Dental Tips

Dr. Alex Fleming and team are happy to educate our patients about the importance of dentistry and the best ways to care for their smiles. We invite you to read the responses to frequently asked questions about dentistry in Durham, North Carolina. Have additional questions? Call us today at 919-682-5327 to schedule an appointment with our dentist at Fleming Dental!

What are zirconia crowns?

The quest for stronger aesthetic crowns has been ongoing in dentistry for generations. Today, we are able to utilize a material with heightened aesthetics called zirconia. It has the strength of metal and the aesthetics of porcelain. It can even hold up better for people with a habit of clenching and grinding. Our dentist and our team have begun using this type of crown for most posterior (back) teeth. If you have ever chipped a tooth or crown and wanted something stronger and still tooth colored, now we can offer zirconia crowns as the solution.

Why are regular visits to the dentist important?

Visiting the dentist only when you have a problem costs more money in the long run. Scheduling regular visits to the dental office allows us to catch dental problems early on and even help prevent them from happening. During these visits, we can examine your smile and educate you on the best ways to keep it healthy. These visits should take place twice a year.

Why is flossing important?

While brushing your teeth will clean their surfaces, flossing is important to clean out bacteria and food particles between your teeth. This helps remove plaque and bacteria before they damage your teeth.

When should I brush and floss my teeth?

It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and one of those times should be before you go to bed at night. We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush that has been approved by the American Dental Association® and a fluoridated toothpaste. You should also floss at least once a day, and we recommend using a mouthrinse. Call us today if you have additional questions.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Yes, dental X-rays are safe. You are actually exposed to more radiation though the sun on a daily basis than you are during a dental X-ray. Through advances in dental technology, dental X-rays are becoming even safer over time through X-rays that are at a higher speed and digital imaging. Also, X-rays machines are checked to make sure they are safe and accurate every two years, as is required by federal law.

What do I do if I am scared to visit the dentist?

We ask that you speak with our team. We want to do everything we can to help you feel more comfortable during your visit. For example, we provide sedation dentistry options to help you feel calm when you receive treatment. We also provide medication to numb the areas that are receiving treatment.

When should I bring in my child for their first dental visit?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should bring your child to the dentist six months after their first tooth comes in. At the latest, your child should have their first dental visit by their first birthday. These appointments allow us to make sure your child’s smile is developing correctly and helps your child get used to the dental office.

When will my baby receive their first teeth?

While children actually begin developing teeth the second trimester of pregnancy, your child’s teeth will start emerging when they are between 6 and 10 months old. As soon as your child has two teeth next to each other, you should start flossing their teeth.

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important because they help your child have good oral health and make sure that their teeth develop properly. Having healthy primary teeth allows your child to have:

  • Proper speech development
  • Correct chewing, good digestion and proper nutrition
  • A straighter smile, since the baby teeth act as placeholders for the adult teeth
  • Great oral health

If you have any questions about the importance of primary teeth, contact us.

What is included in cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry helps enhance the aesthetics of your smile, and it includes both restorative and preventive treatments. We offer dental veneers and teeth whitening as part of our cosmetic dentistry services.

What are available options for replacing lost teeth?

We provide multiple options for replacing one or more lost teeth. Our dentist will examine your smile and work with you to create a treatment plan that takes both your smile needs and goals into account. We offer the following at our office:

  • Dental bridges
  • Dental implants
  • Dentures (both complete and partials)

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection in your gums. It starts off as a milder condition known as gingivitis, but if it is not treated, it turns into periodontitis. At the advanced stages of periodontal disease, the gums recede, and the supporting jawbone begins to break down. When you visit us for your regular checkups, we will check for signs of periodontal disease.

How does gum disease occur?

Gum disease happens as a result of bacteria that is found in plaque. The disease takes hold in your mouth as the plaque turns into tartar, also known as calculus. As the gums start to move away from your teeth, gum pockets occur. These pockets contain bacteria as well. Gum disease can become irreversible if it is not treated.

What happens if I have gum disease?

If you have gum disease, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Red or swollen gums or other mouth pain
  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing or when consuming harder foods
  • Gums that are moving away from the teeth
  • Separating or loose teeth
  • Pus in the mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Constant bad breath (halitosis)
  • A change in your bite
  • A change in the way your dentures or other oral appliances fit

What helps with bad breath?

The following can factor into halitosis, or bad breath:

  • Having morning breath
  • Having poor dental hygiene
  • Having cavities
  • Experiencing gum disease
  • Having appliances that do not fit well
  • Having dry mouth
  • Using tobacco products
  • Having an illness or medical condition
  • Being dehydrated or hungry or missing meals
  • Eating certain foods

Brushing and flossing, making regular visits to our dentist, using mouthwash, avoiding tobacco products and drinking enough water are all great ways to prevent halitosis. If you continue to experience bad breath, talk to your physician to see if there is a medical condition that is causing your halitosis


  • Monday - Wednesday 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
  • Friday Closed


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