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2130 NE Loop 410, Suite 225
San Antonio, TX 78217

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FAQs

Graham Family Dentist

Q: I really don't like visiting the dentist; is there anything you can do to help me relax?

A: Many people are uncomfortable with visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority, and our office is designed so that you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. For entertainment and distraction, you are more than welcome to listen to music on your handheld device. Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are also offered to keep you comfortable and relaxed.




Q: I brush every day, but my breath just isn't fresh. Is there anything else I can do?

A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing, daily flossing, and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem still persists, we can offer several solutions.

First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually breakdown the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may also suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or an underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or with a specialist to identify the cause.




Q: What is a crown, and why do I need one?

A: If your doctor has recommended a crown to you, it is likely either to correct a broken tooth or to repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will deteriorate the tooth to the point where extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed, leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be placed, restoring the look and function of your tooth while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each application in each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.




Q: I know I need X-rays, but I'd prefer not to be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?

A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays (radiographs). Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film-based X-rays. At Graham Family Dental, you will find that we research the latest trends in technology in order to find the solutions that best promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.




Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?

A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and in adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel, or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.




Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?

A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or you may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; minor tooth movement; or, a combination of all these techniques. Your dentist at Graham Family Dentistry will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, on your areas of concern, and on the overall condition of your oral health. Contact us for a complimentary smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.




Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?

A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile, making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces, and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.




Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?

A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge or with an implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with a missing tooth and will restore your smile to its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist at Graham Family Dentistry places a tooth-colored restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has integrated to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.




Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?

A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical/dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital photos and X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as much of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We will also assess your gums and will recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.




Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?

A: Over the years patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Our reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things: our good work and your beautiful smile. Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.




Chipped or cracked teeth

Q: My teeth keep chipping and cracking. What causes this, and what can I do about it?

A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don't remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom-fitted nightguard protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Drs. Graham and McCabe take great care in making sure you have a proper fit in order to prevent pain in your jaw joint.

Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a nightguard custom created especially for you.




Q: What different payment options do you provide?

A: We offer several options regarding financial arrangements for your treatment. See below for the option you feel works best for you.



Q: My gums bleed after I brush. Is this something to be concerned about?

A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing. However, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough "scrubbing" instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled tooth brush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or, gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods or if it occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set-up an evaluation appointment.




Q: What is periodontal disease?

A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often times bleeding during brushing or flossing. If treated in a timely manner, these conditions can be reversed, preventing periodontal disease from developing. Periodontitis, however, is much more difficult to treat. Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss - teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don't catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth, and you may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

According to Caesy Dental Education, "Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis (a dangerous infection of the heart valves). Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These bacteria (streptococcus sangguis) may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack."




Q: How do sealants protect teeth?

A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars). This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.




Q: How can porcelain veneers help my smile?

A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting a multitude of cosmetic concerns, including: gaps in teeth; chipped and broken teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened with traditional means; "gummy smiles" (showing too much gum when one smiles); and, crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify most any smile. This procedure can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like this was the best improvement they could have made for their overall confidence. Ask us at your next visit about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile.




Q: How can I whiten my teeth?

A: There are multiple ways to whiten your teeth.