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Call: (978) 681-7740

380 Merrimack St, Suite 3C, Methuen, MA 01844

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I brush every day, but my breath just is not fresh. Is there anything I can do?

A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing, daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings and careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several other solutions.

First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually breakdown the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may also suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.

Q: I know I need X-rays, but I’d prefer not to be exposed to unnecessary radiation. Do you offer digital X-rays?

A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film-based X-rays. You will find that at Torrisi and Burba Dental Associates, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that best promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.

Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?

A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel, or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Q: I just want my smile to look good. What are some options to help the appearance of my smile?

A: You are not alone. Most people want to have a nice smile since it is the first thing others notice about you. You may be interested in a few minor adjustments or may have concerns that need more attention. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles need porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy; or, a combination of all these techniques. Dr. Torrisi, Dr. Burba, or Dr. Smart will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals, areas of concern and the overall condition of your oral health. Contact us today for a complimentary smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.

Q: How can losing a back tooth affect my smile?

A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile, making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and the function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.

Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?

A: By replacing missing teeth, either with a bridge or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and give your smile back its beautiful, full appearance. A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist at Torrisi and Burba Dental Associates places a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.

Q: What can I expect from my first appointment?

A: During your first appointment, your overall dental and oral health will be assessed with a comprehensive oral evaluation. Upon completion of your medical/dental health form, we will ask you to tell us your goals regarding your smile, teeth, and gums. Digital X-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify areas of decay, cracked teeth and malfunctioning restorations. Our goal is to preserve as many of your teeth as possible by catching decay in its earliest stages. We’ll also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you.

Q: Do you accept new patient referrals?

A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Our reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things: our good work and your beautiful smile. Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals. Your trust and support are greatly appreciated.

Q: What different payment options do you provide?

A: Helping make your dental care financially comfortable and affordable is important and we proudly offer a variety of options:

  • Cash or personal checks
  • VISA/MasterCard/Amex/Discover
  • Low interest and extended payment plans through CareCredit

We are happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursement before starting recommended treatments and will gladly file insurance forms for you. Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice and we do not base our treatment on what insurance will or will not pay. We base our treatment on what is best for you, and any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.

Q: My gums bleed. Why is this?

A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, often bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.

Q: What is periodontal disease?

A: Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss – teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t catch periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

According to Caesy Dental Education, “Ailments associated with periodontal disease include respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection of the heart valves. Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the blood stream. These bacteria (streptococcus sangguis) may also cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”

Q: How do sealants protect teeth?

A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars). This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids and guarding against disease-causing bacteria. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of the teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to efficiently extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Q: How can I safely whiten my teeth?

A: There are a number of procedures available to help whiten your smile, from at-home whitening products to in-office supervised treatments. Dr. Torrisi, Dr. Burba, or Dr. Smart will evaluate the potential for whitening your teeth based on the current color of your teeth and the causes of any discoloration. Once you decide on the most appropriate method, you will spend anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks undergoing a series of simple whitening treatments.

Q: Do you offer Invisalign®?

A: Yes, at Torrisi and Burba Dental Associates, you can straighten your teeth with Invisalign®, an FDA-approved system that uses clear, removable aligners to incrementally straighten your teeth. There are no uncomfortable brackets or wires, and because you remove the aligners to eat and drink, there is no need to worry about food restrictions or problems with brushing or flossing. Average treatment time from your initial teeth position to a brilliant, straight smile ranges from nine-to-15 months. The best part is that most people will never even notice you are undergoing treatment!