Frequently Asked Questions

Hammerlee Dental Care has provided a full range of dental services in Erie, PA since 1984. From the beginning, our dentists and staff have been dedicated to excellent patient care. We work hard to build long-lasting relationships with patients. Our staff is committed to providing patients with the resources they need to understand and take charge of their dental health.

We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions below and hope you find them insightful. For more information about our family and cosmetic dental care please contact us today at 814-868-3647. We look forward to hearing from you!

Which type of toothbrush should I use?

The type of bristle and size of the head is more important than the brand of toothbrush. Medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to the recession of the gums. For this reason, we recommend a soft toothbrush with a small head. This type of toothbrush allows you to get around each tooth more effectively and is less likely to injure your gums. As long as you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, it is unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth.

Is one toothpaste better than others?

Generally, no. It is, however, advisable to use toothpaste containing fluoride to decrease the incidence of dental decay. As long as it contains fluoride, we recommend patients use what tastes good to them.

How often should I floss?

Flossing your teeth once per day is recommended to help prevent cavities from forming between the teeth. Flossing also helps in keeping your gums healthy. Maintaining good gum health is important, as research has linked gum disease to numerous systemic disease including strokes and heart disease.

What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?

There is no difference between a dental crown and cap. Both refer to a restorative dental treatments (link to services page) used to repair severely broken or decayed teeth. A cap or crown covers most or all of the tooth remaining after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. Restoration materials include porcelain, gold, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to these restorations as crowns, whereas patients sometimes call them caps.

What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?

Both partials and bridges replace missing teeth. A bridge, however is permanently attached to natural teeth, or in some cases, implants. Partial dentures are attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Bridges are typically more satisfying to patients than partial dentures.

What about the “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?

In 1993, the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver) fillings. While silver fillings are safe to use, patients typically request “white” or tooth-colored composite fillings. Our staff also prefer composite filling because they strengthen a tooth weakened by decay bonding to the tooth structure. White fillings are also less sensitive to temperature and look closer to natural tooth colors. Composite fillings cannot be used in every situation, such as is a tooth is badly broken down or decay. In these cases, a dental crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.

Do I need to have a root canal just because I have a crown?

No. After a root canal treatment, most teeth do need crowns to restore strength and stability to a tooth. A dental crown will also return them to normal function and form. While you may need a crown after a root canal, not every tooth need a crown also needs a root canal.

How do you sterilize instruments?

All instruments are autoclaved and cleaned upon completion of every procedure. To prevent the transfer of infectious diseases, we thoroughly disinfect each operatory.

How effective are over-the-counter teeth whitening products?

If you are looking to whiten your teeth, there are many solutions that can be purchased over-the-counter or from your dentist. Bleaching solutions contain peroxide which actually bleaches the tooth enamel. These whitening products typically rely on carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent. These are usually available in different concentration from 10% to 22%. Only dentist-dispensed home-use 10% carbamide peroxide tray-applied gels carry the ADA Seal. However, many teeth whitening products have been proven to lighten tooth color. During treatment, if your encounter sensitivity, please consult your dentist about the side effects of whitening treatments.

How does my diet during pregnancy affect my baby’s teeth?

During pregnancy, your direct directly impacts the development of your baby, including their teeth. A baby’s teeth begin to develop during the second trimester of pregnancy, so it is important to receive the recommended amounts of protein, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and D. For more information about the proper diet and nutrient levels during your pregnancy, please consult your dentist.

How come my jaw clicks (pops), and what can I do about it?

Over 15% of Americans suffer from chronic facial pain, according to the ADA. Pain around the ear and clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth are common symptoms. Facial pain and discomfort or popping noises can be caused by improper function of the complex system of ligaments, muscles, and bones that comprise the Temporomandibular joint. TMJ disorders can be treated in several ways, and it is critical to receive a proper diagnosis. You dentist will recommend a type of treatment that addresses your particular needs or problem. You may be referred to a specialist, and treatment may involve a series of steps.

What do I do to stop grinding my teeth?

If you grind your teeth in your sleep, it can have a negative impact on your health. Teeth grinders often experience dull headaches and a sore jaw. This sometimes leads to migraines. Severe grinding can also cause teeth to become worn, loose, or fractured. A custom-fit mouthguard can help protect your teeth while you sleep. Our dental healthcare team will work with you to determine which treatment option best fits your needs.

Why are x-rays necessary and are they dangerous?

X-rays are an important and necessary diagnostic tool for detected diseases that exist beneath the visible oral tissues. A radiograph can help your dentist safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities. X-rays pose a far smaller risk to your health than undetected and untreated dental problems.


For more information about our dental care in Erie, PA, to schedule an appointment or for additional questions, please contact us today at 814-868-3647.