Q: What is plaque (and tartar)?
A: Plaque is a sticky, colorless layer of harmful bacteria and sugars that sticks to teeth, especially near the gum line and between teeth. Everyone develops plaque because bacteria are constantly forming in our mouths. These bacteria use ingredients found in our diet and saliva to grow. Plaque causes cavities when the acids from plaque attack teeth after eating. With repeated acid attacks, the tooth enamel can break down and a cavity may form. Plaque that is not removed can also irritate the gums around your teeth, leading to gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums), periodontal disease and tooth loss. Additionally, if not removed, it may become hard and is called calculus (tartar). Calculus can only be removed by the dentist or a dental hygienist. Plaque and tartar will harm your teeth and gums if it is not cleaned off regularly.
Q: How Can I Prevent Plaque and Tartar Buildup?
A: It's easy to prevent plaque buildup with proper care. Make sure to:
Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It's unnecessary to "scrub" the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride and has the
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Proper flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy and prevents tartar buildup on the edges and between the teeth. Unhealthy gums will bleed when you floss. However, after about two weeks of daily, effective flossing, your gums will no longer bleed and would be considered healthy.
Q: How do I know that my health is not at risk when I am in your office?
A: Our protocol for infection control is very effective at preventing cross-contamination. All surfaces are disinfected and the most-used surfaces are additionally covered with a barrier that is changed after each appointment. Most supplies are disposable, eliminating the possibility of cross-infection and those supplies, such as instruments, which need to be reused, are placed in a disinfectant in an ultrasonic cleaner, rinsed, packaged and then sterilized in our computerized autoclave. The intense temperature and pressure changes within the autoclave kill ALL the bacteria and viruses. Our autoclave’s effectiveness is tested each week by an outside lab to ensure that we are successful in complete sterilization of each load.
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap?"
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns". However, patients sometimes refer to the tooth-colored ones as "caps" and the gold or stainless steel ones as "crowns."
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture?"
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.
Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. Tooth-colored fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they look better. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, an onlay or a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.
Q: What Are X-rays?
A: In 1895, physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was intrigued by glowing cathode tubes and decided to see what they could do. He found that the rays they emitted could pass through certain solid objects and leave a shadowy image of that object on a fluorescent screen. He was even more amazed to find that when the rays passed through body parts, such as his hand, the bones beneath the skin became clearly visible on the screen. Because he didn't know exactly what was causing this phenomenon, he labeled the rays " X," which is the mathematical symbol for anything that is unknown.
Scientists today know that X-rays are a form of energy that travels in waves. X-rays can enter solid objects, where they either are absorbed or continue to pass through the object. The denser the material X-rays enter, the more they are absorbed and the less they are able to pass through.
Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays, but gums and cheeks are much less dense, so X-rays pass through more easily. That's why cheeks and gums appear dark and without detail on the X-ray film, but teeth show up much lighter. And fillings, which are even denser than bone, will show up as a solid, bright white area. Dental caries (cavities) will show up on an X-ray as a darker patch in a light tooth.
Q: How are X-rays Used?
A: X-ray images, also called dental radiographs, are among the most valuable tools a dentist has for keeping your mouth and teeth healthy. By understanding what the structures of the mouth look like normally on an X-ray film, dentists can diagnose problems in the teeth and jaws. For adults, radiographs can:
· Show areas of decay that your dentist may not be able to see with just a visual examination, such as tiny pits of decay that might occur between teeth
· Find decay that is developing underneath an existing filling
· Find cracks or other damage in an existing filling
· Alert the dentist to possible bone loss associated with periodontal (gum) disease
· Reveal problems in the root canal, such as infection or death of the nerve
· Help your dentist plan, prepare and place tooth implants, orthodontic treatments, dentures or other dental work
· Reveal other abnormalities such as cysts, cancer and changes associated with metabolic and systemic diseases (such as Paget's disease and lymphoma)
· For children, radiographs are used to watch for decay and to monitor tooth growth and development. Dentists will use periodic X-rays to see whether a space in the mouth to fit all the new teeth, whether primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to erupt properly, whether extra (supernumerary) teeth are developing or whether any teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums). Often, major problems can be prevented by catching small developmental problems early and then making accommodations.
Q: How Often Should Your Teeth Be X-rayed?
A: Even though no X-ray can be considered routine, many people require X-rays on a regular basis so that their dental condition can be monitored. Exactly how often this happens will depend on your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months. For others, X-rays may not be needed for as long as two years. A full set of X-rays or a Panorex may be taken only every five years or so. Who needs more frequent or regular radiographs? They include:
Q: What are the types of X-rays?
A: X-rays are divided into two main categories: intraoral, which means that the X-ray film is inside the mouth; and extraoral, which means that the film is outside the mouth.
Q: Are x-rays safe?
A: All types of radiation can cause damage to body cells. In very high doses, such as might be released during a nuclear reactor accident, the damage can be swift, leading to "radiation burn" and other serious effects. People who receive large doses of radiation as part of their cancer treatment can also experience skin burns or damage to healthy body tissue near the cancer.
The X-rays used in dental and medical offices emit extremely small doses of radiation. However, cells can be damaged by many small doses of radiation that add up over time. Although the amount of radiation used in dental X-rays is very small, the effect is cumulative, so all radiation counts. That's why experts recommend that X-rays be used judiciously and with precautions to help protect the patient from unnecessary radiation exposure. To keep exposure to X-rays low for their patients, dentists and regulatory agencies have done several things:
Q: What are Cavities?
A: "Cavities" is another way of saying tooth decay. Tooth decay is heavily influenced by lifestyle, what we eat, how well we take care of our teeth, the presence of fluoride in our water and toothpaste. Heredity also plays a role in how susceptible your teeth may be to decay. While cavities are generally more common among children, adults are also at risk. The types of cavities include:
Q: How Do I Know if I Have a Cavity?
A: Only your dentist can tell for sure whether you have a cavity. That's because cavities develop below the tooth's surface, where you can't see them. When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates (sugars and starches), these carbohydrates are eaten by the bacteria in plaque, producing acids that eat into the tooth. Over time, the tooth enamel begins to break down beneath the surface while the surface remains intact. When enough of the sub-surface enamel is eaten away, the surface collapses, forming a cavity.
Cavities are most likely to develop in pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, in between teeth, and near the gumline. But regardless of where they occur, the best way to spot them and treat them before they become serious is by visiting your dentist regularly for checkups.
Q: How Can I Help Prevent Cavities?
A: By doing the following:
Q: What is Xylitol and why should I consume it?
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Q: What is Novamin?
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Q: What is RECALDENT and how is it helpful?
Q: What is RECALDENT and how is it helpful?
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