Common Questions/FAQs

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How often should I be seen by my dentist?

Everyone’s dental needs are unique, however we typically suggest coming in for a cleaning, examination, and x-rays twice a year. Some patients should be seen more often depending on their gum and bone health. We will evaluate your needs when we see you.

Why do I need to see the dentist if nothing hurts?

By the time pain motivates you to call our office, the problem is likely to be more extensive and costly than if we had caught it at an earlier stage. Tooth decay and periodontal disease often have silent symptoms that go undetected. Regular check ups are the best defense against decay and periodontal disease, saving you discomfort and money.

Why do I need x-rays every year?

The x-rays are used to look for decay between the teeth and under existing restorations.  The area where the teeth touch is the most common area to develop cavities and nearly impossible to catch early without xrays. We are also able to evaluate the structures below the gum tissue; such as your bone, roots of teeth, and unerupted teeth. People with a high decay rate should get x-rays twice a year.

Our office uses digital x-rays which reduces your exposure to radiation by 50% from the old style x-rays.

I was told I have cavities, but nothing hurts.  Can I wait?

No.  Don’t wait.  The longer you wait, the bigger they get.  Cavities commonly don’t cause pain until they’ve reached the nerve of the tooth.  Once this happens, the tooth becomes infected and can only be saved with a root canal treatment, a build up filling, and a crown to protect the tooth from breaking.  So, taking care of cavities as soon as we find them is highly recommended for the health of the tooth as well as your pocketbook.

I broke my tooth.  Now what?

Call our office.  We want to take care of it as soon as we can.  A tooth can break in so many different spots that there isn’t one clear answer that works for everyone’s situation.  We really need to see you before we can tell you what treatment options you have.

My teeth are in bad shape, I’m too embarrassed to go to the dentist.

We just want to help you with your dental health. We aren’t here to judge you. We will do all we can to make you comfortable in our care. We will evaluate your specific needs and tailor a treatment plan that will get you back on track. We will help you understand how to take care of your new smile and hopefully you’ll look forward to coming into the dentist for your regular check ups.

What is gum disease? What causes it?

There are three stages to gum disease; Gingivitis, Periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. The plaque that builds up on teeth is full of bacteria. That bacteria gives off a harmful toxin that irritates gum tissue which causes red, sore, puffy gums. It’s not normal for your gums to bleed when you floss or brush. If they do, you may have some form of gum disease. If gum disease is caught in the early stage, Gingivitis, it can be reversed by having a professional clean the toxic build up off your teeth and maintaining a consistent brushing and flossing routine at home.

Periodontitis, regularly called “perio” in the dental field, is the next stage of gum disease and is not reversible. At this point, the bone health is compromised. The chronic inflammation of the tissue causes a chain reaction, destroying the bone and fibers that hold teeth in the jaw. At this point the damage to the bone causes the bone, fiber and gum tissue to recede. This damage cannot be reversed. But with proper treatment from your dental professional and consistent home care, you can halt the progression of periodontal disease.

With advanced periodontitis, teeth have lost so much of their supporting bone structure, that teeth become loose, can shift, and eventually can fall out. FYI: People with diabetes and smokers are more likely to develop gum disease and loose teeth.

I was told I need deep cleanings.  Why can’t I just have a regular cleaning?

A regular cleaning is not appropriate for patients who have gum disease. If it has been a long time since you’ve had your teeth cleaned and tartar has had the chance to build up under your gums, we need to remove it with a process called Scaling and Root Planing or “deep cleanings”.

We understand this can be a frustrating diagnosis when insurance companies do not to cover as much for “deep cleanings” as they do for “regular cleanings”. In any case, we cannot ignore the tartar below the gums which is causing damage to the structures supporting your teeth.

Do you accept my insurance plan?

As a courtesy we are happy to file claims to your carrier and provide any necessary information to them to process your claim. Some plans encourage or require you to choose a preferred provider from their list. Be sure you understand these types of plans as it may affect your level of reimbursement.

Will you tell me what my insurance covers?

While we can assist you in understanding dental benefits in general, and estimating your coverage, we should not be considered an authority for your particular plan. Your dental coverage is a contract between your employer and your insurance company. As a provider we have limited access to the terms of that contract. The Employee Benefits Coordinator where you work is best qualified to answer specific questions.

What are my payment options?

We accept cash, check, credit, and debit cards. We also offer CareCredit for those who need to make payments over an extended period of time. CareCredit can offer low interest or no interest payment plans. Call our office for more questions or visit

Who cares if my blood pressure is high?

We are concerned with your overall health and how it can effect your oral health. Giving a person anesthetic when their blood pressure is already high can push it over the limit. We don’t want that to happen to you.


Elma Family Dental