At Sheppard Family Dental Care, we listen to your questions and to your smile goals in order to develop an optimal oral healthcare plan exclusively for you. As part of our dental family, you’ll immediately feel at home. Our friendly team will ensure that you and your family have a comfortable, pleasant visit.
Q: I really don’t like visiting the dentist. Is there anything you can do to help me relax?
A: Many people are uncomfortable when visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority, and our office is designed so that you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. For entertainment and distraction, stereo headphones with music are available so you can keep your mind on more pleasant things. Nitrous oxide is also offered to keep you comfortable and relaxed.
Q: I brush every day, but my breath is just not fresh. Is there anything else I can do?
A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: brushing after every meal, daily flossing, and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several alternative solutions. First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially-prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem, such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit to your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.
Q: What is a crown, and why do I need one?
A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth, while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are tooth-colored porcelain and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.
Q: I know I need X-rays, but I prefer not to be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?
A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film X-rays. You will find that in our dental practice we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and in adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or in mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength fluoride varnish, gel, or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?
A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments, or you may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns or bridges, gum contouring, periodontal therapy, orthodontics (braces), or a combination of all these techniques. Drs. Ernie, Cindy and Scott Sheppard will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, your areas of concern, and the overall condition of your oral health. Contact us for a complimentary smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.
Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?
A: Your dentist has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation. Attention to detail, respect for the individual, and true concern for each patient are the hallmarks of our personal care and our quality product. We are committed to helping you fulfill your ultimate self-image.
Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?
A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile, making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces, and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.
Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or an implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will restore your smile to its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, Drs. Ernie, Cindy or Scott Sheppard will place a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.
New Patient/First Appointment
Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?
A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical/dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. DIAGNOdent®, a specialized laser, may also be used on your teeth, notifying us of early areas of decay that are not visible on the X-ray or on digital photographs. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We will also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment especially for you.
Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?
A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Our reputation for excellent dental care is the result of many factors, including our excellent treatment and the beautiful smiles created. Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.
Night Time Grinding of Teeth/Nightguards
Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this, and what can I do about it?
A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom-fitted nightguard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Drs. Ernie, Cindy or Scott Sheppard take great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a nightguard custom created just for you.
Q: I want and need a lot of dental work, but I’m afraid I can’t afford it. Do you offer monthly payment plans?
A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans through our financial partner, CareCredit™. We provide a variety of ways for you to afford your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Nancy will assist you in creating the best solution so you can have your desired beautiful, healthy smile.
Q: I want cosmetic dentistry. Does my insurance pay for it?
A: Dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying for your dentistry. Most procedures are not fully covered by your insurance. Cosmetic dentistry, in particular, is not covered by most dental insurance plans. To help you afford your smile, we offer a variety of payment options, in addition to a monthly payment plan provided by our financial partner, CareCredit™. We also pay special attention to maximizing the benefits that your insurance does provide. Ask Nancy how you can comfortably afford your dentistry, while also maximizing your dental insurance benefits.
Q: What different payment options do you provide?
A: Helping to make your dental care financially comfortable and affordable is important, and we proudly offer a variety of options:
- Cash or personal checks
- 5% cash discount for advance payment-in-full of your treatment plan
- VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express
- 6- or 12-month, no-interest payment plans through CareCredit™.
We are happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursement before starting recommended treatments and will gladly file insurance forms for you. Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice, and we do not base our treatment on what insurance will or will not pay. We base our treatment on what is best for you, and any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Q: My gums bleed. Why is this?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.
If periodontitis is not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t diagnose and treat periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth, which may put you at risk for other serious health problems.
Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?
A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing. However, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough “scrubbing” instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or, gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods or if it occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set-up an evaluation appointment.
Q: What is periodontal disease?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.
Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss ― teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
According to CAESY® Dental Education, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis (a dangerous infection of the heart valves.) Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These bacteria ― Streptococcus sangguis ― may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (on premolars and molars). This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. Thorough brushing and flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Q: Sometimes when I chew, I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?
A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture, or crack, in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing an inlay/onlay or a porcelain crown or with more advanced treatment. You want to correct the pain as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the tooth. Contact us today to schedule a visit.
Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?
A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns including:
- gaps in teeth
- chipped and broken teeth
- dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means
- “gummy smiles” (showing too much gum when one smiles)
- crooked teeth
Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify most any smile. This procedure can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like this was the best improvement they could have made for their overall confidence. Ask us about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile at your next visit, or send us an email.
Q: I want my teeth to be whiter. Do you recommend at-home or in-office whitening?
A: Dentist-directed, at-home whitening and in-office whitening procedures are both effective ways of brightening your smile. In either case, your dentist customizes the treatment to ensure your happiness with the results.
Your home-whitening kit involves a special tray that is customized to fit over your teeth. You also receive prescription whitening gel, which is inserted into the tray before you wear it. Drs. Ernie, Cindy or Scott Sheppard will give you detailed instructions about how long you should wear the tray each day. You should expect the entire home-whitening process to take between two and four weeks, leaving you with a dazzling smile.