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Pittsburgh dentist

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our “Ask the Dentist” section. We have collected several frequently asked questions from people about dental care. Please feel free to email us with dental questions at

I’d like to have a tooth colored filling. I know that they’re more expensive than amalgam (silver), but does the better quality warrant their cost over silver?

Silver had been the standard filling of choice in America for about 115 years. The Chinese were the first people to use silver fillings about 3000 years ago. “Amalgam” as we refer to as silver, has advantages as a dental restoration. It’s ease of use, durability and low cost made it a good choice for filling cavities. However, modern technology has brought materials into the dental industry that eliminates many of the problems with silver fillings.

Independent research has conducted experiments that indicate Amalgam fillings may leak harmful mercury into the body.

  • X-rays. Your dentist is not able to x-ray through a tooth that has a silver filling. The reason why this is a problem is that if you have tooth decay underneath your filling your dentist may not be able to detect it. The first sign that there is a problem may be when you have a toothache and by then saving the tooth can become very expensive.
  • Micro leakage. When a filling is placed inside a cavity small amounts of bacteria may leak in between the silver and your tooth, which may lead to further tooth decay.
  • Appearance. A tooth colored filling will blend in with your natural teeth.

Composite (tooth colored) fillings on the other hand are bonded to the inside walls of your teeth leaving very little opportunity for micro leakage. All in all I would say that in most cases a composite filling would be the filling of choice. back to top »



I was told that I should get sealants on my child’s teeth. What are they and are they really necessary?

Sealants are a polymer resin that is brushed on the chewing surface of your child’s adult teeth. This polymer resin is bonded to the surface of the teeth with a light. This is an excellent procedure for the purpose of preventive dentistry. Your child’s teeth have many grooves on the chewing surface. We refer to these grooves as pits and fissures. When sealants are not used, food particles will accumulate in these grooves and begin to decay. The by-product of this decay is lactic acid which destroys tooth enamel, leaving a cavity that needs to be filled. The sealants act as a protective coating between the lactic acids and the tooth enamel. This procedure is relatively inexpensive and considerably less expensive than a filling a cavity. back to top »



My dentist said that I would require root canal work. Wouldn’t it just be a lot easier to have him/her extract the bad tooth?

Most people cringe at the mere mention of a root canal. Well, I have to tell you that maybe 25 years ago the “cringe” was justified, but with the quality of today’s anesthetics and techniques, the procedure should be virtually pain free. The first thing we should cover is why some teeth need root canal therapy (RCT). Inside the tooth there is living tissue. When a tooth receives trauma, such as a sports injury, or in most cases, tooth decay, the living tissue begins to die. As this tissue dies it decays and becomes infected. If left untreated this infection can travel into the jawbone. An extraction could be an immediate solution, however; there are many clinical reasons why one tooth extraction can lead to a domino effect of tooth loss in the future. What Root Canal Therapy does is that it allows the dentist to remove the dying tissue by creating an access hole through the top of the tooth. Once the inner tissue is removed the canal is filled, and the tooth will remain functional for many years to come. back to top »



I’m considering having my teeth bleached. Does bleaching actually work? Also, do those bleaching kits from drug stores perform as well as the custom ones your dentist makes for you?

Yes, bleaching does really work, although results do vary from patient to patient. Just as your skin contains millions of pores your teeth contain millions of what are referred to as tubules. These tubules will eventually absorb particles that will in time cause your teeth to discolor. Smoking and coffee drinking will accelerate this process. When a bleaching solution is applied to your teeth the chemical is absorbed into these tubules, bleaching out the discoloration and whitening your teeth. There’s a few good reasons why a custom fit bleaching system from your dentist is more effective than the over the counter products. The over the counter trays are designed to fit in your mouth but are not custom fit to your teeth. Therefore, there is little control over where the bleaching solution goes. Since the chemical is an irritant to the gums, these over the counter solutions have to be made considerably weaker, therefore less effective. The trays made by your dentist are custom fit to your teeth and prevent the chemicals from getting on your gums. Therefore, your dentist will provide you with a much stronger and more effective bleaching solution. back to top »



I have a space between my front teeth and they’re a little crooked. Do I have any options, other than braces?

Although I’m certain that orthodontics would correct your problem, some people would rather not wear braces if they don’t have to. After a thorough orthodontic consultation with your dentist you may consider placing porcelain or composite veneers over the surface of your existing teeth. A porcelain or composite veneer is a tooth shield similar to a false finger nail. This tooth shield (or veneer) is fabricated by a dental laboratory using very durable and natural looking materials. The front surface of your natural teeth would be slightly adjusted to reduce some of the crooked corners and prepare space for a laboratory fabricated veneer. The lab can design a new size and shape for your teeth. When the veneers are completed your dentist will bond the veneers right to the surface of your natural teeth. The net effect is a very conservative procedure with very nice results. back to top »


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