Li-An Su, D.M.D
161 Ash Street, Suite C, Reading, MA 01867

Dental Questions / FAQ / Dental Patient Information

Patient Information

What type of insurance do you accept?

We take many types of insurance plans and are in-network providers for most major plans. The best way to find out about in-network coverage is by contacting your insurance company or by using its website. We understand the value of insurance and will help our patients bill the insurance for dental procedures; however, you the patient will ultimately be responsible for the cost of treatment. Please provide us with your complete insurance information prior to your visit so we can verify the coverage before any procedure is performed. Should you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at (781) 439-6267.

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What types of payment do you accept?

Radiance Dental accepts most common forms of payment. They are listed below:

As we are providing valued services to you, we ask for payment at the time of your visit, unless other financial arrangements have been made. For services covered in part by insurance, we will collect co-payment from you, bill your insurance at the time of the visit and send you a statement later should there be any differences. Any questions regarding your statements can usually be answered by a phone call to us.

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Why do I need X-ray?

X-ray (dental radiography) is taken to detect dental decay (cavities), infections, cysts, tumors, or other abnormalities in the jaws. It can also be used to to view the position of unerupted teeth. X-ray is recommended every 6 months for someone with very high risk of dental decay to every two or more years for a person with very low risk of dental decay. Your dental professional will make the appropriate judgement and recommendations to you.

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What is a crown? Why do I need a crown?

A crown is commonly called a "cap" and is basically a jacket for a tooth too weak or broken to receive another filling. It can also mask a discolored tooth. To make a crown for a tooth, your dentist will shave a thin layer (about 1.5-2mm, less than 1/10 of an inch) off the tooth, take an impression and send it to a dental laboratory to have the crown made of strong materials (either porcelain fused to metal, all metal, or all porcelain). Meanwhile, a temporary crown made of plastic is given to you for the interim period. Typically, a broken tooth or a tooth that has received root canal treatment will need the protection of a crown.

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Why does my gum bleed and feel sore? Is this something I have to worry about?

When you have a bleeding gum, you may have gingivitis, inflammation of the gum tissue. Gingivitis is most often caused by irritation from bacteria in plaque and calculus (tartar) and dental restorations that have uneven surfaces. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to become periodontal disease, a major cause of tooth loss. Lack of regular flossing and dental cleaning can lead to buildup between the teeth and under the gum, so it is important to floss daily and have your teeth cleaned reguarly (usually every 6 months but some people may need a cleaning more frequently). If your gum bleeds when you brush your teeth, looks red and puffy and is sensitive to touch, it is advisable to see a dentist right away.

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Is teeth-whitening safe and effective?

Teeth-whitening can be a safe and effective procedure, as well as being comfortable, if it is done under professional supervision. Some over-the-counter whitening products contain additives that can harm your teeth and gum or cause severe sensitivity to your teeth; others contain a low concentration of active ingredients and will take months to brighten your teeth. Our professionally dispensed whitening system uses whitening gel that contains a high concentration of active ingredient as well as fluoride and potassium nitrate (the main ingredient found in most desensitizing toothpastes) for best results without sensitivity. For your convenience, we offer both in-office and at-home teeth-whitening.

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How is your teeth-whitening procedure performed?

First, an impression of the patient's teeth are taken to make a stone cast, then a plastic whitening tray is made according to the cast of the patient's teeth. This tray is crucial in preventing the whitening gel from coming into contact with the gum and causing chemical burns. Next, the tray is tried in to be sure the fit is adequate. After that, whitening gel is placed in the tray, the tray is seated over the teeth, and excessive gel is carefully removed. For in-office teeth-whitening, 45% hydrogen peroxide gel is used and activated with light and the whitening is done under the supervision of our dental professionals for an instant brightening (but it is recommended to continue the whitening at home for the best result). For at-home whitening, 22% or 35% carbamide peroxide gel is used for a one-hour session. Most patients will get excellent results in two weeks, however, people who have staining from medications like tetracyclin need a longer treatment period.

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Can I have a denture made to wear right after my teeth are taken out?

Immediate dentures can replace missing teeth right after tooth extractions, however, they are made prior to the tooth extractions and cannot be tried in to ensure fit. Most of the time they cannot fit perfectly. In addition, the jaw bone surrounding the removed teeth will shrink severely the first year after the extractions (and can continue to shrink after one year), therefore immediate dentures will become loose very quickly. We recommend having immediate dentures relined or another set of denture(s) made one year after tooth extractions for best fit and esthetics.

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Do you see kids? When do I start bringing my child to the dentist?

Yes, we love children and treat them regularly. Because children get all their primary (baby) teeth by age two and half, we recommend that you bring your child to see a dentist for a check-up around age three or earlier when there is a question of tooth decay. Even though the primary teeth will eventually be lost, they have important functions in eating, speech development, jaw development, and space maintenance for permanent teeth, therefore premature loss of baby teeth can affect a child's occlusion (bite) in the future. It is vital to restore and save a decayed baby tooth whenever possible.

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What is fluoride? Why is it important for my child to have fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occuring mineral that is incorporated into the enamel when teeth develop. Without fluoride, teeth will become soft and prone to dental decay. It is important that children get the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet (most often through fluoridated drinking water provided by your town/city) when their teeth are growing (up to age 21). Bottled water usuallly does not contain fluoride; neither does well water. The fluoride in toothpaste is only topical and not to be ingested. If your child does not have a fluoridated water source, please talk to your dentist or physician for a prescription of fluoride supplements.

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My jaw joints click when I open my mouth or eat. Should I be worried about it?

The jaw joints are called the temporomandibular joints, or, TMJ , in short. These joints function in a hinging motion. When the joints are not hinging smoothly, clicking and/or limitation of opening can occur. Many factors cause TMJ disorder, namely trauma to the head, dislocation of the joints, imbalanced occlusion (bite), and grinding or clenching of teeth. Besides causing pain when chewing or opening the mouth, TMJ disorder can also attribute to headaches, a stiff neck, sore facial muscles, and deterioration of the jaw joints. Most of time, a NIGHT GUARD is necessary to treat and prevent TMJ disorder from worsening. A night guard can also prevent teeth grinding (bruxism), which is one of the main causes of TMJ disorder. Teeth grinding is an involuntary movement occurring during the sleep and can cause sore facial muscles, broken teeth and fillings, in addition to TMJ disorder. If you think that you may grind your teeth, or are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, please mention it to your dentist during your examination.

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I am experiencing excruciating toothaches when I bite on something hard, eat or drink something cold or sweet. The tooth doesn't bother me otherwise. What is causing this discomfort?

What you are experiencing is called the "cracked-tooth syndrome". It occurs due to a fracture (crack) in the tooth. A crack in a tooth resembles a crack in the windshield of a car; it can get larger over time. When pressure is exerted on the tooth, as when you bite on something, the crack in the tooth is widened, causing the nerve inside the tooth to react with a pain signal to your brain. When cold or sweets gets to the tooth, it will leak through the crack, causing hypersensitivity of the tooth. Left untreated, a fracture in a tooth can get larger over time, leading to increased pain and possible loss of the tooth. The best way to treat a cracked tooth is by protecting it with a crown or an onlay. Sometimes it may be necessary to treat the fractured tooth with root canal therapy, if the fracture has come close to the nerve. To prevent fractures in your teeth, avoid chewing on hard foods such as ice cubes, hard candies, or popcorn kernels. If you grind your teeth during sleep, wear a night guard. Always wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports.

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My tooth hurts when I eat something cold or sweet. Does that mean I have a cavity?

Cold and sweet sensitivity can mean that you have dental decay (cavity), a leaky filling, or receding gum. It may be difficult to diagnose the cause without taking a dental x-ray, so the best thing is to consult your dentist.

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My dentist tells me that my fillings need to be replaced, but they have been in my mouth for years and I have no problem with them. Is it necessary to replace them?

Just like everything man-made, dental fillings do not last indefinitely. A well-placed amalgam filling will last decades but after about a decade, it will start to become leaky around the edges, causing decay underneath. It will be necessary to replace it with a new filling or other types of restorations to protect your teeth. Options for the new restoration include amalgam (silver) fillings, composite resin (white) fillings, inlays, onlays (partial crowns), or crowns (caps). Your dentist can suggest the best treatment for you.

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How do you claim to be an environmentally friendly office?

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