Ask Tim / FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? Take a look at our most frequently asked questions below:
1. How long will it take to whiten my teeth?
2. Is tooth whitening safe?
3. Is tooth whitening safe during pregnancy?
4. What is Zoom Whitening?
5. Do whitening strips really work?
6. What can be done about bad breath?

7. How often should I get my teeth cleaned?
8.Will my insurance pay for this service?
9. My insurance policy claims to provide 100% coverage, so why am I paying extra?
10. Why do fees vary between dentists?

11. Why don't you accept assignment of insurance benefits?
12. I can't afford to pay entirely for my service at the moment. What options are available to me?
13. Can I make payments?
14. What is the benefit of having X-rays taken?
15. How often should radiographs be taken?
16. I am concerned about radiation exposure. How much am I actually getting with dental films?
17. Should I place Sealants on my child's baby teeth?
18. Are there any risks associated with oral piercing?
19. I accept the risks of oral piercing and have chosen to proceed with it. Is there anything I should do to care for my oral piercing?

1. How long will it take to whiten my teeth?
Tooth whitening is time- and dose-related. It is possible to achieve a brilliant result using a 10% solution of whitening gel in as little as 10 - 14 applications (1 or 2 applications per day). Many people want more immediate results and use higher concentrations of gel (16% 22%, up to 28% and higher). For those wanting instant results, in-office tooth whitening can produce dramatic results in as little as 1 - 2 hours.
2. Is tooth whitening safe?
A review of the literature suggests that the risk of complications such as tissue burns rises with the concentration used. When whitening the inside of a root canal treated tooth, high concentrations of certain whitening products have led to resorption (??) of the root, potentially leading to tooth loss. Safety glasses are a must if light-activated in-office procedures such as Zoom are used. The bottom line is that tooth whitening has been around for years with relatively few complications. If you are concerned about safety, use the lower concentrations. It may take a little longer, but you will achieve the same results.
3. Is tooth whitening safe during pregnancy?
Whitening procedures during pregnancy and lactation are typically discouraged.
4. What is Zoom Whitening?
This procedure involves isolation of the teeth, application of a professional whitening product, and activation with an intense light (special safety glasses required). Without a doubt, it is possible to achieve amazing results in as little as 1-2 hours; however there is some controversy in the scientific community about the stability of the final tooth shade beyond 2 weeks. Some maintain that instant whitening is largely a result of the isolation and subsequent dehydration of your teeth. (Perhaps you may have noticed how much lighter some teeth may become after wearing a rubber dam for as little as 15 minutes). Even after having the procedure completed, clients are still given custom trays and whitening products to "touch up" at home. In view of the many requests from clients desiring immediate results, we offer the technology, and we are also happy to discuss the different professional opinions regarding Zoom Technology.
5. Do whitening strips really work?
We tried whitening strips when they first appeared on the market and were disappointed with the consistency of the results. Newer generations have been produced since then. Some of our clients have achieved dazzling smiles with white strips purchased over the counter. These products offer an inexpensive way to whiten teeth with a money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, over time these products often end up costing more than a custom tray system. We often find that some people don't respond to one particular product but do experience excellent results with a slightly different formula. With a tray system we are able to use alternate solutions if the first doesn't achieve the desired results. You can also use the tray as a custom fluoride tray if transient sensitivity develops, or if you demonstrate elevated decay susceptibility.
6. What can be done bad breath?
A number of dental factors contribute to halitosis: cavities, unerupted teeth, abscesses, food traps, deep gum pocketing, or deep tongue fissures. Systemic factors such as diabetes or kidney disease may be involved.  Breath mints and mouth rinses generally only temporarily mask the problem, and not always that well.  Evaluating the possible contributing dental factors is a good starting point.  If you've ever smelled your floss after cleaning between your back molars you'll know why flossing and brushing your tongue can make such a big difference! 
7. How often should I get my teeth cleaned?
Individuals have varying susceptibility to gum disease and dental decay. Certain medications such as antidepressants,or some heart medications which cause dry mouth as a side effect, or smoking, which increases the risk of gum disease by 300%, can contribute to your elevated susceptibility.  At your examination, we will review any changes in your health and assess the risk factors that affect your teeth and gums.  A personalized recommendation will be made with these factors in mind.  Some people need to have their teeth cleaned every 2 to 3 months while others can remain stable and disease free with a cleaning every 2 years.
8. Will my insurance pay for this service?
Insurance companies sell different policies and benefit packages to various employers.  The only way to verify your coverage is to complete a predetermination of benefits form. This usually requires submission of radiographs and photographs.  In our experience some companies are very prompt at responding. Others, such as Sun Life, take longer and often require additional reports which must be filled out by the dentist, thus delaying the process.
9. My insurance policy claims to provide 100% coverage, so why am I paying extra?
Many companies claim to provide 100% coverage but are referring to 100% of a 1997 fee schedule, or to the average fee for an average service.

The saying "You get what you pay for" also applies to dentistry. Providing exceptional care requires extra time and attention to detail, the use of a greater variety of materials and higher lab costs.  You are free to choose the type of restoration(wouldn't "work" be better than restoration?)Tim" comment: leave restoration and your level of care regardless of your insurance coverage.  Just because they only pay for McDonald's doesn't mean you have to eat there.
10. Why do fees vary between dentists?
Some dentists surpass the "usual and customary" level of care. Providing the highest quality of care requires a significant investment of time and resources to pursue advanced training and a commitment to integrating the skills and costly equipment into the practice.  Furthermore, the time required to finesse, detail and customize various procedures to the highest levels demands a discipline that cannot be provided in a high volume "dentistry for the masses" practice.  Both types of practices have their place, and clients are happiest when the client's values and expectations are consistent with the philosophy of the particular practice.

Many dentists meet the requirements for continuing education on a budget of $500 a year. Others invest more than $30,000 a year on continuing education.  Which one would you rather have working on your teeth?  It would be interesting if clinical success, esthetic quality, longevity of restorations, and customer satisfaction could be listed along side a provider's fees.  Generally, we get what we pay for!
Original crowns approx 7 - 10 years old. Would you pay a little extra for crowns that looked like this?
11. Why don't you accept assignment of insurance benefits?
Acceptance of insurance benefits as payment in full (and waiving the co-payment) is considered fraud.  Dentists who do so are at risk of litigation and license suspension.

12. I can't afford to pay entirely for my service at the moment. What options are available to me?
The first insurance claims to be processed are the ones reimbursing clients who have already paid for dental treatment.  People usually receive their reimbursement cheques within 1 to 2 weeks of filing their claim (we often file claims electronically at the time of the appointment as a service to our clients).  Individuals paying by credit card typically receive their reimbursement cheques by the time their credit card statement arrives.  (This is a great way to accumulate some air miles).

We can sometimes accommodate clients who wish to pay with a 2-week postdated cheque or credit card slip.

Third-party financing such as a medical bank loan is also an option if you are considering more extensive treatment plans.

13.  Can I make payments?
Yes, you may make payments in advance of treatment.
14. What is the benefit of having X-rays taken?
Radiographs help us see a multitude of things that we cannot visualize clinically.  When we look in someone's mouth we are really just seeing the tip of the iceberg.  The following are a few of the features we can analyze with intra-oral radiographs:

  • Decay between the teeth can be detected much sooner and treated more conservatively before it is clinically visible
  • Bone levels/height of bone between the teeth (gum disease)
  • Location of nerves for more precise delivery of anesthetic and for presurgical risk assessment (ie wisdom teeth, implant placement)
  • Adequacy of spacing for eruption of permanent teeth
  • Bone pattern changes suggestive of a root fracture
  • Bone pattern changes suggestive of abscess
  • Location and changes in the nerve of the tooth (ie calcification)
  • Tumors and jaw cysts

    As the client, the final decision regarding radiographs is yours.  However, be aware that accuracy of diagnosis may be compromised without them and some treatment may be declined.
  • 15. How often should radiographs be taken?
    This varies from individual to individual.  People who are very resistant to decay and gum disease likely only need films taken every 2 to 3 years if they are symptom free.  Others are very susceptible to decay and radiographic changes are clearly visible within 6 months. Your individual risk profile will be discussed including recommended frequency of professional dental cleaning and radiographs.

    16. I am concerned about radiation exposure. How much am I actually getting with dental films?
    Research completed in the 1970s and 80s indicates that the average exposure for a full mouth series of radiographs (12 - 19 films) ranges from 10 to 39 mrem (approximately 1-1.5 mrem per intraoral dental film.  A more recent study indicates that the effective dose for an 18 film series is 1.5 mrem (0.3 mrem for a single bitewing, and 1.1mrem for a panoramic film - Dental Patient Doses Information, E.R. Ritenour, S.J. Gibbs, Health Physics Society.  To add some perspective to this:

  • We are typically exposed to approximately 300 - 350mrem radiation / year which comes from the sun, the soil, televisions, microwave ovens etc. 
  • People living or traveling to higher elevations (ie Colorado ), receive higher levels of radiation (up to 400mrem / year). 
  • A return cross-country flight would result in about 3mrem added exposure

  • The reduced exposure from the earlier research is likely due to a number of factors including faster film speeds, intensifying screens and shorter exposures (hundredths of a second vs. 25 minutes for some of the original films). Furthermore, digital radiography is now emerging in dental practices, enabling operators to further reduce the exposure to clients.

    We are pleased that you are concerned about unnecessary exposure. We are too!
    17. Should I place Sealants on my child's baby teeth?
    Generally speaking most of the decay we notice on baby teeth occurs between the teeth, in an area where sealants cannot be placed. Flossing is the best preventive measure for cavities between the teeth. Furthermore, properly isolating the teeth with rubber dam or cotton rolls can be overwhelming for a young child. For these reasons we generally do not place sealants on baby teeth; however, there are always exceptions. We will be happy to discuss the suitability of this treatment for your child.
    18. Are there any risks associated with oral piercing?
    Oral piercing involving the tongue, lips and cheeks is becoming a popular practice, particularly among youth.  There are a number of side effects which range from mild to serious health hazards resulting from oral piercing.  If you are considering oral piercing, or have already had the procedure completed, you should consider whether the benefits really do outweigh the following risks:
    Infection:  Infections are common with oral piercings.  I have frequently seen pus draining from a tongue barbell months after the piercing occurred.  You can imagine how that affected the individuals breath.  On a more serious note, the tongue can become swollen because of an infection, making it difficult to swallow or even breathe.  There are documented cases of individuals suffocating due to airway obstruction following tongue piercing.  Other potential infections include hepatitis B and HIV which may be transmitted if the instruments have not been properly sterilized.
    Heart Problems:  If you have congenital heart disease, or a congenital heart defect, you have approximately a 25% chance of developing an infection of the heart following body piercing according to research conducted at the Mayo Clinic.
    Lungs / Gastrointestinal Tract:  If the jewelry becomes loose, it can be inhaled into one of your lungs, or swallowed.  Inhalation would almost certainly require surgery.  Swallowing a loose piece may also require surgery.  At the very least, a referral to a physician and chest / abdominal X-Ray would be indicated.
    Permanent Numbness in your tongue may develop.
    Dental Problems:  The most common damage we observe is chipped and broken teeth.  Approximately 1-2 years after we started seeing clients with tongue piercing, the majority ended up spending $1000.00 - $2000.00 on dental treatment resulting from trauma caused by the barbells, (this only represents a fraction of the cost as the treatment will inevitably have to be redone in the future).  Even if you conservatively chip a front tooth and can restore it with a bonded filling, you can expect to replace the filling every 5- 10 years.   Frequently, treatment is more involved requiring root canal therapy, and crowns.  We haven't had to place any dental implants for teeth that had to be extracted......yet!  We haven't been seeing as many chipped teeth lately; I would assume that is the benefit of using plastic pieces on the end of the metal rod.  Nevertheless, the constant banging of the plastic ball on the teeth can easily traumatize the pulp (nerves) of the teeth to a point where root canal therapy would be required.
    Gum Problems:  This is more common with lip and cheek piercing.  In this situation, the backing of the stud (on the inside of the lip) rubs on the gums and wears the tissue away.  We have seen individuals who have demonstrated up to 7 mm of recession within a few months as stud stripped away the gums and bone covering the front teeth. 
    Development of metal sensitivity / allergy:  There is certainly an increase in the number of individuals, especially among women, who demonstrate a sensitivity to a variety of metals typically found in jewelry.  Oral piercing differs from external piercing in that part or all of the material is in a wet environment.  I am waiting for research pertaining to corrosion by products of metals used for oral piercing.
    Altered Speech:  Tongue piercing: a 10 second procedure for developing a lissssssp.  Apparently you can overcome this after about a month.....or sssssssso I'm told.  Altered speech does occur with some individuals.
     Summary:  The American Dental Association opposes the practice of oral piercing, and considers it a public health hazard.
    19. I accept the risks of oral piercing and have chosen to proceed with it.   Is there anything I should do to care for my oral piercing?
    You should include these steps as part of your daily oral hygiene:    
  • Brush your tongue and irrigate the hole with water daily.   
  • Keep the jewelry clean, tartar can build up on the jewelry as well (if you use a jewelry cleaner make sure it is not toxic).   
  • Rinse daily with an antimicrobial mouthwash.   
  • Regularly check to ensure the components are not loose.
  • The metal backing on the inside of this individuals lip caused up to 7 mm of gum recession by wearing away the gum and bone. This individual maintains excellent hygiene in the area of the piercing, and wisely chose a plastic attachment.
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