Here They Are! The Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Dental Questions.

Q: I was told I have a large filling that needs to be replaced with a crown. Why can’t you just replace the filling?
A: When a tooth becomes structurally flawed from decay, a failing filling or a fracture there is often little tooth material left to work with. A crown becomes necessary because filling material can’t be sculpted to replace large amounts of tooth structure resulting in a quick failure. The tooth must be protected by a crown which encapsulates the remaining tooth to fit like a “cap” to protect and preserve the tooth.
 
Q: Can’t you just pull my tooth if its bad? Why should I pay to fix it?
A: It is always best to retain your natural teeth as long as possible. Pulling a tooth may fix the immediate problem, but it sets you up for future problems that can be far more costly. The space of the lost tooth will allow adjacent teeth to tip into the hole. This will affect how all your teeth fit and work together. In addition, missing teeth are not esthetically pleasing. In the event you do have to pull a tooth as a last resort, it is best to replace it in a timely manner. Something like a dental implant will maintain the integrity of the surrounding bone structure and will act much like your natural tooth did.
 
Q: My dentist told me that my tooth ache required a root canal, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Did it go away?
A: When the innermost part of a tooth is injured or infected debilitating pain can result. The pain is caused by damage to the nerve inside the tooth. Over time the nerve will lose vitality causing the pain to dissipate. During this process, however, toxins are released from inside the tooth and will ultimately result in a painful infection known as an abscess. The only way to resolve the issue is by removal of the nerve during a root canal.
 
Q: I was told I have cavities but I am too busy to come back for another appointment. What will happen if I just leave them?
A: The short answer is: they grow. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the weaker the tooth will become resulting in a larger filling than would have been necessary, or a crown. If the decay grows until it reaches the nerve a root canal will be necessary. It is always best to address dental issues when they are small and manageable. Allowing treatment to remain un-done almost always results in further pain and expense.
 
Q: I was told I need a night guard. Is that really necessary?
A: Tooth wear on biting surfaces is very common, and very damaging. People commonly clench and grind their teeth resulting in significant damage to their teeth, the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Clenching and grinding may cause teeth to break, become sensitive or infected. Pain in front of the ear and at the side of the face are common. Clicking and grinding noises in the jaw are also noticeable. Commonly a night guard provides relief of symptoms and prevention of further damage or wear.

Q: I have noticed my insurance won’t pay the full amount for white fillings on my back teeth. Is it worth the extra money to have white fillings?
A: The benefit of filling teeth with white (resin) fillings instead of silver (amalgam) fillings is well worth the few extra dollars it will cost you. An amalgam filling requires far more healthy tooth structure be removed, while a resin filling can be done much more conservatively preserving the structural integrity of your tooth. A resin filling will actually help to strengthen your tooth as opposed to weakening it. There is always the controversy over the mercury contained in amalgam fillings to consider. There is some research that suggests the mercury can leak out and can affect your overall health.
 
 

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Anxiety Free Dentistry

If we told you there was a way for you to have your dental treatment accomplished in minimal visits with no pain and little memory of the experience what would you say?  Research shows that almost 30% of the population avoids going to the dentist due to fear. Some studies show this number to be closer to 50%, but whatever the actual number is, no one should avoid protecting their dental health because of fear or anxiety. It is our goal to serve all of our patients with compassion and to meet their needs for emotional well being as well as to keep their mouths healthy. We understand that fear comes in all shapes and sizes, it knows no age limits, nor is it something that is foolish or silly. It is real, and we offer a very real solution. Dr. Glass can provide Conscious Oral Sedation for all of your dental treatment, making your visit a pleasant and stress free experience.

Conscious Oral Sedation creates the most relaxed and comfortable appointment possible while you, the patient, remain awake and conscious. It is referred to as a moderate level of sedation. You will be given an oral medication, your vital signs will be closely monitored and you will be brought to a level of sedation that allows you to maintain your own airway and reflexes, and respond to verbal and physical requests. Although you remain awake for the entire procedure, the amnesia effects of the medication leave many patients feeling like they slept through the entire appointment.  So, who are the best candidates for Conscious Oral Sedation? Well, anyone with a severe gag response, anxious or fearful patients, anyone who is resistant to local anesthesia,  patients who have extensive treatment planned but do not want to come in for multiple visits, and anyone who is sensitive to post operative pain would all be considered good candidates. Even better, we offer this service at a very minimal cost to you. Most insurance companies do not cover sedation, but at a fraction of the cost of intravenious sedation (less than $40.00) it is a fee that our patients are happy to pay for a relaxed dental experience.
            It is our sincere hope that by offering this service to our patients, everyone can have a healthy and pain free mouth without fear or anxiety attached. If this sounds right for you, talk to Dr. Glass at your next appointment, and get started on the road to great oral health!

Dental X-Rays – Are They Safe?

Many people cringe at the mere mention of radiation exposure. The word radiation conjures up images of all manner of bad things, including bombs and cancer. But do you know that there are many beneficial uses of radiation? One of which is the x-ray commonly used by medical and dental professionals to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions.

You may be one who worries about how much radiation is in a dental x-ray and if it could be harmful. To get to the bottom of this, you must first understand just exactly what an x-ray is. X-rays are energy in the form of waves, identical to visible light. In fact, the only difference between light and x-rays is that light doesn’t have enough energy to go through your body and x-rays do. Both can make an image on photographic film, so both types of energy are used to make pictures; light makes photographs of the “outside” of objects, x-rays make pictures of the “inside” of objects, including your body. The effects of radiation on tissues is often measured in units called millirem (mrem).

Advances in x-ray equipment, especially digital technology, allows your dentist to get a good x-ray image using much less radiation than was previously required. A typical dental x-ray image exposes you to only about 2 or 3 mrem. The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) says that the average resident of the U.S. receives about 360 mrem every year from all sources, including naturally occurring radiation. In fact, the average person receives 10 mrem per year just from watching television. Some other common sources of radiation that occur in our everyday environment include smoke detectors (less than 1 mrem per year), living in a brick house instead of a wood one (about 10 mrem per year due to radioactive materials in the masonry), cooking with natural gas (about 10 mrem per year from radon gas in the natural gas supply), reading a book for 3 hours per day (about 1 mrem per year due to small amounts of radioactive materials in the wood used to make the paper), and even from flying in an airplane (about 25 mrem for one 5 hour flight) You even receive about 2 mrem per year from sleeping next to someone! This is because all of us have very small amounts of naturally occurring radioactive materials in our bodies. Radiation is the same whether it is naturally occurring, (such as the 80 mrem you receive from an entire day in the sun) or if it is human made. There is no difference in the effects of man-made radiation vs. naturally occurring radiation.

Radiation from dental x-rays is a minimal portion of a person’s annual exposure and poses negligible risk to you, therefore it is not in your best interest to avoid dental x-rays. The information your dentist receives from this set of data is valuable in providing you the best dental care possible. Dr. Glass only takes x-rays that are deemed necessary and has updated all of his x-ray equipment to the newest digital technology. The x-ray equipment is inspected on a regular basis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and all of the staff have received training on proper use of the equipment and implement proper practices and precautions for minimizing exposure.

Do you know what to do if you knock out a tooth?

Over the summer one of our patients had a bicycle accident and knocked out her front teeth. Due to quick thinking on the scene, the teeth were re-implanted and are still in the healing process, the outcome is still unknown. Unfortunately accidents happen, but it brought up the question, would you know what to do if this happened to you?

Dentists refer to a knocked-out tooth as an “avulsed” tooth. When a tooth has been knocked out, the nerves, blood vessels and supporting tissues are damaged, too. The nerves and blood vessels can’t be repaired which is why all avulsed teeth will need a root canal treatment. If you act quickly after an accident, being careful not to damage the tooth further, the bone can reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place and the tooth can be saved. An avulsed tooth is fragile and needs to be handled delicately to give it the best chance at survival. Try not to touch the root (the part of the tooth that was under the gum). If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it. Don’t wipe it off with a washcloth, shirt or other fabric. This could damage the tooth. Keep the tooth moist. Many people have heard they should store it in a glass of milk. While this is a better option than water it is best if you keep the tooth moist with your saliva, by either placing the tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum or placing it in a cup or container with your saliva. If nothing else is available it is ok to place the tooth in a cup of water, the most important thing is to keep the tooth moist. If you feel comfortable, try slipping the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, if the accident just happened it will slip right in. Make sure it’s facing the right way and that it is in straight. Don’t try to force it into the socket. If it doesn’t go back into place easily and without pressure, then just keep it moist (in saliva, milk or water) and get to the dentist as soon as you can.

It is very important to re-implant the tooth as soon as possible, ideally within the hour of the accident. After slipping your tooth back into the socket, your dentist will decide if a root canal treatment needs to be done immediately or at a later date. The tooth will then be splinted with a wire to the teeth on either side of it for stability. If the bone around the tooth was not fractured, the root usually will reattach firmly to the bone in about three to four weeks. More damage to the area may require six to eight weeks of repair time. Your dentist should examine the tooth again in three to six months. Unless there are signs of infection, the next visit will occur at your yearly checkup. The dentist will follow up for the next two to three years to ensure that the tooth re-implanted successfully.