MY TEETH FEEL FINE. DO I STILL NEED TO SEE A DENTIST?
Your teeth may feel fine, but it’s still important to see the dentist regularly because problems can exist without you knowing. Your smile’s appearance is important, and your dentist can help keep your smile healthy and looking beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth. Dentists offer many treatment choices that can help you smile with confidence, including:
- Professional teeth whitening
- Fillings that mimic the appearance of natural teeth
- Tooth replacement and full smile makeovers
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT DENTIST FOR ME?
Choosing a dentist who “clicks” with you and your family is important, and you may wish to consider several dentists before making your final decision. During your first visit, you should be able to determine whether the dentist is right for you. During your appointment, consider the following:
- Is the appointment schedule convenient?
- Is the office easy to get to and close by?
- Does the office appear to be clean and orderly?
- Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?
- Does the dentist explain techniques for good oral health?
- Is information about cost presented to you before treatment is scheduled?
- Is your dentist a member of the ADA (American Dental Association)?
HOW CAN I TAKE CARE OF MY TEETH BETWEEN DENTAL CHECKUPS?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss at least once!
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities.
- Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities) and avoid tobacco (this can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer).
- Don’t be afraid to brush your tongue! By brushing your tongue, you will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh.
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkup. It is recommended that you visit the dentist every six months.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I START TAKING MY CHILD TO SEE THE DENTIST?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months of age and no later than one year of age. During this time, your child’s baby teeth will be coming in and your dentist can examine the health of your child’s first few teeth. After the first visit, be sure to schedule regular checkups every six months.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEE THE DENTIST?
Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to see the dentist more than just twice a year. Your doctor will help determine how often you should visit the dentist for regular checkups.
WHAT IS A CAVITY?
A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth because of tooth decay. Cavities are formed when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss between teeth at least once.
WHAT IS A FILLING?
A filling is a synthetic material that your dentist uses to fill a cavity after all of the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt because your dentist will numb your mouth with an anesthetic. Fillings are made from a variety of different materials, including composites, gold, or ceramic. If you need a filling, be sure to talk to your doctor about what type is best for you and your teeth.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BRUSH MY TEETH?
According to your dentist and the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth at least two times a day. Brushing keeps your teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque. It is also recommended that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride when you brush your teeth. You should spend at least a minute on the top teeth and a minute on the bottom teeth, and remember to brush your tongue; it will help keep your breath smelling fresh!
WHEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY TOOTHBRUSH?
Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes each time. Your dentist recommends that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently. Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks to keep any bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you’ve been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is mostly caused by plaque and bacteria buildup that is not treated in its early stage. Other causes of periodontal disease include tobacco use, teeth grinding, some medications, and genetics. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease, and, if detected, is treatable. Gingivitis left untreated may turn into gum disease. Advanced gum disease will lead to tooth and bone loss, and is a permanent condition. Brushing your teeth regularly and visiting the dentist every six months will help prevent gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease. Common signs of gum disease:
- Red, irritated, bleeding, or swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth, or loss of teeth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum line
- Abscessed teeth
IF I HAVE BRACES, DO I STILL NEED DENTAL CHECKUPS EVERY SIX MONTHS?
Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
HOW DO I SCHEDULE MY NEXT CHECKUP?
Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next dental checkup at your convenience. If you are a new patient, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need for your first dental visit.
WHAT IS PERIODONTICS?
Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, focusing on the study and treatment of the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth and jaw.
WHO IS A PERIODONTIST?
A periodontist is a dental specialist who has the training and experience required by the American Dental Association to diagnose, treat, and prevent different forms of periodontal/gum disease.
WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, often begins as a buildup of plaque on the tooth’s surface near the gum line. If this plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing regularly, it can harden into what your dentist calls tartar. Plaque will continue to build up over the tartar, eventually causing the gums to become red, swollen, and irritated. This is known as gingivitis and is the first stage of periodontal disease. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
- Red, swollen, sore gums
- Gums that bleed when brushing and flossing
- Teeth that appear longer or become loose
- Large spaces that form between the teeth
- Gums that begin to pull away from the teeth
- Chronic bad breath
Periodontal disease, if left untreated, can contribute to other health problems including heart disease and diabetes. If you’re pregnant, having periodontal disease is also linked to premature birth or low birth weight. Your smile’s health affects the overall health of your body.
IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE TREATABLE?
Gum disease is both preventable and treatable. Today’s periodontal treatments provide you with a variety of options that are gentle, safe, and effective. If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis or gum disease, your periodontist can help you determine what treatment best meets your needs. Periodontal treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatment
- Periodontal surgery
- Periodontal therapy
- Dental implants
- At-home care (special toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, and prescription treatment trays)
AM I AT RISK OF HAVING PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
You may be at risk of having periodontal disease if you smoke or use tobacco products, you do not brush your teeth and floss regularly, you have health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis, or if several of your family members have had gum disease as it can, in some cases, be genetic. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist, who can help determine if treatment is necessary.
WILL MY INSURANCE COVER MY PERIODONTAL TREATMENT?
Many insurance plans will provide assistance for periodontal treatment. Our practice understands how important your dental health is, and we want you to get the most out of any dental treatment you receive. We will help you work with your insurance provider to make sure that your treatment is easy on your budget, and your peace of mind.