922 Washington Avenue
Iowa Falls, IA 50126
(641) 648-4237

FAQs

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Abscessed Teeth

An abscessed tooth, or periapical abscess, is a painful condition caused by infection in a badly damaged or decayed tooth. Once the nerve dies in a badly damaged tooth, infection can cause a fluid buildup where the soft pulp tissue lies in the center of the tooth. The pressure and swelling can be quite painful.

Do I have an abscessed tooth?

In an abscessed tooth, the nerve is dead or almost dead, so the tooth is usually not sensitive to cold. Cold may actually make the tooth feel better as it causes the swelling to reduce some, causing less pressure. The tooth will be sensitive to touch however, and the patient will feel pain even when the dentist gently taps on the tooth. Biting and chewing may be very painful and the gums may be swollen and red.

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

An abscessed tooth, or periapical abscess, is an infection of the tissue inside of a tooth with a dead nerve. Often this is the result of an untreated severe cavity, but could result from a deep filling or from trauma to the tooth. The pain and pressure comes from a buildup of fluid inside the tooth. This painful condition needs to be treated immediately to prevent further infection and damage.

How will Dr. Gimer treat an abscessed tooth?

Dr. Gimer will eliminate the infection and attempt to preserve as much of the tooth as possible. An abscessed tooth is often treated with a root canal, if the tooth can still be saved. This procedure removes the nerve and pulp center of the tooth, but saves the root and some of the surface tooth structure. The tooth is then filled and fitted with a dental crown. If a tooth is too badly damaged to save, Dr. Gimer may have to extract the tooth.

Why do I need to take care of an abscessed tooth?

Dr. Gimer’s goal is always to save as much original tooth structure as possible. If an abscessed tooth is caught before the infection spreads too far, he can perform a root canal and save the tooth. An untreated abscess can lead to total loss of the tooth, and can spread infection to other teeth, the gums, jaw and other areas of the body.

Cavities and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the process of a tooth’s mineral content being dissolved. A cavity, or caries, is a hole in a tooth that is caused by tooth decay.

Do I have a cavity?

A cavity, or caries, is a hole in a tooth that is caused by tooth decay. If you experience pain when eating something cold or sweet, and the pain goes away fairly quickly, you may have a cavity. If it is a cavity, the sooner you get it taken care of, the less severe the damage will be. A toothache that is not sensitive to cold may have another cause. See Dr. Gimer for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What causes tooth decay?

The foods we eat react with the bacteria in our mouth to form acids that can eat away and decay the hard tissue of our teeth. Plaque is the bacteria most responsible for tooth decay. A cavity, or caries, is a hole in a tooth that is caused by this decay.

What is a cavity?

The foods we eat react with the bacteria in our mouth to form acids that can eat away and decay the hard tissue of our teeth. A cavity, or caries, is the actual hole in the tooth that is caused by this decay.

What will Dr. Gimer do to fix my cavity?

Simple cavities are treated with a filling. Dr. Gimer will use a drill or dental instrument to remove the decayed tooth tissue, and replace that removed tooth structure with a filling. The filling will either be a metal amalgam, or will be a tooth-colored composite. Some cavities are too large for a filling. If the damage is very extensive, and too much of the tooth tissue has decayed, Dr. Gimer may recommend a dental crown. If the cavity has been left untreated, and the tooth has become infected, this serious condition is called an abscess, which might require a root canal. The sooner you have your tooth examined, the more options Dr. Gimer will have to preserve your natural tooth.

How can I prevent cavities?

The best prevention is to floss and brush your teeth twice a day, especially after meals or snacks. Brushing helps remove the plaque, bacteria that forms on teeth, which is the major cause of tooth decay. Dental floss can get into the spaces between teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.

Why should I take care of a toothache?

First, the toothache could be a sign of a non-dental problem, and not a problem with the tooth itself. If the problem is with the tooth, early treatment is important, because Dr. Gimer wants you to keep as much original tooth structure as possible. An early cavity can be filled before the tooth abscesses and needs a root canal. An early abscess can be treated with a root canal, instead of tooth extraction. A tooth that is too far damaged and infected may have to be extracted to prevent further damage to the mouth, and extraction is always Dr. Gimer’s last resort.

Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a defect in tooth enamel caused by excessive fluoride in young children. It typically looks like white streaks or spots in teeth.

What does Fluorosis look like?

Almost all instances of Fluorosis in the United States are mild cases which look like spots or streaks of bright white in the enamel of the tooth. Often unnoticeable, these spots may stand out as brighter white than the rest of the tooth surface. The much rarer cases of extreme Fluorosis are evidenced by brown stains and rough tooth surfaces.

What causes Fluorosis?

Fluorosis is caused by the ingestion of too much fluoride by young children whose teeth are still developing.

How can I prevent Fluorosis?

Ask Dr. Gimer to determine how much fluoride your children need, and make sure that you monitor your children’s ingestion of fluoride from all sources. There are several potential sources of fluoride that should be accounted for:

  • Many communities have fluoridated water
  • Some bottled water is fluoridated
  • Most toothpastes have fluoride
  • Some children take fluoride supplements

If your child gets enough fluoride from the tap water in your community, there may be no need for fluoride supplements in vitamins or bottled water. Children under the age of eight should be supervised to make sure that they don’t swallow too much fluoridated tooth paste.

What can Dr. Gimer do about Fluorosis?

Ask Dr. Gimer about preventing Fluorosis in very young children. Mild discoloration caused by Fluorosis may be reversed by teeth whitening. More serious discoloration can be concealed with veneers or dental bonding. Ask Dr. Gimer for recommendations for your particular circumstances.

Gum Disease

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that is usually caused by plaque. It is the earliest and most easily treated form of gum disease, as it only affects the gums, but it must be treated to avoid more serious gum disease.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is early stage gum disease which affects only the gums and not the surrounding bone and tissue. Symptoms include gum inflammation and infection. It is a serious problem which afflicts perhaps up to 90% of adults, but it is treatable and reversible. If left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, severe gum disease that can cause permanent tooth and jaw damage. If you have symptoms of gingivitis, make an appointment with Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and proper treatment.

What causes gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation and infection of the gums. It can be caused by trauma to the gums or by irritating rough edges of teeth or dental work, but is usually caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms daily on our teeth. It reacts with the food we eat to produce acids and toxins that cause tooth decay. Newly formed plaque can be removed by brushing and flossing, but plaque that is not removed hardens into tartar or calculus. This hard layer of tartar forms at and below the gumline and cannot be removed by brushing. Tartar causes decay even faster than plaque alone and irritates the gums. The resulting inflammation and infection of the gums is called gingivitis. Untreated, this condition can develop into a serious gum disease, called periodontitis.

What does gingivitis look like?

Gingivitis will appear as:

  • Red, or reddish-purple swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that bleed very easily, even with gentle brushing (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)
  • Gums that hurt only when touched
  • Gums that have a “shiny look”
  • Gums that have receded from your teeth
  • Continuous bad taste in mouth or bad breath
  • Mouth sores

How can I prevent gingivitis?

You can reduce the risk of gingivitis greatly by:

  • Brushing and flossing regularly
  • Quitting tobacco use
  • Making regular dental visits for examination and cleaning

What can Dr. Gimer do about gingivitis?

Dr. Gimer will give your mouth a thorough examination to see if any of your teeth or dental work has rough edges that are contributing to this problem. Either Dr. Gimer or his dental hygienist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning above and below the gums. This will usually include a process called scaling, where the dental professional uses instruments to scrape the tartar off teeth below the gumline. Scaling is followed by a smoothing procedure called planing to make sure there are no rough surfaces to continue irritating the teeth. Dr. Gimer can further describe the procedure and the techniques for making patients completely comfortable during the appointment.

Why is it important to treat gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the milder and very treatable form of gum disease that affects just the gums. Untreated gingivitis can develop into serious gum disease, called periodontitis, which can cause tooth loss and permanent damage to your jaw. This is preventable. If you develop the signs of gingivitis, see Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and treatment.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

An impacted tooth is one that fails to properly emerge through the gums. Dr. Gimer will recommend extraction of impacted wisdom teeth if they pose a problem for your mouth and other teeth.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are actually your third set of molars, the chewing teeth towards the back of your mouth. They typically emerge, or erupt, in one’s late teen or early twenties. If there is room in the jaw to accommodate them, and they emerge fully and straight, without crowding other teeth, then there is no need to remove them.

Why would wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Though there is nothing inherently wrong with wisdom teeth, they are often removed so that they don’t cause problems for your other teeth and the rest of your mouth.

Wisdom teeth often get impacted, which means they did not fully or properly emerge through the gums. Partially emerged teeth can be difficult to clean, which leads to plaque accumulation and tooth decay. Teeth that are not positioned straight can cause comfort issue and crowd existing teeth. Ask Dr. Gimer to show you your wisdom teeth on the x-ray and explain how their positioning affects your mouth.

What does impacted mean?

An impacted tooth is one that did not fully or properly emerge through the gums. It could be that there is not enough room in the gums for more teeth, or that the teeth are coming in at the wrong angle. Sometimes a tooth is partially erupted, which means that only part of the tooth came through the gums. Partially emerged teeth can be difficult to clean, which leads to plaque accumulation and tooth decay. Teeth that are not positioned straight can cause comfort issue and crowd existing teeth. Ask Dr. Gimer to show you the position of your teeth on the x-ray, and explain the significance of their position.

What can I expect from a wisdom tooth extraction?

This is a very common and typically a very simple procedure. Dr. Gimer may perform the procedure, or may refer you to a specialist, but it is extremely safe and can be performed with little discomfort. The patient will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area, and it is very common for the patient to be sedated as well. This sedation is designed to keep the patient relaxed and comfortable throughout the appointment. Dr. Gimer will sedate you just enough to make you comfortable, with techniques that range from the simple use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), to oral medications which lightly sedate, to deeper sedation with intravenous medications. Ask Dr. Gimer to explain which options are available and what would be best for your circumstances.

Why can’t I just keep my wisdom teeth?

Many people can keep their wisdom teeth. But dentists recommend extraction when the jaw has no room for more teeth or when wisdom teeth are not emerging properly. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with wisdom teeth, they are often removed so that they don’t cause problems for your other teeth and the rest of your mouth.

Jaw Disorders

Most problems with the jaw come from the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles that help you chew. Dr. Gimer has treatments that can ease this pain and discomfort.

What does TMJ stand for?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the hinges that connect your lower jaw to your skull. The disorders associated with the TMJ muscles are often referred to as TMD or TMJ Disorders. TMD is not just one condition, but a group of painful disorders that affect the TMJ and the muscles one uses to chew.

What is TMD or TMJ Disorder?

TMD is not just one condition, but a group of painful disorders that affect the TMJs and the muscles one uses to chew. It affects more women than men, and is usually temporary or occasional, but a small percentage of sufferers have serious chronic problems.

Do I have a TMJ Disorder?

The following are symptoms of TMJ Disorders. Not everyone experiences all of these problems. If you experience some of them, speak to Dr. Gimer and have himperform a thorough examination.

  • Jaw pain, stiffness or soreness
  • Jaw pain while chewing, biting, or yawning
  • Painful or tender jaw joint
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Restricted range of jaw movement or “locking” of the jaw in an open or closed position
  • Painful clicking, popping, grinding or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • Pain and fatigue when eating hard or chewy foods
  • Bruxism – grinding or clenching of teeth when awake or asleep
  • Earaches without an ear infection
  • Sensitive teeth and toothaches without evidence of dental problems
  • Teeth that break or crack without an apparent cause
  • Aching or radiating pain on the side of the head, face, neck and shoulders
  • A burning sensation in the mouth/tongue
  • Frequent unexplained headaches – sometimes diagnosed as migraines

How can TMJ be treated?

There are a number of treatments available, ranging from stress reduction techniques, to dental appliances to muscle relaxants. It is also best to make some simple adjustments like eating soft foods, and not chewing gum. Discuss available options with Dr. Gimer.

Oral Cancer

Early detection is the key to successful treatment of oral cancers, so Dr. Gimer is the first line of defense. Ask himabout oral cancer screening at your next regular visit.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a common cancer which has a high mortality rate if it is not caught in the early stages. Early detection is key, so regular dental visits are very important. It affects all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

The following are signs of oral cancer. Make an appointment immediately for a thorough examination if you suspect a problem:

  • Small, white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth, including the tongue, lip, gum tissue, cheek lining, the hard or soft palate or other mouth area.
  • Often pale, but can be dark or discolored
  • A deep, hard edged crack
  • Often initially painless
  • Could eventually cause a burning sensation or pain
  • A sore or lesion that bleeds easily or does not heal in two weeks
  • Any part of the mouth that changes in color
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips or tongue
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together or the fit of your dentures
  • A sore throat or a feeling like something is stuck in the throat

How can Dr. Gimer help?

Dr. Gimer is the first line of defense because regular dental visits are an opportunity to thoroughly examine your mouth. Not only are regular dental visits part of the good oral hygiene that reduces the risk of oral cancers, but dentists are often the ones who detect oral cancers first. Ask Dr. Gimer to discuss oral cancer screening with you at your next visit.

What can I do to reduce the risk of oral cancer?

Tobacco use is, by far, the biggest cause of oral cancers. All the following may help reduce your likelihood of oral cancers:

  • Quitting or reducing smoking and smokeless tobacco use
  • Quitting or reducing alcohol consumption
  • Practicing good oral hygiene
  • Regular dental examinations
  • Yearly cancer screenings for soft tissue in mouth

Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis is advanced gum disease. While gingivitis, the earlier stage, affects only the gums, periodontitis is inflammation and infection that has spread to surrounding tissue, including tooth and bone.

What is periodontitis?

Gum disease is categorized by severity. Gingivitis is milder, treatable and reversible early-stage gum disease that affects only the gums. Periodontitis is advanced gum disease, where the inflammation and infection have spread to surrounding tissues.

What causes periodontitis?

Periodontitis is caused by plaque, which unremoved, causes a gum infection which spreads to surrounding tissue. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms daily on our teeth. It reacts with the food we eat to produce acids and toxins that cause tooth decay. Newly formed plaque can be removed by brushing and flossing, but plaque that is not removed hardens into tartar or calculus. This hard layer of tartar forms at and below the gumline and cannot be removed by brushing. Tartar and plaque combine to accelerate tooth decay and irritate gums. The resulting inflammation and infection of the gums is called gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis creates pockets of plaque, tartar and bacteria between your teeth and gums. This spreads infection below the gums, eventually causing bone and tissue loss. This condition, known as periodontitis, is the biggest cause of adult tooth loss.

What are the symptoms of periodontitis?

Periodontitis will appear as:

  • Red, or reddish-purple swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that bleed very easily, even with gentle brushing (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)
  • Gums that hurt only when touched
  • Gums that have a “shiny look”
  • Gums that have receded from your teeth
  • Continuous bad taste in mouth or bad breath
  • Mouth sores
  • New spaces between teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Teeth that are loose or a bite that changes

How can I prevent periodontitis?

Periodontitis is advanced gum disease, which results from untreated gingivitis. If you have symptoms of gingivitis, contact Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and treatment. You can reduce the risk of gingivitis greatly by:

  • Brushing and flossing regularly
  • Quitting tobacco use
  • Making regular dental visits for examination and cleaning

What can Dr. Gimer do about periodontitis?

As with a case of gingivitis, Dr. Gimer or his dental hygienist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning above and below the gums. This will usually include a process called scaling, where the dental professional uses instruments to scrape the tartar off teeth below the gumline. Scaling is followed by a smoothing procedure called planing to make sure there are no rough surfaces to continue irritating the teeth. Since the infection is more widespread, Dr. Gimer may also need to perform surgical procedures to get below the gumline, to graft tissue on the gums, and to rebuild the bone lost to infection. He can further describe the procedures and the techniques available for making patients comfortable during the appointments.

Why is it important to treat periodontitis?

Periodontitis is the major cause of adult tooth loss. Not only are your gums, teeth and the bones of your jaw at risk, but the infection and bacteria from periodontitis can lead to heart disease and stroke, and pregnancy complications. Inhaling bacteria from your mouth can also cause Pneumonia. If you have any symptoms of gingivitis and periodontitis, contact Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and treatment.

Plaque

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth. When we eat, plaque reacts with the food in our mouth and releases acids that eat away at teeth enamel, causing tooth decay.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth. It consumes sugars in the foods we eat, and releases acids as a waste product. These acids slowly eat away at the enamel of teeth, if left unchecked, can cause tooth decay. Over time the plaque layer on teeth can harden to become tartar or calculus. This hard layer continues to release acids, and is even harder to remove than regular plaque. Plaque is a leading cause of gingivitis, early stage gum disease.

What causes plaque?

Plaque is naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths, and it can never be permanently eradicated. It becomes a problem when it is not regularly removed from our teeth by brushing and flossing.

What is tartar or calculus?

Tartar and calculus are both names for hardened plaque. This can be removed during a regular dental hygiene visit.

How can I prevent plaque?

You can’t prevent the formation of plaque, but there are things you can do to minimize the damage it can cause. You can fight plaque and prevent its buildup by:

  • Flossing every day and brushing at least twice a day
  • Using special after-brushing anti-bacterial rinses designed to fight plaque
  • Limiting sweets and sugary foods
  • Brushing after eating sweets and sugary foods
  • Making regular dental visits

What can Dr. Gimer do about plaque?

Dr. Gimer will certainly advise you on how to properly brush and floss, since this is your first and best defense against plaque. During your regular visits, he or a dental hygienist will give teeth a very thorough cleaning, and use instruments to remove tartar buildup. Dr. Gimer may be able to use special dental sealants on your molars, where decay often starts.

Sensitive Teeth

Tooth Sensitivity is a very common problem that can be treated effectively by Dr. Gimer with different products and techniques. It occurs when gums have receded or tooth enamel is worn down to reveal the sensitive parts of the tooth.

Why are my teeth so sensitive?

The sensitive parts of the tooth have been exposed due to damage to the enamel or recession of the gums. The enamel on the outside of your teeth, the hardest substance in your body, protects the inner sensitive part of your teeth. Sometimes this enamel gets cracked, worn or decayed. Your gums also protect the sensitive roots of your teeth by forming a tight seal where the gums meet the teeth. Gums sometimes recede from their natural position and expose the roots of the tooth. Typical causes for this recession are gum disease, or even just brushing teeth too hard and vigorously.

If the enamel is worn or damaged, or the gums recede, the dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. The dentin is not as hard as enamel, and it contains pores and small tubules that lead to the soft sensitive center and nerve of the tooth. These tubules allow cold and heat to reach the nerve, causing hypersensitivity and shooting pain. Sensitive teeth can be painful when one drinks hot and cold liquids, eats cold foods like ice cream, and even when one breathes cold air.

What can I do about sensitive teeth?

If your brushing is forcing your gums to recede, you need to discuss proper brushing technique with Dr. Gimer to prevent further damage. Special tooth pastes can help sensitive teeth by either desensitizing the tooth or by filling the tubules in the dentin that are exposing the nerve. These toothpastes typically take at least a month to work. Visit Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and for a recommendation of products.

How can Dr. Gimer help my sensitive teeth?

Dr. Gimer will give you a thorough examination to discover the cause of your sensitivity and address each specifically to prevent further damage. In the case of gum recession this may be instruction on proper brushing, or treatment for gum disease. To treat damaged enamel, he can use a filling, or dental bonding or a crown to create a new surface for the sensitive tooth. Visit Dr. Gimer for a thorough examination and treatment.

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Bruxism is either the clenching or grinding of teeth, or both of them together. Dr. Gimer will often recommend a mouth appliance to prevent damage to your teeth, and stress reduction to change the behavior.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is either the clenching or grinding of teeth, or both of them together. It is usually a greater problem at night when one is unaware that they are doing it. Often the patient’s partner will be the first to notice it as they can hear the noise coming from the other side of the bed. It is commonly believed that this subconscious nighttime bruxism is due to stress and anxiety.

What damage does bruxism do?

Grinding can damage teeth by scraping and wearing away the surface. This can be cosmetic problem, as teeth shorten and change shape, and can lead to sensitive teeth as the enamel becomes worn. Clenching can cause muscle strain and fatigue, earaches and headaches, and put severe stress on the hinge of the jaw, the temperomandibular joint.

How can Dr. Gimer treat bruxism?

Dr. Gimer will give you a thorough examination to see if your teeth or dental work has been damaged by the bruxing. Though there is no sure treatment for bruxism, it has been positively linked to stress and anxiety. Dr. Gimer will probably suggest modifying your behavior to bring down the stress in your life. To prevent damage to your teeth, he will prepare a custom-fitted plastic appliance for you to wear when you sleep. This won’t stop the bruxing, but the plastic of the appliance will prevent your top and bottom teeth from contacting each other.

Toothaches

There are many possible causes for a toothache. Two of the most common dental causes are the presence of a cavity or an abscess. Some of the other causes of toothache are quite serious, so you should certainly consult Dr. Gimer for a proper diagnosis.

Do I have a cavity?

A cavity, or caries, is a hole in a tooth that is caused by tooth decay. If you experience pain when eating something cold or sweet, and the pain goes away fairly quickly, you may have a cavity. If it is a cavity, the sooner you get it taken care of, the less severe the damage will be. See Dr. Gimer for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Do I have an abscessed tooth?

An abscessed tooth, or periapical abscess, is an infection of the tissue inside of a tooth with a dead nerve. Often this is the result of an untreated severe cavity. The pain and pressure comes from a buildup of fluid inside the tooth. Since the nerve is dead, the tooth will not be sensitive to cold, but is usually very sensitive to the touch. This painful condition needs to be treated immediately to prevent further infection and damage.

What else could be causing my toothache?

Several other disorders, many of them serious, can mimic the sensation of a toothache, including Temporomandibular Dysfunction, Sinusitis, Angina, Trigeminal Neuralgia, common earaches, and some cancers. If you are experiencing dental pain, you should immediately consult Dr. Gimer for a proper diagnosis.

Why should I take care of a toothache?

First, the toothache could be a sign of a non-dental problem, and not a problem with the tooth itself. If the problem is with the tooth, early treatment is important, because Dr. Gimer wants you to keep as much original tooth structure as possible. An early cavity can be filled before the tooth abscesses and needs a root canal. An early abscess can be treated with a root canal, instead of tooth extraction. A tooth that is too far damaged and infected may have to be extracted to prevent further damage to the mouth, and extraction is always Dr. Gimer’s last resort.

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Tuesday: 7:30am – 4:30pm
Wednesday: 7:30am – 4:30pm
Thursday: 7:30am – 4:30pm

All hours are by appointment only.