FAQ

Most Frequently Asked Dental Questions


1. How can I make my teeth whiter?

There are many products and procedures available to brighten your smile. Before you purchase any number of the tooth whitening products in the store or online, it is important to understand what is causing your teeth to stain, the risks, as well as the benefits to whitening your teeth. Your first step should be to schedule an examination and cleaning of your teeth. At this time, we can review your oral health with you, any medications that you may be taking, as well as make recommendations for any dietary changes or teeth whitening products or procedures that will work for you.



2. I do not have any dental insurance. What are my options?


Many people do not seek regular dental care because they do not have dental insurance coverage or the budget to pay for dental procedures. Don’t worry if you find yourself in this situation. Your first step should be to consult with us about your situation to discuss a comfortable payment schedule.



3. When should my child first see a dentist?


This is a common question asked by many first time parents. It is recommended by the Canadian Dental Association, that your child’s first dental visit should take place around 12 months of age or shortly after the eruption of the first baby tooth. Do not wait until your child has a toothache or a dental emergency to take him/her to the dentist for the first time. The experience may be very traumatic and one the child will probably remember for many years to come. As a result, the child may develop a fear of the dentist and that fear is sometimes very hard to overcome.



4. My dentist told me I need a root canal. What is a root canal procedure?


A root canal procedure is a procedure by which the nerve (pulp tissue) is removed from inside the tooth. There are many causes to why the nerve in the tooth becomes compromised. Decay and trauma are the two most common causes. This irritation of the nerve is called pulpitis. The tooth is held into the jawbone by 1 to 3 roots, depending on the tooth. Inside each root, is an area called the pulp chamber. The nerve branches off from the center of the tooth into each root. Whenever the nerve becomes infected, the nerve begins to die. This dead nerve tissue and miscellaneous debris needs to be removed from the inside of the tooth to treat any infection and to help prevent future infections.

The root canal procedure is a relatively painless one and is necessary to save the tooth. If an abscessed tooth is left untreated, other dental problems can occur such as bone loss, swelling, and severe toothaches.



5. What is a dental implant?


A dental implant is a small titanium screw that is surgically placed in the jawbone. An artificial crown is attached to the implant to replace a missing tooth or teeth. Dental implants are permanent and they are superior alternatives to fixed and removable dentures.



6. How can I relieve a toothache?


If you ever find yourself in a situation where your tooth is hurting and you are not able to see a dentist right away, you can relieve the toothache by placing clove oil on the tooth. Clove is a natural sedative for the nerve in your tooth and it will help to calm the nerve down and ease the toothache.

You do not need to drown the tooth in clove oil. Simply take a Q-tip and dip it into the clove oil. Dab the Q-tip on a piece of sterile gauze to remove excess oil. Place the Q-tip on the tooth and swirl it around the tooth. You should begin to feel some relief. Repeat as necessary.

You may also want to take a pain reliever as a precautionary measure. Use Advil or Tylenol at the manufacture’s recommended dosage. The medicine will work throughout the day and evening to keep the toothache at bay. It is much easier than having the medicine wear off and then trying to treat the toothache when it’s at its peak.



7. Should I brush or floss first?


The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job.



8. Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months? Do I need x-rays at each visit?


How often you go for a check-up depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a check-up every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on if you have a history of gum disease, how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated and how fast tartar builds up on your teeth.

Ask yourself the following questions:

+ Do I floss every day?
+ Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
+ Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
+ Do I smoke?
+ Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
+ Is my overall health good?


The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for check-ups. It’s worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers.



9. How can I get my dental records transferred?


Original dental records belong to the dentist who provided the treatment, and not the patient, because dentists have to keep all of their records for a period of time, as set out by their provincial dental regulatory body. Once you have selected a new dentist, you can request that a copy of your records be transferred from your former dentist.

You may be required to sign a release form from your former dental office and you may also be charged an administrative fee for having your records copied and sent to another dental office. If you have questions about the records transfer process in your province, ask your dentist or contact the provincial dental regulatory body.



10. Does my dentist need to wear gloves and a mask, and how do I know he or she is using clean instruments?


Your health is very important to us at Valley Creek Dental. We go above and beyond the strict guidelines of infection control. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs is to use barrier protection such as gloves and masks. In addition, we sterilize equipment used in the dental office and clean the furniture and fixtures in the examining rooms after each patient. This system is referred to as “standard precautions.” It means that every patient is treated in the same way because patients don’t always know if they’re sick. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

If you would like to know how this system is carried out at our office, come in for a tour, we will go over step by step our sterilization protocol. We welcome the opportunity to ease your concerns.



11. Why doesn’t my dentist just accept payment from my insurance company?


Dental plans, offered by many employers, are a means to help you pay for your dental treatment. Most Canadians enjoy dental plans and the insurance companies that provide them are actually benefit carriers. Carriers reimburse patients based on the level of coverage decided by the patient’s employer.

When you visit the dentist, it’s the dentist’s role to make a treatment plan based on your oral health needs. Your needs may be different from what is covered by your dental plan. It is your right to decide whether or not to go ahead with any treatment.

You should not decide based on what your plan covers. If you agree to have the treatment, it is your responsibility to pay for it. It is the responsibility of the benefits carrier’s to reimburse you for the amount covered by your dental plan. Many dentists are willing to contact a patient’s benefits carrier, on a patient’s behalf, to find out if a treatment is covered. The patient has to pay the portion that’s not covered and the dentist may offer a payment plan to help.



12. Why does dentistry cost so much?


Dental services may seem expensive. In Canada, we don’t have to pay directly when we visit a doctor or hospital, so we may not realize the high cost of providing health services. Overhead costs are high for dentists. They have staff, equipment and other operating costs.

The good news is that you can avoid costly dental treatment by brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly for a check-up. Regular check-ups cost money, but they are less expensive than fixing serious dental problems that stem from neglect.



13. My dentist is recommending treatment (I know nothing about). What should I do?


Ask questions. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes we feel embarrassed to ask simple questions. There is no need to feel that way. You will feel much better, and be able to make a better decision, if you understand the dental procedure that is recommended to you. If you don’t say anything, we may think that you already understand.

Here are some tips when asking questions. Ask:

+ If you can see any pictures of the procedure or what it looks like when it is done;
+ How many times your dentist has done this procedure in the past;
+ How much it will cost;
+ How long it will take;
+ If it will need to be redone in the future;
+ If there are alternatives to the procedure and if so, what are the pros and cons of each option.


The final decision about how and when to proceed with any treatment is yours. To help you understand what is involved in the treatment, Dr. Phung can provide you with a CD customized to your treatment plan and provide you with reading material about the procedure. You can take this information home, review it at your leisure and then make an informed decision about your treatment.

If you have already left the dental office without asking questions, feel free to call back later. Be careful about getting information from unknown sources, including sources on the Internet. Some of this information may not be reliable. If, after all of your questions have been answered you are still uncertain, you may wish to get a second opinion from another dentist. Often, a second opinion will give you confidence that your dentist has planned the right treatment for you.