FAQ’s about Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Implants, Root Canals, Kids Dentist and Our Emergency Dentist in Northgate, Serving Seattle, Fremont, Greenwood, Ballard, Shoreline, WA, & Surrounding Areas

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, feel free to give us a call and our team at Seattle’s Family Dentistry will be happy to assist you.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

How often should I visit the dentist?

You should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before they get worse or harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a dental professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by plaque in your mouth reacting with sugary and starchy deposits from food. This reaction produces acid which damages the enamel over time and weakens the tooth.

How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well.

Why should I have my teeth cleaned twice a year?

In a perfect world, everyone would brush and floss twice a day. Plaque builds up over time and this sticky bacterial film can solidify and turn into calculus or tartar. This cement-like substance is removed by the hygienist at your regular cleaning visits. A six-month interval not only serves to keep your mouth healthy and clean, it also allows potential problems to be found and diagnosed earlier.

In some instances, a six-month schedule is not enough. Based on your dental history, rate of tartar buildup, and pattern of decay, a 3 or 4 month interval may be needed. Your dentist can work with you to determine what will be best for you.

Now that I'm pregnant, my gums are more sensitive and bleed more easily. Why? What happens if I have a dental problem when I am pregnant?

Changing hormone levels during pregnancy can cause normal, healthy gums to become red, irritated, and swollen. This irritation, known as “Pregnancy Gingivitis” is the body’s exaggerated response to plaque and calculus.

It is very important during this time to stay current with your regular dental cleanings and exams to ensure that dental infections don’t get missed and lead to greater problems down the road. Although dentists will typically postpone major treatment until after the baby is born, emergencies do come up and need to be addressed. Because many of your baby’s organs are being formed in the first trimester, this work is ideally taken care of during the second trimester to minimize any potential risk.

How often should x-rays be taken?

X-rays should be taken yearly. However, some patients will require it be done more frequently for a host of reasons including treatment, nutrition, hygiene, and other health issues.

Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens, often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, as well as tooth loss.

What are the signs of periodontal disease?

The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of these:

  • Gums that bleed while brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Dental Treatments

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is used to replace teeth. A dental implant includes a titanium post placed in the jawbone. It is attached to either a single porcelain restoration (crown) for one missing tooth or a bridge or denture for multiple missing teeth.

What is a dry socket?

After you have a tooth pulled or extracted, your blood will clot in the hole to protect your bone tissue and aid in healing. If the clot doesn’t form properly, your bone tissue can be exposed to air and debris which will cause it to dry out and form a ‘dry socket’. This very painful socket needs to be treated immediately to prevent further complications.

How can I relieve a toothache?

Immediately schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can to find out what is causing your toothache. Many people, unfortunately, experience a toothache in the late evening or early morning when the dentist’s office is not open. If it is too painful to wait, go to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

What are porcelain veneers and why are they used?

Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic material that are bonded to the front of the teeth.

What causes my jaw to pop when I open it?

There is a pad or disk that separates the jaw bone from the base of the skull. The primary cause of the “popping” occurs when you open your mouth too wide and the jaw bone “pops” off the pad or disk. Treatment is not required unless pain is associated with the “pop” or the jaw locks.

Are there any alternatives to dentures?

Dentures are no longer the only way to restore a mouth that has little or no restorable teeth. Strategically placed support, or implants, can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges. This method eliminates the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the “feel” of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative of choice to dentures, but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Call your Seattle Family Dentist, Dr. Goraya, for advice.

Dentistry for Kids

At what age are my children supposed to see a dentist?

The general rule is between 12 and 24 months. Some children require a bit more time to be comfortable. If an area of concern is noticed, then the child should see a dentist as soon as possible.

Why is it important to fix baby teeth that have decay? Aren't they going to come out soon anyway?

It is very important to maintain the baby teeth because these teeth hold space for the future eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent teeth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits, and weaker teeth.

Common Questions

What can I do about bad breath?

Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath so that you can take steps to eliminate it.

While bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases, the majority of bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence bad odor.

There are two main goals in the management of bad breath. First, controlling the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds and second, to neutralize the sulfur compounds that are produced.

Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene, and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in an antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.

Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time, and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. But many people don’t brush for the recommended two to three minutes. Children are also good candidates for powered brushes as their brushing habits tend to be less than optimal.

While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial. Ask Dr. Goraya if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.

Which toothpaste should I use?

The bottom line is that you should use toothpaste with fluoride and the least amount of chemicals. Talk with our hygienist to see what’s right for you.

It's been a long time since I've visited the dentist. What do I need to do?

You’re not alone! Whether it’s been 6 months or 6 years, it’s never too late to get back into the routine.

At our office, we can arrange for you to have a thorough and educational exam appointment. Dr. Goraya and her staff have much experience in taking care of patients that have waited a while to have their visit. Take advantage of our experience! We’re here to help!

What are sealants and why are they done?

The pits and grooves of the teeth are prime areas for opportunistic decay. Even regular brushing can miss some of these intricate structures on the chewing surfaces of your teeth.

Sealants are thin coatings applied to the biting surfaces that help prevent bacteria and other debris from getting into the deep crevices on the teeth.

Young children are great candidates for preventative measures like sealants because in many cases, decay has not set in. Children’s teeth tend to benefit more from sealants because these pits and groves tend to be deeper and less calcified than they are in adults.

How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

While at the drugstore you will find an array of teeth whitening products. Purchasing an over-the-counter whitening product may not be the best or quickest solution. You should also be aware of the foods you are eating and the medications you are currently on that could affect the color of your teeth. There are risks and benefits to using over-the-counter products on your teeth so schedule an appointment with our office for an examination, cleaning, and review of the procedures and options best available to you personally.

How can I stop grinding my teeth at night?

Grinding your teeth can be very damaging to the teeth and also difficult to stop. If vigorous grinding occurs at night, teeth can be worn down to the gumline because the instinctive reflex to stop does not work while you are sleeping. Grinding due to stress can only be cured by removing the stress trigger. If grinding continues, a nightguard may be prescribed to prevent ultimate damage to the teeth.

Seattles Family Dentistry