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1. Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months? Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often you go for a dental exams depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a dental exam every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on.
2. Does my dentist need to wear gloves and a mask, and how do I know he or she is using clean tools?
Your health is very important to your dentist. One of the ways that your dentist helps you stay healthy is by preventing the spread of germs. One of the best ways to do this is to use barrier protection such as gloves and masks.

If you would like to know how this system is carried out in your dentist's office, ask to be shown how it's done. Dentists welcome the opportunity to ease their patients' concerns, rather than have them leave the office with unanswered questions. Once you see the work that goes into making the dental office a clean and safe environment, you will feel reassured.
3. When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
It's important to get an early start on dental care, so that your child will learn that visiting the dentist is a regular part of health care. The first step is to choose a dentist for your child.

It's important to make the first visit a positive experience for your child - one reason why it's best to visit before a problem develops. If you think there is a problem, however, take your child to the dentist right away, no matter what age.
4. What's the difference between the bleaching I can do at home with a kit from the store and the bleaching that my dentist does?
Dentists have been doing what's called "non-vital" bleaching for many years. Non-vital bleaching is done on a damaged, darkened tooth that has had root canal treatment. "Vital" bleaching is done on healthy teeth and has become more popular in recent years.

Dentists may use products with stronger "bleach", but they give patients careful instructions to follow. They are also trained to spot and treat the side effects that patients sometimes report during bleaching. In addition, if a tray is needed to apply the "bleach", dentists supply custom-made trays. Because products used by dentists are strong, they tend to produce the best results.

Patients should be aware that the long-term use of whitening or bleaching products may cause tooth sensitivity or tooth abrasion. Please consult with your dentist before using a whitening or bleaching product.
5. My dentist is recommending treatment (I know nothing about). What should I do?
Here are some tips when asking questions. Ask:

• If you can see any pictures of the procedure or what it looks like when it is done;
• How many times your dentist has done this procedure in the past;
• How much it will cost;
• How long it will take;
• If it will need to be redone in the future;
• If there are alternatives to the procedure and if so, what are the pros and cons of each option.

The final decision about how and when to proceed with any treatment is yours. To help you understand what is involved in the treatment, your dentist may give you some printed material to read.

If, after all of your questions have been answered you are still uncertain, you may wish to get a second opinion from another dentist. Often, a second opinion will give you confidence that your dentist has planned the right treatment for you.