Ask Dr. Loev-5 of the Most Common Dental Questions Answered
San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Edward L. Loev DMD has been mastering dentistry for over 40 years. During this time he has seen and heard it all. Dogs eat homework and night guards; people create strange formulas in their kitchen sink using various poisonous ingredients to try and obtain a white smile; you name it he has probably heard it. Asking questions is important of any healthcare provider yet some patients feel embarrassed to ask specific questions or don’t have a dentist to ask. Dr. Loev is trying to change this and has create a question answer forum http://buff.ly/2mZoM2W Dr. Loev will start producing a monthly, maybe semi-monthly (depending on volume of questions) video blog in which he answers the most common questions. As a lead up we thought that we would compile a list of the most common questions that we are asked and give you some answers.
- What is plaque and why should I care about it?
Plaque is a clear sticky layer of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth and acts as a glue collecting loose particles of food. Over time plaque hardens and forms a hard layer of tartar (or calculus) it especially like to harden and gather between teeth where it is harder to remove. Plaque bacteria can not only hurt ones teeth as it develops, it also irritates gum tissue. If left of tooth surfaces it can even impact the underlying connective tissue and bone that holds are teeth in place causing varying levels of periodontal (gum) disease. Increasingly, research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and a number of complications both during pregnancy and after pregnancy.
The best way to combat plaque is to brush at least twice a days with a soft bristle brush and see your dentist for professional cleanings at prescribed (2, 3, 6 month) intervals. By the time gum disease begins to hurt, it may be too late to halt its progress. Seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent this and many other problems.
My dentist says that I have decay and need to get a filling but it doesn’t hurt. Why do I need to address it?
In our practice we strive to be proactive. As with periodontal disease but the time it hurts it can be too late for an easy fix. Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages, so don’t wait for things to hurt! Through regular exams and monitoring decay can be detected and treated before it causes more widespread damage that leads to crowns, root canals or even extractions. Decay will not heal like a cut or a scrape, the longer one waits the bigger and more expensive it is to fix.
How much radiation do I get from a dental x-ray and how does it compare to other medical procedures?
Radiation is very low from dental x-rays. Many offices have switched to digital x-rays which reduces the already low exposure to radiation by 90% over traditional film x-rays. Comparatively, a mammogram exposes patients to about 60times as much radiation as a dental x-ray and a traditional chest CT-scan is even higher in its exposure. Its exposes a patients to 2,800 times the radiation as a digital dental x-ray. Did you know, that you can get the same amount of radiation from eating 50 bananas as one of our dental x-rays?
Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?
Not necessarily, it depends on the user and duration of use. If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time (at least 2 minutes), and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. Time yourself or set a timer to between two and three minutes next time you brush. Most people who brush using a manual toothbrush are amazed at how long this period is. Children are great candidates for powered brushes because they are fun to use and give a boost to most children’s less than ideal brushing habits. While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial for many. In our San Francisco Dental office for instance, Dr. Loev still uses his manual tooth brush while our dental hygiene dentist Dr. Heinic prefers a Sonicare. Ask your dentist what he or she uses and if they think that you could benefit from switching to an electric toothbrush. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.
I’m interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
Many options are available to change the shape of teeth. Some options are very conservative while others are slightly more invasive but can truly make major changes to smiles. Options exist to make teeth look longer, have more uniform spacing spaces or repair a chipped or cracked tooth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and re-contouring.
- Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a very strong plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and cured or hardened using a special light that creates a chemically reaction that turns the resin from liquid to solid.
- Dental crowns are tooth-shaped “caps” that are placed over teeth. We often describe the process of crown placement in terms of removing the outer layer of an orange. We carefully peel away the damaged or misshapen our “peel” and the replace it with an improved cover made generally from a metal core covered in porcelain or increasingly an all porcelain cover. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth and creates a tight seal between the “peeled” portion of the tooth and the porcelain restoration. This edge or margin rest close to the gum-line for a nearly invisible, natural appearance.
- Porcelain Veneers (also called veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are almost like fake finger nails. They are designed to cover the front surface of teeth and are bonded onto the front on tooth like a piece of veneer wood would be bonded to the front of a cabinet.
- Re-contouring or reshaping of the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) Sometimes less is more. When it comes to dental esthetics this is often the case. Patient often complain about the ‘jagged” appearance of the edges of their teeth or that they appear too bulky or square. By very conservatively removing some tooth enamel, teeth and even smiles can be transformed
Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for over 40 years. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.