Family Dentist in Grand Prairie, TX
Frequently Asked Questions
I don't have a toothache, and I brush and floss regularly. Do I really need a check-up?
It’s important to get biannual teeth cleanings to keep your teeth and gums looking, feeling, and functioning their best. Our dental team will able to thoroughly and professionally clean your teeth and gums while making sure there are no developing concerns.
During cleanings, your dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of your teeth. She’ll also polish your teeth and floss to test the condition of your gums.
After your cleaning, Dr. Flores will perform a more thorough examination of your teeth, jaw, and gums. She will check your current restorations and screen for early signs of gum disease and oral cancer. When X-rays have been taken, Dr. Flores will carefully review them to identify any possible areas of concern.
If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, call us today to schedule an appointment. We’ll take great care of you!
What should I do in case of a dental emergency?
Accidents happen, and they can be especially frightening when they involve our teeth and mouths. It’s important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary. Here are some guidelines to help you through common dental emergencies:
Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over-the-counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to your teeth or gums), and schedule an appointment with Dr. Flores if the pain persists.
Save the pieces if you can, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. See Dr. Flores as soon as possible.
Call our office immediately. With recent advancements in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, there is a greater chance of us being able to save your tooth. If there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Flores can create a dental crown that will “grab onto” your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal. While the success of this process, known as “crown lengthening,” depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about alternatives to complete removal.
Holding the tooth by the crown (top) only, rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert it into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of mildly salty water. See Dr. Flores as soon as possible—if treated within two hours, the tooth may be salvaged.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Our gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue tend to bleed heavily when injured, because the soft tissues in our mouths contain a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, rinse with warm salt water then apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. If the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it’s best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to your nearest emergency room.
Why is fluoride good for my teeth?
Each day, the sugars and acids from food feed bacteria in your mouth, and it can accumulate on your teeth to form plaque. Plaque wears away at a tooth’s enamel in a process known as demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that promotes the remineralization of enamel, replacing important minerals that strengthen your teeth and can protect them from decay. Fluoride can also help reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Children with newly erupted permanent teeth benefit a great deal from fluoride, but adults should make sure their teeth are getting enough fluoride, too. The safe and easy way is to use fluoride toothpaste, which is widely available at drugstores in a variety of types and flavors. Though the most fluoride is absorbed from direct contact with the teeth, many public drinking water systems contain small, safe amounts of fluoride that can have positive health effects.
If Dr. Flores recommends more intense fluoride treatments, there are a number of gels, rinses, or even in-office procedures that can do the trick.
How can I tell if I'm at risk for gum disease?
According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, about 80 percent of U.S. adults currently have some form of gum disease, ranging from gingivitis to serious periodontal disease. The prevalence of gum disease increases with age, because as we grow older, our teeth wear down, our gums naturally recede, and our medications can affect oral changes.
The most common symptoms of gingivitis are tender, swollen gums that bleed easily, sensitive or even loose teeth, and persistent bad breath. If you have any symptoms of gum disease, the first thing to do is get a thorough dental evaluation. Gum disease used to require surgery more often than not, but we can now treat many cases with deep cleanings, local antibiotics, and special rinses. Please come in and let us help you achieve and maintain healthier gums for a healthier you!
Hot or cold, my teeth hate both! Why are they so sensitive, and how can I stop the pain?
If you’ve been avoiding that ice cream cone or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don’t have to any longer! Sensitivity has a number of possible culprits: involuntary tooth grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive. This is because the usually protected layer of dentin—the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel—is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.
Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it’s important to ask Dr. Flores which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter and in-office rinses that will protect your enamel against further damage. Ask us about your options at your visit!
What causes tooth discoloration?
The two main types of tooth discoloration are extrinsic (external or surface stains) and intrinsic (internal stains). External stains affect the outside of a tooth, while internal stains discolor a tooth from within. External stains can be attributed to anything that comes into contact with the surface of your teeth, such as red wine, coffee, tea, or tobacco products. Internal discoloration reflects the actual condition of a tooth, and it often occurs as a result of treatment procedures, exposure to excessive amounts of fluoride (fluorosis), and certain antibiotics.
Some types and degrees of discoloration respond well to teeth whitening, while others require veneers, bonding, or other restorative procedures. Dr. Flores can determine which type of stains you have and which whitening method will work best for you.
What can I do about bad breath?
Figuring out the cause of your bad breath is the first step toward preventing it. The most common causes of bad breath are poor oral hygiene, certain foods (such as garlic, onions, and peppers), reduced saliva flow during sleep, gum disease, dry mouth, tobacco, dieting, dehydration, and some medical conditions (including sinus infections and diabetes).
One of the best ways to prevent bad breath is to floss or clean between your teeth with an interdental cleaner. Flossing gets rid of food particles in between your teeth and prevents plaque from building up, both of which can lead to bad breath. Along with flossing, it’s important to regularly brush your teeth (and your tongue as well!) in the morning and the night. If possible, flossing and brushing after every meal is even better.
If you can’t brush, chewing sugar-free gum can help loosen the food particles from between your teeth. Mouthwash can help too, but ask us which rinses actually kill the germs that cause bad breath, because some only temporarily mask odor. If you wear dentures, remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three months!
What’s causing my dry mouth, and what can I do about it?
The most common symptoms of dry mouth are a sticky, dry, or burning sensation in the mouth, chronic bad breath, an altered sense of taste, and insufficient saliva. Dry mouth is particularly common in the elderly and the very young, but it can affect anyone at any given time.
Dry mouth is a known side effect of many medications, from prescriptions to over-the-counter antihistamines. Medical conditions such as diabetes, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause can also cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth is not just uncomfortable; it also makes teeth more prone to decay and soft tissue more susceptible to infection. Because insufficient saliva endangers the health of your entire mouth, it’s important to ask Dr. Flores about oral sprays, prescription drugs, and simple lifestyle changes that can provide relief.
I have a recurring pain where my jaw meets my temple, and sometimes my jaw clicks when I chew. What's the problem?
You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, which affects the flexibility and function of the temporal jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Because this area controls bite, speech, chewing, and all other jaw movements, the pain can be severe.
TMD has been associated with a number of different causes, but the most common factor is the bite itself. A misaligned bite places pressure on the jaw joint, forcing the muscles to work overtime to correctly align the upper and lower jaws. This not only compromises the function of your jaw, but also causes a good deal of fatigue and pain in the facial muscles. Headaches, toothaches, and jaw clenching, popping, or locking are other common symptoms of TMD. TMD can also occur after a jolting face injury, which causes a normally aligned jaw joint to become damaged or repositioned.
Professional treatment of TMD ranges from minor in-office procedures to surgery. If Dr. Flores determines that the main cause of your jaw pain is an irregular bite, she may recommend a retainer-style mouthguard or even a reshaping of the biting surfaces of your teeth, which subtly changes the way your upper and lower jaws meet. If it’s a structural issue occurring in your jawbone (especially if your TMD is a result of injury), you may benefit from surgery. Whatever the case, she’ll help you choose the most conservative plan for your individual needs.
In the meantime, treating the symptoms can give you some relief from the pain. Heating pads or cold compresses will reduce swelling, and limiting your jaw movement (for example, cutting gum and chewy or crunchy foods out of your diet) can stop the clicking or popping. Massages can temporarily relieve muscle tension, and painkillers (prescription or over-the-counter) can reduce inflammation and make you more comfortable.
My dentist told me I’m going to need root canal therapy. What do I need to know?
Beneath the top layer of your tooth (the enamel) and the second layer (the dentin), there is a pulp, or nerve, which delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Whether from excessive decay or physical trauma, this nerve can become damaged, causing an abscess to form at the root of the tooth. Root canal therapy will prevent further damage or decay, extend the life of your natural tooth, and most importantly, relieve your pain.
Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, sensitivity, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain than the treatment will. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve discomfort during and after treatment, including nitrous oxide, sedation, and medication.
Root canal therapy is highly successful, and a tooth that has received the treatment can last you a lifetime. Especially when used in conjunction with a natural-looking dental crown or composite filling, no one will even notice a difference in your smile!
Is smoking really that bad for my teeth?
Smoking isn’t just bad for your teeth—it compromises the health of your entire mouth, especially your gums. Lighting up stains your teeth, causes bad breath, and promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar. Cigarette smoking is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss and has been directly linked to the development of gum disease and may eventually lead to the loss of taste and smell.
As a result of the tooth and gum damage caused by cigarettes, smokers also tend to require more extensive dental treatment. Complex procedures such as dental implants and oral surgeries can be less successful in smokers due to damaged gum tissue.
Pipes and cigars aren’t any safer, causing similar rates of tooth and bone loss even if the smoke is not inhaled. Smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco also increase your risk for oral cancer and cancers of the throat, esophagus, and lips. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of sugar, which when pressed against your teeth for long periods of time can lead to tooth decay.
So what’s the verdict on tobacco? Ask us for advice on how to quit, or just don’t start.
What is comprehensive dentistry?
Our goal is to have all concerns and issues known and resolved before a dental emergency occurs. After all, it’s never a good time for a toothache or a broken tooth! We see patients with many different needs for many different reasons, from routine preventive care and dental emergencies to life-changing restorative and cosmetic treatments.
A large part of comprehensive dentistry is the development and fulfillment of ongoing maintenance plans, which help minimize the chance of original problems reoccurring. After your exam and consultation, we will work with you to customize a treatment plan that fits your individual needs and budget. Good oral hygiene at home is also important, but in-office exams are critical to keeping your smile healthy because your dental team has the ability to remove plaque your toothbrush can’t. Panoramic X-rays and intraoral cameras help us monitor structures that aren’t always obvious to the naked eye.
In a way, comprehensive care really refers to our commitment to the present and the future of your smile. Not only do we want to keep it healthy, but we want to make it beautiful, and make it last.
What are the benefits of a dental radiograph (X-ray) examination?
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are commonly used in dental exams of patients of all ages. Panoramic X-rays, which are taken every five to seven years and show the entire mouth, are particularly useful diagnostic tools. Panoramic X-rays are taken with a machine that circles your head, providing a complete overview of all the teeth as well as the roots, upper and lower jawbones, sinuses, and other surfaces in the mouth. Many problems with teeth and the surrounding tissues cannot be seen when we visually examine your mouth. An X-ray examination is needed to reveal:
- Small areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
- Deep cavities
- Infections that can develop in the mouth bones
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Abscesses or cysts
- Developmental abnormalities
- Some types of tumors
- TMJ Dysfunction
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you unnecessary discomfort, money, and time. In cases where X-rays help us detect oral cancer and gum disease in the early stages, X-rays can also help save your life!
How do I choose the right oral hygiene product for me?
Over the past few years, companies have introduced so many options for toothpastes, toothbrushes, flosses, and mouthwashes that even the most discerning consumer often doesn’t know where to begin. Here are a some hints for picking the right products for your particular needs:
- Toothbrush. The big question here is, electric or manual? Electric toothbrushes are more popular than ever, and we believe they’re better for you than manual brushes. While both types of brushes will remove plaque, electric brushes have been shown to be more effective. They are also easy to use and give great results with little effort. If you decide that you would prefer a manual brush, we recommend that you choose one with soft bristles and the smallest head since these are more gentle on gum tissue and can fit around the back molars. The important thing is to make sure you’re brushing long enough. Although it takes a full 2-3 minutes to brush every tooth effectively, most people only brush for an average of 30 seconds!
- Toothpaste. First and foremost, always check for the ADA seal of approval. Most toothpastes contain the same basic agents geared toward scrubbing, flavoring, or keeping your paste moist. It’s a good idea to choose a paste that contains fluoride, which strengthens enamel and makes teeth less prone to decay. Tartar-control toothpastes usually contain fluoride, but they also contain chemicals that break down plaque and antibacterials to kill lingering germs. After checking those two qualities off, choose your paste based on your personal needs. Whitening varieties have added abrasive agents (not bleach) that polish the surfaces of your teeth without damaging enamel. If you have sensitive teeth, certain toothpastes provide chemical compounds that, when used on a regular basis, can reduce sensitivity over time.
- Floss. While most people brush the recommended two times a day, flossing often gets placed on the back burner. Neglecting to floss at least once daily is doing your mouth a serious disservice, because up to 50% of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth. That’s why you should floss before you brush, to loosen up that plaque for easier removal with your toothbrush. If you find flossing too difficult or unpleasant, try using a flosser. They’re reusable and have handles and disposable heads, making flossing as neat and easy as brushing your teeth. You can find them at most grocery and drugstores.
- Mouthwash. There are as many different types of mouthwashes available as there are flavors. Cosmetic mouthwashes can rinse away debris, provide a pleasant taste, and mask bad breath temporarily. If you’re looking for a mouthwash with a purpose, look for an FDA-approved therapeutic rinse with either antiplaque or anticavity ingredients. Mouthwashes are particularly useful for people with canker sores, braces, and dry mouth, but they can’t replace proper brushing and flossing.