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Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I see a dentist?

Visiting a dentist twice a year works well for most people. Some may be fine with fewer visits while others need a checkup more frequently. People with very little risk of cavities or gum disease can do fine seeing their dentist just once a year. People with a high risk of dental diseases such as smokers, pregnant women, diabetics, and people with existing health issues such as gum disease, weak immune systems, and other ongoing health issues might need to visit every three or four months or more.

The schedule for any person may change during a lifetime. In times of stress or illness, you may need to see the dentist more often than usual. The dentist may help you to fight off a temporary infection or treat changes in your mouth.

If you take good care of your teeth and gums at home and your dentist doesn’t find any cavities or gum disease for a few years, he or she may choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask your dentist for the best schedule for your routine dental visits.

I don’t have a toothache, and I brush and floss regularly. Do I really need a check-up?

Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, you still need to see a dentist regularly. Your dentist can check for problems that you may not see or feel. Many dental problems don’t become visible or cause pain until they are in more advanced stages. Examples include cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. Regular visits allow your dentist to find early signs of disease. Problems can be treated at a manageable stage.

How safe are dental X-rays?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each x-ray.

Why do I need dental X-rays of my teeth?

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected. Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts.
  • Bone loss.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
  • Decay between the teeth.
  • Developmental abnormalities.
  • Poor tooth and root positions.
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist at The Art of Dentistry will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease. Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and teeth!

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.

Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, but research also suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affect these systemic diseases and conditions. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

What are the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

  • Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
  • Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.

Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

I have a real fear of going to the dentist, what can you do to help me?

For many patients, a trip to the dentist can be a difficult and anxiety-inducing experience.  Whether due to an unpleasant past experience, a low pain threshold or some other reason, dentistry creates an overwhelming sense of panic for many patients. The doctors and medical staff at The Art of Dentistry go out of their way to create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for every patient. Many patients have remarked at the level of genuine, personable care they received at The Art of Dentistry, putting to rest their initial fears of going to the dentist.  Take a look at the Google Reviews for The Art of Dentistry to read more about our patients’ experiences.  For additional questions or to learn more about other possible solutions for dental anxiety contact our office at 757-481-3699.

Do you offer cosmetic dentistry?

Yes! Sometimes it doesn’t take much treatment to see a BIG difference, and there are a variety of subtle, yet noticeable ways that we can enhance your smile. There are also more significant treatments and combinations of treatments number of cosmetic procedures to help you keep your smile looking its best! We offer the following procedures:

  • Composite Fillings
  • Porcelain Crowns (Caps)
  • Porcelain Fixed Bridges
  • Porcelain Veneers
  • Tooth Whitening
  • Bridge Implants
  • Invisalign Teeth Straightening

Depending upon your specific cosmetic needs – whether you have a chipped tooth, an overbite, uneven teeth or tooth discoloration – The Art of Dentistry offers a variety of custom dental treatments that can:

  • Change the size, shape, and alignment of certain teeth.
  • Fill in unattractive spaces between teeth.
  • Improve or correct bites.
  • Lighten or brighten the color of teeth.
  • Repair decayed, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth.
  • Replace missing teeth.
  • Replace old, unattractive dental treatments.

Do you offer payment plans for dental work?

The Art of Dentistry offers affordable dental procedures and convenient payment options. We understand that with today’s economy, money is tight and we work hard to be efficient and save you money. Because of this, we hope to take the stress out of your dental visit, allowing you to concentrate on getting a healthier smile.

To make the dental procedures even more affordable, we offer a variety of payment options. We work with all major dental insurance companies and offer dental financing through Wells Fargo and CareCredit.   We also do some small payment arrangements in office for qualified patients.

My dentist told me I’m going to need root canal therapy. What should I expect at my appointment?

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).

While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.

Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although, on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

Why are my teeth so sensitive to both hot and cold, and how can I stop the pain?

If you have issues with enamel wearing down, this increases the exposure of hollow points on the surface of your teeth, which magnifies sensation when the nerves are affected. Anything hits your teeth, and you’re wincing. Additionally, involuntary tooth grinding, jaw clenching, and gum recession can also cause teeth to become extra sensitive.

By taking precautions and considering options from your dentist, you’ll soon face this challenge with a smile. Make an appointment with your dentist to help with determining the root of the problem.  Switch to toothpaste and a toothbrush made especially for sensitive teeth. Sometimes keeping a food diary can help as certain foods tend to cause stronger reactions than others. Foods high in citric acid, for example, are likely to hit those nerves.

You don’t have to suffer from sensitive teeth. Take care of them at home and visit your dentist for options to help you eat, talk, and smile without pain.

What should I do in case of a dental emergency?

Whether you have an accident or experience pain due to illness or other circumstances, you can call the office of Dr. Abbey Horwitz & Dr. Darren Dorfman, your Virginia Beach dentist, and arrange emergency care.

  • Intense toothaches – If you have a history of tooth pain or just have a sudden ache, give us a call.
  • Chipped or broken tooth repair – Virginia Beach has great seafood, but it’s possible to crack a tooth on a shell. We can help.
  • Fillings – If your filling has become loose or fallen out, don’t bear the pain until office hours.
  • Emergency root canal – We’re here to help when surgery can’t wait for an appointment.

Call our Virginia Beach dental office at 757-481-3699 with your urgent dental needs.

Am I a candidate for dental implant restorations?

Permanent implants can replace everything you have lost, from a beautiful smile to taste, to the ability to eat what you want. Dental Implants:

  • Preserve facial structure and help prevent bone loss.
  • Help you stay looking younger.
  • Allow you to eat anything you wish – corn on the cob, steak, ice cream, and fruits!
  • May actually improve your sense of taste.
  • Allow you to speak and laugh naturally.
  • Can improve your quality of life.

The Art of Dentistry offers the following dental implant solutions:

Fixed Bridge: With this treatment, your new teeth will look and feel like your natural ones. People will find it hard to tell the difference. Your new teeth are securely fastened to the implants and are removable only by your dentist.

Overdentures: The overdenture is securely fixed on top of at least two implants. The denture will be removable for cleaning and oral hygiene but is quite different from a conventional denture, because it provides retention in the mouth, functioning more like natural teeth.

How can I take care of my teeth between dental checkups?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss at least once!
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities.
  • Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities) and avoid tobacco (this can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer).
  • Don’t be afraid to brush your tongue! By brushing your tongue, you will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh.
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkup. It is recommended that you visit the dentist every six months.

At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?

Your pediatrician may recommend that you make an appointment with a pediatric dentist when your child is around five years old. By this time, all the baby teeth should be in, and you should already have taught your children good dental habits. The first visit to the dentist is typically an introduction to what they can expect – and a good dentist will ensure that your son or daughter is comfortable. Depending on the nature of the visit, your child may get X-rays and/or cleaning right off the bat, otherwise, the dentist will take a good look to make sure your child’s teeth are coming in straight.

How often should I brush my teeth?

Dentists and the American Dental Association, recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing keeps your teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque. Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time. And remember to brush your tongue; it will help keep your breath smelling fresh!

When should I change my toothbrush?

Your dentist usually recommends that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions regarding changing toothbrush heads. Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush more frequently to help prevent bacteria from spreading. Additionally, if you’ve been sick, try to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.