What is dentistry?

Dentistry is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions, disorders, and diseases of the tooth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Often considered necessary for complete oral health, dentistry can have an impact on the health of your entire body.

Why is visiting the dentist so 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. Dental care is important because it:

  • Helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Protects against periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss.
  • Prevents bad breath – brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly will help reduce the amount of bad-breath causing bacteria in your mouth.
  • Gives you a more attractive smile and increases your self-confidence.
  • Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing them from becoming stained by food, drinks, and tobacco.
  • Strengthens your teeth so that you can enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles for the rest of your life!

My teeth feel fine; do I still need to see a dentist?

Your teeth may feel fine, but it’s still important to see the dentist regularly because problems can exist without you knowing. Also, your smile’s appearance is important, and your dentist can help keep your smile healthy, and looking beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth. Today’s dentists offer many treatment choices that can help you smile with confidence, including:

Professional teeth whitening.

Fillings that mimic the appearance of natural teeth.

Tooth replacement and full smile makeovers.

How can I take care of my teeth in between dental checkups?

ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss at least once!

Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. This will help prevent cavities!

Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities). Also avoid tobacco (this can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer)

Don’t be afraid to brush your tongue! By brushing your tongue, you will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh!

At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?

It is recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months old and no later than one year old. 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

How often should I see the dentist?

Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months – that’s twice a year! 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. You doctor will help determine how often you should visit the dentist for regular checkups.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth and is caused by tooth decay. Cavities are formed when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This can produce an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush your teeth at least three times a day, and floss in between teeth at least once.

What is a filling?

A filling is a synthetic material that your dentist uses to fill a cavity after all of the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt because your dentist will numb your mouth with an anesthetic (typically Novocain) and relax your body with a light dose of nitrous oxide. Fillings are made from a variety of different materials, including amalgam, composites, gold, or ceramic. If you need a filling, be sure and talk to your doctor about what type is best for you and your teeth.

How often should I brush my teeth?

According to your dentist , you should be brushing your teeth at least three times a day. Brushing keeps your teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria causing plaque. It is also recommended that when you brush your teeth, you use a medium/hard  toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. You should spend at least two minutes on the top teeth and two minutes on the bottom teeth, and remember to brush your tongue; it will help keep your breath smelling fresh!

When should I change my toothbrush?

Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth three times a day for four minutes each time. Your dentist recommends that adults and children should change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions as you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently. Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks in order to keep any bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you’ve been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.

What is gum disease?

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is mostly caused by plaque and bacteria buildup that is not treated in its early stage. Other causes of periodontal disease include tobacco use, teeth grinding, some medications, and genetics. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease, and, if detected, is treatable. However, if you have gingivitis and it is left untreated, it may turn into gum disease. Advanced gum disease will lead to tooth and bone loss, and is a permanent condition. Brushing your teeth regularly, and visiting the dentist every six months will help prevent gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease. Common signs of gum disease:

Red, irritated, bleeding, or swollen gums

Chronic bad breath

Loose teeth, or loss of teeth

Extreme tooth sensitivity

Receding gum line

Abscessed teeth

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.

 Tooth Extractions

There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth and jaw at risk of decay, so your doctor may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge or implant. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.

When it is determined that a tooth extraction is needed, your dentist may remove the tooth. The root of each tooth is encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, your dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place.

Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, your dentist may recommend that you replace the extracted tooth

 Root Canals

In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you’d probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called root canal treatment, you may save that tooth.

Inside each tooth there is both the pulp and the nerve. The nerve is the vestige of the tissue that originally formed the tooth. Once the tooth has been in the mouth for a time, the functioning of the nerve is no longer necessary.

When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming a “pus-pocket” called an abscess. An abscess can cause the pulp tissue to die. When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain by-products of the infection can injure your jawbones and your overall health. Without treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.

Treatment often involves from one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist removes the diseased pulp. Next the pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are cleaned and sealed. Often posterior teeth that have endodontic treatment should have a cast crown placed in order to strengthen the remaining structure. Then, as long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups so that the root(s) of the restored tooth are nourished by the surrounding tissues, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.

Most of the time, root canals is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort, involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!