Frequently Asked Dental Questions

“Why did you (Dr. Schraw) decide to be a dentist?”

I have been fascinated by teeth since I was 3 years old. My mom likes to tell about when I saw my grandfather remove his dentures at that age and then she found me in front of the bathroom mirror 30 minutes later, frustrated because I couldn’t remove my teeth as my grandfather had! 🙂

On a more serious note, I made the decision to go into dentistry when I realized the impact I could have on individuals as a whole, instead of specializing on cause and effect for a particular body or organ or system. Many diseases show up in the mouth before they manifest in other parts of the body. If these causes (for example, bacteria and viruses) are not found and treated accordingly, they get into the bloodstream and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancers, etc.

My staff and I take pride on using the latest in technology to help us take thorough diagnostic records as well as educating our patients as to what is going on in their mouths, why it’s happening, and what they can do to stay healthy.

My pediatrician says it’s common to take children for their first dental visit when they are 3 years old. Is this when you want to first see my child?

No. Children do not come with “instruction booklets,” so we have realized the importance of having the child and parents come for the first dental visit when the child gets its’ first tooth. This is usually when the child is approximately 6 months old. At this time, we review nutritional habits for the present and for the future: how best to perform teeth cleaning, etc.

Did you know???? It is time to start flossing your child’s teeth when they have 2 teeth side-by-side. For most children, this is the case well before their first birthday.

Why is periodontal (gum) disease so serious? I know that I have it but it doesn’t hurt, so can’t I just ignore it?

Periodontal disease should definitely not be ignored. Studies show that untreated periodontal disease can double the chances of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer osteoporosis, ulcers, and other serious medical conditions. Periodontal disease, also known as “pyorrhea of the gums,” is the predominant cause of loosening teeth. Bacteria attacks and ‘eats away’ at the bone that surrounds the teeth and holds them stable. Periodontal disease can be controlled with a good home care regimen and regular 3-month hygiene check-ups/cleanings, but it cannot be cured.

I have several silver fillings that were placed when I was a child. I know cosmetic dentistry offers different avenues for filling teeth now. What are my options?

Silver filling, otherwise known as amalgam, was once the only option for ‘plugging the hole’ once decay was removed. The advantage for amalgam has always been its strength and longevity. However, amalgam does not form a bond with, or provide a seal for, the tooth. Therefore, there is great opportunity for bacteria to re-colonize and form recurrent decay. Many patients notice black lines in their tooth structure approximating the amalgam filling. These are usually fractures in the tooth structure due to the expansion and contraction of the amalgam in response to temperature changes. For these reasons, I do not offer amalgam as a means of filling. Technology has produced composite resin and porcelain materials that ‘hold their own’ in terms of strength. My ‘baseline’ filling material is composite resin (white) material. Composite resin is capable of forming a bond/seal with the tooth structure, and is much more esthetically-pleasing than amalgam. Laboratory ceramics technology innovations, including chair-side CAD/CAM technology, has also created the possibility of using porcelain as a filling material. This entails removing the decay from the tooth and taking a picture with a special camera. Then a computer designs a virtual model that the dentist can alter as needed, and a special milling unit produces restorations in less than 20 minutes. The restoration is then bonded to the tooth. These restorations are very esthetically-pleasing and strong.

I’ve heard a lot about laser whitening from both the T.V. and my friends. Do you perform laser whitening in your practice?

Yes, we do utilize the Zoom! Whitening system in our office. There has been a lot of press about laser whitening, including how it is the method-of-choice for whitening by Dr. Dorfman, the “Extreme Makeover” dentist, who created the Zoom! Bleaching system. It is interesting to note that many patients report that one hour’s session of Zoom! Whitening was approximately the equivalent of wearing bleaching trays for 2 weeks with other whitening systems. When a patient expresses an interest in Zoom! Whitening, we usually recommend that a special type of high-fluoride toothpaste be used as part of their home care regimen for the week prior to their scheduled whitening appointment. As with all types of whitening, some degree of sensitivity is to be expected. Our patients report that using the fluoride toothpaste definitely helps with their sensitivity issues following the whitening procedure. Whitening usually needs a ‘touch-up’ about once a year. People who drink dark-colored drinks (coffee, tea, etc.) might need to touch-up more frequently. We provide whitening trays at no extra cost to the patient for when they deem a touch-up is necessary.

How Safe are Dental X-Rays?

Dental x-rays are safer now than they ever have been before. In fact, dental x-rays make up less than 1% of all radiation that you are exposed to in your daily life.

Digital x-ray technology has improved the quality and safety of the images that we can use to look at your teeth and jaw. In the process, they’ve reduced the amount of radiation needed for each x-ray by up to 90%. In addition, because digital x-rays can be adjusted and even enlarged on the screen, they are less likely to have to be retaken.

Do you accept my insurance?

Dental Insurance generally works much different than health insurance. Most dental insurances allow you to see any dentist you choose, rather than limiting you to a certain “network.” This allows us to accept most insurances and file claims for you. We are network providers for Delta Dental and CIGNA. Other plans may include deductible and co-payment amounts not covered by your insurance which are payable at the time of treatment. Please call our office if you have additional questions about insurance coverage.

For More FAQ’s, Dental Tips and More – Visit Our Dental Information Center!


Woman drinking water to help prevent tooth decay

Best Drinks to Avoid Tooth Decay

Tooth decay isn’t something anyone wants. But avoiding it can be difficult. We see patients who brush and floss regularly, but still have trouble avoiding problems with their teeth. That’s because we all have to eat and drink…but doing that also feeds naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth. And when those bacteria feed, they create […]

cooked salmon on a plate with a healthy salad. A good meal for oral health.

12 Foods for Healthy Teeth and Smiles

We all know that too much sugar is bad for our teeth. But, most people probably can’t name foods that actually promote healthy teeth. Research shows these are foods that will keep you smiling. Basil The oils found in Basil are known to kill bacteria. Reducing bacteria levels in the mouth could reduce your risk […]

Sleep Apena Mouth Guard

Sleep Apnea Solutions – A Breakthrough Treatment from Your Dentist

Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects approximately 22 million Americans. This condition causes you to stop breathing several times each night. Many of those cases are undiagnosed because the symptoms look like something else…often a dental problem. Grinding and Sleep Apnea Teeth Grinding or Bruxism can cause facial pain and headaches, but it can also be an indicator […]