FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

A professional cleaning is a great place to start to brighten your smile. A professional polish can remove some surface stains from the teeth. After a cleaning, you can decide between over-the-counter and professional whitening products. The active ingredient in many over-the-counter products is not concentrated enough to achieve the degree of whitening many people desire. We find our patients often get the best results with custom-fitted whitening trays that use a higher concentration of professional-grade whitening gel.
Yellowing of teeth can come from two different sources: surface stains and the thickening of dentin with age. Teeth are composed of two layers of hard material, the enamel and the underlying dentin. As we age, the enamel layer can thin and the dentin layer thickens. This thicker dentin layer makes the tooth appear more opaque and the color more yellow.
The recommended age for a first dental visit is one year or within six months of the eruption of the first tooth.
A root canal is the removal of the nerve and blood supply from the internal portion of a tooth. The hollow central chamber of a tooth is then filled with an inert material. This may be necessary due to a deep cavity, trauma to a tooth, or a fracture.
Radiographs, often referred to as X-rays, are an important diagnostic tool used to evaluate the overall health of teeth, gums, and the supporting jawbone. The need for X-rays depends on a number of factors, including cavity history, the presence of crowns and fillings, dry mouth, oral hygiene, and periodontal disease history.
First, select a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride-containing toothpastes have been shown to prevent cavities. However, because young children tend to swallow toothpaste, use only a very small amount for children ages 2–6; a dot the size of the child’s fingernail is all they need. Swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth and an upset stomach.
Toothpaste that contains fluoride will carry the American Dental Association seal of approval, so look for this when buying toothpaste. For people who are at high risk for cavities, prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste may be appropriate.

For additional recommendations to address dry mouth or sensitivity, speak with a hygienist or dentist at Anderson Dental Group.

Dry socket is a postoperative complication of tooth extraction that involves inflammation of the bone. This usually occurs where the blood clot fails to form or is lost from the socket. This leaves an empty socket, where the bone is exposed to the oral cavity, resulting in increased pain and delayed healing time. A medicated packing may be appropriate to treat dry socket.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol) may be used until the cause of the pain can be determined in the office. At Anderson Dental Group, we understand emergencies happen and do our best to see patients in a timely fashion.
Dental sealants act as barriers to prevent cavities. They are composed of a plastic material that’s usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where decay occurs most often. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as they come in so the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6–14. Thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth, but toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into depressions and grooves. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by sealing out contaminants.
At Anderson Dental Group, we recognize people come from a wide variety of dental experiences. We take the time to get to know our patients and work to provide personalized care in a comfortable, caring environment. Nitrous oxide gas helps many of our patients relax during their visits. Please speak with anyone on our staff about your needs, and we will work to make your visit a positive one.
Scaling is the mechanical removal of plaque, bacteria, and hardened calculus (also known as tartar) from the teeth.
Healthy gums have little to no buildup of plaque and tartar, hug the teeth tightly, and do not bleed. Bleeding gums may be a sign of gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease. It develops as plaque irritates the gums, causing them to become red, tender, swollen, and likely to bleed. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with a professional dental cleaning and improved oral hygiene. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar.

Periodontitis is a more serious condition that can develop if gingivitis is not treated. As plaque inflames the gums over time, periodontitis can occur, damaging the gums and bone that support the teeth. Unless treated, the affected teeth may become loose and even require removal by a dentist.

When a tooth is cracked, stained, damaged, or weakened by a large filling, it can detract from your appearance as well as you dental health. A crown (sometimes referred to as a “cap”) covers a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen or improve the appearance of a tooth. Crowns can restore teeth when there isn’t enough tooth remaining to provide support for large fillings, protect weak teeth from fracturing, or restore fractured teeth. A crown can also cover misshapen or discolored teeth or be placed over a dental implant.
Regular dental cleanings help to remove plaque and tartar. If left on the teeth, plaque and tartar can lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
Dental cavities are permanently damaged areas that often develop into holes in the enamel, the hard outer surface of your teeth. Cavities are also known as tooth decay or caries. Without treatment, cavities will progress deeper into a tooth. Eventually, decay could reach the nerve, which may necessitate a root canal. Untreated cavities can also lead to tooth loss.

Cavities found during routine check-ups, before any symptoms appear, are often more easily restorable with more conservative interventions.

Taking good care of your teeth is the best way to prevent cavities. Great cavity prevention starts at home, but regular dental checkups are necessary as well. Follow these tips for good oral hygiene to prevent cavities:

  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride can stop and even reverse tooth decay, making it a powerful weapon in the fight against cavities.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice per day—once in the morning and once before bed. If you can, brush your teeth after meals as well.
  • Floss between your teeth daily to remove food particles and prevent plaque buildup.
  • Avoid frequent snacking, and limit the amount of sweet, sticky foods you eat. Snacking can create a steady supply of decay-promoting acid in your mouth, and sugary foods and carbonated beverages can damage enamel. If you do snack, rinse your mouth with an unsweetened beverage afterward to help remove food particles and bacteria from your mouth.
At Anderson Dental Group, we know you’re busy, and we value your time. We strive to run an efficient office that minimizes unnecessary waiting while allowing time to sufficiently address each patient’s needs throughout the day.
Some people tend to have a rather strange attitude toward checkups: if the dentist doesn’t find anything wrong, they think their time’s been wasted. A series of successful visits can even discourage some patients from ever seeing their dentist and hygienist again! The idea that you should only see the dentist when something is wrong is not only ridiculous; it can end up costing you a lot of money, time, and discomfort.

During your checkup, expect a review of your dental and medical history, an examination of your mouth that includes oral cancer screening, a professional cleaning, possibly a fluoride treatment, and a general assessment of your home hygiene practices.

Your dentist is trained to detect and treat many problems before you’re even aware of them. The goal is to prevent disease, decay, and tooth loss and maintain good overall oral health. Your dentist can help you, but only if you make regular appointments. Your dentist and hygienist will work with you to determine how often you should visit, but most for most people, twice a year is sufficient.

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease or gingivitis) is the #1 cause of tooth loss today. The reason gum disease causes tooth loss is that it attacks both the gums and the bone, which make up the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone literally dissolves away from around the teeth, the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease, which begins with plaque buildup. If the plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it will form calculus, which is the breeding ground for the germs that cause periodontal disease.

Bleeding gums are the first sign that there may be a problem with the gums. Puffy, tender, red gums are also a sign of infection. Bleeding gums, however, are not always present in even severe cases of gum disease. Regular visits to your dentist are the best way of catching gum disease in its early stages, before extensive damage results. Gum disease will not go away by itself or with improved home care; the only way of removing plaque deep under the gums is with professional cleanings.

Once you’ve had a gum problem, you’ll always be susceptible to recurring problems, so be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis—every two to three months, unless he or she recommends otherwise.

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then, find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root, and try to reinsert it into the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of cold milk. Gatorade or saline solution may also be used in the absence of milk. Take your child and the glass immediately to the dentist.