Have questions about your oral health or dental treatments? If so, our dentists and team in Montgomery, New Jersey, invite you to read below to find answers to some common questions. These FAQ will give you a better understanding on how to better care for your smile and when to come in for oral care If you have any additional questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joyce Ma, please call Prime Dental Care at 609-688-8818.


I know that I need restoration work (fillings, crowns, etc.), but can I wait to get it done?

Unless specified by your doctor that the treatment is optional, it is generally recommended to have the treatment done as soon as possible. In general, restoration work is recommended to remove infection, restore oral function, improve your appearance and decrease the chance of bigger problems in the future. Delaying treatment will almost always result in the need for more extensive, painful and costly procedures down the road. While some procedures may not feel as impactful, they all contribute to overall oral health and aesthetics.

How long can my fillings and crowns last?

Composite fillings generally last 2-5 years while crowns generally last about 5-10 years. Our mouth is a complex and constantly changing environment, and our teeth and any restoration are constantly enduring high stress from chewing, acid erosion and bacterial infection. The longer the restoration has been done and the more stress the restoration has endured, the higher chance it will need replaced. Poor oral hygiene, a high sugar/acid diet and excessive grinding are some of the most common reasons why dental woek will not last as long as expected. Good oral hygiene habits are crucial to help maintain the dental work you have for as long as possible.

I have dark spots on my teeth, do I need fillings?

Depending on the size, texture, position and the cause, these dark spots could be caused by a variety of things including decay, staining or fractures. Some are harmless, while others are diseases that require immediate dental work to help you restore health. It might not be easy to differentiate between them without proper training, equipment, diagnostic tests and clinical experience. Express your concern with a doctor as soon as possible. Delaying necessary treatment might cause pain and extra cost that could have been avoided.

I have some old fillings, and they look dark now. Do I need to have them replaced?

Old fillings could look darker now as a result of decay, fracture, teeth whitening or staining. While some conditions are harmless, only causing aesthetic concerns, others are diseases that require immediate attention. Consult with a doctor to find out which condition it is and if treatment is recommended.

I have some metal/silver fillings, do I need to have them replaced with tooth-colored fillings?

Metal/silver fillings that are cracked, decayed or causing fractures on the tooth should be replaced or restored with a new crown as soon as possible. The ones that are in good condition might not need replaced if there are no aesthetic concerns.

Why do I have a V-shape or U-shape nick on my tooth?

The V-shape or U-shape nick on the cheek side of the teeth is usually a sign of grinding or improper brushing. Many times they have increased sensitivity and risk of decay. They should be restored as soon as possible. You should also consult with a doctor to discuss if further treatment is recommended to address the source of the problem.

Will I still have any pain after root canal treatment?

It is normal to have some soreness, pain or discomfort for a few days after root canal procedure is done. The pain and discomfort usually starts to decrease and disappear after that. If pain or discomfort does not disappear after a few days or if it reappears after a few weeks, please consult with a doctor to discuss what might be the cause of this and if further treatment is needed.

I am not in pain. Why do I need a root canal procedure?

Our body uses pain or other symptoms to tell us if there is danger, such as tooth fracture or infection. However, this system does not always work, causing dangerous diseases to fester without obvious warning. If the nerve inside the tooth is dead as a result of infection or trauma, infection could spread without pain for weeks or even months. Doing root canal treatments gives the body a chance to heal and drastically decreases the chance of further damage. The procedure should also be done as soon as possible as there is a better chance of healing when the infection is still small.

Why do I need a build-up and crown after root canal therapy?

After a root canal treatment is completed, the tooth loses a significant amount of tooth structure. Thus, the tooth is at a much higher risk of fracture and usually needs additional protection. A build-up and crown helps protect the weakened tooth and drastically decrease the chance of further breakdown.

Why does one of my front teeth look darker than the others?

The most common cause of a single dark front tooth, without any obvious decay or fracture, is a dead nerve caused by trauma. Please consult a doctor immediately to discuss proper treatment as the subsequent infection could cause pain, swelling and could spread unnoticed to nearby vital structure.

My child has cavities – should I get them filled even though they will lose them anyway?

Yes! Untreated cavities can progress into deep decay and abscesses and subsequently damage the underlying adult teeth.

How often should I floss?

Daily flossing helps prevent gum and bone disease and cavities. Besides removal of food debris between teeth, flossing can also be viewed as biofilm management. After removal via flossing and brushing, bacteria forms a mature biofilm once every 24 hours. This biofilm is very much like the sticky slime layer found in a dish left in the sink overnight. At about 24 hours, the biofilm bursts and releases endotoxins and metabolites (aka the bacteria’s garbage) into our gums. Our bodies respond to those endotoxins with inflammation and subsequently cause gum and bone disease. It is imperative to floss daily if one wants to prevent or minimize disease processes in the mouth.

What should my oral hygiene regimen entail?

At minimum a basic oral hygiene regimen should include daily flossing of the entire dentition and brushing twice per day for two minutes each time. There will be variations based on individual needs, such as having braces, dental implants or crown and bridge work, as well as one’s overall health and resistance to disease. Additional tools and methods may have to be implemented, such as a water flosser, interdental brushes, electric toothbrushes or a fluoride-containing alcohol-free mouthwash. Our hygienists will help you modify and customize your daily routine around your needs.

How can I keep my teeth whiter?

Good home care, which includes daily flossing and brushing, and regular hygiene visits form the base for a white and healthy smile. Minor staining can be addressed by our skilled hygienists during cleaning appointments, whereas moderate to heavy staining will need further treatment via in-office whitening or at-home whitening. Ask us about our whitening program!

Why do you take so many X-rays? Are they harmful?

The average complete smile includes 24-32 teeth. Each individual tooth has multiple surfaces with the majority of them being below the gumline and within the bone. A basic set of check-up X-rays are taken once per year and are enough for a patient with a low risk for decay. Patients with a moderate to high risk for decay may need more than the basic set of X-rays depending on their individual needs. Most offices now employ digital X-rays which reduce the radiation exposure rate 95% compared to conventional X-rays.

Are dental veneers a permanent solution, and how do I care for them?

Dental veneers are a long-lasting solution, but they are not considered permanent. On average, porcelain veneers can last 10-15 years, while composite resin veneers may have a slightly shorter lifespan. To care for your veneers, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups. Avoid biting down on hard objects, such as ice or pens, to prevent damage to your veneers. Additionally, minimize exposure to staining substances like coffee, tea, and tobacco to ensure the longevity of your veneers’ appearance.

Will getting veneers be painful, and what is the process like?

The process of getting veneers is generally not painful. The dentist will numb the area before preparing the tooth by removing a small amount of enamel to accommodate the veneer. This part of the procedure is typically painless. Once the veneers are ready, they are carefully bonded to your teeth using a dental adhesive. Some patients might experience mild sensitivity after the procedure, but it usually subsides quickly. Overall, the goal is to make the process as comfortable as possible for the patient.

Will I be completely unconscious during sedation dentistry?

No, most sedation options used in dentistry aim to induce a relaxed and comfortable state, but you’ll generally remain conscious and able to respond to instructions. Deeper sedation methods like IV sedation or general anesthesia may lead to a more altered state of consciousness.

How long does it take for the effects of sedation to wear off?

The duration of sedation effects varies depending on the type used. Nitrous oxide wears off quickly once the gas is stopped. Oral sedation effects can linger for a few hours, and IV sedation or general anesthesia may take several hours to wear off completely. It’s essential to have someone assist you and avoid driving until the effects have fully subsided.

How long do dental implants last, and is there a need for special care?

Dental implants can last for decades or even a lifetime with proper care. Unlike natural teeth, they don’t decay, but maintaining good oral hygiene and attending regular dental check-ups is crucial for their longevity. While no special care is needed beyond regular oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, avoiding habits like smoking and leading a healthy lifestyle can further enhance the lifespan of dental implants.

Is the dental implant placement procedure painful, and what anesthesia options are available?

Dental implant placement is usually performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area being treated. This ensures that you don’t feel pain during the procedure. Many patients report minimal discomfort during and after the surgery, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribed medication, if necessary. Dentists prioritize patient comfort and can discuss options like sedation or anesthesia to alleviate anxiety or discomfort during the procedure if desired.

Can I get dental implants if I have dentures or currently wear removable partial dentures?

Yes, dental implants can be an option for those who currently have dentures or wear removable partial dentures. Implants can provide a more stable and secure foundation for replacement teeth compared to traditional dentures. Depending on your specific case, your dentist may recommend implant-supported dentures or bridges. These options can enhance your comfort, chewing ability, and overall quality of life by reducing the movement often associated with traditional removable dentures.