Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to see the dentist if nothing hurts?
By the time pain motivates you to call our office, the problem is likely to be more extensive and costly than if we had caught it at an earlier stage. Tooth decay and periodontal disease often have silent symptoms that go undetected. Regular check ups are the best defense against decay and periodontal disease, saving you discomfort and money.
When should my child see the dentist for the first time?
The American Dental Association, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Dr. O’Brien all recommend that a child be seen within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than 1 year of age. At this well baby checkup Dr. O’Brien will record the oral and physical health history, evaluate for susceptibility to decay, and develop a preventative oral health regimen for the child with the parents or primary caregiver.
Why do I need x-rays, can’t Dr. O’Brien just look at my teeth?
Dental x-rays or radiographs provide important information about your oral health. They allow Dr. O’Brien to evaluate areas that can not been seen with the naked eye. X-rays help the doctor examine the underlying bone, roots of your teeth, or unerupted teeth, as well as the contact areas where teeth touch one another. In some cases, x-rays can uncover a condition at an early stage before you experience any signs or symptoms that something is wrong.
Our office offers you the benefit of digital x-rays. Digital radiographs are saved to a computer where they are easily viewed, stored, and when needed, shared with other medical/dental providers or an insurance carrier. Digital x-rays lower your exposure to radiation 50-80% over traditional x-rays. We take only the number of x-rays necessary to give you a complete evaluation of your dental health.
Why can’t I just have a “regular cleaning?”
A regular cleaning is recommended only for persons who do not have bone loss, disease, or infection around the teeth. There should be no bleeding, mobility of teeth, or areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth. The mouth should be healthy, with no gum or bone problems. A regular cleaning is not appropriate for patients who have periodontal disease.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease can be described as an inflammation or infection of the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Bacterial plaque and its toxic by-products, plus calculus and roughened root surfaces overwhelm the mouth’s defenses. Typically, unhealthy gum tissue covers eroded bone, resulting in abnormal pockets around the roots.
Recent studies show that there is a definite relationship between gum and bone health and certain heart conditions and other systemic diseases. The health of a person’s mouth is very important to his/her general health.
How is periodontal disease treated?
Scaling and root planing is a therapeutic, time-consuming procedure to remove the bacteria beneath the gum line. A local anesthetic may be given to reduce any discomfort. Using an instrument called a small scaler or an ultrasonic cleaner, plaque and tarter are carefully removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth’s root surfaces are then smoothed or planed. This procedure helps gum tissue heal and periodontal pockets of shrink. The procedure also makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces. The hygienist may also recommend the use of medications to help control infection and pain, or to aid healing. Following scaling and root planing, the patient requires on going care called periodontal maintenance to keep the mouth healthy.
What if I have a dental emergency when the office is closed?
After hours our answering machine will instruct you to call Dr. O’Brien at home. If you cannot speak to him personally, leave a message and he will return your call as soon as possible. If it is determined that you need immediate care, Dr. O’Brien will coordinate a time with you and a dental assistant to meet in the office for treatment. Please be advised that there is a special fee for emergency treatment after regular office hours.
Do you take walk-ins?
So that we can serve you better, we ask that you call to schedule an appointment that fits your unique need. Dr. O’Brien’s time is structured days and weeks in advance, leaving little room for the unexpected. What may seem to take “just a minute” in reality seldom does. We are best prepared to provide your care when we know you are coming.
Can I refer my friend or family member to you?
Yes please! We consider it a great compliment that you feel comfortable enough in our office to refer people you know. Dr. O’Brien is fortunate to have gained many, many of his patients in just this way.
Do you offer teeth whitening?
We can customize a home teeth whitening program for you that is simple to use and very effective. We take impressions of your teeth, and then fabricate a custom tray to deliver the whitening gel to your teeth. The tray is very thin and comfortable and can be worn whenever it is convenient. Many of our patients report seeing a difference in the first week of use.
What if I’m afraid to come to the dentist?
We have several methods to make your visit as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Nitrous Oxide can be administered during treatment to put you at ease, with no lingering effects. CD players and headphones are available, and please feel free to bring your favorite music. We also have dark glasses, pillows and blankets. For high levels of anxiety, Dr. O’Brien may recommend oral sedation. The important thing is to inform us of your fears so that we can remove them as a barricade to good dental health.
My spouse snores and keeps me up at night; can anything be done?
We offer the Snoreguard from Glidewell Laboratories as a treatment for patients with snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea. This patented and FDA approved method has been working magic in the homes of our patients who are using it. Make an appointment or contact us for more information.
Do you accept my insurance plan?
As a courtesy we are happy to file claims to your carrier and provide any necessary information to them to process your claim. Some plans encourage or require you to choose a preferred provider from their list. Be sure you understand these types of plans as it may affect your level of reimbursement.
You’ll tell me what my plan will and won’t cover right?
Your dental coverage is a contract between your employer and your insurance company. As a provider we have limited access to the terms of that contract. While we can assist you in understanding dental benefits in general, and estimating your coverage, we should not be considered an authority for your particular plan. The Employee Benefits Coordinator where you work is best qualified to answer specific questions.
What payment options do you have?
We accept cash, Visa, MasterCard and most debit cards. We also offer CareCredit for those who need to make payments over an extended period of time. CareCredit has no annual fee and can provide no interest and low interest payment plans. For more information call our office or go to www.carecredit.com.
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