If you have questions about Dentistry, Dr. Hill wants to help with answers. First, search through answers he has already provided others below. If you can’t find what you are looking for the click the Just Ask link on the bottom of the page to submit your question.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a crown typically last?

As is the case with any dental restoration, much depends on the patient’s home care, eating habits, and whether or not the patient clenches or grinds the teeth. With proper home care, regular professional cleanings, and an ideal bite, a patient can expect a crown to last 10-20 years although I’ve seen crowns over 50 years old in good condition.

I am getting married soon and want to look great for pictures, but my teeth are really ugly. I don’t have the money to spend on a mouthful of crowns. What can I do?

A new product called ‘Snap-on-Smile’ is available. This product requires no tooth preparation and is worn over the existing teeth. It can provide an instant improvement in your smile and you can even eat it in-place.

My son takes karate lessons and needs a mouth guard. Can I use a store-bought model?

A store-bought mouth guard may be better than nothing, but these are generally ‘boil-and-bite’ appliances that are designed to fit a wide range of mouths–and none of them perfectly. I make laminated pressure-formed mouth guards that are far superior to store-bought models because they are stronger and customized to the patient’s individual teeth and mouth. When one considers that restoring or replacing a broken or avulsed tooth can cost between $1500 and $3000, it is obvious that a custom-fitted mouth guard is quite a bargain.

My gums bleed sometimes when I brush or floss. This is normal, right?

I don’t place any amalgam fillings in my practice because I believe there are better, more natural-looking materials available. However, the concern is over the mercury in the metal fillings and it has been proven to be safe in the manner used. One consumes more mercury eating canned tuna than an amalgam produces in several years. I don’t routinely replace these fillings unless they are failing or when a patient has an esthetic concern.

Are metal amalgam fillings safe?

I don’t place any amalgam fillings in my practice because I believe there are better, more natural-looking materials available. However, the concern is over the mercury in the metal fillings and it has been proven to be safe in the manner used. One consumes more mercury eating canned tuna than an amalgam produces in several years. I don’t routinely replace these fillings unless they are failing or when a patient has an esthetic concern.

What type of teeth bleaching do you offer? Is it safe?

There are many types of professional bleaching on the market, including Zoom and other light-operated systems. Although these are good, any bleaching achieved in a very rapid time is mainly due to dehydration—and most whitening performed this way will also advocate the use of take-home trays to continue the process for several weeks.

I mainly use a take-home system that is gentle to the teeth, inexpensive, and works in 2-3 weeks.

For people who want quicker results, I use an in-office system with a much higher concentration of active ingredient. The results are comparable with some of the light-activated systems and treatment usually costs less as well.

I have crooked teeth but I don’t want braces. What options do I have?

Dental veneers are a good choice for patients who don’t wish to undergo orthodontic therapy. Although I always recommend braces as a first choice because they are the most conservative method available, veneers can offer beautiful and much quicker results.

Do I really need to floss? There are many commercials stating that using a rinse like Listerine can substitute for flossing.

Flossing is ABSOLUTELY critical in order to prevent cavities between teeth and maintain healthy gums & bone. For those who find flossing difficult, there are floss holders on the market as well as small cylindrical brushes that can work well. Plaque must be mechanically removed from between the teeth, and no mouth rinse can do this. My motto is “you only need to floss between the teeth you want to keep.”

Can you help with issues related to TMJ?

Absolutely. I use several state-of-the-art methodologies to treat TMJ disorders, including one in-office procedure that can provide same-day relief.

I have severe headaches sometimes. I was told that this could be related to my bite. Is this true?

Malocclusion (literally meaning ‘bad bite’) is quite common. When your teeth don’t fit perfectly together or when the muscles used in chewing are hyperactive, this can set off a neurological cascade that can cause severe headaches, including migraines. If you are having headaches more than just a couple times per month, schedule an appointment for a TMJ exam.

Does your office place metal fillings?

I don’t place metal amalgam fillings, which are made out of silver, mercury, tin, copper, and other materials. Although dental amalgams have proven to be relatively safe, there are newer tooth-colored composite materials that are durable, natural in appearance, and bond to tooth structure. Oftentimes, less tooth reduction is necessary with the newer materials.

How often should I brush?

It is recommended that you brush at least twice per day, preferably after breakfast and before bedtime. Brushing should take approximately two minutes total each time (most people brush only 30 seconds on average). Go to www.ada.org for detailed information on brushing technique. Brushing more than 3-4 times per day is not usually recommended because this can accelerate tooth wear and damage your gums.

Is it really bad for me to chew ice?

Chewing ice is particularly bad for your teeth. Ice is a very hard material (much harder than anything we are designed to chew) and can produce small cracks in your teeth over time. These cracks can propagate deeply and require root canals and crowns to repair.

What kind of toothpaste should I use?

A toothpaste containing fluoride is recommended for patients 6 years and older. There are some good ‘natural’ products on the market, but in general, they have not been as thoroughly tested as venerable brands such as Crest, Colgate, and many of the other commercial brands. As of this date, only Colgate carries the ADA seal.

I was told that I grind my teeth at night. What can I do to protect my teeth?

There are several options available. If you don’t have clicking/popping off your TM joints, headaches, or any of the other symptoms associated with TMJ/TMD than a simple appliance can be fabricated. Symptomatic patients may require an orthotic device to help reposition the lower jaw and relieve muscle spasms, or an NTI appliance. NTI’s are FDA-approved to treat migraines, inexpensive, and can be fabricated in one short visit. Visit the website for the NTI Tension Suppression System to learn more.

I have been told I have periodontal disease. What is it, and what can be done to treat it?

Periodontal disease is a serious, systemic infection that can cause or exacerbate certain diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—not to mention tooth loss. If caught in the early stages, treatment is conservative and inexpensive. In advanced stages, tooth loss and other physiological consequences become more likely and treatment can be expensive.

I have very sensitive teeth. What can I do to lessen their sensitivity?

There are many causes of tooth sensitivity, and correspondingly there are several treatments available. Depending on the cause, treatment can range from very conservative methods such as fluoride varnish and high-fluoride toothpaste to minimal-preparation fillings or bite appliances.

I don’t like the radiation exposure associated with dental x-rays. Why are they occasionally necessary?

I use digital radiographs (x-rays) in my office. This new technology produces 80-90% less radiation than conventional radiographs and an image is obtained within seconds. A lead apron is still used to protect the upper body so that overall exposure is minimal. The radiation exposure is equivalent to a few minutes outside on a sunny day.

I am anxious about receiving dental treatment. Is what you’re going to do hurt?

Dentistry has come a long way in the past 20 years, and more often than not—any worry about treatment is unwarranted. I use newer anesthetics that have proven to be more comfortable, as well as providing nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and in some cases, a medication is given prior to the appointment in order to help relax particularly nervous patients.

Does your office do Lumineers?

Lumineers are the name-brand for a particular type of thin veneers and they are known for requiring ‘no tooth preparation and no shots’. However, most Lumineer cases do require some removal of tooth structure in order to keep from looking too bulky at the gumline and for proper bonding.

So, to answer your question–no, I don’t do Lumineers per se. What I do are minimal-prep, conservative veneers made out of durable pressed ceramic (the technical term is lithium disilicate). Only 1/2 mm of tooth structure (about the width of a line drawn by a sharp pencil) needs to be removed, which is fairly standard for most thin veneers for the reasons mentioned above. I do administer a small amount of anesthetic because I work slightly below the gumline in order to hide the margin (or ‘edge’) of the veneer, but the anesthetic I use is virtually painless & the vast majority of my patients don’t object to it.

Occasionally, thicker veneers are necessary to correct crowding issues or to block out dark discoloration. Call the office for a free veneer consult and we’ll discuss your options.