Frequently Asked Questions

1.  How can I relieve toothache?
Immediately schedule an appointment with your dentsit as soon as you can to find out what is causing your toothache.  Many people, unfortunaely, experience a toothache in the late evening or early morning when the dentist's office is not open. Immediately sche For tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, or brushing, consider using a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Brush with it regularly or rub a small amount of the paste on the sensitive area with your finger 2 or 3 times a day. Floss gently between your teeth. 

To reduce pain and swelling of a toothache, use an ice pack on the outside of your cheek; do not use heat. Avoid very hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks if they increase your pain.

For short-term relief, adults can apply an over-the-counter benzocainegel to the tooth. Be safe with medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.  If the pain lasts longer than a few days or it gets worse, call Killeen Dental for an emergency appointment and we will fit you in that same day.

2.  How safe are dental Xrays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation -- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and lead to the development of cancer. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by dental X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more frequent checks.  Xray machines are extremely safe but if you are still concerned ask the assitant to double up on the aprons and always tell the staff if you are pregnant or nursing.

3.  What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth -- usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) -- to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.

4.  I'm interested in changing the shape of my teeth.  What options are available?
Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and recontouring.

  • Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and hardened with a special light, which ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth.

  • Dental crowns are tooth-shaped "caps" that are placed over teeth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.

  • Veneers (also sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth.

  • Recontouring or reshaping of the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth's length, shape or surface.

Each of these options differ with regard to cost, durability, "chair time" necessary to complete the procedure, stain resistant qualities, and best cosmetic approach to resolving a specific problem. Talk to your dentist to see if one is right for you.

5.  I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist, what should I do?
If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 15% of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn't take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. Killeen Dental is specially trained in Oral Conscious Sedation.  This type of sedation is one small pill that you take before your appointment.  It will relax you and although you are fully conscious you will not remember your visit.  This option has helped so many patients and is a huge help for patients that need a lot of work done in one visit.

6.  At what age should I take my child to the dentist?
First visits are mostly about getting kids used to the dentist's chair and educating parents about how to care for baby's teeth. If your child has transitioned from the bottle to cup and doesn't snack or drink in the middle of the night, you get a one-year pass, until age 2. That's when the standard every-six-month dental visit recommendation kicks into gear. When your child is between ages 4 and 6, expect your dentist to take a first set of X-rays to check for cavities lurking between the teeth.

Prevention is the name of the game between ages 6 and 12, when babyteeth give way to permanent teeth. Your child's dentist will probably suggest a sealant, a plastic resin that bonds to teeth's chewing surfaces, between ages 7 and 9. Cavity-prone molars are the most likely site for treatment. The resin keeps cavity-causing bacteria from getting into the grooves and valleys of teeth.

Also, when your child is around age 7, his dentist will likely suggest an orthodontic evaluation. Most kids will wait until their early teens for braces, but orthodontics is about modifying jaw growth, so identifying skeletal causes of crooked teeth early helps ensure a beautiful smile later on.

7. What is a dry socket?
Only a very small percentage -- about 2% to 5% of people -- develop dry socket after a tooth extraction. In those who have it, though, dry socket can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, it's easily treatable.

The socket is the hole in the bone where the tooth has been removed. After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction. That leaves the bone and nerve exposed to air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to infection and severe pain that can last for 5 or 6 days.  A dry socket usually presents it's self from day 2 to day 5 of recovery.  Call your dentist if you feel you are having these symptoms.