Your questions, answered

Ask Dr. Marc

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We understand that dental care can seem overwhelming, which is why we're here to answer all of your oral health questions.

Do you want to learn more about one of our services?

Are you confused about one of our procedures?

Our team is here to clear up any confusion and to give you the tools you need to maintain that awesome smile. After all, who's better to give dental advice than your very own dentist?

Below are some of your most frequently asked questions in Dr. Hollander's own words.

Dr. Marc Hollander

Just remember, the more time you spend in your mouth, the less time I will be in there. The more time you spend on keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy, the less time I will be in there fixing them.

I don’t care what you use to clean your teeth and gums. I do not own the company that makes dental floss so it doesn’t matter to me if you use it or not. What I do want you to use is anything that is effective, that will not damage anything , and that you will use every day. Go to a store that sells lots of dental items. Go to the dental aisle and look at all the junk that is available. Pick up something that appeals to you. Read about it. Hold it. See if it makes sense to you. Buy it and try it. Personally, for me, the Sonicare brush and the old-fashioned dental floss is the best. It is very effective, easy to use, and cheap.

Flossing must be a habit. Do it at night before you go to bed, after you have brushed your teeth. Do not stand in the bathroom, stare into the mirror, and watch yourself floss. This is the Google definition of boring. You will rush through flossing and eventually quit. In the beginning, as you are learning, this is ok, however. Always start in the same place in your mouth and do it the same way. Every time. Pretty soon, you will not need to see what you are doing and you will be able to do it by feel. Next, if you watch the boob tube before you go to bed, sit on your couch and floss your teeth. I know this seems gross, but think about it. Multitasking. That’s been a big buzzword. Floss whilst you are doing something else. If it takes you 10 minutes to floss PROPERLY, who cares? It’s not like you are standing in the bathroom and wasting time. It won’t take long before you learn not to slobber all over the front of yourself.

Remember that old dental joke; “You don’t have to floss all of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.”

A root canal treatment is a procedure to remove nerve tissue from inside the tooth. It may be done because you have an abscessed tooth. This is a localized infection stemming from something causing the nerve to die and then becoming infected. Maybe you broke your tooth and in order to repair it we need to remove the nerve so that when all is done the tooth does not hurt you. Suppose there is a deep cavity in your tooth. This may cause the tooth to become sensitive or actually hurt or possibly cause the nerve to die. A root canal treatment is done so the tooth can be saved.

Teeth have nerves in them. Nerves are there for a good reason. Really. They tell us by hurting that there is a problem with the tooth. Without a nerve in the tooth, the tooth may have a problem and we now know about it until it gets bad.

Teeth are held in the jaw bone by roots. Running through each root, within a small channel, or canal, is the nerve. So, a root canal procedure involves removing the nerve from the canal within the root. Slick, huh? There is no way to make it not sound like a fate worse than death. It is not bad. Seriously. We have great local anesthetic so you won’t feel any discomfort. The worst part is that the procedure is time consuming and boring. A lot goes on from our end but nothing much that you see. Maybe that’s not so bad.

When all is said and done, you will have a perfectly good tooth without a nerve in it. Your tooth will then be filled and likely a crown made for it to protect it from breaking. The alternative would be taking out a good tooth. That was fine last century, but not today.

Your teeth are surrounded by that pink stuff, commonly called gums. Healthy gums are a light shade of pink (coral pink), firmly attached to the underlying teeth and bone, do not bleed when we touch them, and are NOT soft and puffy. There is a slight space between the tooth and the gums, much like the space between your fingernail and the nail bed under it. Whenever we clean your teeth, we measure the depth of that space, the sulcus or pocket, as it is called. The upper limit of what is considered healthy and normal is 3 mm’s, about an eighth of an inch. It can be deeper than that because the gums are sick and swollen. That space may be deeper because the bone that holds the teeth in place is sick and is dissolving away. Possibly it is a little (or a lot) of both.

Healthy gums do not bleed a drop. The more they bleed, the sicker they are. Bleeding when you brush or floss is NOT normal. It is NOT a good or even an ok sign. A common misconception is “Oh my gums bleed when I floss them so I better stay away from them and let them heal”. Wrong!!! Your gums are screaming that they are sick. It is up to you and us to understand what they are saying. The proper thing would be to get to that area more diligently to keep everything cleaner. You must remove the source of the infection. That may be food collecting up under the gums. Germs live there. There are good germs and bad germs. We try to eliminate the bad bugs so the good bugs can help things to heal.

So, when you hear us talking about your pockets being deeper than 3 mm’s or bleed easily, or are particularly red and swollen, then the red flags go up. We will advise improved home care. Brush properly and no less than two times per day. FLOSS EVERY NIGHT!!! More frequent cleaning appointments will be advisable, also. Depending on the results of your efforts, more treatment options may be recommended.

Did you ever hear the expression “Being long in the tooth”? This refers to gum recession. Ordinarily, your gums cover a certain amount of the tooth. The part that shows when you smile is called the crown. With gum recession, your gums move up the sides of the tooth exposing some of the root. The root is normally in the bone. More of the tooth showing equals long in the tooth.

The best thing that can be done about this is to PREVENT it from happening. Proper brushing technique is the biggest thing that you can do. This involves using a SOFT brush and never ever, never ever, never ever scrubbing side-to-side on your teeth and gums. This over time WILL abrade, or wear away the gums. Think in terms of brushing the way the teeth grow. Up from the bottom and down from the top. Better still is GENTLE circles then up or down. Just do not scrub side-to-side. Ever. Also, less tooth brushing pressure for more time is good.

Ok, you have enough gum recession or tooth brush abrasion that it needs to be corrected, now what? A surgical procedure is done whereby tissue is grafted in place to cover up some or all of the exposed root surface(s). This is not particularly complicated and may be done by either a general dentist or a periodontist. A periodontist is a dentist with years of advanced training who specializes in diseases of the gums and the soft tissues associated with your teeth.

Silver filling material (dental amalgam) was the most popular filling material for a tooth in the last century, up until the 1980’s. As made, they are about 40-50% mercury. Isn’t mercury hazardous? Isn’t this a problem?

In a nutshell, if your silver fillings are holding up, then leave them alone. By holding up, I mean that they are not broken, they are not separating from the tooth (what we call leaking at the margins), or they are not worn out. If they are no longer serviceable, then by all means, they need to be removed and replaced.

What about the mercury in them? Yes, mercury is toxic. Any amount is bad, so less is best. When the amalgam filling is made and placed in your tooth, the mercury is “bound up” so very little can be released into your mouth to be absorbed into your body. Very little is not nothing, however. According to studies, anything that is released into your body is in such low quantity as to be harmless.

We have good alternatives to the old silver fillings. Today we use a tooth-colored composite resin material that is chemically bonded to the tooth. It looks good and does not release hazardous chemicals into your body. We can use ceramic materials as well as gold. There are pros and cons to everything.

I do NOT advocate removing a perfectly good silver filling just because it is an old silver filling. On the other hand, I will be the first one to say to remove it if there is a need for doing so.

No, the work I do is not permanent. It should last a long time, but it is not permanent. Permanent, to me, means forever. Nothing will last forever. Nothing I do is as good as your original equipment. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are better than aftermarket parts. Mother Nature did and does it best. Dentistry keeps improving, but we aren’t perfect.

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We love your awesome smile!

Just for Laughs

Q:What does a dentist do on a roller coaster?

A: He braces himself.