Commonly Asked Questions – By Deb

Our hygienist in Lincoln, NE


We are proud to have Deb, who is an experienced hygienist at Northstar Dental.  She is passionate about helping patients to have healthy mouth and education them in a non-judgemental manner. Patients ask many questions about common dental conditions. Deb has done er research and came up with awesome answers to common questions.


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1. Why do we not place amalgam (mercury) fillings at our office?  Our Hygienist answers.

We do not place silver fillings in our office because silver fillings are composed of metal, that metal expands and contracts with different temperatures that our mouth is exposed to. The tooth itself does not expand and contract, so over time, The tooth will begin to have cracks form in it.  The metal filling also contains mercury that can slowly be released into the body over time.  We do however place a material that is tooth colored and is much safer and healthier for our mouth and body.


2. Can you get cavities under fillings? Our Hygienist answers.

Over time fillings start to break down around the margins, when the filling starts to break down the bacteria can go underneath the filling. When this occurs, the bacteria can start to form a new cavity under the filling, and that is what we are seeing in your films today. Fillings have to be replaced as time goes on because of them breaking down.  The can be replaced with a new filling, or sometimes a crown has to be placed.

3. Do I need to protect first-year molars with crowns? Our Hygienist answers.

Our first molars (6yr old molars) are the workhorse of our entire mouth; they take the most force out of any other tooth.  That is a tooth we want to keep the rest of our life, and it is a tooth you will miss if it has to be removed. If your first molar has had a big filling, broken or cracked, we may need to protect the tooth with a crown or “cap”  without having to remove the tooth. The crown will support the tooth if we put a large filling in the tooth the tooth would be unstable and have a high risk of breaking off in the future.

4. Is it Important to keep six-year-old molars? Our Hygienist answers.

Our first molars (6yr old molars) are the most importance teeth in our entire mouth due to the amount of force they take when we eat.  They are the “workhorse” of the mouth and are essential to our ability to chew.

5. Do I have a cracked tooth?: Our Hygienist answers.

A tooth can become cracked for many different types of reasons; grinding or clenching and trauma are a couple of things that can cause cracks in a tooth.  If the crack isn’t very advanced, then a crown can be placed to help support the tooth and hold the tooth together.  If some cases if the crack is fairly advanced than the tooth would have to be removed.


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6. I have receding gums. Is it from brushing too hard? Our Hygienist answers.

Over time, aggressive brushing can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth.  When this occurs, it causes the root surface to be exposed in the mouth when it is normally covered by the gums. This can cause sensitivity because the root surfaces have microscopic tubules that send signals straight to the nerve, so anything cold or hot can cause that sensation.  The root surfaces are also a lot softer than our enamel that covers our tooth, so cavities are more likely to occur on the root surface when it is exposed.


7. Are there side effects to grinding and clenching? Our Hygienist answers…

Grinding or clenching can occur when we are awake at times of stress, or it can occur while we are sleeping without us knowing we are doing it. Over time the grinding causes wear on the teeth. The best way to protect the teeth is to wear a night guard at night.  The guard won’t stop you from grinding, but it helps the teeth from wearing away and protects them.

8. Can grinding lead to getting cavities? Our Hygienist answers…

Grinding over time wears away the enamel layer (outermost layer) of our tooth, this layer is also the strongest layer of our tooth.  If so much of the enamel is worn away, then the second layer of our tooth is exposed which is a lot softer than our enamel layer.  With that softer layer being exposed it puts us at risk for new cavities to be formed.


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9. What is a super eruption from a missing tooth? Our Hygienist answers…

Teeth like to be next to other teeth, and they also want to occlude or oppose other teeth.  When teeth are missing, the other teeth start to move in place of where missing teeth once were; this occurs over time.  When a tooth is missing from the top or bottom of our mouth, the tooth that is supposed to oppose that tooth starts to move up or down trying to find a tooth to occlude with; it is more of a common occurrence in a top tooth that has a bottom opposing tooth missing. Over time that tooth will slowly move down into the missing tooth’s spot.  This is why it is important to replace missing teeth.


10. Can chewing ice lead to failing fillings and getting cavities?

Chewing ice is very hard on teeth and can cause cracks to form on the teeth. It can also cause cracks in fillings already present in the teeth.  If a crack is formed around an existing filling, then bacteria can get under that filling causing a new cavity to form underneath. 

11. What can I get cheap night guards?

Night guards are used to protecting the teeth from wearing away in people who are grinding or clenching their teeth at night.  The guard doesn’t stop you from grinding, but it serves as a form of protection from future wear of the teeth.  We make the most affordable, cheapest night guards at our office. Usually, nightguards cost about $450, and insurances do not cover it. We make quality night guards for only $75. 


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12. Is Chewing tobacco and E-cigs as dangerous as regular cigarettes? Can chewing tobacco and E-cigs lead to oral cancer?

We all know that tobacco is not good for us and our overall health. Tobacco in any form. Chewing, Ecigs or cigarettes, all have a strong correlation to periodontal disease and oral cancer among other things.  By quitting or cutting back, you could make your oral cavity overall healthier.

13. Can Chemotherapy and radiation lead to cavities?

One side effect of Chemotherapy medication and radiation treatment is dry mouth.  Dry mouth can lead to some things including putting you at risk for more cavities.  There are a couple of products that can help with dry mouth, one being Biotene, I have some samples of their products that I will give you take home to try to see if you notice any improvement.

14. Should I be taking Probiotics for my overall dental health?

Probiotics work to help replenish the good bacteria in our body’s.  They also enhance our immune response.  They are good to take to promote healthy bacteria in our oral cavity and to aid in our immune response to the healing process of our mouth.


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15. Should I take Vit C for dental health?

Vitamin C helps promote the healing process in our body and also aids in fighting off infections.  By supplementing vitamin C into our diet, we will make our oral cavity overall healthier.  Vitamin C will help in fighting off any bad bacteria present in the mouth and will help to maintain a healthy supporting structure for our gums.

16. Should I take Vitamin D for dental health?

Vitamin D is important for our bones and teeth.  Taking a vitamin D supplement helps to maintain healthy bone support for our teeth.


17. Pop, energy, sports drinks, and juices, can they lead to cavities?

Such things as pop, juices, and sports drinks contain high amounts of sugar. High amounts of sugar intake can lead to dental cavities because the bacteria in our mouth feed off the sugars we eat.  As the bacteria feeds on the sugar, an acid attack occurs on the teeth causing a soft spot to form on the tooth, a cavity. We want to decrease our daily sugar intake and consume/drink things that don’t contain sugar, such as water.

18. What is the reason for bad breath, Halitosis?

Bad breath affects many people and can be caused by varies amounts of things, such as the bacteria that make up our mouth or different things we eat.  Having better overall home care can decrease the presence of bad breath; daily brushing, using an electric toothbrush, and using mouthwash are all examples.


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19. What is the best treatment for Cold sores?

Cold sores are very common.  They usually last for about two weeks, and you mainly have to let them run their course.  You can apply over the counter creams to help or take certain medications such as acyclovir to help relieve symptoms associated with the cold sores.

20. Cancer sores best treatment?

Certain types of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can cause sores to appear in the mouth.  You want to pay attention to what things irritate the sores and try to avoid them.  There are also special kinds of mouth rinses that can be prescribed to help relieve the pain when the sores get irritated.

21. What is a Geographic tongue?

Irregular red patches on the tongue are signs of a geographic tongue being present.  In most cases, the irritation and pain sensation of a geographic tongue will subside on its own.  If the pain or irritation gets severe enough then, certain kinds of mouth rinse can be prescribed.

22. Oral cancer common places and how to find it?

The most common places for oral cancer can be found as spots on the back of the tongue. These spots don’t go away and can be painful.  The best way to find any signs of oral cancer is to do routine oral cancer screenings.  At these screenings, we will look under the tongue, on the back of the tongue, and in the entire oral cavity for any abnormal spots that have appeared since the last visit.

23. What is TMJ best treatment?

The best treatment for TMJ pain is resting the joint.  Inflammation in the joint is what causes pain in the TMJ.  Not chewing gum, taking ibuprofen, and the hot/cold pack can help to reduce the inflammation in the TMJ and subside the pain.

24. Can my habit of Mouth breathing lead to cavities and bleeding gums?

Mouth breathing causes dry mouth which reduces saliva flow in our mouth.  Saliva helps to fight off the bad bacteria in our mouth that causes cavities. When saliva isn’t present, our body has a harder time trying to fight off the cavity forming bacteria.  This is why people who are mouth breathers are more prone to decay.

25. Can Allergies lead to bleeding gums?

Allergies can cause gums to bleed more.  Good home care is very importance when allergies are occurring.  Inflammation in the oral cavity and bleeding can make us more prone to gum disease or cavities.  Brushing, flossing, and using mouth rinse daily can help to reduce the amount of bleeding.

26. What is the best way to diagnose Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea has certain symptoms associated with it.  Waking up with a dry mouth or throat and lacking energy throughout the day are signs that sleep apnea could be taking place.  Your doctor can run different types of tests to confirm if sleep apnea is occurring.

27. Can I use oil pulling for gum disease treatment?

Research has shown that oil pulling can be beneficial to our gums and gum disease.  It works by pulling out the bacteria from the gums and reducing inflammation.  However, oil pulling isn’t for everyone and must be very routine for it to have any benefits.  For oil pulling to have an affect, you must rinse for at least twenty minutes daily with oil which most people cannot last to do.

28. What is the best treatment for Sensitive teeth?

Often after we work on a tooth, it can become more sensitive than before we worked on it.  The sensitivity should get better over time as the tooth heals.  Sensitivity toothpaste and ibuprofen in the meantime can help to reduce the pain.


Check out the “What is a Deep Cleaning” video

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