Why should I go to the dentist regularly?

Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as “crisis treatment” versus “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they are saving money, it often ends up costing much more in dollars and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It is typical to hear, “Nothing hurts… I don’t have any problems.”

Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. Early detection can help prevent the need for more extensive treatment.

How safe are dental X-rays?

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 low radiation levels during dental X-rays. Some of these improvements include new X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, digital x-ray sensors which require less exposure, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, government regulation requires that X-ray machines are regularly checked for accuracy and safety and that operators complete proper training and continuing education.

Why do I need fluoride?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, use other fluoride dental products, and drink water with fluoride, you are preventing cavities and strengthening your teeth’s enamel.

Fluoride, also called “nature’s cavity fighter”, occurs naturally in varying amounts in water sources such as rivers, lakes and even the oceans. Fluoride was first added to public water systems in 1945 and its use has grown significantly over the past 70 years.  The most recent data indicates 74.6% of the U.S. population served by public water systems receive the benefits of fluoridated water.

Studies have consistently shown that optimizing the level of fluoride in community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in both children and adults by at least 25%. Simply by drinking water, people benefit from fluoride’s cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school.

Additional preventative benefits can also be gained from in-office treatments with fluoride. Be sure to ask about this at your next appointment!

How can I get my kids to brush their teeth?

Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Ask the dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.

Getting your children to brush starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. It is recommended that all children should be seen by their first birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth.

What are sealants?

The American Dental Association cites sealants as an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria.

Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about half the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth. Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for you or your children.

What do I do if I knock out my tooth?

For a knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, in milk, or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Then, get to your dentist’s office right away.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a condition caused by the bacteria surrounding the teeth and affects the gums. The gums become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. In order to prevent the condition from worsening (see “Periodontal Disease” below), good home care and regular hygiene visits are recommended.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

When gingivitis is left untreated and allowed to advance, it can result in periodontitis. Periodontal disease, like gingivitis, is caused by the bacteria that surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The gums become inflamed and irritated resulting in swelling and bleeding. The condition worsens and results in permanent bone loss. At a certain point, this bone loss will result in loosening and eventual loss of the teeth.