Valdez Office:


Many of our patients have questions about their dental care.  We have compiled the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this page.  If you have further questions, or to make your appointment with Dr. F. Todd Wortham and Dr. Seth Jorgensen in Valdez, Alaska, please call Foothills Dentistry at 907-885-2436 and 907-280-9585.

What should I do if I have bad breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Morning time
  • Certain foods
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Periodontal disease
  • Cavities
  • Poorly fitted appliances
  • Dry mouth
  • Tobacco products
  • Dieting
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals
  • Certain medical conditions or illnesses

If you have bad breath, please visit our dentist.  We can help you determine the cause of your bad breath and recommend an appropriate course of action or treatment. If needed, we will refer you back to your medical physicians.  A simple step you can take to reduce bad breath is to practice good oral hygiene, including brushing your tongue.

How often should I brush and floss?

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before going to bed at night.  Ideally, you should brush after every meal.  We recommend that you use an ADA-approved soft-bristle brush and fluoridated toothpaste.  You may also want to consider using an electric toothbrush.  You should floss daily to clean between the teeth and under the gum line.

We also recommend that you rinse your mouth with water after brushing and after meals when you are unable to brush.  If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, please consult our dentists and hygienists about an appropriate rinse.

Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

There has been significant research done to determine if amalgam fillings are safe for use.  The American Dental Association, Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, the FDA, and others have determined that silver fillings are safe for use.  The only reason to avoid the use of silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling.  We encourage you to discuss your options for fillings with our dentists.

How often should I have a dental cleaning and exam?

You should receive a dental cleaning and exam at least twice a year.  Regular dental cleanings are an important part of helping you avoid dental problems and maintain a healthy smile.  These routine appointments allow our dentists to monitor the health of your teeth and gums and quickly provide any treatments you may need.

How can I tell if I have gum disease?

Gum disease is usually painless in the early stages, and it is possible for the condition to develop without many noticeable symptoms.  Regular dental exams can help detect the presence of periodontal disease before it becomes a serious problem.  Signs of gum disease include:

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

If you notice any of these signs, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our dentists.  You can reduce your risk of developing gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and receiving your regular dental checkups at our office.

Why is flossing important?

Flossing reaches the areas between the teeth and under the gum line that brushing cannot reach.  Daily flossing cleans these spaces and disrupts plaque and bacteria before it can colonize, preventing damage to your teeth, gums, and bone.  If you have difficulty using conventional floss, you may want to try a floss holder.  When you visit Foothills Dentistry, our hygienists can demonstrate the proper techniques for flossing.

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

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last few years as more and more patients become focused on improving their overall oral health and the appearance of their smile.  Cosmetic dental treatments are designed to improve the appearance of your teeth and enhance your smile.  Depending on your needs, your cosmetic procedure can restore a single tooth or dramatically enhance your entire smile with a full smile makeover.

Common cosmetic treatments include:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Composite (tooth-colored) dental fillings
  • Porcelain dental veneers
  • Porcelain dental crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Orthodontics

What are porcelain veneers and how can they improve my smile?

Porcelain dental veneers are thin, tooth-colored shells.  Each veneer is custom-made to cover the front surfaces of your teeth.  They are highly durable and do not stain, and they are often recommended to correct flaws in your smile such as:

  • Severely discolored or stained teeth
  • Gapped or spaced teeth
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Slight crowding
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Teeth that are too large or small

Veneers produce long-lasting results and can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile.

What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?

Foothills Dentistry provides take-home whitening kits with custom-made bleaching trays.  This allows you to improve the appearance of your smile in the comfort of your own home.  Simply wear the trays twice a day for 30 minutes or overnight while you sleep, and within a few weeks you will be able to enjoy a whiter, brighter smile.

When should children have their first dental appointment?

The ADA recommends that children have their first dental checkup at about 1 year old, or as soon as their first tooth erupts.  This initial visit is intended to help the child feel safe and comfortable in the dental office, and develop a trusting relationship with the dentist. It also helps us monitor your child’s growth and development.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Dental X-rays are extremely safe.  Traditional X-rays produce less radiation than what you experience daily through natural exposure, and digital X-rays produce even less.  Additionally, all X-ray machines are checked regularly for safety and quality, ensuring that you always remain safe and that your X-rays produce accurate images.