Why should I have my teeth cleaned every six months?
Professional cleanings conducted every six months are important for overall dental health—even for those who brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss regularly. The hygienist can remove built-up plaque and tartar in hard to reach spaces that even brushing and flossing can miss. That means regular cleanings help prevent cavities and the onset of gum disease. It also means that regular cleanings are even more important for people who may be have less-than-deal ideal oral hygiene practices.
If you experience tartar build-up at a faster rate than the average person, it’s possible that the frequency of your cleanings may need to be increased.
Don’t forget that if you have dental insurance, most plans cover two cleanings per year. Also, professionally cleaned teeth feel great, look better, and leave you with the satisfaction that you’ve done a good deed not only for your teeth but also for your overall health.
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 dental 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 50 years – take advantage of our experience! We’re here to help!
Why do I sometimes have bad breath?
To control bad breath, the simplest advice is to brush and floss regularly. Additionally, staying hydrated, and thereby preventing a dry mouth, will also help to reduce mouth odor.
Yes, more serious health problems can be linked to bad breath, but in the majority of cases, bad breath is due to the reasons described above. If you have questions or concerns about bad breath, be sure to bring them up with your dentist.
Should I use an electric toothbrush instead of a manual toothbrush?
What is plaque, and why is it harmful?
Without consistent brushing and flossing, plaque that remains on your teeth eventually will harden and become calculus, also known as tartar. This substance generally requires a dentist or dental hygienist for its removal. More importantly, as plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, your gums can become swollen and tender, which is an early symptom of gum disease. As gum disease progresses, it can break down and destroy the tissue and bone that support your teeth. Research has even indicated a link between gum disease and other serious health problems like stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, and complications in pregnancy.
You can combat plaque problems by brushing twice a day and flossing daily, minimizing sugary foods and beverages, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.
How do I find a dentist?
Finding a dentist may seem overwhelming, but it is worth your research. Online reviews are a great place to start. Google, Yelp, and Facebook are the most common review sites. Asking friends, family, and co-workers for their recommendations is also a great way to find your new dentist.
What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
When looking for a dentist, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Location and office hours to fit your lifestyle will make scheduling appointments easier for you. Check the dental office’s website to see if your dentist is someone you can relate to. A good dental office will have bio’s and information about your dentist in and out of the office. Also, check to make sure they have the most up-to-date technology along with your dentist’s level of experience. Lastly, check your dental insurance benefits to make sure the dentist is covered under your plan.
How do I brush my teeth?
Start by brushing your teeth at a 45 degree angle towards the gum lines and on all tooth surfaces with two finger pressure in a gentle circular motion for two minutes. Make sure to remove any plaque.
How often should I floss?
Once daily in the evening. More if you’d like!
What can I expect during a dental check-up?
At a dental check-up you can expect to update a health history in the beginning. Any recommended x-rays will be taken to evaluate your dental health. If you are scheduled for a teeth cleaning, a dental hygienist will clean your teeth, review hygiene habits, and review at home care. The dentist will come in for an exam and evaluate any treatment needed. You should leave your appointment understanding any treatment discussed and with an idea of your dental benefit
What causes teeth to decay?
Demineralization and bacteria are the main reasons for tooth decay. Other factors are home care diet (eating and drinking), ongoing health issues, and lack of home care.
For Moms and Dads
When will my baby’s first tooth appear?
Typically, girls begin teething earlier than boys, though for both the most common area for the first teeth to show is in the lower front gum.
Note that primary teeth, of which there are 20, may continue to emerge in your child’s gums until around the age of six years old. These teeth in a sense set the stage for your 32 permanent teeth, which generally appear by age 12 or 13 (with wisdom teeth coming a bit later).
What are sealants, and when are they used?
Although regular brushing and flossing is still the best way to keep your teeth healthy, the use of sealants can be an effective preventive measure. A sealant is a thin, protective coating adhered to your teeth, especially the chewing surface of your molars. The coating keeps food particles from reaching deep crevices that can be hard to clean.
Although adults can certainly benefit from sealants, children are especially good candidates. Their young teeth have yet to experience decay, which makes it a great time to apply a sealant. In addition, children’s teeth have not fully calcified. That means those nooks and crannies are actually deeper in their teeth than in adults—and therefore can be even more difficult to thoroughly clean.
The American Dental Association reports that sealants can reduce the risk of decay in molars by nearly 80%, and the Centers for Disease Control has found that children without sealants had three times as many cavities compared to those with sealants.
For any questions or concerns about the use of sealants, be sure to talk to your dentist.
If baby teeth get cavities, why do they need fillings since they’re going to fall out anyway?
Untreated cavities mean higher levels of harmful bacteria. If permanent teeth begin to erupt in a high-bacteria environment, cavities and other problems are more likely for them as well. Also, decayed baby teeth or baby teeth that are removed too soon can lead to problems with permanent teeth, such as crowding. This can increase the need for braces or other orthodontal work later on.
Now that I’m pregnant, my gums are more sensitive and bleed more easily. Why? What happens if I have a dental problem when I am pregnant?
It is very important during this time to stay current with your regular dental cleanings and exams to ensure that dental infections don’t get missed and lead to greater problems down the road. Although dentists will typically postpone major treatment until after the baby is born, emergencies do come up and need to be addressed. Because many of your baby’s organs are being formed in the first trimester, this work is ideally taken care of during the second trimester to minimize any potential risk.
Fillings, X-Rays, and Other Procedures
How much radiation do I get from a dental x-ray and how does it compare to other medical procedures?
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.
BBC NEWS Magazine 13 October 2011 “Go Figure: What Bananas Tell Us About Radiation” By Michael Blastland.
Every Day Health: “The Truth About Everyday Radiation.” By Sharon Tanenbaum, Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD. 3/18/2011.
What is in amalgam (silver) fillings, and are they safe?
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.
When is a root canal necessary?
The typical tooth has around one to three roots. Each of these roots has one or two canals that essentially go from the top of your tooth to the bottom. Within these canals is a soft, living tissue called pulp, which consists of nerves and blood vessels. When a root canal is done, the pulp is removed, your tooth’s canals are disinfected, and a special dental filler is used to seal them off. Your tooth will receive a temporary filling after the root canal procedure. The final step in the process will be to place a permanent covering, such as a crown, over the treated tooth.
Root canals today are generally painless procedures thanks to the effectiveness of local anesthetic and advances in dental technology.
Does having a cavity always mean that my tooth will hurt?
What can I do to fix or replace a missing tooth?
Your options for replacing a missing tooth will depend on where the tooth gap is located. The most common recommendations for replacing a missing tooth include a bridge, a partial denture, or a dental implant. Each of these options has specific pros and cons, which can be discussed with your dentist.
What if I have a dental emergency but can’t reach my dentist?
If you have a toothache…
- Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gently rinse your mouth with it.
- Brush the affected area gently and carefully floss the area in case there’s trapped food causing pain.
- If it’s okay for you to take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, then do so. It may relieve your pain temporarily.
- A topical pain relief gel like Orajel or Anbesol contains the local anesthetic benzocaine. It may provide minimal temporary pain relief.
Please note that even if your toothache pain subsides, you still need to see your dentist to identify the reason for the pain. More important, the pain may likely return and even worsen over time—which is all the more reason to see a dentist as soon as possible.
If you have a permanent or temporary crown that breaks off…
You want to keep the tooth area as clean as possible. Rinse the area with salt water frequently (one teaspoon of table salt to one cup of warm water). If not too sensitive, the area can be gently brushed as well.
It’s possible that the original crown may be re-cemented. However, if too much time goes by, that may not be possible and a new crown will need to be made.
If you have a broken filling or tooth…
Check your local drug store for a temporary filling product. Until you see your dentist, this can be placed over the affected area temporarily. As a last resort, you can use sugar-free gum to cover the area. NOTE: See also “What if I break my tooth in an accident?” located above.
What if I break my tooth in an accident?
Notify your dentist of the emergency and get yourself and your tooth to the dental office as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the accident, it’s possible that the tooth can be re-implanted.
You should consider this an actual dental emergency. If the incident occurs outside of regular business hours, you should still call your dental office. If for some reason you can’t reach your dentist, go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room for assistance.
I’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes. Are there any dental problems that are associated with this disease?
Good oral hygiene, proper brushing, regular flossing, and healthy glucose levels will go a long way in preventing diabetic-related dental problems.
What can I do if I have a dry mouth?
The best way to combat this problem is to use sugar free candy or gum and to drink plenty of water. Do not use sugared candy or soda, as they can lead to rapid dental decay in patients with dry mouths. Several over the counter products are also available that can help with some dry mouth symptoms. If you’re concerned that you may have xerostomia, contact your dentist or physician to determine its cause and see what might work best in your situation.
Why don’t my dentures fit like they used to?
If you’re a denture-wearer, you should understand that the removal of your permanent teeth has initiated a change in the bone that once held those teeth. Think about it like this: The bone of your mouth doesn’t just support your teeth; your teeth also support the bone. So, what does this mean for you, the denture-wearer?
First, it means that the bone will begin to gradually change. More specifically, it will begin to shrink. Over time, that means the dentures you once had fitted for your mouth, say, five years ago, no longer fit well.
Note that trying to compensate for looser dentures by using excess denture adhesive is not a good remedy. In fact, doing this can actually lead to more rapid bone loss—and a worsening denture fit.
See your dentist if you’re having problems with the fit of your dentures. Remedies can include either relining the surface of your dentures or refitting you and creating new dentures.
I am interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
There are a few options. Smoothing the tooth, fillings, veneers, crowns, or orthodontics are options to consider. A consultation with your dentist for cosmetic dentistry is the best place to start to discuss the correct treatment plan for you.
What are my options for whitening my teeth?
At our office in Madison and Verona, we have two options. Either way, you will start with impressions taken for your upper and lower arches so we can make custom whitening trays for you. If you decide to whiten at home, you will be given whitening gel to place in your trays to wear for about 1-2 hours a day until desired whitening shade is achieved. If you decide to whiten in our office, you will have whitening gel light cured for about 1 1/2 hours on your teeth and leave the same day with results. You will be sent home with your custom trays and touch up gel. Teeth whitening is not for everyone, so make sure you talk to your dentist about your options.