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Frequently Asked Questions
At DentalWorks, we don't just treat our patients: We educate them. After all, the more you know now, the less likely you are to run into problems down the road. Here, posted with permission from the Academy of General Dentistry™ July 2007, are the answers to some of our patients' most common questions:
You should visit your dentist at least every six months or more frequently to get your teeth cleaned. By seeing your dentist twice a year, your dentist can monitor your oral health and help you prevent any problems that may arise before they became uncomfortable or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment. The dentist may suggest more frequent visits, depending on the diagnosis.
You should brush your teeth at least 2-3 minutes twice a day. Brush your teeth for the length of a song on the radio, the right amount of time to get the best results from brushing. Unfortunately, most Americans only brush for 45-70 seconds twice a day.
There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Patients are advised to check with their dentist or hygienist to determine which technique is best for them, since, tooth position and gum condition vary. One effective, easy-to-remember technique involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.
Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue and the chewing surfaces and in between teeth. Using a back and forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, or can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.
Definitely, but most Americans don't brush during the workday. Yet a recent survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry shows if you keep a toothbrush at work, the chances you will brush during the day increase by 65 percent. Dentists recommend keeping a toothbrush at work.
Getting the debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning to damaging acids, and catches starchy foods like potato chips before they turn to cavity-causing sugar. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before going to bed, you don't even need to use toothpaste at work. You can just brush and rinse before heading back to the desk. If you don't have a toothbrush, rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch also helps.
The following tips may improve your work-time brushing habits:
It takes dentists and hygienists years of schooling to properly use these instruments and to diagnose an oral condition. Misuse of these instruments by untrained people can easily damage the teeth and gums leading to sensitivity, gingival recession, tooth chipping and other serious problems.
Flossing is the one most important step in oral care that people forget to do or claim they don't have time for. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime and decrease your chance of having periodontal or gum disease. Flossing cleans away the plaque from between your teeth, decreases the chance of interproximal decay and increases blood circulation in the gums.
Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.
At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.
Waterpicks are frequently recommended by dentists for persons with gum disease; solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist's prescription, can be added to the reservoir in these cases.
Tooth sensitivity can be reduced by using a desensitizing toothpaste, applying sealants and other desensitizing ionization and filling materials including fluoride by your dentist, and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods. Tartar control toothpastes will sometimes cause teeth to be sensitive as well as drinking diet soft drinks throughout the day.
Avoid using hard bristled toothbrushes and brushing your teeth too hard, which can wear down the tooth's root surface and expose sensitive spots. The way to find out if you're brushing your teeth too hard is to take a good look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are pointing in multiple directions, you're brushing too hard.
The occasional use of toothpicks to remove food particles is fine. Long term, vigorous use of toothpicks will cause abrasion of the teeth and gingival recession. Habitually leaving a toothpick in the mouth for long periods of time can cause excessive wearing of the teeth and temporomandibular joint problems. Also, be careful not to break off the tip in your gums.
Dentures are no longer the only way to restore a mouth that has little or no non-restorable teeth. Strategically placed support, or implants, can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the "feel" of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative of choice to dentures, but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Call your dentist for advice.
Most people recognize dental amalgams as silver fillings. Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, and an alloy of silver, tin and copper. Mercury makes up about 45-50 percent of the compound. Mercury is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard durable filling. After years of research, mercury has been found to be the only element that will bind these metals together in such a way that can be easily manipulated into a tooth cavity.
When mercury is combined with other materials in dental amalgam, its chemical nature changes, so it is essentially harmless. The amount released in the mouth under the pressure of chewing and grinding is extremely small and no cause for alarm. In fact, it is less than what patients are exposed to in food, air, and water.
Ongoing scientific studies conducted over the past 100 years continue to prove that amalgam is not harmful. Claims of diseases caused by mercury in amalgam are anecdotal, as are claims of miraculous cures achieved by removing amalgam. These claims have not been proven scientifically.
Underneath your tooth's outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals.
Because the tooth will not heal by itself. Without treatment, the infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall-out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it's always best to keep your original teeth.
Crowns should last approximately 5-8 years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice, or fingernail biting may cause this period of time to decrease significantly.
There is no difference between a cap and a crown.
Generally, bleaching is successful in at least 90 percent of patients, though it may not be an option for everyone. Consider tooth bleaching if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening. Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline are lightened, but results are not as dramatic. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.
Lightness should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking and drinking coffee and tea. At this point you may choose to get a touch up. This procedure may not be as costly because you can probably still use the same mouthguard. The retreatment time also is much shorter than the original treatment time.
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