Frequently Asked Questions

Fillings are probably the most common procedure we do.  I guess as long as there are teeth and as long as people consume food, there will be decay.

What is decay and what causes it?

Simply stated, decay is the loss of minerals, specifically calcium and phosphate from the tooth.  It is caused by chemical and biological imbalances. Chemically, when the ph of the oral cavity is acidic, then minerals are removed from the teeth.  If that acid imbalance is too long, then a cavity forms. Acid can come from food – think hot, spicy, sour, drinks (such as coffee, tea sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks);  From systemic disease like diabetes and medications; or even from work or play – working around chemicals including welding; or swimming a lot (chlorinated water). And of course certain bacteria have been linked directly to decay.   They’re by product is acid. Sounds like all of us are headed to dentures – right? If it weren’t for our saliva, and of course brushing and flossing, that would be the case. Saliva is a great buffer that negates or reverses the effects of the acid.  It even contains calcium and phosphate to replace what is lost. Reduced saliva from medications or health issues can increase your chances of a cavity.

So I have a cavity.  What now?

Once a cavity or a hole forms in the tooth it must be restored.  If small enough, a simple filling with a composite or one of the many other material will work.  If you are having pain or sensitivity, if the cavity is large or the tooth is broken then it may need anything from an onlay, a crown, a root canal or an extraction.  The great thing is, we can do all of these procedures in our office. Whatever the case, we will discuss your options, give you suggestions and ultimately honor your decision.

Why would I need a crown?

Two conditions indicate a need for a crown.  One is, there just isn’t enough tooth left for a filling.  To protect the remaining tooth structure, the whole tooth needs to be covered.  The other main reason is the tooth is fractured or at risk for a fracture. Teeth that have large fillings and large visible fractures are at risk of breaking and should get a crown.  Cracked teeth are the ones that hurt when you bite down and are often sensitive to cold, hot or sweets. These teeth must be protected with a crown.

How do I know if I need a Root Canal?

Most of the time you will have deep pain or severe hot and cold sensitivity that lingers or comes on suddenly.  This means that the tooth is dying or is already dead. We can do a few tests to determine whether or not you need a root canal.  Most root canals are pretty painless and if you already have a lot of pain this may be the only way to get out of pain and save the tooth.

Is the tooth worth saving?

There is nothing better than your natural teeth.  If it can be saved, it should be. If not, then extractions is indicated.  The missing tooth then can be replaced with a bridge, removable appliance, or the best option, an implant.  These are all services we offer in our office. An exciting technique we have been using is called partial extraction technique (P.E.T.) can save broken at the gum line.  If it has a single healthy root with enough length, the tooth is loosened, then partially lifted out of the socket then sutured into place. After 6 to 8 weeks it can be restored.  You have your natural root/tooth and a new crown – fully functional.

The idea of “well – I’ll just wait for all my teeth to fall out and get dentures” has passed.  There are so many options to help save your natural teeth. This will help to keep you healthy and live a full life.  Don’t wait for your teeth to fall out. Call your dentist, Dr Richins, today at 208 884 0888  and schedule an appointment so see what we can do for you!

I have a missing tooth. What can I do to get rid of the hole?

There are times when a tooth cannot be saved or it could have been extracted years ago and you are ready to do something about it. There are many options for a missing tooth. You could have bridge, an implant or a partial denture (the partial is beneficial if you are missing more than one tooth).