COMMON DENTAL QUESTIONS
When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends your child’s first visit tothe dentist be by one year of age or six months after the eruption ofthe first tooth, but no later than two and a half years of age. This is probably a lot earlier than most people think, but tooth decay in children can progress rapidly and visiting the dentist early can prevent damage toyour child’s first teeth.
Do I Need To Floss?
Yes, everyone needs to floss. Brushing alone only cleans fifty percent of your teeth, the other fifty percent comes from flossing. Adding an antibacterial mouth rinse reduces plaque buildup in your mouth.
Who Needs Flouride?
Children need flouride to protect their newly forming teeth from bacteria and sugars. People who have braces have more difficulty accessing the surfaces of their teeth in order to maintain proper oral hygiene and therefore need flouride to protect their teeth from white spots (de-mineralization) and cavities, because it is hard to maintain proper oral care due to difficult access to all surfaces of their teeth.
People who have sensitive teeth need flouride because flouride has been scientifically proven to help with sensitivity. The main medical ingredient in sensitive toothpaste is sodium flouride. Adults with recession are prone to root cavities, therefore using flouride will help prevent root cavities and sensitivity. Xerostomia (dry mouth) is often caused by many different medications or previous radiation treatment. Patients with Xerostomia do not have enough saliva and without sufficient saliva more bacteria grows in the mouth and can possibly cause an infection or cavity. Flouride can also help prevent cavities in patients with poor oral hygiene. It is important to have your mouth assessed by a dental hygienist or dentist so you can learn new techniques to keep your oral health in optimum state.
I Brush My Teeth Daily, Why do I Need a Dental Hygienist to do it?
Although you may have a detailed oral care regime (i.e. brushing twice a day & flossing) there are areas such as under the gums, back of your teeth (molars), and between your teeth which you can not access properly with floss or brushing alone. A dental hygienist has superior cleaning instruments that access these areas and other surfaces of your teeth. Once that white sticky stuff (plaque) hardens (which is then called calculus,) a toothbrush or floss is unable to remove this hard deposit. This is where a dental hygienist uses her training and specialized tools to remove the buildup.
What is Calculus?
When you move your tongue around your teeth and you may feel fuzzy stuff-this is called plaque. If the plaque stays there long enough it then matures and hardens due to the calcium in your saliva and then becomes calculus. Calculus is harmful to your oral health and can cause loss of supporting bone that holds your teeth in place. If calculus is not controlled it can lead to mobile teeth and eventually tooth loss because the supporting bone has been destroyed and can no longer hold the tooth in place. This is why it is very important to be assessed by a dental professional so you are aware of where calculus forms in your mouth and ways to help reduce it.
What is dental fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis occurs when white specks appear on a child’s teeth and is the result of ingesting too much fluoride from eating or swallowing toothpaste or from excessive flouride supplements. There is recent evidence that dental fluorosis among children is increasing. Most dental fluorosis is mild and barely visible, and not health threatening or damaging to teeth. In more severe cases however, it should be treated by a dentist.
Dental fluorosis can be reduced in children by using non-fluoridated toothpaste untilthe child is three to four years of age, at which age the child should be able to rinse and spit without swallowing the toothpaste.
Why do “gums” bleed when brushing?
When “gums” bleed during brushing or flossing, it can mean a number of things. The simple reason could be that you have brushed too hard, which often is the case when you use a hard toothbrush. Soft bristled toothbrushes are recommended instead as they are gentler on the delicate gum tissue surrounding the teeth. The more common reason that gums bleed after brushing is inflammation of the gums. Inflammation is your gums reaction to buildup of plaque and food around them which can occur if you have not been practicing good oral hygiene habits. Bleeding gums could be a sign of gingivitis or gum disease that results from that inflammation and if you are experience bleeding gums you should visit a dentist. Gum disease can cause tooth loss if not treated early enough. Therefore, good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentist are important for maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile.
Why are my teeth sensitive to cold?
Enamel and gum protect your teeth and cover the middle layer of the tooth that’s called dentin. There are a number of different ways however, that this natural protection can weaken. Certain foods or drinks, grinding and clenching your teeth and even brushing too hard can be damaging.
Acidic foods or drinks like pop, certain alcoholic beverages and citrus fruits can “soften” the hard enamel that covers the tooth surface. Once the acid “softens” the enamel, it takes a couple of hours for enamel to harden again. Normally, the enamel is resistant to various physical stresses but when “softened” by acids, it becomes sensitive to toothwear forces. Brushing too hard or grinding your teeth can gradually remove the enamel, especially when it is “soft”. Over time, the protective enamelcan wear down so much that the part of the tooth called dentin becomesexposed.
Many people experience gum recession with aging, and due to gum disease, but brushing too hard can also affect your gums by pushing them back untilthey no longer cover the tooth at the natural gum line. This gum recession can be an important factor leading to dentin exposure and tooth sensitivity. In addition to sensitivity caused by tooth wear and gum recession, there are some situations that can cause temporary sensitivity such as bleaching or whitening procedures,gum surgery and scaling or polishing.
What are canker Sores?
Canker sores are small sores that appear on the inside of the mouth, especially the cheeks, the inside of the lips, and the tongue. They’re also called aphthous ulcers. Rarely they may develop on the gums or on the roof of the mouth. Small canker sores disappear within 14 days and don’t scar. Large ones are less common, may take weeks to heal and can leave scars. Canker sores aren’t contagious like cold sores are.
At any given time, 20% of Canadians will have a canker sore. They’re most common in women and in people aged 10 to 40 years. Many people get them regularly, at least once a year. In the most severe cases, people get one after another.
For treatment of canker sores there are many over the counter medications that can help ease your discomfort. If the problem persists longer than 1-2 weeks or the sores become larger and you have difficulty eating make an appointment to visit your dentist for any alternative treatments that may be available.
What is Halitosis?
Bad breath, morning breath, breath odor or halitosis are all terms to describe a noticeable unpleasant odor exhaled on the breath. Halitosis is not a problem by itself but it can cause concern in our interpersonal relationships.
The consumption of certain foods (i.e. garlic and/or onions) can affect our breath. This occurs because these foods are absorbed into the bloodstream and absorbed into our lungs and then exhaled. Fortunately bad bread caused by foods is only temporary.Most bad breath odor comes from food particles trapped in the mouth. When food remains in the mouth it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that cause the bad breath. Other causes include poor oral health, improper cleaning of dentures, periodontal disease, smoking and use of tobacco products. Bad breath can also be a sign of underlying medical conditions of the stomach, lungs and bloodstream.Xerostomia, or dry mouth, can also contribute to bad breath. When the mouth is dry, saliva production decreases leaving the mouths’ natural ability to clean itself impaired. Alcohol consumption, certain medications and mouth breathing can be contributing factors.
To prevent halitosis, brush, floss and rinse after every meal. Brush your tongue daily and visit the dentist for regular check ups to correct any faulty restorations, overhanging fillings and faulty crowns all of which can trap food in the mouth. Also, chewing sugarless gum increases saliva flow and cleans foods from the mouth which helps.