Frequently Asked Questions

My teeth feel fine. Do I still need to see a dentist?

Your teeth may feel fine, but it's still important to see the dentist regularly because problems can exist without you knowing. Your smile's appearance is important, and your dentist can help keep your smile healthy and looking beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth. Today's dentists offer many treatment choices that can help you smile with confidence, including:

  • Professional teeth whitening
  • Fillings that mimic the appearance of natural teeth
  • Tooth replacement and full smile makeovers

How safe are dental X-rays?

Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by today’s X-rays. Some of the improvements are new X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost non-existent with the modern dental X-ray machines). In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years. Some provinces require more frequent checks.

Even with these advancements in safety, it should be kept in mind, however, that the effects of radiation are added together over a lifetime. So every little bit of radiation you receive from all sources counts. At Spectrum Dental Centre, we use computer assisted, digital radiography that greatly reduce the dose of radiation. This can further enhace our patient safety.

Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months? Do I need x-rays at each visit?

How often you go for a check-up depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a check-up every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I floss every day? Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist's instructions on how to brush properly? Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods? Do I smoke? Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease? Is my overall health good? The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for check-ups. It's worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers. Do I need x-rays at each visit? How often you need to have x-rays also depends on your oral health.

A healthy adult who has not had cavities or other problems for a couple of years probably won't need x-rays at every appointment. If your dental situation is less stable and your dentist is monitoring your progress, you may require more frequent x-rays. If you are not sure why a particular x-ray is being taken, ask your dentist. Remember that dental x-rays deliver very little radiation; they are a vital tool for your dentist to ensure that small problems don't develop into bigger ones.

Does sugar cause cavities?

Plaque is a material that forms on your teeth daily. When sugar combines with the bacteria in plaque it produces acids that damage the enamel on your teeth. Although decreasing sugar intake will help, it is impossible to avoid sugar completely, as it is naturally in many of our foods, including fruits and vegetables. In order to maintain healthy teeth and gums, you must brush and floss daily using proper techniques.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease. It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours. Using proper brushing and flossing techniques is equally important. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and checkups, so that he or she can detect any early signs of gum disease, and provide appropriate treatment.

When should I change my toothbrush?

Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth twice times a day for 2-3 minutes each time. Your dentist recommends that adults and children should change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions as you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently. Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks in order to keep any bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you've been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.

I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I recognize the importance of seeing the dentist to maintain good oral health. What should I do?

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9 percent and 15 percent of people state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn’t take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be tailored to the individual to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medicines (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax), application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback and deep breathing, acupuncture, mental health therapies), and perhaps even visits to a dentophobia clinic or a support group.

Do you accept dental plans?

Yes, we do accept dental plans and bill them directly for most of the services provided. Therefore, at the time of the appointment you only need to pay the portion that the insurance does not cover. Some plans however will not send payment to the dental office. In this case, you will be responsible to pay in full on the day you receive treatment. We do however forward the claim to your insurance on your behalf.

It is important to remember that dental insurance plans are contracts between you, your employer and the insurance company.

As a courtesy to you as our patient, we do our best to find the details of your coverage and any limitations, and inform you accordingly. However should the cost of any treatment be declined by your insurance, your account balance is ultimately your responsibility.