Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
You should brush your teeth at least 2X a day and floss at least once a day (preferably before bedtime). The frequency should be tailored by your dentist or hygienist depending on your proficiency in performing home care.
How often should I get my teeth cleaned?
Again, this should be tailored to the individual. Prevention patients should get their teeth cleaned twice a year and arrested periodontitis patients should get their teeth cleaned three or four times a year.
How is my mouth connected to my overall health?
Simply, the mouth is connected to the head, which is connected to the body. Many diseases present themselves first in the mouth and are diagnosed during a dental visit. It is known that gum inflammation increases a patients chance of having coronary heart disease. This starts early in life, so it is important to keep one's gums healthy. Thus, there is close connection between your mouth and your health. A healthy mouth can help keep a healthy body. There is also a well-documented relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. Poor control of either disease can result in worsening of the other.
If I have no problems with my teeth why do I still need to get them cleaned?
The average homecare does not adequately reach deep enough beneath your gums. Periodontal Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis) are usually silent diseases and can cause irreversible damage before you become symptomatic. Also, inflammation in the gums has a direct correlation with Coronary Artery Disease, as denoted by the American Medical Association; and it is for this reason that the ADA recognizes this development and recommends periodic cleanings and examinations on a minimum of six month basis. It is better to diagnose gum disease and/or caries development (cavities) in their earlier stages, when they are asymptomatic, and before they become major problems. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
I grind my teeth at night. Can this harm my teeth? Is there any way to stop the grinding?
Grinding at night is caused by stress. Grinding can wear down the teeth and cause TMJ pain and headaches. You can stop the grinding by eliminating stress, but more realistically, a person grinding in their sleep should have a night guard fabricated.
Is it true that eating lemons can be bad for my teeth?
Yes, it is true. Lemons contain extremely strong citric acid and will erode the enamel away. This happens specifically on the upper front teeth from sucking on lemons.
Will chewing ice harm my teeth?
Chewing ice is not good for your teeth. Ice is very hard and could fracture you teeth, as well as, cause micro fractures to form. Micro fractures can lead to crowns and/or root canals.
How well do whitening toothpastes work?
Whitening toothpastes are not on your teeth long enough to bleach them internally; however, some are formulated to remove surface stains (extrinsic stains) to make your teeth appear somewhat lighter. Be aware that if the toothpaste is overly abrasive, it can wear away the enamel on your teeth and cause permanent damage. It is always advisable to look for the ADA seal of approval, or ask your dental provider before using any over-the-counter products.
Is it true that an electric toothbrush is better than a manual one?
Not all electric toothbrushes are better than manual toothbrushes. If the electric brush is ADA approved or accepted, then it is better than a manual brush. Electric brushes help everyone, but it especially helps people that have dexterity problems, such as the handicapped and elderly.
What types of electric toothbrushes are the most recommended?
There are two types of electric brushes. There are ultrasonic and mechanical. Both do a good job. Make sure that the brushes have changeable heads and that the heads are changed often enough. You should change the head about once every three months.
At what age should a child be taken to the dentist for his or her first examination?
If there are no obvious problems seen by the parents, then a child should have his/her first dental visit between 2.5 and 3 years.
What is the importance of fluoride?
If there is no fluoride in the water then children should start fluoride vitamins at 6 months old. The fluoride is incorporated into both the developing baby and permanent teeth. This makes the enamel more acid resistant, and therefore prevents cavities. Children should also have topical fluoride when they have a regular dental cleanings and check ups. Children should start topical fluoride as soon as they can spit out without swallowing the fluoride.
What should I look for when buying a toothbrush?
You should always look for the ADA seal of approval, and use only soft bristle toothbrushes. Usually brushes with heads that are too large do not reach the posterior teeth as easily and effectively as smaller-headed toothbrushes. You should consult your dental professional for instructions on the proper use of both mechanical and electric toothbrushes.
I have a softer-bristled brush. If I just brush harder with it, will I get the same effects?
A softer-bristled brush is just as effective as and less damaging than a harder-bristled brush. Using your brush with the proper technique is of utmost importance. Remember you want to remove plaque and stimulate the gums without harming any structures in the mouth. When you brush too hard, you are using the sides of the bristles and not the tips. The tips are what remove the plaque, whereas the sides of the bristles do not clean in an effective manner.