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Frequently Asked Questions

You may have some questions about our services, or you may want to learn about our recommendations relating to dentistry. Take a look at some of our frequently asked questions and our answers, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions not answered here.

1) For patients with a missing tooth: Should I place an implant or a bridge where my tooth is missing?
The answer has many considerations. Both techniques are proven to be very successful long-term for tooth replacement. Factors to consider include the condition of neighbouring teeth. If the teeth on either side of the space are already heavily restored or crowned, a bridge can often help fortify the surrounding teeth while filling the span where the missing tooth was with an artificial replacement. The bridge covers the neighboring teeth just as two individual crowns (caps) would. A bridge is completed in two appointments (only 10 days to 2 weeks apart), one to trim the teeth and place a temporary, and the second to cement the new bridge.

In other cases, where the neighboring teeth may be ‘pristine’ for example, the better choice is often an implant. When an implant is placed, the teeth on either side are not altered. The implant also acts much as a natural root would in preserving the jaw bone where the tooth was missing. The procedure is typically: 1) surgery to place the implant, 2) uncovering the implant 4-5 months later to prepare it for an implant crown by placing a ‘healing abutment’, 3) 2 weeks later: an impression is taken for the permanent crown, and 4) the permanent crown is either screwed or cemented into place.

2) When should I bring in my toddler for their first dental visit?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that an infant should first visit a dentist within 6 months of their first tooth eruption or by their first birthday. Usually this amounts to a minimal visual exam while the parent is holding their child, facing the dentist. Obviously, we want this and all future visits to be completely non- threatening and pleasant. We often have a quick peek and try to keep the visit fun with the little ‘prize door’ reward. We ask that young parents keep a watchful eye for any eruption abnormalities or signs of discomfort with their little ones.

Often, their first effective visit at our office is closer to 3-½ years of age where they have some level of cooperation. There are still serious cases of advanced infant caries (cavities), usually as a result of sweetened bottled juices in the diet. This is now extremely rare, given the higher ‘dental IQ’ in the general population. It is the type of visual cue that would hopefully alert a parent to bring their infant in early, rather than waiting until problems are even more complicated.

3) Is bleaching my teeth safe, and will it work?
I encourage patients to read the Canadian Dental Association position in these regards, but can give you OUR position in a nutshell: bleaching teeth is a concept which is here to stay. We see large numbers of our patients succeed in achieving various levels of bleaching safely and responsibly. We have not witnessed any long-term detriments using our system of bleaching, and the final results do vary, but teeth are always noticeably lighter. Many factors such as patient age, preliminary shades, reason for the discolouration of certain teeth, levels of enamel wear, etc., can influence the outcome. Stains or discolourations in the 'yellow scale' will often bleach more successfully than the 'grey' scale, which is often a result of enamel translucency. Many people are not aware of the 'true' cause of progressively darker shading. Often, it is a combination of the inside layer of the tooth (dentine) darkening with age – a natural process, and the enamel which normally covers the dentine being worn thin by attrition or abrasion.

That being said, we have adults of a very wide age span achieving happy levels of 'brighter' smiles. The product we use {15% Opalescence) is a gentle, but effective concentration of bleaching gel, with a potassium nitrate and fluoride ion to help against tooth sensitivity. It is common to experience some minor tooth sensitivity which disappears after the treatment. In summary, if not abused, bleaching can be safe and effective. If an individual bleaches more frequently than advised, the jury is still out regarding some micro-pitting of enamel and interference with bonds on existing fillings. The desired effects usually last up to two years unchanged, and can be maintained with 'maintenance applications' annually. Once the patient has the first bleaching trays fabricated, they can be used to 'boost' results in future applications.


Read more about the Canadian Dental Association’s position on teeth bleaching.

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8230-105 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 5H9

Only One Block off Whyte Avenue


Phone  780-433-3368

Fax 780-439-5484

Email shellreception@telus.net

Monday – Thursday: 8:00AM – 5:00PM
Friday: 8:00AM – 12:00PM

Dr. Shell will open the office after-hours if exceptional emergency services are required for his patients.

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