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Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I bring my child to the dentist for the first time?

Usually by the age of three a child should be seen at the dental office. It is best to give your child a good experience and get them used to the dental office environment. Most of the time the fear of going to the dentist comes from waiting to go until they are in pain and then are forced to see the dentist. You want to start taking your child before that happens for several reasons. First, if they go to the dentist at an early age they will be used to going to it and will know what to expect. Also, it will prevent dental problems in the future.

2. Why are my teeth so sensitive?

There are many factors that can lead to you have sensitive teeth. Including brushing too hard, receding gums, gingivitis, cracked teeth, tooth grinding, tooth whitening, plaque build up, acidic foods, your age, and recent routine dental procedures. You can reduce sensitivity by using a soft bristled tooth brush, use fluoridated dental toothpastes and rinses, and by visiting your dentist on a regular six month schedule.

3. How do I change or cancel an appointment?

Here at Dr. Hanlon’s office, we make every effort to make sure that we are on time for you, so all we ask is that you extend the same courtesy to us. Please call or email us at least 48 hours before your scheduled appointment to cancel it or to change it. This consideration on your part allows us to give your appointment to another patient in need of our services. Our phone number is (724)941-2200 and we can be reached by email at myappointment@drHanlon.com.

4. I am missing one or more teeth; what are my options?

There are three ways to replace a missing tooth, a fixed bridge, an implant, or a denture.

-With a fixed bridge, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are prepared for crowns, an impression is made, and the case is sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory then makes the crowns and adds a false tooth between the two crowns - this is a bridge, it is a permanent and is non removable.

-Another nice way of replacing a missing tooth is to get a dental implant. A dental implant is placed directly into the bone, it is like placing an entirely new artificial tooth in your mouth. It is permanent and the adjacent teeth are not affected, it will feel like your tooth never went missing.

-Another option would be a partial denture. We can fabricate a partial that has metal or a nylon flexible partial called a Valplast. Either one is removable and requires some extra care. The Valplast, however, fits better, looks better, and is lightweight.

It is important to discuss with your dentist which option is best for you and your situation.

5. I’m terrified of going to the dentist; what can be done to lower my anxiety?

First, let us know that you are apprehensive, maybe we can ease your fears and adapt the treatment around them. If it is the sound of the handpiece that bothers you, feel free to bring your music and headphones with you. If you still are anxious about an upcoming procedure, there are some medications that we can prescribe that will make you feel less uneasy. Still, if the thought of dental work completely terrifies you, we have a rapport with a company, Ambulatory Anesthesia that will come to our office to sedate you.

6. How much will my insurance cover?

This is an excellent question, but not an easy one to answer. Our fees are always consistent, but it is hard to know what your individual dental benefits will be. Each dental plan is a contract between your insurance provider and your employer, because of this; no two insurance plans are alike. Most patients feel that their dental well being is important enough to go ahead with treatment, despite the benefit they will receive from their insurance. These patients find that they actually save money by addressing their dental needs in a timely fashion. They avoid more costly and invasive treatment that results from neglect. We can always negotiate a payment plan so you can still have a healthy smile without having to sacrifice your dental health to your insurance company.

7. I have embarrassing bad breath; how can I fix it?

There are many reasons why you may experience Halitosis (bad breath). It could be caused by the foods that you eat. As food particles remain in the mouth, they collect bacteria and begin to rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Tobacco use is also a cause for bad breath. Maintaining good oral health is essential in reducing bad breath. You should brush, floss, and use Listerine mouth wash often. Another way to fight bad breath is to clean your tongue! You can purchase a tongue scraper or brush your tongue with a toothbrush, and the trick is to get as far back as you can. The back of your tongue harbors odor producing bacteria, brushing this area will significantly improve bad breath odors.

8. I have crooked teeth but I’d rather not have braces; is there anything I can do?

Dental veneers are a wonderful way to change a smile rather easily.

Dental veneers are custom-designed shells of tooth-like ceramic material that, when applied over the surface of a tooth, can cover worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing and chips or cracks.

9. Do you offer emergency care?

Yes! We understand that there’s no pain like tooth pain and make every effort to see you as soon as possible. Should a dental emergency arise don’t hesitate to call our office at anytime. We have an answering machine with Dr. Hanlon’s personal cell phone number and he can be reached at anytime.

10. What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection in the gum tissue and bone that encases your teeth. It causes the attachment of the tooth and tissues around it to break down. There are two stages: Gingivitis, which is reversible and affects only the gums; and Periodontitis, which affects the bone and is much more destructive and can lead to the loss of your teeth. You don’t have to loose your teeth to periodontal disease. Prevention is key, include brushing and flossing twice a day in good daily hygiene routine.

11. I would like to change all my silver fillings to tooth colored fillings; what are the benefits?

There is no real harm in leaving your silver (amalgam) fillings in your teeth, although the tooth colored (composite) fillings are much more esthetically pleasing. Dentists have been using silver amalgam fillings for over a century. Of course you would want to change any filling that is cracked, breaking down around the edges, or has decay around or under them.

12. I want to whiten my teeth; what services are available and are they safe?

At our office we use two methods to safely whiten and brighten your teeth so you want to smile more! First, we have Opalescence, it is a carbamide peroxide gel that is placed into specially made trays fit for your mouth only. They are then worn while you sleep for two weeks with wonderful results! We also carry the Tres White bleaching system. This is a 10 day whitening system. Tres White has pre-made bleach trays with a soft edge. The difference between the two systems is that the Tres White trays are disposable.

13. What is an abscessed tooth?

An abscessed tooth is an infection. An abscess can develop from tooth decay, a broken tooth, or trauma. It can include pus and swelling of the gum tissue and face and be very painful. Usually the only way to save a tooth once it has an abscess is to perform root canal therapy or it can be removed.

14. Who needs to have their wisdom teeth removed?

Not everyone will need to get their wisdom teeth extracted. But most people just don’t have the room to accommodate third molars. They are very difficult to restore with fillings because they are so far back in the mouth. They are also very hard to gain access to when its time to brush and floss them. Some people’s mouths are so small that the wisdom teeth cannot come through the bone and they become impacted. And a few lucky patients just don’t have third molars, they just never formed.

15. I need a Root Canal and I’ve heard horror stories; are they true?

Root canals are associated with pain, but the truth is that root canals actually relieve the pain. The reason that a root canal is necessary is because a tooth is abscessed and usually the pus and swelling from the abscess pushes on the bone and causes the area to hurt. Once a tooth is made numb with local anesthetic, no matter what procedure is performed, you should feel no discomfort.

16. How often should I change my toothbrush?

You should change your toothbrush every 6 months at least. It would be nice to replace your toothbrush and treat yourself to a new one every 3-4 months. Certainly replace your toothbrush when it begins to get worn or the bristles are splayed and brittle.

17. I have my tongue pierced; is that bad for my dental health?

Obviously, we do not recommend any oral piercing because of the dental problems they can cause. The metal on the barbell can easily crack teeth, infection of the tongue can occur, and in severe cases the tongue can swell up blocking the airway. Please skip the metal mouth and let your pearly whites be the only fashion accessories you need!

18. What do I do if my tooth is knocked out?

If your tooth is knocked out, root and all, there is a chance that it can be put back in the socket and saved. There are a few steps that must be taken to ensure that it has the best chance. First, only hold the tooth by the crown, the top part of the tooth. Next, if there is any dirt on the tooth, rinse it off under running water. Be careful not to scrub or remove any tissue that may still be left on the tooth. Completely submerge the tooth in a cup of milk and as quickly and safely as possible get to the dentist! Don’t forget to bring the tooth with you!

19. I really don’t want any X-rays taken; do I have to have them?

Some people opt not to have x-rays taken because they believe that they are being exposed unnecessarily to radiation. The truth is the amount of radiation you receive is VERY low due to the digital x-rays that we have in our office. They pose a much smaller risk to you than many undetected dental problems. We will go by your wishes but without proper diagnostic tools, such as x-rays, it will be difficult to diagnose and treat your dental problem.

20. What are veneers?

A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain made to fit over your tooth like a false fingernail, it is custom made to fit your mouth. The tooth is prepared by taking off a very thin amount of enamel, impressions are taken, and they are sent to the laboratory for fabrication. A veneer can be made to make slightly crooked teeth appear straighter, discolored teeth to appear whiter, and they can also be made to close small gaps in the teeth.

21. What causes decay?

Decay of a tooth occurs when acids and plaque remain on the tooth’s surface. Everyone’s mouth contains bacteria and when we eat, those bacteria in our mouth get a meal as well. The longer food sits on our teeth, the more time the bacteria have to feed on the waste generated by our food. This causes demineralization. Brushing frequently greatly helps in stopping this demineralization from taking place. Plaque that is only a few hours old will not be able to produce as much tooth demineralization as plaque which is several days old. So brush, brush, brush!

22. What is xylitol and why is it good for my teeth?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is made from birch. It is found in many sugar free gums. Xylitol is also found in many foods that you eat such as raspberries, strawberries, yellow plum and endive. Most bacteria in the mouth is unable to use xylitol, this is one of the reasons why it helps to prevent cavities. Chewing a piece of gum containing xylitol after a meal or a snack will help increase the flow of saliva and help clean your teeth when you don’t have the opportunity to brush.

23. I take Fosamax for my osteoporosis. I heard that it causes “dead jaw”; should I be worried?

If you take any medications, be sure to let your dentist know. Some oral medication for osteoporosis (Fosamax, Boniva, and Acotnel) and intravenous drugs as part of a cancer treatment (Aredia, Bonefos, Didronel or Zometa) in rare instances have caused osteonecrosis. This is a condition that involves severe destruction of the jaw bone. It should be known that the oral medications very rarely caused such a problem. The symptoms of osteonecrosis are pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw, gums that are not healing, loose teeth, numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw, drainage, or exposed bone. Most always the symptoms will occur after a dental procedure such as a tooth extraction. If you should experience any of these symptoms or any other dental symptoms, contact your dentist.

24. What are dental sealants?

A sealant is placed onto the back permanent molars on children soon after they have erupted to prevent dental decay. A sealant is a plastic barrier that is put into the pits and fissures on the chewing surface of the molars. Sealants are easy for the dentist to apply and only take a few minutes for each tooth. They are safe, painless, and require no drilling.

25. What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a great way to fill in missing spaces in your mouth or to make loose dentures fit tightly. An implant is placed into the bone and left there for several months so the bone can grow around it locking it into place. Once the implant is stable and fused into the bone, a crown is cemented on top of the implant. When the final restoration is placed, it still must be taken care of like a regular tooth. You must brush it and floss around it. Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants though. Sometimes the bone is not ideal for the implant, the sinuses are in the way, and also patients who smoke have a higher risk of the implant failing. With an overall success rate of 95% and about 50 years of clinical research, dental implants are a wonderful way to restore the teeth in your mouth!

If your question wasn’t answered above please feel free to call our office and ask!