FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

We get questions for a variety of reasons regarding our payment policies.  You can find out answers to your questions on the answers tab above, if your specific question is not answered please feel free to call our office.  We will be more than happy to help  you.

Every once in and while we have a patient ask “Why do I need to pre-pay for my proposed treatment before I schedule an appointment for it, don’t you trust me to pay that day?”. This is a valid question that deserves further clarification.

Is pre-payment required for all appointments? – No, our policy states that for routine appointments such as cleanings, exams, or any dental work requiring an out-of-pocket over $200, your complete payment is due on the day of service. If you have dental insurance with which we are in network, only your patient portion is due on the day of service.

When is pre-payment required? – For services that require appointment totals over $200, we require complete payment before the appointment is scheduled. If you have dental insurance, only your patient portion is due before the appointment is scheduled.

In the instances where we do require a pre-payment, we see it as a commitment by both parties. We are committing the doctor’s time and skills necessary to complete the treatment, while the patient is committing to receiving the care. It has been our experience that patients are more likely to keep their appointments and get the work they need done when there is a financial commitment involved. Also, if we block off more than two hours of a doctor’s schedule for one patient, and then he or she decides last minute not to come in, that is time taken away from another patient that may have needed our services on that day.

We feel having this policy helps us to better serve our patients in a timely manor. It’s our commitment to you and your commitment to us and one more way we can help you have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are different types of cleanings when it comes to your oral health.  The type of cleaning perform is directly related to several factors, including how long it has been since your last cleaning and your overall oral health.  Your specific situation is determined during your initial exam.  Once we have examined you and taken X-rays then we will know what type of dental cleaning to perform.

 – Prophylaxis – Generally recommended once every 6 months, this is the type of dental cleaning that many are used to from growing up going to the dentist. A “prophy” focuses mainly on maintaining healthy gum tissue by removing plaque, surface stain, and calculus (tartar) from mostly above the gum line. Your hygienist will scale any deposits off from above your gum line and finish with polishing and flossing your teeth. Generally, a fluoride varnish will be recommended to help protect your smile from cavities and sensitivity.




– Full Mouth Debridement (FMD) – An FMD will be recommended if it has been a long time since you have had a professional dental cleaning or if there is simply too much plaque, stain, or calculus on your teeth and around your gums to make accurate diagnoses. This is an overall “pressure wash” of sorts that removes most buildup from above the gum line and possibly slightly below (depending on how much buildup is there). This cleaning can be slightly irritating to your gums, so polishing is not completed at the end of the visit to reduce complications like excessive tenderness or even periodontal abscesses. Your hygienist will irrigate your gums with a prescription strength antimicrobial rinse to aid with healing and will schedule you for a follow-up visit in 4 weeks to finish developing your treatment plan with your dentist and to polish your teeth.



 – Gingivitis Therapy – this will be recommended if, during evaluation by your hygienist and dentist, it is determined that you have active gingivitis present in your gum tissue. Symptoms that your hygienist and dentist will look for include redness, swollen tissue, and bleeding upon measuring your gums. These symptoms need to be combined with very limited or no bone loss evident on the x-rays that will have been taken. Gingivitis Therapy is a bit more involved than a regular prophy cleaning and will focus more on removing plaque and calculus below your gum line. You may require some minimally invasive topical anesthetic to make the process more comfortable for you. Gingivitis Therapy can be slightly irritating to your gums, so polishing is not completed at the end of the visit to reduce complications like excessive tenderness or even periodontal abscesses. Your hygienist will irrigate your gums with a prescription strength antimicrobial rinse to aid with healing and will schedule you for a follow-up visit in 4 weeks to ensure your tissue has returned to a normal level of health, make sure brushing and flossing are going well for you at home, and to polish your teeth. After Gingivitis Therapy, you will be able to return to a regular 6-month Prophy schedule.



– Scaling and Root Planing (SRP/Deep Cleaning) – SRP will be recommended if your hygienist and dentist are detecting signs of active Periodontal Disease. Symptoms of Periodontal Disease include, but are not limited to, red to purple gum tissue, swollen gum tissue, receding gum line, bad breath, loose teeth, and radiographic bone loss and calculus buildup. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated with the utmost care and diligence not only on the part of your hygienist and dentist but also on the part of the patient with increased home care habits. SRP can be recommended for limited sections or for the entire mouth depending on the severity of the condition. Your hygienist or dentist will likely numb your gum tissues using a local anesthetic to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. Due to this, your appointments will likely be split into a right half and left half. Each of these appointments is scheduled for at least an hour and a half to ensure your hygienist is able to thoroughly and effectively remove the plaque and calculus below and above your gum line to arrest the disease and stop the progression of bone loss. This cleaning will be irritating to your gums, so polishing is not completed at the end of the visit to reduce complications like excessive tenderness or even periodontal abscesses. Your hygienist will irrigate your gums with a prescription strength antimicrobial rinse to aid with healing and will schedule you for a follow-up visit in 4 weeks to check healing to ensure the disease is under control, make sure home care is being completed effectively, and to polish your teeth. After SRP is completed, you will need to stay on a 3-4 month Periodontal Maintenance schedule that will be determined by your hygienist.



– Periodontal Maintenance – Once SRP is completed, your gums will need closer monitoring and increased care to prevent active Periodontal Disease from recurring. Periodontal Maintenance is performed every 3-4 months due to the fact that the bacteria that cause Periodontal disease issues will return to their full, disease-causing strength within about 90 days. Your hygienist will measure your gums to ensure the disease is staying arrested. Periodontal Maintenance is a bit more involved that a Prophy and focuses more below the gum line. Your hygienist will scale any deposits off from above and below your gum line and finish with polishing and flossing your teeth as well as irrigating your gums with a prescription strength antimicrobial rinse. Generally, a fluoride varnish will be recommended to help protect your smile from cavities and sensitivity.

Does it expire and what should I do with it?

Some may be surprised to know that toothpaste does have a shelf life. The ADA now requires any toothpaste containing fluoride to carry an expiration date. Typically it is two years after the manufacture date.  Now, while using expired toothpaste may not be as bad as say, drinking expired milk, it is probably best not to use it past the expiration date. Here’s why:

The fluoride in the toothpaste becomes less effective as it does not bond well to tooth enamel, thus it loses its ability to brush away the bacteria in the mouth and protect against cavities.

Ingredients start to separate, including the flavoring so it becomes quite unpleasant to your taste buds.

Toothpaste may just become too dried out and hard to squeeze through the tube.

So, what do you do with an expired tube of toothpaste?

Definitely don’t throw it away, surprisingly; there are a ton of uses for toothpaste outside of the mouth. Here are just a few ideas we found when we Googled “uses for toothpaste”.  Please note, that these tips only work with paste, not gel.

Clean the bathroom sink – Toothpaste contains tiny, natural abrasives, such as silica that work great on shining up your sink, including the faucet.

Remove odor from hands – The same ingredient that freshens your breath will also remove unpleasant odors from your hands. Just use it the same way you would use hand soap.

Remove crayon marks from walls – The mark of every home with a toddler, crayons on the wall. No problem, just squirt a little toothpaste on the walls and scrub with a brush or microfiber cloth. Viola – gone.

Clean a clothes iron – To clean that gummy residue that occasionally builds up on your iron, just scrub it with some toothpaste. Those little abrasives come in handy again. Just make sure to do this on a cool iron.

Remove scuffs from leather shoes – Out of shoe polish right before the big date? No problem, just grab your toothpaste and put a dab on your shoes.  Rub with a soft cloth then remove with a damp cloth. Your shoes will look brand new.

So, now you know, that toothpaste does expire and there are some handy things you can do with expired toothpaste. These are just five of the many ideas out there. Let us know if you have any ideas you could add to this list.

If your cleaning my teeth shouldn’t you focus on my teeth only?

What they are doing is checking the depth of gum tissue pockets that surround your tooth. It’s a proactive way to identify your risk for gum disease, and when done regularly, can help catch it early. Dental probing is a pretty interesting exercise in dentistry.  It can save you from surgery and extractions, and here’s why.

Dental Probing Catches Problems Early

One reason to visit the dentist regularly is to identify problems in your mouth that you are completely oblivious to. Subtle changes in the health of our gum tissue can be missed by the naked eye, and some people – even those who visit a dentist regularly – can be prone to an excess buildup of plaque and tartar that can result in gingivitis and periodontal disease. Thankfully, our dental team can catch these changes early through the use of X-rays and the practice of dental probing.

The reason for probing is straightforward. As periodontal disease progresses, the visible markers of the disease (plaque and tartar) migrate down along the side of the tooth into the natural “pocket” between the ridge of the gum line. This inflames the gum tissue and widens this naturally slim gap between the tooth and gum. As this gap becomes wider, even more bacteria are allowed access to the sensitive tissue fibers along the root’s outer surface, causing more damage. This process may result in bone loss, and eventually the need to extract teeth. This is why probing is so important.

How Does Dental Probing Work?

“Probing” is quite simple and is accomplished by using a dental “probe” to measure the depth of a tooth’s pocket. The probe acts like a ruler and has markings along its side measured out in millimeters. To measure the depth of your tooth’s pocket, our hygienist gently places the probe into this pocket and makes note of the depth. Six measurements are taken per tooth, three along the outside, and three along the inside of each tooth. A depth of three millimeters or under without any bleeding is generally accepted as healthy. Above that number, your dentist may suggest more thorough cleanings, including scaling and root planing, or something even more comprehensive if the number is above a five.

So, as you can see, maintaining pocket health is critical, and proper brushing and flossing can help clear away plaque and prevent the tartar buildup that expands a pocket. Regular visits to our office play a critical role in ensuring you’re staying ahead of gum disease – particularly if you have been identified as having periodontitis and recommended for more frequent, thorough cleanings. With a good routine and frequent visits to the dentist, the only numbers you’ll be hearing moving forward should be 1, 2, and 3! Keep up the good work.

I had some scary moments as a child at the dentist, now I’m terrified.

Think of your top three biggest fears.   Heights? Spiders? Flying?

Is “fear of the dentist” in your top three? If so, you are among the nearly 20% of all Americans who experience enough anxiety about seeing a dentist that they will go only when absolutely necessary.

The reason for this fear is varied, but can often be attributed to a fear of needles and pain, sensitivity to personal space, or a past bad experience.

If you are one of these people, it may help you to know there are things you can do to manage your fear of the dentist and help you feel more in control of your dental health and overall wellness.

Find the right Dentist – One of the most important things you can do to help manage your fear is to find the right dentist. The right dentist will listen to your concerns, will help you feel more at ease, and will work with you to increase your comfort.

Schedule a free consult before your first appointment – Many dental practices; as we do here at Dentistry by Design, will offer a free consultation prior to the first exam. This will give you the opportunity to meet the dentist, hygienist, and receptionist. Let them know about your fears beforehand. When discussing, be as specific as you can about the reason for your fear. Just talking about it may help you and again, a good dentist will respect your feelings, listen to your concerns and help put you at ease.

Bring a friend – You know the song, “I get by with a little help from my friends” (Lennon/McCartney).  This is true of dental visits too. Just make sure you bring a friend who is comfortable with seeing the dentist and can help you relax.

Schedule your appointment at the right time – For some, the best time may be first thing in the morning so as to avoid spending the day feeling anxious. For others, it may be at a time when you are not worried about other obligations, such as getting to work on time or picking up the kids from school. Find the time that is right for you and schedule accordingly.

Get Information – If you are the type who likes to know what is happening step by step ask the hygienist and dentist to communicate each next step throughout the exam so there are no surprises.

Agree on a signal – Before the exam begins agree on a signal, such as a raised hand, to indicate when you are feeling discomfort or need a break.

Wear headsets –  If it’s the sounds that bother you, listening to relaxing music will help drown out the noise and will help put you at ease.

Don’t be afraid to break up – With your dentist that is. If you feel that your dentist is not listening, does not respect your concerns, and is not making the effort to help put you at ease find a different dentist. Ask friends and family for a trusted referral.

Give Sedation Dentistry a try – If your fear of the dentist is more difficult to manage you may want to consider oral sedationOral sedation allows patients to be comfortably, and minimally sedated through an entire dental visit using just a small pill.  It is safe and effective and can be used with most dental procedures and by most patients over 14 years of age.

I can’t believe drinking coke can harm my teeth that much.

Some people have compared the poor condition of everyday soda drinkers’ teeth, to that of meth users.  While this may sound extreme there are some similarities.

Moderation and good hygiene –The truth is like most things in life the key is moderation when it comes to drinking soda pop not only for the health of your teeth but for your general overall health as well.

When it comes to your oral health if you drink soda pop try to limit it to just once or twice per week.   Combine that with good oral hygiene, meaning brush your teeth on a regular basis.  Soda pop is highly acidic and can over time erode the enamel of your teeth.  Soda pop also contains a lot of sugar which can lead to cavities as well, without good tooth brushing habits if you drink soda pop on a regular basis these bad side effects of drinking soda will be magnified.

Our Location:

13435 S. McCall Rd. Unit C17

Port Charlotte, FL 33981