Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I see a 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.

What should I expect during my first appointment?

One of our staff members will compile your medical and dental history during your first visit. We will then examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, make X-rays of your teeth as needed and complete a comprehensive exam. After we review your dental profile, we will discuss a diagnosis with you. If treatment  is needed, we will plan to treat you in our office or refer you to a specialist. We will discuss your options for treatment and fee payment and help you determine the best plan to fit your needs.

Can the dentist whiten my teeth?

 There are excellent methods available for bleaching the teeth:  overnight or daily.  For  teeth whitening, we make an impression of your teeth and create a mouthguard that fits your bite. Each day you fill the mouthguard with a small amount of bleaching gel and wear it overnight or for a few hours during the day. The overnight bleaching process takes approximately 2-3 weeks.

Other over-the-counter daily bleaching products are available, but it is important to use any bleaching product only under the supervision of a dentist. To achieve the whitening results you desire, the ADA recommends that you seek the professional advice of a dentist, including examination and diagnosis of the cause of tooth discoloration, before you begin any bleaching program.

Which type of toothbrush should I use?

The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.

 Is one toothpaste better than others?

Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride. Also, the ADA seal of approval insures that the product has been well tested.

What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?

Nothing, they are the same thing. These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. 

What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?

Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is securely attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. Bridges are not removable.  A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures. 

 Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?

No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.

What is a veneer?

A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural color ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain. It has a tremendous beautifying and strengthening effect.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

They are not only aesthetically pleasing, they:

  • Replace the tooth and fill the hole the tooth root occupied
  • Stimulate the bone and stop bone loss
  • Prevent the necessity of having other teeth cut down to build bridges or crowns
  • Are bio-compatible

How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

It is easy to get your mouth clean and healthy, and keep it that way. A simple routine of brushing and cleaning between the teeth, good eating habits and regular dental check-ups can help prevent most dental problems. Although most people brush regularly, many don’t clean between their teeth and some people don’t have dental check-ups. A few small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in the long run. Your dentist or dental hygienist can remove any build-up on your teeth and treat any gum disease that has already appeared. But daily dental care is up to you, and the main weapons are the toothbrush and interdental cleaning. (Cleaning between the teeth).

Do you accept my insurance plan?

While  Dr. Pettinato does not participate in any HMO, DMO, or PPO plans, our team will do everything possible to help you maximize the benefits of your traditional dental insurance plan. Our financial policy allows us to provide you with the best treatment available and does not limit your health care to just what your plan covers. We will be happy to submit your insurance paperwork for you at the time of treatment. If you have any questions about your insurance that your employer cannot answer, please call our office, we have years of experience in persuading insurance carriers to provide the benefits our patients deserve.

What payment options do you provide?

We accept all major credit cards and checks. We also provide low interest or no interest financing through Care Credit in which you may have 12 months of no-interest payments. Just ask, because we want to make your dental care affordable..

What do I do if I have an emergency when the office is closed?

We’re available 24 hours, seven days a week for all patients of record. Just call our office and you’ll be given instructions. Dr. Pettinato will always be available.