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Downtown Dental

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can we help you?

Patient education is important to us at Downtown Dental, and part of that is making sure we leave enough time during appointments to answer any questions you might have. Whether you want to know about taking care of your oral health or you need more information to make the best choices for treatment recommendations, we want you to be informed.

There are quite a few questions we hear over and over from patients, and we have put the most common questions here, for your convenience. Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions that are not listed here. The only sily question is the one that goes unasked!

Cosmetic Dentistry

invisible braces | clear correct | new orleansStraighten Your Teeth With ClearCorrect!

Yes! At Downtown Dental, we offer ClearCorrect invisible braces in New Orleans, LA.

If you are a teenager or adult who has been considering traditional braces but are wary about having a mouth full of metal, we understand! ClearCorrect technology allows our New Orleans dentist to straighten your teeth and provide you with a healthier smile without needing traditional brackets and wires. 

Our ClearCorrect braces straighten your smile using a series of clear aligners that you trade out every few weeks. These aligners gradually push your teeth into alignment while still being conveniently removable. While you should always wear your aligners for the majority of the day, it is safe to remove them for mealtime and to brush your teeth each morning and night.

ClearCorrect in New Orleans

These New Orleans ClearCorrect braces allow you to live a completely normal life and still enjoy your smile without it being covered up by bulky wires and brackets. ClearCorrect invisible braces are the best treatment option if you want your orthodontics to be subtle and nearly undetectable.

If you are ready to schedule a ClearCorrect consultation with Dr. Rathke, our caring New Orleans dental office would be happy to get you on the calendar. Please call us at (504) 528-7800 to get started.  

 

professional teeth whitening | new orleans laTeeth Whitening in New Orleans

At Downtown Dental, our patients often ask us how they can improve their at-home dental care and keep their teeth whiter. All of our teeth will naturally darken as we age, but there is still plenty we can do to help keep them as white as possible. 

If you are struggling to keep your pearly whites white, one of the easiest adjustments you can make is to minimize or avoid your intake of the following:

  • Tobacco products
  • Dark fruits such as berries
  • Deep-colored sauces like soy sauce and red pasta sauce
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Dark sodas like cola and root beer
  • Beets

If you do regularly consume these products, make sure to drink plenty of water. You can also try eating leafy greens like spinach and kale immediately before or crispy root vegetables like carrots immediately after consuming these foods to help protect your teeth from staining. 

It is also important to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth white. Daily brushing and flossing, especially 30 to 60 minutes after meals, can help protect your teeth by washing away bacteria and preventing stains before they happen. 

Get a Whiter Smile with Professional Teeth Whitening 

If you are still struggling to keep your teeth sparkly and clean, we recommend professional teeth whitening. Our dentist offers professional teeth whitening in New Orleans, LA to patients who want smiles that are visibly whiter and brighter. To learn more about this service we offer, please call our Downtown Dental team at (504) 528-7800 today. 

cosmetic dentistry | new orleans Repair Damaged Teeth in NOLA

If you have teeth that are chipped or cracked, our New Orleans dentist can easily hide these flaws with cosmetic dentistry. There are many different cosmetic dentistry treatments available, but the best ones for chipped teeth are generally dental bonding and porcelain veneers. 

Porcelain veneers are thin, strong tooth-like shells that are permanently affixed to existing teeth. Veneers help create uniformity between teeth and are great for covering up cosmetic blemishes such as chips or cracks. Porcelain veneers are how many movie stars achieve a red carpet-worthy smile, and they can now help you, too! 

Cosmetic Procedures in New Orleans

Dental bonding is a simple cosmetic dentistry procedure where Dr. Rathke uses small amounts of composite resin material to cover up imperfections or fill in gaps between teeth. The resin material is typically the same material that we use to fill cavities, so it will look and feel just like your natural teeth. Even a little bit of dental bonding can make a big difference to the appearance of your smile! 

These cosmetic options are shaded to match your smile.

For dental bonding, porcelain veneers, and other types of cosmetic dentistry in New Orleans, LA, please contact our Downtown Dental team at (504) 528-7800 to schedule your dental appointment with us today! 

Emergency Services

If you are experiencing tooth or jaw pain in New Orleans—you may be experiencing a dental emergency. Even if you're unclear about what constitutes an emergency, we encourage you to seek immediate attention. 

Our priority is relieving your pain and fixing the oral issue as fast as possible. Your emergency dentist in New Orleans, Dr. Richard Rathke, can assist you during your dental emergency. 

emergency dental services | new orleansWhat Is the First Thing I Should Do?

If you are experiencing pain or bleeding, don't hesitate to seek help. Call our dental office to arrange an emergency dental visit so we can determine the scale of the emergency. Our first priority is to relieve any pain so that you can remain calm and comfortable. 

Some dental emergencies, like a lost filling or broken dental crown, may not need immediate action and can sometimes wait until the next business day. Other contingencies, like a broken or knocked-out tooth, may have a time window to replace the tooth successfully. 

Call Our Dental Office Immediately

If you need an emergency dentist in New Orleans, LA, please call Downtown Dental, at (504) 528-7800. We can let you know if you should go to an emergency room instead, and we will provide helpful instructions on how to be safe and comfortable on your way to our dental office.

We always make room to see our patients same-day if possible. Don't let an oral emergency become worse over time. We can help with any pain and get your oral health back on track. 

Extractions

tooth extraction | root canal | new orleansTooth Extractions in New Orleans

Your options will depend on the condition of the tooth in question as well as the surrounding teeth. Dr. Rathke will discuss all possible options with you prior to extracting your tooth. A root canal or some other treatment might be recommended to save your tooth—which is always the goal.

Rest assured that, whenever possible, we will recommend not pulling a tooth if there is some way to repair it. You might think that losing a tooth in the back of your mouth where it won’t be noticed is not a big deal, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

What Happens When You Lose a Tooth 

When a tooth is missing, the teeth around the space left behind will begin to shift. This starts a domino effect of problems, including a bite that becomes compromised as well as the loss of other teeth.

The good news is that if extraction is the best course of treatment, there are tooth replacement options that can fill in the space left behind by a missing tooth that look natural and will restore the form and function of your smile. Replacing a missing tooth with a prosthetic or dental implant will also protect your remaining healthy teeth.

General Dentistry

cosmetic dentistry | new orleans Keep Your Teeth Healthy! 

No!!!!! Floss picks are good for getting food out of your teeth but that is about all they are good for. The purpose of flossing is to disrupt the bacteria that coat the surface of the teeth both above and below the gum-line. In order to do this effectively, the floss needs to “hug” the tooth while sliding up and down. With traditional string floss, you can use your fingers to contour the floss to the surfaces you are trying to clean…this is much tougher if not impossible with floss picks.

dentist | gum disease | new orleans What Floss Should You Use?

No! I call the floss picks "cheater floss". You can get in between your teeth with them, however they do not adequately wrap around the teeth to remove all the sticky plaque trapped in between. Often, patients using floss sticks will still have tartar buildup, stain and plaque in between the teeth usually just below the papilla (pointed gums between the teeth). This is the area where the sticks usually miss. Floss sticks are better than NOT flossing at all...BUT traditional floss always wins over the sticks! 

cosmetic dentistry | new orleans la A common misconception is that cavities are directly related to the amount of sugar you eat. This is partially true however the more important factor is how many times throughout the day you consume the sugar. Every time you consume sugar (cola, peppermints, etc.), the bacteria “eat” the sugar and produce an acid which causes the cavity to grow. This occurs for about 20 minutes on average until the acid is neutralized by your saliva. It doesn’t matter if you take a few sips of cola or drink an entire two-liter, after 20 minutes, the acid is neutralized by your saliva.

Avoid Sugary Drinks to Avoid Cavities!

Each time sugar is consumed, the process starts over. From a cavity standpoint, it would be better to drink a six-pack of cola in 20 minutes and be done for the day rather than sip on 1 or 2 cans over the course of a day.

dentist | new orleans | cosmetic dentistComfortable Dentistry in New Orleans 

Absolutely! When scheduling your appointment, just let Natalie know you’d like nitrous oxide, and we will take care of the rest when you come in.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a safe way to completely alleviate your dental anxiety while in the dental chair.

Using nitrous is quick and easy: You simply breathe in the gas from a mask, and it immediately puts you in a euphoric state. You will remain conscious and aware of your surroundings, and you will be able to converse with Dr. Rathke and his team during the procedure. But your worries about the treatment you are undergoing will be minimized so you can just relax.

During your procedure, the amount of nitrous oxide you are getting will be carefully monitored. Afterward, the mask will be removed and, almost as quickly, the effects of the nitrous oxide will leave your body. This is great news for people who need to return to work or drive themselves home. It is perfectly safe to do so.

Schedule Your Next Dental Exam at Downtown Dental in NOLA

Don’t hesitate to ask us about nitrous oxide before your next appointment. Our goal is to make your time in the dental chair as comfortable as possible!

dentist | cosmetic dentistry | new orleansChoose the Right Toothbrush!

Most patients can clean just as well with a manual as they can with and electric. It's really a matter of how often you can clean your teeth, if any dexterity issues exist and personal preference. If you're a patient that typically brushes 2x day at least (along with other proper oral health practices), then an extra soft/soft manual toothbrush should do the trick. If any dexterity issues exist, if you feel like your teeth don't feel clean after brushing or if your dental professional suggests an electric for any reason...then an electric toothbrush may work better for you. Ask your dental hygienist what's best for you!

cosmetic dentistry | new orleans laMaintain Good Oral Health in NOLA

Cavities are caused by certain bacteria in the mouth that use sugar as an energy source. The bacteria consume the sugar and produce an acid which dissolves the tooth structure. Very tiny cavities can be arrested or stopped with proper oral hygiene, reduced sugar intake, and the use of fluoride. The fluoride helps to rebuild the weakened enamel while proper oral hygiene and reduced sugar intake helps to keep the cavity-causing bacteria in check.

general dentist | dentist | new orleansGeneral Dentistry in NOLA

In the world of dentistry, prevention is key. There is only one way to prevent dental problems, and that is by visiting your dentist twice each year for examinations and cleanings.

When you see us for regular checkups, we are able to detect problems while they are still small and less invasive to treat. For example, it is much easier to fill a small spot of decay on your tooth than it is to perform a root canal on a tooth that has experienced unchecked decay. Until decay has grown, it normally isn’t painful, so a dental x-ray is often the only way it can be identified.

Prevent Gum Disease by Seeing Your NOLA Dentist Regularly 

Another reason to see your dentist regularly is to protect your gum health. Gum disease, which is the most common reason for American adults to lose their teeth, often creeps up on people without their knowledge. It doesn’t always present with symptoms, particularly in its early stages when it is most treatable. Gum disease usually starts because of excess plaque buildup on the teeth; this plaque hardens into tartar (or calculus) and can only be removed with special dental tools.

Don’t risk your oral health by skipping bi-annual checkups. Call Downtown Dental today to make an appointment!

dentist | cosmetic dentistry | new orleansGeneral Dentistry in New Orleans

We take every precaution possible to ensure you don't feel any discomfort during or after the procedure. Dr. Rathke will numb the area that will be treated so you won’t feel anything.

If you have anxiety or worries about pain, please let us know ahead of time. Sometimes just having a complete understanding of the procedure and what will happen is enough to alleviate nervousness. We are also happy to provide you with a bit of extra TLC when you come in.

Keep in mind, too, that we offer nitrous oxide for any procedure. Nitrous oxide is safe and effective. Breathed in through a mask much like oxygen, the effects of “laughing gas” are immediate, and you will feel relaxed—and almost euphoric. You will remain conscious, so you don’t have to worry about “losing control,” and you can still talk to the team and answer questions.

After we remove the nitrous oxide mask, its effects leave the body almost immediately. This means you can drive yourself back to home or work with no side effects.

Nitrous oxide works for patients of all ages and is a great way to deal with dental anxiety. Ask us about nitrous before your next appointment!

Periodontal Disease Prevention and Treatment

periodontal disease | gum disease | new orleansPrevent Gum Disease in New Orleans

Periodic dental visits, thorough brushing & flossing and limiting/eliminating bad habits (i.e. smoking) will help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease. Anything you can do to keep your mouth clean throughout the day will keep you healthy! Call our office to schedule your routine dental visit today!

No. This is not normal.

periodontal disease | bleeding gums | new orleansIf your gums bleed when you brush and floss, this is more than likely an early sign of gum disease, also called periodontal disease.

In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis, and it is highly treatable. Later on, when gum disease is more advanced—called periodontitis—it can be managed, but the health of your teeth is at risk. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in this country.

In many cases, however, gums don’t bleed even when gum disease is present. Periodontal disease often presents with no symptoms at all, and the only way to know for sure if your gums are healthy is to visit the dentist twice each year for examinations and cleanings.

Good home care is also important to keep gum disease from developing, so brushing and flossing regularly are crucial.

If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, give Downtown Dental a call immediately and make an appointment for a checkup. The earlier gum disease is treated, the better the outcome. If it’s been a while since your last dental appointment, let us help you get back on track for good oral health!

Teeth Whitening

professional teeth whitening | new orleans laTeeth Whitening in New Orleans

At Downtown Dental, our patients often ask us how they can improve their at-home dental care and keep their teeth whiter. All of our teeth will naturally darken as we age, but there is still plenty we can do to help keep them as white as possible. 

If you are struggling to keep your pearly whites white, one of the easiest adjustments you can make is to minimize or avoid your intake of the following:

  • Tobacco products
  • Dark fruits such as berries
  • Deep-colored sauces like soy sauce and red pasta sauce
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Dark sodas like cola and root beer
  • Beets

If you do regularly consume these products, make sure to drink plenty of water. You can also try eating leafy greens like spinach and kale immediately before or crispy root vegetables like carrots immediately after consuming these foods to help protect your teeth from staining. 

It is also important to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth white. Daily brushing and flossing, especially 30 to 60 minutes after meals, can help protect your teeth by washing away bacteria and preventing stains before they happen. 

Get a Whiter Smile with Professional Teeth Whitening 

If you are still struggling to keep your teeth sparkly and clean, we recommend professional teeth whitening. Our dentist offers professional teeth whitening in New Orleans, LA to patients who want smiles that are visibly whiter and brighter. To learn more about this service we offer, please call our Downtown Dental team at (504) 528-7800 today. 

Tooth-Colored Fillings

tooth colored fillings | dental filling | new orleansTooth-Colored Fillings in NOLA

Yes. At Downtown Dental, we only use tooth-colored fillings.

Not only do tooth-colored fillings provide a better esthetic than old-fashioned metal fillings—also known as amalgam fillings—but they are stronger and more durable.

There are a number of benefits to using composite, tooth-colored fillings:

  • Less of the tooth structure needs to be drilled away to make room for composite fillings. This means preparing a decayed tooth for a filling is quicker—so you will spend less time in the dental chair.
  • Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings adhere directly to the tooth structure so more of the tooth can stay intact. This also makes composite fillings stronger and less likely to fracture as is the tendency for amalgam fillings.
  • Tooth-colored fillings can be made to match the tooth they are repairing perfectly, so this makes composite an ideal material to repair fillings toward the front of the mouth as well as gaps, cracks, and chips in front teeth.

Give us a call to find out more about tooth-colored fillings. If you think you might have a cavity, call us immediately. We can also talk to you about replacing any amalgam fillings you might still have in your mouth.

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