule your next checkup in advance, and then we’ll give you a courtesy reminder with a phone call a few days in advance of your appointment. Please let us know which method works best for you.

13. Why should I have my teeth cleaned twice a year?

In a perfect world, everyone would brush and floss twice a day. Plaque builds up over time and this sticky bacterial film can solidify and turn into calculus or tartar. This cement-like substance is removed by the hygienist at your regular cleaning visits. A six-month interval not only serves to keep your mouth healthy and clean, it allows potential problems to be found and diagnosed earlier.

In some instances, a six-month schedule in not enough. Based on your dental history, rate of calculus buildup and pattern of decay, a three or four-month interval may be needed. We can work with you to determine what is best for you

14. What is plaque and why is it bad?

Plaque is a clear sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. As plaque collects, it forms a hard layer of tartar (or calculus) particularly in hard-to-reach areas between teeth and near the gum line.

Bacteria found in plaque create toxic chemicals that irritate the gums. Eventually these bacteria cause the underlying bone around the teeth to be destroyed, a condition known as gum disease. Recent research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and some pregnancy complications.

Removal of plaque with brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis, and removal of tartar by your dentist and dental hygienist is the first step in defeating gum disease. By the time gum disease begins to hurt, it may be too late. Seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent this and many other problems.

15. How do you keep up to date on all of the current techniques and materials?

Dentistry is constantly evolving, so we do a number of things to stay up to date on all of the current research. We are active members of a variety of organizations at local, national, and international levels to provide a continuum of lifelong learning and education in oral healthcare. These organizations include the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry and Oregon Board of Dentistry. We frequently attend continuing education courses that focus on research in all aspects of cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry. We are committed to providing our patients with the best care possible.

16. How much radiation do I get from a dental X-ray and how does it compare to other medical procedures?

The radiation you would receive from a traditional film dental X-ray is very low. Today, with non-film digital X-rays available, the radiation is reduced by an additional 90%.

Comparatively, a traditional chest CT-scan exposes a patient to 2,800 times the radiation as a digital dental X-ray, and a mammogram gives off around 60 times as much radiation. Surprisingly, you can get the same amount of radiation as one of our dental X-rays from eating about 50 bananas.

References:

BBC NEWS Magazine 13 October 2011 “Go Figure: What Bananas Tell Us About Radiation” By Michael Blastland.
Every Day Health: “The Truth About Everyday Radiation.” By Sharon Tanenbaum, Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD. 3/18/2011.

17. What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is intended to be a tooth-saving procedure that removes the pulp, or living tissue from inside a tooth. Each tooth typically has one to three roots and each root has one or two tunnels or canals that stretch the length of the root. In a healthy tooth, these canals are filled with tissue (consisting of the nerves and blood vessels) that keep the tooth alive and provide sensations like hot and cold. Sometimes the tissue can become damaged or diseased due to decay, fracture or trauma. This in turn can cause a toothache or there may be no pain at all.

During root canal treatment, a hole is created in the top of the tooth to locate the canals. The dentist cleans and disinfects these canals and seals them with a special filler material. Root canal therapy is highly successful and with today’s technology can be painless.

18. Do you accept referrals?

Yes! We always welcome referrals from other doctors, patients and friends; they are our biggest compliment. Please be sure to ask us about our patient referral program!

19. My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling. But why doesn’t my tooth hurt?

Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages, so don’t wait for things to hurt! It is best to get a thorough dental exam and diagnose and treat problems early. Waiting often makes problems more difficult and more expensive to fix.

20. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the dentist. What do I need to do?

You’re not alone! Whether it’s been six months or six years, it’s never too late to get back into the routine.

21. What causes bad breath?

While bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases, most bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence bad odor.

There are two main goals in the management of bad breath. First, controlling the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds and second, to neutralize the sulfur compounds that are produced.

22. Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. But many people don’t brush for the recommended two to three minutes. Children are also good candidates for powered brushes as their brushing habits tend to be less than optimal.

While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial. Ask us about which brush is best for you.