The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, although we may recommend visits more often for patients who build up deposits (tartar) at a faster rate, or have other special conditions to be monitored.
Aside from keeping your teeth sparkling, it is important to catch early warning signs before a problem area can get worse. A cavity can easily be taken care of, but gone unnoticed it can turn into something else quickly.
Keeping a close watch on your teeth and gums through regular cleanings can help avoid periodontal disease. Unhealthy gums are a major warning of problems ahead and the possibility of future tooth loss. This can also be an indication of systemic health problems. In pregnancy, the presence of periodontal/gum disease can affect the baby, possibly causing low birth weight and preterm labor. That’s why regular check-ups are so important for yourself and your family.
The American Dental Association advocates brushing twice each day. Although there is research indicating that brushing once a day is sufficient to disrupt the formation of plaque that feeds the bacteria that cause decay, this may not be enough for some people, depending on factors such as their diets and the efficacy of their brushing technique. ADHA recommends that you discuss this with your dental hygienist, who understands your individual oral health needs and will be able to make a recommendation appropriate for you.
The most important thing is selecting the right type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation, teeth attrition, and abrasion, and contribute to recession of the gums. A toothbrush with a smaller head is simply easier, and allows you to maneuver around each tooth. It is also less likely to injure your gums. It isn’t necessary to scrub hard, but it is recommended that you brush at least twice a day using the proper technique.
Always brush away from the gums, downward direction on upper teeth and upward direction on lower teeth. Electric toothbrushes are also available and can be used to maintain good oral health. What makes a difference is the technique used in brushing.
Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride because it has been proven to help decrease the incidence of dental decay. Sometimes we give prescription fluoride toothpaste, especially in cases where there is high evidence of cavities or when a patient has sensitive teeth.
Flossing your teeth at least twice a day helps to prevent cavities by removing stray food and built up plaque from forming between the teeth. It can really help in places where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also promotes healthy gums. Electronic flossing devices are also available.
This depends on your oral health status and any additional sources of fluoride that you may be receiving. Talk to your oral health care professionals about this topic for individualized information.
Most people have teeth that are naturally darker than "pure" white. If you want them whiter, the best thing you can do is talk to your professional oral health care provider about your options. Different people respond differently to different procedures used to whiten teeth, and it will take an in-person consultation with a professional to determine what is best for you. Sometimes all it takes is professional prophylaxis to remove stain and then abstinence from behaviors that stain teeth, such as drinking coffee or tea, or smoking tobacco. Some people respond well to the use of whitening toothpastes while some do not. Other options available include bleaching, at home or in the office, with chemicals or with lasers, as prescribed by a dentist. Sometimes a combination of options is used.
All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office through chair side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings.
We recommend tooth-colored or white fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. White fillings tend to be less sensitive to temperature, plus we think they look better. Fillings cannot be used in every situation, and we will advise you if a tooth is better off with a crown instead. Tooth-colored fillings are also more conservative in terms of the need for tooth reduction.
Grinding is a common occurrence among many people at some time or another. If you develop facial pain, headaches or other TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) problems including worsening headaches, earaches, neck pain, jaw pain, and mysterious tooth pain, please contact our office.
If you are a more frequent grinder, we will probably be able to tell from the wear on your teeth. Grinding your teeth, a condition called bruxism, can cause your teeth to become painful or loosen as well. A single treatment or combination of treatments may be appropriate. When stress is the major cause of bruxism, it is important to determine what might be the cause of your stress and find ways to relax. In some cases, an abnormal bite may be the reason for teeth grinding. Minor adjustments to alter your bite, thus removing the "high spots" of a tooth can make a big difference.
Another treatment involves wearing a plastic mouth guard at night to prevent bruxism (teeth grinding). A custom night guard is made from a mold of your teeth. It is a removable plastic device which prevents teeth from coming together while you sleep at night. In some cases, such as with an overbite, it may eventually improve the bite and can be very effective in alleviating a night grinding problem.
The most common causes of tooth loss are dental caries, also known as tooth decay, and periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone structure that support the teeth. Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults; however, it too can afflict youngsters.
That depends on what is causing it. Often, bad breath results from less-than-optimal oral health, and sometimes people are not aware that they are not performing oral hygiene as effectively as they could be. A dental hygienist or dentist will be able to evaluate your oral health procedures and make recommendations for improvement; also, these professionals will be able to recognize any associated problems that might be contributing to an unpleasant mouth odor. In addition to evaluating and suggesting alterations to your brushing, flossing, and tongue-cleaning regimen, your dental hygienist may recommend products such as a mouth rinse that contains zinc. If it turns out that the problem isn't in the mouth, a physician appointment is advisable. Sinus problems, stomach problems, certain foods and medications, and other factors can contribute to bad breath.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a child have his or her first oral health care appointment around age one. ADHA suggests an oral health visit as soon as a baby's first tooth erupts.
Actually, cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. Life-long exposure to fluoride through community water supplies and toothpaste may not have been a possibility for some of our oldest seniors -- it simply wasn't available when these seniors were growing up. Also, adults are more likely to have decay around older fillings.
In addition, cavities in the tooth root are more common, as gum tissue begins to recede in older adults exposing the tooth root surface to decay. Also, dry mouth, resulting from the natural aging process itself, certain medications and diseases, can lead to more tooth decay. Without an adequate amount of saliva, food particles can't be washed away and the acids produced by plaque can't be neutralized.
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.