How often should I go to my dentist for a check-up?
Our dentists are trained to detect and treat many problems before you are even aware of them. The goal is prevention - prevent disease, decay and tooth loss. We can help you but only if you make the appointment. It all comes back to teamwork. Only you, your dentist and your hygienist can determine how often to make a visit, but for most people, twice a year is sufficient. Checkups should not be a one-time event. They are necessary for regular assessments of the condition and the well being of your mouth. Check-up procedures consist of:
- A review of dental and medical history.
- An overall examination of the mouth including oral cancer screening.
- A professional cleaning, possibly a fluoride treatment.
- A general assessment of hygiene at home.
Regular checkups are a MUST in the fight against gum disease.
Do I really need x-rays?
Dental x-rays are taken routinely by your dentist. If you are a new patient we recommend x-rays to check the current status of your mouth and to check for hidden problems. Upon your first visit to our office we will usually take x-rays that will be necessary to comprehensively assess your oral health. A full series of x-rays usually consists of 14 - 18 films. A Panoramic x-ray film showing a much greater area of your jaw bones may be needed as well in order for us to comfortably and competently examine you. We recommend taking x-rays every six months or so consisting of four to six films. A six-month period is a long time in the life of a cavity and it is for this reason that a visit to the dentist every six months is so important.
I am afraid of going to the dentist! What can I do?
Fear of the dentist is quite common and many people are as fearful and concerned as you may be. However, because fear of the dentist is so common, our dentists and staff are also well aware of this and are properly trained to work with you in helping you to overcome these fears. Notify our dental team about your concerns and questions. You will find they are eager to work with you to make your visits pleasant. Asking questions about your mouth and proposed treatment will help to remove fear of the unknown and give you an opportunity to become involved in your dental health. Most importantly, remember that our dental team is eager to work with you, not just on you, in order to achieve a mutual goal - maintaining the health of your smile.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, periodontal disease or gingivitis as it is also called is the number one cause of tooth loss today. The reason you lose teeth from gum disease is because this disease attacks the gums as well as the bone, which are the foundation in which your teeth rest. As the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque. If the plague is not removed on a daily basis it will form calculus, which is the breeding ground for the germs which cause periodontal disease.
Bleeding gums are the first sign that there may be a problem with the gums. Puffy, tender red gums are also a sign that there is an infection present. Bleeding gums however are not always present even in severe cases of gum disease. Routine and regular visits to our office is the best way of catching gum disease in its early stages before too much damage has been caused.
How do teeth decay?
A substance known as plaque causes tooth decay. Plaque is a clear bacteria laden film, which develops on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque interact with the starches and sugars we eat and form an acid, which breaks down or de-mineralizes our teeth. As this process is going on our saliva, along with properties it has, acts to help re-mineralize teeth. When the demineralization process is faster than that of remineralization a cavity occurs.
There are several things that can be done to slow down or totally prevent this breakdown process which leads to cavities. One of the most important contributors to decay are sugars, and eliminating or drastically reducing your intake of them will help greatly in preventing tooth decay. Proper brushing and flossing, and removal of the plaque will also help in preventing breakdown. Home fluoride rinses help aid in the remineralization process.
There are several things that you can do to help prevent tooth decay. The most important of course is the diet. What you eat plays a very important role in the overall well being of your mouth and the rest of your body. Since sugars are directly related to the breakdown process, which causes decay, eliminating sugar from the diet will have a direct impact on cavities.
What is root canal treatment?
A Root canal treatment is a very successful procedure and permits you to keep a tooth that otherwise would require extraction. Treatment is necessary when the pulp tissue inside the tooth (nerve) becomes diseased and is irreversibly damaged. Frequent causes for injury include bacteria from dental caries (decay), trauma, and coronal cracks. During treatment the dentist makes an opening in the top of the tooth and cleans the diseased or necrotic (dead) nerve tissue and bacteria from inside the root. The resulting space is sealed with an inert filling material to prevent future leakage of bacteria from saliva. Following the root canal treatment, a new filling or crown is required.