Frequently Asked Questions

Why is regular dental care important?

Regular dental care is important to maintaining the health and appearance of your mouth, teeth, and gums, but can also identify and prevent many other health conditions and complications as well. 

Cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other diseases often stem from poor oral health and can negatively affect your overall quality of life. 

Your dental health professionals include:

  • Dentist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Specialists such as
    • Periodontist
    • Orthodontist
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Oral Health

Diseased, crooked, or missing teeth or a misshapen jaw can interfere with your speech; make the proper chewing of food difficult and painful; cause insecurities about appearance, and lead to expensive corrective procedures. Regular visits to the dentist can address common issues, such as cavities, grinding, and the onset or management of gum disease.

Cavities are places on the tooth where decay has eaten through the enamel and exposed a tooth’s root. Hot or cold food and liquids often send a painful signal that something is wrong. Because they often do not have any symptoms until significant damage has already been done to the tooth, cavities are best identified and treated early on. During regular visits, your dental professional can spot warnings signs of tooth decay and treat trouble spots much more easily than advanced cases.

Thanks to modern dental technology, treating tooth decay, especially in the early stages, is often only mildly uncomfortable, at its WORST. Medications that numb the area of the decay eliminate the pain of filling a cavity for most people.

Gum Disease

Another complication of poor oral health is gum disease, which can be mild in the initial stages, but lead to much more severe problems if untreated. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, may cause loss of teeth, infections, and other complications.

In addition to pain and other problems for your teeth and gums, research has linked periodontal disease to a higher risk of having other health problems such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung diseases
  • Problems in pregnancy
  • Complications related to diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Good dental health is a combination of proper daily maintenance, (brushing 2x daily for 2 minutes, and flossing 1x daily) along with regular visits to your dental care professional.

Special Services

People with crooked teeth, misaligned jaws, and other problems with their mouth can often benefit from orthodontic appliances and procedures, such as braces or other techniques to correct the problems.

Your dental health professional can help you decide how to address any issues of concern. Braces and other modern teeth-straightening techniques were once thought of for adolescents only, but now commonly help people of all ages correct problems with their teeth and jaws.

Not only can orthodontic procedures help the appearance of your mouth and teeth, but they can also improve chewing for proper digestion of food, stop clenching/grinding, and halt recession, along with addressing certain speech problems.  In addition, by making crooked or misaligned teeth easier to access with bristle and floss, orthodontia can help improve the overall health of your teeth.

Remember, your mouth is the main orifice to the rest of your body, so good oral health is very important to the rest of your overall health and wellness.

Why do dentists always suggest flossing?

“Do you floss?” is probably a question you get asked every single time you visit the dentist, and that’s because it’s important! Busy mornings and late nights often mean regular flossing gets left out of the daily routine, but just brushing your teeth often isn’t enough to remove the plaque and other debris in between the teeth that leads to cavities. 

Why isn’t brushing enough?

The tooth has five surfaces, but your toothbrush can only adequately reach three of them. Flossing, or interdental, care is the only way to wrap around the tooth under the gum line to remove plaque and debris from the other two surfaces. When flossing is regularly skipped, food can remain trapped between teeth for long periods, creating a breeding ground for plaque-causing bacteria to build up. As an interdental cleaning tool, floss can get into these tight spaces and remove 80% of plaque.

Protect your teeth

Over time, bacteria between your teeth can actually break down your tooth’s enamel, allowing a cavity to form. Regular flossing helps prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria, as well as removes excess debris you may not spot in the mirror, making your smile look cleaner and brighter. 

And your gums

Plaque and bacteria not only affect the teeth but can eventually build up to the point that it irritates gum tissues. Left untreated, plaque at the gemlike can eventually cause Gingivitis, an early type of periodontal disease (gum disease) that causes red and puffy gums that bleed easily.

Protects from other diseases

If left untreated, bacteria in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of your body. Gingivitis can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Flossing only takes a couple of minutes out of your day, but will have huge benefits on your long-term overall health.

Good for your overall health

Many people don’t floss because they think it’s too much trouble, but it really only takes a few minutes and can be done almost anywhere. Not only does regular flossing help you practice good oral hygiene, but it offers the bonus of helping you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, as flossing after eating will make you less tempted to want to snack.

What does Oak Hill Dental
offer for patient comfort?

  • Blankets
  • Weighted blankets
  • Stress balls
  • Neck pillows
  • N20 (Laughing gas)
  • Dimming room light
  • Aromatherapy (Lavender or Peppermint)
  • Chapstick
  • Dark-tinted glasses

What type of dental
technology do you use?

    • Digital X-rays with Nomad
    • ITero
    • Intraoral Camera
    • Dental Lasers
    • Ultrasonic/Cavitron

    Can a dentist remove wisdom teeth?

    Often! Most people with wisdom teeth that are growing in normally can have them removed by their family dentist, but x-rays are needed to see where your wisdom teeth are located. If they have already come through the gums, wisdom teeth can be removed just like any other tooth extraction. However, when a dentist suspects a more complex wisdom tooth extraction, such as one with potential nerve involvement, a referral to an oral surgeon is common. An oral surgeon is trained to remove wisdom teeth using IV sedation. 

    How do dentists clean teeth?

    With the small mirror to guide them, the dentist or dental hygienist uses both electronic and manual hand scalers to get rid of plaque and tarter around the gum line, as well as in between your teeth. The scraping sound you’ll hear is normal and tends to be worse the more tarter that’s built up. The more plaque and tartar there is in your mouth, the more time is needed to scrape a particular spot.

    What is the difference between a deep cleaning and a regular cleaning?

    A regular cleaning

    A “regular” standard cleaning of a healthy mouth consists of plaque and tarter removal and tooth polishing and is intended to help prevent potential oral health issues like gum disease and cavities. It is recommended for all patients as part of their six-month checkup. With proper cleanings, brushing, and flossing, bacteria is kept to a minimum to keep the gums healthy.

    A deep cleaning

    A deep cleaning is needed when there is a larger amount of bacteria and buildup in and around gums and in gum “pockets” because gum disease is present. Known as scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning involves both removing plaque and tarter from the teeth’s surface and gum pockets (scaling,) as well as removing plaque and tarter from the surface of the roots (root planing.)  Unlike regular cleanings, deep cleanings are minimally invasive requiring access to exposed roots and possible bone through two cleanings on each side of the mouth.  This is followed by maintenance visits to monitor the health of the teeth and gums and stabilize the progression of disease.

    A deep cleaning can actually help reverse the progression of periodontal disease. In fact, many patients report improvement within three months of having their teeth deep cleaned. While not curable, chronic periodontal disease is manageable with proper treatment and home care.

    When gum disease is not managed through deep cleaning or other oral health recommendations, it opens the door to a number of more serious oral health complications, such as periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss. In addition, active gum disease also increases the risk of:

    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Lung diseases
    • Problems in pregnancy
    • Complications related to diabetes
    • Alzheimer’s disease

    If I need a deep cleaning, why can’t I still use a regular cleaning?

    A “regular” cleaning is a preventative treatment to protect from periodontal disease. When disease is already actively present, prevention is no longer an option.  Having a “regular” cleaning is NOT a treatment for gum disease since the roots and underlying bone cannot be accessed during regular cleanings. While choosing no treatment is always an option, it will permit the periodontal disease to progress which could result in mobility and tooth loss.

    What are the causes of bone loss at an early age, and what can I do to prevent it?

    What are the causes of bone loss at an early age?

    • Bad oral hygiene habits such as brushing/flossing
    • Clenching and or grinding
    • Teeth not in proper alignment
    • Gum disease
    • Missing teeth

    What can I do to prevent it?

    The most basic oral hygiene routine should consist of brushing 2x daily for 2 min. followed by flossing 1x daily with string floss.

    To address clenching or grinding issues, consult with your dentist to get fitted for a custom, lab-fabricated night guard to help eliminate the movement of teeth and surrounding ligaments.

    If misaligned teeth are a concern, your dentist can discuss a myriad of ways to achieve better alignment, including clear aligners such as Invisalign or with traditional braces under the care of an orthodontist.

    To help treat gum disease, consult with your dentist and dental hygienist to determine the severity and progression, and decide if a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing,) flap surgery, and/or gum and tissue grafts are your best options for treatment. 

    For broken or missing teeth, your dentist can discuss options such as bridges, implants, partials, flippers, or a full denture, depending on what you need fixed or replaced.

    Common dental procedures explained

    For a variety of reasons, many people find the prospect of going to the dentist intimidating. It may have been a long time since a last visit to the dentist. What if the examination hurts? What about injections or the prospect of long, complicated treatments?

    Evidence has shown that the more informed a patient is about different treatments, the less likely they are to be nervous.

    Below are six of the most common treatments you might experience during a visit to the dentist. Hopefully, by explaining these treatments and why they might be necessary, some of the worry may be dispelled.

    Teeth Cleanings

    Teeth cleanings are the most common reason people visit the dentist and are recommended every six months for routine healthy patients.  No matter how dedicated you are to oral hygiene, your own toothbrush will never be as efficient as the tools a dentist uses to clean your teeth. Professional cleanings are a very important part of your oral health.

    A semi-annual visit for cleaning will keep your teeth healthy, shiny, and strong. Plus, a cleaning causes very little discomfort, so no need to fret!

    Periodontal Treatment

    Early gum disease treatment may include tooth scaling and cleaning at three-month intervals along with the use of medicated mouthwash, along with proper flossing and brushing. Later-stage gum disease treatment may include deep-plane scaling, periodontal surgery, and laser surgery. General dentists, family dentists, periodontists, and cosmetic dentists may perform gum disease treatment. However, availability of the latest material, technology, and level of expertise varies among dentists.

    Tooth Whitening

    Many people are interested in making their teeth whiter. Teeth tend to naturally discolor over time due to certain foods such as tea and coffee, smoking, and even age. 

    Tooth whitening is a dental treatment that alters the color of your tooth with the use of chemicals.

    While a professional cleaning does help remove stains and brighten the appearance of teeth, the chemical tooth whitening process changes the underlying color of the teeth. Since some stains are easier to treat than others, results vary. Teeth that are stained yellow or brown are easier to treat than those with a grayish tint. 

    If you want a whiter smile, we recommend you discuss the matter with your dentist to see if tooth whitening is an option. These days teeth whitening is a popular treatment option, so make sure you know how it could benefit you.

    Traditional Braces/Invisalign

    Misaligned teeth and malocclusions can be straightened and corrected with dental braces and retainers. Most practices are moving away from traditional braces and towards Invisalign, particularly for adults, but they both serve the same purpose.

    Straightening and correcting misaligned teeth improves their appearance and makes them easier to take care of. Classic braces use semi-permanent metal and other materials to slowly manipulate teeth into place. Invisalign is less visible, and involves the use of removable aligners that you change out every one-to-two weeks. 

    Invisalign is a good option for patients dedicated to compliance because the teeth will only move properly if you wear them consistently without forgetting to put them back in. Both braces and Invisalign are very effective methods to achieve the same goal, and your dentist will help guide you to the most suitable option. Both involve general mouth soreness as teeth move, but nothing too extreme.


    Dental fillings are used to repair damage to the structure of a tooth or teeth. Structural damage can be caused as a result of tooth decay, wear, or trauma. After the removal of a problematic tooth structure, the tooth is restored with one of several filling materials: composite resin (white filling material). 

    If you have any decay in your teeth, then the normal treatment is to clean the area and then attempt repair. The first, step is an examination to determine the extent of the decay. This typically involves a visual exam and x-rays.

    Tooth damage can also occur from trauma. Teeth may be cracked or broken by something hitting them or in other ways, such as using your teeth to open things. Teeth grinding may also wear them down.

    Typically, in such situations, your dentist will attempt to repair or fill the tooth to try to return it to a stable condition. Filling materials may vary. Historically metal fillings were very popular, but these days the most common type of filling is composite filling. Composite is a tooth-colored resin that fills your tooth cavity, but once set, looks and feels similar to the original tooth.

    If you need a filling for whatever reason, you should discuss the options available with your dentist.


    A crown is a tooth restoration that places a cap over a damaged, cracked, or broken tooth. The crown sits over the part of the tooth that meets flush with the gum line. They are made from porcelain, gold metals, silver metals or a combination of porcelain and metal. General dentists, family dentists, prosthodontists, pediatric dentists, and cosmetic dentists may perform the crown procedure; however, expertise varies.

    A crown is ideal for:

    * large cavities
    * to restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
    * to cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth structure left,
    * to repair a tooth with a large amount of decay
    * cosmetic enhancement
    * fractured fillings
    * a tooth that has a root canal. 

    Crowns are usually two-visit procedures, but like a filling, isn’t usually painful. On the first visit, your dentist will take a molding of your tooth so that a lab can craft a properly fitted crown to cover the affected area. The second visit will involve fitting and securing the crown, which is usually quite fast and painless.

    Root Canals

    A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth when the nerve of the tooth is affected by infection or decay. A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, large fillings, or a crack or chip in the tooth. It also can happen because of trauma to the face.

    Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and an abscess may form.

    During a root canal procedure, the nerve of the tooth is removed, and the inside (pulp canals) is cleaned and sealed. The nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function. In fact, its only function is to give the sensation of hot or cold. The absence of a nerve won’t affect how your tooth works.

    While root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful, it is actually no more painful than getting a filling.


    The removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone is called a tooth extraction. Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extractions may be needed and recommended by your dentist. A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged from trauma or decay to be repaired with a filling, crown, root canal, or other measures. Other reasons can include extra teeth or baby teeth that impede adult teeth, impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth, crowding, infection, risk of infection, or gum disease.


    Bridges and implants are used to fill gaps left by a missing tooth or teeth in order to keep the other teeth in your mouth from moving into the empty space.

    A dental bridge attaches to the teeth on either side of a gap and “bridges” the gap. A bridge can be fixed or removable. In simple terms, a fixed bridge is only removed by your dentist, whereas a removable bridge can be taken out at any time.

    Dental Implant

    A dental implant is used to replace a missing tooth. An implant is a metal post, which is surgically inserted, or “implanted” into the jaw. The post then acts as an anchor upon which to attach a replica tooth. Dental implants can also be useful in securing a bridge.      

    Dental implants cause little bone loss and ensure that healthy teeth surrounding a gap are preserved.

    Partial Denture / Denture

    A denture is a removable dental appliance and replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made to closely resemble your natural teeth and may even enhance your smile. 

    There are two types of dentures— complete and partial. Complete dentures are used when all of the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. A partial denture not only fills in the spaces created by missing teeth; it prevents other teeth from shifting.

    Going to the dentist does not have to be an intimidating experience.  Your dentist is dedicated to helping you feel comfortable and at ease.

     you are concerned about a dental matter and would like to discuss it with a dentist then please contact us at (512)551-5400 to make an appointment. Our friendly staff here at Oak Hill Dental are more than happy to help.

    Correlation between dental health and overall health

    With your mouth being the main orifice to the rest of your body your dental health plays a huge role in your overall wellness. While a cavity may not affect your endocrine system, severe gum disease could impact your health well beyond your mouth. Note how your oral health can affect your well-being below and what you can do about it today.

    Health Areas of Concern

    Your teeth, tongue, and entire mouth are vital when it comes to your oral health. However, when we take a step back and look at your oral anatomy, gums, also known as your gingiva, have the most significant influence on your overall health. More specifically, unhealthy gums can affect your health in many ways:

    Heart disease

    The bacteria from inflammation of the gum disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart leading to:


    When plaque develops on and thickens your arteries’ inner walls, your blood flow is decreased through the body, leading to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.


    The inner lining of the heart (endocardium) can become infected and inflamed.


    Gingivitis bacteria can enter your brain through nerve channels or the bloodstream, possibly leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

    Respiratory infections

    Inhaling bacteria from infected teeth and gums over a long period could lead to infections in the lungs, as well as pneumonia.

    Diabetic complications

    Periodontal disease can make your blood sugar difficult to control and make your diabetes worse. People with diabetes are also prone to periodontal disease. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Rheumatoid arthritis

    The more tooth loss due to gum disease, the higher the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Exposure to X-rays (more radiation from eating a banana)

    Your teeth are made up of bone tissues, teeth tissues, and supporting tissues. X-ray images not only show cavities, but also reveal infection, bone loss, the integrity of supporting tissues, and potential oral health issues that might otherwise remain unknown. 

    Some infections don’t hurt until they result in a painful abscess, but many infections – and their potential complications, can be addressed early on from your annual dental X-rays.

    Some facts regarding radiation and the amount:

    • Consuming 15 bananas is equivalent to getting 2 digital x-rays.
    • Radiation is emitted from watches, TV sets, phones, and computers.
    • Eating five Brazil nuts is equivalent to a digital x-ray
    • If you take a flight from Austin, TX to New Orleans you are exposed to more radiation than a digital x-ray.

    People are exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Even the amount of radiation you are exposed to by simply going about your day is several times higher than what you would get in a typical x-ray session.

    To put it into perspective, the amount of radiation a person is exposed to on a daily basis is equivalent to taking 950 digital x-rays.

    These facts shouldn’t worry you but instead, help you to realize that the radiation in the form of dental x-rays is a very small percentage of overall radiation exposure. 

    Modern X-ray machines are safe and efficient. Our office uses a hand-held X-ray machine called a NOMAD that puts off little to no radiation. 

    What most insurances can cover for average dentistry insurance?

    Most insurances cover 50%-100% depending on the procedure and plan. If you have specific questions regarding your dental treatment plan or diagnosis, we will provide identifying insurance codes, so you can check with your carrier for more information on your coverage.


    Dr. Mark J. Cantu, DDS
    7101 W. Highway 71, Suite A-3
    Austin, TX 78735

    Hablamos Espanol


    Phone: 512-551-5400
    Fax: 512-551-5408

    Most PPO Dental Insurance Accepted

    Office Hours

    Monday - Treatment Appt. Only
    8 AM - 4 PM
    Tuesday – Friday
    7:30 AM – 3 PM

    BOB Best of the Best Finalist Logo