Frequently asked questions
You asked, and we’ve answered. If you have any questions or concerns that aren’t covered here, let us know. We’d be happy to answer them in person – or use them to add useful content to our site.
Why do I need to visit the dentist every six months if I don't have any problems?
Preventive care is a lot easier and less expensive than repairing damage. Certain problems, like gum disease and decay, offer few warning signs. When you visit us regularly, we can monitor your oral health and catch any issues before they become big problems.
Why do I need to get a filling?
If you don’t treat cavities early, the decay will spread and eventually enter your nerve canal. (And yes, this is as painful as it sounds.) It can also lead to more serious problems such as infection or abscess, which requires a root canal, a much more complex and expensive treatment. You may also need new fillings to replace old ones, to replace a chipped tooth, or fill natural pockets in your teeth that are hard to clean.
How is a crown different from a filling?
Tooth-colored fillings, made of composite resin, replace decay that impacts a small portion of the tooth. If you have more extensive decay or damage, your may need a dental crown, which fits securely over the remaining tooth structure and completely covers the tooth.
When should my child first visit the dentist?
We find that kids do best around three years old. This is a great time for us to see if everything is developing as it should – and to start building a relaxed, positive relationship with the dentist that will continue on into adulthood.
I have metal fillings. Should I replace them?
At one time, amalgam fillings were the standard for restoring teeth. These days, most dentists (and most patients) prefer composite fillings since they match natural tooth color, won't leak over time, and don't contain any metal. If your old fillings aren't causing you problems, you can choose to leave them in place, but if you want a more aesthetically pleasing restoration, talk to us about composite fillings as a replacement option.
What are cavities and why do we get them?
Cavities are essentially holes in your teeth caused by decay. You can sometimes spot a cavity, as the area surrounding the hole generally looks grey or brown. The main culprit is the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth. It interacts with carbohydrates and sugars, creating an acidic environment that dissolves the protective enamel on the outer layer of your tooth. Once the acid has eroded the enamel, your tooth is exposed, leaving just the softer dentin layer, which will ultimately cause the formation of a cavity. At this point the decay process rapidly speeds up and spreads deeper into the tooth. Regular brushing and flossing, cutting down on sugar and avoiding acidic foods is your best defense against decay.
I just got a filling and my tooth hurts – is that normal?
After a filling, you might have a bit of discomfort where the anesthetic was injected or in the tooth itself. Talk to us to see which over-the-counter pain medication we recommend to alleviate the pain. However, if the decay was deep and close to the nerve, the nerve could already have been infected. If that’s the case, your tooth may need to undergo root canal therapy to relieve the discomfort.
Am I a candidate for implants?
You need to be in good overall health, have good dental health, and sufficient bone structure. We will do a full evaluation to see if dental implants are right for you.
How do I take care of my implants?
Treat them just like natural teeth. Brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, and schedule routine checkups.
What are implant-supported dentures?
They’re a great way to ensure your teeth are comfortable and secure. Dr. Cheng will implant several titanium posts into your jaw bone, allowing your denture to snap on, reducing slippage and improving comfort.
How much do dental implants cost?
Because each case is unique, it is impossible to estimate the cost of implants until you meet with your dentist. After a complete exam, we’d be happy to review your case and recommend treatment options, which will include an overview of the cost.
Can I just use a kit from the drugstore to whiten my teeth?
You can, but it’s just not as effective as an in-office visit. Drug store whitening kits aren’t as strong as professional grade whiteners, so you likely won’t achieve the results you want. Also, because they aren’t customized to fit your mouth, kits can also irritate gums and soft tissue.
Does whitening work for everyone?
In some cases, especially when you have deep intrinsic stains, whitening may not be the best option. We will review your case and recommend alternatives like porcelain veneers or cosmetic crowns.
Are there any side effects to whitening?
Some patients develop mild sensitivity after whitening. Time and toothpaste that alleviates this sensation will help minimize any discomfort you may feel.
Smile makeovers / cosmetic dentistry
I want to change my smile. What do you suggest for a smile makeover?
No two people are exactly alike, and no two smiles are completely the same. To start your smile makeover process, call us to set up a consultation – we’ll listen to your ideas, show you examples of possible changes, examine your mouth, and craft a custom plan to give you the smile you’ve always dreamed of.
Won't a smile makeover cost a lot of money?
Every case is different. Until you meet with Dr. Cheng, it's hard to estimate price.
How can I get straighter teeth without braces?
If you don’t want metal braces, you have a couple of options. We may be able to use porcelain veneers to cover your front teeth for a more even look. To actually straighten teeth, many adult and teen patients choose Invisalign clear braces. This system uses a series of clear, custom aligners to gradually move teeth into the correct position without the inconvenience of traditional metal braces.
What options are available for smile enhancement?
You deserve a smile that matches your style and personality. For a smile makeover tailored to fit your needs, we can help. We may suggest porcelain veneers to close gaps, teeth whitening to remove stains, and porcelain crowns to replace old restorations. If you’re missing teeth, dental implants can give you back a complete smile. Call us to schedule an appointment for a cosmetic consultation.
Endodontics / root canals
How do I know if I need a root canal?
If a tooth is causing you pain, appears discoloured, has become very sensitive to heat and cold, or the gums adjacent to the tooth are tender and swollen, you could have infected pulp inside your tooth. When the nerve tissue inside a tooth degenerates due to deep decay or trauma, a root canal treatment can clear out infection, save your tooth and ensure the tissue around the root stays healthy.
What does the root canal procedure involve?
After studying the x-ray of the tooth, Dr. Cheng administers a local anesthetic. He makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and uses it to remove the inflamed nerve tissue, and to clean the root canal to ensure no debris or bacteria is left behind. Next, he seals off the cleaned root canal cavity to prevent fluids and bacteria from entering. He then fills the root canal with a gutta-percha and adhesive cement mixture, and places a crown on the sealed tooth so it can function normally.
What if I don’t have a root canal?
When the nerves inside the tooth pulp die, the tooth dentin and enamel can no longer receive nutrients and moisture. If the damaged pulp is not treated, bacterial infection and inflammation can cause an abscess, which can loosen the tooth to the point that it may have to be removed. Therefore, root canal therapy is necessary to preserve the tooth and protect the jawbone.
Will the root canal hurt?
The affected site will be completely frozen during the procedure, so you shouldn’t feel anything. After your root canal, you might feel some discomfort for a few days – we will recommend appropriate over-the-counter pain medication if needed. In more extreme cases, Dr. Cheng dentist may prescribe an antibiotic and prescription-strength pain reliever to help reduce any remaining infection.
How long does it take to get dentures?
Making dentures usually takes about 6-12 weeks, but the time can vary depending on your needs, the lab, and other factors, including the type of dentures and manufacturing technique.
In sedation dentistry, will I actually be asleep?
Although sedation dentistry is also sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, you won’t be completely asleep. Depending on the sedation option you choose (nitrous, oral or IV), you’ll feel very drowsy and relaxed during the procedure and won’t remember most of your time in the dental chair. However, you will actually be awake and responsive to verbal commands and physical stimulation throughout the appointment.