Ask the Dentist

Q&A With Dr. Jim Der and Dr. Lonny Lee

Q: What is an abscessed tooth?
A: An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has an infection at the root tip. This can be caused by a deep cavity, trauma to the tooth or large deep fillings which damaged the nerve over time. Once the nerve is damaged, it dies and the body no longer supplies blood flow to the nerve. Then bacteria can invade and cause an infection in the nerve.

Q: What are the symptoms of an abscessed tooth?
A: Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include hot/cold sensitivity; throbbing pain that lasts a long time; pain that wakes you while you sleep; pain upon pressure or tapping; or swollen gums or facial tissues.

Q: I think I have a cavity, how can I tell?
A: Commonly, people may experience a toothache; sensitivity to hot and cold; sensitivity to sweets; or may visually see holes or pits in their teeth.

Q: I recently had a filling done, its now quite sensitive, what should I do?
A: If the filling was done less than two weeks ago this is a normal reaction.  Fillings on teeth are like "surgery" to other parts of the body.  The teeth need to get "used" to the new filling and once this happens the sensitivity will decrease.  If the sensitivity persists longer than two weeks then you should notify your dentist.

Q: What is a crown?
A: A crown is a type of dental restoration that uses metal or porcelain to completely cover a tooth or an implant. It looks just like a real tooth would. They are bonded to teeth using specialized dental cement.

Q: Are there any alternatives to dentures?
A: Yes, you may choose to have a dental implant or fixed bridge in its place.

Q: What is gum disease?
A: Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. It is reversible with early treatment.

Q: What can I do to prevent gum disease?
A: Smoking can increase your risk of gum disease, it is important not to smoke for any health reasons. Brushing and flossing everyday can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease. Regular 6 month dental check-ups and cleanings will help monitor your teeth and gums, and if any early symptoms are seen your dental team have materials and tools to further help in prevention.

Q: What can I do about my grinding?
A: If you notice, or have been told that you are grinding you should talk to your dental provider and he may suggest making a nightguard for you.

Q: What kind of whitening can I do at your office?
A: We specialize in ZOOM! bleaching, as well as we can fabricate a take home kit that you use at home to bleach your teeth.

Q: When should my child see a dentist?
A: We recommend that a child start seeing a dentist at the age of one, however they may not be totally comfortable with the experience. Getting them used to the surroundings at an early age is best, even if they do not allow for anything to be looked at or done.

Q: I'm afraid of dentists, what can you do to help me?
A: Our office has televisions to help occupy your attention, and we have experienced, highly qualified staff who will do everything possible to make your experience as comfortable as possible. If you require further comfort, we do offer to our patients oral sedation to take the edge off.

Q: What causes tooth decay?
A: Tooth decay is caused by demineralization of tooth structure (enamel, dentin, cementum). This demineralization may be caused either from acids or fermentable carbohydrates(sugars, breads, cookies, etc).

Q: How often should I get a check-up?
A: A dental check-up is recommended every 6 months.

Q: What are some symptoms of oral cancer?
A: Some common signs and symptoms of oral cancer may be the following: patches inside your mouth/lips that are white or red; a sore on or in your mouth that won't heal; bleeding in the mouth; loose teeth; pain when swallowing; or a lump in your neck.  We have an instrument called VELSCOPE VX that can be used to detect signs of oral cancer.