When you’re waiting for your dental appointment you may have some lingering questions that you need answered quickly. We’ve put together a list of some of the common questions we get asked by our patients during their visits to help you before your appointment.

Q1: Are all dental offices the same?

A: In terms of dentistry no two dentists are the same. Every Dentist has his/her comfort level in the dentistry they are willing/able to offer. For example if a dentist does not do implants he might refer you to someone who does or he may suggest a denture. As your dental health provider, he should always have your best interest at heart and give you all the possible options regardless whether or not he will be the one rendering the treatment. You must be comfortable with the dentist/dental office in order to build up rapport and trust.

In terms of financial arrangements/ it is always in your best interest that your dentist plans your treatment options according to the conditions/needs of your mouth and not to the context of “what you are covered for”. In our office for example, if you are a patient with gum disease, you will probably need to return more than twice a year. Just because your policy only allows for two visits a year, we have no qualms in advising you that more sessions with the hygienist is necessary. We will not tell you that “all’s good, see you next year” in order to make your insurance happy.

Q2: Why do so many people like to come to Avatar Dental, Dr. Sunny Yuen’s dental office in Markham?

A: From our survey over the years, we’ve found out the following reasons:

  • We listen to our patient’s wishes.
  • Our superb customer service.
  • Positive care value of practicing dentistry.
  • Outstanding clinical skill, know ledges and experience so that we can take on any challenging cases.
  • Convenient location accessible by car, buses and go-train.
  • Evening and weekend hours available.

Q3: How much is a cleaning?

A: This is the question that is often heard from walk-in patients or potential patients on the phone. For a person whose oral hygiene is at par, i.e. no periodontal pockets or bleeding upon probing, the procedure should take about 30-45 minutes, provided that this patient is seen every three to six months. Keeping regular hygiene check-ups will help to keep the cost down. We bill strictly by the current Ontario Dental Association fee guide for any basic dental procedures, including “scaling and polishing”.

Therefore, in order to establish “how much” we must first assess your current hygiene status.

Q4: Why are other offices cheaper?

A: Do less. Bill less. In these offices superior quality is not a priority but the quantity is. Remember, the longest way to do something is by taking the short cut.

Q5: How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

A: You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.

Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, many other things are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:

Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your overall health and also your dental health.

Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.

Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.

Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.

Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.

Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.

Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!

Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).

Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.

As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.

Q6: When should I bring my child in for their first visit?

A: We like the child’s first visit to be a pleasant experience rather than “an emergency”. Although each child is different, the first visit should be between the age of one and three years old, or as soon as their teeth start to develop.

Q7: How should I prep my child for his/her first dental visit?

A: First rule of thumb… no bribery. Treat the first visit like a visit to a friend’s house. There’s no need to forewarn the child that “it won’t hurt”. Don’t forget, children are smart and they pick up the parent’s apprehensive cues in their tone of voice. As well, refrain from showering the child with overbearing hugs and kisses after a visit, or ask them “did it hurt?”

Q8: Do I have to wait for all of my child’s adult teeth to come out before considering braces?

A: No, absolutely not. Depending on each child’s individual growth spurt, orthopedics (moving of the bone) is most effective when the child is between 7 and 9 years of age. This is when we can develop the jawbone into the desired profile. For example, if the child has an underbite, this would be the perfect time for the Phase I (orthopedics) treatment. With early intervention, we can prevent future jaw surgery if we can rectify the problem now.

Q9: How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?

A: If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.

There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over. Upon our examination of your mouth we will be able to determine which cosmetic procedure is best to improve the health and beauty of your smile.

Q10: How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?

A: Four out of five people have gum disease (periodontal disease) and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have gum disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Gum disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colourless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing gum disease:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco– Tobacco users are more likely than nonusers to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.
  • Certain tooth or appliance conditions– Bridgesthat no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
  • Many medications– Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
  • Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty– Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
  • Systemic diseases– Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
  • Genetics may play role– Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease:

  • Red and puffy gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • New spacing between teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus around the teeth and gums
  • Receding gums
  • Tenderness or Discomfort

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

Q11: What causes bad breath?

A: Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

  • Morning time– Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
  • Certain foods– Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odour-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits– Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease– Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances– May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia)– May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products– Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting– Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses– Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.

Q12: How can I prevent bad breath?


  • Practice good oral hygiene– Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
  • See your dentist regularly– Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco– Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
  • Drink water frequently– Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses– Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odour. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odour and an appropriate treatment plan.

Q13: How often should I brush and floss?

A: Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.


  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day(especially before going to bed at night) with a CDA approved extra soft bristle brush and toothpaste.
  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
  • Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.


  • Daily flossingis the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and away from the gum, cleaning the side of each tooth.
  • Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.


It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Q14: Why is it important to use dental floss?

A: Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except  between your teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Q15: What type of toothbrush should I choose? Does it matter?

A: Toothbrushes accomplish one major purpose: removing plaque. A good quality toothbrush with well-made bristles will accomplish that. You’ll find a large selection of toothbrushes available, both manual and electric. It’s a good idea to choose one that:

  • has a small head so it’s easier to move around inside your mouth
  • has extra soft bristles
  • fits comfortably in your hand – Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to handle.

Most important is brushing your teeth properly at least twice a day, for at least 2 minutes each time.

Caring For Your Toothbrush

  • Do not share your toothbrush or use someone else’s toothbrush
  • After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water and allow to air-dry
  • Store standing upright. If it is near other toothbrushes, do not let the heads touch
  • Do not store in closed containers
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles look worn and bent

When you’re choosing an electric toothbrush look for:

  • A brush with an oscillating circular head. (a higher number of oscillations is better)
  • A toothbrush that runs on a rechargeable battery because non rechargeable toothbrushes are less effective as the batteries lose their charge
  • Like traditional toothbrushes, the electric toothbrush head should be replaced ever few months depending on the wear of the brush.

Q16: What can I do about stained or discoloured teeth?

A: Since teeth whitening has now become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients, there are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.

Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the colour of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).

As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. The colour of our teeth also comes from the inside of the tooth, which may become darker over time. Smoking, drinking coffee, tea, and wine may also contribute to tooth discoloration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discoloured from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development can also cause teeth to become discoloured.

It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns to cover up such stains. Since teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is also important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins. Once the bleaching is done, your dentist can match the new restorations to the shade of the newly whitened teeth.

Since teeth whitening is not permanent, a touch-up may be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.

Q17: What’s the best teeth whitening option?

A: Home teeth whitening systems: At-home products usually come in a gel form that is placed in a custom-fitted mouth guard (tray), created from a mould of your teeth. The trays are worn once or twice a day for approximately 30 minutes, or overnight while you sleep. It usually takes several weeks to achieve the desired results depending on the degree of staining and the desired level of whitening.

In office teeth whitening: This treatment is done in the dental office and you will see results immediately. It may require more than one visit, with each visit lasting 60 to 90 minutes. While your gums are protected, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth. A special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent while the teeth are whitened.

Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after having their teeth whitened. This sensation is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process, usually within a few days to one week.

Teeth whitening can be very effective and can give you a brighter, whiter, more confident smile!