Dr Alan Stern DDS Frequently Asked Questions
Are dental x-rays harmful?

The American Dental Association says “Dental X-ray exams are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental X-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle). A leaded apron minimizes exposure to the abdomen and should be used when any dental radiograph is taken. Also, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should also be used whenever possible. The use of a leaded thyroid collar is recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children.”

How often should I get dental x-rays?

In our office, there is no one-size-fits- all approach to x-rays (or anything else, for that matter). We want to minimize your x-ray exposure AND get good information on your teeth, gums, and jaws. To do that, we will help you to understand your dental condition and discuss and recommend the x-ray frequency that is appropriate for you. As a general guiding principle, we advise people who have dental x-rays a bit more frequently when they have the following:

  • High incidence of dental decay
  • Moderate to advanced periodontal (gum) disease
  • A lot of dentistry in their mouths that needs monitoring

We also recognize that you, the patient, have the final say on all treatment that we do; in other words, we will not force you to have x-rays or any other treatment. If you refuse to have x-rays taken, we may ask you to sign a document releasing us from responsibility if a condition that could have been detected by recommended x-rays causes you harm.

Should everyone have their teeth cleaned twice a year?

Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the frequency of your dental visits. People with periodontal (gum) disease need to be maintained more than those who do not have these issues. We will make recommendations that are in your best interest and, together, we will decide how to maintain the best health for you

It’s only a cleaning- can’t it wait?

The term “cleaning” is easy for people to understand, but it is very misleading. Click here to see what we do for you at a “cleaning” visit and you may understand that it’s not JUST a cleaning!

I brush and floss- why do I need a cleaning?

Great question! Even the best brushers and flossers build up calculus (also known as tartar) around their teeth, which can only be removed professionally. And, as we’ve said before, it’s not just a cleaning. We want to prevent problems before they wreak havoc on your life. Your maintenance visit is designed to do just that!

Why do I need a crown? Can’t we just do a filling?

Fillings are great and economical way to restore a decayed tooth when there is enough tooth structure left to support it. When a tooth is fractured or significantly decayed, it is left in a weakened condition and it doesn’t have enough strong enamel left. In these cases, a crown will predictably strengthen and restore your tooth to its normal shape and function.

I don’t want a Hollywood smile. Is that all you do?

While we pride ourselves on our training and on our ability to restore a mouth to great esthetics, not all of our patients want this service. Our office will take care of most any dental need or want. Our menu of services outlines many of the things we do well. If you’re over 14 years old, we can help you!

Why do I need to see a specialist?

One of the hallmarks of a good practitioner is knowing what is in the patient’s best interest at all times. In this era of highly specialized knowledge, no one practitioner can be a master of every aspect of dentistry. Therefore, if we feel that you, the patient, is best served by one of our specialists, we will make that recommendation.
Our specialists are our teammates and are all outstanding practitioners and nice people.

You can be sure that if we ask you to see a specialist, that you will be given excellent care in a comfortable environment.  And many of these specialists have worked on Dr. Stern and his family!

I have dental insurance. Can I use your office?

Anyone who wants to attain and maintain great oral health can come to our office. We will do everything we can to get you the insurance benefit you work so hard for. Our policy on dental insurance is here. Remember, too, that, unlike medical insurance, dental insurance carries some very limited annual benefits. Our philosophy of care is built around you, your needs, and your wants. We can almost always craft a treatment plan to take you to your desired level of health that will fit your needs, wants, and budget!

What happens if I cannot make my appointment?

We view an appointment as a bond of trust between us. Dr. Stern and Jessica Raper, RDH see one patient at a time, so that we can maximize the attention we give to you. We do not double-book and we do not pack our reception area with frustrated people waiting for hours to see us. So we ask that you book your appointments at times that you know are free for you and that you give us at least two business days notice if you need to cancel. Of course, illnesses and emergencies happen to all of us, and we will understand the rare instance when emergencies affect you. We do reserve the right to charge a fair fee for our time in the event of a broken appointment.

Are you always on time?

We pride ourselves in our punctuality and in assigning the right amount of time for just about everything we do. As a rule, you will not wait for more than a few minutes in our office, if at all. And if we are running late due to unforeseeable circumstances, we will make every effort to get in touch with you and give you the option to come a bit later or to reschedule your visit to us. Likewise, if you are running late, kindly inform us as quickly as you can and we’ll do you best to accommodate you!

I snore… so what?

Snoring can be the object of a lot of jokes, but it can very well be a sign of a sleep breathing disorder. If you are not breathing properly while you sleep, your body is not able to fully recover from your day’s activities. This can subtly and slowly weaken you and make you susceptible to some very serious and potentially life threatening conditions. Refer to our section on sleep breathing to see if you may have a sleep breathing problem and let us answer your questions. It could save your life!

My gums bleed but they don’t hurt. I don’t think it’s a problem

Bleeding gums are nature’s warning sign that something is wrong. The inflammation that causes gums to bleed can eventually lead to the painful and disfiguring loss of your teeth. Also, the agents that cause the inflammation of your gums get into your bloodstream. Studies have shown that this can cause problems with your health and wellness! So why wait until it hurts? Stay healthy and comfortable!

Why should I bother fixing or replacing a broken or lost back tooth- it doesn’t hurt and no one can see it?

All of your teeth serve important functions. Your front teeth add to your dignity and enhance the way you kook. Your back teeth serve to support your ability to chew . When a back tooth breaks or is lost, your other teeth become overworked and weakened. If a back tooth is lost, the remaining teeth may shift and drift into the space it once occupied. This will throw your bite out of line and can create problems that are painful, disfiguring and costly.

The bottom line of all this- let us help you get healthy and stay healthy.

Got other questions? Call us at (732) 493-8030 or submit a question here.