Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Care
Our team has been caring for our community for a while now & we’ve noticed many patients come to us with the same questions over & over again. Always feel free to ask us questions when you have them! In the meantime, check out the FAQ & answers below to learn more about your oral health.
What causes tooth sensitivity & should I be worried about it?
Patients often notice tooth sensitivity as pain when eating hot or cold foods or beverages. Tooth sensitivity is caused when the tooth’s surface has been worn away (leaving underlying dentin layer bare) or when gums have receded, exposing the sensitive root of the tooth. This exposed dentin allows heat, cold or pressure to reach your tooth’s nerve directly, resulting in pain. Tooth sensitivity can be a precursor to other dental problems, because exposed dentin is more vulnerable to decay & receding gums is a sign of possible gum disease. If you have sensitive teeth, please tell us right away so we can make recommendations on how to deal with it.
How often do I need to visit the dentist?
You should visit us every six months for a teeth cleaning. Your regular teeth cleaning appointments are not just an opportunity to get your teeth much cleaner than you can just by brushing & flossing at home, they’re also an opportunity for us to examine your mouth for potential problems. We generally take x-rays of your mouth at least once a year at your cleaning appointment, if not more often, so we can detect hard-to-see cavities & other issues. However, we should note that if we have diagnosed you with gum disease (periodontitis) or the beginnings of it (gingivitis), the doctor may ask that you come in more frequently so we can treat your condition & keep it from getting worse.
What is better, a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?
With the proper technique, both manual & electric toothbrushes perform about the same. However, if your manual brushing techniques are less than optimal, an electric toothbrush may help you be a bit more thorough. Many electric toothbrushes have a built in timer that can help you make sure you brush for the recommended two minutes. If you are interested in an electric toothbrush, we’d be happy to talk with you about the options that would be best for you.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, known clinically as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is when bacteria surrounds your teeth & invades your gums. The disease generally starts with little or no symptoms, so unless you visit the dentist regularly you may not even know you have it. Early stages of gum disease, often called gingivitis, can start with red, swollen gums that bleed easily & have started to recede from the teeth (your teeth might start to look longer than they used to), persistent bad breath, & gum sensitivity to acidic foods. Later stages of gum disease include abscesses, tooth pain, bone loss in the jaw & tooth loss. Gingivitis is treatable in it’s early stages, but if it becomes gum disease, it cannot be cured, only managed. Your best option is to prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene habits, visiting us frequently for professional cleanings & checkups, & telling us right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above.
My teeth don’t hurt & they look just fine. Why do I need to see the dentist?
There are many dental problems that have no detectable symptoms, at least not at first. It’s possible to have cavities & tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, tooth grinding, an infected tooth or oral cancer & not have any obvious symptoms. Even if you aren’t experiencing pain, sensitivity, swelling or bleeding & can’t see anything wrong with your teeth in the mirror, there may still be a problem. That’s why we use all the latest technologies & techniques at our office, so we can detect potential problems even when you haven’t told us that something is bothering you. Visiting us every six months for a teeth cleaning & a brief dental exam is important to detecting potential problems before they become both costly & painful! We’re not trying to scare you or shake you down, we just want to keep you smiling!