We believe that patient education is paramount to achieving excellence in oral health care. The following tips provide assistance in your most common dental needs, from brushing and flossing to dental emergencies.  These tips are necessarily general in nature and cannot replace the personalized care and advice you will receive from our Dental Team.  We encourage you to contact us in the event you or a family member experience dental discomfort or have any questions regarding your oral health or needs.

My gums bleed, do I have periodontal disease?

Bleeding gums alone do not mean that someone has periodontal (gum) disease, although bleeding gums are one of the warning signs that periodontal disease may be present. Some other signs of periodontal disease that should alert you to visit the dentist for an examination include : persistent bad breath, separating, loose or flaring teeth, a change in the way your teeth bite together, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, gums that are swollen, red or tender, and pus between teeth and gums when gums are pressed. Most people do not experience any pain due to gum disease, so it is difficult for patients to diagnose gum disease in the early, very treatable stage. Regular dental check-ups, including a periodontal exam by Dr. Brown, are important in early detection of periodontal disease. Your hygienist and Dr. Brown can design a personalized oral hygiene program that fits your special needs and maximizes the opportunity to keep your teeth for life!

How do I treat a cold sore?

First, it has to be established if the lesion is a cold sore or a canker sore. This can be easily done by Dr. Brown. Cold sores (or fever blisters) usually form in groups as tiny lesions around the mouth or lips and sometimes under the nose. Cold sores are associated with the herpes simplex virus and are very contagious. Once a person is infected with the virus associated with cold sores the person will always keep the virus in their system. Recurrent attacks usually happen when a person is exposed to a fever, sunburn or an increase in stress. Cold sores last about a week and can be temporarily relieved by some over-the-counter anaesthetics and by anti-viral drugs that have been recently released by various pharmaceutical companies. Canker sores (or aphthous ulcer) are small ulcers appearing as a single sore within the mouth. Canker sores are caused by an immune response and are not contagious. Fatigue, stress or even allergies can increase the likelihood that a canker sore may occur. Hot foods and drinks can also contribute to canker sores. Canker sores also last about a week. People suffering from canker sores should avoid hot, spicy foods and use over-the-counter remedies to decrease the irritation. Sometimes antibiotics also can be used. Remember, the major difference between cold sores and canker sores is whether the sore is located outside or inside the oral cavity.

Do I need an antibiotic in connection with my regular dental cleaning?

Some people need to take antibiotics in connection with their regular dental cleaning due to the existence of other medical conditions that might allow bacteria to infect a certain area of the body, especially the heart. For these patients, antibiotics are usually taken by the patient one hour before the appointment and then again at a designated time after the appointment is finished. During a dental cleaning, bacteria is removed from under the gum-line. This bacteria may get into the bloodstream where it can accumulate and do damage to areas of the body that have been previously compromised (i.e., a heart valve due to mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or a recently completed knee replacement). If you are uncertain if you need antibiotics before a dental cleaning, check with your GP or call our office.  This is why it is very important to inform our Dental Team of any changes in your medical history, including allergies to any antibiotics or other types of medications.

Do I need to brush my baby’s teeth?

Before your baby has any teeth, the gums should be wiped with a clean soft wet cloth after every feeding.  Brushing should begin soon after the first teeth come into the mouth, so your child will get used to it.  Brushing should follow meal and snacks and sweetened medications.  Use only a small pea-sized amount of fluoride-free toothpaste and be sure it is never swallowed.  If your child routinely swallows it, do not use toothpaste.  Once the sides of the baby teeth touch each other, flossing should take place at least once a day.  Remember that every child should visit a dentist between 6 months and a year !

What do I do if I have a dental emergency ?

We recognize that emergency situations do arise and we will do everything in our power to respond to your problem as quickly as possible.  We ask your patience and understanding in the event of our having to place an emergency patient in front of, or into, your appointment slot. We will try to inform you of any necessary changes ahead of time, if at all possible.

If you have an emergency, please call the office right away and we will do everything possible to get you in at the earliest opportunity. If we are out of the office or it is after office hours, our answering service will provide you with necessary instructions to receive dental care.

Please see also our section below on some common dental emergency situations.

What should I do if I need treatment that is not covered by my insurance?

You must remember that dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying part of the cost of dental treatment.  Insurance is not designed to pay all of the cost of treatment. You must remember that your dental insurance does not know your particular oral health situation and does not take into account your individual needs.  Our office recommends treatment based on what you need, not what your insurance will cover.

Our office will do our best to help you maximize your insurance benefits.  If something is not covered by your insurance, our office offers flexible payment plans.



This is the most common form of dental pain and can be the result of a variety of problems. If a tooth is broken, rinse the area to remove food and any other debris. If the area has swelling, place a cold compress to the portion of your face nearest the toothache. Never use heat or place an aspirin on a toothache. If a section of the tooth breaks off, save it for the dentist. This might help explain what went wrong. Drinking cool liquids may also help the situation.  Call our office as soon as practical in order to address the pain and the underlying cause of the toothache. Prompt attention to toothaches will help minimize the likelihood of infection and will maximize the opportunity for saving a distressed tooth.

Chipped or Fractured Tooth

Rinse the mouth first with warm water to remove any dirt or debris from the traumatized area. Save any pieces of the tooth that you can find. A tooth may crack and not show any signs of fracture but it will be painful to chew on. In the case of a chipped or fractured tooth, apply a cold compress to the portion of your face nearest the affected area. This will help control swelling. Call our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Brown.

Objects Wedged Between Teeth

Try to gently remove the object if you can see it. Be careful not to push it further into the tooth or gum tissue. If the object isn’t visible, try flossing a few times. Do not use toothpicks or other sharp instruments as they may cause bleeding and damage to the gums. If you can not remove the object, call our office.  We can utilize special dental instruments to remove the object.

Orthodontic Appliances

If an orthodontic wire or bracket becomes detached gently remove it from the mouth. Do not attempt to place it back in position. If a detached or broken wire or bracket is cutting the mouth place a piece of wax, a rolled up piece of tissue or a piece of gum over the area. Do not attempt to remove any orthodontic appliance that is embedded into the cheek or gum. Place any broken or loose wires or brackets in a container and call Dr. Brown immediately.