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Patient education is at the cornerstone of our dental practices, and we pride ourselves on staying current with the latest in dental care. Dr. Mary Huffman and Dr. Robbie Sheffield welcome the opportunity to share their knowledge with patients.
The teams at both of our practices encourage our patients to ask questions because the more they know about dental care, the better their oral health tends to be. Healthy teeth and smiles for all of our patients is our number one goal!
We often hear the same questions from several patient, and we have answered some of those here. If your question is not listed, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or ask us when you are at your next appointment. We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise with you. We are firm believers that there is no such thing as a silly question—unless it never gets asked!
Take advantage of the incredible knowledge of our caring professionals at Mary Huffman Family Dentistry and Lenoir Family Dentistry. We look forward to assisting you with all of your questions regarding your oral health!
Today's cosmetic dentistry offers several procedures to change the shape of your teeth. The most common options include veneers, crowns, bonding, and recontouring. Talk to your dentist about which procedure might be best for you.
Veneers can solve a multitude of problems, including teeth that are oddly shaped, stained, or crooked. These wafer-thin, custom-made shells fit directly over your teeth, camouflaging the anything you don’t like about your natural teeth. In just a couple of appointments, you can have a perfectly white, even, straight smile.
Because some preparation of the teeth is necessary before veneers are placed, the procedure is permanent. With proper care, however, your veneers can last for many years.
Dental crowns are also called “caps.” They fit over teeth and are subsequently cemented into place. They can be used to cover up an oddly shaped or damaged tooth. Dental crowns are also used to protect the tooth structure after a root canal.
Dental bonding involves the use of a tooth-colored resin material that is applied to the tooth's surface, shaped, and polished.
Recontouring of the teeth involves strategically removing some of the tooth’s enamel to reshape the tooth. It can be used to change the length of the tooth as well as its shape.
When cavities first form, they are usually quite small and you won’t feel anything. If you do feel pain from tooth decay, that's a real cause for concern. It could indicate that there is already infection in the pulp of your tooth. If that’s the case, a filling won’t solve the problem; you might need a root canal and a crown.
Most often, cavities develop in the back molars. Those teeth are more prone to cavities because the groves in them provide a good place for plaque to take up residence. As plaque sits there, it mixes with acids from the foods you eat and causes tooth decay. The outer layer of tooth enamel is eaten away gradually. If the decay is left unchecked and reaches the inner layer of the tooth, the decay progresses much more quickly. This level of decay can lead to sensitivity or pain.
This is just another reason why it is so important to have regular dental examinations at least twice each year. If a visual check from your dentist doesn’t spot early signs of tooth decay, a digital x-ray will likely show a small shadow. The cavities can be filled before you feel anything.
The benefits of digital x-rays far outweigh any impact from the very low amount of radiation they use.
We are all exposed to radiation on a daily basis. After all, radiation can be found in the sun, in your home appliances, in the minerals in the soil—as well as in dental x-rays. Radiation has been known to cause damage to your body’s cells, and it has been linked to some cancers.
We want you to know, however, that the radiation you are exposed to from a dental x-ray is minimal. Advances in technology have led to digital x-rays that emit extremely low amounts of radiation. Digital x-rays are also faster than the traditional x-ray machines of the past, so the amount of time you are potentially exposed to radiation is less than before.
In our offices, we take every precaution to protect our patients from radiation exposure during x-rays. In addition to the holders we use in your mouth to make sure we get accurate shots quickly, we will also provide you with a lead vest to wear during the process.
Patients can also rest assured that federal law requires that digital radiograph machines are inspected for accuracy and safety every couple years, with some states requiring even more frequent checks.
Most people know that drinking soft drinks regularly is not good for you and that they are especially bad for your oral health.
Because these drinks contain sugar, they provide food for the bacteria that are normally inside your mouth. This enables the bacteria to produce acid, which begins to eat away at the enamel on your teeth, weakening it and paving the way for decay to grow.
It’s important to note, however, that soft drinks are not the only culprit. Fruit juices and energy drinks also contain sugars that cause the same reaction inside your mouth.
The best way to minimize the impact of these drinks on your teeth is to simply keep them out of your daily diet. When that is not possible, try cutting them with plain seltzer water to minimize the sugar you are ingesting. Look for fruit juices that are 100 percent juice, with no added sugar.
When these beverages are consumed, be sure to at least rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to help get rid of any lingering sugar. You can also be sure to brush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which can help reverse the damage caused by sugary beverages and foods.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea is a condition that can have serious health ramifications. All snorers do not have sleep apnea, and all patients suffering from sleep apnea do not necessarily snore.
Most dentists will recommend the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for patients seeking treatment for snoring or sleep apnea. CPAP is a popular treatment because it works well when patients are able to use the machine as instructed.
CPAP works via an air mask worn by the patient that is connected to a continuous flow of air. This steady air means patients suffering from sleep apnea don’t have to worry about breathing through the night.
The biggest problem with CPAP is that many patients don’t use it as directed. Some patients find it uncomfortable and noisy; others find that they develop a rash from the mask. Regardless of the reason patients don’t follow instructions, CPAP won't be a good solution for treating sleep apnea if it isn’t used the way it should be.
There are alternative treatments available, including oral appliance therapy (OAT). OAT has been shown to be effective, particularly in those patients with milder cases of sleep apnea. The appliance works by moving the lower jaw forward, which in turn opens up the airway because it allows more room for the soft tissue at the back of the throat.
The first thing patients should know about professional teeth cleaning is that it does much more than just clean your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning removes plaque that builds up on the teeth. And removal of this plaque is essential if your teeth and gums are to stay healthy.
Good home care is an important part of good oral health, but even the most diligent brushing and flossing cannot take the place of a professional teeth cleaning. Plaque buildup is inevitable, and the only thing that can remove it are specialized dental instruments.
If plaque is not removed, it hardens and turns into tartar, which is also called calculus. This calcified plaque attaches not only to your teeth but also below your gum line. No amount of brushing and flossing can remove it. If you don’t go to the dentist to have a dental hygienist remove it, this bacteria will produce harmful substances that can begin to damage the jawbone. This can also lead to periodontal disease. If the pattern of skipping dental cleanings continues and gum disease is left unchecked, this can lead to other, more serious problems—including tooth loss.
It’s not worth the risk to skip professional dental cleanings. Just visiting our practices twice each year can work wonders in protecting your oral health.