Frequently Asked Questions – Ask the Dentist

Q: I need a filling and I would like to get a tooth colored filling. I know composite fillings are more expensive than silver-mercury fillings, but if you had to compare the two, what would you prefer?

A: Silver fillings (amalgam) has advantages as a dental restoration, since they are durable, low cost, and last for 7 years or more. But the disadvantages include that it doesn’t match the natural color of your other teeth. Silver fillings also tarnish and corrode over time, causing a discoloration where the filling meets the tooth. There is no need to worry about mercury exposure from amalgam fillings, since research has found that the amount of mercury exposure is similar to exposures people face in the environment.

Composite fillings are the color of your natural teeth and blend in when placed in the mouth. They are bonded to the inside walls of your teeth so there is no chance for micro leakage, and the fillings last for 5 years or longer. In most cases, we recommend the composite filling as it looks more natural and lasts for many years.

Q: I need a root canal, but wouldn’t it be easier to just have my dentist extract the bad tooth?

A: It is important to understand the difference between a root canal and tooth extraction. When a tooth is affected by trauma, such as a sports injury or tooth decay, the living tissue inside the tooth starts to die. As the tissue dies it begins to decay and becomes infected. Should you leave this untreated the infection could travel into your jaw bone. An extraction is an immediate solution, but there are various reasons why one tooth extraction could cause tooth loss in the future. A root canal allows the dentist to remove the dying tissue when they create an access hole on the top of the tooth. Once the dying tissue is removed, the canal is filled and the tooth will remain functional.

Q: I have not seen a dentist in years because I can’t afford insurance. My teeth don’t hurt, so do I really need a dental check-up?

A: Yes! Even though you might not have insurance, it is a lot less costly to have preventive maintenance and routine cleanings performed rather than risking your teeth needing costly procedures, such as cavity fillings, root canals, crowns, and more. Make sure you come in to see our dentists at Castro Valley Dentistry on a regular basis to avoid such issues and to maintain a healthy smile.

Q: I want to have my teeth bleached. Do the bleaching kits from drug stores make your teeth white and perform as well as custom whitening from a dentist?

A: Bleaching kits from drug stores do provide decent results, but there are a few reasons why custom fit bleaching systems from Castro Valley Dentistry are more effective than over-the-counter products. Over-the-counter trays are shaped to fit your mouth, but are not custom fit to your teeth. Since the tray is not custom fit, there is little control over where the bleaching solutions goes. Bleaching solution is an irritant to the gums, so over-the-counter solutions also need to be considerably weaker, which means it will be less effective. The trays produced by our dental office are always custom fit to the patient’s teeth in order to prevent the solution from reaching the gums. This allows us to produce a much stronger, effective chemical solution and make the whitening process even easier!

Q: A major reason why I haven’t seen a dentist in so long is because I’m scared. I want to make an appointment, buy my fear keeps me from doing so. Is there anything you can do to help me relax during a dental appointment?

A: The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone with these feelings. Millions of people are scared of the dentist for a variety of reasons. Luckily, dentistry no longer has to be scary with the use of nitrous or sedation dentistry to help calm your nerves. With the use of nitrous, you can sit back and relax while your dental needs are taken care of. An anesthetic is also provided to ensure that you are not in any pain during the procedure.

Q: I have a space between my front teeth and they’re also a little crooked. Do you think I need to get braces or is there any other option available for me?

A: Braces would fix the problem, but some people don’t want to wear braces if they don’t have to. Come in for a consultation with one of our dentists and see if porcelain or composite veneers would be a better option for you. Veneers are fabricated by a dental laboratory using strong, durable materials and then placed over the front of your existing teeth. The end result is a natural looking smile that you will be happy to show off.