Common Questions

Q: After my procedure, how long should I wait before eating?

A: Wait at least one hour. If you can, wait until the numbness goes away; otherwise eat soft foods so you don’t chew on your cheek.

Q: How long am I going to be numb?

A: Usually, it takes between 3-5 hours for the numbness to wear off.

Q: Do I have to have a Crown? Why can't you just fill it?

A: Usually a crown is recommended for a tooth that has had numerous or large fillings in the past and there is no longer enough tooth structure to support a filling. If to large of a filling is attempted, the tooth could chip, crack, or fracture. If the tooth were to fracture below the gum line, the tooth could be lost. Teeth that have had root canals are especially susceptible to fractures. Crowns support weakened teeth so that they can last many years.

Q: What is a Core? They only said I needed a Crown.

A: A core is a buildup of the tooth. It is needed because there is too much old filling in the tooth, or the tooth is broken down or decayed too much for the crown to fit properly to the tooth.

Q: Do I need a Root canal before having a crown?

A: A crown is usually needed when too little tooth structure is present to support a filling. A root canal is needed when the nerve inside the tooth dies or becomes chronically inflamed. After a root canal, a crown is generally indicated due to the brittle nature of the dead tooth. However, needing a crown does not necessarily mean you need a root canal.

Q: Why should I do the RCT/PCR when it is cheaper to pull it?

A: We will recommend a RCT/PCR to save your remaining tooth and bone structure which keep your teeth in their natural alignment in the mouth. Deciding to extract or “pull” a tooth should be your last resort! When a tooth is removed, the surrounding teeth and bone have no support and the space from the missing tooth will cause them to shift and move out of alignment causing further dental issues, these issues include: Loss of jaw support, decreased chewing efficiency, changes in decay patterns and increased probability for periodontal pockets and disease. Plus, the investment and additional procedures it takes to replace a natural tooth are far greater and more complex than a root canal and crown.

Q: Are Amalgam fillings safe?

A: Amalgam (silver) fillings are safe, durable, affordable and have been around for generations. There are no scientific studies that have positively shown mercury in dental fillings to cause any type of health problems. Because of the concerns about dental amalgam, the dental industry has made great strides in developing alternative types of fillings. Most offices, ours included, now use composite (tooth-colored) fillings where ever possible. However, there is still a time and a place for dental amalgams in our practice and we use it with confidence.

Q: Is it going to hurt?

A: Your comfort is our highest priority. We offer painless, injection-free air abrasion fillings whenever they are applicable. We also have nitrous oxide to help anxious patients relax. For most procedures, a mild, local anesthetic provides a pain free appointment. For some procedures, there may be some mild discomfort when the anesthesia wears off. In these cases, an over-the-counter pain medication is usually adequate.

Q: How long will this restoration last?

A: Doctor does warranty his work for two years but with proper home care and regular dental checkups your restoration may last as long as the life of the tooth. Occasionally other circumstances can affect the life of your restoration.

Q: Can I buy the over the counter bite splint instead of this custom one?

A: Our bite splints are made of state of the art materials that supply jaw support while being comfortable to wear. Each one is hand designed to give you optimal fit. The bite is adjusted by Dr. Sexton to provide even contact on all teeth and minimal interference while grinding. OTC bite splints are one size fits all and no adjustments are available.

Q: How do you keep germs from spreading?

A: We adhere to, or exceed, all of the MI OSHA (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. We keep ourselves up to date on all of the latest guidelines by attending a MI OSHA continuing education class every year. We have state of the art sterilization products and equipment that are used before and after each patient’s appointment to disinfect each room and sterilize the instruments used on each patient. If you have any questions regarding our sterilization procedures, feel free to ask us.

Q: When should I start bringing my child in?

A: We like to see children beginning at one year of age. For more info on this please click here.

Q: My child has been going to the dentist regularly, and never has had this many/any cavities before! I don't understand how that can be?

A: With our digital x-rays and our cavity-detecting laser, we are able to detect decay at very early stages and keep the restorations conservative. The amount of sugar and acid in the diet can affect decay rates. Daily brushing and flossing, as well as getting the right amount of fluoride will help lower decay rates.

Q: For my new patient exam, why can’t I just have my cleaning that day?

A: For the initial appointment at our office we do not do a cleaning, the reasoning for this is that we’ve never seen you before and cleanings now days vary from a basic healthy mouth cleaning to more extensive treatment for patients diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease. We start by scheduling you for a 1hr evaluation with one of doctor’s hygienist. During this appointment they will perform a thorough examination, an oral cancer screening, 4 cavity detecting x-rays and 1 large whole mouth x-ray. We will also perform a periodontal screening to check for any signs or symptoms of gum disease. You will meet with Dr. Sexton and he will customize dental treatment to suit your specific needs and wants.

Q: Can I just get a cleaning without having the periodontal treatment done?

A: Yes, however it is important to understand that periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by plaque that destroys the bone and fibers that are holding the teeth in place. To have just a healthy mouth cleaning does not treat the disease which is located deep around the tooth’s root surface below the gum tissue. To receive just a cleaning when you have periodontal disease is to remove the plaques and bacteria above the gum tissue. This allows the disease process to continue below the gum line at an undetermined rate. We now know that untreated dental disease such as periodontal disease (gum disease) is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Leaving periodontal disease untreated puts your overall health at risk.

Q: What is the difference between Supportive Periodontal Therapy and a Cleaning?

A: Following treatment for patients with active periodontal disease, Supportive Periodontal Therapy is the removal of plaque and calculus from the tooth and root surfaces below and above the gum line. This procedure helps to break the stronghold of bacteria in your gums and to slow down the destructive effects of the disease.

A Prophylaxis or dental “Cleaning” is for patients with a healthy mouth (no periodontal disease). It is the removal of plaque, calculus and stain from the tooth surfaces that are above the gum line.

Q: If I have periodontal disease (gum disease), why don't my gums hurt?

A: Periodontal disease affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Your gums will be red and bleed easily, but you may become accustomed to the irritation and the soreness can be minimal. Bone has no pain receptors. The destruction of supporting bone can progress without pain until the teeth are loose and it is too late to treat the disease. It is imperative that gum disease be detected and treated early to minimize the loss of bone support.

Q: Can I pass Periodontal disease on to others?

A: Yes! Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples. Researchers suggest that the bacterium that causes periodontal disease is passed through saliva. This means that when a family or couples come into contact with each other’s saliva, they’re at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. Based on research, the American Academy of Periodontology recognizes that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member has periodontal disease, the A.A.P recommends that all family members see a dental professional for gum disease screening.

Q: Why do I need to come in more often than every 6 months? My insurance only covers 2 cleanings a year.

A: You may be able to maintain your dental health with two cleanings a year, but many people find that their mouth’s and teeth stay healthier when they are cleaned more frequently. We set your cleaning schedule based on your personal needs and this could be as often as four times a year. If you have heavy plaque and tarter build-up you may be a good candidate for more frequent treatment. Also, if you are generally healthy but have certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes, or taking specific medications, you may require more frequent cleanings. Most insurance plans are designed to cover a portion of the total cost of your treatment. While twice a year insurance limitations are common, that type of arrangement has no relationship to what you really need.

Q: What is Calculus?

A: Calculus, also known as tarter, is the hard deposits that form on your teeth. When soft plaque is not completely removed from your teeth, with daily tooth brushing and dental flossing, the minerals in your saliva calcify that plaque, and it hardens onto your tooth surfaces. Once it hardens onto your tooth, you are unable to remove it yourself. Your dental hygienist will remove the calculus build up for you at your cleaning appointments. If left calculus can cause gum irritation and possibly gum disease.

Q: What is Recession and Mobility?

A: Recession is where the gum tissue has moved down the tooth, exposing root surface… This area can be sensitive if the recession allows root surface to be exposed. If you think you have recession ask us what may be causing your condition. Mobility simply stated, is any amount of movement of the tooth. Mobility can indicate either loss of gum or bone due to periodontal disease, or the possible movement due to repeated grinding or clenching of the teeth.

Q: What is Tooth Erosion?

A: Tooth erosion is when your teeth start to wear (erode) away from bad acids in your mouth. This is usually from a low PH level in your mouth due to poor diet and nutrition and certain medications. It can also be due to stomach acids; these acids dissolve the enamel of the teeth and may lead to decay (cavities).

Q: Why do I need Fluoride?

A: Fluoride has many benefits. In children, it helps to strengthen the permanent teeth that are forming. It is vital for strong decay-resistant teeth. It is one of the most effective elements in preventing tooth decay. It combines with the enamel to strengthen it against decay. It may also reverse microscopic cavities by enhancing the process in which minerals are incorporated into the teeth. The most effective way to get fluoride is by drinking water containing the right amount of the mineral (about 1ppm parts water). The benefits for adults are that it helps with sensitivity. It is good for exposed root surfaces, which are more susceptible to decay. It also helps prevent recurrent cavities around fillings and crowns. In our office, we recommend an in-office application, which has a high concentrate of fluoride, and then we send a prescription strength toothpaste home with patients for use at bedtime.

Q: What are sealants?

A: A sealant is a clear or white plastic coating that is placed on the biting surfaces of back teeth to help prevent tooth decay. Sealants fill the grooves and pits of the teeth to “seal” out cavity causing bacteria.

Q: Do I really need that Velscope exam?

A: Yes, Velscope is a non-invasive cancer detecting light that we use to find oral cancer at its earliest stages. For a minimal fee, this technology helps us to see what the human eye cannot. We know that early detection increases survival rates for oral cancer. We recommend having this procedure done 1 time a year at your hygiene appointment. Think of it as a cancer screening similar to a mammogram, Pap smear or prostate exam.

Q: What can I use for Dry Mouth?

A: The most accessible would be to drink water. There are products specially made to increase saliva flow among which would be Biotene – they have a line of rinses, toothpaste, and gum. Also xylitol chewing gum and sugar free candies can increase saliva flow.

Q: Do you accept my Insurance?

A: As a service to our patients, we will bill any insurance company, except Medicaid. We are participating providers for Delta premier plans and the traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans. It is best to check with your insurance company to see if you are required to go to a specific dentist.

Q: Can I make payments?

A: We have multiple financial options available for our patients. We accept cash, check, debit card, and credit card in full on the day of service. We also have health care financing available for the convenience of our patients who need to make monthly payments and many options are interest free. Our financial coordinators are happy to work with you to find what options would work best for you.

Q: Why does it cost so much?

A: Our fees reflect our quality of care, the knowledge behind the dentistry and the technology we use to provide you with the best dentistry possible.

Q: What are your privacy practices?

A: Protected health information (PHI), about you, is maintained as a written and/or electronic record of your contacts or visits for healthcare services with our practice. Specifically, PHI is information about you, including demographic information (i.e., name, address, phone, etc.), that may identify you and relates to your past, present or future physical or mental health condition and related healthcare services.

Our practice is required to follow specific rules on maintaining the confidentiality of your PHI, using your information, and disclosing or sharing this information with other healthcare professionals involved in your care and treatment. Our Notice of Privacy Practices form describes your rights to access and control your PHI. It also describes how we follow applicable rules and use and disclose your PHI to provide your treatment, obtain payment for services you receive, manage our healthcare operations and for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. You can review the form here.

Q: How often should my children brush their teeth?

A: Your child should brush twice a day for two minutes at each brushing. Most young children need your assistance to properly brush all sides of all their teeth.

Q: What is gum disease and what are the common causes?

A: Many people do not realize just how prevalent gum disease, or gingivitis, truly is. Approximately 80 percent of American adults have some form of gum disease. Practicing excellent regular oral hygiene with your children from an early age can help prevent gum disease later in their lives. Next to bacterially caused gum disease, smoking and chewing tobacco are the leading causes. Be sure to talk to your children about the health risks of tobacco.

Q: How often should my child visit the dentist?

A: Dr. Sexton and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend your child visit the dentist every six months for routine care and cleanings. As always, please call Dr. Sexton’s office if a problem or abnormality arises between regular appointments.

Q: Are baby teeth really that important?

A: Your child’s “baby” teeth, or primary teeth, help with proper speaking and chewing. They also cut the path that permanent teeth can follow once they are formed and ready to erupt. Your child’s overall dental health is very important. Tooth decay is the largest unmet healthcare need for children and is five times more common than asthma. Poor oral health has systemic repercussions that ripple throughout the entire body. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, low birth weights, oral cancer and more. Proper care of your child’s teeth improves overall health.

Q: What is the best type of toothbrush for my child?

A: For your infants and toddlers, any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head should work well. Recent studies have found that children and adolescents who use talking or singing toothbrushes brush 73 percent longer than with a traditional toothbrush. Brush Buddies Talking toothbrushes offer fun animal character voices that instruct on proper care for two minutes. For older children, brushes that play popular songs from stars like Justin Bieber are available.

Real Patients, Real Results

We’re here to take care of the needs of your entire family

meet linda

“Dr. Sexton was already my dentist. I trusted him, and he gave me options I didn’t know I had for improving my smile. Together, we found a solution that worked for me.”

meet mike

“Since Dr. Sexton created my new smile, I feel much more self-confident. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of people because I know they are not staring at the old, bad smile I used to have.”

meet dorie

“He did a fantastic job! I love my new smile, and the way it makes me feel. My family and friends tell me the change is beautiful and natural-looking. Don’t wait to have the smile you have wanted for years.”

meet mike

“Since Dr. Sexton healed my smile, I feel more confident about talking to people and I smile for pictures now instead of hiding in the back. Everyone was pleased to see me smile more.”