Dental Advice

Dental Advice and Frequently Asked Questions

 

Please browse through our frequently asked questions to find answers to any of your dental questions:

How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

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

Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:

  • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your overall health and also your dental health.
  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing and scaling.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
  • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.

What should I do if I have bad breath?

 Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to 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 – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
  • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with you dentist.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?

Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.

  • See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit. Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

Why is it important to use dental floss?

Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

 Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

How often should I brush and floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) 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.

Rinsing

It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

 

Can periodontal diseases be prevented?

 Teeth can be protected from acid attacks by removing plaque, reducing the number of times and the amount of sugar and starches eaten, using fluorides, having plastic sealants applied to teeth, and by regular professional cleaning of teeth by a dental hygienist.

What causes periodontal diseases?

Plaque, a thin, colorless, sticky film containing bacteria, which constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria use carbohydrates--sugars and starches--to produce an acid that attacks the enamel covering the teeth. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can be broken down and a cavity begins. Continued acid attacks eventually dissolve the enamel and penetrate the softer, inner layer of the tooth, where decay can spread rapidly throughout the tooth's structure. Acid attacks begin immediately after every meal or snack and last about 20 to 30 minutes.

Toothpaste for children: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

What causes tooth loss?

The most common causes of tooth loss are dental caries, also known as tooth decay, and periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone structure that supports the teeth. Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults; however, it too can afflict youngsters.

How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it 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. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco – Tobacco users are more likely than nonusers to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.
  • Certain tooth or appliance conditions – Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
  • Many medications – Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side affects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
  • Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty – Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
  • Systemic diseases – Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
  • Genetics may play role – Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
  • Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease

Common questions about dentures.

Appearance

You might worry that your dentures will change your appearance, or that others will notice that you're wearing dentures. However, we'll custom-make your dentures to fit you, so that they look completely natural. Of course, as with any new situation, wearing new dentures may make you feel a little self-conscious, and close friends and family might notice a small change - though they probably won't be able to tell the reason for it. In general, changes that you notice and feel won't show to others around you.

Feel

Dentures can feel a little strange at first. Talking, eating and smiling may require different muscle movements that need to be learned, and you may find that you produce more saliva than normal. But after a short while, using your dentures will feel natural. You may find it useful to practise movements in front of a mirror, and to pay attention to the sounds you make as you talk, so you adjust your speech successfully to your new dentures.

It's also helpful not to use your old dentures if you're trying to get used to new ones, as this makes the process of adjustment much slower and more difficult.

Taste

At first, food may not taste the same, as the dentures may temporarily affect your taste buds. However, as most taste buds are on the tongue, eventually everything will taste as it should. In the meantime it's often a good idea to take care with hot food and drinks, as your ability to sense heat may be affected.

Eating and drinking

It may take a while to get used to eating and drinking with dentures but with practice they shouldn't restrict your choice of food. It'll help to cut food into smaller pieces than usual to start with, to chew slowly, and to divide the food in your mouth into two and then chew each half at the back of each side of your mouth to avoid tipping the denture. Using a small amount of denture fixative will increase your confidence and help you adapt more quickly.

Pain

If you feel any pain, tell us as soon as possible rather than waiting for your next planned visit. Wear your dentures to the visit so that we can see where the sore places are and so resolve them more easily.

Cleaning your dentures

You need to treat your dentures as you would your natural teeth. Keep them as clean as possible to prevent any further tooth loss, inflamed gums, bacterial and fungal infections, and bad breath.

Dentures need both brushing and soaking. Brush them twice a day and after eating, using either a denture brush, nail brush or medium texture toothbrush, with soap or a mild detergent - not toothpaste which will damage the surface of the dentures. Always clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them.

Also, regularly soak your dentures to remove bacteria and stubborn stains. You should use a commercial cleaner; soaking for 10-20 minutes will kill 99% of bacteria. For plastic dentures only you could use very weak bleach or Milton, slightly warmed. For metal dentures, you can use vinegar. Don't use mouthwash - it's not designed for soaking dentures and has no effect. Sonic denture cleaners are units that produce a sonic wave to agitate the cleaning solution and makes it work more effectively.

Plaque removal

If the plaque that you produce in your mouth isn't removed properly, it can react with your saliva and harden into tartar; some people build up tartar on their dentures just as they would on their natural teeth. As with your own teeth, you won't be able to remove this tartar completely yourself and eventually it can make the denture uncomfortable and unsightly. We can remove tartar for you.

Dental Visits

Even if you have no natural teeth it's still important to visit us regularly. We can check the gums and lining of your mouth to make sure they are still healthy. We can adjust your dentures so as to avoid your losing bone where the dentures are worn or have a bad bite, or so as to take into account any changes to your muscle control and the appearance of your face. We can also check any deterioration in your dentures, which can lead to an accumulation of bacteria - this will not only make your mouth sore and uncomfortable but will also lead to infection.

 

If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a ring on 01624 675 164, or alternatively check with your dentist on your next visit to the practice.