Ask the Dentist

Kumeu Dental is devoted to empowering patients with the information they need to make the best decisions regarding their oral health. Our dental health professionals educate patients on their dental health needs so that together, they can work to promote the healthiest smile possible. Patients can contact us to ask one of our dentists a question directly, or they can browse the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below.

What will happen at my first appointment?

New patients at Kumeu Dental will be seen by one of our dentists to discuss any concerns or problems that they are experiencing. Dental x-rays will also be taken in order for our clinicians to examine the overall health of tooth and bone structures in your mouth. After a thorough health history is performed, we will screen for oral and other disease conditions such as gum disease, head and neck pathology, oral cancer and tooth decay. Depending on the health of your mouth, you may also receive a routine preventive cleaning. Treatment needs will be discussed with you, and based on your concerns we will formulate a treatment plan based on therapy that you may need. Most treatment is then scheduled at a follow up appointment.

How often are dental x-rays necessary?

The frequency of dental x-rays depends on the patient’s oral health, the procedures that are being performed, and the type of x-ray film. A full mouth panoramic film or series is typically taken on new patients and then every 3-5 years to assess growth and development of the jaw, wisdom teeth, sinuses and bone levels. Bitewing x-rays are taken every 12 months to assess decay and bone levels that may be developing between the teeth, where our clinicians cannot see them during a routine examination. Single periapical films are taken at emergency appointments or during specific treatments such as root canal therapy as needed.

How often should I see a dentist?

Kumeu Dental patients visit our office every 6 months for routine preventive care therapy. At these appointments we will screen for decay, gum disease, bone loss, oral cancer, and other health conditions. Patients with active gum disease need to be seen even more frequently until their disease symptoms are resolved.

When should my child see a dentist for the first time?

Children should see a dentist for an evaluation by the time of their first birthday. Early care appointments help prevent dental diseases by emphasizing preventive care, healthy habits and good nutrition. These early appointments also help your child become accustomed to a dental care environment so that anxiety is reduced as they become older. Diagnosing dental diseases at their earliest stages better help preserve your child’s smile, and keep treatment costs to a minimum.

How do I know if my wisdom teeth need to be surgically extracted?

Wisdom teeth are only extracted if they are causing damage to adjacent teeth, bone, developing active disease conditions, or have problems associated with being impacted. Discomfort associated with the eruption of wisdom teeth is normal. Abnormal conditions that prevent the tooth from fully erupting into the mouth can predispose the tooth for gum disease, decay, and damage adjacent teeth. Proactively removing impacted wisdom teeth can allow dental patients to avoid these conditions as well as benefit more effectively from orthodontic tooth alignment therapy.

Flossing makes my gums bleed. Do I still need to do it?

No matter how well you brush your teeth, it will never clean between the teeth or deep under the gums where disease causing plaque bacteria. Irregular or inconsistent flossing will allow bacteria to thrive and develop gingivitis or gum disease. These active infections will typically cause bleeding the next time flossing occurs. Cleaning between each day will help bring your gums back to a healthy condition, and after about two weeks of daily flossing your gums are less likely to bleed. Choosing a water flosser may be more comfortable and even more effective, making it a viable option for dental patients that find flossing cumbersome.

Do baby teeth need to be filled?

The last baby tooth is lost around the age of 12 years old. Baby teeth play an important role in maintaining space for developing adult teeth, and guiding them into place during eruption. Because baby teeth are less dense than adult teeth, they can decay at an extremely rapid pace. Allowing a cavity to go untreated in a baby tooth could cause premature loss of the tooth, as well as decay or infection of adjacent teeth, or even hospitalization. Addressing decay at the earliest stages is the best way to keep treatment needs at a minimum and ensure the health of the rest of the teeth.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath or halitosis can be a sensitive subject of conversation for dental patients. Having bad breath can interfere with your social and professional relationships. The causes of bad breath can vary from allergies, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay and abscesses, or poor oral hygiene. Approximately 90% of bad breath bacteria reside on the tongue. Some prescription medications can also cause a bad taste in the mouth. If addressing seasonal allergies or improving your oral hygiene does not affect your breath, then you should see your dentist to check for signs of dental disease that require treatment.

Why does my tooth need a crown? Can’t it just have a new filling?

Teeth that are decayed, fractured, or have larger aging fillings often need to be repaired with a crown. Crowns are unique because they cover the entire surface of fragile teeth, allowing the tooth to withstand normal daily functions. If a filling were placed in these areas, the tooth would need to be prepared as normal, with only a small amount of remaining enamel being able to hold the large restoration in place. Structurally this type of restoration is not stable enough to withstand normal use and placed the tooth at risk to fracture beyond repair. Instead, a permanent crown is placed over the prepared enamel, which is structurally stable enough to last several years.

Why is root canal therapy necessary?

When tooth decay extends far into the tooth, the nerve of the tooth becomes infected. This is often seen as the infected nerve draining the infection through an abscess on the gums. If a tooth is traumatized due to an accident or other injury, the nerve can also become damaged. Once this point has been reached, the tooth is no longer vital and any existing infection can affect nearby teeth, bone levels, and the health of the patient. Simply placing a filling or crown over the nerve is not adequate to maintain optimal health. Instead, nerve therapy is performed to remove the infected nerve tissue and place a filling material into the nerve chamber of the tooth. This removes all active infection and prevents it from recurring or spreading. Treating dental abscesses with antibiotics will not permanently correct the problem, and repetitive prescriptions will only encourage drug resistance.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Gum disease can present a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Bleeding during brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Heavy tartar buildup on the teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth mobility
  • Tooth misalignment

Some patients are unaware of these conditions because they are simply used to experiencing them every day. Other patients, such as smokers, may not experience symptoms at all. Routine preventive care appointments can help identify gum disease at an early stage so that treatment can be as effective as possible. Kumeu Dental provides periodontal therapy to patients with active gum disease.

How can Kumeu Dental ease my anxiety related to dental care?

Kumeu Dental staff is very attentive to the personal needs and feelings of the patients that come into our office. Dental anxiety affects a large number of people and can prevent patients from receiving the care that they truly need. This delays treatment and can cause conditions to worsen. Our office provides oral and IV sedation services to help these patients be comfortable during their entire course of treatment. Lower level anxiety treatments include nitrous oxide or other oral medication prior to the dental appointment to help anxious patients relax even further when they come into our care.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

Dental implants are one of the most effective means of tooth replacement possible for the modern dental patient. To place an implant, a healthy amount of bone is necessary. For patients without adequate bone levels, a bone graft may be necessary prior to placement of the implant to ensure stability of the appliance.

What are the best orthodontic treatment options for adults?

Invisalign is one of the most effective and popular courses of orthodontic therapy for adults. The low profile alignment trays are similar to a clear retainer, and allow adults to correct the alignment of their teeth without traditional metal braces. There are no dietary restrictions with Invisalign because the aligners are removed during meals, and they are also removed for oral hygiene purposes, making them easy to care for. Because the trays are sent home ahead of time with our patients, adults spend less time on orthodontic appointments when they use Invisalign as opposed to other types of braces.

How can I improve the appearance of my smile?

Everyone’s smile is different. Depending on your oral health and the anatomy of your teeth, a combination of different treatments can be used to dramatically improve the appearance of your smile. Each patient’s needs are assessed and then discussed with one of our dentists to determine what course of cosmetic dental care is most appropriate. For some patients teeth whitening is all that is needed, while others may need a combination of bonding or veneers to change the appearance of their teeth.