Adult & Family Dentistry FAQ
1. Why should I floss, isn’t brushing enough?
You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of about half of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can’t get to, the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only half your face.
If you do not floss, eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing or flossing. Only your hygienist can remove tartar.
Ask your hygienist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
2. What is Xylitol and how can it reduce decay?
Current research is now promoting the use of xylitol to decrease the incidence of dental decay. Xylitol is not an artificial sweetener, but a naturally occurring five-carbon sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohol is neither sugar nor alcohol. It is a carbohydrate that resembles sugar but without the harmful effects of sugar. It is derived from fibrous parts of plants, vegetables, and berry-type fruit.
The average American consumes large amounts of sugar per day. The cavity- causing bacteria in our mouth, feed on sugar and then multiply rapidly. The bacteria excrete the acidic plaque film that sticks to the teeth and causes decay. Unlike sugar, xylitol is not a food source for the bacteria and actually inhibits the production of plaque. The less plaque build-up, the less bacteria which results in far less decay. Research has shown that xylitol is most effective if consumed throughout the day. Since xylitol is available not only as a sugar substitute but can also be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, candies, mints and chewing gum, it is a way to help keep our teeth decay free.
3. What are cavity-fighting sealants?
The American Dental Association points out sealants are an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating applied on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria.
Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about one fourth the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth.
Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for you or your children.
4. What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting jaw bone structure. If left untreated, it can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that have shifted
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended therapy plans.
5. What causes canker sores?
The exact cause of canker sores is unknown. Some factors may include genetics, allergies, stress, as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can result in the development of canker sores. Ill-fitting dentures or braces, toothbrush trauma from brushing too hard, or biting your cheek, may produce canker sores.
Certain foods may also be a factor. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Foods like chips, pretzels and hard candies have sharp edges that can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth.
To treat a small canker sore, rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm water and salt. Over the counter treatments are also available.
If the canker sore is large or painful, see your dentist. Ask our friendly staff for more information about canker sores. There are prescriptions that greatly improve healing and decrease pain.
6. Why should I use a mouthguard?
A mouthguard can prevent injuries to your face, teeth, and brain. Most people benefit from wearing a mouthguard when playing any sport. You should wear one whether you are playing professionally or just on weekends. The best mouthguards are custom-fitted by your dentist. This is especially important if you wear braces or have fixed bridgework.
Commercial, ready-made mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. They are relatively inexpensive but they are also less effective. In either case, rinse your mouthguard with water or mouthwash after each use. With proper care, it should last for several months.
Ask your dentist which kind of mouthguard you should use.
7. I am undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation for cancer treatment, how can this affect my mouth?
Chemotherapy and Radiation can cause a number of problems in the mouth. These can include: mouth sores, infections, dry mouth, bleeding of the gums and lining of the mouth and general soreness and pain of the mouth. It can be harder to control these things while undergoing treatment as the immune system is generally compromised as a result of the treatment. It is very important to see your Dentist before treatment begins and then to continue with recommended follow-up care. These treatments can cause ongoing dry mouth, and recommendations might be made for additional care both in-office and at home. There are some special mouth rinses that can be prescribed to help with discomfort during treatment.
8. I have diabetes. Why is my dentist concerned?
Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your Dentist regularly for checkups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums be sure to talk with your dentist, and don’t forget to mention any changes in medications.