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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I visit the dentist regularly? 

Your dentist can detect dental issues years in advance.Since most dental problems don’t have symptoms until they reach the crisis stage, it’s a preventive issue to visit your dentist at least twice a year.However many patients don’t usually see their dentist this often, which can have devastating effects on your overall health.Putting off seeing your dentist often translates into more money and time spent in the dental chair.Stop putting it off, schedule your check-up ASAP.


I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist.  What should I do?

The fear of seeing a dentist is extremely common, therefore you are not alone.  The best way to overcome this fear is to visit your dentist and talk about it.  Often our past is a hindrance to us getting the essential assistance that we need.  However, dental health is a lifelong need that should never be neglected due to anxiety.  Visit the office of Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio where we have options to make your dental experience pain- and anxiety-free, including sedation dentistry.


What is sedation dentistry?

If the thought of seeing the dentist causes you agony, sedation dentistry may be for you.  Sedation is available for every in-office dental procedure.  With sedation dentistry, you have the option to stay awake or go to sleep, with the use of medication or general anesthesia.Feel free to discuss with the staff at Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio the sedation dentistry option right for you.


How do I keep my teeth?

To keep your natural teeth proper care is essential, and this includes visiting your dentist at least twice per year, or more if you are experiencing any dental concerns.  Dental conditions are not just controllable, but correctable and preventable too.  This can only be achieved by regularly seeing your dentist and practicing oral health hygiene, which includes a daily brushing and flossing routine to maintain healthy teeth and gums.  Teeth require proper nutrition too!Fresh fruits, vegetables and limited intakes of sugar will make a tremendous difference.  Visits Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio for regular check-ups, cleanings, and tips on an appropriate home dental care routine.


What is gum (periodontal) disease?

Gum or periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure.  Untreated gum disease can not only cause permanent jaw bone deterioration and tooth loss, but it has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and even prostate cancer.  With this, we can’t stress enough the importance of visiting your dentist on a regular basis to detect health concerns other than those found in your mouth.  At Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio our technologies include the use of a vital signs monitor and EKG reader as an essential part of your dental exams.  Treatment of early and advanced periodontal disease can be performed in-office with our noninvasive, non-surgical antibiotic gum disease therapy.  However, periodontal disease can be prevented by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular and following recommended care plans.


I have diabetes, why is my dentist concerned?

Current research suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes.  Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease.  If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth.  Gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise, which makes diabetes harder to control.  Be sure to see the staff at Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio regularly for checkups and home care recommendations.  If you notice conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to report these to our staff immediately; and don’t forget to mention changes in medications.


How long will the results of professional teeth whitening last? 

In general, an in-office teeth whitening procedure will last you up to a few years.  However, if you smoke, drink red wine or coffee, or consume other acid-containing foods, your bright new smile may begin to yellow quicker than you prefer.  Like other investments, the length of time you can expect your professional teeth whitening to last will vary in accordance to your care.  And even though the results can fade, occasional touch-ups can be done to regain luster.


Do store-bought whitening toothpastes work as well as professional teeth whitening services?

No. Commercial whitening toothpastes vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth.  Although they remove surface stains from the teeth, unlike professional whitening, they do not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth, and over time can erode tooth enamel.  With repeated use, the harsh abrasives contained in these at-home preparations damage teeth and contribute to increased tooth sensitivity.  If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, first consult with the dental professionals at Dr. Merrick's Dental Studio.


Beyond changing the color of my teeth, I’m interested in changing the shape of my teeth.  What options are available?

Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio does not only take care of your general dental health care, but we cater to all of your cosmetic dentistry needs.  Our practice offers several dental options to choose from like dental bonding, dental crowns, porcelain veneers, and recontouring.  Keep in mind that these options differ in terms of cost, durability, and “chair time.”  Schedule your appointment today with Dr. Merrick to get a thorough understanding of each procedure and find out which option will work best for you and your dental needs.


I have a terrible habit of clenching and grinding my teeth.  Can the dentist provide relief?

If you grind your teeth, your dentist has a solution.Contact the Practice Coordinator at Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio to schedule an appointment for a check-up and consultation.During your check-up, Dr. Merrick will examine your teeth to detect any permanent damage as a result of teeth grinding during sleep.Additionally, Dr. Merrick will take a mold of your teeth to create a silicone guard personalized for your mouth specifications to be worn at bedtime.A mouth guard is a dental appliance used to prevent the grinding down of tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity.


How does a tooth decay?

Simply put, plaque causes tooth decay.Plaque is a clear bacteria laden film, which develops on teeth.The bacteria in plaque interact with the starches and sugars in foods to form acids, which breaks down or de-mineralizes teeth, which results in cavities.Proper removal of plaque at your biannual dental cleanings will greatly reduce your risk of getting cavities, along with thorough flossing and brushing, and the elimination of sugar for the diet will reduce cavities and the need for root canals.


How safe are amalgam-type fillings?

There are many benefits to curing cavities with silver amalgam fillings including: durability, longevity, and extra cavity protection.  Since amalgam fillings have been around for over 150 years, it has proven to withstand the test of time.  They typically last a lot longer than composite or ceramic, tooth colored fillings by 7 years.  Secondly, amalgam fillings are strong and do withstand the forces of chewing and tooth grinding.  Third, amalgam fillings can make other teeth in close proximity more resistant to cavities than tooth colored cavities.  Lastly, amalgam fillings cost less and require only one trip to the dentist compared to other fillings materials.


What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected.  A root canal procedure is a 3-step process that requires more than one office visit.  It includes: the removal of the nerve and pulp of a tooth, the cleaning and sealing of the inside of the tooth, and finally the restoration of the tooth includes the application of a tooth-colored and shaped crown.


What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?

It can be challenging to decide what to do after losing a tooth.Fortunately, there are several options available to you.  The first decision, and easiest, is to just leave an empty space in your mouth and do nothing. If you decide to replace the missing tooth (or teeth), the following options may be available to you.

Partial or complete dentures: dentures are false removable teeth that are relatively quick and easy to fabricate.  They can be partial, where only one or a few teeth are replaced.  A partial denture holds false teeth on a plastic or metal framework.  This framework is removable and designed to fit around adjacent teeth.

A bridge: uses natural teeth adjacent to the empty space, to support a false tooth/teeth between them.  The natural teeth need to be shaved or contoured, so that a crown (tooth-shaped cap) can be placed over top.  These are called the abutment teeth.  The crowns on each tooth support the false tooth in between, known as the pontic tooth.

Dental Implants: dental implants can also replace natural teeth.  Implants are an excellent option as they do not affect adjacent teeth, yet look, feel, and function jut as natural teeth do.  The implant has a tooth-shaped top and a screw bottom, which is inserted into the missing tooth space.

Contact the staff at Dr. Merrick’s Dental Studio to discuss in thorough detail the benefits and limits to each tooth replacement option provided above.


I have dentures, is it necessary for me to see my dentist?

Visits to the Dentist include more than just “checking teeth”.  While those patients who wear dentures no longer have to worry about dental decay, they may have concerns with ill-fitting appliances or mouth sores to name a few.  Annual visits to the Dentist (or sooner if soreness is present) is recommended.  During these visits an oral cancer screening and head and neck exam will be performed as well as an evaluation of the fit or need for replacement of the existing appliances.  Regular visits can help you to avoid more complicated problems down the road even with a denture.


Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues.

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