Visiting the dentist can bring up a lot of questions. At Dr. Jim Kelly Dentistry, we want you to be comfortable with and informed about your dental care. If you have questions about any treatments you are receiving or about your oral health, we invite you to review our FAQs page prior to your appointment. Dr. Jim Kelly can then answer any additional questions or clarify any points. We hope that by reviewing our FAQs, you can achieve improved at-home and in-office dental care. Please feel free to contact us at 602-954-1901 with any additional questions, and to schedule your appointment with our caring dentist in Phoenix, Arizona, today.

How do teeth get cracked?

Teeth typically crack due to excessive grinding or clenching, decay, trauma, or a heavy filling. A cracked tooth can result in a variety of symptoms, often classified as “cracked tooth syndrome.” Some of the most common symptoms include intense and unpredictable pain when chewing or relieving bite pressure, extreme sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks, and difficulty pinpointing exactly where the pain is coming from. Not all cracked teeth will hurt, but if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your dentist and have him or her examine your teeth.

Can I replace my silver mercury fillings?

Silver mercury, or amalgam, fillings have been used to treat cavities and tooth decay for over a hundred years. Amalgam is one of the strongest materials available for dental fillings; however, advanced dental technology has provided dentists with a new material that is equally strong and better looking: composite fillings. There are many different types of these composite fillings that are made to match your tooth color and keep your smile looking beautiful. Most dentists perform cavity replacements where they can remove old amalgam fillings and replace them with new, tooth-colored fillings.

Some people are worried about the claims that amalgam fillings leak mercury into the body and can cause a series of health problems. Over the years, the FDA and American Dental Association have found no direct link between suspected health issues and silver mercury fillings. Amalgam fillings are just as safe as composite fillings.

What are your wisdom teeth?

Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt, and they are located in the back of your mouth. Most wisdom teeth erupt when you are between the ages of 17 and 25, but they can also erupt much later than that or not at all. Most people do not have enough room in their mouth to hold 4 extra teeth, and if there is nowhere for them to go, your dentist may recommend having them removed.

What does periodontal treatment involve?

If you are in the early stages of periodontal disease, most dentists will perform a scaling and root planing treatment, which removes plaque and calculus from the surface of your teeth and in the gums. Your dentist may also recommend some at-home treatments to help keep your gums clean. The majority of advanced cases require surgical procedures to clean and repair gum tissue, teeth, and/or bone.

How can I prevent gum disease?

One of the best things you can do to prevent gum disease is to have good dental hygiene practices. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque from between the teeth. Another important habit is to regularly visit your dentist for professional cleanings.

What happens if I don’t go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned?

By cleaning your teeth at home, you can remove plaque and harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay and other problems; however, fluoride toothpaste and dental floss cannot clean off all your plaque, especially if it has hardened into tartar. As the tartar builds up, you can develop and feed periodontal disease, which can form pockets of plaque, bad breath, and even bone loss. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned at the dentist can help you avoid all of these issues and more.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, or more commonly known as gum disease, is caused by an excessive amount of bacteria that is found in plaque. If this plaque is not removed regularly, it will harden and turn into tartar. This tartar will feed the bacteria’s metabolism, causing it to grow and irritate your gums and ultimately make them tender, swollen, red, and prone to bleeding. If periodontal disease is not treated, the bacteria will eat away at your supporting soft tissue, teeth, and bone.

I broke one of my teeth while biting hard food. What should I do?

If you are not experiencing any pain, simply call your dentist as soon as possible and schedule a time to have your tooth treated. While waiting for your appointment, avoid biting hard on that tooth and try to keep it as clean as possible. If you do experience pain, visit your dentist immediately.

What do I do if my tooth is pushed out of position?

First, try repositioning the tooth back to its normal position by using light pressure with your finger; do not, however, force it back into place. Second, bite down on the tooth to prevent it from moving further. Finally, visit your dentist, who may use a splint to hold the tooth in place with the neighboring teeth.

How soon should I see a dentist if my tooth was knocked out?

If your tooth is knocked out, you should visit your dentist immediately, as the first 30 minutes can make all the difference between saving or losing your tooth. When your tooth is knocked out, follow these steps:

  • Call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment.
  • Do not touch the roots of your tooth; handle it by the crown.
  • Rinse the tooth in warm water, but do not scrub it.
  • Hold the tooth inside your mouth, between your gums and cheek, to prevent it from drying out.
  • Wrap the tooth in clean cloth or gauze and place in a glass of milk. Use this method only if you cannot store your tooth in your own mouth.

What can gum disease mean for a diabetic?

Diabetics have weaker immune systems, which means it takes their bodies longer to respond to infection. Periodontal disease is an infection in the gums, and if the infection is not treated, a diabetic’s body cannot fight off the infection. This can cause the infection to spread to neighboring gum and the bone structure. Although it may be difficult for diabetics to fight infection, studies have shown that diabetics who have consistent oral hygiene habits and keep their periodontal disease under control have a better chance of fighting off the infection.

Why do I need X-rays?

Dental X-rays are an important diagnostic tool because they allow your dentist to evaluate the condition of your gums, teeth, and bone. They can also show any tooth or tissue abnormalities that may be or contribute to tumors or periodontal disease. Dental X-rays can display the exact location of impacted teeth, making removals more accurate, as well as pinpoint cavity and other areas of tooth decay.

When should my child first see a dentist?

Ideally, your child should start visiting the dentist when they receive their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday. By taking your child to the dentist early on, your dentist can monitor their growth and catch any current or future problems, such as teeth or jaw alignment, baby bottle tooth decay, teeth irrigations, and side effects of thumb sucking.

I brush my teeth constantly, but still have bad breath. What can I do?

Brushing and flossing remove bacteria that cause bad breath, so that is always the first step. However, bacteria can also hide on the tongue, where they are free to feed on food particles and cause bad breath. To eliminate bad breath, try brushing your tongue daily with either your toothbrush or a tongue scraper. You can also try chloride-dioxide-containing mouthwashes or toothpastes that are made to fight bad breath.

What is TMJ disorder/syndrome, and how can you help?

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is another term for your jaw. TMJ disorder (TMD) is often the result of a misaligned bite, either from trauma or from not having your upper and lower teeth close together properly. Having a misaligned jaw can cause your facial muscles to change as they try to accommodate for the irregularities; this can lead to many painful symptoms. Dr. Jim Kelly is a neuromuscular dentist, and he can help treat your TMD by relieving muscle spasms and correcting your bite alignment.

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