General Denistry FAQs
How do I use dental floss?
Floss is cheap, so don't be stingy! Tear off about a forearm's length to start. Wrap one end around the middle finger of one hand to "anchor" it and pick up the other end about 4-6 inches away with the middle finger of the other hand. This allows you to manipulate the floss with your thumb and fore finger. As you soil a section of floss, "reel" in another 4-6 inches of clean floss with the anchor finger as you release the floss with the other finger.
Once you get the floss past the tooth contact, move the floss up and down, perpendicular to the tooth. Never shoe-shine the teeth in a back-and-forth motion! You will either notch your teeth or cut your gums, or both!
How often should I get dental checkups?
For most people, a checkup and cleaning every 6 months is standard protocol. Depending on a person's dental health, however, a dental cleaning every 3 to 4 months may be recommended.
How often should I get x-rays?
For most people, a complete radiographic survey should be done every 3 years, and a "check up" or "recall" set every 6 to 12 months. A complete set of x-rays is estimated to expose you to the same amount of radiation you get on a flight from San Francisco to Seattle.
Doctors use x-rays as an aid in diagnosing problems. Without x-rays, "seeing" the problem will be difficult if not impossible.
Pediatric Dental X-Rays
In general, children need x-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends x-ray examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require x-rays less frequently.
X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.
X-ray films detect:
- Erupting teeth
- Diagnose bone diseases
- Evaluate the results of an injury
- Plan orthodontic treatment
Particular care is applied to minimize the exposure of young patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, dental x-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
What are cavities?
Cavities generally develop in the "hard-to-see" places in your mouth. These are normally the places where you need to floss. When bacteria combine with food particles, they form plaque that adheres to your teeth.
As long as plaque remains on the tooth, acid produced by bacteria will eat away the tooth structure. Once through the enamel, the acid attacks the dentin, which is that part of the tooth containing sensitive nerve fibers.
If the tooth decay reaches the dentin, a filling is needed to halt the degenerative process. Otherwise, it continues at an accelerated rate becoming larger and larger.
If not detected and repaired with a filling, the decay can reach the tooth nerve and cause the need for a root canal. With the decay removed and a filling in place the tooth is restored to its original contour.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay happens when plaque or bacteria come in contact with the tooth and is allowed to sit. The bacteria, once fed with sugars, will begin eroding the enamel.
Causes of tooth decay include:
- Poor oral hygiene (brushing / flossing)
- Poor diet
Adults tend to get cavities around old fillings, which may be cracked, rough around the edges or loose in the tooth. Another common form of tooth decay in adults is root cavities. These are likely to occur in adults who have receding gums due to age or periodontal disease. As the gum line recedes, the tooth root becomes exposed. Since root tissue is softer than enamel, it decays more easily.
What is the best kind of toothbrush?
Generally speaking, a soft bristled toothbrush is best. Whether you use a manual toothbrush or an electric, anything harder than soft, is too hard. Stiff bristles may give you that clean feeling, but they can also abrade your teeth and cause gum recession.
Toothpaste for my child
There is no such thing as the best toothpaste. We recommend ONLY products that have been ADA (American Dental Association) accepted or approved.
The selection is usually made on a case-by-case basis, however the main consideration when selecting toothpaste is your child's age.
This is due to the risk of fluorosis in younger children that swallow toothpaste during regular brushing. A child may face the condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.
Canker sores are common in adults and children and generally tend to cause discomfort, particularly during eating. Although several factors have been named as possible "causes" of aphthous ulcers, trauma is the most common trigger for them. It has also been observed that they appear in patients who are under stress, or those experiencing health problems. They have also been attributed to hormonal changes, and to some types of dietary deficiencies (i.e., Vitamin B12, Iron, Folic Acid, etc.). Although there is no specific treatment for the ulcer itself, except for severe cases (where usually steroids are prescribed); treatment is usually focused on the pain caused by the ulceration.
What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to objectionable breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. The odors will continue until the body eliminates the food. People who diet may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating. If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. Tobacco products cause bad breath, so if you use tobacco, ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit. Bad breath may also be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.
The involuntary grinding of your teeth while you sleep. Dental professionals call it BRUXISM (from the Greek word brukhein ‘gnash the teeth’). Bruxism can be intensified by medications or unusually high levels of stress and worry. Continual teeth grinding and jaw clenching will wear down teeth and eventually cause other serious health issues like gum recession, severe headaches, tooth loss or fractures. If bruxism is not managed, costly dental work will inevitably be necessary - restorative treatments like surgery, root canals, crowns or dental implants.
There is no cure for bruxism; nevertheless, the condition can be moderated. The most common procedure to help to alleviate pain and discomfort is a Nightguard.
Recurrent Herpes labialis (the common dental term) is a very common viral infection in children and adults. It is caused in most cases by a sub-type of the Herpes Virus, and in most patients it is preceded by an illness (a cold), exposure to sun or exposure to cold. Most patients experience what is known as "prodromic" symptoms such as itching or burning sensation in the area where the blisters soon appear. This information may allow your dentist to recommend therapies that may minimize or eliminate the appearance of the blisters. This infection is usually self limiting and can last up to 14 days before the scabs fall off.
Oral piercings can be bad for your health. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Pain and swelling are other side effects of piercing. Your tongue (a popular piercing site in the mouth) could swell large enough to close off your airway. Piercings can also cause uncontrollable bleeding or nerve damage. The jewelry itself also presents some hazards. You can choke on any studs, barbells or hoops that come loose in your mouth, and contact with the jewelry can chip or crack your teeth.
There are many types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location and severity of the crack.
Unlike a broken bone, a fracture in a cracked tooth will never heal. Early diagnosis is important, even with high magnification and special lighting, it is sometimes difficult to determine the extent of a crack.
A crown will bind and protect the cracked tooth. When a crack reaches the tooth root, root canal treatment is frequently needed to treat the injured pulp. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth.
Vaping has been known to cause serious complications linking to oral health, comparable to smoking cigarettes. Similarly to smoking, vaping can cause gum disease, tooth decay and other more serious conditions beyond just the mouth. There have also been situations in which the vape pen itself has exploded causing serious harm to teeth, gums and the lips.
The nicotine found in the vapor can cause restrictions that reduce blood flow, oxygenation, and saliva production. All of these things are needed to help produce and distribute proper nutrients within the body. In turn, these restrictions can lead to periodontal disease, dry mouth, cavities and even tooth loss.
Aside from oral health, when you vape, the vapors that are inhaled contain nicotine, which is highly addictive (as we know with cigarettes), heavy metal particles, and other cancer-causing chemicals. None of the items that were previously listed mix well when inhaled into your lungs. Therefore, damage can occur as well as lung infections, cancer and even an increased risk of heart disease.