FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Can regular dental visits really add years to your life?
A: Yes! Heart Disease: Oral bacteria may compromise cardiovascular health by promoting the formation of blood clots and fatty deposits. Periodontitis has been implicated as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease comparable in importance to elevated cholesterol. Cancer: Oral cancer is as common as leukemia and claims more lives than either melanoma or cervical cancer. The five year survival rate is only about 50% since it is often diagnosed in advanced stages. It is usually painless in the early stages and can only be detected through oral cancer screenings during regular dental visits. Birthweight: Women with periodontitis are eight times more likely to give birth to premature low-birthweight babies. The inflammatory process associated with gum disease appears to promote pre-term delivery. Low birthweight children are more likely to develop cardiovascular problems later in life. Diabetes: Periodontal diseases may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. In addition, diabetics with periodontitis are more likely to have heart attacks than those with healthy gums. Respiratory Disease: Oral infections are associated with increased risk of respiratory infections and endocarditis, especially in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Regular dental visits and personalized oral hygiene instruction can add years to you life.
Q: What is the #1 food that breaks teeth?
A: Bagels! We love bagels and we aren't saying you shouldn't eat them. Just be aware that when patients call us with a broken tooth or laminate or denture the food most often involved...by far...is a bagel. Ask us for more information.
Q: Why are my teeth sensitive?
A: You may be a bruxer. Bruxism refers to grinding or clenching your teeth. It is estimated there are 30-40 million people in this country who grind or clench their teeth in their sleep and are not aware of it! Chewing food puts about 20 pounds of pressure on your teeth while bruxing puts about 250 pounds of pressure on your teeth. There are many different signs and symptoms and all bruxers will not exhibit all of them. These include worn biting surfaces, fracture lines, broken fillings, chipped teeth, cracked roots, temperature sensitivity, gumline erosion, decay, receding gums, shortened teeth, looseness, root canal problems, and eventually tooth loss. Bruxers can have pain, clicking, and popping in their jaws as well as headaches, earaches, and tongue indentations. Possible causes include stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, antidepressant medications like Zoloft and Prozac, and genetics. Treatment can be as simple as reducing the causes where possible and wearing a custom fitted nightguard to prevent the teeth from coming together during sleep. We always check for signs of bruxism...please let us know if you experience any of the symptoms.
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: There is no difference...the words are interchangable. These are restorations to repair a highly filled or severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. They can be made of porcelain, gold, or composites. All of these restorations can be called caps or 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 many studies state 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 will provide better overall satisfaction.
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.