(928) 778-2823
Allan S. Szeto, D.M.D. Cosmetic & General Dentistry

Frequently Asked Questions

Many patients often have similar questions when it comes to oral healthcare. Below are answers to some of those which we receive most often.


  • What is a cavity?
    A cavity is synonymous with the word “decay”. There are certain bacterias in your mouth that feed off of the same sugars that feed yourself and it creates acids, demineralizing the tooth and creating a pit. It is basically a bacterial infection of the tooth which will continue to spread, until removed.
  • Why do some cavities not hurt?
    Quite often, a dentist will find a cavity and the patient may wonder why it does not hurt. When a cavity begins on the surface of the tooth, it causes the enamel to demineralize and the cavity will move deeper into the tooth. The nerve is in the center of the tooth and may very often feel fine until the decay has spread so large that it reaches the nerve. Very often, when it begins to hurt, it is often too late and the tooth may require a root canal (removal of the tooth's nerve), or tooth extraction.
  • I've been getting a lot of cavities, how can I prevent getting further cavities?
    If a patient is showing signs of rampant decay, it is important for the patient along with the dental/medical professional determine the reasons behind the cavities. Many medications and some systemic disorders may cause dry mouth, thus causing a higher propensity to having cavities as saliva helps maintain a healthy oral environment. Ultimately it comes down to bacteria control. Oral hygiene is heavily stressed. One should floss and brush after every meal, to limit the amount of bacterial spread as well as maintaining their regular dental check-ups to clean areas that they can not reach and administer fluoride at a safe level to combat cavities.


  • I do not like the way my teeth look, what can I do?
    When unhappy with one's smile, there are many options to correcting the appearance. Depending on the reason of the dissatisfaction, a solution can be determined and options be given. From my experience, the deciding factor usually comes down to financial and time factors. I am a conservative dentist and usually prefer to see a patient choose a non-aggressive, non-invasive procedure over one that requires unnecessary removal of a tooth. If teeth are misaligned, a patient can elect orthodontic treatment (braces) regardless of age; or elect to have veneers to structurally redesign an ideal smile. Sometimes it is have found that simply whitening a patient's teeth and redoing some stained fillings improve their smile dramatically. This is a case by case scenario and it is advised to seek the opinion of a dental professional.
  • My teeth are yellow, how can I whiten them?
    When the teeth are stained yellow, brown, or gray, it is important to determine the cause of the stain, as results will greatly vary. Medications such as Tetracycline have been known to dramatically discolor teeth during its developmental state. Also, it may be due to genetics and one has only their own parents to blame. Other times it may be simply due to environmental factors such as coffee and soda. Seek to consult your dental professional and if medically cleared, one can try over-the-counter White Strips. If the patient is seeking a more professional result, one can elect to have an in-house plasma one-hour whitening or custom bleaching trays to whiten their teeth and remove any stains that are on or in the teeth.

General Care

  • Why do I need a deep cleaning when I used to have normal cleanings?
    Normal cleanings are prophylactic cleanings above and around the gums. In health, it is sufficient is cleaning the plaque and any offensive material off the surface of the teeth. Upon gingival evaluation (gum probing), if there are signs of deep pocketing or bone deterioration, a patient may need more extensive treatment than simply a surface cleaning. The dental professional needs to remove the offensive agent and bacterial remains from areas under the gum-line, known as a deep cleaning or scale and root planing.
  • How often do I need to return to a dental office for a check-up and cleaning?
    Patients often wonder why they often need to return to a dental clinic, when everything feels fine, but it is simply as important for an automobile to maintain its routine oil changes. In health, it is advised that patients return every six months for cleaning and evaluation. However, if a patient shows signs of gingivitis or prone for teeth decay, a dentist may advise the patient to return more frequently to help maintain a healthy oral cavity. In short, the answer depends a great deal on what the patient's mouth appears to need, rather than what the insurance is willing to pay for.
  • Should I brush first or floss first?
    As long as a person is performing both brushing and flossing on a regular basis, most dental professionals will be more than happy with the oral hygienic attitude. However, from an analytical stand-point, it is advised to begin with flossing to thoroughly remove the debris and bacteria from in between the teeth. Followed by brushing with an ADA approved toothpaste, using no more than a pea size. This technique allows the fluoride in the toothpaste to contact all surfaces of the teeth and thus strengthening the enamel.