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Dental FAQ's

Have a question about dentistry?

Please Contact Dr. Alan Sanders & Team, we would love to help! We have also provided information on common dental topics below:

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I visit the dentist?

For most people, twice a year is usually sufficient; however, only you, your dentist and your hygienist can determine how often is actually necessary. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. Regular checkups are a MUST in order to maintain a healthy, happy smile!

Why are dental x-rays important?

Panoramic XrayDental x-rays are extremely useful and important as a diagnostic tool and may reveal the following information:

  • position of your teeth
  • impacted teeth
  • presence and extent of dental decay
  • any bone damage
  • an abscessed tooth
  • jaw fracture
  • any malocclusion of teeth (improper alignment of bite)
  • other abnormalities of the jaw bone or teeth

At Thomasville Dental Center, we use digital dental x-rays. The digital imaging software allows us to see a number of different views of the tooth to gain a better understanding of the proper course of treatment. Digital x-rays are a great benefit to the patient, not only as an excellent diagnostic tool, but also because they decrease radiation to the patient by over 80%.

What are Dental Sealants?

A dental sealant is a plastic, professionally-applied material that is put on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (premolars and molars) to prevent cavities. Sealants provide a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.

Are dental sealants just for children?
The potential to develop decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are the obvious candidates. Some adults at high risk of decay can benefit from sealants as well. Your dentist can tell you if you would benefit from dental sealants.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that can be used to strengthen your child's teeth and prevent tooth decay. There are two primary ways that fluoride can be beneficial to your oral health:

  • Systemic: This type of fluoride is ingested through drinking fluoridated water or fluoride supplements prescribed by your pediatric dentist or physician. In the correct amounts, fluoride will make developing teeth stronger by incorporating itself into the tooth enamel. Too much systemic fluoride may cause fluorosis, a condition which causes white or yellow/brown spots on the teeth.

  • Topical: This type of fluoride is applied to the erupted teeth. It can be found in most toothpastes, many rinses or prescribed gels. Topical fluoride strengthens erupted teeth.

How does food cause tooth decay?

When you eat, food passes through your mouth where it encounters germs or bacteria that live in your mouth. This union of food, germs and bacteria create a sticky film of bacteria called plaque.

Bacteria loves sugars found in many foods, and will use the sugar to produce acids that are able to destroy the hard surface (enamel) of the tooth. If this sticky substance is not removed from your teeth, tooth decay will eventually occur.

What causes bad breath?

If you do not brush and floss daily, particles of food will remain in your mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, around the gums or on your tongue can break down, leaving an extremely unpleasant odor. Dentures, not cleaned properly, can also contain odor-causing bacteria and food particles.

How do I know if I have Periodontal Disease?

Some of the signs of periodontal disease include:

  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • gums that bleed when you brush
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • bad breath that does not go away
  • notice pus between your teeth and gums
  • loose teeth
  • a change in your bite (the way you teeth come together)
  • a change in the fit of partial dentures

Can I prevent periodontal disease? You can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease by:

  • Brushing your teeth really well twice a day (with a toothbrush in good condition).
  • Cleaning between your teeth with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Eating a balanced diet that limits between meal snacks and visiting your dentist regularly.

How can I make my teeth whiter?

At Thomasville Dental Center, there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you whiten your smile. Start by speaking with Dr. Sanders to determine whether teeth whitening procedures would be effective for you.

  • Whitening will not damage or weaken your teeth and it does not make them more susceptible to cavities.
  • Depending on how quickly your teeth stain from beverages or other habits, whitening results should last for 4-6 months and can be touched up with home bleaching.
  • The most common side effect of teeth bleaching is slight sensitivity that can be easily treated and usually resolves quickly.

Dental Treatments

Composite (tooth-colored) Dental Restorations

Tooth Colored FillingsIn the past, composite resins were mainly used for front teeth, where a silver filling would be noticeable; however, dentists have been steadily moving towards routinely using composite materials for all fillings in both front and back (posterior) teeth. Composite resin materials are available in numerous tooth-colored shades and are more aesthetic and natural appearing than silver fillings.

Tooth-colored "white" dental fillings are made up of a composite quartz resin and contain a light sensitive agent. After placement, composites are hardened by shining an intense light on them for a specified period of time, usually around ten seconds. The light instantly hardens these fillings. You can eat right away because the composite is instantly hardened and requires no setting time.

Dental Crowns and Bridges

Dental Crowns
When a significant portion of a tooth is missing due to cavities or trauma, or a tooth is cracked, a dental crown is often necessary to restore the tooth to proper shape. A crown would be required when there is not enough natural tooth remaining to retain a dental filling.

  • A crown can actually make a tooth stronger and prevent premature loss of a tooth. In addition, tooth-colored porcelain crowns can be used in cosmetic dentistry to change the color or misalignment of your natural teeth.

  • For the patient, preparing the tooth for a crown is similar to having a dental filling procedure done with local anesthetic. Your tooth is shaped to receive the crown and you will leave our office with a well fitting temporary crown. A dental laboratory technician will fabricate the permanent crown that is placed 2-3 weeks after your initial appointment.

Dental Bridges
A bridge is simply 3 or more crowns connected together to replace a missing tooth. The teeth remaining on either side of the missing tooth or teeth are prepared to support and retain the crowns. Once in place, the bridge will rest on adjacent natural teeth to support one or more "false" teeth to replace the missing teeth.

Removable Partial Dentures

The large majority of patients in the United States are missing one or more teeth. Partial dentures are one option for the replacement of missing teeth and will improve your smile appearance and chewing ability.

  • Partial dentures utilize your remaining natural teeth for retention and stability. After other dental conditions such as gum disease or cavities are treated, Dr. Sanders can custom fit you for partial dentures.

  • Because your partial dentures are custom made to fit your remaining teeth, it is very important to maintain your teeth so that your partial dentures will continue to function properly. As with complete dentures, partial dentures are sometimes used in conjunction with dental implants for improved stability and function.

Root Canals

When the nerve inside of a tooth becomes diseased, a root canal is performed to eliminate or prevent pain and infection. Trauma, cavities or existing dental restorations can result in infection or disease of the nerve. The only alternative to a root canal is extraction of the tooth.

  • At least one nerve runs the length of each root of a tooth. When a root canal is performed, the nerve is removed, the infection is eliminated, and a stable filling material is inserted in place of the nerve.

  • A temporary filling is placed after the completion of the root canal. A permanent filling or crown is placed at a future appointment to complete the procedure.

TMD Treatment

Temporomandibular Disorder (also known as TMJ) is related to the muscles, soft tissue and nerves of the jaw joint. It is often painful for patients and can result in difficulty sleeping, headaches or other symptoms. Fortunately, the jaw joint itself is usually healthy.

  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth, often during sleep, results in inflammation and aggravation of the muscles and other soft tissues of the jaws.

  • Dr. Sanders can fabricate a dental splint or bite guard that will help the muscles relax. When used in conjunction with medications, warm compresses and other forms of treatment, most patients will improve with regular usage of an oral appliance.

  • Some patients clench or grind their teeth and yet have no symptoms. Dr. Sanders may still recommend a splint to prevent breakage or wear of your teeth and existing dental restorations.

Common Dental Emergencies

My child knocked out a tooth, what do I do?

If the tooth is dirty, hold the tooth by the crown (not the root) and carefully rinse off. Do not scrub or remove any attached tissue fragments. Try to gently re-insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If a very small child, or, if you are unable to do this, place the tooth in a cup of milk and call us immediately to arrange to be seen 229.227.9070. Don't forget to bring the tooth with you!

Broken filling

If tooth is not painful, this is usually not an emergency situation. Contact Dr. Alan Sanders soon to have tooth restored. In the meantime, avoid chewing on that tooth and keep as clean as possible.