Everyone has questions about the dentist and their dental health. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about dental care, problems, and some helpful tips.

Do you accept dental insurance?
YES. Our office accepts and participates in many dental insurance plans. Our office manager will be happy to assist you in determining your benefits. As a courtesy, we will file all insurance claims for you. Please understand that we will provide an insurance estimate to you, however it is not a guarantee that insurance will pay exactly as estimated.
Are payment plans available?
YES. We provide interest-free payment plans for 6, 12, or 18 months through CareCredit. We also provide longer payment plans with low interest for more extensive dental treatment plans. Give us a call and we will gladly help you set up your payment plan or follow the link to set up a plan for yourself.
What are my options to whiten my teeth?
There are several methods available to whiten your teeth: in-office, overnight, daily, or over-the-counter whitening. In-office whitening takes about 1 1/2 hours to obtain your optimal shade, and you can read, watch TV, or relax during your treatment. For overnight or daytime whitening, we take an impression of your teeth and fabricate a custom tray that fits your teeth. Each day you fill the tray with a small amount of whitening gel and wear it overnight or for a few hours during the day. This whitening process takes 2-3 weeks to obtain your optimal shade. The last method of whitening is over-the-counter whitening that can be purchased at the drugstore. This is just a weaker version of daily prescription-strength whitening. If you choose to use an OTC teeth whitener, we recommend you use a product approved by the ADA, to avoid permanent damage to your teeth; and to see a dentist before starting the whitening.
What if I have a gap in my teeth, a chipped tooth, or discolored teeth that don't respond to normal whitening methods?
We have several procedures that can help with these problems. Porcelain veneers are designed to look like your natural teeth and can fix spaces, crooked teeth, and discolored teeth. Bonding utilizes composite “white” filling material to fill in small spaces, repair chipped teeth, and fix misshaped teeth. Call our office for a free consult to see which cosmetic option is best for you.
Porcelain Veneers
Do you use white fillings?
YES. We only use “white” composite resin fillings in our office, for both kids and adults, because we can perform a better, more conservative, safer, and more cosmetically pleasing treatment. Since amalgam “silver” fillings are not bonded to your teeth, they do not strengthen teeth which have been weakened from the cavity and associated loss of healthy tooth structure. A tooth restored with amalgam does not reinforce your teeth and it is common to see cracks and ultimately fractures of your teeth caused by the way the tooth is wedged with a metal filling between its cusp tips. Also, amalgam fillings require additional removal of healthy tooth structure in order to fit the minimum criteria of depth and size for the amalgam material to perform satisfactorily. Composite fillings only replace the portions of your teeth that have been damaged and no additional reduction of healthy areas of your teeth is required. Additionally, composite restorations are bonded to your teeth. When properly placed with maximum bond strength, the composite restoration can strengthen the weakened tooth. We are also very proud that we only use the best resin available, both for esthetics and longevity. Your beautiful white fillings will last for many years to come.
Should I replace my old silver fillings?
We recommend replacing amalgam fillings only if there is a defect, crack, chip, bad margin, or cavity underneath; or if it poses a cosmetic concern. Given the current understanding of amalgam fillings and the supporting research, we do not advise patients to change silver fillings that are otherwise free of any other problems or defects. However, when patients have a desire to change their silver fillings for health concerns, we respect that desire and we are comfortable knowing we can provide a better restoration!
Do you use laughing gas or other methods to reduce anxiety?
YES. We offer Nitrous Oxide Inhalation (laughing gas) if you request it for treatment, for a nominal fee (insurance does not cover it). We recommend nitrous oxide for most children receiving their first invasive dental procedure (fillings or extractions). Occasionally, we will prescribe anxiolytics (Valium, etc) for adults before treatment to help them relax and ease dental fear.
What is Nitrous Oxide inhalation?
Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax. Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” is one option we may offer to help make you more comfortable during certain procedures. It is not intended to put you to sleep. You will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. We will ask you to breathe normally through your nose, and within a few short minutes you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. You may feel light-headed or a tingling in your arms and legs. Some people say their arms and legs feel heavy. Ultimately, you should feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.
How often should I see the dentist?
The American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines recommend visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. Our office also recommends a minimum of two visits per year. This allows us to diagnose and treat problems early. If not treated early, little problems become big problems and become painful and costly.
Can you replace my missing teeth?
YES. There are several options to replace missing teeth. Dental implants, bridges, removable partial dentures, and complete dentures are options depending on how many teeth are missing, and how healthy the existing teeth and bones are. Please schedule a visit to discuss which option is best for you.
Am I too old for braces?
mia_during_braces_sm2NO. You are never too old for braces as long as your teeth, gums, and bone are healthy. HUGHES FAMILY DENTAL is a certified provider of Six Month Smiles Braces. This system is geared toward adults that wish to correct minor issues like crowding, spacing, and crooked teeth. It is considered short tem orthodontics and most cases take only 6 months to complete. The braces are very esthetic with tooth-colored brackets on each tooth, and a white wire. You can call our office for a free Six Month Smiles Consult to see if you are a candidate.
What exactly is a tooth decay?
Tooth DecayTooth decay is a preventable disease. If not treated properly, decay can negatively impact your quality of life. When foods with carbohydrates like bread, cereal, milk, soda, fruit, cake, or candy stay on your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth turn them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel, creating holes called cavities.
Why are my teeth sensitive?
Your teeth naturally expand and contract in reaction to temperature changes. Some people have naturally sensitive teeth. Others can develop sensitive teeth with worn enamel, decay, gum recession, and cracked teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, you should see a dentist to determine the root cause before the problem worsens. Some sensitivity can be treated with over-the-counter sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum Disease is also known as Gingivitis. The process begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. This will cause bleeding gums that are red and swollen. This process then progresses to Periodontal Disease if not treated. Gum Disease is highly preventable and can be avoided with twice-daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental visits.
What is Periodontal Disease?
‘Periodontal’ means the tissue around the teeth, so Periodontal Disease is the disease of these tissues (gums and bone). This disease ranges from mild (bleeding gums and slight bone loss) to severe (major bone loss and loose teeth), but there are treatments available for every stage of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, periodontal problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, twice daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups will minimize the risk of periodontal disease. Scientists have found links between periodontal disease and a number of other problems, including: Heart disease, Diabetes, Dementia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Premature Birth.
What is causing my bad breath?
Bad Breath or Halitosis can be a sign or Gum Disease or other dental problem. Food particles left in the mouth will deteriorate and cause bad breath. A decaying or abscessed tooth can also cause bad breath. While certain foods, like garlic and onions, can cause temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath is a sign that something more serious is going on.
What is a canker sore?
Canker sores or aphthous ulcers are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border. They generally last 1 to 2 weeks, but can heal quicker with use of antimicrobial mouthwashes. Avoiding acidic foods (tomatoes, ketchup, oranges, etc) can prevent the sores and make them heal quicker.
Can baby teeth hurt?
Absolutely. It’s a common misconception that baby teeth can’t hurt. They have nerves just like adult teeth and should be treated the same. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, and it affects 50% of first-graders and 80% of 17-year olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self image, and overall health.
How do I care for my child’s teeth?
How to care for my childs teethParents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life, as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing you baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or soda. This can cause baby bottle tooth decay and lead to serious dental problems.
  • Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques, and teaching brushing and flossing by age 8. Only use fluoridated toothpaste when your child can properly spit it out. Swallowing too much fluoride can cause enamel issues in the unerupted permanent teeth
  • Regular visits (every 6 months) with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems. This first visit should be by age 3.
  • Encourage your child to discuss any fears they may have about dental visits, but never mention words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determine if the water supply in your home is fluoridated, if not discuss supplemental fluoride with your dentist.
  • Ask your dentist or dental hygienist about applying sealants to protect the chewing surfaces of adult molars once they erupt.

How can I prevent tooth decay?
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent the formation of a cavity. Try this dentist-recommended oral care routine:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Use toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride, an agent that strengthens teeth and helps prevent cavities
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss to help remove the plaque your toothbrush is unable to reach
  • Follow a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist, approximately every six months, for a routine cleaning and exam
  • Remember to change your toothbrush when it looks worn, or every three months, because the newer the bristles, the more plaque the brush is able to remove

Is Fluoride safe?
YES, in optimal amounts. Over 50 years of research and experience have shown that fluoridation at optimal levels does not harm people or the environment. Leading scientists and health professionals, numerous professional organizations, and governments around the world support community water fluoridation. And there is a proven reduction in cavities in people with fluoridated water. People with non-fluoridated water should speak with their dentist or doctor about supplemental fluoride.

However, too much fluoride can harm the teeth and body. You should always supervise small children with toothpaste and keep them from swallowing it. They do make “training toothpaste” for small children who are unable to spit.

Does thumb sucking or using a pacifier hurt my child's teeth?
Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. If the habit persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth, it can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth, and could lead to surgery later in life to correct the problem.
Are dental X-rays safe?
YES. Dental x-rays only emit a very small dose of radiation. You actually receive more radiation from the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, concrete parking lots, and flying in an airplane. Fortunately, Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to a number of measures that minimize the risks associated with X-rays, including the use of a lead vest with thyroid collar and digital X-ray imaging. We use both of these at Hughes Family Dental, and will only take X-rays when necessary.
What are dental sealants?
Sealants are a resin material that is applied to the biting surfaces of adult molars. These surfaces are highly susceptible to forming cavities because they have grooves and depressions that allow food and bacteria to reside. The grooves are extremely difficult to clean and often turn in to cavities. Studies show that 88% of total cavities in American school children are caused this way. The procedure to apply sealants is very easy. There is no numbing or drilling. We simply clean these grooves and apply the sealant as a liquid. A curing light is then shined on the sealant for 30 seconds and then rinsed clean. The child can immediately eat and drink. At Hughes Family Dentistry, we guarantee our sealants through the teen years, and will replace them for free in regular patients.