Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do about bad breath?

Deducing the cause of your bad breath is the first step toward preventing it. The most common causes of bad breath are reduced saliva flow during sleep, sulfur-rich foods such as garlic, onions and peppers, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, dry mouth, tobacco, dieting, dehydration, and some medical conditions (including sinus infections and diabetes).

Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night is the best way to prevent bad breath, and brushing after every meal is even better. If you can’t brush, chewing sugar-free gum can loosen the food particles from between your teeth. Clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss or an interdental cleaner, and don’t forget to brush your tongue. If you wear dentures, remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months. Mouthwash can help too, but ask us which rinses actually kill the germs that cause bad breath, because some only temporarily mask odor.

When bad breath is a symptom of a larger bacterial problem in your mouth, Dr. Chauvin can help. If he finds that your mouth is healthy, he may refer you to your physician for further consultation and more comprehensive treatment.

How can I tell if I’m at risk for gum disease?

According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, about 80 percent of U.S. adults currently have some form of gum disease, ranging from gingivitis to serious periodontal disease. The prevalence of gum disease increases with age, because as we age our teeth wear down, our gums naturally recede, and medications can affect oral changes. The most common symptoms of gingivitis are tender, swollen gums that bleed easily, sensitive or even loose teeth, and persistent bad breath.

Dr. Chauvin strongly believes that healthy gums are essential for a healthy mouth and body. If you have any symptoms of gum disease, the first thing to do is get a thoroughdental evaluation. Gum disease used to require surgery more often than not, but we can now effectively treat many cases with deep cleanings, local antibiotics, and special rinses. Please come in and let us help you achieve and maintain healthier gums for a healthier you!

Is there anything that can calm my nerves during an exam?

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless blend of oxygen and nitrous oxide gases with a pleasant, sweet smell and taste. Inhaling nitrous oxide creates a sense of well-being and relaxation, and it is used effectively to help individuals who experience anxiety or fear about dental treatment feel more at ease. Nitrous oxide increases your pain threshold and, when necessary, makes the administration of anesthetic injections more comfortable. It is also helpful for patients who have a strong gag reflex that interferes with dental treatment.

  • Nitrous oxide is one of the safest anti-anxiety agents used in dentistry and has very few risks and side effects.
  • Nitrous oxide is non-addictive, and you will remain fully conscious during treatment.
  • Administration is comfortable and painless, involving no more than a mask over the nose. This makes it an excellent option for children with dental anxieties or individuals with mental or physical disabilities.
  • Feelings of calm and relaxation are felt almost immediately, and breathing pure oxygen for several minutes after treatment completely reverses the effects.

Some individuals may experience slight nausea if nitrous oxide is administered on a full stomach. For this reason, it is advisable to limit food intake for several hours before treatment, although fasting is not typically necessary. Nitrous oxide is not effective if a patient suffers from claustrophobia (because of the mask used to administer the gas), or has extreme dental anxiety. Because nitrous oxide is inhaled, it is also not effective if the patient has blocked nasal passages. For unknown reasons, it does not affect about 10% of individuals.

How can cosmetic dentistry improve my life?

A beautiful smile can make life more beautiful. Studies have shown that a healthy and attractive smile can raise self-esteem, increase confidence, and help you make better first impressions on others. Sometimes it doesn’t take much treatment to see a BIG difference, and there are a variety of subtle, yet noticeable ways that we can enhance your smile. There are also more significant treatments and combinations of treatments – often called “smile makeovers” – that can give you the smile of your dreams.

While there is no true specialist designation for cosmetic dentists the way there is for orthodontists, there are a number of organizations with advanced training and awards associated with cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Chauvin believes that all dental procedures have a cosmetic element to them, because his goal is to create smiles that are as beautiful as they are healthy.

Advancements in dental technology have made it possible for Dr. Chauvin and our team to address a wide variety of issues affecting your smile’s appearance. We offerprofessional teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding and enamel shaping, porcelain veneers, bridges, and dental implant restorations. Replacing old silver fillings withtooth-colored fillings can also be considered cosmetic in nature, since it improves both the health and appearance of your teeth.

What is comprehensive dentistry?

Our goal is to have all concerns and issues known and resolved before a dental emergency occurs. After all, it’s never a good time for a toothache or a broken tooth! We see patients with many different needs for many different reasons, from routine preventive care and dental emergencies to life changing restorative and cosmetic treatments.

A large part of comprehensive dentistry is the development and fulfillment of ongoing maintenance plans, which helps minimize the chance of original problems reoccurring. After your exam and consultation, we will work with you to customize a treatment plan that fits your individual needs and budget. Good oral hygiene at home is also important, but in-office exams are critical to keeping your smile healthy because yourdental team has the ability to remove plaque your toothbrush can’t. Panoramic x-rays and intraoral cameras help us monitor structures that aren’t always obvious to the naked eye.

In a way, comprehensive care really refers to our commitment to the present and the future of your smile. Not only do we want to keep it healthy, but we want to make it beautiful, and make it last.

My dentist told me I’m going to need root canal therapy. What should I know before my appointment?

Beneath the top layer of your tooth (the enamel) and the second layer (the dentin), there is a pulp, or nerve, which delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Whether from excessive decay or physical trauma, this nerve can become damaged, causing an abscess to form at the root of the tooth. Root canal therapy will prevent further damage or decay, extend the life of your natural tooth, and most importantly, relieve your pain.

Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain than the treatment will. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve discomfort during and after treatment, including nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and medication.

Root canal therapy is highly successful, and a tooth that has received the treatment can last you a lifetime. Especially when used in conjunction with a natural-looking crown or composite filling, no one will even notice a difference in your smile.

Is smoking really that bad for my teeth?

Smoking isn’t just bad for your teeth—it affects the health of your entire mouth, especially your gums. Lighting up stains your teeth, causes bad breath, and promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar. Cigarette smoking is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Worst of all, smoking has been linked to the development of periodontal disease and may lead to the loss of taste and smell. Smokers also tend to require more dental treatment, due to the damage done by smoking. Certain procedures, such as dental implants and oral surgeries, can be less successful in smokers due to damaged gum tissue. This results in a higher cost of dental healthcare and often more frequent (and complicated) treatment.

Pipes and cigars aren’t any safer, causing similar rates of tooth and bone loss even if the smoke is not inhaled. Smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco also pose great health risks to your gums, increasing your risk for both oral cancerand cancers of the throat, esophagus and lips. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of sugar, which when pressed against your teeth for long periods of time can lead to tooth decay.

So what’s the verdict on tobacco? Seek help on how to quit using, or just don’t start.

Hot or cold, my teeth hate both! Why are they so sensitive, and how can I stop the pain?

If you’ve been avoiding that ice cream cone or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don’t have to! Tooth sensitivity has a number of possible culprits: involuntary tooth grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive, because the usually-protected layer of dentin–the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel–is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.

Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it’s important to ask Dr. Chauvin which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter and in-office rinses that will protect your enamel against further damage. Ask us about your options at your visit!

I experience severe anxiety during dental visits, and I’ve been hearing a lot about oral conscious sedation lately. Is it safe, and could it be right for me?

Oral conscious sedation medications are measured and evaluated by pharmacists and physicians on a safety scale called the therapeutic index, where the higher the number on the scale, the better the safety rating of the drug. The sedation medications commonly used by dentists have high numbers on this index, and you will probably recognize some of the names of the drugs (which include Valium®, Halcion®, and Sonata®). When Dr. Chauvin is working with you to choose a drug protocol (primary sedation agent), he will take such factors as your age, your weight, and the severity of your dental anxiety into careful account. You should also make sure our team is completely up-to-date on your health history, including any medications you’re taking (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements) and your alcohol and/or tobacco habits, if either applies. Prior to your sedation visit, Dr. Chauvin will go through the proper preparation steps, from diet adjustments and possibly taking a sleep agent the night before, to having a companion drive you to your appointment and what to expect after treatment.

When you feel anxiety, your threshold of pain is lower and dental treatments feel more uncomfortable and stressful than they otherwise would. The most advantageous aspect of oral conscious sedation is that this can be eliminated. The object is to enable you to relax your body and mind so you can receive the dental treatment your need.

Most patients experience little to no discomfort or remaining effects from a sedation dentistry visit. Immediately after treatment, you might feel a little wobbly while the medication wears off, but Dr. Chauvin will give you simple, helpful instructions for the rest of your day.

What should I do in case of a dental emergency?

Accidents happen, and they can be especially frightening when they involve our teeth and mouths. It’s important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to thedentist is necessary. Here are some guidelines to help you through common dental emergencies:

Toothache/Sore Gums

Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over the counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to your teeth or gums), and schedule an appointment with Dr. Chauvin if the pain persists.

Chipped Tooth

Save the pieces if you can, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. See Dr. Chauvin as soon as possible.

Broken Tooth

Call our office immediately. With recent advancements in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, you might not lose your tooth. If there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Chauvin can create a crown that will “grab onto” your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal. While the success of crown lengthening depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about alternatives to complete removal.

Knocked Out Tooth

Holding the tooth by the crown (top) only, rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert it into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of mildly salty water. See Dr. Chauvin as soon as possible—if treated within two hours, the tooth may be salvaged.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Our gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue tend to bleed heavily when injured, because the soft tissues in our mouths contain a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, rinse with warm salt water then apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. If the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it’s best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to your nearest emergency room.

Am I candidate for dental implant restorations?

Dr. Chauvin works hard to stay on the leading-edge of restorative dentistry. If you or someone you love struggles with ill-fitting, uncomfortable dentures or a retainer with false teeth, dental implants can give your smile a second chance. They are useful indenture stabilization, but they can also be used in conjunction with crowns, bridges, and in single-tooth replacements.

Dental implants are not only more durable and long-lasting than traditional tooth replacements, they also look and feel more like natural teeth. Most importantly, they function like natural teeth, so you can chew, talk, and smile with confidence again. Because the implant procedure allows for more of your healthy tooth structure to be saved, fixed implants can even prevent bone loss.

Many patients suffering from advanced tooth decay, root canal failure, trauma to the mouth, or just extreme natural wear and tear on teeth are benefiting from this revolutionary option in restorative dentistry. However, there are still some things to consider before you decide on dental implants. For example, they are best performed after adolescence, when the teeth and jaw bone are fully developed. Additionally, the implant procedure can be more complicated for individuals with periodontal (gum) disease, active diabetes, immune deficiencies, and for patients who smoke. To ensure that you get the treatment that’s right for you, keep Dr. Chauvin and his team informed and up-to-date about your entire medical history and dental habits.

How do I choose the right oral hygiene product for me?

Over the past few years, companies have introduced so many options for toothpastes, toothbrushes, flosses, and mouthwashes, that even the most discerning consumer often doesn’t know where to begin. Here are a some hints for picking the right products for your particular needs:

toothbrushToothbrush. The big question here is, electric or manual? It’s really all about your personal preference. Electric toothbrushesare more popular than ever, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily “better” than manual brushes. Both brushes are effective at removing plaque-electric brushes just make the process easier. If you find manual brushes difficult or unpleasant to use, an electric one might make brushing easier and allow you to do a better job. When choosing a manual brush, opt for soft bristles with the smallest head–they’re easy on gum tissue and can fit around the back molars. Regardless of your hardware of choice, the important thing is to make sure you’re brushing long enough. Although it takes a full 2-3 minutes to brush every tooth effectively, most people only brush for an average of 30 seconds!

toothpasteToothpaste. First and foremost, always check for the ADA seal of approval. Most toothpastes contain the same basic agents geared toward scrubbing, flavoring, or keeping your paste moist. It’s a good idea to choose a paste that contains fluoride, which strengthens enamel and makes teeth less prone to decay. Tartar-control toothpastes usually contain fluoride, but they also contain chemicals that break down plaque and antibacterials to kill lingering germs. After checking those two qualities off, choose your paste based on your personal needs. Whitening varieties have added abrasive agents (not bleach) that polish the surfaces of your teeth without damaging enamel. If you have sensitive teeth, certain toothpastes provide chemical compounds that, when used on a regular basis, can reduce sensitivity over time.

flossFloss. While most people brush the recommended two times a day, flossing often gets placed on the back burner. Neglecting to floss at least once daily is doing your mouth a serious disservice, because up to 50% of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth. That’s why you should floss before you brush, to loosen up that plaque for easier removal with your toothbrush. If you find flossing too difficult or unpleasant, try using a flosser. They’re reusable and have handles and disposable heads, making flossing as neat and easy as brushing your teeth. You can find them at most grocery and drug stores.


Mouthwash. There are as many different types of mouthwashes available as there are flavors. Cosmetic mouthwashes can rinse away debris, provide a pleasant taste, and mask bad breath temporarily. If you’re looking for a mouthwash with a purpose, look for an FDA-approved therapeutic rinse with either antiplaque or anticavity ingredients. Mouthwashes are particularly useful for people with canker sores, braces, and dry mouth, but they can’t replace proper brushing and flossing.

Is professional teeth whitening safe?

Numerous studies have examined the effects of teeth whitening and bleaching methods, both the in-office and the at-home varieties. Some products, including certain whitening toothpastes and take-home kits available through Dr. Chauvin, have been evaluated and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). While having the ADA seal of acceptance is a good sign, many safe and effective products don’t have an ADA seal simply because their manufacturers did not seek one. Bleaching is not recommended for children under 16, as their teeth are still developing, and is also not recommended for women who are pregnant.

The most common side effects of teeth whitening are teeth and gum sensitivity. This sensitivity is usually temporary, and should subside soon after you’ve stopped using the product.

Why is fluoride good for my teeth?

Each day, foods and acids feed bacteria in your mouth, which can accumulate on your teeth to form plaque. Plaque wears away at a tooth’s enamel in a process known as demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can promote the remineralization of enamel, replacing important minerals that strengthen your teeth and can protect them from decay. Fluoride can also help reverse early stages of decay.

Children with newly-erupted permanent teeth benefit a great deal from fluorideexposure, but adults should make sure their teeth come into contact with it, too. The safe and easy way to ensure that your teeth are getting enough fluoride is to use fluoride toothpaste, available at drugstores in a variety of types and flavors. If your dentist recommends more intensive fluoride treatments, there are a number of gels, rinses, and even in-office procedures that can do the trick. Though the most fluoride is absorbed from direct contact with the teeth, many public drinking water systems contain small, safe amounts of fluoride that can have positive health effects.

When I floss, my gums bleed. If they don’t hurt and my teeth look fine, is it really a big deal?

If your gums are not sore, it’s safe to assume that the bleeding is not the result of hard brushing or flossing. Bleeding gums that apparently have no cause are always a warning sign, often indicating such conditions as gingivitis or even gum disease.Gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums) is not a one-way ticket to gum disease; in fact, if it’s caught early enough, gingivitis can be treated and even reversed. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and high levels of stress can all contribute to gingivitis, so the first lines of treatment are simple lifestyle changes. Choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles can ease gum damage, too, and getting regular dental cleanings will control plaque and tooth decay. It’s important to stop gingivitis before it progresses, since studies have shown more and more serious illnesses are associated with gum disease. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even osteoporosis have been linked to poor oral health.

Though not the first suspect in a simple case of bleeding gums, oral cancer is also a possibility. Oral cancer can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are fairly general and can be mistaken for other conditions. Symptoms of oral cancer include sores, bleeding gums or cheeks, difficulty swallowing or moving the jaw, and a continuous pain in the mouth. If Dr. Chauvin finds no other causes for your bleeding gums, he or she may recommend a visit to a specialist.