- What is plaque and why is it bad?
Plaque is a clear sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. As plaque collects it forms a hard layer of tartar (or calculus) particularly in hard to reach areas between teeth and near the gumline.
Bacteria found in plaque create toxic chemicals that irritate the gums. Eventually these bacteria cause the underlying bone around the teeth to be destroyed, a condition known as gum disease. Recent research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and some pregnancy complications.
Removal of plaque with brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis and removal of tartar by your dentist and dental hygienist is the first step in defeating gum disease. By the time gum disease begins to hurt, it may be too late. Seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent this and many other problems.
- Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?
If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time, and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. But many people don’t brush for the recommended two to three minutes. Children are also good candidates for powered brushes as their brushing habits tend to be less than optimal.
While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.
- What causes bad breath?
While bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases, the majority of bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence bad odor.
There are two main goals in the management of bad breath. First, controlling the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds and second, to neutralize the sulfur compounds that are produced.
- It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the dentist. What do I need to do?
You’re not alone! Whether it’s been 6 months or 6 years, it’s never too late to get back into the routine.
At our office, we can arrange for you to have a thorough and educational exam appointment. We have been taking care of people just like you for over 10 years – take advantage of our experience! We’re here to help!
- Why should I have my teeth cleaned twice a year?
In a perfect world everyone would brush and floss twice a day. Plaque builds up over time and this sticky bacterial film can solidify and turn into calculus or tartar. This cement-like substance is removed by the hygienist at your regular cleaning visits. A six-month interval not only serves to keep your mouth healthy and clean, it allows potential problems to be found and diagnosed earlier.
In some instances a six-month schedule in not enough. Based on your dental history, rate of calculus buildup, and pattern of decay a 3 or 4 month interval may be needed. Your dentist can work with you to determine what will be best for you.
- When will my child get his first tooth?
The period when early hard teeth are growing is a major event in the life of an infant, and it can be difficult. The eruption of teeth causes inflammation, which leads to congestion, drooling, and discomfort.
While the average time for the appearance of the first teeth is between five and seven months of age, there is a wide range before and after this that can still be considered “normal.” The teeth might come in as early as one month of age, or they may erupt when the child is one-and-a-half years old. Generally the lower front teeth come in first, and girls’ teeth typically erupt earlier than boys.
- My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling. But why doesn’t my tooth hurt?
Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages, so don’t wait for things to hurt! It is best to get a thorough dental exam, and diagnose and treat problems early. Waiting often makes problems more difficult and more expensive to fix.
- What is a root canal?
Root canal therapy is intended to be a tooth saving procedure that removes the pulp, or living tissue from inside a tooth. Each tooth typically has from 1 to 3 roots and each root has 1 or 2 tunnels or canals that stretch the length of the root. In a healthy tooth, these canals are filled with tissue (consisting of the nerves and blood vessels) that keeps the tooth alive and provide sensations like hot and cold. Sometimes the tissue can become damaged or diseased due to decay, fracture or trauma. This in turn can cause a toothache or there may be no pain at all.
During root canal treatment a hole is created in the top of the tooth to locate the canals. The dentist cleans and disinfects these canals and seals them with a special filler material. Root canal therapy is highly successful and with todays technology can be painless.
- What is in amalgam (silver) fillings, and are they safe?
Dental amalgam is a filling material used by dentists to restore the proper size and shape of decayed or damaged teeth. It is an alloy, meaning a blend of different metals, that includes silver, tin, copper, and liquid mercury. It is the most commonly used filling material in the world and has been used extensively since the early 1800’s.
Amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested of all filling materials. Despite controversy over the mercury content, no health disorder or illness has ever been found to be linked to it. The FDA, CDC, and World Health Organization all view dental amalgam as a safe dental material.
If you are unsure whether amalgam is right for you, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each filling material with your dentist.
- How much radiation do I get from a dental x-ray and how does it compare to other medical procedures?
The radiation you would receive from a traditional film dental x-ray is very low. Today, with non-film digital x-rays available, the radiation is reduced by an additional 90%.
Comparatively, a traditional chest CT-scan exposes a patient to 2,800 times the radiation as a digital dental x-ray, and a mammogram gives off around 60 times as much radiation. Surprisingly, you can get the same amount of radiation as one of our dental x-rays from eating about 50 bananas.
- What if a tooth gets knocked out in an accident?
Time is your enemy when an accident or any trauma dislodges a tooth. First locate the tooth, or teeth, and determine if the tooth broke or if the entire tooth and root came out in one piece. Gather together the pieces you’ve found, and with warm water gently rinse off obvious dirt or debris. Avoid touching the root as much as possible. Place and transport the tooth in milk or in some of the person’s own saliva.
Rush the injured person and tooth to the dental office. Ideally the tooth will be re-implanted. The tooth may also be splinted with a wire to the adjacent teeth for a period of time.
This is a true dental emergency. If it is after regular business hours you should still call your dentist. The more time that goes by the less likely that the re-implantation will be successful. If you cannot contact a dentist your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room may be able to help.
- What should I do if I have a dental emergency and can’t get a hold of a dentist?
Always try to reach your own dentist. If you’re unable to get ahold of him or her, check the internet or yellow pages for a dentist or urgent care nearby. If you can’t reach any dentist, here are some helpful tips:
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Gently brush and floss the area to remove any trapped food or debris. If you can take over the counter pain medications (such as Ibuprofen) they may help in soothing the pain. Topical gels (such as Orajel) can sometimes help, but usually only a little bit and for a minimal amount of time. Make arrangements to see your dentist even if the pain goes. Without proper care your condition could return or even worsen.
*to make salt water rinse: mix 1 teaspoon table salt with 1 cup warm water*
When a permanent (or temporary) crown comes off:
Keep the area clean by rinsing with warm salt water rinses and by gently brushing the area if it is not too sensitive. Avoid leaving the crown out for more than a few days as teeth can shift, making it difficult or impossible to re-cement it at a later date. If the tooth is painful, denture cream or toothpaste can be placed inside the crown and it can be gently fit back into place.
Broken Filling or Broken Tooth:
Most pharmacies carry temporary filling materials that can be placed over the sensitive area until you see your dentist. Sugar-free chewing gum can also be used to cover the area as a last resort.
- What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
When a tooth is lost, a whole series of events can begin to occur. Chewing on the affected side becomes more difficult and over time the remaining teeth can actually tilt and erupt into the open space.
Depending on the location of the missing tooth, we would most likely recommend either a dental implant, a bridge, or a partial denture.
All of these options have their benefits and drawbacks. If you would like more information your dentist can usually schedule a consultation to go over the specifics of your case.