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Frequently Asked Questions

How many times a day should I brush and floss my teeth?
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. You should floss at least once a day.

What is the correct way to floss my teeth?
Using 12-18 inches of dental floss, hold a one-inch length between thumbs and forefingers of both hands. Gently slide the floss between your teeth, being careful not to "snap" the floss down between the teeth: snapping can cause gum damage. Once the floss is between your teeth, gently scrape it up and down against the side of each tooth to clean off plaque and debris. Repeat the process for all your teeth. Don't forget to floss the back sides of your back teeth. If you have trouble flossing, your dentist can recommend other methods of cleaning your teeth.

What is the correct way to clean my children's teeth?
First, use only a pea-sized amount of an American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpaste. Second, gently pull back the child's lip or cheek to expose the teeth. Third, angle bristles toward the gums and brush with a gentle circular motion. Brush all tooth areas, slightly overlapping each area with the others. After brushing, have the child spit out the toothpaste and rinse thoroughly.

Why do my gums bleed when I brush and floss?
Almost everyone occasionally experiences slight gum bleeding, but it is not normal and might indicate that you have gingivitis (inflamed, irritated gums) or periodontal disease (deterioration of the supporting gum and bone structure around your teeth). Warning signs of periodontal disease include red, swollen, or tender gums that bleed when you brush or floss; persistent bad breath; loose or separating teeth; a change in your bite; gums pulling away from teeth; or a change in the fit of a partial denture. If you have any of these symptoms, you should call our office for a consultation.

Why do I need dental X-rays?
In their early stages, dental cavities present few physical symptoms, and some dental problems can remain hidden until they become serious and well-advanced. Dental X-rays can help your dentist find and treat dental problems early, saving you time, money, discomfort, and your teeth. If you have a serious hidden problem, such as a tumor, early diagnostic X-rays can even save your life.

How much radiation do I get when I have dental X-rays?
A full-mouth series of dental X-rays gives you about the same radiation dose as you get from naturally-occurring sources in 19 days of your everyday activities. Thus, the amount of radiation exposure you get from dental X-rays is so small that it poses no discernible risk to your health.

What causes cavities in teeth?
Bacteria are in your mouth all the time: that's normal and healthy, because they help to digest your food. But when bacteria adhere to your teeth -- and you don't clean them off by regular brushing and flossing -- they produce acid that starts to digest spots in the enamel surfaces of your teeth. These digested spots are cavities.

Why is fluoride important?
Fluoride helps prevent cavities. Without fluoride treatment, a tooth's surface consists of tightly-packed hollow enamel rods that are susceptible to decay. Fluoride treatment fills in the hollow rods and strengthens the enamel, making teeth more resistant to decay. It can even repair small, early cavities that haven't penetrated all the way through the enamel surfaces of your teeth.

Why bother treating cavities in baby teeth, since those teeth will fall out anyway?
Cavities are bacterial infections that should be treated. Some primary teeth ("baby teeth") don't fall out until about age 11, so it's still important to repair cavities in them.

Why are my teeth sensitive (to heat, cold, or pressure)?
Sensitive teeth are a common problem and might not be a symptom of anything more serious. Before treating you for sensitive teeth,  your dentist will first make sure that there are no underlying dental problems causing your discomfort, such as a cavity, tooth grinding, or a dying or fractured tooth. If you have no serious problems, you can try a desensitizing toothpaste, or your dentist can apply in-office treatments such as fluoride or dental sealing.

Is there a gentle way to whiten my teeth?
Thanks to the development of gentle peroxides for dental bleaching. Your dentist can brighten your teeth, giving you a dazzling smile. Bleaching whitens all natural teeth and not just those that are stained or discolored. In many cases, even years of darkening can be removed in as little as a few weeks. It is also a good idea to whiten your teeth before getting crowns or veneers. That way, your restoration can be made whiter and your entire smile will be enhanced. Whitening can be redone in the future to maintain your bright smile.

What is a crown?
A crown is a restoration that covers or caps a tooth to restore its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen a tooth or improve its appearance. Your dentist may recommend that you get a crown to support a large filling when there's not much tooth structure remaining; to attach a bridge; to protect a weak tooth from fracturing; to restore a fractured tooth; to cover badly shaped or discolored teeth; or to cover a dental implant.

What is a bridge?
A bridge is a replacement tooth that is supported and attached by crowns on both sides of the empty space. When teeth are missing, the remaining teeth often drift out of position, putting stress on adjacent tissues and teeth. Chewing and speaking can become difficult. A bridge helps keep all your teeth and dental tissues healthy and in their proper positions.

What is a veneer?
Porcelain laminate veneers are a way to improve the appearance of your teeth and your smile. They usually require very little tooth reduction, because they are thin facings bonded only to the front of your teeth. In many cases, slightly-crooked teeth can even be cosmetically straightened with veneers, saving the time and expense of orthodontic treatment. Next to tooth whitening, there is no easier or more effective way than veneers to create a more appealing smile.

What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a device that substitutes for the root portion of lost natural teeth. Dental implants are generally placed in the jawbone to provide a stable foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel, and work just like your natural teeth.

Why (and when) should I wear an athletic mouthguard?
Each year, over five million teeth are knocked out in physical sports, and dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury in sport activities. To play hard -- and still play safe -- it's wise to wear a custom-fitted mouthguard when your teeth are at risk. The lifetime dental rehabilitation costs for sport injuries can be several thousand dollars per tooth: as much as 20 times more than the cost of a custom laminated, professional grade, fitted mouthguard.

What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?
Do not scrub or clean the tooth. Put the tooth in milk or, if available, in a dilute solution of salt water. Then, see your dentist within the hour. The dentist may be able to reimplant the tooth back in its socket.



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