What causes tooth decay?
Decay is caused by bacteria that collect on teeth and feed on the carbohydrates in our diet. The bacteria produce acid that wears away at the enamel on our teeth. If decay is left untreated, it can cause pain, infection and even tooth loss. Protect your teeth against decay by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, visiting your dentist regularly, and avoiding sugary foods.
What are the most common oral health problems?
Cavities and gum disease are the most common problems. Both can be prevented with regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.
What is dry mouth and what can I do about it?
Dry mouth is caused by a reduced flow of saliva. Saliva is needed to help control bacteria and wash away food debris. Certain medications, some diseases, smoking and chewing tobacco can cause dry mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, call us and we can recommend ways to treat it.
How often should I see a dentist?
Once every 6 months is good for most people, but some people with special conditions may need to see their dentist more often. Schedule an appointment to find out what’s best for you.
How often should I change my toothbrush?
Every 3 months or sooner if the bristles become worn and frayed. If you’ve been sick with a cold or other bacterial infection, it’s wise to replace your toothbrush once you’re better.
There are so many toothpastes to choose from; how do I know which one to use?
First, when purchasing a toothpaste for you or your child, select one that contains fluoride. Fluoridecontaining toothpastes have been shown to prevent cavities. However, one word of caution:Use only a very small amount for children under age 6 (the size of their fingernail). This is because young children swallow toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.
Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells and lead to the development of cancer. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small. Advances in dentistry over the years have led to the low radiation levels emitted by dental X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results. Also, the use oflead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years.
Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.
Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Here’s how:
Before teeth break through the gums ( erupt), the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.
After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (re-mineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.
In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.
The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and provides nourishment for your tooth. It can become infected if you have:
If untreated, the tissues around the root of your tooth can become infected. When this happens, you will often feel pain and swelling and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.
Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for a small number of people who have specific heart conditions. The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care. According to these guidelines, antibiotic prophylaxis should be considered for people with:
You should ask your doctor if you will need to take antibiotics before services are performed.
Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:
Your dentist may also recommend removal of wisdom teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental care.
Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray. Together, you and your dentist can discuss the best course of treatment.
Our office accepts a variety of dental benefit plans and will file insurance claims as a convenience to you. We are PPO providers with most dental insurance companies, however we do not accept any HMO or DMO plans. And no Medicaid plans. We also accept many discount plans. Please bring your insurance card to your first appointment.
We ask that you bring any current x-rays from your previous dentist; they will provide you with copies. Or you can have them email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org