Frequently Asked Questions

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Question: How do I go about finding a dentist?

To find a dentist that best fits you and your needs we suggest you Google Search Providers in your area. Web pages will tell you a lot about your individual dentist where they went to school, what they specialize in, how long they have been in practice etc. From there we would suggest you look up reviews, whether the reviews are on Demandforce, Google, or Yelp, it is sometimes best to see what other patients have to say about your future provider.

Question: How do I find the best Dental Insurance Plan for me?

First we recommend that you call your existing dentist and ask what insurances they are in network with. At our office we are in network with MODA Premier, Regence, Dentemax, Cigna, United Concordia and Metlife. Next we recommend that you call the insurance companies and see what plans they have to offer you. You want to ask about Waiting Periods, Missing Tooth Clauses, Annual Maximums, what the cost of your annual deductible is, and what all they cover.

Waiting period- Is a period of time from the effective date until the date the insurance company says they will cover a procedure.

Missing Tooth Clause- If the tooth was extracted before existing insurance took effect then the existing insurance will not cover a flipper or bridge to replace the missing tooth.

Annual Maximum- Is the maximum amount of money the insurance gives the patient to spend for the year.

Annual Deductible- This fee is to be paid one time each year, it’s typically a $50-fee.

What all they cover- It usually looks something like this: 100/80/50. What this means is that Preventative work such as exams, x-rays, and cleanings are covered at 100%. Basic such as fillings, sometimes root canals, deep cleanings, and extractions insurance pays 80% and Major such as crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, sometimes surgical oral surgery is covered at 50%. Leaving the patient to pay the remaining 20% and 50%.

Question: What type of toothpaste is best for me and my family?

Answer: There are so many toothpastes out there today. What we have found is that it’s best to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride because it helps prevent cavities. For children under the age of six we recommend a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste because if a lot is swallowed it can cause discoloration of permanent teeth.

Question: What’s the difference between an in network provider and an out of network provider with my insurance?

Answer: For example we are in network providers with MODA Premier, Regence, Dentemax, Cigna, United Concordia and Metlife, what that means is that these insurances and our office have a contract stating what we can bill for different procedures. If we see you as a patient and are out of network providers we bill your insurance the Usual and Customary Rate of Salem, which is sometimes less and sometimes more then what your insurance allows meaning it might cost more or it might cost less out of pocket for you.

Question: Is it going to hurt?

Our most frequent question that we are asked, “Is it going to hurt?” Now days most procedures require anesthetic which is at no additional cost in our office. The anesthetic numbs a localized area so that patients can not feel their teeth, gums, or dental work that is being performed. The numbness can last 30 minutest up to about three hours, depending on the amount used and how fast your body processes it. So, that being said the answer to this question is NO, it shouldn’t hurt and if you are feeling pain you should let your dentist know so they can give you additional Novocaine. If you are still nervous about receiving the Novocaine through a shot, Nitrous Oxide can be  used during that time to relax your body and your mind.

Question: What is Nitrous Oxide (also known as N2O or Laughing Gas)

Answer: Nitrous Oxide was discovered in 1800 by chemist Humphrey Davy. It is a colorless, sweet-tasting gas which is inhaled through a mask that is carefully placed only on the nose. Nitrous Oxide is used as a mild anesthetic in dentistry. Nitrous oxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere and is a greenhouse gas. We often recommend Nitrous for kids to help them relax during dental anesthetic.

Question: What can we do for my dental anxiety?

Answer: As mentioned above our Dentists and Hygienist offer Nitrous Oxide to help relax the body during our patient’s dental procedures. Another form of sedation we offer is Halcion. Halcion comes in a pill form and makes it so that most of the time the patient doesn’t even remember being here at the office. Patients that come in on Halcion are required to have a responsible adult drive them to the office as well as back home and spend the next few hours with the patient. If this sounds like it’s meant for you during your dental procedure to help calm you, please come in and have a consult with your doctor.

Question: What options do I have to change the shape of my teeth?

Answer: There are many different options for re-shaping a tooth. The first option would be to have crowns done. Crowns fully encase the entire portion of the tooth above the gum line. The next option would be to have veneers bonded to the teeth. Veneers are very thin tooth colored custom made shells designed to cover the front of the teeth. The last option is dental bonding. Bonding is when composite (tooth colored material) is applied to the tooth surface and bonded “hardened” to the tooth.

Question: What is the best type of toothbrush for me?

Answer: We recommend that our patients use a soft head toothbrush, this is the safest choice for your teeth especially if you brush your teeth aggressively. We also recommend that the toothbrush be ADA (American Dental Association) certified. ADA toothbrushes undergo lab testing to insure that the toothbrush is safe to brush your gums and not wear your tooth’s enamel. We also recommend electric toothbrushes such as Oral B and Sonicare. We still recommend soft toothbrush heads for electric toothbrushes, because we don’t want recession to begin or to damage tooth enamel.

Question:How often should I have a checkup?

We recommend that you see your dentist every six months for an exam and a teeth cleaning. Our office recommends having annual bitewing x-rays as well. Most major dental insurance recommend the same thing. It is best to visit your dentist at least every six months for routine care so they can see what areas are harder to maintain cleanliness. Annual bitewings are crucial for the dentist to see the start of decay.

 Question: What is a root canal?

Answer: A root canal also known as Endodontic treatment, treats the inside of the natural tooth. A root canal is done when the inside of the tooth is infected or damaged. Root canal treatments remove the nerve and pulp inside the tooth, then it is cleaned and sealed. When a root canal is done on a molar tooth it is highly recommended that the tooth has a crown placed to protect the natural tooth.

Question: Is the radiation in Dental X-rays bad for me?

Answer: Radiation is found in many natural things that we come across everyday. The sun, minerals in the soil, cell phones, even appliances found in our own homes. Though too much exposure of radiation can damage a persons tissue and their cells, our dental office gives a very small dose with our x-rays. At our office we now have digital x-rays which is half the radiation of the old x-rays. The x-ray cone on the x-ray head regulates where the radiation exposure directly goes, we also use a lead apron to protect  our patients thyroids as well as their bodies.

Question: What is filling material made of?

Answer: We offer two different types of filling material. A tooth-colored filling material that is made out of a plastic like material or silver fillings (also known as alloy or amalgam fillings) which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper. Both are durable and strong.

Silver (Alloy) VS. White (Composite) Filling:

Dentists tend to prefer dental amalgam because it is easier to manipulate while filling the tooth. Amalgam is typically stronger than resin-based composite, and therefore is more often used to fill back teeth. Many patients prefer dental amalgam for the same reason of it being so strong, plus its cost-effectiveness and ability to fill cavities quickly.

Durable composite has only been around for about a decade; therefore, composites haven’t stood the test of time. When it comes to grinding and chewing on the back teeth composites result in heavy wear. Amalgam fillings have won this test and prove to be more durable.  The typical life span of an amalgam filling is 8 to 10 years, but many last 20 years or more.

Amalgam is one of the best filling materials when dentists need to place fillings in areas of the mouth that are difficult to keep dry, such as molars (back teeth) or cavities below the gum line. Composite fillings need a specific environment in which to be placed; for example, the prepared tooth must be completely dry when the composite material is being applied and cured. Composite costs more than amalgam, which can make the cost of the service higher than for a comparable amalgam filling.

Question: Can I eat after I have a filling?

Answer: White (composite) fillings are hardened before leaving the dental office due to the blue light. As soon as the patient leaves they are capable of eating or drinking, the patient just needs to be careful of chewing on their tongue or lips if they are numb. Silver (alloy) fillings take a bit longer to harden. It’s best to avoid chewing on the side the filling was done, because it takes a full 24 hours to set. We recommend no sticky or hard food that day.

Question: What are dental sealants?

Answer: Sealants are made of a plastic like material and are painted on to the chewing surfaces of the  premolar and molar teeth. Sealants are put on to prevent tooth decay. The material bonds to the grooves and pits and protects the enamel of the tooth. We typically put sealants on children who have their premolars and molars; however, if an adult has a premolar or molar with deep pits and grooves without decay we like to protect their teeth as well.

Question: What can I do about my bad breath?


    1. Brush and floss more frequently. Plaque, the sticky build up in your mouth, harbors bacteria causing bad breath. Also, by flossing it can get rid of old unwanted food that has built up in between your teeth.
    1. Scrape your tongue. Gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush to get rid of the bacteria that typically creates a foul smell.
    1. Avoid certain foods. No matter how much you brush it is still very hard to rid the smell of garlic or onion in the day you have eaten them.
    1. Rinse your mouth. Carifree is an excellent mouthwash, as well as any other anti-bacterial mouthwashes.
    1. Kick the habit. Smoking not only causes bad breath, but it also stains your teeth too.
    1. Eat gum instead of taking after dinner mints. Chew sugarless gums, it helps stimulate your saliva which fights against plaque acids that cause tooth decay as well as bad breath. Sugary candies help grow bacteria in your mouth causing bad breath.
    1. Keep your gums healthy. Gum (Periodontal) Disease is a common cause of bad breath. The bacteria gathers in pockets at the base of the teeth making bad odors. When we Perio Chart and your hygienist reads your numbers aloud you want to hear 3’s or less, so that you know you do not have Periodontal Disease.
    1. Keep your mouth moistened. When you do not create enough saliva it can cause tooth decay which in return causes bad breath. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water when you can. Suck on sugarless hard candy and chew sugar free gum.
  1. If bad breath persists, see your doctor.

Question: How should I go about bleaching my teeth?

Answer: There are different types of whitening products being offered in stores and at your dental office today.

  1. Whitening Toothpastes- can remove surface stains such as coffee or tobacco stains.
  2. One Hour in Office Teeth Whitening- can boost your teeth typically two to three shades lighter in just one hour.
  3. Custom Made Bleach Trays- These bleach trays can be made in our office. When purchased you receive custom made plastic trays that fit your individual mouth, as well as eight tubes of bleach. This is in our opinion the best way to have your teeth bleached, it is a gradual change and needs to be done after an in office whitening anyway to maintain your white teeth.

Can I eat candy or is it too bad for my teeth?

Answer: We can’t avoid candy; therefore, we don’t expect our patients to either. For candy we recommend things such as chocolate because it melts off of the teeth. Sugar free gum actually helps prevent cavities, it helps dislodge food particles and increases your saliva to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay.  Sugar free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva preventing dry mouth which help prevent plaque build up. Candies that we try to avoid are the very sugary / acidic candies such as Candy Corn, Chewy / Sticky Sweets like Gummy candy, taffy, and dried fruit. Sour Candies contain high acid level that can break down the tooth enamel quickly, the low pH tested in these sour candies is nearing the level of battery acid. It is recommended if you can not help but eat sour candies that you wait 30minutes before brushing your teeth so that the acidity is not spread onto all of the teeth. According to WebMD it is good to brush periodically with baking soda to neutralize acids in the mouth, it helps reduce the amount of acid loving bacteria that cause cavities. But once again if feel like having sweets, we recommend sticking to chocolate but mostly sugar free candies.

Question: Is it more cost effective to see a Denturist or Dentist for  my Dentures?

Answer: Majority of the time it is most cost effective to see a denturist. Denturist can coordinate with a dental office for any extractions and or implants you may want to have along with a new set of dentures. When dentures are made in the dental office the patient pays for the lab bill, the doctors time, and transportation of the dentures. Denturist spend most their days creating dentures and see patients in their own lab.
The denturist that we refer to even bills dental insurance, John Busey (503)364-8265.

Question: At what age should I bring my child in for their first appointment?

Answer: If your child is not experiencing any tooth pain we recommend that you bring your child to the dentist between two and three years of age. If they are experiencing pain, then we would recommend they come in right away. We like to have kids experience the dentist for the first time in a positive light. Here at our office we have what is called a, “Happy Visit.” A Happy Visit is for children three years and younger, they ride up and down in the dental chair, see the dental instruments we use to clean their teeth, meet the dentist, and have their teeth counted. If the child will let us, we clean their teeth. If the child is not ready to have their teeth cleaned during their first visit then we try the next time. We want them to have fun! At the end of their visit here they get a prize from our treasure chest and then we schedule them for another six month appointment.

Question: At what age do children begin to lose baby teeth?

Answer: Children usually begin to lose baby teeth at the age of six to make room for their permanent teeth. The last baby teeth typically fall out between the ages of 12 and 13. If you’re concerned with a child’s baby tooth that doesn’t seem to loosen sufficiently bring your child into the dentist, it may need to be watched or extracted.

 Question: How important is it that I show up on time to an appointment?

Answer: It is crucial in any medical office to be on time to an appointment. Hygienist (the people that clean your teeth) typically schedule on the hour. If you are more than five minutes late it is likely that either your exam or cleaning would have to be rescheduled to another day. Doctor’s schedules are often completely booked with scheduled appointments and emergency walk ins; to assure not to lose your appointment, it is important to call if you are running behind. Doctors, hygienist, and assistants try to be on time for their patients and we like when our patients have the same courtesy for us too.

Question: When should my child see and orthodontist?

Answer: The American Academy of Orthodontist recommends having an early evaluation starting at the age of 7.