Ask your dentist about his or her
appointment policy. Many dentists ask that you call
to cancel at least 24 hours in advance. This will allow
time to find someone else for your appointment. Those
who don't call to cancel may be charged a missed appointment
fee. If you feel ill, but well enough to keep your dental
appointment, keep it unless you've got a fever, strep
throat, difficulty breathing or are too uncomfortable
to sit in the chair. Some dentists also request patients
to cancel if they have an active herpes virus (cold
sore) around the mouth. If in doubt, ask your dentist
if the visit should be rescheduled.
3. What is the best
way for me to prevent cavities in myself and in my children?
There are some very simple steps
that you can take in the prevention of cavities that
can save you much pain and money in the long run. Here
are a few of the major ones.
Brush twice a day with a fluoride
Floss daily after brushing.
Eat nutritious and balanced
meals and limit snacking. Limit the amount of sugars
you and your children eat.
Check with your dentist about
use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens
your teeth, and about use of preventive resin restorations
than sealants) applied to the chewing surfaces of
the back teeth to protect them from decay.
It is important to visit your
dentist regularly for professional cleanings and
Most dental professionals recommend
that toothbrushes be replaced at least every two-three
months. Toothbrushes should also be replaced after you
or your family members have had any upper respiratory
tract infections such as a cold or the flu. It is also
recommended to rinse your toothbrush with an antiseptic
before use and keep it covered when not in use.
Yes, as brushing alone reaches
only 3 out of 5 tooth surfaces. These surfaces between
the tooth that brushing can't reach are areas where
cavities and periodontal disease (gum disease) most
frequently get started. Daily flossing is essential
for healthy teeth and gums.
The majority of the dental community
feel that amalgam fillings are safe and that the risk
associated with the mercury contained in these restorations
is minimal. There are trace amounts of mercury, which
are bound to other elements of the filling. You probably
ingest more mercury from the fish you eat! If you have
any concerns about amalgam fillings your dental professional
will be happy to discuss alternative restorative options.
See article on amalgam
Radiation in the amounts used to
expose dental X-rays, is very small. In fact, the average
American actually receives more radiation from sitting
in front of the family television for a period of one
year than from routine X-rays taken at the dental office.
Dental x-rays are taken to diagnose problems that may
be occurring in your teeth and supporting bone that
are not visible to the naked eye. If the condition is
allowed to develop until it is detectable by a visual
exam the problem will have progressed significantly
and require more extensive treatment than if it was
caught in the early stages. Nevertheless, the radiation
we receive from all sources is cumulative over our lifetime,
so we need to be aware of exposures. Discuss with your
dental professional the need and frequency for x-rays
and have your original x-rays forwarded if you change
dental care providers.
Today there are many options for
teeth bleaching or whitening.
There are over-the-counter whitening toothpastes and
whitening products as well as professional whitening
systems. These dentist-administered systems can be done
in-office by the dentist (power bleaching) or at home
using professional products. Whitening toothpastes DO
NOT work. The drugstore whitening products have bulky
uncomfortable moulds and do not retain the bleach properly
causing some bleach to be swallowed. The professional
bleach trays made by a dentist are customized from a
mould of your teeth, so it fits only your mouth. It
comfortably holds the bleaching agent closely against
your teeth for maximum results. The most effective results
are obtained by having the power bleaching followed
by the home system Results differ depending on the type
of staining and genetic color of your teeth. Stains
that are the result of smoking, colored foods/drinks
such as coffee, tea and or age may respond well to bleaching.
Staining from antibiotic (tetracycline) use or excess
fluoride intake during childhood is less likely to respond
to these treatments. Before trying any whitening procedure,
discuss your condition with your dentist and together
you can decide which treatment will achieve the best
9. Do I need a "cleaning"
appointment every six months?
All patients are individuals, and
have varied needs. The interval of six months for "cleaning
& check-up" is a commonly recommended time frame, which
may or may not be appropriate for you. If you have concerns
about the frequency of your "recall" appointments you
should discuss them with your dental professional. Together
you can reach a "recall" schedule that is appropriate
for your oral condition and that fits your busy schedule.
Yes. Topical application of fluoride
increases the level of fluoride in the outermost surface
of the tooth, regardless of the age of the tooth. While
we tend to think of children as being more prone to
cavities, adults still get decay. People are maintaining
their natural teeth longer and root decay is a condition
that is more likely to occur as we age. The key is multiple
applications of fluoride with fluoridated toothpaste,
possibly a home fluoride gel, and in-office treatments.
Your dental professional will be able to prescribe the
best home care and in office treatment options for your
11. When should
children have their first dental appointment?
Certainly parents should not wait
until their children have cavities or a toothache to
see the dentist. The first few appointments should be
fun and foster a trusting relationship. We have found
that there are far fewer difficulties with children
who know that the dentist is there to help them - before
they need dental work. The goal is to have your child's
first dental experience be a positive one. Generally
speaking, when a child has all of their primary teeth
in place is a good time to have their first oral exam.
The first cleaning and check-up appointment can follow
a few months later, depending on the child's maturity
and his readiness to accept the treatment.
12. What exactly
is Gingivitis, and what causes it?
Gingivitis is a form of Periodontal
Disease (gum disease). Periodontal disease involves
inflammation and/or infection that results in destruction
of the tissues that support the teeth. This supporting
unit comprises the gingiva (gums), the periodontal ligaments
(hold the tooth in place), and the tooth sockets (bone).
Gingivitis (inflammation of the
gums) is caused by the long-term effects of plaque deposits.
Plaque is the sticky material that develops on the exposed
portions of the teeth, consisting of material such as
bacteria, mucus, and food debris. It is a major cause
of dental decay. Un-removed plaque mineralizes into
a hard deposit called calculus (tartar) that becomes
trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and calculus
cause mechanical and chemical irritation and inflammation
of the gingiva. Bacteria and the toxins produced by
the bacteria, cause the gums to become infected, swollen
Good oral hygiene is the best prevention
against gingivitis because it removes the plaque that
causes the disorder. The teeth should be brushed at
least twice daily and flossed gently at least once per
day. For people who are prone to gingivitis, brushing
and flossing may be recommended after every meal and
at bedtime. Consult the dentist or dental hygienist
for instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques.
The goal of treatment is reduction
of gingival inflammation. The teeth are cleaned thoroughly
by the dentist or dental hygienist. This may involve
the use of various instruments or devices to loosen
and remove deposits from the teeth. Meticulous oral
hygiene is necessary after professional tooth cleaning.
The dentist or hygienist will demonstrate brushing and
Professional teeth cleaning in
addition to brushing and flossing may be recommended
twice per year or more frequently for severe cases.
Antibacterial mouth rinses or other aids may be recommended
in addition to frequent brushing and flossing. Repair
or replacement of dental work or orthodontic treatment
of misaligned teeth may be recommended.
15. How are Periodontal
Disease and Gingivitis related?
Periodontal Disease is a dental
disorder that results from progression of gingivitis,
involving inflammation and infection of the ligaments
and bones that support the teeth. This gradually causes
the destruction of tooth support and if left untreated
will lead to tooth loss.