Here are some questions we frequently get asked (click to learn more):
Is chewing ice bad for your teeth? Teeth are meant to be used for normal chewing, not chewing on excessively hard items, such as ice. Chewing on ice can weaken the enamel, fracture the tooth, and cause serious issues down the road. If you want to keep the integrity of your enamel intact, avoid chewing on ice to prevent a dental emergency. If you do chip a tooth or suffer extreme pain as a result of chewing ice, call us right away so that we can evaluate the situation and help you get out of pain.
Why is soda bad to consume? Soda has two of the worst ingredients for your dental health: sugar and acid. Both of these ingredients work together to weaken your enamel; this means that you are at higher risk for tooth decay as a result. This is a very serious problem for children in particular because their enamel is still developing; if soda is consumed, the enamel becomes weak, making it hard for them to develop strong, healthy teeth. It is imperative that you avoid drinking soda, or at the very least drink it very minimally to avoid damage to your enamel. If you do drink it, make sure to drink a glass of water afterwards or at the very least, rinse your mouth with water in order to eliminate the sugar and acid from your teeth.
Are tongue piercings harmful to your teeth? Your mouth is not meant to have any type of hardware inside of it. Your enamel is weak, which means that constantly having metal or any other material hitting against it is bad for it. In many cases, they can cause tooth fractures, requiring you to have extensive dental work done to repair the damage. Another large risk of oral piercings is the risk of infection. The infection can occur to the lips, cheeks, or tongue and is very detrimental to your overall health. It is best to avoid oral piercings at all costs – your mouth was not meant for jewelry.
Should I use fluoride? Fluoride can make your teeth stronger, but excessive use can actually cause damage to your teeth. You get enough fluoride if you use toothpaste with fluoride, and visit our office every six months. There is no need to add any other fluoride to your daily habits. If you have children, make sure to monitor their tooth brushing to ensure that they are not swallowing the toothpaste or using too much. Remember, all you need is a pea sized amount to get the job done. If you are worried about excessive fluoride use and its effects, call our office for an evaluation today.
How can I stop grinding my teeth? Waking up with a headache every day or feeling tense is a sign of tooth grinding (called bruxing). This can cause not only pain in your face and head, but difficulties with your teeth, including a misaligned bite or disappearing teeth! If you are worried about teeth grinding, talk to us—we have many solutions to help you stop including some lifestyle changes and the use of a mouth guard at night.
What's the big deal with a missing tooth? Every tooth in your mouth plays an important role. The most important is keeping your teeth aligned. When one tooth is suddenly missing, the rest of the teeth naturally move over to take over the open space. This means that your once straight teeth are now misaligned, causing your bite to be off quite a bit. This could cause problems down the road, including embarrassment over your smile and difficulty chewing your food. If you are unable to chew properly, you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs, which could cause physical illnesses. In addition, it may be more difficult to talk; you may suffer from depression as a result of the embarrassment; and you may even gain weight as a result of not being able to eat the right foods. Instead of mourning a lost tooth, talk to us about tooth replacement options, including a dental implant.
How do you check for oral cancer? At your regular dental checkups, it is a part of our exam to check for oral cancer. This is an important part of your check-up because oral cancer does not often show signs until it is in its later stages, which can mean that it is much harder to cure. In fact, there are 10,000 new diagnoses of oral cancer every year. If we are able to detect it early, the survival rate is almost 90%, but the key is finding it early. We may perform a manual exam, which includes evaluation of the mouth, cheek, tongue, gums, head, and neck as well as test for any abnormal cells in your mouth that point to the risk of oral cancer. When these tests are performed regularly, we are able to stay on top of your risks for oral cancer and elicit the proper treatment right away.
Why do teeth get lost as an adult? Once you hit adulthood, you would think you are done losing teeth. While you should be done, there are many risk factors that make people more susceptible to losing them. While tooth decay can play a role, it is typically not the reason. Most adults are aware of the danger of tooth decay, which means they either brush and floss appropriately, or they come in to see us at the first sign of decay. On the other hand, gum disease often goes undetected and/or ignored, which is a leading cause for tooth loss. Gum disease does not show symptoms until its advanced stages with the exception of a slight tinge of blood when you brush and floss and the possibility of swollen gums. If you ignore those signs, the gum disease could advance rather quickly, putting you at risk for tooth loss. Come in to see us right away for a gum disease evaluation so that we can help you prevent the risk of tooth loss.
Are gum disease and heart disease related? The short answer is yes, they are related. The latest research from the ADA shows that a disease in the gums can lead to heart disease. This is because the infection can travel into your bloodstream and directly to your heart. The complications occur typically in the advanced stages of gum disease, which is why it is so important to brush twice a day, floss once, and see us for regular cleanings. Only a professional dentist can remove the plaque buildup that occurs on the teeth and beneath the gum lines, which is what causes gum disease. If this plaque is left to multiply, it eventually enters your bloodstream, putting you at risk for various diseases, of which the most dangerous is heart disease as it can be fatal. Among the other diseases include respiratory infections and diabetes complications.
How can you control gum disease? It is very simple for us to help you control gum disease, but we must work as a team. The first step is proper oral hygiene and diet at home. Skipping the need to floss or even brush puts you at risk for gum disease right away. Try to brush often and drink plenty of water. This helps to keep your saliva production up which is a great way to eliminate the food debris and bacteria in your mouth that would later turn into plaque. In addition, make sure that you see us every six months. During your professional cleaning, we will scrape away all plaque, leaving your teeth and gums clean and free from the risk of gum disease. If we do find that you have gum disease, there are simple procedures we can perform to reverse the situation. Sometimes scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning beneath the gum line that is performed in our office, is all that is necessary. In more advanced cases, gum grafting may be necessary to ensure that you do not lose your teeth. You can trust that we will do whatever is necessary to ensure the health of your mouth and the elimination of gum disease.
Is TMJ painful? TMJ, otherwise known as temporomandibular joint syndrome, is a painful condition that affects your jaw. If the muscle or joint in the area is traumatized or just has a problem, it can result in pain in various parts of your mouth and face. Some of the most common pains include pain in the jaw, ears, head, and neck. Some patients also experience pain when opening or closing the mouth; clicking sounds when opening the mouth; pain when chewing; and a locked feeling in their jaw. The good news is that there are plenty of ways for us to help you, starting with an evaluation of your lifestyle. Certain habits can contribute to TMJ and when eliminated, the pain goes away. In other cases, we have oral appliances and procedures that can help to diminish the risk of TMJ.
Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes? Electronic toothbrushes are definitely beneficial, but not necessary. If you’re using a manual toothbrush for the appropriate amount of time and brushing as you should be a manual toothbrush can work just as well. That being said, children are particularly great candidates for electronic toothbrushes. Don’t hesitate to ask next time you’re in and we can recommend what would be best for you.
How often should I floss? Once a day is the recommendation made by the American Dental Association, to help remove plaque from between the teeth where brushing can’t reach.
What do I do if it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the dentist? Call to get scheduled for an exam and cleaning as soon as possible. Although you may not be in any pain, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any decay or infection present. We’ll help you assess if you have any concerning areas before it becomes a problem. There’s nothing to fear! It’s our job to help you get back to optimal oral health.
What toothpaste should I use? The most important thing to look for when buying toothpaste is fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities by making the outer surface of your teeth more resistant to the acid that cause tooth decay.
What is plaque and why is it harmful? Plaque is a bacteria that feeds on the sugars from your food, leaving behind acid that breaks down your enamel. Not only is it harmful to your teeth and gums, but your overall health, including heart disease.
How many times a year should I have my teeth cleaned? You should be coming in for a regular cleaning at least twice a year.
Occasionally, patients need more regular cleanings to help fight plaque build up. If this is the case your hygienist will recommend you come in on a quarterly basis instead (once every 3 months).
When should I bring in my child for their first exam? As soon as your baby pops their first tooth you should bring them in for their first appointment. An exam is non-invasive and designed to help equip parents with tips and tools for establishing good oral hygiene. We’ll also take a look and make sure their teeth seem to be coming in as appropriately.
Can I still go to the dentist if I’m pregnant? Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that you get in for your regularly scheduled cleanings, since increased hormones can affect your body's response to plaque. Just make sure to tell your dental provider that you’re pregnant.