Frequently Asked Questions
How can you combat bad breath?
It can be very embarrassing if you suffer from bad breath, and there are many instances in which people do not realize that they suffer from it. Everyone experiences bad breath at some point, especially after they wake up in the morning.
There are several reasons why someone may have bad breath, but the main reason is because of microbial deposits that sit on the tongue, especially near the back. There have been studies that show that by simply brushing your tongue, you can reduce bad breath by up to 70%
What are the causes of bad breath?
There are many different reasons why a person can suffer from bad breath, including:
- Dehydration/hunger: Drinking water and eating food increases your saliva flow, which will wash away bacteria
- Dental cavities: Can contribute to bad breath
- Diet changes: As your body burns fat, certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath
- Dry mouth: Lack of saliva can contribute to bad breath
- Eating certain foods: Certain foods have odor-causing compounds that can enter the blood stream and then get transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled
- Morning time: When you are sleeping, your saliva flow almost stops and because of this, it reduces the cleaning action that allows bacteria to grow, which causes bad breath
- Periodontal disease (gum disease): There can be lots of bacteria and food debris that can get lodged under inflamed gums
- Poor dental hygiene: Food particles can remain in the mouth and can promote bacterial growth if they are not removed from the mouth
- Tobacco products: Cause your mouth to be dry, which in return causes bad breath
How can I prevent bad breath?
There are several different things you can do to prevent bad breath. The first is to practice good oral hygiene and to brush your teeth at least twice a day and flossing in order to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth. You should also schedule regular dentist appointments, usually twice a year, to make sure that you are having your teeth checked and cleaned. Drinking water frequently is another way to combat bad breath, since water keeps your mouth moist and washes away any bacteria. You can also use mouthwash as a temporary solution for bad breath.
If you suffer from constant bad breath, you should talk to your dentist about it. If they decide that your mouth is healthy, but you still continue to suffer from bad breath, your dentist may refer you to a physician to figure out what is causing your bad breath.
How should I brush and floss my teeth?
Brushing and flossing are crucial parts of a healthy oral hygiene routine and you should be brushing and flossing your teeth everyday.
Your teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, using a soft bristle toothbrush and toothpaste. You should brush your teeth gently, using a small, circular motion. You want to be sure to brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of each tooth and you should also brush your tongue in order to remove bacteria and make your breath fresh. Electrical toothbrushes are recommended since they are more efficient at removing plaque.
You should also be flossing daily in order to fully clean between your teeth. Flossing removes plaque and food debris and helps to keep your teeth healthy. You should use about 12-16 inches of floss and should wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches of floss to utilize. They using your thumbs and forefingers, you should gently guide the floss in between each tooth, using a sawing motion. You should be sure to gently move the floss up and down and should clean in between each tooth.
Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
There has been some concern in recent years as to the safety of using amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are made of a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc and are bound by elemental mercury. This type of filling has been used for over 100 years. They have become controversial since there are claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from mercury can cause people to suffer from different health problems.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), as many as 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. They also say that amalgam fillings are safe to use and they have not found a link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder. The U.S. Public Health Service says the only reason not use a silver filling is if a patient has an allergy to any of the components of the filling.
How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
It is recommended that you have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year. Your dentist may request more frequent visits if you have suffer from an oral health concern. It is important to have regular dental exams and cleaning, since these visits are an important means to prevent dental problems and to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.
Your dentist will also be checking and monitoring many different things in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This includes:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays
- Examination of existing restorations
- Examination of tooth decay
- Gum disease evaluation
- Medical history review
- Oral cancer screening
- Oral hygiene recommendations
- Removal of calculus (tartar)
- Removal of plaque
- Review dietary habits
- Teeth polishing
How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
Many people who suffer from periodontal disease are unaware of the fact that they have it. In fact, 80% of people are unaware since the disease is usually painless in the early stages. It is important to have regular dental visits and periodontal examinations so your dentist can check if you have gingivitis or gum disease.
Periodontal disease starts when you have plaque, food debris and saliva that stays on your teeth and gums. The bacteria from these product acids that cause inflammation in your gums and it can slowly destroy the bone. By regularly brushing and flossing, you can remove plaque so it cannot damage your teeth and gums.
In addition to poor oral hygiene, other factors that can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease include:
- Certain tooth or appliance conditions
- Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Systemic diseases – Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
There are several different signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, including:
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- New spacing between teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Receding gums
- Red and puffy gums
- Tenderness or Discomfort
If you practice good oral hygiene, visit your dentist regularly and have a balanced diet, you can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Why is it important to use dental floss?
Although it is extremely important that you brush your teeth at least twice a day in order to remove food particles, bacteria and plaque from your teeth, your toothbrush cannot reach all of the areas in your mouth that are extremely prone to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Flossing each day is the best way to clean in between each tooth and under the gum line. Not only does it clean out these areas, but it also prevents plaque from building up.
How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
Your smile is an essential part of your face and if you are feeling self-conscious about your teeth or just want to have that perfect smile again, you may want to consider cosmetic dental treatments. Cosmetic dentistry has become increasing popular in recent years because of the advancements in dental technology and because so many patients are seeing the benefits to their overall health.
There are many different types of cosmetic dental procedures that will improve your teeth and give you a beautiful and radiant smile. Cosmetic procedures include:
- Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings: Composite fillings are becoming more commonly used instead of amalgam fillings to repair cavities. Tooth-colored fillings can also be used to repair discolored, broken or chipped teeth. Composite fillings are very useful in filling in gaps and protecting sensitive, exposed roots that gum recession has caused
- Dental Implants: Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically put into the jaw to replace teeth that are missing
- Orthodontics: There are several different options to straighten teeth and there are now less visible and more effective brackets and wires that are more appealing to adults. There are even removable aligner options to straighten teeth that do not require braces
- Porcelain Crowns (caps): Porcelain crowns are tooth-colored coverings that will surround the whole tooth and give it its original shape and size again. Crowns are used to protect and strengthen teeth that are unable to be restored with any other type of restoration
- Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin, tooth-colored shells that are custom-made and they get bonded onto the front of your teeth. Veneers are useful for restoring or hiding any poorly shaped, damaged, misaligned or discolored teeth
- Teeth Whitening: This is a very popular treatment that lightens any teeth that have been discolored or stained by food, drink, smoking or age
What are porcelain veneers and how can they improve my smile?
Porcelain veneers are very thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of the tooth. These shells get bonded to your teeth and they are very durable and will not stain.
Veneers can be used to correct or restore any of the following conditions:
- Misshapen teeth
- Severely discolored or stained teeth
- Slight tooth crowding
- Teeth that are too small or large
- Unwanted or uneven spaces
- Worn or chipped teeth
At your first dental appointment, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth that will get sent to a professional laboratory so your custom veneers can get made. Once the mold has been made, you will come back for a second appointment to get the veneers fitted and bonded onto the surface of your teeth, using special bonding cements. Veneers can drastically enhance your smile.
What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?
There are many options available for people looking to brighten their smile. Professional teeth whitening is a very easy, non-invasive treatment that works to change the color of the enamel of your teeth. There are also over-the-counter products available, but they are not as effective as professional treatments.
As you get older, the outermost layer of enamel gets worn darn, and beneath it, is a darker or more yellow shade. Other causes of tooth discoloration are smoking, and staining from certain foods and drinks. Some medications can also cause your teeth to become discolored.
Your dentist can let you know if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening. Teeth whitening is not a permanent treatment, so you may need to have a touch-up every few years to maintain the desired results. There are two professional teeth whitening systems that are most commonly used:
- Home teeth whitening systems: You will get a custom-fitted tray that is made from a mold of your teeth. You will usually wear the tray twice a day for about 30 minutes and will do this for a few weeks, depending on the extent of the staining and your desired goal of whitening
- In office teeth whitening: You will see immediate results from this teeth whitening treatment, but you may need to have more than one visit. A bleaching solution will be applied to the teeth and your dentist may use a special light to enhance the agent while your teeth are being whitened
Some people will experience some minor sensitivity in their teeth after a whitening treatment. This should be a temporary feeling and it usually goes away within a few days after the treatment.