Frequently Asked Questions

This page is devoted to answering some of the more commonly asked dental questions. If you do not see your question listed on this page, use the form to submit your own question.

How Can I Improve My Smile?

There are many ways to enhance your smile. Modern techniques and procedures give us the ability to improve your smile in many ways:

Tooth Whitening

What Is Tooth Whitening?

Tooth whitening is a cost effective and safe procedure to create a beautiful, healthy smile. Over the years, fluoride has been added to the whitening product. This reduces the risk of tooth and gum sensitivity. Tooth whitening must be monitored by your dentist and only done after a comprehensive exam and hygiene cleaning. The whitening process can last for a number of years if maintained properly. Beverages such as coffee, tea, soda, and wine will reduce the lasting effect. Remember, if it would stain a white shirt, it will stain your smile!


What is Bonding?

Bonding is a cost effective procedure used to fill gaps in front teeth and to change a tooth’s color. The immediate results are amazing. Within a few hours, you will have great smile! Bonding like tooth whitening may change color over time due to coffee, tea, cola and wine.

Porcelain Veneers

What Are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that go directly on your natural teeth. This entire procedure can take as few as two visits. Veneers change the size, shape and color of a patient’s teeth. This procedure is used to repair fractured teeth, teeth darkened by age or medication, or a crooked smile. Many times, patients ask for porcelain veneers to simply feel and look younger with a straighter, whiter smile!


What are Crowns?

Crowns are a permanent cosmetic procedure that covers the entire tooth. It will change the size, shape and color of the teeth in as few as two visits.

We’re here to help you KEEP THAT PRETTY SMILE® if you need help to achieve the smile of your dreams we can assist you with what ever you dental treatment needs may be. For a personal consultation and exam, please call (816)436-2150 so we can create a treatment plan for you.

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How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is the process in which the hard mineralized parts of the tooth are damaged. This happens when bacteria in your mouth are allowed to stay on the teeth. These bacteria eat the leftover food in your mouth, especially sugar, and produce acid which softens the teeth. To prevent decay, good home care is vital.   Brushing and flossing on a daily basis is the best way to take care of your teeth and gums. By keeping to a daily routine of brushing twice daily and once-daily flossing, you will greatly minimize the risk of gingivitis and tooth decay. A fluoride-containing anti-cavity toothpaste should be used on a soft bristle brush in small circular motions to best clean and protect the teeth. The easiest way to know if a toothpaste is high quality is to look for the ADA acceptance seal. All ADA endorsed toothpastes will contain fluoride, and research to support the claims the product makes has been conducted.

Why Are my Teeth Sensitive?

Why Are my Teeth Sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity can often occur when the tissue overlying the roots of the teeth is lost. This process is known as recession and, for most people, is part of the aging process. It can, however, be due to periodontal issues which only your dentist can determine. Tissue abrasion and loss can also be caused by over aggressive brushing. This is a case where you can have too much of a good thing.  Regardless of the cause, this recession of the gum line allows the underlying dentin to show through, which allows water and food to come in contact with this more porous area of the tooth resulting in sensitive nerves. To manage this, there are a number of toothpastes, gels and even some dental procedures that can be utilized. Speak to us in more detail if you have very sensitive teeth and would like to do something to alleviate this discomfort.

What is Gingivitis?

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a condition caused by the bacteria surrounding the teeth and affects the gums. The gums become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. In order to prevent the condition from worsening (see “Periodontal Disease” below), good home care and regular hygiene visits are recommended. During your visit, Dr. Cochran will review with you proper brushing and flossing techniques. Although many patients brush and floss regularly, many have never been provided with proper oral hygiene instructions and their efforts may be inadequate.  With consistent home care utilizing proper technique the gingival health can improve, resolving the inflammation and preventing further damage from occurring.  Recent research has also shown a connection between gingival inflamation and systemic inflamation affecting your entire body, specifically the hear and blood vessels.  A healthy mouth is an important part of an overall healthy body.

What is Periodontal Disease

What Is Periodontal Disease?

When gingivitis is left untreated and allowed to advance, it can result in periodontitis. Periodontal disease, like gingivitis, is caused by the bacteria that surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The gums become inflamed and irritated resulting in swelling and bleeding. The condition worsens and results in permanent bone loss. At a certain point, this bone loss will result in loosening and eventual loss of the teeth.

How is Periodontal Disease Treated?

How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?

Periodontal disease is a chronic condition that needs immediate attention. There are many treatments available to patients with periodontal disease. Following your comprehensive exam, Dr. Cochran will discuss which treatment is appropriate for you. The first step in any ‘perio’ treatment is the cleaning of the teeth and gums. This is generally accomplished through a deep cleaning which is referred to as: scaling & root planing. As this procedure has the potential to be uncomfortable, it is generally done under local anesthetic. It is often the case that mineral build up occurs around the teeth and under the gums and the primary goal is to remove this and the bacteria-containing plaque. Additional treatment may include the use of locally placed antibiotics. Dr. Cochran provides many of these services in office and we also partner with local periodontists who specialize in advanced periodontal surgery. If you have further questions or concerns regarding periodontal disease, please contact the office.

What is the difference between silver and white fillings?

What Is the difference between Silver and White Fillings?

Amalgam, often referred to as a sliver filling, is the traditional material used from the early years of dentistry. The material is mixed to form a metal alloy, that is able to be placed in a prepared tooth and sets to provide a stable and predictable restoration. Once set, the material is safe and is a commonly used restorative material. This material is well suited to the oral environment and can be utilized in many areas and under conditions that would not be well suited for a white filling. The major limitation of this material is in its aesthetics. The material is a silver color and is best utilized in back teeth which are not easily seen. These fillings are mechanically retained and form a very close seal to the tooth. They react to hot and cold in a similar manor to the tooth and maintain a tight seal for many years. Over time, the metal of the filling can tarnish, especially in a high acid environment. This can darken the filling. The surface of the filling can be polished to bring back the bright finish, if desired, but generally goes unnoticed and doesn’t affect the longevity of the filling. Many silver fillings can last for decades, and with good home care, can last indefinitely.

Composite, often referred to as a white filing, is a newer material which is made of plastic or glass polymers. These tooth colored fillings are highly cosmetic, allowing us to closely match your existing tooth structure. This restoration is created with a resin material and is actually bound to the tooth to seal out decay. As not everyone has the same shade of tooth, these restorative materials come in many shades to more closely match each individual tooth and can be layered to more closely match variability within the tooth. They are polished to match the shape and gloss of your natural enamel and can often be undetectable after placement. When using it on posterior teeth, Dr. Cochran will often use a more opaque shade so that it is more easily seen if the filling ever has to be replaced. The lifespan of a composite restoration is many years, but as these restorations rely on a tight bond to the tooth to ensure no recurrent decay occurs, they do sometimes have to be replaced. With good home care and regular exams, these restorations can have a long life and often last for a decade or more. As the technology of these materials continues to improve, these fillings are lasting longer and longer and have continued to improve in aesthetic appearance.

What is a Dental Implant?

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a manmade replacement for a missing tooth or multiple teeth. Made from titanium, these screw-like objects are inserted into the the bone of the upper or lower jaw.  After a period of a few months, the implant and bone fuse together. Once healed, an abutment is added above the tissue to which a dental crown can be attached. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth from a two or three-unit implant bridge to support and retention for a full arch denture. While the process of having an implant has the cost of time, it does allow the replacement of a tooth without affecting neighboring teeth when present.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental Implants…

  • look and function like natural tooth
  • are a great solution for missing teeth
  • are easily maintained by routine hygiene visits to your dental office
  • decrease the possibility of further tooth and bone loss
  • support neighboring and adjacent teeth, preventing tooth movement
  • can be used to support full arch dentures
  • avoid the need for a removable partial denture or bridge

Dental Implants focus only on the tooth or teeth that are missing. This avoids the need to utilize adjacent teeth to support the replacement tooth. and can leave an otherwise unaffected tooth intact.

Am I a Candidate for a Dental Implant?

Am I a Candidate for a Dental Implant?

With major advancements in dentistry and dental implants, most people are candidates for dental implants. There may be exceptions due to chronic illness, heart disease, and severe osteoporosis. What does the dental implant procedure involve?

The average dental implant procedure takes 3-4 visits. The first visit is to x-ray the area and take an impression for a surgical guide and a temporary prosthesis to cover the implant.

The next visit is to place the implant. A local anesthetic is generally utilized to numb the area, however, if you would prefer, we do have oral surgery partners who can place implants under general sedation. The implant is placed into the bone and covered by tissue. This tissue is held in place by sutures ,which may require a return appointment for removing. While there may be some tenderness after, the procedure is usually completed without pain or complication.

While each patient heals at their own rate,  it is generally advisable to allow a period of three to four months for the implant to fully integrate into the bone. After the implant is healed, the restoration can be added to replace the missing tooth or teeth.

How Much Does a Dental Implant Cost?

How Much Does a Dental Implant Cost?

Fees for dental implants vary depending on the type and number of implants needed. There is additional cost for general anesthesia, if utilized. The implant consists of three parts: implant, abutment, and crown. Always schedule an implant consultation to discuss the procedure and all fees involved. The process of having an implant placed involves several visits to our office as well as to the oral surgeon or periodontist. A consultation must first be completed to determine if the area is suitable for placement of an implant. This evaluation requires radiographs and clinical evaluation. If conditions allow for an implant to be placed, the oral surgeon will discuss the process in further depth including the costs. The surgeon will place the implant and then attach the abutment after it is healed. You will return to our office for fabrication and attachment of the final restoration.

How Long Does a Dental Implant Last?

How Long Does a Dental Implant Last?

With routine dental hygiene and proper home care, a dental implant can last for many decades. Technology for dental implants has continued to improve and we are seeing continued improvement in longevity. The most important aspect that determines the lifespan is proper home care. Even though the implant is made from materials that will not decay, proper care must be taken to clean the implant so that bone loss and tissue inflammation doesn’t occur. This is achieved by brushing and flossing just as with natural teeth and routine dental examinations and cleanings.

Does your office offer financing?

Does Your Office Offer Financing?

Please contact us to discuss the options we have available.