Frequently Asked Questions
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 fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: 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.
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 often 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. White fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, 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 is the difference between DDS and DMD?
A: The Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degrees are essentially the same degrees. Most dental schools award the DDS degree; however, the education is the same as a DMD degree.
Q: How effective are over-the-counter teeth whitening products?
A: There are many solutions to whiten your teeth from home that can be purchased from your dentist or over-the-counter. Bleaching solutions contain peroxide which actually bleaches the tooth enamel. These whitening products typically rely on carbamide peroxide as the bleaching agent usually available in different concentrations from 10% to 22%. Although many teeth whitening products have proven to lighten tooth color, only dentist-dispensed home-use 10% carbamide peroxide tray-applied gels carry the ADA Seal. If you encounter sensitivity during treatment, consult your dentist about the side effects of whitening treatment.
Q: How does my diet during pregnancy affect my baby's teeth?
A: Your diet during the nine months of pregnancy directly impacts the development of your baby -- including teeth. Because your baby's teeth begin to develop during the second trimester of pregnancy, it is important that you receive recommended amounts of calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D. Consult your physician and dentist for information about proper diet nutrient levels during your pregnancy.
Q: How come my jaw clicks (pops), and what can I do about it?
A: According to the ADA, over fifteen percent of Americans suffer from chronic facial pain. Common symptoms include pain around the ear and clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth. The complex system of muscles, ligaments, and bones that comprise the TM joint can cause facial pain and discomfort or popping when a problem prevents this system from functioning properly. There are several ways a TMJ disorder can be treated; however, proper diagnosis is a critical step before treatment. Your dentist will recommend what type of treatment is needed for your particular problem or recommend that you be referred to a specialist. Treatment may involve a series of steps. The step-by-step plan is advantageous because a non-invasive treatment may be possible to treat a TMJ disorder.
Q: What do I do to stop grinding my teeth?
A: Night-time teeth grinding can have a negative impact on your oral health as well as your overall health. Teeth grinders often experience a sore jaw and dull headaches. Severe grinding can also cause teeth to become loose or fractured. Although your dentist can fit you with a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep, grinding is often caused by stress. Reducing your stress level with physical therapy or relaxation techniques will often stop the cause of the grinding.
Q: Why are x-rays necessary and are they dangerous?
A: An X-ray (radiograph) is like a photograph. The image on the radiograph is created when X-rays pass through the mouth, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. Because fewer X-rays penetrate the teeth to reach the film teeth appear lighter. Cavities and gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. Because many diseases exist beneath the visible oral tissue and cannot be detected without the use of radiographs, a radiograph is a valuable tool for the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities. X-rays pose a far smaller risk to your health than undetected and untreated dental problems.