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Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked dental questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, feel free to call Dr. Thomas Bowles and Dr. Garrett Karow, serving Sarasota, FL and surrounding counties, so we can assist you.

New patient? New info? Access your patient info here.

My tooth doesn’t hurt. Should I still follow through with recommended treatment?

Absolutely. One reason for routine exams and x-rays is to diagnose problems before the tooth hurts. When the problem is treated early you are less likely to experience pain. If you wait until it hurts you are more likely to need a more invasive procedure in addition to the initial recommended treatment. Preventative and proactive care is the best approach to a pain-free and healthy mouth.

What is a crown?

A Crown, also known as a “Cap”, completely covers a natural tooth or an implant. For a perfect fit, shape and shade, Dr. Bowles has each crown fabricated by a dental laboratory. Crowns are often needed when a patient presents a compromised tooth with a large, old filling, decay and/or fracture. Dr. Bowles will carefully prepare the tooth for a crown, take an impression of the prepared tooth for the laboratory, and create a temporary crown to protect the tooth while your crown is being fabricated in the lab. 

After about two weeks, your crown will be ready to be permanently bonded to your tooth. An implant is an ideal tooth replacement procedure because it looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth.

What should I do to prevent gum disease and tooth decay?

Great teeth and gum care starts at home. Brushing and flossing on a routine basis is the best way to take care of your teeth and gums and minimize the risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay as you age. Regular dental exams and fluoride treatments are key to successfully preventing gum disease and tooth decay.

How can I improve my smile?

We have many options for improving your smile. You may want to consider:

  • Orthodontics
  • Tooth Whitening
  • Porcelain Veneers
  • Porcelain Crowns
  • Replacing old, dark fillings

Dr. Thomas A. Bowles & Associates will be happy to provide you with a complimentary consultation and treatment plan outlining your options based on your individual needs and desires.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the first sign of periodontal disease. It is caused when bacteria surrounding the teeth enter the gums. The gums can become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. In order to prevent the condition from worsening into a more advanced form of periodontal disease, regular dental hygiene visits are highly recommended. Your dental hygiene team will teach you the proper flossing techniques and oral hygiene protocol for home care in order to promote your best oral condition.

What is tooth whitening?

Tooth Whitening is a safe and effective way to brighten your smile. Our professional whitening products, both in-office and take-home options, are nonabrasive and produce great results. Fluoride has been added to our whitening products to help reduce tooth and gum sensitivity.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal Disease is a serious chronic infection of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. This infection happens when bacterial plaque, or “biofilm”, causes inflammation. The bacterial infection and inflammation destroy the gum, bone and tissues. Periodontal Disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and affects 3 out of 4 people during their lifetime. Some risk factors include family history, smoking, stress, hormonal changes, diabetes and poor oral health.

What are the benefits of placing composite restorations vs. silver fillings?

Silver Fillings, known as Amalgam Fillings, have been used since the early 1800’s. Before Composite Restorations became available, they were the standard of care. Because Amalgam cannot be bonded to the tooth, a dentist must remove not only decay and old amalgam filling material, but also healthy tooth structure to place a silver filling. Because they are metal, silver fillings conduct heat and cold causing tooth sensitivity and also expand and contract causing tooth fractures.

Placing Composite Restorations allows the dentist to bond the filling material directly to a tooth, saving healthy tooth structure from being destroyed. The Composite material insulates the tooth protecting you from heat and cold sensitivity and does not expand and contract over time. Dr. Bowles is able to match the shade of your tooth with the shade of Composite for the most natural looking filling.

How do you treat periodontal disease?

To treat Periodontal Disease, you must first remove the bacterial plaque lying beneath the gums in “periodontal pockets”. Non-surgical Gum Therapy is the least invasive way to treat the disease. During this procedure, a Dental Hygienist uses a common mechanical procedure known as SRP (Scaling and Root Planing). Scaling removes plaque, tartar, and stains from the surface of teeth and their roots. Planing smooths the rough areas on the roots of teeth to promote healing. SRP often includes local delivery of antibiotics.

What is TMJ?

The Temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ, is the joint where the mandible meets the cranium. TMJ is by far the most complex joint in the body.

How do you treat TMD?

Because not all TMD patients are the same, there is a broad range of treatment options to relieve moderate to severe symptoms. Most cases can be periodically treated with various types of bite splints, anti-inflammatory medications and adjustments to occlusion.

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular Dysfunction, or TMD, is a painful condition experienced in the TMJ and/or surrounding structures. Patients with TMD may have mild to severe symptoms ranging from frequent headaches, popping/clicking sound when opening or closing the jaw, tightness of muscles, difficult opening of jaw, ringing in the ears, cold sensitive teeth, clenching or grinding, stress, pain upon opening and closing of the jaw. These symptoms may or may not be the result of an injury.

Can periodontal disease be cured?

There is no cure for periodontal disease. However, the disease is controllable with a lifetime of regular maintenance, scheduled every 3 to 4 months with your Dental Hygienist, to sustain the health of the gums and bone. These regular visits, along with a patient’s home care compliance, will determine the success of controlling Periodontal Disease.

What is a porcelain veneer?

A Porcelain Veneer is a very thin piece of porcelain that is first fabricated in a dental laboratory to custom-fit your tooth, and then bonded to your natural tooth. Veneers improve the aesthetics of a tooth (cosmetic veneer) or protect a damaged tooth surface (restorative veneer). With cosmetic veneers, Dr. Bowles can create your perfect smile, whether you would like to change the shape, shade or color of one tooth, a few teeth or multiple teeth for a “Hollywood” type smile.
Thomas A. Bowles, DDS in Sarasota, FL | Thomas A Bowles, DDS


Dr. Thomas Bowles and Dr. Garrett Karow

5677 S. Beneva Rd
Sarasota, FL 34233




Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM