Q: Why is visiting the dentist regularly important? (crisis treatment vs. preventive treatment)
A: Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They go only when they have a problem. We call this “crisis treatment” as opposed to preventive treatment. While these patients may feel they are saving money, it usually ends up costing much more in both dollars and time. The reason for this is that most dental problems do not have any symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. A simple example is tooth decay.
We often hear, “Nothing hurts…I don’t have any problems.” But tooth decay does not hurt! Until, that is, it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. By that time, root canal treatment followed by a post, buildup, and crown are often necessary, instead of the filling which could have been placed several years earlier when the cavity was just beginning to form. Your dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity and who has never felt a thing! This is why regular checkups are important. Visiting the dentist regularly will not only help keep your teeth and mouth healthy, but will also help keep the rest of your body healthy as well.
Dental care is important because it:
- helps prevent tooth decay (Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease)
- protects against gum disease which can lead to tooth and bone loss
- prevents bad breath—brushing, flossing, and seeing dentist regularly will help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth that causes halitosis (bad breath)
- gives you a more attractive smile and increases your self-confidence.
- strengthens your teeth so that you can enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles for the rest of your life.
Q: How often should I see the dentist?
A: Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular check-up at least once every 6 months. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to see the dentist more than just twice a year. Your doctor will help determine how often you need to come in.
Q: At what age should I start taking my child to the
A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months of age and no later than one year of age. During this time, your child’s baby teeth will be coming in and your dentist can examine the health of your child’s first few teeth. After the first visit, be sure to schedule regular checkups every 6 months.
Q: Why does dentist take x-rays?
A: Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth.
An X-ray examination may reveal:
- Small areas of decay between the teeh or below existing fillings (restorations)
- Infections in the bone
- Periodontal disease/amount of bone loss
- Abscesses or cysts
- Developmental abnormalities
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, and often unnecessary discomfort. Dental x-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during visual exam. Your dentist will evaluate your need for x-rays based on the conditions present in your mouth. The schedule for x-rays can vary with age, risk for disease or for evaluation of growth and development.
Q: Why are my teeth sensitive and what can I do?
A: Sensitive teeth can be caused by the following dental issues:
- Worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively.
- Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages.
- Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth.
- Gum recession that leaves your root surface exposed.
- Grinding your teeth at night.
- Post dental treatment sensitivity – common, but temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching.
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in office to the roots of your tooth to reduce—if not eliminate—the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Q: What Should I do if I have bleeding gums?
A: People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. Instead, when gums are inflamed, brushing often and effectively is imperative. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue. It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.
Q: How pregnancy affects oral condition?
A: About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and pre-term, low birth-weight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease. Dental check-up and cleaning is important during your course of pregnancy.
Q: I wear dentures, Is it still necessary to see my dentist?
A: With many dental treatments and prevention options available in dentistry today, there are fewer reasons for having to extract teeth. When something does go wrong with a tooth, we try to do everything possible to restore the tooth to its original function. Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced.
Losing a tooth can be a very traumatic experience and it’s very unfortunate when it does happen. Injury, accident, fracture, severe dental decay, and gum disease are the major reasons for having to remove a tooth. If teeth are lost due to injury or have to be removed, it is imperative that they be replaced to avoid cosmetic and dental problems in the future.
When a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that helped support that tooth begins to shrink, causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth. Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on. These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ problems. These problems and movements do not result immediately, but will eventually appear, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite, and the beauty of your smile.
Options for replacement of missing teeth:
Removable partial denture - This type of appliance is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, especially in complex dental situations where other replacement options are not possible. They are usually made of tooth-colored, artificial teeth combined with metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable partial dentures are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth but might be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because the metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal.
Fixed bridges - This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is cemented to a natural tooth adjacent to the missing tooth site. The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed, and it is sturdy. The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, natural teeth will have to be crowned to hold the bridge in place.
Dentures - This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patient’s original teeth. Most complete denture patients have a hard time adjusting to the dentures. The fitting of complete dentures is usually difficult for patient to deal with daily tasks.
Implants - Are a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They can also provide great support for ill-fitting dentures. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are usually stable, durable, and are the aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.
If you are missing teeth, ask us if they need replacement and what options are available to you. Together we will select the best replacement option for your particular case. Prevention and early treatment are always less involved and less costly than delaying treatment and allowing a serious problem to develop.