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Larry G. Hubbard - DDS
Insider Article By Larry G. Hubbard DDS

Q:  How long do dental sealants last?

A: A sealant is a plastic coating that is flowed into the grooves and crevices that are on the tops of the tooth.  First, the tooth is cleaned thoroughly, and any debris is removed from the cracks and crevices.  Then the tooth is treated with a bonding agent by flowing the plastic into the grooves.  The excess can be seen on the tops of the tooth.  Often the plastic is colored white to aid in monitoring the sealants at the cleaning appointments.  The top part of the sealant often wears away in 3-5 years.  However, the part of the plastic that is in the grooves seems to last much longer than 3-5 years.

Q:  How safe are dental X-rays?

A: I feel that dental x-rays are very safe.  Radiation is part of life, with natural occurring background radiation being produced by the sun.  Even living or working in a brick building increases your radiation level slightly because bricks naturally give off small amounts of radiation.  Dental x-rays are needed to detect decay, periodontal disease, cysts, and even cancer of the jaw.  Lead aprons with thyroid collars used when taking x-rays reduce the already low level of radiation exposure from dental sources.  The switch from film-based x-rays to digital sensors greatly reduced the amount of radiation you receive during dental x-rays.  The average amount of radiation from cavity detecting x-rays is equal to that of a sunny day at the beach.  So, please don’t forgo x-rays because you think they are dangerous.  They are not.

Q:  Should I expect to pay more if you are not in network with my insurance?

A: In a PPO, you have the choice of using providers inside or outside your plan’s network.  You don’t need to choose a primary dentist, or get referrals to see specialists.  But, if you do go out-of-network, your costs will usually be higher.  You won’t have to pay the full cost of your care, but you’ll pay a bigger share.

In some PPOs, the amount that your plan pays for out-of-network care is the same as the contracted rate that they pay their in-network dentists.  Other plans may base their out-of-network reimbursement on the “recognized charge” or recognized amount,” which is the amount that dentists in the area generally charge for the same service.  But either way, if your out-of-network dentist charges more than your plan allows, you will likely have to pay the difference yourself.

For many patients, choosing a dentist they trust is more important than the relatively small difference in co-payment incurred in going out-of-network .  I would encourage you to discuss any questions you may have with your current dentist.  If he/she is not a participating provider with your plan, the front office can usually give you an idea of what co-payment to expect before treatment.

Q:  Do you focus on Endodontics?

A: I do perform endodontics (root canals) regularly, but I do not focus on endodontics exclusively.   I am a General Dentist and treat a wide variety of dental problems.  In Statesboro, there are two root canal specialists (Endodontists) which come up from Savannah on a rotating daily basis.  They restrict their practice to endodontic treatments only.  I perform many root canals in my office but do refer out the more complex cases, as most General Dentists do.

Q:  I just did an at home whitening and my teeth are aching. How long should I expect to feel this pain? Is there anything I can do to relieve the pain?


First, you should contact your dentist.  He may have a product that you place in your whitening trays that will help with your sensitivity.

With any whitening product you generally will experience some degree of tooth and or gum sensitivity.  If you have healthy teeth and gums, sensitivity can last from a few hours to a few days.  Generally, it will subside after a few hours.  Avoiding highly acidic drinks and food (fruits, fruit juices, and sodas) will also help.

Using sensitivity toothpaste or over-the-counter fluoride often helps.   

Q:  I am constantly grinding my teeth. What can be done for during the day to prevent ruining my teeth further?


There are many causes for grinding one's teeth.  It can be a nervous habit or be caused by malocclusion (teeth not meeting correctly).  It can also be a side effect of certain anti-depressants.  If you are taking anti-depressants, you might ask your physician if it's possible to change to one that doesn't have clenching or grinding as a side effect.  It is also possible to have your dentist make a certain type of splint which can be worn during the day and is barely noticeable, which would limit your clenching/grinding.  Discuss this problem with your dentist and see what solutions he recommends. 

Q:  I have constant pain in my teeth but my checkups have come back clear. What else may be wrong?

A: Without more information, this is a hard question to answer.  Have you discussed with your dentist that you have constant pain in your teeth and asked him to evaluate your condition more thoroughly?  Have x-rays been taken of each tooth in the last six months?  There are several possible causes of your sensitivity:  It is possible you have a clenching habit or a grinding habit which can cause the teeth to be sensitive.  This clenching/grinding can be exacerbated by certain antidepressants.  You should ask your dentist to evaluate your TMJ and see if the joint is causing your teeth to hurt.  If your dentist does not provide TMJ care, ask him to refer you to a dentist that does treat TMJ problems.  You could also have a gum condition such as gingivitis, periodontitis, or gum disease.  If you have receding gums, the root surface can be exposed and cause sensitivity.  In the end, you may just have sensitive teeth.  In that case, I would recommend Sensodyne toothpaste.  Toothpastes with whitening ingredients can cause sensitivity, so steer clear of them.  

Q:  My gums bleed every time I brush my teeth but don't have any other problems. Should I be concerned?

A:  Yes, you should be concerned when any part of your body bleeds.  Bleeding gums are a sign of inflamed gums.  This can develop into gingivitis, which can develop in time into periodontal disease, also called Pyorrhea.  Periodontal disease destroys the bone which support the teeth causing the teeth to loosen and eventually be lost.  Periodontal disease is the main cause of tooth loss in adults.  The best time to treat periodontal disease is before it occurs.  Regular dental exams and cleanings can usually control the development of gum disease.  Bleeding gums are a sign of problems with your gums.  You need to see your dental provider to have him evaluate your condition.