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Q & A

Why fix baby teeth that have decay?

It is very important to maintain the baby teeth because these teeth hold space for the future eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent teeth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits and weaker teeth.

Why keep baby teeth clean?

Children usually get their first adult permanent teeth around six years old. From six to about 12 years-old, baby teeth will loosen and fall out, then the adult teeth will grow in to replace them. Regular check-ups every six months are important during this time to check the development of the teeth, check for cavities, evaluate spacing and crowding, and decide if and when orthodontic treatment and braces is necessary.

Should my child wear a mouth guard while playing sports?

It is strongly recommended that children wear a mouth guard while playing any contact sport. It is always better to prevent an injury than to repair one. The earlier a child begins to wear the mouth guard, the easier it is to become comfortable and continue to wear it as they get older.

What should I do if my child gets a tooth knocked out?

If the tooth is a permanent tooth, time is extremely crucial. Immediately stick the tooth back in the socket. Don’t worry about getting it in straight or having it turned backwards, just get it in the socket and immediately call your dentist. If you are uncomfortable placing the tooth in the socket, put it in a glass of milk and get your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. If the tooth is a baby tooth, do not put it in the socket because damage to the permanent tooth can occur. When in doubt, put the tooth in milk and contact us immediately.

At what age are my children supposed to see a dentist?

Your baby can start seeing the dentist any time after as the first tooth comes in up to three years old. Some children require a bit more time to be comfortable. If an area of concern is noticed, then schedule a “happy visit” for your child as soon as possible.

When does thumb-sucking become damaging to the teeth?

Generally, if the child has stopped sucking his/her thumb by age five there is no permanent damage. However, if the child is a vigorous and constant thumb sucker, there can be moderate to severe movement of teeth and prevention of normal bone growth.

When is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?

When the removal of wisdom teeth is determined necessary, it is best done when the roots are approximately two-thirds formed, usually in the adolescent years. Removal at this time allows for an easier procedure and decreases the risk of damage to the nerves in that area.

Preventative

Is daily flossing really that necessary?

ANSWER: We think so! The American Dental Association does too. The ADA states that “Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.” In, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reaffirmed the importance of flossing:

“Flossing is an important oral hygiene practice. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line. Professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and cleaning between teeth (flossing and the use of other tools such as interdental brushes) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque. At HHS, NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), CDC’s Division of Oral Health and Healthy People 2020 have additional information and resources about efforts to address and improve oral health.”

LEARN MORE

Why is fluoride used in dental products, including toothpastes recommended by the ADA?

The top layer of teeth (or “enamel”) continually breaks down with acids and then can build back up and remineralize when those acids are removed. This top enamel layer consists mostly of hydroxyapatite, which is crystalline calcium ions and phosphate. When the enamel is in the state of breaking down, fluoride ions can come in and replace the calcium ions. These fluoride ions are harder to break down than the calcium ions, making the top enamel layer stronger and less susceptible to tooth decay.

Should I use a manual or electric toothbrush?

It depends on each individual’s dexterity, brushing technique and preference. Both manual and electric toothbrushes remove plaque from teeth. A manual toothbrush is fine if you are able to reach all your teeth and the teeth surfaces – including just under the gumline. If you have difficulty holding and/or moving the toothbrush and find yourself missing spots, an electric toothbrush may be recommended for you.

For either manual or electric toothbrushes, it is important that the bristles are “soft” or “ultra-soft” to prevent enamel wear. Another way to prevent wear is to hold the toothbrush gently. Certain electric toothbrushes have flashing sensors that let you know if you are brushing too hard, which is an added benefit to electric toothbrushes. Oftentimes, the best toothbrush for you may be the one that you will commit to using at least twice a day – for two minutes per brush – with fluoride-containing toothpaste.

How often should I see my dentist?

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.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by plaque in your mouth reacting with sugary and starchy deposits from food. This reaction produces acid which damages the enamel over time and weakens the tooth.

Do water irrigation systems replace the need for flossing?

Water irrigation systems should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing. These devices are effective in removing retained food from hard to reach areas, but do not remove plaque. Dentists frequently recommend these devices with the addition of antibacterial solutions to maintain the oral health of periodontal patients.

My gums bleed when I brush, what does it mean?

Bleeding gums is an early indicator of gingivitis, or swollen gums, usually caused by plaque and/or calculus accumulated under the gum line. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Gingivitis can be reversed by proper brushing and flossing within a few weeks. If bleeding persists two to three weeks, consult your dentist.

Are x-rays dangerous?

Radiographs or x-rays, help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses, and many abnormal growths such as cysts and tumors. They can help pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.

All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about exposure to radiation. Your dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs when they are appropriate and to tailor the radiograph schedule to your individual needs. By using state-of-the-art technology, such as digital radiography, and by staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and X-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation.

Restorative

Are silver fillings safe?

The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization agree that, based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.

In addition, Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America and National Multiple Sclerosis Society—all science-based organizations like the ADA—also say that amalgam poses no health risk.

Related: Dental Amalgam: What Others Say

What causes gum disease?

Gum (periodontal) disease is caused by bacteria. These bacteria, if left along the gum line, will irritate the gums and cause an inflammation reaction. The gums then begin to bleed and swell allowing the bacteria to go deeper under the gum line. If the inflammation is allowed to continue, the bone will begin to demineralize and dissolve. As the bone dissolves around the teeth, the teeth become unsupported and will fall out. Unfortunately, pain does not occur until the final stages of the disease and treatment at that time has very little chance of being successful. If your gums bleed regularly, seek treatment as soon as possible.

What causes bad breath and what can be done about it?

Bad breath, or halitosis, is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also can be caused by retained food particles, gum disease, drainage from sinus dripping or systemic, respiratory or gastrointestinal problems. Proper brushing including brushing the tongue, cheeks, and the roof of the mouth will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. Mouth rinses are effective in temporary relief of bad breath.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure done to save the damaged or dead pulp in the root canal of the tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal. The canal is filled with gutta percha, a rubberlike material, to prevent recontamination of the tooth. The tooth is then permanently sealed with possibly a post and/or a gold or porcelain crown. This enables patients to keep the original tooth.

What is a crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth — to cover the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Crowns are sometimes referred to as caps – they are the same thing.

What are dental implants and how do they work?

Dental implants are substitutes for natural tooth roots and rely on the jawbone for support. Strategically placed, 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 real teeth.

Cosmetic

Does bleaching damage the teeth?

No. When carbamide peroxide, the active whitening agent, contacts water, hydrogen peroxide is released which whitens the teeth. Bleaching does not soften, demineralize or weaken the teeth.

Do over-the-counter bleaching products work?

There is some evidence that over-the-counter bleaching products do whiten teeth, however, many of the products are too abrasive and can damage the teeth with extended use or misuse. Supervision by your dentist is always the safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth.

What are porcelain veneers and why are they used?

Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic material which are bonded to the front of the teeth. This procedure can be an ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth by masking discolorations, whitening teeth and/or reshaping a smile.

How do Invisalign clear braces work?

When you begin treatment, you receive several sets of custom-fit trays. You will change out trays every two weeks. Each subsequent tray will align your teeth more and more. In just a few months, you can have a straighter smile! Dr. Lindy will monitor your tooth movement along the way to ensure that you obtain the smile you desire. Learn more about our Invisalign procedure.