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Frequently Asked Questions

At-home Dental Care:

Although a small amount of blood may not hurt or seem like a big deal, it can indicate a larger problem.

Bleeding can be caused by inadequate brushing, which leads to the buildup of plaque and tartar. Plaque that is not removed will eventually cause the gums to become red, swollen, and/or tender. This will eventually lead to concerns such as gum recession, gum disease, and tooth loss. In rare cases, bleeding gums might be an indication of more serious health concerns.

It’s important to not ignore your bleeding gums even though they may not hurt. It’s recommended to see your dentist to evaluate your condition and determine the best treatment.
You’re missing more than 30 percent of your tooth when only brushing. Flossing removes food debris and plaque accumulation, all of which contribute to gum disease and cavity development.

There are several options for cleaning between your teeth and the most important thing is to just do it! Be sure to ask your dental professional about the various home care tools and how to properly use them to avoid injuring your gums.
1. Manual toothbrushes clean teeth well with proper brushing technique. There are many styles, bristle configurations, head sizes, and colors when choosing your brush, which makes for plenty of options. You don’t need to worry about batteries or charging, so manual toothbrushes are easy to use when traveling. They’re inexpensive and usually free when you see your dentist for regular checkups. Unfortunately, manual toothbrushes require more diligence when brushing and don’t come with timers and other sensors to enhance your brushing.

2. Electric toothbrushes are relatively easy to use. All you have to do is let the toothbrush do the work as you maneuver it around your mouth. For children and the elderly, it’s usually easier to use an electric toothbrush than to vigorously brush with a manual toothbrush. Children also tend to become more excited about using an electric toothbrush. Many electric toothbrushes have manual timers, pressure sensors, and other meters to help improve brushing habits. Unfortunately, they come with downsides as well. The price to purchase an electric toothbrush can be a barrier for some patients.

3. Electric brushes have to be charged, so traveling can sometimes be difficult with them. Also, like many electronics, they can break or stop working.

4. There have been many studies which indicate that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque compared to manual toothbrushes and are better for fighting gum disease. Despite these studies, it’s important to realize that no matter what you decide, your oral health will only remain healthy if you are diligent with your brushing. If you’re on the fence about which toothbrush might be best for you, talk to us during your next visit!
The manufacturers of mouth rinses market them as a way to battle bad breath, but do they really work? Most patients who use mouthwash report a fresher, cleaner mouth. Unfortunately, mouthwash merely masks the bad breath rather than eliminating it. But don’t be disparaged! It can be a good addition to your dental care routine, alongside regular normal brushing and flossing routine.

Also, be aware that many mouth rinses contain high levels of alcohol. Unlike popular belief, the alcohol is not added to disinfect or sterilize, but rather as a preservative. It’s advised to try and avoid rinses containing high levels of alcohol by using an alcohol-free product.

You’ll also want to look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a common mineral found in toothpaste and has been proven to fight and even reverse the tooth decay process.
Overall, it’s recommended that you find a toothpaste that satisfies your overall oral health goals - whitening, sensitivity, tartar control, etc. It’s also important that you enjoy the flavor and consistency of the tooth paste.

For those individuals suffering from areas of tooth sensitivity, there are many toothpastes that can help combat those sensitive areas. And for those who are at an increased risk of developing cavities, prescription toothpaste is also available from your dentist.

Pediatric Dentistry:

Cavities can occur for a variety of reasons and often times do not cause any pain. Filling baby teeth will prevent the cavity from growing larger and leading to more severe problems and infections. If your child has cavities or is experiencing tooth pain, call your dentist immediately!
For children, two rows of teeth are common, as permanent teeth are growing into the mouth. This is especially common for the top and bottom front teeth, but can also occur elsewhere in the mouth. The condition can be corrected easily in most circumstances.

Crooked or misaligned teeth in children can cause a lot of worries. Usually, the teeth will properly align as they grow further into the mouth allowing the tongue and lips to push them into proper position.

Every child’s development is unique. It’s important to have an oral health professional evaluate and determine what course of action is best for your child.
While most parents celebrate the arrival of their children’s teeth, many leading dental authorities suggest that a baby should be seen within six months of the arrival of their first tooth.

We at Columbia Dental Center agree with this consideration, and we usually suggest bringing the infant in when the parent is due for their biannual cleaning. This is far more realistic and much more convenient for Mom and/or Dad.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if it takes a couple of visits for your child to warm up to the dentist - This is perfectly normal! The idea is to keep the dental visit a positive experience. If we’re able to make it fun so that your child enjoys their visit, they’ll be more willing to return and more likely to allow us to perform a full examination. Remember, baby steps!

General Dentistry:

At Columbia Dental Center, we’re focused on making your appointments as stress-free as possible. You can schedule your appointment 24/7 online, directly from our website. We offer complimentary consultations so you can get to know your dentist and the team without the pressure of having to receive treatment that day.

Here’s what to expect at a typical new patient dental exam:

1. Review Your Health History: Prior to your exam, you’ll complete a health history that allows us identify oral health issue we should watch out for and is an important step helping us provide quality care.
2. X-rays: We’ll take digital x-rays so we can monitor tooth and jaw development, as well as bone health.
3. Dental Hygiene: Your dental hygienist will evaluate your gum & bone health and implement the most advanced training to clean your teeth appropriately. Our patients find our hygiene team to be a wealth of information and provide great home care tips you’ll be able to incorporate into your dental routine.
4. Dental Exam: Your dentist will exam your oral environment (teeth, gums and tongue), answer any questions you may have, and recommend any treatment that might be necessary based on your health history or exam results.
5. Preventive Dentistry: Your dental team will also recommend preventative treatment for your complete oral health, such as fluoride or sealants for the prevention of cavities - All of which are painless and easy to utilize.
Although bad breath is something everyone experiences at one time or another, if your condition doesn’t improve after brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, it may be a sign of a larger problem.

Although the most common cause of chronic bad breath is poor oral hygiene, it can also be exacerbated by certain foods like garlic and onions. Illnesses that produce phlegm, postnasal drip or dry mouth may also contribute to mouth odors.

In general, bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria found on your tongue, gums, and throat areas. If these bacteria are allowed to go unchecked, your breath will become worse.

Many individuals attempt to eliminate bad breath with the use of mouth rinses and breath mints. These methods may offer a short term improvement, but oftentimes, if the underlying condition isn’t addressed, bad breath will return.

The best way to identify the source of chronic halitosis is to visit your dentist regularly.
For a small percentage of patients, pain after dental treatment can still crop up and linger for a few days or weeks.

There can be many reasons for the pain, but most commonly, pain is due to the filling being deep and close to the nerve or material utilized or possibly even heightened sensitivity.

So how long will it last? It’s not unheard of to experience sensitivity for months after having a tooth filling placed. The key is communicate with your dentist so the situation can be monitored closely. However, we recommend that if pain or sensitivity persists for more than a week, you should see your dentist to have the tooth evaluated.
Root canal treatment becomes necessary for a variety of reasons including: deep cavities, trauma or tooth injury, cracked tooth, and infection or abscessed teeth.

It’s important to have your problem area evaluated to determine exactly what the concern could be and the best course of treatment. Many times, if treatment is recommended, it can be accomplished conveniently.
Common signs include pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, chewing tenderness, tooth discoloration and swelling. Many fearful patients are relieved to find out that root canals can be performed painlessly, efficiently (usually in 1 hour), and in one appointment.

If you’re experiencing any of these concerns or think you might need a root canal, it’s important that you don’t delay. Oftentimes, the condition you’re experiencing will only deteriorate and get worse.
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are a common material used to fill cavities. Over the years, concerns have arisen about the use of silver amalgam because it contains mercury. The controversy centers on how much mercury is released by fillings and how much the body absorbs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently stated that silver amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children. However, regardless of the FDA’s decision, we decided to become a mercury-free dental office many years ago. The possible health risks, mercury waste being released into the environment via waste water, along with introduction of newer, better materials helped guide our decision to implement white composite resin fillings in our dental practice.

Should you have your silver amalgam fillings removed because of the mercury they contain? You should replace fillings only when a problem develops. When they become worn, broken, or when there is decay present. Removing a good filling results in unnecessary loss of healthy parts of the tooth and might possibly release more mercury. If you are concerned about your silver fillings, discuss your treatment options with your dentist.

We’re Here To Help You

Dr. Rick Leppo, Dr. Caroline Connolly and your Columbia Dental Center care team are here for you.