Frequently Asked Questions
1. How often should I change my toothbrush?
You should change your toothbrush as soon as you notice any splaying of the bristles, every six months, or after a cold or flu. Using a “fresh” toothbrush will ensure that the time you spend on your oral hygiene is put to efficient use!
2. Should I have old silver fillings removed from my teeth?
Silver fillings are made of amalgam, which contains lead. Amalgam was once widely thought to be the best material to repair teeth. However, in recent years most dentists have begun using tooth colored composite material for fillings. Natural teeth expand and contract with temperature changes, for instance when drinking a hot or cold drink. Amalgam does not expand or contract, thus can cause micro-fractures in the amalgam-filled tooth. These fractures can grow and become sites for bacteria to enter the tooth and cause decay.
Due to the lead content and potential tooth damage that amalgam can cause, many people opt to remove their amalgam fillings and replace them with composite fillings or porcelain crowns. Each person’s situation is unique; we recommend that you discuss amalgam removal with your dentist before deciding.
3. I’m nervous about going to the dentist. Can you help?
Yes! At Chattanooga Dental Care we have many ways to make the time you spend with us more comfortable. We offer all levels of sedation dentistry. If you opt to use Nitrous Oxide during your appointment, you will be able to drive yourself home. If you would like oral or IV sedation, both are available onsite. We’d be happy to discuss your options and answer all of your questions!
4. Is fluoride safe?
The levels of fluoride used in dentistry are completely safe. Some areas no longer add fluoride to the water supply although studies have shown that children who drink fluoridated water will have fewer cavities throughout their lives. Our doctors and hygienists believe fluoride treatments are beneficial and important for optimum dental health. As in all your dental care, you are in charge. Just let us know if you do not want to have fluoride treatments.
5. How can you help me improve my smile?
From professional whitening to cosmetic veneers, Chattanooga Dental Care offers many options for cosmetic and restorative dental care. We would love to meet you and offer you a free personal consultation.
6. Why are hygiene appointments usually scheduled every six months?
Hygiene appointments can and do vary in frequency from person to person, depending on your individual needs. Most adults will experience tartar buildup within three to six months of a dental cleaning. This tartar cannot be removed at home and, if left in place, will contribute to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Your hygienist will work with you to determine the frequency of visits that will keep your mouth tartar free.
7. Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often you need dental x-rays depends on your oral health. A healthy adult who has not had cavities for a couple of years probably won’t need x-rays at every visit. If your dental situation is less stable, you may require more frequent x-rays. Digital dental x-rays deliver a very minimal amount of radiation and are a vital tool in diagnosing potentially serious periodontal disease and cavities at an early stage, when they are much more simply and inexpensively treated. If you aren’t sure why an x-ray is being taken, ask.
8. Is professional whitening better than whitening strips that can be bought at a drug store?
The whitening strips available in stores only whiten the tooth surface that they come in contact with. Most people have some staining or discoloration on the contours of their teeth, often from coffee, tea, blueberries or red wine. These areas are not reached by whitening strips and can appear more obvious if only the fronts of the teeth are whitened.
At Chattanooga Dental Care we have prefer professional whitening treatments, like ZOOM® in office whitening with custom take-home trays.
9. Why do I need a crown?
Crown therapy is needed when natural tooth breakage or loss is too great to be repaired with a filling. Your dentist will discuss with you the best treatment to permanently restore your tooth to a healthy, functioning capacity that, if maintained with home care and hygiene visits, will last for years to come.
10. Do I really need to replace a missing tooth?
By replacing a missing tooth, you restore proper function to the mouth to stop the teeth on either side from collapsing into the empty area. This will help prevent periodontal disease, tooth decay and will maintain your bite. An improper bite can lead to migraines, neuromuscular pain and an inability to properly chew food, which can affect your nutrition.
11. When should I start brushing and flossing my child’s teeth?
Good dental care begins at birth. Gently wipe a clean, damp washcloth over your child’s gums daily to remove bacteria and get them used to the process. Once the first tooth comes in, use an appropriate toothbrush with water only to “brush” the entire mouth, including the new tooth. Move the brush gently back and forth in short strokes, making sure you reach the front, back and chewing surfaces of all teeth. No toothpaste is necessary before your child’s second birthday.
12. When should I bring my child in for their first visit to the dentist?
Your child should have his or her first visit at an early age to become familiar with the office and the dental team. We suggest as a guideline that a “Happy Visit and Chair Ride” can occur around the child’s second birthday. If you think your child is ready earlier, we’d love to meet him! The first visit should be a fun and positive experience, so please don’t wait until you suspect an issue to bring your child to meet us.
13. Why doesn’t my insurance cover the whole cost of my dental fees?
Dental insurance is a means to help you pay for your dental treatment. Insurance companies reimburse patients based on the level of coverage their employers have predetermined with the insurance company. Often the same insurance company will have several “fee guides” available for your employer to choose from. If you plan on purchasing your own dental insurance you should ask if there are levels of coverage from which you can choose.
Your dentist or hygienist will create your treatment plan based on your oral health needs, which may be different from what will be covered by your insurance plan. It is always your right to decide what treatment to have done.
14. Are you accepting new patients?
Yes! We are always happy to meet new patients and are usually able to schedule a first visit very quickly.