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  • Terrence James

The Most Common Questions a Winnipeg Dentist Receives

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

My name is Dr. Terry James. My family has been in dentistry for three generations at St. Vital Dental Centre. My grandfather founded our practice on St. Mary’s Road in Winnipeg in 1963.


Our clients often ask plenty of questions about dentistry, oral health, and our practice, so I thought I would share some answers to the most frequently asked questions. Of course, we are always here if have any other questions specific to your individual situation.



Are there payment options for me if I am paying myself?

We do not believe your financial situation should prevent you from seeking the oral healthcare you need. During our examinations, we provide all options, risks, benefits, and costs. Dr. Terry will be happy to discuss payment options based on your recommended treatment plan.






Do dentists install braces?

We monitor and assess the need for orthodontic treatment, but, in the best interest of our patients, we refer out for consultation and treatment with an orthodontic specialist. We work closely with trusted orthodontists around Winnipeg who have extensive knowledge and expertise in this area.


What is plaque, and how does a dentist remove it?

Plaque is a soft biofilm made up of bacteria that grows on teeth and around gums. Plaque bacteria releases acids which irritate the gums, causing inflammation that can lead to bleeding, gum disease and bone loss. It also softens tooth structures, making them more susceptible to decay. Plaque can be removed with proper brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits with a dental hygienist to remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas.


What is tartar, and how does a dentist remove it?

Tartar (aka calculus) is hardened, mineralized plaque. Minerals in saliva cause soft plaque to calcify and harden onto teeth like cement. Tartar cannot be brushed off with a toothbrush. Dental hygienists remove tartar by scaling teeth with instruments specially designed for tartar removal.


How does your practice clean teeth?

Cleanings are done by our registered dental hygienists. They use various tools based on individual needs, such as hand and ultrasonic instrumentation, and polishing.


Is the x-ray technology you use safe?

We use exclusively digital x-ray technology, which is the safest and most effective form available. The radiation from four digital dental x-rays is 0.005 mSv, equivalent to less than one day of natural background radiation or a short flight (1-2hrs). Lead aprons with a thyroid collar are used, and all x-ray equipment is sanitized before and after each use.


How do I prevent cavities?

You can help prevent cavities with thorough regular home care. Brushing your teeth after meals with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing daily, and using mouthwash are effective tools to prevent cavities. Routine cleanings by a dental hygienist will remove what you cannot, and allow for the prevention of more extensive dental concerns.


How do I prevent losing teeth?

Preventative care is key. You can help prevent tooth loss with thorough home care (brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, mouthwash, etc.) and routine cleanings by a dental hygienist to help prevent gum disease. Wearing a customized night guard can also help prevent the loss of tooth structure or breaks from clenching and grinding.


How do you whiten teeth?

Our office makes custom-fitted whitening trays as part of an at-home whitening kit. This is a more customizable and gentler way to whiten teeth than in-office whitening or over-the-counter whitening products.


When is it advisable for a dentist to remove wisdom teeth?

The removal of wisdom teeth is not always necessary or recommended. We recommend a consultation with x-rays to determine what is best for you. Our office is equipped with a panoramic machine that can take a full jaw picture to show us the position and development of all teeth and roots.


Do you have any suggestions to help a nervous child?

Our staff will treat you with compassion and patience, and your child will never feel judged for any existing anxiety when it comes to dental treatment. There are several great options in modern dentistry that can help make your experience be as pleasant as possible. We want to know your individual concerns and how we can address them to make you feel safe and comfortable with your treatment.


Questions are always welcome in our office and we hope you will contact us soon to discuss any questions or concerns you have.

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