FAQs - Common Dental Questions

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Surprisingly, the vast majority of dental procedures are completely painless and often, when there is discomfort, it is minor and brief in duration. Otherwise, anesthetic is safe, fast-acting and the side effects dissipate quickly.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth — to cover the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
Dental veneers (sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance
If you have an infection, or are experiencing inflammation, fluid may build at these points causing swelling and discomfort.
With composites (white fillings), you can eat right away but I tell patients to wait until the anesthesia wears off because that reduces the likelihood of you biting your cheek/lip
If you are brushing the recommended 3 times a day, you will likely need to replace your toothbrush after 3-6 months
Soft. Whatever brand you like, just make sure the packaging says ‘Soft
Whatever you think tastes good — so you’ll brush more — Ask your dentist if they recommend fluoridated or non- fluoridated for you.
We would recommend alcohol-free rinses.
Toothpicks are better than not using anything at all, but they are only a stopgap measure. You should floss as soon as reasonably possible after eating.
One benefit of a Waterpik is that it’s gentle on the gums and is less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums. A Waterpik is also ideal for people who wear braces — water will get behind the metal wires and flush out food particles. A Waterpik doesn’t remove plaque from teeth as well as floss. “Flossing scrapes off the sticky film of bacteria.
Nothing takes the place of flossing and brushing, but chewing a sugarless gum may remove some food particles, mainly on the chewing surface. Chewing gum will not get between teeth or at the gum line — the place where most buildup and problems occur.
Way too many to count. They especially multiply and colonize right after a meal. That’s why brushing is so important. It breaks up those colonies and inhibits growth.
We recommend waxed and ribbon-type floss, waxed floss helps aid in tight areas and ribbon floss covers a greater surface area.
The primary cause is residual food debris in the mouth. For more on this, and other causes and methods of prevention, see our page on Bad Breath.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea
Maybe, or maybe not. An examination will tell.
The guard is inserted into the mouth and covers the upper/lower teeth. A well-made dental night guard should not be bulky, making it possible to sleep without being uncomfortable or having your breathing obstructed. The material cushions your teeth, which prevents them from grinding against one another.
Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People whosnore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate.
Yes. And it, too, is effective and safe.
Tooth sensitivity is caused by the stimulation of cells within these tubes, causing a short, sharp pain when the area is exposed to hot or cold temperatures through food and beverages — or even by the air. Another cause of tooth sensitivity are cracks in the tooth’s enamel surface.
Yes. We love kids.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age.
Sealants are a thin coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth

American Dental Association FAQ

Cavities are a destruction of the tooth enamel. They occur when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, pop, raisins, cakes or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in cavities. This process is also called “tooth decay.”  See also: Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums and Topical Index: Tooth Decay and Dental Caries
Any mouth sore that persists for more than a week should be examined by your dentist. Leukoplakia is a thick, whitish-color patch that forms on the cheeks, gums or tongue and is caused by excess cell growth. It is common among tobacco users and can also result from irritations such as ill-filling dentures or a habit of chewing on one’s cheek. The danger of leukoplakia is that it can progress to cancer. Your dentist may want to take a biopsy if the leukoplakia appears to be threatening.

Eliminate any risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol and regularly visit your dentist. Periodic dental exams allow early detection and appropriate treatment if cancer develops. If at any time you notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or any of these signs and symptoms, contact your dentist at once:

  • A persistent sore or irritation that does not heal
  • Color changes such as the development of red and/or white lesions
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty in chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Change in bite

Bad breath can be caused by such things as certain foods, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, a dry mouth (xerostomia), tobacco products or a medical disorder. When bacteria accumulate because of poor oral hygiene or gum disease, or when saliva is lacking, bad breath can result. Saliva is necessary to wash away food particles and bacteria. Certain medications and disorders can lead to a dry mouth. Sometimes a sinus infection, postnasal drip or other respiratory tract infection can cause bad breath. If bad breath is persistent, contact your dentist to determine whether the cause is of dental origin. See also: Consumer Hot Topics: Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Regular checkups will allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be the cause. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.

Regardless of what may be the cause, good oral hygiene is essential. Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners. Brush your tongue, too. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. If you don’t already have a dentist, see Bad Breath.
See also: Consumer Hot Topics: Bad Breath (Halitosis)

If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and that the odor is not of oral origin, you may be referred to your family physician or to a specialist to determine the cause of the odor and for treatment. Of course, if the odor is of oral origin, as it is in the majority of cases, your dentist can treat the cause of the problem.

If the odor is due to gum disease, your general dentist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in treating gum tissues. Gum disease can cause gum tissues to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. When these pockets are deep, only a professional periodontal cleaning can remove the bacteria and plaque that accumulate. Sometimes more extensive treatment is necessary.

If you have extensive build-up of plaque, an invisible layer of bacteria, your dentist may recommend using a special antimicrobial mouthrinse. Your dentist may also recommend that when you brush your teeth, you also brush your tongue to remove excess plaque.

After determining the cause of your halitosis, your dentist will be able to prescribe or recommend those products that can be helpful for you. See Products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

The ADA cannot vouch for the claims the manufacturers of halitosis kits make. If you are concerned about their safety and effectiveness, you can ask your dentist if the products in the kit will be useful for you.

Many antiseptic mouthrinse products, however, have been accepted by the ADA for their therapeutic benefits in reducing plaque and gingivitis and also have breath freshening properties. See the ADA’s Products of Excellence Catalog under the heading Mouthrinses, Anti-plaque/Anti-Gingivitis. Instead of simply masking breath odor, these products have been demonstrated to kill the germs that cause bad breath. You may wish to ask your dentist about trying some of these products

Canker sores are often confused with cold sores. An easy way to distinguish between the two is to remember that canker sores occur inside the mouth, and cold sores usually occur outside the mouth.

A canker sore (also called aphthous ulcers) is a small ulcer with a white or gray base and red border. There can be one or a number of sores in the mouth. Canker sores are very common and often recur.

A cold sore, which is also called fever blister or herpes simplex, is composed of groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters that often erupt around the lips and sometime under the nose or under the chin. Cold sores are usually caused by herpes virus type I and are very contagious.

Canker sores usually heal in about a week or two. Rinsing with anitmircobial mouthrinses may help reduce the irritation. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can also provide relief. Cold sores usually heal in about a week. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide temporary relief and prescription antiviral drugs may reduce these kinds of viral infections.

When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected (often from a deep cavity or a deep crack),

the infection can spread throughout the pulp. If root canal treatment is not done, the infection may travel into the tissues near the root tip. This can cause the adjacent bone to erode. The pocket of pus that forms is the abscess. If the abscess increases in size, it can become more painful.
See also: Root Canal (Endodontic) Treatment