2844 Summit Street, Suite 109
    (at 29th Street)
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 444-7277
Email: [email protected]

Kenneth G. Louie, DDS

Family Dentistry

FAQ

Tooth Replacement

  1. Why do I need to replace my missing tooth?

         If you are missing a tooth, you will obviously have one less tooth with which you can chew. The less obvious fact is that you will also loose the use of the opposing tooth or teeth. Teeth are designed to bite against another tooth. If a tooth is missing, opposing teeth may move until they make contact with something - either tooth or gum. Teeth also have a tendency to move forward toward the midline of your jaw. So if you are missing a tooth, the teeth behind it may tilt into its' space. This can cause misalignment of your bite, difficulty in chewing, and irregular or accelerated wear of  your teeth. Lastly, missing teeth may alter your speech and your appearance. The "snaggletooth" look is definitely out.

  2. How can I replace my missing tooth?

         Teeth can be replaced in three general ways. The first way is with a removable partial denture. This is an appliance that can easily be taken in and out of your mouth for cleaning and while sleeping. The second way is with a fixed bridge. Bridges are cemented to adjacent teeth and cannot be removed. They are solid and as stabile as the teeth to which they are attached. The third way of replacing missing teeth is with implants.  Implants are imbedded in the jaw bone and function like real teeth. Crowns, bridges or special connectors can be attached to the implants. Although implants are the state of the art in dentistry right now, they are not for everyone. Each replacement method has its' own advantages and disadvantages and no one procedure is best for every situation.

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Oral Hygiene

  1. I brush everyday, isn't that enough?

         Imagine your teeth as a row of boxes. Your toothbrush can clean the top, front, and back of each box, but can't clean the sides or the spaces between the boxes. Cavities often occur between teeth. Dental floss is the single most effective tool for cleaning these areas, and in many cases more important than brushing, since gum and bone diseases most often occur between teeth.

  2. When is the best time to clean my teeth?

         The best time to clean your teeth is after you eat. The ideal is to clean after every time you eat. The goal of cleaning your teeth is to remove the food and plaque, and keep them off as long as possible. The most effective time of the day to clean is right after the last time you eat in the day, typically that's right after dinner (or after dessert for you snackers). Your teeth will be clean before you go to sleep, they will stay cleaner throughout the night, and be cleaner when you  wake up. Research has shown that when you are asleep, your mouth is drier and your mouth moves less, so plaque, tartar, and cavities form more easily. Don't forget, cleaning includes brushing and flossing. The least effective time to clean your teeth is when you wake up.

  3. How often should I see the dentist?

         For most people, we recommend every six months.  During this time, a fair amount of plaque and tartar can accumulate and cavities can grow significantly.  Patients with gum or bone problems may need more frequent visits, typically every three or four months.  Patients who wear full dentures, who have no teeth, should see their dentist once a year.  Mouths continually change, but dentures don't change with them.  Dentures may become loose, ill-fitting, worn, discolored, stained, or broken.  Infections or soft tissue growths around dentures are problems that may go unnoticed by denture-wearers.

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Pediatric Dentistry

  1. When should my child first see the dentist?

         The general recommendation is for every child to see the dentist soon after their first tooth is visible, or by their first birthday. Most kids will not have any problems at this age, and often their first visit will be little more than a quick examination, but the goal is to familiarize children and their parents with the dentist and the dental office before they do have a problem. The worst thing to do would be to wait until a child has a problem, and then expect to have treatment on their very first visit. This often creates lifelong fear of dental visits and more problems later on.

  2. Baby teeth are going to fall out eventually, so why should we bother fixing them?

         Baby teeth usually start to loosen and fall out around age six, and continue coming out until around age twelve. Depending on which tooth is involved, a child may have to live with a problem for many years. Baby teeth with cavities, chips, cracks, or gum problems may eventually start to hurt.  These problems may start out small, but will grow with time and may cause infection.  Infections or abscesses may spread and affect the developing adult teeth underneath them.  Pulling out baby teeth before they are supposed to come out may cause alignment and spacing problems - teeth next to a space may tilt into the space, and teeth opposite a space may grow into it.  Children who learn good oral hygiene habits and the importance of early treatment will benefit from this for the rest of their lives.

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