DENTAL FAQ

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Appointments

How long does it take to get an appointment?
The length of wait-time for an appointment may vary based on your choice of provider, dental office location, appointment type and your desired day or time of appointment. Our goal is to get you in within days or weeks to fit your lifestyle.
What if I have an emergency?
Stephanie Murphy, DDS provides emergency services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you experience an emergency situation (pain, bleeding or swelling), call the Appointment Center at:
414-367-6337
Emergencies happen, here's what you can do immediately:
Accidents happen, and they can be especially frightening when they involve our teeth and mouths. It's important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary. Here are some guidelines to help you through common dental emergencies:
Toothache/Sore Gums
Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over the counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to your teeth or gums), and schedule an appointment with Dr. Murphy if the pain persists.
Chipped Tooth
Save the pieces if you can, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. See Dr. Murphy as soon as possible.
Broken Tooth
Call our office immediately. With recent advancements in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, you might not lose your tooth. If there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Murphy can create a crown that will “grab onto” your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal. While the success of this process, known as “crown lengthening,” depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about alternatives to complete removal.
Knocked Out Tooth
Holding the tooth by the crown (top) only, rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert it into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of mildly salty water. See Dr. Murphy as soon as possible—if treated within two hours, the tooth may be salvaged.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Our gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue tend to bleed heavily when injured, because the soft tissues in our mouths contain a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, rinse with warm salt water then apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. If the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it's best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to your nearest emergency room.

 

Hours of Operation

What are the hours for the dental practice?
Regular Office Hours
9AM - 5PM Monday and Thursday, 7AM - 4PM Tuesday and Friday
Summer Office Hours
9AM - 5PM Monday, 7AM - 4PM Tuesday and Thursday, 7AM - 3PM Friday
 

What can I do about bad breath?  Seriously I need help!

What causes bad breath and how can you conquer it.
Deducing the cause of your bad breath is the first step toward preventing it. The most common causes of bad breath are reduced saliva flow during sleep, certain foods (such as garlic, onions and peppers), poor oral hygiene, gum disease, dry mouth, tobacco, dieting, dehydration, and some medical conditions (including sinus infections and diabetes).
Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night is the best way to prevent bad breath, and brushing after every meal is even better. If you can’t brush, chewing sugar-free gum can loosen the food particles from between your teeth. Clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss or an interdental cleaner, and don’t forget to brush your tongue. If you wear dentures, remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months. Mouthwash can help too, but ask us which rinses actually kill the germs that cause bad breath, because some only temporarily mask odor.
 

The truth about check-ups!

I don't have a toothache, and I brush and floss regularly.  Do I need a check-up?
Biannual teeth cleanings performed by a dental hygienist will keep your teeth and gums looking, feeling and functioning their best. During cleanings, your hygienist will remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of your teeth. She’ll also polish your teeth and floss to test the condition of your gums.
After your cleaning, Dr. Murphy will perform a more thorough examination of your teeth, jaw and gums. In addition to a visual assessment, she will check your current restorations and screen for early signs of gum disease and oral cancer. When x-rays have been taken, Dr. Murphy and her assistant will carefully review them to identify any possible areas of concern.
We understand that going to the dentist can be stressful, which is why we’ve designed our office to make your visits as comfortable as they are effective. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, call us today to schedule an appointment. We’ll take great care of you!
 

Braces!?!?!  Me?

I have crooked teeth, but I feel like metal braces are for kids.  Are there any options?

Traditional braces are a hassle, and they can take two to three years of treatment to fully realign your teeth. Dr. Murphy can help you get you the smile you’ve always wanted in less time than you ever thought possible.

Six Month Smiles® adult cosmetic braces use clear or tooth-colored brackets and ultra-thin wires to move your teeth quickly, safely and with less discomfort than conventional braces. They require fewer visits to our office and the average treatment lasts between six and nine months, so they’re usually more affordable, too.

Six Month Smiles® is a great option for patients with mild to moderately crowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, overbites, crossbites, and underbites. If you're ready for straighter teeth, ask us about your treatment possibilities! You could have a beautiful new smile before your next dental cleaning.

 

What would you say you do here?

What is comprehensive dentistry?

Our goal is to have all concerns and issues known and resolved before a dental emergency occurs. After all, it’s never a good time for a toothache or a broken tooth! We see patients with many different needs for many different reasons, from routine preventive care and dental emergencies to life changing restorative and cosmetic treatments.

A large part of comprehensive dentistry is the development and fulfillment of ongoing maintenance plans, which helps minimize the chance of original problems reoccurring. After your exam and consultation, we will work with you to customize a treatment plan that fits your individual needs and budget. Good oral hygiene at home is also important, but in-office exams are critical to keeping your smile healthy because your dental team has the ability to remove plaque your toothbrush can’t. Panoramic x-rays and intraoral cameras help us monitor structures that aren’t always obvious to the naked eye.

In a way, comprehensive care really refers to our commitment to the present and the future of your smile. Not only do we want to keep it healthy, but we want to make it beautiful, and make it last.

 

Root Canals (calm down it is going to be all right)

So I need a root canal.  What should I know before my appointment?
Beneath the top layer of your tooth (the enamel) and the second layer (the dentin), there is a pulp, or nerve, which delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Whether from excessive decay or physical trauma, this nerve can become damaged, causing an abscess to form at the root of the tooth. Root canal therapy will prevent further damage or decay, extend the life of your natural tooth, and most importantly, relieve your pain.
Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, sensitivity, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain than the treatment will. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve discomfort during and after treatment, including nitrous oxide, sedation, and medication.
Root canal therapy is highly successful, and a tooth that has received the treatment can last you a lifetime. Especially when used in conjunction with a natural-looking crown or composite filling, no one will even notice a difference in your smile!
 

Smoking and your teeth (your mom was probably right, like usual)

So smoking isn't good for me, but what does it do to my teeth?
Smoking isn’t just bad for your teeth—it compromises the health of your entire mouth, especially your gums. Lighting up stains your teeth, causes bad breath, and promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar. Cigarette smoking is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Worst of all, smoking has been directly linked to the development of gum disease and may eventually lead to the loss of taste and smell.
As a result of the tooth and gum damage caused by cigarettes, smokers also tend to require more extensive dental treatment. Complex procedures such as dental implants and oral surgeries can be less successful in smokers due to damaged gum tissue.
Pipes and cigars aren't any safer, causing similar rates of tooth and bone loss even if the smoke is not inhaled. Smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco also increase your risk for oral cancer and cancers of the throat, esophagus, and lips. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of sugar, which when pressed against your teeth for long periods of time can lead to tooth decay.
So what’s the verdict on tobacco? Ask us for advice on how to quit, or just don’t start.
 

Yikes!  What is this oral pain?

My teeth are so sensitive!  Why does the hot and cold bother me so much?  How can I get it to stop for good?
If you’ve been avoiding that ice cream cone or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don't have to! Sensitivity has a number of possible culprits: involuntary tooth grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive, because the usually-protected layer of dentin--the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel--is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.
Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it’s important to ask Dr. Murphy which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter and in-office rinses that will protect your enamel against further damage. Ask us about your options at your visit!

 

My jaw is hurting, could it be related to my teeth?

My jaw clicks when I chew and I have some pain.  What is causing that?
You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, which affects the flexibility and function of the temporal jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Because this area controls bite, speech, chewing, and all other jaw movements, the pain can be severe.
TMD has been associated with a number of different causes, but the most common factor is the bite itself. A misaligned bite places pressure on the jaw joint, forcing the muscles to work overtime to correctly align the upper and lower jaws. This not only compromises the function of your jaw, but also causes a good deal of fatigue and pain in the facial muscles. Headaches, toothaches, and jaw clenching, popping, or locking are other common symptoms of TMD. TMD can also occur after a jolting face injury which causes a normally aligned jaw joint to become damaged or repositioned.
Professional treatment of TMD ranges from minor in-office procedures to surgery. If Dr. Murphy determines that the main cause of your jaw pain is an irregular bite, she may recommend a retainer-style mouthguard or even a reshaping of the biting surfaces of your teeth, which subtly changes the way your upper and lower jaws meet. If it's a structural issue occurring in your jaw bone (especially if your TMD is a result of injury), you may benefit from surgery. Whatever the case, she’ll help you choose the most conservative plan for your individual needs.
In the meantime, treating the symptoms can give you some relief from the pain. Heating pads or cold compresses will reduce swelling, and limiting your jaw movement (for example, cutting gum and chewy or crunchy foods out of your diet) can stop the clicking or popping. Massages can temporarily relieve muscle tension, and painkillers (prescription or over-the-counter) can reduce inflammation and make you more comfortable.
 

Time to suit up!  What should be in my dental toolbox?

How do I choose the right oral hygiene product for me?
Over the past few years, companies have introduced so many options for toothpastes, toothbrushes, flosses, and mouthwashes, that even the most discerning consumer often doesn’t know where to begin. Here are a some hints for picking the right products for your particular needs:
Toothbrush
Toothbrush. The big question here is, electric or manual? It’s really all about your personal preference. Electric toothbrushes are more popular than ever, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily “better” than manual brushes. Both brushes are effective at removing plaque–electric brushes just make the process easier. If you find manual brushes difficult or unpleasant to use, an electric one might make brushing easier and allow you to do a better job. When choosing a manual brush, opt for soft bristles with the smallest head--they're easy on gum tissue and can fit around the back molars. Regardless of your hardware of choice, the important thing is to make sure you’re brushing long enough. Although it takes a full 2-3 minutes to brush every tooth effectively, most people only brush for an average of 30 seconds!
Toothpaste
Toothpaste. First and foremost, always check for the ADA seal of approval. Most toothpastes contain the same basic agents geared toward scrubbing, flavoring, or keeping your paste moist. It's a good idea to choose a paste that contains fluoride, which strengthens enamel and makes teeth less prone to decay. Tartar-control toothpastes usually contain fluoride, but they also contain chemicals that break down plaque and antibacterials to kill lingering germs. After checking those two qualities off, choose your paste based on your personal needs. Whitening varieties have added abrasive agents (not bleach) that polish the surfaces of your teeth without damaging enamel. If you have sensitive teeth, certain toothpastes provide chemical compounds that, when used on a regular basis, can reduce sensitivity over time.
floss
Floss. While most people brush the recommended two times a day, flossing often gets placed on the back burner. Neglecting to floss at least once daily is doing your mouth a serious disservice, because up to 50% of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth. That’s why you should floss before you brush, to loosen up that plaque for easier removal with your toothbrush. If you find flossing too difficult or unpleasant, try using a flosser. They’re reusable and have handles and disposable heads, making flossing as neat and easy as brushing your teeth. You can find them at most grocery and drug stores.
Mouthwash
Mouthwash. There are as many different types of mouthwashes available as there are flavors. Cosmetic mouthwashes can rinse away debris, provide a pleasant taste, and mask bad breath temporarily. If you’re looking for a mouthwash with a purpose, look for an FDA-approved therapeutic rinse with either antiplaque or anticavity ingredients. Mouthwashes are particularly useful for people with canker sores, braces, and dry mouth, but they can’t replace proper brushing and flossing.
 

Open up, let's see what's inside your mouth.

What are the benefits of a dental radiograph (x-ray) examination?
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are commonly used in dental exams of patients of all ages. Panoramic x-rays, which are taken every five to seven years and show the entire mouth, are particularly useful diagnostic tools. Panoramic x-rays are taken with a machine that circles your head, providing a complete overview of all the teeth as well as the roots, upper and lower jawbones, sinuses, and other surfaces in the mouth. Many problems with teeth and the surrounding tissues cannot be seen when we visually examine your mouth. An x-ray examination is needed to reveal:
Small areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
Deep cavities
Infections that can develop in the mouth bones
Periodontal (gum) disease
Abscesses or cysts
Developmental abnormalities
Some types of tumors
TMJ Dysfunction
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you unnecessary discomfort, money, and time. In cases where x-rays help us detect oral cancer and gum disease in the early stages, x-rays can also help save your life!
 

Your  teeth should go with the Flo

Why is fluoride good for my teeth?
Each day, the sugars and acids from food feed bacteria in your mouth, which can accumulate on your teeth to form plaque. Plaque wears away at a tooth's enamel in a process known as demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that promotes the remineralization of enamel, replacing important minerals that strengthen your teeth and can protect them from decay. Fluoride can also help reverse the early stages of decay.
Children with newly-erupted permanent teeth benefit a great deal from fluoride exposure, but adults should make sure their teeth come into contact with it, too. The safe and easy way to ensure your teeth are getting enough fluoride is to use fluoride toothpaste, available at drugstores in a variety of types and flavors. If Dr. Murphy recommends more intense fluoride treatments, there are a number of gels, rinses, or even in-office procedures that can do the trick. Though the most fluoride is absorbed from direct contact with the teeth, many public drinking water systems contain small, safe amounts of fluoride that can have positive health effects.
 

The Pearly Whites

What causes tooth discoloration?
The two main types of tooth discoloration are extrinsic (external or surface stains) and intrinsic (internal stains). External stains affect the outside of a tooth, while internal stains discolor a tooth from within. External stains can be attributed to anything that comes into contact with the surface of your teeth, such as red wine, coffee, tea, or tobacco products. Internal discoloration reflects the actual condition of a tooth, and it often occurs as a result of treatment procedures, exposure to excessive amounts of fluoride (Fluorosis), and certain antibiotics.
Some types and degrees of discoloration respond well to teeth whitening, while others require veneers, bonding, or other restorative procedures. Dr. Murphy can determine which type of stains you have and which whitening method will work best for you.
 

Dry Mouth

What's causing my dry mouth, and what can I do about it?
The most common symptoms of dry mouth are a sticky, dry, or burning sensation in the mouth, chronic bad breath, an altered sense of taste, and insufficient saliva. Dry mouth is particularly common in the elderly and the very young, but it can affect anyone at any given time.
Dry mouth is a known side effect of many medications, from prescriptions to over-the-counter antihistamines. Medical conditions such as diabetes, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause can also cause dry mouth.
Dry mouth is nost just uncomfortable; it also makes teeth more prone to decay and soft tissue more susceptible to infection. Because insufficient saliva endangers the health of your entire mouth, it’s important to ask Dr. Murphy about oral sprays, prescription drugs, and simple lifestyle changes that can provide relief.