FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Cosmetic Dentists

A cosmetic dentist is a dentist that specializes in the improvement of a person's smile and physical,oral appearance.  Cosmetic Dentists focus on things such as teeth whitening, alignment, and teeth shaping to improve a person's oral appearance even if those changes have no medical necessity.
Generally cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance unless they are medically necesary to improve your health.  Things like braces, teeth whitening and tooth replacement are not medically necessary but are done to improve appearance.
If there is something about your smile that you do not like that affects how you feel about yourself, then you should consider visiting a cosmetic dentist.  Most cosmetic dentists will provide a free consultation so there is no risk in visiting.  Having a better smile can improve your self confidence and self esteem.
A dental implant is a surgical implant designed to replace a missing tooth.  Unlike partial dentures which serve the same purpose, dental implant are permanently implanted into the bone in the mouth and cannot be removed.
Veneers essentially cover the visible part of the tooth and are used to change the shape of a tooth, the color of the tooth or size of the tooth.  Many people elect to receive veneers for no other reason than to simply enhance the appearance of their smile.
Invisalign braces are an alternative to traditional metal braces for orthodontic treatments.  Unlike metal braces which affix to the teeth and remain there until treatment completion, Invisalign braces use a series of removable, clear plastic trays to straighten teeth.  Each tray is worn for about two weeks and then another tray is started.  Each tray gradually moves the teeth to their desired position. The trays are removable and should be removed when eating or drinking dark or sugary liquids.  

Invisalign treatment generally takes a little less time than traditional metal braces.  But they are generally more expensive as well.  So there is a trade-off between appearance, convenience and cost.

Dental Insurance

Generally cosmetic procedures are not covered by dental insurance unless they are medically necessary to improve your health. Things like braces, teeth whitening and tooth replacement are generally not medically necessary but are done to improve appearance. However, there are exceptions. Some dental insurance policies cover orthodontic work (braces) for children. And some cosmetic procedures may be deemed medically necessary (such as braces to fix a misalignment causing TMJ). So it is always best to inquire with your dental insurance company whether certain procedures are covered.

Dentists

Unless you are having a specific dental problem, it is recommended that you go to the dentist every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning.  Generally, on every other visit (so every 12 months) the dentist will x-ray your teeth to ensure you are in good health with no cavities.
Plaque is a type of bacteria that builds up around the teeth, especially in hard to reach areas like between the teeth.  You can avoid plaque by simply brushing your teeth and flossing at least twice as day as recommended.  Also, during recommended semi-annual visits to the dentist, your dentist will remove tartar which is caused by too much plaque build up.
When plaque builds up, it causes tartar.  If not removed, plaque and tartar can irritate your gums and even lead to gum disease which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Ordinarily, most dentists say that regular tooth brushes are just as good as vibrating tooth brushes.  However, there are exceptions.  Vibrating tooth brushes do break up plaque a little faster than normal tooth brushes.  So vibrating tooth brushes might be better for children who do not brush as well as they should or for anyone who does not brush as long as recommended. 
A General Dentist provides all your normal and routine dental services such as semi-annual cleanings and exams, x-rays, filling cavities, etc...  A General Dentist can be thought of in the same way you think about your General Doctor or Family Doctor. If you have a dental problem, you should always visit your General Dentist first.  If there is a more serious problem he or she can not remedy, your General Dentist will refer you to a specialist. 

There are various types of Dental Specialists such as Orthodontists, Periodontists, Cosmetic Dentists and Oral Surgeons.  For descriptions of each of these and what they do, see the FAQ about each one.
First and foremost, you should be comfortable with your dentist.  After all, this is a person who will have their hands in your mouth and be working on sensitive areas such as teeth and gums. So you want to trust your dentist and feel comfortable around him or her.

Second, if you have dental insurance, you want to ensure the dentist you choose accepts your dental insurance.  Not all dentists accept all types of insurance.  You do not want to have to pay a dentist personally for something your dental insurance would have covered with another dentist.

Finally, you should consider the location of the dentist office.  While you want a dental office that is convenient to you, keep in mind that you normally only go to the dentist twice a year (barring any emergency dental problems).

Denturists

Dentures are simply a removable device that contain a replacement tooth, or teeth.  There are two types of dentures; partial and complete.  Partial dentures contain only a single replacement tooth are a few teeth.  Full dentures contain replacement teeth for all teeth.
Simply put, a Denturist is a person who makes dentures. They are involved in every step of the process including the initial consultation, the measuring for and making of the dentures and then the maintenance of the dentures. 
As with anything, the cost of dentures will depend on both your individual needs (partial or full) as well as the quality.  Inexpensive partial dentures can run as low as $300 with premium partial dentures costing upwards of depending on the quality and material.  A set of full dentures can be purchased for low as $2000.  But inexpensive dentures typically do not have much of a warranty and will not last as long as premium dentures which can run as high as $8000 for a full set.
If you need dentures, you should visit a Denturist as they receive highly specialized training in the measurement for, fabrication and maintenance of dentures.  A Denturist will be involved in every phase of the process from measurement and evaluation, to the fabrication of the dentures, to the fit and finally maintenance of the dentures.
Dentures typically last about 5 years.  However, they will need periodic maintenance to ensure they lifespan.  Also, they will need adjusted at least every couple of years to ensure they maintain a proper fit as your mouth, gum tissue and teeth continue to move and change.
If you have dentures, you should visit your denturist annually to ensure proper maintenance and fit.  If you are having discomfort or other issues with your dentures, you should visit as needed. 

Endodontists

An Endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth. Endodontists are required to take an additional two or more years of specialized training after normal dental school. Endodontist do this primarily through treatment of the gums and soft tissue surrounding the teeth and through root canals.
A root canal is a dental procedure to repair and save a badly damaged tooth that would otherwise die and fall out or have to be pulled. During a root canal, the dead area or pulp of the tooth is removed and then replaced with a filler. Root canals are generally 90% effect is saving a tooth.
Contrary to popular belied, root canal procedures are generally not painful. Anesthesia is applied to the affected tooth so the procedure is no more painful than having a cavity filled.
The price of a root canal varies based upon the endondontist performing the procedure, the complexity of the procedure and even the are of the country in which you leave. However, a reasonable range is between $700-$900 per tooth.

Orthodontists

An Orthodontist is a dentist that specializes in the treatment of dental irregularities such as crooked teeth or misaligned bite.  All Orthodontists are dentists but only a small number of dentists are orthodontists.  Orthodontist are required to undergo additional, specialized training after the completion of dental school.

Most people are familiar with orthodontist as they are the dental specialty that applies braces to correct crooked teeth and misaligned bites. 
Braces are devices affixed to teeth used in orthodontics to correct dental irregularities such as crooked teeth, crowded teeth, overbites and under-bites.  In the past, braces were primarily metal and affixed to the visible, forward facing area of the tooth.  But in recent years there have been many advances in braces including clear, plastic removable braces as well as braces that are affixed to the back, non-visible part of the tooth.
The cost for braces varies widely and is determined by a number of factors.  Some of the things that will determine the cost are
- The severity and number of your dental issues.  Do you have just one issue such as crowded teeth, or numerous issues to correct such as crowded teeth along with crooked teeth and an overbite.
- The type of treatment you choose.  Traditional metal braces affixed to the front of your teeth are generally the least expensive option.  Clear, plastic braces which can be removed look better but are more expensive.  And braces that affix to the back of your teeth so they can not been seen are generally the most expensive.
- How quickly you want your treatment to be completely.  The faster you want your treatment completed, generally the more visits to the orthodontist and therefor the greater the expense.
Generally the answer is no. Most dental plans only cover medically necessary procedures. But there are exceptions. First, some dental plans do cover braces and orthodontist visits for children up to a certain lifetime maximum. But hardly any plans cover orthodontist treatment for adults. Second, orthodontic work may be covered if it is medically necessary to treat an underlying medical condition such as braces to correct a misaligned jaw causing TMJ pain. So it is always best to call your dental insurance company and ask them specifically what procedures are and are not covered.

Pediatric Dentists

A pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of children. They generally treat children until they reach their upper teens. Pediatric dentists have the specialized knowledge to treat children since their teeth are still growing and moving. Pediatric Dentists have an additional 2-3 years of specialized training after dental school.
You should take your child to the dentist when his or her first tooth appears. Or by the age of 12 months if no teeth have come in by then.
Every 6 months for a general checkup and cleaning.
Sealants fill in the small spaces in the teeth. This keeps food and other bacteria from getting into these spaces preventing cavities. The sealant is painless to apply and will help protect your child's teeth for years with one application.
Generally, children lose their first tooth around 6 years of age which is when the first permanent molars start to come in.

Teeth Whitening

At home whitening such as strips and trays do work. However, professional teeth whitening done at a dentist's office is superior for a couple of reasons. First, at home kits with trays use trays that are not custom fit to your mouth. This may cause the whitening solution not to reach all areas of your teeth leaving an uneven look. In addition, since the trays are not custom, they may push too much of the whitening solution onto your gums which can cause a lot of irritation and redness in your gums. When you whitening at a dentist office, they make custom trays to fit your teeth. This eliminates the uneven whitening that may occur with home trays. Also, the trays do not overlap the gums and help with gum irritation. And finally, the dentist is able to use a much stronger whitening solution that you can get for at home use which speeds the process. So most people can get their teeth whitening to their satisfaction in just one visit versus at home treatments which can take a week or longer.
While professional teeth whitening is certainly the most expensive alternative, it provides the best results which last the longest. Costs vary, but typically range between $450 - $650.
Generally no. Teeth Whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure and therefore generally not covered by dental insurance.
No. Teeth whitening will whiten your teeth from things such a smoking, aging and organic stains such as those from food, coffee, wine, etc... However, it will not work with inorganic stains caused by things such as trauma to the tooth which causes discoloration or discoloration from antibiotics taken during tooth formation as a child.

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