Common Questions About Your Dental Health

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What is fluoride and am I getting enough?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in water. It is very useful in increasing the mineralization of teeth when applied topically; creating a stronger enamel layer that is resistant to decay. It is added to water in some communities as a public health measure to prevent decay for those who may not be exposed to other sources such as toothpaste or mouth-rinses that contain fluoride. Currently the City of Waterloo adds fluoride to their water to maintain the levels at the recommended 0.5-0.8 ppm level, or the level where a dental benefit can be observed. The city of Cambridge and the city of Kitchener do NOT have fluoridated water supplies. The level of fluoride in Kitchener and Cambridge and most other surrounding communities is at a background naturally occurring level of 0.1 ppm which is too low to have a protective effect on teeth. People living in these communities still obtain some fluoride benefits when they consume products such as foods and beverages manufactured using fluoridated water supplies. It is usually not necessary to supplement fluoride in these communities as long as fluoridated toothpaste is being used regularly. There is some concern over dental fluorosis associated with water fluoridation. The amount of fluoride in municipal water supplies is rarely enough to cause dental fluorsosis – most fluorosis is caused by the swallowing of fluoridated toothpaste while the adult teeth are developing (ie. before the age of 6-7). It is important to carefully monitor your young child’s exposure to fluoridated toothpastes, especially until the age where the first permanent teeth start to erupt, usually about age 6-7. Fluoridated toothpastes are not recommended until the child can reliably spit out all of the paste. If your child is at risk, or has a history of caries (tooth decay) the topical application of fluoride may be recommended at your dental visit. Drops and supplements are reserved for children with extensive decay or who cannot brush their own teeth due to a systemic illness.

I am concerned about oral cancer. Will you check for cancer in my mouth?

During your new patient exam we do an extensive screen for suspicious lesions in the mouth and on your radiographs. Although oral cancer is rare, your dentist is a key player in identifying problems early so that treatment can be initiated immediately if there is a concern. Your recall examination also includes an oral cancer screening and the doctors are constantly looking for any changes in your mouth. If you have a specific area of concern, please discuss this with your dentist.

My insurance booklet says I am covered once a year for recall, but my dentist wants me in for cleanings more frequently than that. Will this be covered?

Cleanings that include periodontal scaling of teeth are different than a recall examination. Most insurance allows a number of “scaling units” measured by units of time, to allow for more frequent cleanings spaced throughout the year. A recall exam is when your teeth will be polished, and you will see the dentist for a check-up. This may be at the same time as the scaling is completed, or not. We can send a predetermination form to your insurance company to let you know how many scaling units the company will cover so you can plan accordingly.

Are root canals covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies are recognizing root canal therapy as a successful way to save teeth and treat infection and pain. A predetermination can be sent to your insurance company before the procedure, or you can refer to your insurance booklet for more information. It may be listed as endodontic therapy in your information package.

Are white fillings covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies recognize that white fillings have been in use for many years and have shown great clinical success. Some companies are lagging behind in covering white fillings on molars. They will cover the amount up to the cost of a metal amalgam filling, and the difference will have to be covered by the patient. We can let you know what the difference will be in advance of the procedure.

I have not been to a dentist in many years. I am nervous to come because I am afraid that I will be judged for not seeing a dentist in so long. Should I be nervous?

Not to worry. As dental professionals we recognize that sometimes life gets in the way of taking care of your mouth. We will provide a judgement-free environment where we can take stock of what needs to be done to get your mouth back to health. Leaving it longer does not make it any easier so let us help you get back on track. If you want to talk privately with the dentist about your concerns there are lots of opportunities to do so during a new patient exam.

I am very nervous about dental work. Do you offer sedation options to help me?

Absolutely. Laurentian Dental Centre offers some options for those who are extremely apprehensive about any aspect of dental care. We offer Nitrous Oxide sedation, which is an inhaled gas that offers a calming feeling. Nitrous oxide is not addictive, it is not a narcotic, and you will not feel groggy after the procedure. The main side effect is dizziness or nausea, but this is usually only during the procedure and the dose can be scaled back for your comfort. We also can prescribe a sedative for you to take before appointments if it is medically advisable and appropriate for managing your anxiety about dentistry. We strive to make Laurentian Dental Centre as stress-free as possible. Please feel free to talk to us about options to make the process more comfortable for you.

I have children. When is it appropriate to take them to the dentist for the first time?

We normally like to start seeing little ones at about age 3, unless obvious signs of tooth decay or other dental problems are noticed earlier. Please see our ‘Just 4 Kids’ section for more information about dentistry for kids, and for a printable page about preparing your child for his or her first dental visit.

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