Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I really don’t like visiting the dentist, is there anything you can do to help me relax?
A: Many people are uncomfortable with visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority and our office is designed so that you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. For entertainment and distraction, televisions are available so you can keep your mind on more pleasant things. Nitrous oxide is also offered to keep you comfortable and relaxed.
Q: I brush every day, but my breath is just not fresh. Is there anything else I can do?
A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, (or bad breath), despite daily teeth
brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing: daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several other solutions.
First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or we can recommend a specially-prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually break down the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem. such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.
Q: What is a crown and why might I need one?
A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away at healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed, leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.
Q: I know I need X-rays, but I’d prefer not to be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?
A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film X-rays. You will find that in our dental practice, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety and comfort.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and in adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. When used correctly, fluoride is a safe chemical component. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?
A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about them. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments, or you may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy; or a combination of all these techniques. DentalWorks will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, on your areas of concern, and on the overall condition of your oral health. Contact us for a smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.
Q: I want my front teeth to look better, but I do not want to wear braces. What would you recommend?
A: DentalWorks has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of unsightly braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give them a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your individual situation.
Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?
A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.
Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or with an implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will restore your smile back to its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist places a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth, or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.
Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?
A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. DIAGNOdent™, a specialized laser, will also be used on your teeth, notifying us of early areas of decay that are not visible on the X-ray or on the digital photographs. Our goal is to preserve as many of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We’ll also assess your gums and will recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.
Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?
A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Our reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things – our good work and your beautiful smile! Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.
Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this and what can I do about it?
A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom fitted night guard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Drs. Matt and Meredith McCracken take great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a nightguard custom created for you.
Q: I want cosmetic dentistry. Does my insurance pay for it?
A: Dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying for your dentistry. Most procedures are not fully covered by your insurance. Cosmetic dentistry, in particular, is not covered by most dental insurance plans. To help you afford your smile, we do offer a variety of payment options in addition to a monthly payment plan provided by our financial partner, Care Credit™. We also pay special attention to maximizing the benefits that your insurance does provide. Ask us how you can comfortably afford your dentistry and maximize your dental insurance benefits.
Q: What different payment options do you provide?
A: Helping to make your dental care financially comfortable and affordable is important and we proudly offer a variety of options:
- Cash or personal checks
- We also accept most dental insurances and the Citi®Health Card as well as Care Credit™
We are happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursement before starting recommended treatments and will gladly file insurance forms for you.
Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice, and we do not base our treatment on what insurance will or will not pay. We base our treatment on what is best for you, and any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.
Q: I want and need a lot of dental work, but I’m afraid I can’t afford it. Do you offer monthly payment plans?
A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans with our financial partners, Citi®Health Card and Care Credit™. We provide a variety of ways for you to pay for your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Our team works with you to create the solution that accommodates you so you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you have always desired.
Q: My gums bleed. Why is this?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.
Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t diagnose and treat periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?
A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing. However, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough ‘scrubbing’ instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled tooth brush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods or if it occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set up an evaluation appointment.
Q: What is periodontal disease?
A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.
Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss-teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.
According to Caesy Dental Education, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, (a dangerous infection of the heart valves). Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacterias – streptococcus sangguis – may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”
Q: How do sealants protect teeth?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars). This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Q: Sometimes when I chew I get a sharp pain. What can I do to correct this?
A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture, or crack, in the tooth. The pain can be corrected by placing an inlay/onlay, a porcelain crown, or with more advanced treatment. You want to correct the pain as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage to the tooth. Contact us today to schedule a visit.
Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?
A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns including: gaps in teeth; chipped and broken teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means; “gummy smiles” (showing too much gum when one smiles); and crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify most any smile. This procedure can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like this was the best improvement that they could have made to improve their overall confidence. Ask us about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile at your next visit, or send us an email.
Q: I want my teeth to be whiter. Do you recommend at-home or in-office whitening?
A: Dentist directed, at-home whitening and in-office whitening procedures are both effective ways of brightening your smile. In either case, your dentist customizes the treatment to ensure your happiness with the results.
Your custom home-whitening kit involves a special tray that is customized to fit over your teeth. You also receive prescription whitening gel, which is inserted into the tray before you wear it. Our doctors will give you detailed instructions about how long you should wear the tray each day and you should expect the entire home-whitening process to take between two and four weeks, leaving you with a dazzling smile.
Q: How can I safely whiten my teeth?
A: There are a number of procedures available to help whiten your smile, from at-home whitening products to in-office supervised treatments. Dr. Matt and Dr. Meredith McCracken evaluate the potential for whitening your teeth based on their current color and on the causes of any discoloration. Once you decide on the most appropriate method, you will spend anywhere from two to four weeks undergoing a series of simple whitening treatments.
Q: How can I whiten my teeth?
A: There are multiple ways to whiten your teeth.
- At-home whitening trays: These products use peroxide-based gels to bleach your teeth. Generally, the process involves the daily application of the gel in a formed “mouth guard” for about two weeks. Side effects may include short-term tooth or gum sensitivity.
- In-office whitening: This is a procedure that takes place in a single visit to your dentist. It involves the application of a specially formulated gel that, when exposed to a type of light energy, penetrates the stains in your teeth, breaking them up and leaving your smile brighter and whiter. The entire process takes under an hour.
- Porcelain veneers: Many people who have tetracycline stained teeth and who cannot whiten their teeth with traditional means, or people who want a more permanent solution, will opt for porcelain veneers.
Porcelain veneers are a great way to whiten your teeth in a more permanent fashion. The veneers do not stain with time and also correct many other concerns that you may have including crooked teeth, gaps in teeth and a gummy smiles. Most of the smile makeovers you see on television are accomplished with porcelain veneers.
Q: What is CEREC™ Crown in a Day?
A: CEREC™ is a technological system that allows for the fabrication of all-ceramic tooth restorations in a single visit. Many restorations require several visits to the dentist, but with the CEREC™ system, a natural-looking restoration that has many of the properties of real teeth, can be custom created for you in less time, assuring you of a more comfortable dental experience.
Q: As an older adult, do I really need to worry about my dental care?
A: Yes. No matter what your age, you deserve to look and feel healthy. A strong, beautiful, and functioning smile plays a major role in the quality of your life as you age. You’ll appreciate a better diet, a younger appearance, and greater confidence. Perhaps you have put dental care off for so long that you believe it no longer matters. Not true! We can treat and improve virtually any dental condition. Some conditions are even reversible…even in mature adults!
Even though there are few limitations on how old you can be to receive restorative dental care, it is always best to act sooner rather than later. You may enjoy your new, healthy smile ten, 20, or 30 years or more, and you can save yourself from having to undergo more complicated, intrusive care down the road.
Achieve Your Perfect Smile!
Helping make your dental care affordable and comfortable is important, and we proudly offer a variety of options to fit your dental care into your life. We love finding solutions that allow you to achieve your smile dreams.
Meet Your Doctors
Dr. Matt and Dr. Meredith McCracken are both Tuscaloosa natives, graduating from Tuscaloosa High School in 1992 and from the University of Alabama in 1997.