How can we help you?
Patient education is the cornerstone of our dental practices. We pride ourselves on staying current with the latest in dental care. Dr. Mary Huffman and the Foothills dental associates welcome the opportunity to share their knowledge with patients.
The teams at our practices encourage our patients to ask questions because the more they know about dental care, the better their oral health.
Healthy teeth and smiles for all our patients is our number one goal!
We often hear the same questions from patients. Below we have answered some of those here. If your question is not listed, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or ask at your next appointment. We are firm believers that there is no such thing as a silly question—unless it never gets asked!!
We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise with you.
How can I have a cavity if my tooth doesn’t hurt?
When cavities first form, they are usually relatively small, and you won’t feel anything. If you do feel pain from tooth decay, that’s a real cause for concern. It could indicate that there is already an infection in the nerve of your tooth. If that’s the case, a filling won’t solve the problem; you might need a root canal and a crown.
Most often, cavities develop in the back molars. Those teeth are more prone to cavities because their surface groves provide a good place for plaque to reside. As plaque sits there, it mixes with acids from the foods you eat and causes tooth decay. The outer layer of tooth enamel decayed gradually. If the decay is left unchecked and reaches the inner layer of the tooth, the decay progresses much more quickly. This level of decay can lead to sensitivity or pain.
Avoiding large cavities is just another reason why it is so important to have regular dental examinations at least twice per year. Smaller cavities can be filled before you feel anything pain. If a visual check from your dentist doesn’t spot early signs of tooth decay, a digital x-ray will likely identify the small cavity.
How safe are dental x-rays?
The benefits of digital x-rays far outweigh any impact from the minimal amount of radiation used
We are all exposed to radiation daily. Radiation exposure is found in the sun, home appliances, minerals in the soil—as well as in dental x-rays.
However, we want you to know that dental radiation exposure from a dental x-ray is minimal. Technology advancements have led to digital x-rays that emit extremely low amounts of radiation. Digital x-rays are also faster than the traditional x-ray machines of the past, so the amount of exposure time to radiation is less than before.
In our offices, we take every precaution to protect our patients from radiation exposure during x-rays. In addition to the holders we use in your mouth to ensure we get accurate shots quickly, we will also provide you with a lead vest to wear during the process.
Why are soft drinks so bad for your teeth?
Most people know drinking soft drinks is not good for your overall health. They are very bad for your oral health.
Because these drinks contain sugar, they provide food for the bacteria inside your mouth. The sugar enables the bacteria to produce acid, which begins to eat away at the enamel on your teeth, weakening it and paving the way for decay to grow.
It’s important to note, however, that soft drinks are not the only culprit. Fruit juices and energy drinks also contain sugars that cause the same reaction inside your mouth.
The best way to minimize the impact of these drinks on your teeth is to keep them out of your daily diet. When that is not possible, try cutting them with plain seltzer water to minimize the sugar you are ingesting. Look for fruit juices that are 100 percent juice and have no added sugar.
After consuming soft drinks, at least rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to help get rid of any lingering sugar. You can also be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste, which can help reverse the damage caused by sugary beverages and foods.
Why is it important to have my teeth cleaned regularly?
The first thing patients should know about professional teeth cleaning is that it does much more than clean your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning removes plaque that builds up on the teeth. And the removal of this plaque is essential if your teeth and gums are to stay healthy.
Good home care is also essential to good oral health, but even the most diligent brushing and flossing cannot replace professional teeth cleaning. Plaque buildup is inevitable, and the only thing that can remove it is specialized dental instruments used by the hygienist.
Plaque that remains on the teeth hardens and turns into tartar, which is also called calculus. This calcified plaque attaches to your teeth and below your gum line. No amount of brushing and flossing can remove it. If you don’t go to the dentist, have a dental hygienist remove plaque and tartar; they will produce harmful substances that can damage your periodontal/gum health and lead to periodontal disease.
If the pattern of skipping dental cleanings continues and gum disease is left unchecked, this can lead to other, more serious problems—including tooth loss.
It’s not worth the risk to skip professional dental cleanings. Visiting our practices twice yearly can work wonders in protecting your oral health.
What are my options if I would like to change the shape of my teeth?
Today’s cosmetic dentistry offers several procedures to change the shape of your teeth. The most common options include veneers, crowns, bonding, and recontouring. Talk to your dentist about which approach might be best for you.
Veneers can solve many problems, including oddly shaped, stained, or crooked teeth. These wafer-thin, custom-made shells fit directly over your teeth, camouflaging anything you don’t like about your natural teeth. You can have a perfectly white, even, straight smile in just a couple of appointments.
Because some preparation of the teeth is necessary before veneers are permanent, but with proper care, your veneers can last for many years.
Dental crowns are also called “caps.” Crowns can cover an oddly shaped or damaged tooth. Or they can reinforce root canal-treated teeth
Dental bonding involves using a tooth-colored resin material applied to the tooth’s surface, shaped, and polished.
Recontouring the teeth involves strategically removing some of the tooth’s enamel to reshape the tooth.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
How can a dentist treat sleep apnea or snoring?
Sleep apnea is a condition that has serious health ramifications. All snorers do not have sleep apnea, and all patients suffering from sleep apnea do not necessarily snore.
Most dentists recommend the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for patients seeking treatment for snoring or sleep apnea. CPAP is a popular treatment because it works well when patients can use the machine as instructed.
CPAP works via an air mask worn by the patient connected to a continuous flow of air. This steady air means patients with sleep apnea don’t have to worry about breathing through the night.
The biggest problem with CPAP is that many patients don’t use it as directed. Some patients find it uncomfortable and noisy; others find that they develop a rash from the mask. Regardless of why patients don’t follow instructions, CPAP isn’t a good solution for treating sleep apnea if not used properly.
There are alternative treatments available, including oral appliance therapy (OAT). The appliance works by moving the lower jaw forward, which in turn opens up the airway because it allows more room for the soft tissue at the back of the throat. OAT is effective, particularly in those patients with milder cases of sleep apnea.