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Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Do About Bad Breath?

Bad breath (or halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. You may not realize you have bad breath, but everyone does from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are many reasons one may have bad breath, but often the main cause is microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

What may cause bad breath?
  • Morning time
  • Certain foods
  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Tobacco products
  • Dieting
  • Dehydration, hunger and missed meals
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses 
What can I do to prevent bad breath?
  • Practice good oral hygiene
  • See your dentist regularly
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Drink water frequently
  • Use mouthwash and rinses

How Often Should I Brush and Floss?

Brushing and flossing control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing and other dental aids.
  • Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed) with an ADA-approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste
  • Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing helps clean these spaces and disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone
  • Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing and after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for your needs

Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?

There has been some concern over the years about the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. Amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin, and zinc, which is bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is over claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver that contains mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder. The consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. 

There are numerous options instead of silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain and gold fillings.

Amalgam Fillings

How Often Should I Have a Dental Exam and Cleaning Appointment?

You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.

In addition to a regular cleaning of your teeth and checking for cavities, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent and maintain your dental health. These include:
  • Medical history review
  • Examination of diagnostic X-rays
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Gum disease evaluation
  • Examination of tooth decay
  • Examination of existing restorations
  • Removal of calculus (tartar)
  • Removal of plaque
  • Teeth polishing
  • Oral hygiene recommendations
  • Review dietary habits

How Can I Tell if I Have Gingivitis or Periodontitis (Gum Disease)?

Four out of five people have periodontal disease without even knowing it! This is because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if these problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind. There are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Certain tooth or appliance conditions
  • Many medications (steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure medications and oral contraceptives)
  • Pregnancy, oral contraceptives and puberty
  • Systemic diseases
  • Genetics
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
  • Red and puffy gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • New spacing between teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Puss around the teeth and gums
  • Tenderness or discomfort

Why Is It Important to Floss?

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline, reaching the areas that toothbrushes cannot. Flossing also disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth 
and bone.

How to floss properly:
Take 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) of floss between the hands. Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using 
conventional floss.

How Can Cosmetic Dentistry Improve My Smile?

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in recent years, due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today and because patients are becoming more focused on improving their overall health. There are many cosmetic dental procedures currently available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile.

Cosmetic Procedures:
  • Teeth whitening
  • Composite (tooth-colored) fillings
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Porcelain crowns (caps)
  • Dental implants
  • Orthodontics

What Are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually created to cover the front of your teeth. They are very durable and will not stain.

Veneers may be used to restore or correct the following dental conditions:
  • Teeth whitening
  • Composite (tooth-colored) fillings
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Porcelain crowns (caps)
  • Dental implants
  • Orthodontics
Veneers are created from an impression of your teeth that is sent to a professional dental laboratory where each veneer is custom-made for you. During your second visit, the veneers are carefully fitted and bonded onto the tooth surface with special bonding cement. Occasionally, a specialized light may be used to harden and set the bond.

What Can I Do About Stained or Discolored Teeth?

The teeth whitening procedure has become the #1 aesthetic concern of many patients. There are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.

Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Since the results of teeth whitening are not permanent, a touch-up may be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.

The most widely used professional teeth whitening systems are home teeth whitening systems and in-office teeth whitening.

Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after having their teeth whitened. This sensation is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process.
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