Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that the following Q & A answers your dental related questions.  If you have a question that you do not see answered below, please email it to and we will be sure to add it to the section below


Q:     What should I do if I have bad breath?
Q:     How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
Q:     Are silver fillings, also known as amalgam, safe?
Q:     How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
Q:     How can I tell if I have periodontitis disease?
Q:     Why is it important to use dental floss?
Q:     How can cosmetic dentistry change or improve my smile?
Q:     What can I do if I have discolored teeth?
Q:     Why is pulling a tooth not always the best decision?
Q:     What can be done about old or discolored fillings?
Q:     Why do I need a dental exam prior to my whitening treatment?

 Q: What should I do if I have bad breath?

Bad breath is also known as halitosis. Some people have more severe cases of it than others. Some only experience it in the morning, some all day.  The major cause of halitosis is microbial deposits found on the tongue. We suggest brushing your tongue with your toothbrush everytime you brush and rinse with anti-bacterial mouthwash.

What causes bad breath?

        • Morning – Saliva cleanses the mouth of bacteria and at night your saliva glands all but shut down.  Because of this, more bacteria sits in your mouth throughout the night causing bad breath when you wake in the a.m.
        • Food – If you enjoy eating onions, garlic and other food that has a strong odore this may be the culprit to your bad breath.  These odors stay in your body for an extended amount of time and are exhaled causing bad breath.
        • Poor oral hygiene habits – If you are not brushing and flossing properly, the food particles that remain in your mouth can cause bacteria to grow, which in turn causes bad breath.
        • Periodontal disease – Bacteria and food stuck under gums causing inflammation. Again, if not removed properly on a daily basis or at regular dental hygiene appointments, this will cause bad breath and other dental problems
        • Dry mouth – If you are on certain medications, mainly breathe out of your mouth or happen to have issues with producing enough saliva this may cause bad breath.
        • Dehydration or Hunger – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away. If you are not drinking enough or eating enough this too could be the cause.
        • Tobacco products – Tobacco use surpresses the saliva glands in the mouth.
        • Medical conditions and illnesses – Various health issues including diabetes, liver and kidney problems and chronic sinus infections may contribute to bad breath.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?

        • Good oral hygieneBrush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily to remove food and plaque. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean bacteria from the tongue.
        • Visit us regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. For those with periodontal disease, we recommend more frequent visits.
        • Stop using tobacco – If you are unable to stop on your own, ask us what we recommend to help break the habit at your next visit.
        • Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria and food particles.
        • Use mouthwash/rinses – Us an over the counter rinse, and if that does not work well enough for you ask us about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

Q:     How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day with and electric or traditional toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Young children should use a fluoride-free toothpaste until they have developed the ability to spit and not swallow toothpaste.

Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Our Hygienist recommends flossing before brushing.  If you prefer to floss after brushing make sure and rinse the food particles out of your mouth once done.

Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals as it helps clear your mouth of any food particles that may have been dislodged during brushing and flossing.

Q:     Are silver fillings, also known as amalgam, safe?

There has been some concern as to the safety of this type of filling due to the inclusion of mercury in the blend.  The ADA maintains a stance that silver fillings are safe.

At Dentistry by Design we primarily work with composite (tooth-colored) fillings.  The other options include porcelain and gold depending on your preference. 

Q:     How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

At Dentistry by Design we recommend having a dental check-up at least twice a year.  If you have periodontal disease we recommend more frequent visits.

By being seen on a regular basis we can stay on top of any issues that may arise and handle them immediately, in most cases more painlessly and cost effectively, than catching them later when you are in pain.

Q:     How can I tell if I have periodontal disease?

Having regular dental check-ups will help detect if periodontal problems exist or is forming. For some individuals there are very few outward signs, but for others they may notice a combination of the following; red, puffy, possibly pus ridden gums, bad breath, new spaces between teeth, loose teeth as well as loss of gums around your teeth.

Q:     Why is it important to use dental floss?

It’s important to use floss daily because it is the only way to remove food, plaque and bacteria from between your teeth. If you don’t floss and let these things live between your teeth you face decay and possible periodontal disease.

      • Plaque – A concoction of bacteria, food and saliva that creates a film on teeth. If left on and between the teeth for an extended period of time the bacteria will produce acids that in-turn eat away at the tooth causing cavities and also inflame the gums.

Q:     How can cosmetic dentistry change or improve my smile?

Cosmetic dentistry by definition includes a variety of dental procedures aimed at improving the appearance of ones teeth and overall smile.

Dental Cosmetic Procedures include:

        • Teeth Whitening: Ideal for discolored teeth.  Through teeth whitening we can lighten your tooth color to a pre-selected shade. The effectiveness of the whitening will depend on the severity of the staining on your teeth.
        • Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings: At Dentistry by Design we primarily use this type of filling because of it’s natural appearance in the mouth as opposed to silver amalgam fillings.
        • Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are like shells that cover the fronts of your teeth. They are thin and custom-made and can take a not so perfect smile and turn it into a beautiful smile.  This is the procedure of choice for many celebrities to achieve that beautiful camera ready smile.
        • Porcelain Crowns (caps): Unlike veneers a porcelain crown encases the entire tooth with a custom made artificial tooth that helps strengthen the underlying tooth.
        • Dental Implants: The closest option to your God given teeth. Dental implants are a strong, sturdy option to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are also used to strengthen the stability of removable dental appliances such as bridges and dentures.
        • Orthodontics: Mostly concerned with straightening the teeth, most people think of braces and retainers when they think of orthodontics.  Now many general dentist offer a straightening option for their patients that does not involve braces, but custom-made, clear inserts that are worn daily for a period of time to correct spacing issues.

Q:     What can I do if I have discolored teeth?

There are a few options for treating discolored teeth including teeth whitening.  You can either purchase an over-the-counter whitening kit or receive a professional treatment from your dentist.  Over-the-counter kits are less expensive, but also less effective than a professional treatment.

At Dentistry by Design we use Opalescence, which is a take home whitening system. This requires an initial exam and molds to be made before whitening can begin, all of which is included in the price of whitening.

For those that have more severe staining whitening may not work effectively so veneers or crowns may have to be considered to cover up stains.

Q:     Why is pulling a tooth not the always the best decision?

It’s always best to do everything possible to keep a natural tooth.  Removing teeth and not replacing them with an dental implant or removable device may lead to bone loss and shifting of teeth which can cause a multitude of dental related issues.

Some possible problems include excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ problems.  These problems will eventually compromise your chewing ability.

Options for replacement of missing teeth:

        • Bridge: A removable bridge can be designed to replace one or multiple teeth. Artificial teeth and metal clasps attach to existing teeth to occupy the space where the missing tooth was.  This option will be the least natural looking due to the inability in many cases to hide the metal, but the most economical.
        • Fixed bridges:  Anchored permanently, a fixed bridge is affixed to your teeth that are next to the missing tooth. This is a sturdy option, however the two teeth next to the bridge will need to be prepped with crowns to hold the bridge in place.
        • Dentures: Dentures are completely removable artificial teeth that typically are used on patients that are missing most if not all of their teeth.
        • Implants: Of all the above mentioned options to replace missing teeth, dental implants are the most sturdy, natural and aesthetically pleasing.  A dental implant is an artificial root  placed into the jaw bone with an artificial tooth placed on it. They are the closest thing you will have to your real teeth. Dr. Feit is Door County’s only complete dental implant provider.

At Dentistry by Design we are equipped to perform all the above options.  However it is our goal to have our patients be seen for regular check-ups so that we can prevent the loss of a tooth. Keeping your regularly schedule cleaning appointments and being proactive will save you both time, money and discomfort in the long run.

Q:     What can be done about old or discolored fillings?

If you have old fillings, most likely silver amalgam fillings, they are not only unattractive, but they could also be causing more severe damage to your teeth.  As fillings age the space between the tooth and the filling expands.  This allows food and bacteria to enter the tooth and eventually cause decay

At Dentistry by Design we check old fillings during your dental exams and discuss with our patients the need for replacement. Click here to see pictures of how replacing old fillings can transform your smile.

Q:     Why do I need a dental exam prior to my whitening treatment?

It’s important to make sure your teeth and gums are in good dental condition prior to teeth whitening. Your dentist can also point out potential problems that can arise from the teeth whitening process such as existing tooth-colored fillings which will not whiten in the process and can remain yellow and be more noticeable after whitening. In addition, the existence of cavities can make teeth more sensitive when whitening and should be attended to by your dentist prior to teeth whitening. Also, not everyone is a good candidate for teeth whitening, women who are pregnant or lactating should avoid it due to the chemicals used and people with sensitive teeth or allergies to peroxide are typically not good candidates for the procedure.  Having a dental exam prior to your whitening treatment will help ensure you have the best experience and results possible. Learn more about our teeth whitening process and take advantage of our new, low price for whitening.