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SW Nebraska Dental Center

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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It's important to have the information you need when you're making decisions about your health care. At SW Nebraska Dental Center, we take the time to answer each of your questions and address your concerns. 

We do hear a few questions on a regular basis, and we've collected some of those here. Take a look and see if the answers you need are below.

If your question isn't answered here or you'd like more information, don't hesitate to call our office!



Dental x-rays are an important tool for diagnosing dental problems that may not be detectable during a visual oral examination. However, some patients question the safety of these x-rays because of concerns about radiation exposure.

Radiation is measured in units called millirems, or mrems for short. According to the American Nuclear Society, we are exposed to hundreds of naturally occurring mrems from our food, our water, and our air. In fact, even owning a smoke detector or taking a trip on an airplane results in a small amount of radiation exposure.

The truth is that the amount of radiation produced by traditional film x-rays (those that use bite wings) is very minimal, about 0.5 mrems per x-ray. These numbers are significantly lower than the x-rays used in hospitals and medical offices, which can range anywhere from 10 to 600 mrems. Digital x-rays emit even lower levels – estimates range between 70-90% less than traditional x-rays. And while the technologically advanced 3-D cone beam scanner does emit higher levels of radiation than both traditional and digital x-rays, the levels are still far below the threshold for what would be considered unsafe. Furthermore, the valuable diagnostic information gained from the creation of these three-dimensional images greatly outweighs the risks.

The importance of maintaining healthy primary teeth, also known as “baby teeth,” is sometimes overlooked, even by the most well-informed parents. Primary teeth aid in the child’s ability to chew and speak properly. Even though these teeth are temporary and will eventually fall out, the primary teeth are the placeholders for permanent teeth. Their development can impact a child’s smile for the rest of his or her life. In addition, an untreated cavity that forms in a baby tooth can, if given enough time, cause decay in the underlying adult tooth. 

The American Pediatric Dental Association recommends that children should be seen by age one, which is generally when their first teeth begin to erupt. During this first visit, Dr. Haag will check the teeth for signs of tooth decay or other problems. Issues such as thumb-sucking can be addressed. They can also demonstrate the best methods for caring for primary teeth and recommend appropriate products. Instilling good habits early on prevents problems in adulthood.

Most importantly, a first visit helps familiarize children with the dentists, their staff, and the workings of the office, helping to make them feel safe and comfortable during future appointments.

Brushing your teeth twice daily is the single most important step you can take towards preventing tooth decay.  Therefore, choosing a brush that will effectively clean not only your teeth, but also your gums and tongue, is critical

In general, electric toothbrushes, like Sonicare, provide the most thorough cleaning. This is a result of several factors. First, the oscillating motion of the head allows the bristles to reach further than those on a manual toothbrush. Second, the rapid movement of the bristles eliminates plaque quickly and easily. And because many electric toothbrushes come with built-in timers, users are more likely to brush for a longer period of time (2 minutes) than they would with a manual toothbrush (30 seconds on average). Electric toothbrushes are especially beneficial for children, who don’t always brush as thoroughly or as frequently as they should.

If the price of an electric toothbrush is beyond your reach, don’t worry.  According to the American Dental Association, a high-quality, soft-bristled manual brush is still very effective at removing plaque provided you brush properly twice daily.

Make sure your dental hygiene routine includes the use of fluoridated toothpaste. Sensodyne and Biotene are good choices for patients with dry mouth.

Most likely, yes. Southwest Nebraska Dental Center accepts a wide variety of dental insurance plans. We are also preferred providers for the following companies:

  • Ameritas
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Delta Dental

Almost all dental insurance plans have an annual maximum they will pay towards the cost of your care. Any costs occurred once this maximum has been reached are the patient’s responsibility. Dental plans usually have deductibles, as well. A deductible is the portion of the bill that is paid by the patient, usually a percentage of the total costs for treatment.

Insurance can be a complicated topic. Dental plans vary from company to company, and maximums and deductibles can change on an annual basis. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your dental insurance plan and the benefits it provides. We can even provide an estimate beforehand for what your financial responsibility will be. We can also file your insurance claim for you following your visit.

We strive to provide excellent, affordable care for all of our patients. If you do not have dental insurance, or your insurance only covers a portion of your procedure, please do not postpone your treatment due to financial concerns.  We have payment options that can be designed to fit any budget.

CEREC One-Appointment Crowns

CEREC allows Dr. Haag to mill your new crown from a tooth-colored ceramic block. The type of ceramic used is dependent upon which tooth is being replaced.

Dr. Haag has found CEREC to be extremely accurate. The number of patient issues related to poor fit is significantly lowered, and if an issue does occur, it can be fixed right here at the moment rather than waiting for the lab and having to schedule another appointment.

Depending upon the complexity of the procedure, creation of a customized crown using the CEREC system can take between 1.5 and 2 hours to complete.

CEREC is a process used by Dr. Haag, in which she uses CAD/CAM technology to make your crowns in her office. The benefit is that you get your crown in one appointment, saving you time and eliminating the need for a temporary crown.

Right in our office at Southwest Nebraska Dental Center! If you would like to watch your crown being made, please ask – we would be happy to show you!

Not usually. CEREC removes the need for molds of the mouth and instead utilizes intraoral cameras that generate mouth scans. 


Crowns & Bridges

Before either a crown or a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, the doctor will either take an impression to provide an exact mold for the crown or bridge or use our CEREC to custom fit a crown right in our office. 

The doctors may recommend a bridge if you're missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMD) disorders. 

Dr. Haag will place a crown to cover or "cap" a damaged tooth.

Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape, or alignment. At Southwest Nebraska Dental Center, we employ CAD/CAM technology using CEREC to fabricate your crowns directly in our office.

A crown may be recommended for the following cases/issues: 

  • Replace a large filling when there isn't enough tooth remaining 
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing 
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment

While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out and are also susceptible to decay underneath them. That is why the most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown or bridge is to practice good oral hygiene.

See us at Southwest Nebraska Dental Center regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

A crown is a type of dental restoration that completely caps or encircles a tooth. They are often needed when a large cavity or crack threatens the ongoing health of a tooth.

A bridge is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent teeth.

Both crowns and most bridges are permanently cemented into your mouth. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants and can only be removed by a dentist. 

Dental Sealants

Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly greatly decreases your chances of developing tooth decay. However, even when practicing the best oral hygiene, some areas of the mouth are difficult to reach with a just a brush and floss. The back teeth, in particular, tend to have small pits and crevices in which food particles and bacteria can easily become lodged. Over time, this debris can cause cavities to form. 

Dental sealants are a proven method for preventing tooth decay because they literally “seal off” these susceptible areas, discouraging the build-up of food and bacteria. Dental sealants are made from a liquid resin that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Once treated with a high-intensity light, the resin hardens into a thin white plastic that is so similar to the natural color of the teeth, it’s virtually invisible. When properly maintained, the barrier created by the dental sealants can last for up to ten years.

We recommend dental sealants for all children as soon as their permanent molars have come in, usually between the ages of five and seven.  In addition, adults who have an unusually rough surface on their back teeth are good candidates for sealants.

Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy (LAPT)

Dr. Haag will recommend this treatment based on the level of gum disease present. Your hygienist will then go around each tooth and remove any debris and calcified deposits that are adhering to your teeth.

After removing the tartar and calculus, a laser is used to kill the bacteria that cause the gum infection and promote healing of your gums around your teeth. The laser decontaminates/disinfects the infected pocket space by dehydrating the bacteria and literally killing them.

One of the biggest advantages of laser therapy is the fact that many times the procedure can be performed with much less discomfort and postoperative pain than with conventional methods. This is due to the laser's ability to seal off nerve endings and blood vessels.

Dr. Haag, along with our hygienists, has taken the Academy of Laser Dentistry certification course as well as several other training courses. We pride ourselves in providing the care you need to keep your smile healthy.

Composite Fillings

You may experience some post-operative sensitivity following the procedure. Composite fillings can discolor if exposed frequently to coffee, tea, tobacco, wine, or other foods and drinks with staining properties.

The main advantage of composite fillings is that they are aesthetic and blend in with the color of your tooth. Also, they bond to the tooth structure, so often times, Dr. Haag will not need to remove as much tooth structure as she would have if she were using amalgam fillings.

Dentures and Partials

Yes, it is normal to get sore spots with your new dentures.

As the dentures "settle," they will put uneven pressure on the gums and may create sore spots. Please call us at 1-800-657-5038 to make an adjustment appointment, as you will need an adjustment to fix the area that is rubbing on your gums in order for them to heal.

Dr. Haag and our staff will discuss how to clean your dentures at your insertion appointment.

There are many good denture cleaners on the market. Choose one with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper denture cleaning.

Eating with your new dentures is an acquired skill and will take time, patience, and practice to master. It will also differ from person to person because individual bone support, jaw anatomy, and muscles all play a factor. 

There is an adjustment period to new dentures.

You will need to get used to the new feeling and learn how eat and speak with them in your mouth. These feelings will gradually subside as you and your facial muscles adapt. You may find you have more saliva. This is common and will slowly return to normal within a few days.

You will also notice that your lower denture will feel looser than your upper denture. This is also normal, but if you find that it is bothersome, please speak with us because solutions may be available.  

Dentures replace all of your teeth on either your upper jaw or lower jaw, or both. Partial dentures also replace teeth; however, you still have natural teeth that the partial holds on to.

Dr. Haag strives to achieve retention and stability on both the upper and lower dentures. However, due to facial muscles, tongue, and bone structure, the lower denture will never be as tight as the upper.

We stress time, patience, and practice for all new denture wearers as it will take some time to perfect wearing dentures. 

Teeth Whitening

At Southwest Nebraska Dental Center, we use Opalescence whitening gel, which contains potassium nitrate and fluoride that not only whitens from the inside out but decreases sensitivity and can even prevent cavities.

Teeth whitening is not permanent and your teeth will eventually start to discolor again. This happens due to natural processes but food and drink may speed up the rate of yellowing. 

Tea, coffee, wine, and tobacco will all cause discoloration of the teeth. So, in order to keep them pearly white, you will need to touch up your whitening anywhere from every 6 months to once a year depending upon your rate of discoloration.

There are several factors that affect how your teeth will respond to whitening. What color your teeth were to begin with as well as the cause of your discoloration contribute to your results. For instance, a yellow hue is easier to whiten than a gray/black discoloration. 

Any of our staff can answer your questions and evaluate if you are a good candidate for whitening.

Sensitivity is the most common side effect of teeth whitening. If it does occur, it is usually temporary and goes away once you have completed the whitening process. However, the Opalescence whitening that we use in our office contains fluoride, which aids in reducing sensitivity.

Sedation Dentistry

Some patients may experience nausea following their procedure due to the fact that they have not had anything to eat or drink. Dr. Haag will monitor you during your appointment, and most patients feel fine once they have something in their stomach after the procedure. Drowsiness following your procedure is common.

You should not eat during the six hours before your procedure. Having an empty stomach helps us better gauge the level of sedation that is needed and allows the medicine to work effectively.

You may benefit from sedation dentistry if you are an adult who:

  • Is uncomfortable with needles and shots
  • Dislikes noises, smells and tastes associated with dental care
  • Has difficulty getting numb
  • Has a strong gag reflex
  • Has very sensitive teeth
  • Has limited time to complete dental treatment
  • Needs an extensive amount of work 
  • Has a fear of visiting the dentist

It depends on the length of the procedure.

We will control the amount of medicine you receive based on your needs and how you respond to the medication. You should expect to be relaxed anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.

Yes. While being sedated you will be closely monitored by Dr. Haag and our highly trained staff utilizing vital sign monitoring equipment. 

For patients who have conscious oral sedation, Dr. Haag recommends taking the rest of the day off of work and you will need to be accompanied for the rest of the day for your safety. You should be able to return to work the following day. 

You will need to have someone drive you to and from our McCook dental office. The medication’s effects will not fully leave your system until several hours after the dental procedure. 

No. Sedation dentistry will put you in a very relaxed state, but you will not be asleep.

With conscious oral sedation, you will be conscious and capable of responding to requests; however, following the sedation, you may not remember the entire appointment.

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