Front Office Questions

Do you have payment plans?

Yes, through Care Credit with approved credit.

Do you do root canals?

We do a limited amount of root canal treatment, the majority is referred out to a specialist.

Do you extract wisdom teeth?

Yes, pending Dr. Harris’s review of x-rays.

Do you put patients to sleep for dental procedures?

No, but we offer oral conscious sedation and laughing gas to help patients fully relax.

What does it mean to me as a patient if you are in/out of my insurance network?

If we are in network with your insurance company this means that we have agreed to a contracted rate with your insurance company. Any amounts charged that exceed the contracted amount will not be charged to the patient.

If we are out of network with your insurance company this means that out-of-pocket expenses to the patient could be greater than that of your deductible and your percentage. If we are out of network with your insurance company, it is the patient’s responsibility to be sure that benefits under your policy will be paid if you see an out-of-network provider.

How can I prevent tooth decay?

Tooth enamel is hard yet porous. Plaque on the surface of your teeth can produce acids that seep into the pores of the enamel. This process, called demineralization, can create a weak spot on the surface of the tooth that may become a cavity if left untreated.

To help strengthen weak spots and exposed roots and prevent the early stages of tooth decay, brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste. Regular flossing and fluoride mouth rinses, as well as regular professional cleanings, will help prevent cavities and preserve your oral health.

Hygiene Questions

The hygienists here at Harris Dental have many years of experience in the dental field. During your appointment, you will have our individual attention to answer questions about oral hygiene, periodontal disease, and any other questions that you may have. Below are some frequently asked questions along with their answers.

What is the cause of bad breath?

This is a common question. There are many scenarios that may be the cause of bad breath. Food remnants and plaque that becomes trapped between the teeth may be causing odor. It is beneficial to follow a daily routine of flossing, brushing 2-3 times, using a mouth rinse, and also brushing your tongue in order to maintain a healthy oral environment.

If you are following this routine and still notice bad breath, then the cause may be due to other problems. Other causes of bad breath can be cavities, sinus problems, stomach problems, foods or medications, periodontal disease, or some other causes.

Is it beneficial to have my teeth cleaned prior to tooth whitening?

It is highly recommended that you have a prophylaxis (cleaning) prior to whitening. Many people have plaque build-up, calculus, or stains that will not allow the whitening material to reach the enamel surface below it. The process of whitening is more effective and will show quicker results if the teeth have been cleaned of all debris.

What is plaque?

Plaque is the soft, sticky, usually white material that may be present on your teeth prior to brushing. Plaque contains bacteria. It is possible to have many types of bacteria present in your mouth. Some bacteria that may be present in your mouth can definitely aid in the development of periodontal disease.

In addition to causing periodontal disease, plaque can also cause cavities. If left on your teeth for longer than 24 hours, it will turn into calculus (tartar), which can only be removed from your teeth professionally.

What is calculus?

In basic terms, calculus can be defined as bacterial plaque that has hardened on a tooth or several teeth.

Facts about Calculus:

  • Because calculus is porous, it collects more plaque, causing your tooth to be continually covered with bacteria.
  • The amount of calculus a person develops increases with age.
  • Plaque matures in 12-24 hours and begins to calcify in 1-3 days. Within 12 days it is completely calcified, making it impossible to remove with a toothbrush. This is the reason that we recommend 3 or 6 month recalls — cleanings — depending on your periodontal health status.

How often should I have my teeth cleaned?

This depends on many factors. All patients develop plaque and calculus buildup at different rates depending on the PH of the saliva and homecare habits. Xerostomia, which is dry mouth, can also contribute to a buildup of plaque and calculus.

A healthy mouth with no periodontal pockets, good oral hygiene, and slight buildup of plaque or calculus may only require a cleaning every 6 months. If it has been determined that you have periodontal pockets and buildup of heavy calculus or plaque, then you may be asked to get your teeth cleaned every 3-4 months in an attempt to improve your periodontal health status.

What can be expected at my first visit for a cleaning with Harris Family Dentistry?

If you are a new patient and are not coming in for an emergency exam, your initial visit to our office should be for a cleaning. In order to give you the best possible exam and evaluation, it is important to gather information regarding your homecare routine, taking x-rays, periodontal probing, and charting of current restorations.

Usually for a new patient appointment, we will take a full set of x-rays, clean your teeth and finish with the dentist performing a thorough examination of your mouth. If you haven’t had regular cleanings and have periodontal disease, we may recommend more than a regular cleaning. If this is the case, the cleaning may be rescheduled for another day.

A complete series of x-rays is important in determining if you have any problems. Some cavities cannot be seen by only looking in your mouth. The x-rays also allow us to determine if you have bone loss. Seeing the amount of bone and its architecture on x-rays is vital in treating periodontal disease. The full series of x-rays are recommended every 3-5 years, while the bitewing x-rays are recommended every six months.

A comprehensive exam will be done by one of the dentists. The dentist will evaluate your x-rays as well as your teeth and gums to diagnose any treatment needed. It is important to understand that both x-rays and an intraoral exam are needed to properly diagnose problems. An oral cancer screening will also be preformed during your exam.

Opalescence Whitening Questions

Is whitening safe?

Yes. Whitening your teeth, under the supervision of your dentist, has been proven safe in clinical studies over a period of many years. The primary ingredient in Opalescence is carbamide peroxide, which has been safely used to brighten the smiles of millions of people worldwide.

How does whitening work?

Impressions of your teeth will be made and custom trays will be constructed for your bleaching procedure. You will place the Opalescence gel in your custom trays and fit them over your teeth. As you whiten your teeth, carbamide peroxide is broken down and oxygen enters the enamel and dentin. This bleaches out the discolored areas without changing the structure of your teeth. The color of your teeth becomes lighter.

Are there any side effects?

There are a small number of people that could experience increased sensitivity to hot or cold during the whitening process. This is temporary and can be treated with a lower percentage gel or Ultradent sensitivity gel. The sensitivity will usually go away within 48 hours after whitening.

How long will it last?

The duration of your results depends largely upon you. The results can be permanent if you practice good oral hygiene and brush regularly, especially after eating foods and drinking beverages that can stain the teeth.