Q.) My dentist says I need a crown. Can I have a filling instead?
Q.) Can I access my account from my home or office computer? A.) Yes! We offer our patients the opportunity to access their accounts online through Smile Dash. Simply visit www.smiledash.com to register. Once registered, our patients can view their accounts, use online bill pay, send a secure message, or view scheduled appointments.
Q.) What is the white film that sometimes comes off my cheeks and gums?A.) Some of the newer toothpaste on the market with whiteners and anti-bacterial agents often cause tissues in your mouth to slough away, called gingival sloughing, leaving behind a white stringy film. Switching to a plain, fluoride only toothpaste normally resolves this problem.
Q.) Are electric toothbrushes better than manual toothbrushes?
Q.) What is the best electric toothbrush to use?
A.) The Sonicare toothbrush has been the number one power toothbrush recommended by dental professionals for several years now. Here's why:
Q.) Do you accept referrals?A.) Of course we do. We appreciate your referrals of your family and friends who seek the same kind of high quality dental care you do. We would love the opportunity to provide this same kind of care to your friends and family. Creating healthy, beautiful smiles is our passion.
Q.) How do I know when it's time to come in for a continued care appointment?A.) To maintain long-term dental health we recommend regularly scheduled cleanings and exams. With your permission, we will schedule your appointments before leaving the office and give you a reminder call or email shortly before your next appointment.
Q.) Will you remind me of scheduled appointments? A.) Yes! With advances in technology and the way people communicate, we offer our patients the convenience of e-mail and text message confirmations. With updated e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers we are able to confirm appointments with one or both forms of communication. For appointments scheduled months in advance such as cleanings, you can expect a postcard to arrive 3 weeks prior to your appointment allowing you time to make sure the appointment is on your calendar. Then 3 to 5 days before your appointment you will receive an e-mail and or text message. Of course if you do not have access to a computer or cell phone, we can still confirm your appointment with a courtesy telephone call.
Q.) Help! I have become very anxious whenever I go to the dentist. Is there anything you can do to make me more comfortable?A.) Yes. We have many ways with which we make our quests feel right at home. From the moment our guests walk through the door, they know that they're in a special place. Our guests lounge in the most comfortable dental chairs available. We have massage pads, IPod are available for listening to your favorite music, and heated neck pillows to help you relax during treatment. For those guests that may need some additional relaxation, we do offer nitrous oxide, "laughing gas", and other ways to unwind and enjoy the experience….Many of our guests actually say that they now enjoy going to the dentist!
Q.) What steps do you take to assure there is no cross contamination between patients? A.) All of our instruments and handpieces are sterilized by methods meeting hospital industry standards. Wherever possible disposable items are used. Items such as the dental chair, light handles, keyboards, pens and pencils are disinfected after each and every patient. Our operatories are equipped with self contained purifed water sources to assure the highest level of safety.
Q.) How often should radiographs (x-rays) be taken?A.) How often x-rays should be taken depends on the patient's individualized health needs. Drs. Schmidt will review your history, examine your mouth, and then decide whether you need radiographs and what type. If you are a new patient, we may recommend radiographs to determine the present status of the hidden areas of your mouth and to help analyze changes that may occur later. In our office it's customary for adults to have a full mouth set of radiographs taken every 5 years. This allows us to detect new cavities, determine the status of periodontal (gum) disease, and evaluation of growth and development.
Q.) How often should radiographs be taken on children?A.) Children may need x-rays more often that adults. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.
Q.) What are the benefits of dental radiographs (x-rays)?A.) Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue cannot be seen when the doctor examines your mouth. An x-ray may reveal:
•Small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
•Infections in the bone
•Periodontal (gum) disease
•Abscesses or cysts
•Some types of tumors
Finding and treating dental problems at an early age can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort. Here at Dr. Schmidt's office we take care of our patients as if they are our very own family.
Q.) What can be done if I have crooked or crowded teeth?A.) Crooked or crowded teeth can often be corrected with veneers or crowns that mimic the color and anatomy of real teeth. Dr. Pamela Schmidt is also an Invisalign certified provider. Invisalign makes it easier to straighten your teeth without bands, brackets or wires. This innovative technology helps you straighten your teeth virtually invisibly. By using a series of clear, removable aligners, Invisalign straightens your teeth right before your eyes. Change the aligners about every 2 weeks, and your teeth will move little by little toward the smile you've always wanted. In addition, Dr. Pamela also offers Six Month Smiles. Six month Smiles is designed specifically for movement of the front teeth. "The social six". Ask us about Six Month Smiles...you could have a straighter smile in the time it take to get from one cleaning appointment to the next!
Q.) What are veneers?
A.) Veneers are thin, custom-made moldings that cover the fronts of unsightly teeth. They are crafted from tooth-colored, high-tech materials to portray a natural, bright, youthful smile.
Q.) Should I consider veneers?
A.) Veneers provide an alternative to traditional crowns. They cover unattractive gaps, and can mask stained, misshapen, or crooked teeth. If these conditions apply to your mouth, veneers may be your best option. Also, since veneers are individually sculpted for each patient, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the veneer and the natural tooth.
Q.) How long will veneers last?A.) Veneers are intended to last for many years. The materials our labs use to produce veneers are revolutionary and incredibly strong. Also, unlike most bonding materials, veneers will not change color over time. Good oral hygiene will ensure your veneers stay strong and provide you with a long-lasting, attractive smile.
Q.) What would make me a candidate for full-mouth rehabilitation?A.) Full mouth rehabilitation is diagnosed when the patient is breaking teeth because of their bite. Jaw pain, clenching, and grinding are sometimes associated with this type of bite. Please call for a consultation to see if we can help you.
Q.) I've heard of some new cosmetic techniques that can improve smiles. Are they appropriate for older adults?A.) Older adults can benefit from many of the options available today for improving the look of a smile. At your first consultation, Drs. Schmidt will describe and discuss with you the range of treatments that would be right for you. Part of older adulthood is the acceptance of aging and the development of realistic expectations for appearance. In that context, cosmetic dentistry for older adults can be a healthy and adaptive way of maintaining dental health and emotional well-being. Our teeth and mouth play a critical role in psychological development and well-being throughout our lives. Modern dentistry has expanded esthetic options for people of all ages. Coupled with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, cosmetic dentistry can help improve the appearance of your smile.
Q.) What should I look for when seeking out a dentist for my cosmetic needs?A.) In order to make sure your dentist is skilled in cosmetic dentistry you should research the following areas before undergoing treatment:
•Always ask how much and what kind of continuing education your doctor has had for these types of procedures. Aesthetics is one thing, function is another. The goal is to have your dentist be able to give you the beautiful smile you want with the proper function either restored or maintained.
•Ask to see before and after pictures of actual cases that the dentist has performed on his patients. It is very typical for a dentist who is not trained in this field to buy a pre-made stock photo album of before and after photos.
•Ask how many of these cases your dentist has completed. Then ask if you can speak to any of those patients about their experience.
•Ask about the laboratory that your dentist uses to fabricate the porcelain. A good cosmetic lab will have attended continuing education classes just as the doctor has to keep up with what is the latest and greatest in materials and techniques.
When considering this type of investment we encourage you to seek a second opinion. These are not the types of procedures where cost is the determining factor. Education, experience, expertise, state-of-the-art equipment and actual case testimonials should help you make your decision.
Q.) How are lasers used in dentistry?A.) Laser use in dentistry is sometimes considered "new" technology, but it actually began in 1989. In our office we use soft tissue lasers, which use very low wattage of thermal energy to eliminate bacterial infections of the soft tissue (gums). These lasers are also used for gum tissue reshaping for cosmetic smile enhancement and for simple gum surgeries. Lasers provide better pain management and are far more precise than a scalpel and most procedures are done with topical anesthetic.
Q.) What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?A.) The most common symptom is bleeding of the gums when brushing, flossing or eating hard foods. Other symptoms of gum disease are sensitivity to hot and cold, gum recession, chronic bad breath, spaced developing between the teeth, swollen or tender gums and a change in the color of your gums to a dark red. The only way to diagnose gums disease is by visiting your dentist or dental hygienist.
Q.) How can gum disease hurt my teeth?A.) Periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss! Most people believe that tooth loss is caused by decay; and even though cavities can be serious they can usually be taken care of quickly and easily before they cause too much damage to the teeth. However, when gum disease is left untreated it eventually begins to destroy the bone that holds teeth in place. Once bone loss occurs, you are at risk for losing teeth.
Q.) What causes gum disease?A.) Periodontal disease begins by a bacterial infection that lodges in the pockets created between the gum tissue and the tooth. The bacteria is housed in a microbial structure called biofilm, which is a sticky, mucous-like substance that attaches to the tissue and begins the process of forming plaque and tartar on the tooth surface.
Q.) Do I just need to brush and floss better?A.) Of course, good oral hygiene is a must but brushing and flossing alone won't reverse the damage done once the disease begins to progress. Unfortunately, periodontal disease doesn't get better without treatment.
Q.) What are some of the problems associated with gum disease?A.) Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that enters the blood stream and travels to major organs to create new infections. Research suggests that this may contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, preterm births and low birth weight. It also poses a serious threat to those whose health is already compromised by diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and other systemic diseases such as lupus, etc.
Q.) How do you treat periodontal disease?
A.) Traditionally, gum disease was treated with a procedure called scaling and root planing. The procedure was about as unpleasant as it sounds. Performed by the dental hygienist , scaling and root planing involved using hand instruments to remove plaque and tartar. Unfortunately, since this technique didn't remove the biofilm that houses the bacteria, the effectiveness of scaling and rooth planing has always been somewhat lacking. Since we are committed to clinical excellence at Dr. Schmidt's office, we treat periodontal disease with the most advanced technology available in modern dentistry, miro-ultrasonic instruments and lasers. This combined use of technologies actually eliminates the infection rather than manage the disease, which has been the traditional form of treatment.
Q.) How does the laser work?A.) A diode laser is used in combination with a micro-ultrasonic hand instrument that detaches the biofilm from the tooth surface. The swirling motion created by the micro-ultrasonic actually creates a tornado-like effect which attacks the physical structure of biofilm. Once the biofilm has been detached, the diode laser is used to sterilize the periodontal pockets and remove any infected tissue. As the old tissue is removed, microscopic clots form and the body's natural healing response takes over; as this occurs, the tissue reattaches to the bone and the gums return to a healthy, infection-free state.
Q.) Can the laser hurt my teeth or cut my gums?A.) Similar to how surgeons use lasers to remove diseased tissues, the magnetic light energy of the diode laser is specifically designed to seek out periodontal infection and therefore, doesn't harm the teeth or other, healthier tissue. This is one of the amazing characteristics of lasers! Additionally, the hygienist calibrates the laser to provide just the right amount of power to treat your gums without causing undue pain or trauma to the tissue.
During your treatment we will use the new form of needle-free anesthesia, TAC 20, to numb your gums. Our patients actually report a warm, soothing sensation while receiving laser therapy.
Q.) Is periodontal laser therapy expensive?
A.) As in every case, at Dr. Schmidt's office, we design treatment to prevent more extensive care and cost. Since the laser actually removes the infection, the likelihood that you will have to pay for periodontal surgery is greatly reduced; and therefore, the cost is significantly less than other alternatives. The cost of laser therapy depends upon how many sessions are required to completely remove the infection in your mouth. When the hygienist designs your care, the number of sessions will be estimated. Fortunately, we have a number of payment options and our Treatment & Financial Coordinator, Michelle, is an expert at making care affordable.
Q.) Why is periodontal therapy done by a hygienist and not the dentist?A.) First of all, Drs. Schmidt believe that hygienists are severly underutilized in dentistry. Hygienists receive training in treating periodontal disease as part of their education but unfortunately, traditional dental practices don't use the hygienists' full range of knowledge. At Drs. Roger & Pamela Schmidt's office, our hygienist have received specialized training in periodontal laser therapy by one of the most well-respected hygienists and trainers in North America - Janet Press, RDH. She has been to our office to train the hygienists and the entire staff on the techniques and benefits of periodontal laser therapy.
Q.) Why have I never heard about periodontal laser therapy before?A.) Because Drs. Schmidt are so dedicated to keeping abreast of the most recent advancements in modern dentistry, we can offer treatments that many other dental practices haven't yet discovered. Currently, the office of Drs. Roger & Pamela Schmidt is one of the few offices in the Rockford area with the training and credentials to offer this technology. However, because of the effectiveness and comfort of periodontal laser therapy, we believe that in the near future this will be the standard of care for everyone with gum disease.