FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a crown and a cap?
These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to these restorations as “crowns”. However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as “caps” and the gold or stainless steel ones as “crowns”. We do them all affordably and often in the same day thanks to our use of cutting-edge CEREC technology.
Which is better: dentures or implants?
Implants are the best solution for replacing lost teeth. Although dentures are lower in cost, they do not protect against bone and facial structure loss. In addition, dentures often become dislodged while eating or speaking. Over time, you will also need to replace them to ensure they are aligned properly and fit well. Implants, however, are permanent. They help preserve your jawbone and function like your natural teeth. If cared for properly, they will last a lifetime.
How long does a dental bridge last?
The typical life span of a fixed bridge is 10 years, but it can last longer with good oral hygiene and regular checkups.
Is teeth whitening bad for your teeth?
When performed by a dentist, teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten your smile. The most common side effect of whitening is tooth sensitivity during the early stages of treatment, but this is usually temporary. It’s important to consult your dentist, so he/she can determine the appropriate course of whitening treatment to achieve your desired results.
Can I whiten my teeth if I have cavities?
If you have existing dental issues, such as cavities, exposed roots, worn enamel or gum disease, teeth whitening is not recommended. This is due to the increased sensitivity. In some cases, however, you may be able to undergo whitening treatment after your cavities are filled.
What causes tooth infections?

The inside of your teeth is filled with a pulp made up of nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels. Tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and damage to the tooth (cracks/breaks) can lead to an infection in the pulp. Left untreated, this infection will eventually kill the pulp and lead to an abscess.

How do you know if you have an abscessed tooth?

It’s possible to have an abscess and not experience any symptoms, but in general, most people will experience one or more of the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain (In the Jaw or While Chewing)
  • Sore or Red Gums
  • Bad Taste
  • Fever
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Trouble Swallowing or Breathing

Your dentist can also identify an abscess during a routine exam through x-rays.

Which is better: root canal or extraction?
For long-term results, the best option is always the one that saves your tooth. In this case, that would be a root canal. Although itself extraction is less expensive, the space created by the missing tooth, if left unfilled, can create additional dental problems.
Are root canals painful?
Most patients report little discomfort during a root canal since the tooth and surrounding areas are numbed to prevent the sensation of pain. After the treatment, however, you may experience some soreness and sensitivity, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. You dentist may also prescribe a pain medication to help relieve any discomfort you may experience.
How long does a root canal take?
No two root canals are the same. The length of the procedure can vary, depending on the extent of the damage and the tooth itself. In general, most root canals can be performed in under two hours. This does not include the time needed to place the crown during the follow-up appointment.
Can a root canal fail?
Most root canals provide long-term relief for patients, but in some instances, a root canal may fail. There are several reasons why this can happen. It can become re-infected due to poor oral hygiene or the materials may have degraded over time. In addition, cavities or gum disease may develop on the root of the treated tooth, just like it would on any other tooth in your month. In general, less than 15 percent of root canals fail.
How often do I need to see the dentist?
In general, you should see the dentist at least twice a year (once every six months) for regular exams and cleanings. In some instances, where there is a history of gum disease or ongoing orthodontic treatment, you will need to visit more frequently. If you visit less than twice a year, however, we may not catch cavities and other oral issues early. This may lead to additional damage to your teeth and more expensive treatments.
I have heard about oral cancer screening. What is it?
Oral cancer is a serious and deadly disease that affects tens of thousands of people annually. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that someone in the United States dies every hour of every day from oral cancer. Over 300,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year, worldwide. This serious dental disease, which pertains to the mouth, lips or throat, is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. At St Johns Family Dentistry, we can detect and diagnose oral cancer, before it can otherwise be seen, with Oral ID screening technology. Identifying abnormalities not seen with the naked eye, Oral ID enables clinicians to locate possible life threatening conditions in their early stages, where there is an increased survival rate.
I have bad breath. Do you think this is related to my teeth?
Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be downright embarrassing. According to dental studies, about 85% of people with persistent bad breath have a dental condition that is to blame. Gum disease, cavities, oral cancer, dry mouth and bacteria on the tongue are some of the dental problems that can cause bad breath. Using mouthwash to cover up bad breath when a dental problem is present will only mask the odor temporarily and not cure it. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, we can help you today.
My teeth are sensitive to hot and cold liquids. Can you help?
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects millions of people. Basically, tooth sensitivity experience is a pain or discomfort from your teeth resulting from consumption of sweets, cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks or ice cream. Some people with sensitive teeth even experience discomfort from brushing and flossing. The good news is that sensitive teeth can be treated and we know how.
Is one toothpaste better than others?
Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them, as long as it contains fluoride. We also recommend that you look for a toothpaste that has the ADA seal of approval.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is simply a small hole in your tooth that develops over time as the result of tooth decay. When left untreated, cavities can cause sensitivity and pain, as well as weaken your teeth. It’s important to have your cavities filled as soon as possible to avoid additional damage to your teeth.
What about silver fillings versus white fillings?
Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting “white” or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they “bond” to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. While fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, “white” fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall comfort and satisfaction.
Are dental x-rays safe?
In terms of the radiation omitted by a dental exam, it is about the same as what you would receive flying across the country in an airplane. Most dental x-rays measure around .5 millirems of radiation, which is very safe.
Are dental implants painful?
Most patients experience some discomfort immediately after the procedure and for a few days following it. Compared to a tooth extraction, however, dental implants tend to be less painful.
Are dental implants better than dentures?
Yes. Implants are a permanent solution that will help preserve bone and facial structures, as well as provide the same look and feel as your natural teeth. Dentures require the use of adhesives, can dislodge while eating and need to be replaced over time.
How much do dental implants cost?

The overall cost of a dental implant will vary depending on the patient’s needs. Factors that will adjust the cost of the procedure include:

  • Jawbone & Gum Condition
  • Tooth Extraction
  • Anesthesia/Sedation
  • Type of Dental Implant

Your implant dentist will discuss all costs associated with your specific treatment plan prior to scheduling your surgery.

Can anyone get dental implants?

There are some instances where you may not be a good candidate for dental implants. In general, you need to have:

  • Sufficient Jawbone
  • Healthy Gums
  • Good Overall Health

Smokers, and those battling a chronic illness (such as diabetes) or cancer, are typically not recommended for dental implant surgery.

Are dental implants covered by insurance?
Some dental plans include coverage for dental implants, but many do not. Our staff is happy to contact your dental insurance provider to see if any of your treatment costs are covered.
Is Invisalign® better than traditional braces?
There are many things to consider when determining which treatment may be best for you. This includes your lifestyle, how quickly you’d like to see results, and your budget. For many, Invisalign® is the better option because it allows more flexibility with eating and playing contact sports, and the treatment time is typically shorter.
Will Invisalign® work with veneers?
Invisalign® slowly adjusts the position of your teeth, so even if you have veneers, it will effectively improve your smile. Invisalign® can also be used on patients who have fillings and crowns.
How long is the treatment period?
The treatment period will depend on the complexity of your case. On average, adults complete the treatment within 12 months. Adolescents can vary between six and twelve months.
How do I clean my aligners?
Aligners are easy to maintain. Simply brush and rinse them daily with lukewarm water.
How often must I wear my aligners?
Aligners must be worn throughout the day and night. you should only remove them while eating, brushing and flossing your teeth, or during certain activities. Best results are achieved when they are worn for 22+ hours per day.
What happens after I complete the treatment?
Your dentist will likely recommend the use of a retainer to help prevent your teeth from gradually shifting back to their initial position.
How much does Invisalign® cost?
The cost of your Invisalign® treatment will vary based on treatment type and treatment length. After your initial consultation, we will discuss your treatment options and review financial options. We will help you maximize your orthodontic insurance benefits and offer several financing options to help make the treatment fit into your budget.
What’s the difference between a dentist and an oral surgeon?
A Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is a general dentist who can diagnose and treat most basic dental issues. An oral surgeon, however, has extensive knowledge and training in complex dental issues. Oral surgeons must complete a hospital-based residency program and undergo training in the administration of anesthesia, including intravenous (IV) sedation, nitrous oxide and general anesthesia.
Why are they called wisdom teeth?
It is generally thought that these teeth earned their name because they erupt when we are much older and “wiser” than when our other teeth first erupted. Between the age of 17 and 25 is when most wisdom teeth make their appearance.
Is wisdom tooth surgery painful?
During wisdom tooth surgery, you will receive a numbing agent to reduce any pain or discomfort you might experience. In some cases, your oral surgeon may also offer sedation to make the procedure less stressful. After the surgery, you may experience some discomfort and jaw stiffness for about two weeks. This is typically managed with a prescription or over-the-counter pain medication.
What is dry socket?
After your wisdom teeth are extracted, you may experience a complication called dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis. This occurs when a blood clot fails to form in the socket after a tooth is removed, or the blood clot is dislodged. The bone and nerve are exposed to air, food and fluids, causing pain and putting you at risk of infection.
My husband snores. Can you help?
Maybe. In some instances, people who snore have a disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes frequent interruptions in your breathing while you sleep, putting you at risk for stroke, heart failure and other health issues. An oral surgeon may be able to provide relief for both the person who snores, as well as anyone in close proximity.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint disorders, can cause headaches and other facial pain. It’s basically a small joint that connects the lower and upper jaw near the base of the skull in front of your ears. If night guards and medication do not reduce your pain, oral surgery may be recommended.
Are bone grafts necessary before dental implant surgery?
In some cases, bone graft surgery may be required, if you have significant bone loss due to injury or other dental issues. An oral surgeon will use bone grafts to stimulate new bone growth and strengthen your jaw prior to implant surgery or placement of your dentures.
How do I know if I need braces?
Your dentist will typically recommend an orthodontic evaluation if there are any signs that your (or your child’s) oral health may benefit from braces. In children, early orthodontic evaluations can quickly identify problems and allow your orthodontist to provide treatment solutions that will prevent the need for more extensive, and expensive, treatment in the future. Most children begin treatment around the age of 12.
Will I need to have teeth removed before I get braces?
Teeth are typically removed prior to placing bracing to alleviate overcrowding. Although it may be necessary to extract teeth in some cases, most younger patients have other options. Your orthodontist will review all options with you and help you choose the best one for your treatment plan.
What’s the difference between metal and ceramic braces?
The main difference between metal and ceramic braces is aesthetics. Ceramic braces have brackets that are clear or match the color of your teeth. The wires are also clear, making them less visible than metal braces. If you play contact sports, however, ceramic braces may chip or crack. Metal braces are more durable, less expensive and reduce the potential for costly repairs.
How long will I have to wear braces?
Treatment time will depend on your individual orthodontic needs. Most people, however, wear braces anywhere from six months to nearly three years (30 months).
How often will I need to visit the orthodontist when I have braces?
Depending on the type of braces you choose, you may have to see the orthodontist every six to eight weeks for regular adjustments.
Should I get regular dental cleanings while wearing braces?
Although you will be visiting your orthodontist for regular adjustments, it’s still very important that you see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
Will I need to wear a retainer after my braces come off?
Yes. Since the bone in your mouth is constantly changing, a retainer is the only way to ensure your teeth stay in place after your braces come off. Depending on your dental needs, your orthodontist may recommend a removable or fixed retainer.
How much do braces cost?
The overall cost of treatment will vary by patient, depending on the complexity and length of treatment. Our team will gladly review your treatment plan and costs, as well as available financing options. We will work with you to find a treatment plan that fits into your budget.
What is the difference between a dentist and a periodontist?
A dentist typically evaluates and cleans your teeth, gums and other parts of your mouth. For more complex cases, he/she may refer you to a periodontist, who specializes in the treatment of gums and the bone supporting your teeth. Periodontists are trained in advanced treatments and surgical techniques, such as scaling and root planning, regenerative surgery and dental implants.
My gums bleed when I brush them. Should I be concerned?
If your gums begin to bleed during your daily brushing and/or flossing routine, you could have early stage gum disease. We recommend visiting a periodontist for a full evaluation as soon as possible.
How do I know if I have gingivitis or gum disease?
Gingivitis typically precedes gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Not everyone who has gingivitis, however, will progress to gum disease. The main distinction is that gingivitis may cause your gums to swell and easily bleed during brushing, but there is no damage to your teeth or bone. Those with gum disease will notice the gum and/or bone pulling away from the teeth, leaving behind pockets that easily collect debris and become infected. As the disease progresses, the teeth will loosen and eventually deteriorate. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Does scaling and root planning hurt?
Scaling and root planning, also referred to as a deep cleaning, is one way a periodontist can treat your gum disease. Since your gums may already be overly sensitive due to the gum disease, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the areas being cleaned. This will eliminate any pain and discomfort you may feel during the treatment. After the treatment, your gums are likely to be sore and experience some sensitivity, but this can be managed with an over-the-counter pain medication.
What are my options for replacing missing teeth?
There are several options for replacing one or many missing teeth in your mouth. This includes dental bridges, dentures and implants. Your periodontist can review the different treatment options and costs, allowing you to choose which one will best fit into your budget and address your dental needs.
What is periodontal maintenance therapy?
If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease and have already received periodontal treatment, maintenance therapy can help prevent further damage to your teeth and gums. Depending on your specific needs, we will tailor a plan that may include additional checkups and cleanings per year (four or more), plaque removal and polishing.

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