frequently asked questions

Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?

A:  During your first appointment, your overall medical and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical / dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as many teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We will also assess your gums and will recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.

Q: I really don’t like visiting the dentist, is there anything you can do to help me relax?

A:  Many people are uncomfortable with visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority and our office is designed so that you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. For entertainment and distraction, ceiling mounted televisions and music are available so you can keep your mind on more pleasant things. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is also offered to keep you comfortable and relaxed. You can also discuss other sedation options with Dr. Harrison.

Q: I know I need X-rays, but I’d prefer to not be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?

A:  Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film X-Rays. You will find that in our dental practice, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that best promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.

Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?

A:  You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or you may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy or a combination of all these techniques. Dr. Harrison will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, your areas of concern and the overall condition of your oral health.

Dr. Harrison has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation.

Q: My gums bleed. Why is this?

A:  Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions, however, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.

Periodontitis affects your gums, bone and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t diagnose and treat periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth, putting yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

Q: What is periodontal disease?

A:  Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.

Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may be putting yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

According to Caesy Dental Education, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart valves. Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacteria (streptococcus sanguis) may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”

Q: I brush every day, but my breath is still not fresh. Is there anything else I can do?

A:  Millions of people struggle with halitosis, (bad breath) despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing; daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several alternative solutions.

First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue significantly alleviating odor. Or we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break down the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, if we suspect a systemic or internal problem, such as an infection or another underlying condition, we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.

Q: What is a crown and why might I need one?

A:  If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away at healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed, leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile. We are proud to say that all of our crowns and veneers are made in the USA!

Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?

A:  Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns, including: gaps in teeth; chipped and broken teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened by traditional means; “gummy smiles” (showing too much gum when one smiles); and crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify most any smile. Veneers can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like this was the best improvement that could have been done for their overall confidence. Ask us at your next visit about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile or send us an email.

Q: How can I whiten my teeth?

A:  There are multiple ways to whiten your teeth.

At-home whitening trays. These products use peroxide-based gels to bleach your teeth. Generally, the process involves the daily application of the gel in a formed “mouth guard” for about two weeks. Side effects may include short-term tooth or gum sensitivity.

Zoom!™ Whitening (aka in-office whitening). Zoom! Whitening is a procedure that takes place in a single visit in our office. It involves the application of a specially formulated gel that, when exposed to a type of light energy, penetrates the stains in your teeth, breaking them down and leaving your smile brighter and whiter. The entire process takes under two hours.

Porcelain veneers. People who have tetracycline-stained teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means, or people who want a more permanent solution will opt for porcelain veneers.

Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this? What can I do about it?

A:  Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend using a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom-fitted nightguard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Dr. Harrison takes great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your night-guard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure that is generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a night-guard custom created for you.

Q: What different payment options do you accept?

A:  Helping to make your dental care financially comfortable and affordable is important, and we proudly offer a variety of options:

  • Cash or personal checks
  • VISA®/MasterCard®/Discover®/American Express®
  • 6 and 12 month – No interest payment plans ,as well as low interest and extended payment plans through CareCredit®

Dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying for your dentistry. However, most procedures are not fully covered by your insurance. Cosmetic dentistry, in particular, is not covered by most dental insurance plans. To help you afford your smile, we offer a variety of payment options in addition to a monthly payment plan provided by our financial partner, Care Credit™. We also pay special attention to maximizing the benefits that your insurance does provide. Ask us how you can comfortably afford your dentistry while also maximizing your dental insurance benefits.

We are happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursement before beginning recommended treatments and we will gladly file insurance forms for you.

Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice, and we do not base our treatment on what insurance will or will not pay. We base our treatment on what is best for you, and any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.

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