dental tool

Frequently Asked Questions

We have grouped our answers under five main categories. Click on a category to see the questions and answers. If you have further questions, please call our office at (248) 852-6430.


Are there different kinds of dental insurance coverage?

Since all dental insurance carriers are different, it is important to clarify which kind of coverage you have. Generally, dental procedures can be broken out into three types of categories, according to most insurance providers.

Routine cleanings and examinations fall under this category. However, x-rays, sealants and fluoride treatments may fall under this or another category, depending on your coverage.

Basic or Restorative
This category includes treatments like fillings or simple extractions. A majority of plans consider root canals basic, but it is a good idea to check.

A major procedure includes crowns/bridges, dentures/partials, oral surgery/surgical extractions and dental implants.

How does direct reimbursement work with dental procedures?

Direct reimbursement is a dental insurance plan that allows you to choose any dentist without worrying about networks. You are reimbursed for the money you spend on any kind of dental work. There are not usually limitations on treatments.

It is usually entirely funded by your employer, and you may be reimbursed after you have already paid for your dental work. Or, some plans may pay the dentist directly.

My insurance has a yearly maximum, what is that?

The most money a dental insurance plan will pay out within one year is called a yearly maximum. It is usually a calendar year (January - December), however, it could be a fiscal year. Check with your provider. Each year, the maximum will be renewed. However, unused benefits are not usually rolled over.


Manual versus electric tootbrush?

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the best toothbrush that you can buy is the one that you will actually use.

Do I have to wear my Mouthguard when I play?

It's recommended that anyone at any age who participates in sports should wear a mouthguard. Even in non-contact sports. Craig Conroy, center for the Calgary Flames hockey team, advises that kids should start wearing them right away.

Can a whitening toothpaste help me?

While whitening toothpastes can make your teeth appear a little lighter, they do not actually bleach your teeth. They contain mild abrasives that help remove surface stains, which helps in the appearance of teeth. And some do list additional ingredients that are more effective against stains than regular toothpaste.

When should a child have their first dental check up?

Generally, unless there are problems or an emergency, children should make their first visit to the dentist by age one- to two-years old. We call that visit the “happy visit” as it is an opportunity for your child to experience the dental office with Mom and Dad by their side, as they ride the dental chair and get a toy reward. By age three, your child should begin to see a hygienist, have their teeth polished, and have their first intraoral x-rays.

How many dental check ups do I need?

The American Dental Association recommends two dental checkups every year with x-rays and professional cleanings to maintain a healthy smile and detect any possible emerging problems.

Is there a recommended length of time to brush your teeth?

You are advised that proper oral hygiene requires brushing a minimum of twice a day and flossing daily to remove plaque and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. It is also recommended that you use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, which have the power to not only prevent illness but actually repair newly emerging tooth decay.

You should brush for two minutes, with gentle back and forth strokes using a soft toothbrush. Remember to brush your tongue. It will help get rid of bacteria and fight halitosis (bad breath).

Do I need to floss everyday?

You are advised that proper oral hygiene requires flossing daily to remove plaque and prevent gum disease and tooth decay, along with brushing twice a day. Flossing reaches between teeth, where the brush cannot reach.

What is the eruption schedule for baby teeth?

Baby teeth and permanent teeth have a fairly strict schedule of when they erupt. For baby teeth, certified dentists agree it is usually:

Central incisor
Lateral incisor
First molar
Second molar

8-10 mos.
8-10 mos.
16-20 mos.
15-21 mos.
20-24 mos.

6-9 mos.
15-21 mos.
15-21 mos.
15-21 mos.
20-24 mos.

What do I need to know about fluoridated water?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “For 65 years, community water fluoridation has been a safe and healthy way to effectively prevent tooth decay. CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

For patients who use well water, it's important that you have your water tested periodically. Please share any test results with our office to see if your children would benefit from fluoride supplements.

Oral Health

What leads to dry mouth?

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is a reduction of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is needed to wash away debris left from food and to reduce plaque and acids that result in tooth decay.

If left untreated, gingivitis, gum disease or severe decay can occur. Some other problems can be: problems with speaking (hoarseness) or swallowing, sore throat, dry nasal passages or a burning sensation in the mouth.

Dry mouth is common is older adults, and can be a symptom of a medical condition. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as blood pressure medications, pain pills, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, diuretics or decongestants.

Sugar free gum and candy can help increase saliva flow, but talk to your dentist about treatment options.

What is the link between your overall health and your mouth?

Good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, along with regular check ups, can help keep the mouth healthy and avoid gum disease.

Gum disease is preventable and can be reversed if caught early. However, the more serious forms of gum disease have been linked to serious health complications, like:

  • tooth loss — gum disease can break down the gums and surrounding bone
  • heart disease and stroke — high levels of bacteria can affect the rest of the body, and chronic inflammation around the gums could indicate inflammation in other parts of the body
  • diabetes — gum disease could be advanced due to high levels of blood glucose or sugars
  • premature birth — women with advanced gum disease are three to five times more likely to have a baby born premature, according to research

Can you explain periodontitis?

Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. It is serious and can include bone and gum loss in the areas that surround and support your teeth. It is caused when the early stage of the disease, also known as gingivitis, goes untreated. It can result in damage to your teeth, and those affected could become loose and/or fall out. Periodontitis is irreversible, but preventable. Good oral hygiene, such as brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, along with regular check ups can prevent gum disease.

Should I see a dentist for a canker sore?

A canker sore is common and is not contagious. It will normally go away on its own in about one to two weeks.

Treatment is not usually necessary, but you should see a dentist if you notice the following:

  • the sore does not go away after two weeks
  • it is unusually large (more than 1 cm in diameter)
  • if you have a high fever along with the sore
  • if the sore causes unbearable pain
  • if you find it difficult to drink with the sore

How does pregnancy affect oral health?

During pregnancy, there are many changes going on in a woman's body, and the mouth is no exception. Increased hormone levels can cause dental problems to be intensified.

One of the most common problems is called pregnancy gingivitis, which can occur during the first trimester. Symptoms includes bleeding, swollen and tender gums. Some researchers also have suggested that serious gum disease (or periodontitis) could cause premature birth or low birth weight.

Regular checkups are important. Also you should remember to:

  • brush twice a day
  • floss at least once a day
  • use a mouth rinse, which can help prevent gingivitis
  • brush or scrape your tongue to remove bacteria
  • eat healthy snacks

Can you explain halitosis and its treatments?

Halitosis is the clinical name for bad breath. Regular cleanings, check ups and good oral hygiene can reduce bad breath.

Many cases of halitosis also can be caused by dental conditions, like gum disease, cavities, bacteria on the tongue, dry mouth or oral cancer.

Regular check ups are important to rule out disease or other causes. Other ways you can fight bad breath are:

  • brush your teeth after each meal to make sure all food debris is removed
  • drink plenty of water to fight dry mouth, or try sugarless gum or candies
  • snack on healthy foods
  • eat leafy green vegetables like parsley or spinach, as they contain chlorophyll, which is a natural breath freshener
  • avoid breath mints or mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as they might make things worse


What do I need to know about nitrous oxide?

It is safe. It is easy to take, mild and non-addictive. You are conscious and aware of your surroundings while inhaling the nitrous oxide. When you come off the gas, the effects are gone. You should consult your dentist to see if you are candidate, especially if you suffer from respiratory illness, like asthma, or have other breathing problems.

Can you explain veneers?

Veneers, and also Lumineers®, are a type of shell that is adhered to an existing tooth. Most commonly used as part of a cosmetic dentistry plan, both veneers and Lumineers® offer you a solution to chipped, warn, discolored or ill-spaced teeth.

Traditional veneers are bonded to the teeth after they have been reshaped to ensure proper fit. Lumineers® are a no-prep option that are directly adhered to existing teeth. The right option for you depends on your tooth health and other factors for the procedure. Both options can give you a natural-looking, evenly spaced smile.

Can you explain dental sealant?

Sealants are a preventative procedure. It is brushed onto the surface of the teeth and then hardened with a high-density curing light. Once completed, the sealant provides a durable plastic barrier that helps guard against tooth decay.

Why is there a choice between silver and white fillings?

Fillings are materials molded to your tooth to repair the tooth surface. Several options are available, including porcelain, composite or silver amalgam, depending on your preference and eligibility.

Silver amalgam are made up of a combination of mercury and other metals. White (composite) fillings are made of acrylic and glass particles, and are considered more conservative in that they require less removal of the natural tooth structure. In addition to the difference in materials, there are differences in the way they look, their cost and their strength.

Tooth Health

Can you explain TMJ?

The ball and socket joint that connects the lower jaw to the bones in your head is known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Muscles work with the TMJ to open and close your mouth.

TMJ Disorders are discomfort or pain associated with these joints. Some of the symptoms of a TMJ Disorder are:

  • pain in the face, jaw, neck or around the ear
  • stiffness, painful clicking or locking of the jaw
  • chewing discomfort or difficulty
  • headaches or teeth that don't come together properly when chewing

TMJ Disorder is truly a unique situation with each person, and can encompass a large host of symptoms. Helping manage TMJ Disorders is a process of progressive treatments, starting with the most simple techniques. For more information, go to the Services section of our website.

Can you explain Tooth Erosion?

When the enamel, or the hard coating (calcified tissue) that protects the outside of our teeth, wears away, that is called tooth erosion.

Calcium in our saliva helps strengthen our teeth through a process called remineralization. However, this cannot occur when a great deal of acid is in the mouth. Eating and drinking high amounts of acid can cause the enamel to erode. For instance, pure fruit juice and soft drinks contain a lot of acid.

Medical factors, like less saliva in the mouth, acid reflux disease or bulimia can also cause tooth erosion.

What are the symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?

An infection of the tooth is called an abscess. It can develop from tooth decay or some other damage, like a broken tooth. If something like a cavity causes an opening in the enamel and bacteria infects the center of the tooth (called the pulp), it can cause an infection.

Some of the symptoms of an abscess may include pus and/or the swelling of the surrounding tissue. A root canal is usually the only option to save the tooth. You must also know that the infection can spread throughout your mouth and body.

If you think you have an abscessed tooth, make an appointment to see the dentist right away.

Can Tooth Sensitivity be treated?

Millions of people experience pain or discomfort to their teeth from sweets, hot drinks, cold air or cold foods like ice cream. Some even experience discomfort from brushing or flossing.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. Tell your dentist about your symptoms during your next check up.

What is the best way to avoid cavities?

The American Dental Association recommends two dental checkups every year with x-rays and professional cleanings to maintain a healthy smile and detect any possible emerging problems.

What is the difference between Plaque and Tartar?

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused when acid attacks tooth enamel. It usually happens as a result of decay, which occurs when plaque combines with sugars that we eat or drink to form the acid that wears away the enamel. Plaque is the sticky substance that forms on teeth.

The best way to prevent decay is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly. Eating healthy foods helps, as does avoiding sugary snacks or drinks high in acid like soft drinks.

However, if decay leads to tooth damage, a cavity can be filled to repair the surface, before it leads to something more serious.