When a tooth decays, there are several recommend procedures, one of which is a root canal. The term is thrown around a lot, but what exactly is a root canal and how do you know if you need one?

What is a Root Canal?

In the simplest terms, a root canal is a procedure to preserve a tooth rather than save it—because by the time you need a root canal the tooth is already decayed. The procedure involves making a tiny hole, cleaning the pulp chamber, and sealing the tooth back up.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

According to the American Association of Endodontics, the most common symptom that indicates a need for a root canal is tooth pain. However, keep in mind that tooth pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need a root canal. A few ways we access our patients’ potential for a root canal are:

Pain Evaluation – Is it spurred on by a hot or cold drink or does the pain show up in spontaneous waves? Does the pain vary when you’re sitting up versus lying down?

Abscess – To find an abscess, we typically need the assistance of an x-ray. Because bone won’t grow in an area of infection, an abscess shows up as a dark spot in the jawbone.

Fistula on the gum – An infection can show itself through a fistula, a little bump on your gum that can vary in color from white to red.

Questions to Ask Your Dentist

  • If I need a root canal, how soon should I get it?
  • What if I skip the root canal? What are the alternatives?
  • Is it possible the tooth will survive on its own?
  • What’s the likelihood the infection will spread?
  • What is the recovery time for a root canal?

Think you might need a root canal? The only way to be certain is to ask a professional dentist. If you want to learn more about your options, book an appointment with us today. Dr. Fernandez will be happy to review your situation and point you in the right direction.

When we make crowns for our patients, the process only takes one visit (bridges can often be delivered the same day as well). This is a major convenience for our patients. From start to finish, you can have a crown made in our office in under 2 hours.

The crown is made by our CEREC® Milling Chamber and is not sent out to a lab, so you don’t have to come back for a second visit. Using our CEREC® technology, Dr. Fernandez has been making same-day crowns since 2006. Not only is he an expert in this technology, he also teaches it to other dentists.

The CEREC® software allows Dr. Fernandez to take a 3D image of your tooth. This means the traditional methods of taking an impression (which can lead to discomfort and even gagging) are long gone. Also gone are the plastic temporary crowns that fall off.

After taking the image, the CEREC® 3D software converts it to a three-dimensional virtual model of your prepared tooth. While you watch onscreen, Dr. Fernandez uses CAD technology to design the restoration, which is sent wirelessly to the CEREC® Milling Unit where CAM technology creates the restoration while you wait.

The result of this cutting-edge process is a lifelike, natural restoration that bonds perfectly to your damaged tooth.

Need to get a crown but don’t want a big interruption to your busy schedule? Book an appointment with Dr. Fernandez today and we’ll be happy to get you in, out, and on your way.

Here at Fernandez Family Dentistry, we put our patients first. That’s why we accept most insurance plans (except for dental HMO plans). If you have questions about your particular plan, feel free to give our office a call at 757-497-4825.

Insurance We Accept

Some of the larger plans we accept include:

  • Aetna PPO
  • Anthem BCBS
  • Assurant
  • Cigna
  • Delta Dental
  • Dominion Dental
  • Guardian
  • Humana
  • MetLife
  • Principal
  • United Concordia

Payment Options

As part of our mission of convenience, we accept a wide variety of payments, including:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Discover


Does taking a sip from your favorite hot tea cause you to shudder in pain? Does the thought of flossing make your teeth hurt? Then you’re likely suffering from sensitive teeth.

Don’t worry, lots of people suffer from sensitive teeth. The triggers can vary widely, from alcohol-based mouth rinses to a puff of cold air. Some people’s teeth are more sensitive than others. This could be because of thinner enamel, nighttime teeth grinding, among many other causes.

Want to help reduce your tooth sensitivity? Try out these three tips.

Unclench Your Teeth

Be it while you sleep or during a stressful situation, teeth grinding wears away at your enamel. Take a proactive approach at solving the stress factors in your life for stress-grinding, and consider getting a custom mouth guard for nighttime grinding.

Don’t Brush Too Hard

It’s common to think the harder you brush the cleaner your teeth will be. But really, hard brushing can be rough on your enamel and gum line. Also, use a toothbrush that’s labeled “soft.” Medium and hard toothbrushes can push your gum line down and cause further sensitivity.

Beware of Acidic Drinks and Foods

Yummy candy, sugary drinks, and other high-sugar carbs might be delicious snacks, but their acidity might be worsening your teeth sensitivity. Make a plan to avoid these foods and instead opt for fruits and vegetables, plain yogurt, milk, or cheese.

If your sensitivity is extreme or continues even after you’ve tried these tips, book an appointment. Dr. Fernandez will be happy to review your situation and point you in the right direction.

What Are Veneers

For a quick way to a beautiful smile, many people turn to veneers. But what exactly are veneers and why do people get them? To answer those questions and more, we take a deep dive into veneers.

Why Do People Get Veneers?

Used mainly to correct small misalignments, close gaps, or cover stained teeth, veneers are generally less intrusive than braces or crowns. Particular cases for veneers include (but aren’t limited to) injury, covering discolored fillings, issues with a root canal procedure, or unwanted spacing between teeth.

Veneers are constructed from porcelain or resin composite materials and placed on the front teeth. The procedure requires little to no anesthesia and lasts for many years.

How Do You Care for Veneers?

To avoid possible staining, be sure to brush right after consuming coffee, beets, wine, or other stain-inducing items.

Are you a tooth grinder? Then a custom mouth guard is a must. Be sure to get it created after your veneers have been placed, so the guard will fit snugly around your teeth. The same advice goes if you play contact sports—protect your new smile with a custom-made mouth guard. 

If you happen to chew on pens or your nails, now’s the perfect time to stop. Continuing these habits with veneers can lead to long-term damage. Be sure to make an effort to drop these habits to ensure the longevity of your beautiful new smile.

Are veneers the right choice for you? Book an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will be happy to review your circumstance and point you in the right direction.

Drinking is a cornerstone of many people’s social circles. But before you pour a glass, consider how alcohol impacts your teeth.


Drinks high in alcohol content tend to dry out your mouth. The saliva that helps remove bacteria and plaque from the surface of your teeth is no longer there to do its job. If you’ll be drinking alcohol, be sure to also drink plenty of water to keep your mouth (and the rest of your body) hydrated.

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere

Sugar can lead to tooth decay. So it’s no surprise that alcoholic drinks high in sugar can damage your teeth—after all, sugar is like rocket fuel for bacteria in your mouth. The more you give the bacteria, the more quickly it can multiple and thrive. Try opting for a low-sugar drink, such as a dry brut champagne or check out this list of wines for a low-sugar diet.


Red wine may taste good, but it’s not so good on your teeth. You can quickly see the staining effects by the trademark “red wine smile” on someone whose teeth have turned red from a glass of wine. Is beer better? Only marginally. Like wine, beer is acidic, which makes your teeth more likely to be stained by the malts and barley found in darker beers.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Do you have a smile darkened by alcohol? We offer teeth whitening, as well as a host of other services to bring out your best smile.

Here at Fernandez Family Dentistry, we put our patients first. That’s why we accept most insurance plans (except for dental HMO plans). If you have questions about your particular plan, feel free to give our office a call at 757-497-4825. Our office is conveniently located near the Mount Trashmore Office Park. For a map and detailed directions, click here.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it can cause major dental issues as well?

Smoking and Dental Problems

A long-term smoker’s smile is often riddled with yellowness and even dark spots between teeth. The many carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) in cigarettes can cause major discoloration and lead to tooth decay. Smoking also inhibits the body’s natural restorative processes, making it more time-consuming to recover from surgeries and can create further complications, especially with procedures involving dental work. One study suggests that more than 1/3 of smokers have at least three dental issues. That’s 4x the rate of non-smokers.

The Link to Gum Disease

Studies have shown smokers are at significant risk for gum or periodontal disease. Bacterial plaque—a leading factor in gum disease—is built up more frequently in mouths of smokers. The lack of oxygen in the bloodstream makes it difficult to heal the infected areas.

When you have a cavity, you may wonder if you can save the tooth. There are ways to help prevent further damage, but the best way to ensure the cavity doesn’t continue its path of destruction is to book an appointment and get it filled by a dentist. In the meantime, here are three ways to help keep a cavity from getting worse.

Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

Millions of bacteria live in your mouth. When your tooth enamel decays, some of these bacteria can eat away at the tooth until a hole is formed (i.e. a cavity). Sugar fuels bacteria, thus giving them energy to keep going with their dirty work. If you have to indulge, be sure to rinse your mouth out with water immediately after.

Brush with Great Care

Brushing is essential for a healthy smile. To keep the cavity clean and prevent it from worsening, focus in on the cavity to be certain you remove every possible food particle. Keep your pressure light so as not to strip away at the hole.

Stay Hydrated

An overly dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Drink water throughout the day (even more water if you consume caffeinated drinks, which can further dehydrate you) to keep bacteria at bay. Your smile will thank you. (Your body will thank you, too.)

Time to Fill Your Cavity?

Does your cavity cause you pain? Are you worried it’s getting worse? Book an appointment with us online or give us a call at 757-497-4825. Dr. Fernandez will give you the filling you need to keep your cavity at bay in a relaxing, family-friendly environment.

With treatment times up to 2x faster, Invisalign® gets you into your new smile in no time. But what exactly is the best age for Invisalign®? The simple answer: There’s no set-in-stone age. Rather, there are certain conditions that must be met. And those are:

  1. All baby teeth must be gone
  2. First molars and permanent incisors must have come through
  3. There can be no significant tooth decay or damage
  4. The aligners must be worn 22 hours or more every day—the candidate must be mature enough to comply with this treatment

Patients as young as 11 or 12 have received Invisalign®. The majority of teen treatments are in the 12-16 age range.

If you’re an adult looking to get your old smile back, it’s never too late for Invisalign®. If you’re uncertain of whether you’d be a good candidate, just book an appointment and we’d be happy to review your individual needs.

Will Invisalign® Disrupt My Life?

You don’t have to worry about your life being interrupted—whether you’re having lunch with friends or playing your favorite sport, Invisalign® won’t slow you down. Just simply remove the aligners and you’re ready to go. Foods that prove challenging with braces are no worries with Invisalign®. Popcorn at the movies? Corn on the cob? Enjoy all of your favorite foods without the mess and worry.

Thanks to precise molding, Invisalign® is better fitting than other aligners on the market and works with greater predictability and control. This means a snug, comfortable fit that’s tailored to your teeth.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of Invisalign®, feel free to book an appointment or give us a call at 757-497-4825.

We all want healthier teeth. After all, our smile says a lot about who we are. Be the best version of yourself with these 5 tips for healthier teeth.

Brush Twice…Every Day

Brushing before bed helps clear out the food and drinks you’ve consumed throughout the day, while a good morning brush cleans out the night’s bacteria and freshens up that “morning breath.” Each has its own benefits, and combined they can help prevent cavities and give you your best smile.

Floss More

We admit, flossing can be hard. The trick is to incorporate it into your routine. Want to know how? Check out these three tricks to flossing every day.

Chew an Apple

Not only is fruit a great substitute for sugary drinks (which we talk about in-depth in this blog post) it also helps clean your teeth while providing Vitamin C to kill bacteria. An added bonus: it also helps fix bad breath.

Stop Smoking. Now.

The many carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) in cigarettes can cause major discoloration and lead to tooth decay. Smoking also inhibits the body’s natural restorative processes, making it more time-consuming to recover from surgeries and can create further complications, especially with procedures involving dental work. Learn more about the effects of smoking here.

See Your Dentist for Regular Check-Ups

To keep your smile at its best, be sure to visit a dentist twice a year. Get your appointment on the books today by scheduling online or giving us a call at 757-497-4825.

Though sugary drinks may be delicious, they come at a steep cost. Not only can they lead to obesity, long-term consumption can cause health issues and, of course, tooth decay. Here are a couple drinks to beware of that may have more sugar than you thought.

Whole Fruit is Better Than Fruit Juice

Fruit juices may sound like a great option, but they’re dense with sugar. Next time you reach for the fruit juice, be sure to check out the nutrition facts on the label. You’ll be shocked to discover the amount of sugar—sometimes they contain even more than popular sugary drinks, like Coke. Whole fruits, on the other hand, have less sugar and also other key nutrients such as fiber.