How often should I visit the dentist?

For most people, twice a year is usually sufficient; however, only you, your dentist and your hygienist can determine how often is actually necessary. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums.   Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. Regular checkups are a MUST in order to maintain a healthy, happy smile!

What are the signs of gum disease?

• red, swollen or tender gums
• gums that bleed when you brush
• gums that have pulled away from the teeth
• bad breath that does not go away
• pus between your teeth and gums
• loose teeth
• a change in your bite (the way you teeth come together)
• a change in the fit of partial dentures

Can I prevent gum disease?

You can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease by:

Brushing your teeth really well twice a day (with a toothbrush in good condition).

Cleaning between your teeth with floss or an interdental cleaner.

Eating a balanced diet that limits between meal snacks and visiting your dentist regularly.

Why are x-rays important?

X-rays are extremely useful and important as a diagnostic tool and may reveal the following information:

• position of your teeth
• impacted teeth
• presence and extent of dental decay
• any bone damage
• an abscessed tooth
• jaw fracture
• any malocclusion of teeth
• other abnormalities of the jaw bone or teeth

What is a white filling?

Composite resins have mainly been used on the front teeth, where a silver filling would be noticeable; however, the dental industry has been steadily moving towards using the composite more often. Thanks to advances in modern dental materials and techniques, teeth can now be restored with more aesthetic and natural appearing filling materials. Increasingly, these fillings are now also being used on the back teeth.

These tooth colored fillings are made up of a composite quartz resin and contain a light sensitive agent. The materials come in a variety of shades so that they will match the color of your own teeth. Composite materials are now available that have been specifically designed to withstand the incredible forces you can exert when chewing on your back teeth.

After placement, composites are hardened by shining an intense light on them for a specified period of time, usually around ten seconds. The light instantly hardens these fillings. You can eat right away because the composite is instantly hardened and requires no setting time.

What is nitrous oxide sedation?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) or laughing gas, is colorless, sweet-smelling, and nonirritating and when administered will create a state of mild sedation. This technique is advantageous for those patients that experience mild anxiety and fear when visiting the dentist.  This technique's use is dependent upon the level of anxiety of the patient.

How can I get a whiter smile?

There are a variety of products and procedures available to help you whiten your smile. Start by speaking with your dentist to determine whether whitening procedures would be effective for you.

I have a knocked-out tooth. What do I do?

If the tooth is dirty, hold the tooth by the crown (not the root) and carefully rinse off. Do not scrub or remove any attached tissue fragments. Try to gently re-insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If you are unable to do this, place the tooth in a cup of milk and get to your dentist as quickly as possible. Don't forget to take the tooth with you!

What are dental sealants?

A dental sealant is a plastic, professionally-applied material that is put on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (premolars and molars) to prevent cavities. Sealants provide a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.

Are dental sealants just for children?

The potential to develop decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are the obvious candidates. Some adults at high risk of decay can benefit from sealants as well. Your dentist can tell you if you would benefit from dental sealants.

How does food cause tooth decay?

When you eat, food passes through your mouth where it encounters germs or bacteria that live in your mouth. This union of food, germs and bacteria create a sticky film of bacteria called plaque.

Bacteria loves sugars found in many foods, and will use the sugar to produce acids that are able to destroy the hard surface (enamel) of the tooth. If this sticky substance is not removed from your teeth, tooth decay will eventually occur.

What causes bad breath?

If you do not brush and floss daily, particles of food will remain in your mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, around the gums or on your tongue can rot, leaving an extremely unpleasant odor. Dentures, not cleaned properly, can also contain odor-causing bacteria and food particles.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that can be used to strengthen your child's teeth and prevent tooth decay. There are two primary ways that fluoride can be beneficial to your oral health.

Systemic: This type of fluoride is ingested through drinking fluoridated water or fluoride supplements prescribed by your pediatric dentist or physician. In the correct amounts, fluoride will make developing teeth stronger by incorporating itself into the tooth enamel. Too much systemic fluoride may cause fluorosis, a condition which causes white or yellow/brown spots on the teeth.

Topical: This type of fluoride is applied to the erupted teeth. It can be found in most toothpastes, many rinses or prescribed gels. Topical fluoride strengthens erupted teeth.

Additional oral health information

Please go to the American Dental Association site for further information on oral health topics - click below: