FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues.  If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Click on a question below to see the answer.


Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition.  Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various causes that attribute to bad breath, but in healthy people, the major source is microbial deposits on the tongue.  Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

What causes bad breath?

  • Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep, reducing its cleaning power and allowing bacteria to grow, which results in bad breath.
  • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc.  Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath.  Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?

  • Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with  toothpaste and a soft bristled  toothbrush.  Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from  between the teeth and under the gumline.  Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas.  Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months.  If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
  • See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year.  If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
  • Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor.  Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath.  If it is determined that your mouth is healthy and bad breath remains persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.


Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums.  The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay.  Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with a soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and to freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended.  They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently.  Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

FlossingDaily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline.  Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush.  If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist on its appropriateness for you.


Over the years, there have been some concerns about the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin, and zinc, bound by elemental mercury.  Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years.  The controversy is due to claims that  exposure to the vapor and minute particles from  mercury will  cause a variety of health problems.

We  know that mercury is a toxic material and we have been  regulated to install and use amalgam separator filters in our dental offices.  This separator prevents old fillings from being washed into our  sewer systems.  We have also  been warned to limit  consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them.  If you have concerns with your old silver fillings,  your dentist will give you choices and keep you informed of options such as composite (tooth coloured) porcelain or gold fillings.  We encourage you to discuss your concerns with your dentist so you can determine which choice is best for you.


If your gums are healthy,  you should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year. 

Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing disease and maintaining  your teeth and gums.  At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities.  Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your health.  These include:

  • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your overall health and also your dental health.
  • Examination of diagnostic X-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.  X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface.  Calculus forms above and below the gum line,  can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth.  It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums.  This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing and scaling.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations your dentist may suggest  electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc..
  • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.

As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves much more than simply checking for cavities and polishing your teeth.  We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so, will require regular check-ups and cleanings.


Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.  Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms.  Dental check-ups  will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums.  The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone.  Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase periodontal disease:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco – Tobacco users  form more plaque and tartar on their teeth.
  • Certain tooth or appliance conditions – Bridges that don't  fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings will trap plaque and bacteria.
  • Many medications – Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, and oral contraceptives can reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
  • Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty – Hormone levels can  cause gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
  • Systemic diseases – Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc;  you will need more frequent appointments with your dentist.
  • Genetics – Some patients may be predisposed to periodontitis.  Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums and have more frequent cleanings.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should not be red or swollen.
  • Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even with  brushing and  flossing.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by excess bacteria.
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
  • Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – Signs of  infection.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce  periodontal disease.


Brushing will not remove food or bacteria from between the teeth.  These areas  are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Flossing cleans and disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth.  It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums.  Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar).  This will further irritate and inflame the gums and will also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

How to floss properly:

  • use 12-16 inches (30-40cm)  dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving  2 inches (5cm) of floss between your hands
  •  guide the floss, gently  between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline.  Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Daily flossing will promote a healthy, beautiful smile for life!


If you’re feeling  self-conscious about your teeth or  want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments can give you wonderful results.

There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile.  Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over.  Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic Procedures:

Teeth Whitening: Bleaching lightens  stained or discolored teeth that is caused by food, drink or oral habits.  Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but results vary and other options may be more lasting for damaged teeth.

Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings:  Also known as “bonding”,  repairs  cavities and also replaces old, defective fillings.  Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth.  You may fill in gaps between the teeth or areas with exposed roots from recession.

Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-colored shells  bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful result.  They can  restore or camouflage damaged, discolored, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth.  Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.

Porcelain Crowns (caps): A crown is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape size and colour.   Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that have been weakened by large restorations or root canals.   They are ideal for  large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.

Dental Implants: Dental implants are artificial roots surgically placed into the jaw. Implants  replace one or more missing teeth.  Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures,   according to need, are then precision fitted to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to missing teeth.

Orthodontics:  This service will  correct  position and alignment of your dentition.  There are many options for straightening the teeth,  including the most up to date service called  "invisalign" ,   a clear appliance designed to correct minor conditions.   Your dentist can refer you to the best expert for your specific condition.

Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments are more available to our patients!


Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth.  They are very durable and will not stain, making them a  popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the front teeth.

Veneers may be used to restore or correct the following dental conditions:

  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Unwanted  uneven spaces
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Slight tooth crowding
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Teeth that are too small or large

Getting veneers usually requires two visits.   Impression,   light buffing and shaping of the front surface to allow for the the small thickness of veneers,   intricate mold  forwarded to a professional dental laboratory where each veneer is custom-made (for shape and color) for your individual smile.The veneers are carefully fitted and bonded onto the tooth surface with special bonding cements and occasionally a specialized light may be used to harden and set the bond.

Veneers  dramatically improve the appearance,  resulting in  a  natural and beautiful looking smile .


Teeth whitening is the number one aesthetic concern of many patients,  and there are many products and methods available to achieve a whiter smile. There are several reasons why teeth are not "white"  or perfectly smooth and each case should be individually assessed by a dentist.

As we age, tooth enamel wears away,  revealing a darker or yellow shade.  The color  also comes from the inside of the tooth, which can become darker over time. Smoking, coffee, tea,  some foods or medications,  also contribute to tooth discoloration, making teeth yellow or  dull.     Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development causes teeth to become discolored or mottled in appearance.

It’s important to be evaluated by your dentist to determine if  bleaching is the right choice for your teeth.  Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns to cover the discoloured surface.   Whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, so it is important to evaluate any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins.  Once the bleaching is completed, your dentist can match  new restorations to the shade of  whitened teeth.

Since teeth whitening is not permanent,  touch-ups will be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.

The most widely used professional teeth whitening systems:

Home teeth whitening systems: At-home professional products come in gel form placed in  custom-fitted trays, created from an impression of your teeth.  The trays are worn  twice a day for approximately 30 minutes, or overnight while you sleep.  Bleaching  takes several weeks to complete,  depending on  stains that are present  and the desired level of whitening.

 Some patients  experience  sensitivity after having their teeth whitened.  The discomfort  is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process, usually within a few days to one week.

Teeth whitening can be very effective and can give you a brighter, whiter, more confident smile!

We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out.  More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year!  If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we might be able to save the tooth.  Teeth that are knocked out can possibly be re-implanted if we act quickly and follow these simple steps:

  1. Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.
  2. DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth.  If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk.  If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.
  3. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes.  The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.

Ways to transport the tooth

  • Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately.  Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place.  Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.
  • If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk.  You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums.  Keep the tooth moist at all times.  Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
  • Consider buying a “Save-A-Tooth” storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit.  The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive.  So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.

You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

  • Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports
  • Always wearing your seatbelt
  • Avoiding fights
  • Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc.

Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health.  Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections - often more prevalent than the common cold!  Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis.  It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) is NOT regularly removed from the gums and teeth.  The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums, eventually destroying the jaw bone that supports the teeth.  When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!

There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions.  These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease.  They also indicate that periodontal disease can allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs, beginning new infections.  Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream can:

  • Contribute to the development of heart disease
  • Increase the risk of stroke
  • Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases
  • Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby

While there is still much research to be done in order to fully understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, research has shown that infections in the mouth can wreak havoc elsewhere in the body.   

To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation.  Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

Remember the mouth body connection!  Taking care of your oral health can contribute to your overall medical health!


 Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced.  





Options for replacement of missing teeth:



Losing a tooth can be a very traumatic experience and it’s very unfortunate when it does happen.  Injury, accident, fracture, severe dental decay, and gum disease are the major reasons for having to remove a tooth.  If teeth are lost due to injury or have to be removed, it is imperative that they be replaced to avoid cosmetic and dental problems in the future. When a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that helped support that tooth begins to atrophy, causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth.  Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on.  These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ (jaw joint) problems.  These problems and movements  eventually appear, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite, and the beauty of your smile.

REMOVABLE BRIDGE  - This type of bridge is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, especially in complex dental situations where other replacement options are not possible. They are usually made of tooth-colored, artificial teeth combined with metal or plastic clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth but might be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because  metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal,  and the tiny appliances may pop out while eating certain foods. 

FIXED BRIDGE.  - This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is permanently anchored (cemented) to a natural tooth adjacent to the missing tooth site.  The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed (not removable), and it is very sturdy.  The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, two healthy, natural teeth will have to be crowned (capped) to hold the bridge in place.   It is necessary to have special floss threaders to clean the gums under a fixed bridge.

Dentures - This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patient’s original teeth.  

Implants - Are a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They can also provide great support for ill-fitting dentures.  A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.

If you are missing teeth, ask us if they need replacement and what options are available to you. Together we will select the best replacement option for your particular case. 
Prevention and early treatment are always less involved and less costly than delaying treatment and allowing a serious problem to develop.


Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.
Somerset Dental Group
15-13775 72 Avenue Surrey, British Columbia Canada V3W 9Z1
Phone: (604) 594-5400 URL of Map