Do I need to arrive early for my first appointment?

If you haven’t filled out our First Visit patient forms please arrive 15-20 minutes early to do so.

How long will my first appointment last?

It varies, but please plan on spending 1 to 1 1/2 hours for your first visit. We make it a point to clearly explain the benefits and fees for each treatment. We help with forms and insurance and believe an oral education is an important part of preventive dentistry. We honor this in everything we do.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the dentist. What do I need to do?

You’re not alone! Whether it’s been 6 months or 6 years, it’s never too late to get back into a healthy routine. We can arrange for you to have a thorough and educational exam appointment. We have been taking care of people just like you for over 20 years, so take advantage of our experience! We’re here to help!

My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling. But why doesn’t my tooth hurt?

Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages, so don’t wait for things to hurt! It is best to get a thorough dental exam, and diagnose and treat problems early. Waiting often makes problems more difficult and more expensive to fix.

Why should I go to the dentist regularly?

Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as “crisis treatment” versus “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they are saving money, it often ends up costing much more in dollars and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It is typical to hear, “Nothing hurts… I don’t have any problems.” Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. The dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This early detection can help you prevent root canal treatment (see below.)

How safe are dental x-rays? 

Dental x-rays are very safe. The amount of radiation that a dental x-ray produces is about the same as you would receive from a cross country airplane ride or a day of Arizona sunshine.

Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial. If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time, and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. But many people don’t brush for the recommended two to three minutes. Children are also good candidates for powered brushes as their brushing habits tend to be less than optimal. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.

How often should I floss?

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.

What tooth paste should I use?

The most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Its use has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the past 50 years. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches that remain on your teeth after eating. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid that is released when this happens. It does this in two ways. First, fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage. Second, it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by solidifying areas that have started to decay. Because most toothpaste has fluoride in it Dr. Carlisi recommends to use the flavor that you or your children like if you use it more it works better.

What is plaque and why is it harmful?

Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.

What causes bad breath?

While bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases, the majority of bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence bad odor. There are two main goals in the management of bad breath. First, controlling the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds and second, to neutralize the sulfur compounds that are produced.

How long will my dental restoration last?

A common misconception is that dental restorations last forever but unfortunately this is rarely true. With time dental restorations may break down or become loose, allowing decay to enter the area around the restoration and become problematic. Although you can’t expect your fillings, bridges, and crowns to last forever, you can do your part to make them last as long as possible. Maintain great oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly to keep those restorations in great condition for as long as possible.

What are cavity-fighting sealants?

The American Dental Association cites sealants as an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria. Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about half the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth. Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for you or your children.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pus coming from around the teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding gums

Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.

What is a root canal?

Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal, or endodontic, treatment. A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp), cleaning and disinfecting it and then filling and sealing it. The common causes affecting the pulp are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, repeated dental treatment to the tooth or trauma. The term “root canal” comes from cleaning of the canals inside the tooth’s root.

What causes canker sores?

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown. Some factors may include genetics, allergies, stress, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can result in the development of canker sores. Ill-fitting dentures or braces, toothbrush trauma from brushing too hard, or biting your cheek, may produce canker sores. Certain foods may also be a factor. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Foods like chips, pretzels and hard candies have sharp edges that can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth. To treat a canker sore, rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm water and salt. Over the counter treatments are also available. If the canker sore is present longer than two weeks, see your dentist.

I have diabetes. Why is my dentist concerned?

Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to talk with your dentist. And don’t forget to mention any changes in medications.

I have dentures. It is necessary for me to still see my dentist?

Visits to the dentist include more than just “checking teeth.” While patients who wear dentures no longer have to worry about dental decay, they may have concerns with ill fitting appliances or mouth sores to name a few. Annual visits to the dentist (or sooner if soreness is present) is recommended. During these visits, an oral cancer screening and head and neck exam will be performed as well as an evaluation of the fit or need for replacement of the existing appliances. Regular visits can help you to avoid more complicated problems down the road.

 What are the dangers of oral piercings?

The American Dental Association recognizes that piercing is a widely accepted form of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth. However, the potential problems from piercings are numerous. Some symptoms after a piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva, none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also cause excessive bleeding. If you’re thinking of placing a piercing in or around your mouth, talk to your dentist first. If you already have piercings and are having problems, see your dentist right away.