FAQ

Honolulu, HI Dentist

Q: I REALLY DO NOT LIKE VISITING THE DENTIST. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO HELP ME RELAX?

A: Many people are uncomfortable with visiting the dentist. Your comfort is our highest priority, and our office is designed so you can enjoy a relaxing dental visit. We can also provide you with stereo headphones with music so you can keep your mind on more pleasant things.

Q: I BRUSH EVERY DAY, BUT MY BREATH IS JUST NOT FRESH. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO?

A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can help to 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 additional solutions.

First, we can provide you with a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue. We can also recommend a rinse or toothpaste designed to break-down the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. If we suspect a systemic or internal problem such as an infection or underlying medical condition, in which case, we recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.

Q: WHAT IS A CROWN, AND WHY MIGHT I NEED ONE?

A: If your dentist has recommended a crown to you, it is likely to fix a broken tooth or repair a tooth that has deteriorated due to cavities (decay). The decay in your tooth eats away healthy tooth structure much like rust eats away at metal. If not removed, decay will continue to break down the tooth to the point where an extraction is the only viable treatment option. Sometimes, decay is removed leaving healthy tooth structure, but not much of it. A crown can then be fabricated, restoring the look and function of your tooth, while allowing you to keep your natural, underlying tooth structure. Most crowns are precision-milled porcelain or full metal (gold or silver) and are individually customized for each patient, giving you a natural, long-lasting smile.

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 (radiographs). Digital x-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film x-rays. You will find that in our dental practice, we research the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety, and comfort. At Kaka‘ako Smiles we also use Dexis CariVuTM, which uses light to produce an image like that of an x-ray, but without the exposure.

Q: HOW DOES FLUORIDE HELP MY TEETH?

A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults by strengthening the enamel to prevent tooth decay. It can also 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 or hygienist applies fluoride to your teeth, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength products, such as fluoride varnishes, gels, or foams, that carry 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. A smile is often the first thing that is noticed on a person. Some smiles can be enhanced with simple whitening or bonding treatments. Other smiles require porcelain veneers, crowns, or bridges; gum contouring; periodontal therapy; partial or full dentures; or a combination of these. Dr. Adachi will suggest a treatment plan for you based on your goals and areas of concern and the overall condition of your oral health. Contact us for a complimentary smile evaluation to determine what course of action will produce the best solution for you.

Q: I WANT MY FRONT TEETH TO LOOK BETTER, BUT I DO NOT WANT TO WEAR BRACES. WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

A: Dr. Adachi has a number of ways to improve the look of your front teeth without the use of braces. For slightly crooked or unevenly worn teeth, a bit of reshaping and the addition of resin or porcelain veneers may be sufficient to give your teeth a bright, uniform look. We would be happy to talk with you further about the option that best suits your situation.

Q: HOW CAN LOSING A BACK TOOTH AFFECT MY SMILE?

A: Losing a back tooth can darken your overall smile, making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile may 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 and by putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces, and may even cause teeth to fracture, resulting in additional tooth loss or needed 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 will 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, Dr. Adachi 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 bone. Once the implant has integrated with the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain crown. 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 photos and x-rays will be taken of your teeth to identify any areas of decay, cracked teeth, and malfunctioning restorations. Dexis CariVuTM, a light infused fluorescence evaluator, will also be used on your teeth to notify us of early areas of decay that are not visible on the x-rays or digital photographs. Our goal is to preserve your natural teeth by catching decay in its earliest stages. We will also assess your gums and recommend the appropriate hygiene treatment for you at this time.

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 always appreciated.

Q: MY TEETH KEEP CHIPPING AND CRACKING. WHAT CAUSES THIS, AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, probably damaged their teeth while sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from further damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a nightguard. A custom-made nightguard protects your teeth when grinding and clenching. Dr. Adachi takes great care in making sure you have a proper fit to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you suffer from headaches as well? If so, you may find that a benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask us about having a nightguard custom created for you.

Q: I WANT AND NEED A LOT OF DENTAL WORK, BUT I’M AFRAID I CAN’T AFFORD IT. DO YOU OFFER MONTHLY PAYMENT PLANS?

A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans with our financial partner, CareCredit®. We provide a variety of ways for you to pay for your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Lea will work with you to create the solution that best accommodates your needs so you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you have always desired.

Q: I WANT COSMETIC DENTISTRY. WILL MY INSURANCE PAY FOR IT?

A: Dental insurance is designed to assist you in paying for your dentistry; however, most procedures are not fully covered by your insurance. Cosmetic dentistry, in particular, is not covered by most dental insurance plans. To help you afford your smile, we offer a variety of payment options, in addition to a monthly payment plan provided by our financial partner, CareCredit®. We also pay special attention to help maximize the benefits that your insurance does provide. Ask Lea how you can comfortably afford your dental care, while maximizing your dental insurance benefits.

Q: WHAT DIFFERENT PAYMENT OPTIONS DO YOU PROVIDE?

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

– Cash or personal checks
– 5% courtesy discount for advance cash payment of entire treatment plan
– VISA / MasterCard / American Express / Discover
– 3-, 6-, 12-, or 18-month plans — no-interest, monthly payment plans, as well as low-interest and extended payment plans through CareCredit®

We are also happy to estimate fees and insurance reimbursements before beginning your recommended dental treatment, and will gladly file your insurance forms for you. Optimal, comprehensive dentistry is what we practice, and we do not base our treatment recommendations on what insurance will or will not pay. At Kaka‘ako Smiles, we recommend the treatment that is best for you; any treatment not paid by insurance is your financial responsibility.

Q: MY GUMS BLEED. WHY IS THIS? AND WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed and often bleed during brushing or flossing, known as gingivitis. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen to affect the underlying bone, known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.

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 from your general dentist or a periodontist. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss — teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If your periodontitis is not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth, and may also 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 cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.”

Q: MY GUMS BLEED AFTER I BRUSH. IS THIS SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT?

A: It is certainly not desirable to have bleeding gums following brushing; however, the condition may or may not require attention, depending on the source of the problem. Bleeding gums can be caused by any of the following: improper, rough “scrubbing” instead of gentle, circular brushing motions; using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one; plaque and/or tartar build-up below the gum line; or, gum sensitivity due to gingivitis or periodontal disease. If this problem persists despite correct brushing and flossing methods, or if the bleeding occurs every time you brush, contact our office to set-up an evaluation appointment.

Q: HOW DO SEALANTS PROTECT MY TEETH?

A: A sealant is a resin material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth — premolars and molars. The resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of these teeth and 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 the smooth surfaces of 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: SOMETIMES WHEN I CHEW I GET A SHARP PAIN. WHAT CAN I DO TO CORRECT THIS?

A: Most dental pain brought on by chewing is caused by a fracture or crack in the tooth. The pain can be alleviated by placing an inlay/onlay or a crown, or may require more advanced treatment. Correcting the pain as soon as possible will prevent further damage to the tooth.

Q: HOW CAN PORCELAIN VENEERS HELP MY SMILE?

A: Porcelain veneers improve your smile by correcting various cosmetic concerns: crooked, chipped, or broken teeth; spaces between teeth; dull or yellowing teeth that cannot be whitened by traditional means; and, a “gummy smile” (showing too much gum when one smiles). Porcelain veneers broaden, straighten, whiten, and beautify almost any smile. This procedure can be done in as little as two clinical visits. Many of our patients feel like veneers are the best improvement they could have made to improve their overall confidence. Ask us about how porcelain veneers can improve your smile.

Q: I WANT MY TEETH TO BE WHITER. DO YOU RECOMMEND AT-HOME OR IN-OFFICE WHITENING?

A: Dentist-directed, at-home whitening is an effective way to brighten your smile. Your custom home-whitening kit involves a special tray that is designed to fit your teeth and a prescription whitening gel. The home-whitening process usually takes between two and four weeks, leaving you with a dazzling smile. In either case, our Honolulu dentist customizes the treatment to ensure your happiness with the results.

Porcelain veneers: many people who have tetracycline-stained teeth and cannot whiten their teeth with traditional means, or those who want a more permanent solution may achieve a brighter smile through veneers. Veneers do not stain with time and can also correct other concerns that you may have, including crooked teeth, gaps in teeth, and “gummy” smiles. Most of the smile makeovers you see on television are accomplished with porcelain veneers.