Frequently Asked Questions

Seward Smiles

Frequently Asked Questions at the Dentist

I’m afraid of going to the dentist, what should I do?

Fear of the dentist is common for many people, in fact it is second to public speaking. The dentist and staff at Seward Smiles are well aware of the prevalence of dental anxiety and we are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these dental procedure fears. You will find we are eager to work with you to make your dental exams and procedures comfortable and pleasant. Asking questions about your mouth and proposed dental treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and give you an opportunity to become involved in your dental health. Most importantly, remember that your Seward Smiles dentist and dental hygienist are passionate and eager to work with you in order to achieve a mutual goal – maintaining your oral health.

What does sedation dentistry mean?

This means that in addition to the general dentistry that our office provides to people of all ages and needs, we also provide dental sedation to those who need more help to get dental work accomplished. Oral sedation is achieved through oral medication, and allows our patients to converse during the course of the dental appointment. Providing dental sedation requires licensure, extensive continuing education training, and additional training on a 2-year basis.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

Your child’s first teeth erupt around 6 months old. For the prevention of dental problems, our dental care team recommends your child should be seen at or before 1 year of age. This first dental visit will help your child to become acquainted with our dental office and develop a relationship with the dentist and dental care staff, as well as a chance to help educate parents to properly care for their child’s teeth.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

The first primary tooth, or baby tooth, erupts between 6 months to one year of age. The timing is different for each individual, but all 20 baby teeth are usually in by 3 years of age. Baby teeth are extremely important for a variety of reasons.

Baby teeth:

  • Help children chew food easily and properly to maintain healthy nutrition
  • Help children develop proper speech, and speak more quickly and clearly
  • Help jaw formation by maintaining space and eruption paths for permanent teeth
  • Help develop self-esteem, and set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles

Baby teeth are also just as prone to cavities as adult teeth. In fact, more than 50 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay before the age five, so you want to keep those cavities away to avoid an early loss of a tooth. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when it’s their turn to erupt. Proper oral hygiene is important as soon as your baby is born. Establishing good oral habits early will go a long way, even beyond impressing the tooth fairy!

There are so many toothpastes to choose from; how do I know which one to use?

First, when purchasing toothpaste for you or your child, select one that contains fluoride. Fluoride-containing toothpastes have been shown to prevent cavities. However, one word of caution: Use only a very small amount for children under age 6 (the size of their fingernail). This is because young children swallow toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.

It is also wise to select a product approved by the American Dental Association. The ADA’s Seal of Acceptance means that the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. Although these products may be safe and effective, these products’ performance have not been evaluated or endorsed by the ADA.

Next, when considering other properties of toothpaste — such as whitening toothpastes, tartar-control, gum care, desensitizing, etc. — the best advice for selecting among these products may be to simply ask your dental hygienist or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth at this time. After consulting with your dentist or hygienist about your oral health’s greatest needs, look for products within that category (for example, within the tartar control brands or within the desensitizing toothpaste brands) that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Finally, some degree of personal preference comes into play. Choose the toothpaste that tastes and feels best. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint all work alike. If you find that certain ingredients are irritating to your teeth, cheeks or lips, or if your teeth have become more sensitive, or if your mouth is irritated after brushing, try changing toothpastes. If the problem continues, see your dentist.

Which is better, a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

Research shows that both powered and manual toothbrushes are equally effective when used properly. The best way to be sure you are caring for your teeth properly is to discuss your homecare and needs with your dentist or hygienist.

What causes cavities?

Your mouth is a busy place. Bacteria – tiny colonies of living organisms are constantly on the move on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue. Having bacteria in your mouth is a normal thing. While some of the bacteria can be harmful, most are not and some are even helpful.

Certain types of bacteria, however, can attach themselves to hard surfaces like the enamel that covers your teeth. If they’re not removed, they multiply and grow in number until a colony forms. More bacteria of different types attach to the colony already growing on the tooth enamel. Proteins that are present in your saliva (spit) also mix in and the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film on the tooth. This film is called plaque, and it is what causes cavities.
When refined carbohydrates or sugars are ingested, these bacteria present in the mouth use the sugar and convert it to acid that dissolves tooth enamel. The acid attacks start immediately after consuming sugars and last for 20-30 minutes.

I have a toothache, what should I do while I wait for my appointment?

A toothache is normally caused by decay entering the nerve area and produces a very painful situation. In this case, a root canal will most likely be needed.

Do not place aspirin on the tooth. A temporary sedative filling can be found in the dental section of most drug stores. Place this over the “hole” to help alleviate symptoms. A numbing agent such as Orajel can also be placed on the tooth for temporary relief of dental pain.

In the case of a dental toothache an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or Aleve will help alleviate dental pain better than Tylenol or aspirin as long as you do not have any allergies to these drugs or are not taking any other medications that may have side effects with ibuprofen or Aleve.

I have swelling because of a tooth, what should I be doing?

Dental swelling is usually due to an infection. If the swelling is causing you difficulty breathing or causes your eye to become swollen go directly to the hospital. It is likely you will need IV antibiotics.

Never put heat on a swollen area. This may cause the infection to spread more quickly.

Antibiotics will most likely be given and need to be taken as prescribed.

After the swelling is addressed, there is usually an underlying dental issue like an infected tooth which needs a root canal or an extraction.

I chipped or fractured my tooth, what is it going to need?

If there is no pain or sensitivity, it is likely the fracture is not near or does not involve the nerve or the tooth may already be root canaled.

If you do experience dental sensitivity you can get a temporary sedative filling at your local drug store to place over the area to help with sensitivity until you can get into our office.

If the fracture is large it may require a crown to be placed over the tooth.

If the fracture is small it may only require the area to be smoothed, or for a filling to be used to replace the lost tooth structure.

What should I do to be ready in case someone gets a tooth knocked out?

If the tooth is accidentally knocked out and it is a permanent tooth putting it back in is possible. A dentist will need to be involved and until then handle the tooth by the crown and not the root portion.

Carefully rinse the tooth with cold water but do not scrub the tooth or touch the root with anything.

Try to reimplant it immediately by putting the root back into the socket. You will know that you are finished when the tooth lines up with the rest of the teeth.

If it is not possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and try to see a dentist within an hour. For after-hours emergencies go to UNMC’s emergency room, they have dentists on call.

What should I do if my temporary crown is broken or lost?

If you are wearing a temporary that breaks and you cannot come into the dental office, you can get orthodontic wax at your local drugstore or soften candle wax and place that over the tooth to cover the tooth. This will help with sensitivity until you can get to the office.

If the tooth has a root canal you will not experience any discomfort and you can leave the temporary off and return to the office at your earliest convenience.

If the temporary has fallen off but is intact go ahead and re-cement it with temporary cement that you can find at your local drugstore in the dental section.

Clean the temporary prior to putting the cement inside and practice placing it on without the cement on first so you will know how it fits.