How do I find a new dentist and how do I know if they are a good fit for me?
When searching for a new dentist the best recommendation is always one made by asking a family member or friend. This will help in giving you a little bit of background on what type of office it is, and whether or not other people are happy with their dentist. If you are new to an area and do not have a friend who can recommend someone for you, then go to your phone book or check with your dental insurance plan and make a list of the dentists in your area. You can either call or visit these offices to find out such things as: How do they answer their telephone? What are the office hours? Are they convenient to your schedule? Will they work with your insurance plan if this is important to you? Do they treat children if you have any? Are they available in case of an emergency? Does the dental staff make you feel comfortable? Are they courteous and helpful? Are the answers to your questions direct or evasive? Paying a visit to the office will help you to assess the atmosphere of the office and help you decide whether or not you would be comfortable there. Your visit to the dentist should be pleasant and comfortable. You need to feel relaxed with your dental team in order to ensure that you can work together in maintaining a healthy happy smile. Take the time to ask around for a dental office that can meet your needs.
How often should I go to my dentist?
Some people tend to have a rather strange attitude towards checkups. If the dentist does not find something wrong, they feel their time has been wasted. As a matter of fact, a series of successful visits can discourage them from ever seeing their dentist and hygienist again. The idea that you should only see the dentist when something is wrong is not only ridiculous but can end up costing you a lot of money, comfort and time. Your dentist is trained to detect and treat many problems before you are even aware of them. The goal is prevention – prevent disease, decay and tooth loss. Your dentist can help you but only if you make the appointment. It all comes back to teamwork. Only you, your dentist and your hygienist can determine how often to make a visit, but most for most people, twice a year is sufficient. Checkups should not be a one-time event. They are necessary for regular assessments of the condition and the well being of your mouth. Check-up procedures vary with each dentist, but basically will contain: a review of dental and medical history, an overall examination of the mouth including oral cancer screening, a professional cleaning, possibly a fluoride treatment, and a general assessment of hygiene at home. Regular checkups are a MUST in the fight against gum disease.
Will my insurance cover my dental treatment?
Dental insurance is great in helping cover a portion of your dental treatment expenses but rarely will it cover 100% of many dental procedures. Patients are responsible for paying their copay, the portion that dental insurance does not cover. Each insurance plan has specific coverages and limitations. Insurance plans do not make these coverages based on your specific dental needs. Dr. Elbrecht will make his treatment recommendations based on your specific needs and wants. We will help explain your insurance plans and its coverages by providing you with a treatment plan detailing treatment recommendations as well as your dental insurance plan. This will include its coverages, limitations, and what we estimate it will cover on specific procedures so that you know your expenses before treatment. Ultimately insurance companies can and will determine what and how much it will cover. We will gladly submit dental claims for you and will help you to understand and utilize your insurance benefits to get the most from your coverage.
How do I keep my teeth for life?
Proper dental care will ensure that you keep them for life. In spite of what you may have heard Dental Disease is not only controllable, it is also correctable and most of all preventable. A thorough brushing and flossing routine is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Flossing is important because it reaches the areas a toothbrush can’t reach, between the teeth and under the gum line. Your teeth need proper nutrition just as your body does. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a sure bet for healthy teeth and gums. Natural sugars however act the same way on teeth as refined sugars, so be sure to brush or at least rinse with water if a toothbrush is not handy after eating even a piece of fruit. It is important that you find a dental team that you feel comfortable with and who you can work with in order to maintain a healthy smile for life. Routine visits to your dentist for a check up and cleaning will help to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Do I really need x-rays?
Dental x-rays are taken routinely by your dentist. There are many diseases and dental defects, which can not be seen by the naked eye, especially where teeth are concerned. These may include such things as decay under old fillings, teeth trapped below the gums, cavities between the teeth, bone loss as a result of gum disease and changes in either jaw bone structure which can be affected by many systemic diseases. If you are a new patient, your dentist may recommend x-rays to check the current status of your mouth and to check for hidden problems. Upon your first visit to the dentist he or she will usually take those x-rays that will be necessary to comprehensively assess your oral health. A full series of x-rays usually consists of 14 – 18 films. A Panoramic x-ray film showing a much greater areas of your jaw bones may be needed as well in order for your dentist to comfortably and competently examine you. Every twelve months or so your dentist may take a small series of x-rays consisting of four to six films. A six-month period is a long time in the life of a cavity and it is for this reason that a visit to the dentist every six months is so important. X-rays are generally safe when only taken as needed to keep the exposure to a minimum. Dr. Elbrecht uses digital dental radiographs which use 90% less radiation than traditional dental radiographs.
What if I am afraid of going to the dentist?
Fear of the dentist is quite common and many people are as fearful and concerned as you may be. However, because fear of the dentist is so common, Dr. Elbrecht and his team are also well aware of this and are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these fears. Notify your dental team about your concerns and questions. You will find they are eager to work with you to make your visits pleasant. Asking questions about your mouth and proposed treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and give you an opportunity to become involved in your dental health. Most importantly, remember that your dental team is eager to work with you, not just on you,in order to achieve a mutual goal – maintaining the health of your smile.
Why Do I need dental work if I am not experiencing any problems or discomfort?
Dr. Elbrecht‘s goal is to keep you in good oral health and to keep you from experiencing any pain. Early stages of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth fractures, and other problems with teeth and gums usually do not produce any pain or discomfort. However, if these problems are not detected and treated in this earlier stage they will progress to more severe problems. This could lead to more extensive dental treatment, more expensive treatment, more dental visits, and possibly pain. Dr. Elbrecht detects problems and brings them to your attention at the first sign, usually before there is pain, to help you because we value your time, comfort, and budget.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, or gingivitis as it is also called is quite common in adults and if untreated can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss today. The reason you loose teeth from periodontal disease is because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone, which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth, your teeth become loose and can eventually fall out. Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque. If the plague is not removed on a daily basis it will form calculus, which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause periodontal disease. Bleeding gums are the first sign that there may be a problem with the gums. Puffy, tender red gums are also a sign that there is an infection present. Bleeding gums however are not always present even in severe cases of gum disease. Routine and regular visits to your dentist are the best way of catching gum disease in its early stages before too much damage has been caused. Gum disease will not go away by itself or with improved home care. The only way of removing plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleanings. Once gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease it needs to be treated in a way other than a regular dental cleaning. This procedure involves cleaning the bacteria from under the gums in order remove the deposits from the area where it is causing damage. This is a procedure that is made comfortable and is easily treated and maintained by our hygienists. Once you have had a gum problem you will always be susceptible to recurring problems, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis – every three to four months, unless he recommends otherwise.
How does a tooth decay?
A substance known as plaque causes tooth decay. Plaque is a clear bacteria laden film, which develops on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque interact with the starches and sugars we eat and form an acid, which breaks down or de-mineralizes our teeth. As this process is going on our saliva along with properties it has, acts to help re-mineralize teeth. When the demineralization process is faster than that of remineralization a cavity occurs. There are several things that can be done to slow down or totally prevent this breakdown process which leads to cavities. One of the most important contributors to decay are sugars, and eliminating or drastically reducing your intake of them will help greatly in preventing tooth decay. Proper brushing and flossing, and removal of the plaque will also help in preventing breakdown. Home fluoride rinses help aid in the remineralization process. Of course routine visits to your dentist are of importance not only in the early detection of cavities but professional cleanings and fluoride treatments are very important in maintaining a healthy happy mouth. There are several things that you can do to help prevent tooth decay. The most important of course is the diet. What you eat plays a very important role in the overall well being of your mouth and the rest of your body. Since sugars are directly related to the breakdown process, which causes decay, eliminating sugar from the diet will have a direct impact on cavities. Plaque and sugar interact with one another to form an acid, which breaks down the enamel of the teeth, resulting in a cavity. Proper removal of plaque will also greatly reduce the risk of getting cavities. Thorough brushing and flossing will not only remove sugar from the mouth but also the plaque, which has formed on the surfaces of the teeth since the last brushing. Certain foods will help to keep the mouth in a healthy state. These foods include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and any low sugar foods that won’t aid in tooth decay.
Do Whitening Procedures harm teeth?
When done by a dental professional whitening procedures do not harm your teeth. The whitening agent in professional products penetrates the tooth and oxidizes/removes stain deposits within the tooth, lightening the tooth from the inside and the outside. This method does not use abrasives so it does not damage the teeth when used as directed by your dentist. It is normal to experience some sensitivity in the teeth for up to 24 hours after the whitening procedure is done and there are certain precautions to take during that time period but the sensitivity diminishes. Whitening teeth should be supervised by a dentist to ensure effectiveness and safety. Other over-the-the counter whitening agents can use abrasives to remove staining. This type of whitening is more of a temporary affect and can also cause sensitivity. You should discuss whitening with your dentist prior to doing any procedures to see what may be best for you. Dr. Elbrecht frequently discusses this topic with patients and he would be happy to let you know if he thinks you are a good candidate for whitening as well as discussing the different types of whitening procedures with you.
If I have questions about a dental procedure, how can I find out more about it?
There are several ways to find great information. Dr. Elbrecht would be happy to discuss the specifics of any dental procedure with you and your particular situation. He knows that it is important patients learn about any dental treatment that he recommends or that they have interest in. When patients are informed and educated on these procedures they can make good decisions concerning their dental health and any procedures they elect to do. It is important to understand the treatment that is recommended, what could happen if left untreated, and all alternatives and other options for a specific treatment. When patients are knowledgeable it makes for a better experience. We have many resources avaialable for patients to learn more about dental procedures. Our website is filled with information concerning different procedures as well as videos of most of those procedures. We also have a link to the American Dental Association (ADA) website where you can look up different topics and get very helpful information. While this information is a good starting point, nothing compares to having a discussion with Dr. Elbrecht or one of our dental team members. We love educating and informing patients about dentistry. We would be happy to discuss particular dental procedures and how you may benefit from them.