Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can we help you?

We want to make it easy for you to become an informed participant in your oral health care. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to help you feel comfortable asking us whenever you have a question. No question is ever silly, and we are here to help you with any concern you happen to have. 

We've gathered some of our most commonly heard questions here for you to look through. If your question isn't answered here or you'd like more information, don't hesitate to give us a call!

Other

A sealant is a term for a preventive procedure where the grooves in tooth’s surface are sealed with a resin dental material.  Most molars (back teeth) have grooves on the biting surfaces and sometimes these grooves extend to the sides of a tooth also.  These grooves can trap small bits of food and bacteria, and even perfect brushing techniques may not be able to remove and clean the deepest portions of these grooves.  Therefore, cavities frequently develop in these areas. 

It is recommended to have any susceptible grooves sealed to prevent cavities.  If there is stain or plaque in the grooves, they are first cleaned out with a tiny dental bur prior to being sealed in with dental material.  The procedure is quick, painless, and helps to prevent cavities from forming in these grooves. 

It is important to note that sealants are not as strong or long-lasting as fillings.  Sometimes a sealant may need to be re-applied if it wears down or comes loose over time.  It is also important to note that although sealants greatly reduce the incidence of cavities, nothing eliminates the possibility altogether.  A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates combined with poor brushing habits can always lead to cavities. 

Electric brushes (or power brushes) can make brushing easier.  A simple battery powered brush may be a good idea for a child (or an elderly individual) who may lack the dexterity to properly brush with a manual toothbrush.  It can also make brushing more fun for children.  Power brushes range from these simple rotating brushes, to high-tech brushes that can clean with sonic brush movements and sync to smart phone apps with Bluetooth technology.  For the majority of adults, I recommend Sonicare Platinum or DiamondClean power brushes.  Oral B Pro series brushes are also a good choice.  The prices can be upwards of $100, but the results speak for themselves.  Almost every patient that switches to a high quality powerbrush returns to us with healthier gums and healthier teeth!

Tooth sensitivity is very common and can present in different forms such as hot, cold or sweet sensitivity.  Sensitivity to extreme temperatures, or extremely sugary foods like candy, does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your teeth.  Some people simply have teeth that are more sensitive than others, with younger people typically having more issues than elderly people.  Sensitivity is also considered a normal side-effect of tooth whitening, but fortunately in almost all cases the sensitivity resolves after the whitening process is completed.  Cavities, cracked teeth, and other dental problems also are associated with sensitivity, so a quick dental examination should be performed to determine the cause.

The most sensitive area on a tooth is usually found at the gumline.  This portion of the tooth has the thinnest enamel and therefore is less "protected" from hot or cold temperatures.  Gum recession is very common and occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the tooth recedes back, leaving a small portion of the root exposed.  These exposed roots have no enamel covering them, and can be extremely sensitive.

There are many products that treat tooth sensitivity, with the most common being toothpastes that contain Potassium Nitrate 5%, such as Sensodyne toothpaste.  Pottasium Nitrate toothpastes work very well when used daily, but results often take a few weeks to be noticed- they rarely provide immediate relief.  Fluoride is also a great desensitizer and over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinses often work well.  There are also varnishes and sensitivity treatments that a dentist can apply to your teeth to provide relief if the over-the-counter products are not sufficient.  If you are unsure of which sensitivity treatment is right for you, ask us at your next visit!

 

White teeth are associated with youth, health, and beauty - it is no surprise that people universally want their teeth to be white!  As people age, the shade of their teeth naturally darkens.  Dark foods and drinks such as red wine, coffee, tea, soda, or dark berries can stain teeth.  Tobacco products are well-known for their ability to turn teeth yellowish-brown.  Fortunately, there are safe, easy products to reverse this color change.  

Many toothpastes claim to be "whitening" products, but in reality they can only remove surface stains, and are not very useful in whitening the actual tooth itself.  Almost all whitening products on the market, both over-the-counter and those provided by a dentist, are a form of hydrogen peroxide, with carbamide peroxide being the most common.  The only significant differences between products is the concentration of the peroxide and the manner in which it is applied to the teeth.   When used as directed, these products will not harm teeth and have been on the market for decades.  Whitening products do cause a significant increase in tooth sensitivity, but this is typically temporary and disappears within weeks of whitening.  Crest WhiteStrips, which is a common over-the-counter whitening product, has the peroxide on a plastic strip that is pressed on to the teeth and allowed to remain there for a set period of time, and this process is usually repeated daily over the course of a week or two.

 Professional products are usually purchased at a dental office and contain much higher concentrations of peroxide.  Our office recommends a process where we take impressions of your mouth, and make custom whitening trays are made to fit exactly over your teeth.  This is a take home system, where in the comfort of your home a gel is placed in the trays, and the trays are placed onto the teeth and allowed to remain for an hour or so.  In some cases, you can even go to sleep with the trays in your mouth to allow them to whiten as you sleep.  After one to two weeks, the results are usually amazing.  It is important to know that only natural teeth will whiten - fillings and other dental work will not.

There is currently no way to whiten your teeth and have the results be permanent.  All whitened teeth will eventually darken again, as various foods and drinks stain them again.  The benefit of having whitening trays is that you can maintain the whiteness of your teeth by performing a once-a-month whitening session (wear the trays for one hour per month).  Extra whitening gel is relatively inexpensive (at least at our office) compared with the original whitening procedure.

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your tooth brush about every three to four months.  One method of remembering when to replace your brush is to change it at the start of each season, since it can be difficult to remember how long you have been using your current brush.  However, depending on the type of brush and the brushing technique of the user, some brushes will wear out more quickly or more slowly than the 3-4 month average.  Generally speaking, if the bristles on the toothbrush are in perfect condition, the toothbrush can be kept.  If the bristles are worn, frayed or bent, the brush should be tossed in the trash.  Bent or frayed bristles do not clean effectively and can damage the teeth and gum tissues.  The other time to consider throwing a brush away is after an illness.  Electric brushes such as Sonicare or Oral B power brushes should have their brush heads changed in the same manner.

Bad breath (halitosis) can have many causes.  Removing bacteria from your mouth is an easy way to start to eliminate bad breath. Brushing, flossing and having professional dental cleanings may be all that is needed.  Infections of the mouth, such as abscessed teeth or periodontitis (gum disease), are common causes of bad breath.  Untreated cavities may also be linked with halitosis.  A complete dental examination can help rule these things out.  Other factors that may play a role include dry mouth, sinus infections, post-nasal drip, tonsil stones, tonisillitis, acid reflux and diet.   

Dental X-rays (or radiographs) are one of the main tools dentists use to make a complete diagnosis.  A visual examination by the dentist will reveal much information, but it often impossible to detect small cavities forming between teeth or under old fillings, without the aid of X-rays.  Additionally, radiographs will allow the dentist to see the health of the underlying bone which can indicate the presence of gum disease, also known as periodontitis.  Many other conditions can be found only by taking radiographs.

Radiographs are taken when a problem or issue is suspected, but also should be taken routinely even if everything looks and feels fine.  Depending on a patient's risk factors and past dental health, a set of bitewing radiographs (2-4 small pictures) are recommended every 6 months to 3 years.  Additionally, for most patients a full set of X-rays showing all teeth and oral areas are recommended every 3-5 years.

Toothaches can develop for a number of reasons. If you are experiencing dental pain, it could indicate you have one of the following:

  • Infection
  • Decay
  • Trauma
  • Cracks or fractures
  • Bruxism (chronic clenching and grinding)
  • Gum recession
  • Periodontal disease

The most important thing to do is to have a dentist evaluate your teeth to determine what is causing the problem and recommend an appropriate treatment.

We know that it can be tempting to ignore the pain and hope that it goes away. The reality, however, is that pain means that something is wrong, and dental problems usually don’t resolve themselves. Solving the problem quickly typically means simpler, more conservative treatment and a faster resolution. 

If you are experiencing pain, please call our East Norriton dental office right away. We will get you in quickly for an emergency appointment to assess and diagnose the problem. We will treat the immediate issue and relieve your pain, and then we’ll also recommend that you come back for a thorough evaluation so that we can help you get your dental health back on track. Routine care is often the key to avoiding most common dental emergencies and conditions that cause discomfort.

Care for Anxious and Fearful Patients

Yes.  A fear of the dentist is one of the most common forms of anxiety, and we understand that it may be difficult for you to build up the courage to come in for an appointment.  Dr. Wahlers and our entire staff are trained to deal with dental anxiety and can work with you to get you past your fears.  On our website, you can read through numerous five star reviews that attest we are kind, welcoming people who truly care for our patients.  We love when our anxious patients tell us after their appointments are over that they had a great experience, and it was not at all what they had been expecting.  If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, we welcome you to come in and meet us!

Your comfort is incredibly important to us. We deeply believe that dental treatment should never be painful or uncomfortable, and we will always take every step possible to make sure that you feel no pain.

In just about every treatment situation, there is a way to completely eliminate pain from the procedure. We will discuss your options with you ahead of time so that you know what to expect during your treatment.

At Wahlers Family Dentistry, we use techniques that often result in patients asking, “Did you just give me an injection? I didn’t feel a thing!”

Many patients avoid seeing the dentist because of fears that their treatment will hurt. We have helped many anxious and worried patients discover that dentistry can be comfortable and easy. We take great pride in the number of patients who we’ve converted from fearful into confident!

If you’ve been putting off treatment because of any type of anxiety, embarrassment, or concern, please give us a call and let us know what is up. We are happy to talk with you to create a treatment plan that fits your unique needs and helps you feel good about the care you are receiving. 

Cosmetic Dentistry

If the edges of front teeth are only mildly chipped or worn, many times some simple polishing and smoothing will greatly improve esthetics.  Other times, white composite fillings may be placed to restore tooth structure that may have worn or chipped away.  If the wear is more significant, veneers or crowns may be a better option to provide optimal esthetics and strength.  If there is a long history of chipping or wear, it could be a sign of a grinding habit called bruxism, and a custom nightguard (clear mouthpiece worn at night) may help prevent future problems.  Always feel free to ask us about ways to improve the esthetics of your teeth!

We offer all modern cosmetic options in our office, including professional whitening, veneers, crowns, implants, white (tooth-colored) fillings, bonding and esthetic tooth replacement options (porcelain bridges).  We also offer Invisalign which is a clear, esthetic alternative to braces.  In some cases, we will involve a periodontist or orthodontist to assist in positioning the teeth or gums to ensure a more predictable esthetic outcome.  If you have any questions about the services we offer, feel free to call for a consultation to discuss your options.

Crowns & Veneers

A crown (also known as a cap) is a cover that is placed over a tooth.  It restores the tooth to a more ideal shape or size, and can improve its function and strength.  Additionally, crowns can improve the esthetics of a tooth, especially if it is a front tooth.  Typically crowns are made of porcelain, metal, or a combination of the two materials, with the porcelain coating the outside of the metal.

Veneers are similar to crowns, but do not cover the tooth on all surfaces.  Typically, a veneer will be bonded to the front (visible surface) of a tooth, but commonly wraps very slightly over the edge of a front tooth, and extends in between the teeth so that its margins (edges) are not showing.  Veneers are almost universally made to improve esthetics, but also can be used to treat chipped or worn teeth.  They are always made from a type of porcelain to mimic the esthetics of enamel.

Since crowns and veneers perform similar functions, are often made of the same materials, and can be  cemented with the same types of cements, they are typically very comparable in cost and in the length of the appointment time needed.  In my office, I use both options, depending on many factors.  In reality, though, there is often little difference between the two options, especially if the veneers are the type which wrap around the sides and edges.   Both are wonderful options to restore or create an amazing smile.

Even the best made dental crowns (caps) do not last forever.  Sometimes cavities form at their margins, and sometimes they can come loose, either from decay or cement washout.  A loose crown will often have a telltale taste or odor coming from it- a result of food debris getting stuck underneath.  Sometimes the crown will simply get pulled out by a sticky piece of food.  Always call for an appointment as soon as you notice a loose crown, or if the crown has fallen out.  If the tooth is intact and healthy, we can often clean the inside of the crown, and simply cement it back in.

If too much time goes by with a loose crown, decay can set in due to food debris getting under the loose crown and damaging the underlying tooth.  Or if the crown has come out and too much time goes by before the dental appointment is made, the adjacent teeth can shift ever so slightly, and the crown may not fit anymore.  We can typically see you within a few days (many times the same day) whenever you have a dental issue.

Dental Implants

If a tooth needs to be removed or has already been removed, we can choose from three primary methods for replacing it:

Dental implant – Using this method, a custom-crafted dental crown is affixed to a carefully placed titanium post, essentially replacing the missing tooth without affecting any other teeth.

Fixed bridge – An esthetic artificial porcelain tooth is permanently held in place by attachments to the adjacent teeth.

Partial denture – This removable appliance fills in the space left by the missing teeth and is held into place by clips around your other healthy teeth.

Which one of these is right for you? That depends on a number of factors. Each of these methods has its own virtues, and we’d be happy to discuss your options with you. As we help you make your decision, we’ll keep in mind your own personal preferences, your long-term goals, and your financial needs. Thanks to advancements in modern dentistry, each option can blend in beautifully with your existing dentistry.

If you are missing a tooth, please call our East Norriton dental office today so we can schedule an examination and consultation. 

When a tooth cannot be saved and needs to be extracted, a dental implant is a great option to replace it.  In a few situations, an implant can be placed immediately after the tooth is extracted, and a temporary crown attached to it.  This is a great situation for a front tooth, where it is not ideal to have a missing tooth for a period of time.  More commonly, however, the implant is placed in the area where the tooth is missing and allowed to heal for a period of a few months.  At that time, a permanent crown is then attached to the implant.  During this period of healing, a temporary appliance (similar to a retainer) is worn to fill in the space.  If the tooth being replaced is a posterior tooth that cannot be seen during smiling or talking, a temporary is often not needed.

Some situations require a bone grafting procedure prior to the placement of a dental implant.  This is typically a simple procedure that is often performed at the time the tooth is extracted.  It requires the application of a paste, which contains bone-forming minerals, to the extraction socket.  This improves the density and quality of the bone as it heals, resulting in better integration (healing) of the implant.  It often lengthens the total treatment time by a few months, but improves the final result. 

Dental implants are becoming the gold standard when it comes to replacing missing teeth.

A dental implant is a titanium post that heals into your bone and gums to replace the root of a tooth. A crown can then be attached to that implant to provide a new tooth that is as close to a real tooth as modern dentistry can offer.

Crowns are not the only option for restoring a dental implant. Patients who are missing several teeth or who are completely edentulous (missing all their teeth) can also benefit from dental implants. We can use dental implants to hold a fixed bridge in place or even secure a set of dentures so that you never have to worry about them coming loose again.

Even better, because dental implants become a part of your anatomy, they function similarly to your natural roots and help stimulate the jawbone, reducing recession and bone loss. This is a huge advantage of dental implants that can’t be replicated with other tooth replacement options that are designed to sit above the gumline.

Are dental implants right for you? Call and ask for a consultation with Dr. Christopher Wahlers. He will examine your teeth and gums and determine whether you could benefit from a dental implant.

Digital X-Rays

Dental X-rays (or radiographs) are one of the main tools dentists use to make a complete diagnosis.  A visual examination by the dentist will reveal much information, but it often impossible to detect small cavities forming between teeth or under old fillings, without the aid of X-rays.  Additionally, radiographs will allow the dentist to see the health of the underlying bone which can indicate the presence of gum disease, also known as periodontitis.  Many other conditions can be found only by taking radiographs.

Radiographs are taken when a problem or issue is suspected, but also should be taken routinely even if everything looks and feels fine.  Depending on a patient's risk factors and past dental health, a set of bitewing radiographs (2-4 small pictures) are recommended every 6 months to 3 years.  Additionally, for most patients a full set of X-rays showing all teeth and oral areas are recommended every 3-5 years.

The medical field has slowly shifted from analog (film) to digital X-rays over the past 15 years or so, closely following improvements in digital imaging.  Although there are a few dental offices that still take “films,” almost all modern offices are now fully digital.  There are many benefits of digital X-rays over traditional film, but the two most important (in my opinion) are the improved quality of the images, and the decrease in radiation exposure to the patient.  Because the newest digital sensors are so sensitive, a high-quality image can be obtained with a fraction of the radiation that was used years ago.   All of the X-ray sensors in our office are new within the past few years, from top manufacturers.

Most research studies show that the amount of radiation from routine dental bitewings (4 standard check-up X-rays) is approximately equal to the amount of radiation that a passenger is exposed to during a typical two hour plane flight.  And as a side note, I have never known anyone to restrict their travel plans in order to limit their radiation exposure!  I am proud that we provide the safest and highest quality dental imaging possible to our patients.  If you have any concerns about your radiation exposure, feel free to talk with me at your next appointment.

Emergency Dentistry

Dental emergencies involving extreme pain or swelling should be treated as quickly as possible.  During our business hours Monday-Thursday, please call the office and we can typically see you quickly depending on your situation.  For after-hours emergencies, you can obtain the contact information for the emergency line by calling our office and listening to the message.    If it is not a true emergency, we will always respond to messages the next business day at 8am.

Things that can be done at home to help you:

Severe face or head trauma- Do not call our office.  Call 911 or head directly to the Emergency Room.

Severe Pain/Toothache – A toothache can start at any time and become extremely painful.  If the pain is mild to moderate, over-the-counter pain medication can be used to alleviate the discomfort until you can get in to see us.  If the pain is extreme, call us immediately. 

Swelling- This typically indicates an infection, and you should call for an appointment.  Ice packs (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off) placed over the area of swelling can sometimes help reduce pain.

Tooth knocked outNote: If there is a suspected concussion, the patient should head to the ER first, the dentist second.  Teeth can become avulsed (knocked out) from intense trauma to the mouth such as a punch, a fall, or a sports injury.  The tooth should NOT be cleaned or rinsed with water, as this can ruin the ligaments on the tooth.  The tooth can be placed in a special vial of liquid that sports trainers often have on hand called Save-a-Tooth.  If this is not available, place the tooth in a container of milk.  If that is not  available, the patient can place the tooth in their mouth, holding it inside of their cheek (saliva and/or blood are ok and will not harm the tooth).  Call our office or the emergency line immediately.  The tooth or teeth will need to be re-implanted in the gums as quickly as possible.

Crown (Cap) came off – This is not a true dental emergency, unless it is a front tooth and it creates a major esthetic issue!  In many cases, a loose crown can be recemented at our office.  Some patients do place the crown back on their tooth while waiting for their appointment, either with over the counter temporary cements (this can be difficult to do properly) or simply just pressing it into place.  If the crown is at all loose, do not leave it in your mouth since there is a risk of swallowing it. 

Lost filling – In the absence of pain, this is not a true emergency unless it is on a front tooth, and is deemed an “esthetic emergency.”

Front teeth, or incisors, are responsible for biting into foods.  The relatively narrow edges of these teeth make it easy to bite into a sandwich, but also make them prone to chips and cracks.  It is very common to see the corner or edge of an incisors chip.  Most of the time if the chip is small, it can be repaired with a composite filling, which is tooth-colored and seamlessly blends with the rest of the tooth for a highly esthetic repair.  If the chip is extremely small, sometimes the edge can be polished smooth and nothing else needs to be done.  If the chip or fracture is too large for a filling, a crown or veneer may be recommended to provide a long-lasting, esthetic result.  Even if your tooth requires a crown or veneer, we can often temporarily bond the tooth if an important event is approaching soon!  Dr. Wahlers will discuss all of your options with you at your appointment.

A truly severe toothache is debilitating.  The pain can become so intense that it is hard to focus on anything else.  Hopefully, you will call us at the first sign of tooth pain, when the problem is likely less severe.  But sometimes a toothache can seemingly come out of nowhere, either due to an abscess or severe nerve (pulpal) inflammation.  In either case, call the office or the emergency line right away (the number is mentioned in our after-hours voicemail when you call).  We will either give you an appointment as soon as we can, or have you see a local specialist depending upon the issue.  

Over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help reduce pain somewhat.  If you are unsure if you can take these medications, we can discuss it when you call, or you can always ask your pharmacist.   Additionally heat or ice packs can often help reduce the pain (try both- every toothache is different).   Lastly, sleeping upright in a recliner or propped up on pillows sometimes helps reduce the pressure that can intensify when lying flat.

Invisalign

Invisalign is the brand name of one of the largest orthodontic companies in the world, Align Technology.  They are based out of California and have been in existence for over twenty years.  Many orthodontists and general dentists, such as myself, have become certified to be providers of Invisalign through their dental school education or continuing education.  Invisalign charges dentists and orthodontists a fee for every patient that uses their system, and helps to design and manufacture the aligners that move a patient’s teeth into better alignment.  It is an alternative to traditional braces.

Other companies have recently started to challenge the dominance that Invisalign has held over the clear aligner market.  Various smaller companies attempt to compete with Invisalign by charging dentists a slightly lower fee while trying to provide the same service.  The biggest difficulty that smaller companies face is that Align Technology has had decades of data and feedback, allowing them to continually optimize the efficiency and predictability of Invisalign.  Competitors are playing catch-up and competing by imitation right now.  However, technology advances quickly and the competitors may one day be as good, or even better than Invisalign.

A relatively new form of competition is the Smile Direct Club.  This is another competitor of Invisalign that essentially cuts out the dentist or orthodontist and markets directly to patients.  Patients can take impressions of their own teeth and send them through the mail to Smile Direct Club, and have aligners shipped directly to them.  In most cases, a dentist or orthodontist does NOT see the patient during the course of treatment.   Personally, I feel there is a lot of inherent risk in allowing patients to control their own treatment without dental supervision.  Very simple cases where only a few teeth are slightly out of position may go smoothly, but I feel more moderate to complex cases require a dentist to be involved.  Time will tell if Smile Direct Club produces consistent, quality results.

Since the Invisalign aligners (clear plastic devices that fit over your teeth and move them) are manufactured by Align Technology, some patients may wonder why they cannot be sent directly to the patient through the mail.  In other words, what role does the dentist have in the Invisalign process?  First, the dentist checks if the teeth are in good health.  Teeth that are weak, decayed, or have gum disease may be compromised or even ruined if they are moved orthodontically.  Second, the dentist takes either scans or impressions, as well as photographs of the teeth, to be sent with a prescription to Invisalign.

When treatment starts, small tooth-colored attachments are placed on the teeth by bonding them.  These attachments allow the aligners to pull and push in specific locations to move the teeth in very specific directions.  Sometimes, IPR is performed, which can be thought of as flossing with “sandpaper floss.”  The dentist removes tight contacts between teeth so that they have room to move into proper position.  Lastly, only a dentist can remove the bonded attachments and polish the teeth smooth.  Typically, I also recontour some teeth, polishing sharp edges, and smoothing certain areas to perfect the final look.

Invisalign is very predictable and works extremely well when done properly.  However, as with any medical or dental procedure, there are risks if performed improperly.  

 

Nightguards

A nightguard is a dental appliance that is worn during sleep.  There are many forms of nightguards, with the most common types being very similar in appearance to a mouthpiece worn by athletes.  A nightguard is fabricated by a dentist and its purpose is either to prevent teeth, crowns, or veneers from chipping during sleep, or to help prevent clenching and grinding during sleep.  A properly fitted nightguard fits tightly and comfortably, and must be made to evenly occlude (or touch) the opposing teeth. An improperly made nightguard can cause worsening joint issues and discomfort.  Some patients have trouble adjusting to wearing a nightguard, but most people find the relief and protection they provide to be indispensable.

The habitual clenching and grinding of one’s teeth, also known as bruxism, is a very common condition affecting millions of Americans.  Many times, people are unaware that they clench or grind, and the diagnosis is usually made by a dentist when uneven wear of the enamel surfaces is noticed.  Other times, the condition is diagnosed from a patient’s complaint of pain or soreness in their cheeks and jaws, which is typically either muscle or joint pain caused by bruxism.  To protect the teeth, and to reduce the symptoms of bruxism, a nightguard is often the first line of treatment recommended by a dentist.  In our office, impressions of the teeth are taken, and a dental lab then fabricates an appliance that is custom fit to the patient’s mouth.  A nightguard is worn while sleeping since the majority of the damage to the teeth and the joints occurs during sleep, when people are unable to control their clenching and grinding.

Although drug stores will stock their shelves with over-the-counter nightguards, I almost never recommend them.  Essentially they are just a variation of boil-and-bite mouthpieces that athletes wear during contact sports.  Two negatives to over-the-counter nightguards are their less than ideal fit and their bulkiness.  More importantly, if the fit is not adjusted properly by a dentist, it is possible to harm oneself or worsen the condition.  Anyone who has tried an over-the-counter nightguard, only to see no improvement (or worsening) of their symptoms, should consider a professionally made nightguard.  The cost varies depending on which type is made, but typically we charge $325 for most nightguards, considerably less than many offices.  Insurance benefits may cover a portion of the cost depending on the plan.

Pediatrics

A sealant is a term for a preventive procedure where the grooves in tooth’s surface are sealed with a resin dental material.  Most molars (back teeth) have grooves on the biting surfaces and sometimes these grooves extend to the sides of a tooth also.  These grooves can trap small bits of food and bacteria, and even perfect brushing techniques may not be able to remove and clean the deepest portions of these grooves.  Therefore, cavities frequently develop in these areas. 

It is recommended to have any susceptible grooves sealed to prevent cavities.  If there is stain or plaque in the grooves, they are first cleaned out with a tiny dental bur prior to being sealed in with dental material.  The procedure is quick, painless, and helps to prevent cavities from forming in these grooves. 

It is important to note that sealants are not as strong or long-lasting as fillings.  Sometimes a sealant may need to be re-applied if it wears down or comes loose over time.  It is also important to note that although sealants greatly reduce the incidence of cavities, nothing eliminates the possibility altogether.  A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates combined with poor brushing habits can always lead to cavities. 

While guidelines state that children should see a dentist by age one, the reality is that there is little that needs to be done for most one year olds, assuming that they are receiving proper care and nutrition at home. Of course, if a parent suspects that there may be a problem, a dentist should examine the child, regardless of age.

Dr. Wahlers’s children both received their first polish and ride in the chair at about the age of two and a half. Some parents prefer to wait until their child is three years old. It also depends a great deal on the temperament of the child.

We do encourage parents to bring their children with them to their cleanings. This is a great way to introduce children to the dental office so that they can see that it’s not a scary place and that getting their teeth cleaned is a normal thing to do. Plus, kids tend to have a lot of natural curiosity, and we can answer their questions using language they can understand and show them the instruments we use. By the time it’s their turn, they’ll often be quite eager to have their first cleaning!

If you have any questions about children’s dentistry, feel free to call our office and we’ll be happy to help!

We encourage parents to bring your young child with you for your check up and cleaning, and allowing them to color, read, or play on an electronic device during your visit (as long as they can sit still!)  This will introduce them to the dentist and the staff and make them comfortable and familiar with the office for when it is their turn.

  
At the child’s first visit, usually between the ages 2-4 (depending on their cooperation and enthusiasm), we keep it very brief and positive.  Young children are typically very cooperative, but for only a short period of time.  Allowing a stranger to look in their mouth is usually tolerated for a few minutes, but not too much longer.  We count the teeth, examine them for decay or problems, polish the teeth and give a prize to the child.  At successive visits, more and more can be completed.  It usually takes a few visits (therefore years) to work up to the full extent of a dental visit which may include X-rays, cleaning and polishing, fluoride treatment, and examination.

 
 Dr. Wahlers believes that positive dental experiences at a young age are extremely important.  Our youngest patients leave our office smiling, with a new brush and a prize.  Most of them are excited to return for their next visit!  If you have any questions about your child’s visit, feel free to call.

 

We see many children in our general dental office, providing very similar care to them that we provide to our adult patients.  Children should be seen at regular six month intervals for check-ups which include a cleaning, examination and fluoride treatment.  Dental X-rays are usually recommended with a typical interval of once every two years to check for cavities and the development of the adult dentition.  As with all of our patients, treatment is tailored to the individual, and not all patients receive exactly the same treatment.  Differences in treatment schedules may depend upon the age of the patient ( i.e. a 3 year-old may not be able tolerate having X-rays taken), other risk factors (i.e. children who have a history of developing cavities may benefit from more frequent X-rays or fluoride treatments), or personal preferences or medical conditions.  If needed, we also provide sealants and fillings for children.  In the event that more extensive work involving crowns or root canal treatment is needed, we occasionally refer to local pediatric dentists that are excellent.  Many of our adult patients first started coming to our practice as children, and remain patients to this day!

Root Canals

Whenever possible, it’s better to save an injured or infected tooth rather than extract it. Saving your tooth allows us to preserve the relationship between your teeth and your periodontal bone, which is better for your long-term health. Plus, since you don’t have to worry about the added expense of replacing the tooth, saving a tooth makes good sense financially as well.

Certain conditions, such as infections and deep decay, may require that we remove the nerves and the tissue in the center of your tooth and its roots. This procedure, endodontic therapy, is most commonly known as a root canal. Before we proceed, Dr. Wahlers will make sure that you are completely comfortable and that you won’t feel a thing during your treatment. In fact, since people who need a root canal are frequently in pain, getting a root canal will often give you relief!

Once the tooth has been cleaned out and disinfected, the canals in your roots (this is where the name comes from) will be sealed with a dental material. In some cases, we will also recommend that the treated tooth be crowned to restore it to full strength.

If you are experiencing dental pain, please don’t suffer. Call us and we’ll get you in quickly so we can treat your condition and relieve your pain.

Teeth Whitening

Tooth sensitivity is very common and can present in different forms such as hot, cold or sweet sensitivity.  Sensitivity to extreme temperatures, or extremely sugary foods like candy, does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your teeth.  Some people simply have teeth that are more sensitive than others, with younger people typically having more issues than elderly people.  Sensitivity is also considered a normal side-effect of tooth whitening, but fortunately in almost all cases the sensitivity resolves after the whitening process is completed.  Cavities, cracked teeth, and other dental problems also are associated with sensitivity, so a quick dental examination should be performed to determine the cause.

The most sensitive area on a tooth is usually found at the gumline.  This portion of the tooth has the thinnest enamel and therefore is less "protected" from hot or cold temperatures.  Gum recession is very common and occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the tooth recedes back, leaving a small portion of the root exposed.  These exposed roots have no enamel covering them, and can be extremely sensitive.

There are many products that treat tooth sensitivity, with the most common being toothpastes that contain Potassium Nitrate 5%, such as Sensodyne toothpaste.  Pottasium Nitrate toothpastes work very well when used daily, but results often take a few weeks to be noticed- they rarely provide immediate relief.  Fluoride is also a great desensitizer and over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinses often work well.  There are also varnishes and sensitivity treatments that a dentist can apply to your teeth to provide relief if the over-the-counter products are not sufficient.  If you are unsure of which sensitivity treatment is right for you, ask us at your next visit!

 

White teeth are associated with youth, health, and beauty - it is no surprise that people universally want their teeth to be white!  As people age, the shade of their teeth naturally darkens.  Dark foods and drinks such as red wine, coffee, tea, soda, or dark berries can stain teeth.  Tobacco products are well-known for their ability to turn teeth yellowish-brown.  Fortunately, there are safe, easy products to reverse this color change.  

Many toothpastes claim to be "whitening" products, but in reality they can only remove surface stains, and are not very useful in whitening the actual tooth itself.  Almost all whitening products on the market, both over-the-counter and those provided by a dentist, are a form of hydrogen peroxide, with carbamide peroxide being the most common.  The only significant differences between products is the concentration of the peroxide and the manner in which it is applied to the teeth.   When used as directed, these products will not harm teeth and have been on the market for decades.  Whitening products do cause a significant increase in tooth sensitivity, but this is typically temporary and disappears within weeks of whitening.  Crest WhiteStrips, which is a common over-the-counter whitening product, has the peroxide on a plastic strip that is pressed on to the teeth and allowed to remain there for a set period of time, and this process is usually repeated daily over the course of a week or two.

 Professional products are usually purchased at a dental office and contain much higher concentrations of peroxide.  Our office recommends a process where we take impressions of your mouth, and make custom whitening trays are made to fit exactly over your teeth.  This is a take home system, where in the comfort of your home a gel is placed in the trays, and the trays are placed onto the teeth and allowed to remain for an hour or so.  In some cases, you can even go to sleep with the trays in your mouth to allow them to whiten as you sleep.  After one to two weeks, the results are usually amazing.  It is important to know that only natural teeth will whiten - fillings and other dental work will not.

There is currently no way to whiten your teeth and have the results be permanent.  All whitened teeth will eventually darken again, as various foods and drinks stain them again.  The benefit of having whitening trays is that you can maintain the whiteness of your teeth by performing a once-a-month whitening session (wear the trays for one hour per month).  Extra whitening gel is relatively inexpensive (at least at our office) compared with the original whitening procedure.

When you take a quick look at the toothpaste section in any drug store or supermarket, it can be overwhelming.  There are literally hundreds of different products to choose from.  Essentially they all do the same thing- clean your teeth.  The majority of these toothpastes are labelled as "whitening" toothpastes.  The problem for shoppers is that there is no real way to compare products.  Saying that toothpastes can whiten your teeth is similar to saying that vegetables can improve your health.  The main reason that the manufacturers put the word "whitening" on their products is that they find they sell more toothpaste.  Everyone wants whiter teeth.  In reality, very few "whitening" toothpastes do anything more than simply remove surface stains, which I personally find misleading.

All true dental whitening products contain a form of peroxide.  Therefore, when patients ask me which toothpaste to buy to truly whiten their teeth, I tell them try ones with peroxide in them.  Most of the big brands, such as Crest or Colgate, make toothpastes with peroxide (sometimes in conjunction with baking soda).  Rembrandt makes a toothpaste called Deeply White (with peroxide) that works well.  As with most any healthcare product, I would recommend sticking with brand names, and avoid any toothpastes that can only be ordered over the internet.

However, even the best whitening toothpastes will only provide modest results.  For more profound results, a professional tooth whitening treatment ("bleaching") may be the better way to go.  We can always answer any of your questions at your next visit. 

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In response to the ADA and Pennsylvania Department of Health recommendations regarding the COVID-19 virus, our office will be temporarily closed until further notice. We will continue to check messages and respond to emails during this time. Current patients of record with a dental emergency will be able to speak with Dr. Wahlers by phone (call the office and listen to the recorded message) and may be seen depending upon the circumstances. New and existing patients are also welcome to call or email to schedule future appointments. Thank you so much for your understanding.