Many people have questions about their oral health and dental care.  We have provided a few of the answers to the most frequently asked questions on this page.  If you have further questions, or to make an appointment with our dentists in Utah or Arizona, please contact iSmile today.

What is a periodontist?

A periodontist is a dental specialist who has completed 3 years of training following dental school to diagnose, prevent, and treat gum disease.  Periodontists also receive training in implant placement and cosmetic periodontal treatments.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a mild sedative.  It is combined with oxygen and inhaled to produce a calming effect, and is often provided for patients who are anxious or fearful about visiting the dentist.

What causes tooth decay? 

Tooth decay occurs when plaque (a sticky substance that forms on teeth) combines with the sugars and starches of the foods we eat to produce acids.  These acids then attack the tooth enamel, breaking it down and eventually causing cavities.  You can prevent tooth decay by brushing and flossing regularly, eating healthy foods, and avoiding foods and drinks that are high in sugar.

What is gum disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is an oral disease that affects your gums and supporting bone tissue.  It can cause significant damage if untreated, and can even destroy your gums and the bone surrounding your teeth.

How do I care for sensitive teeth?

Teeth are sometimes sensitive to hot and cold following treatment.  If the mouth is kept clean, this sensitivity will go away after a short time.  If the mouth is not kept clean, your teeth will remain sensitive, and the sensitivity could become more severe.  We recommend that you consult your dentist if your teeth are especially sensitive.  He or she may recommend a toothpaste or mouth rinse designed for sensitive teeth.

What is the best way to brush, and how often should I brush?

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, or after each meal.  You should also brush before going to sleep at night.

When you brush, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet.  Use small, gentle stroke, and gently move the brush in a circular motion.  Apply light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.  Change the position of the brush as often as is needed to reach and clean all surfaces.  After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you may have loosened while brushing.

We recommend that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.  ADA-approved brands are usually the best choices of products.

What is the best way to floss, and how often should I floss? 

Flossing is a critical part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums.  It helps to clean the surfaces of your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach, and disrupts colonies of plaque and bacteria.  You should floss daily.

We recommend that you use waxed floss.  Take a piece of floss about 18 inches long, and lightly wrap most of the loss around the middle finger of one hand, and the remainder around the middle finger of the other hand.  Hold it tightly between the thumb and forefinger, and gently insert the floss between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion.  Do not force the floss or snap it into place.

Curve the floss in a C-shape against the tooth, and move it up and down on the side of that tooth, then repeat the process against the other tooth.

Be careful not to gut the gum tissue between the teeth.  As the floss becomes soiled, switch from one finger to the other to get a fresh section of floss.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles.  If your gums bleed or are a little sore during your first week of flossing, don’t worry.  This is normal, and will stop after a few days.  If your gums continue to hurt while flossing, you may be flossing too hard or pinching the gum.

I’m an adult.  Is it too late for orthodontic treatment?

It is never too late to receive orthodontic treatment.  As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, you are a candidate for orthodontic treatment.  iSmile offers several discreet options to meet your needs as well as the demands of your lifestyle.

What is orthodontics, and what is an orthodontist?

Orthodontics is one of the nine recognized fields of dental specialty, and involves the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.  Orthodontic treatment is designed to give you a healthier, more balanced facial profile and bite.

Orthodontists are dentists who have completed 2-3 years of specialized training following dental school in order to learn the best ways to align teeth, jaws, and even the entire facial structure.

Can crooked teeth correct themselves over time?

No.  The space available for your teeth does not increase as you grow, and when the permanent teeth erupt the space available for your front teeth decreases further.  Any problems with bad bites or other dental conditions will likely worsen with time.

Will I need a tooth extraction to receive braces?

Not usually.  Sometimes it may be necessary to extract a tooth in order to achieve the best result, but as technology and orthodontic treatment continue to advance it becomes easier to provide your treatment without removing teeth.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

The length of your treatment depends on the type of treatment and the state of your teeth.  On average, treatments take between 18-24 months.

Are there foods I cannot eat while wearing braces?

Yes.  While wearing braces, avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears, etc.), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes, etc.) or any foods that could possible get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).

Do braces hurt?

No.  Your braces may cause some soreness and mild discomfort when they are first placed, but this should vanish within a few days as your mouth adjusts to the appliance.  If you experience severe pain or the soreness persists, contact our office.

Why would I need root canal treatment?

Root canals are necessary when the pulp (inner tissues or nerves) or the tooth becomes infected or inflamed.  This could occur as a result of deep decay, repeated dental procedures, cracks, chipping, or other trauma.  If untreated, it can cause pain and lead to the development of an abscess.

What happens during root canal treatment?

Your dentist or endodontist will clean out the infected pulp tissue.  After this tissue has been removed, the canals will be sterilized filled with medicated material, and sealed off to prevent further infection.  A crown will usually be placed to protect the tooth and complete the restoration.

Is there an alternative to a root canal?

No.  If you have an infected tooth, the only other option is an extraction.  If your tooth is extracted, it will need to be replaced with an implant or a bridge, which will require surgery or further procedures on the healthy teeth in your mouth.  Both of these treatments may be more costly and time-consuming than a root canal.

What do I do if I have bad breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) may be caused by any number of factors, separately or in combination, including:

  • Morning time
  • Certain foods
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Poorly fitted appliances
  • Tobacco products
  • Dry mouth
  • Dieting
  • Medications or illness
  • Dehydration or hunger

The best way to prevent bad breath is to practice good oral hygiene, keep all your routine dental appointments, stay hydrated, use mouth rinses, and stop smoking or using tobacco products.  If none of these suggestions work, we recommend that you consult your medical doctor to determine the cause of bad breath and receive treatment.

Are silver (amalgam) fillings safe?

Yes.  The American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and FDA have performed studies showing that silver fillings are safe, and that there is no health risk associated with this filling material.

When should my child have his/her first dental appointment?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children should have a “well-baby” appointment with a pediatric dentist about 6 months after their first tooth erupts, and no later than their first birthday.  This initial appointment is a simple checkup to make sure that your child’s mouth is healthy, and is intended to establish positive associations with visiting the dentist’s office for your child.

When should my child have his/her initial orthodontic evaluation?

Children should have their initial orthodontic screening at age 7.  By this age, they have developed enough for your orthodontist or dentist to detect any developing problems and determine if and when any treatment should begin.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Yes.  The amount of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is very small – in fact, it’s less than you are exposed to in your day-to-day activities.  As X-ray technology has advanced, the level of radiation produced has continued to decrease, and the digital X-rays used today produce 80-90% less radiation than the traditional film radiography used in the past.  Additionally, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for safety and accuracy every 2 years.  This ensures that you remain safe and that the images captured are always correct.

Why do I need to visit the dentist regularly?

Regular dental visits allow us to provide you with preventive care.  Routine cleanings and exams ensure that your teeth remain healthy, and that any developing problems are quickly diagnosed and treated.  Visiting the dentist only when you have a problem often means that you spend more time at our office and more money on restorative treatments than you would for regular preventive care.

I’m afraid to visit the dentist.  What should I do?

If you are afraid or anxious about visiting the dentist, please speak with our dentists and team.  We take your fears seriously, and our top priority is making sure that you are comfortable in our office.  We will be happy to work with you to help you feel less anxious and more at ease during your appointment.

There are many strategies we can provide you reduce your fear and anxiety.  We may offer sedation dentistry or anesthesia, and we use lasers in many of our procedures to provide you with a quieter, more comfortable treatment.  There are a variety of techniques to reduce anxiety and mind/body pain, and there are dentophobia clinics and support groups available if you feel you need them.

I can’t afford dental care.  What resources are available to help me?

iSmile offers many financial options.  We offer several financing options, and accept most insurances.  We encourage you to visit our Financial Options page to view all our resources.  The website for the American Dental Association also provides links to state dental associations to help you locate appropriate services and organizations that can help you.