Frequently Asked Questions
Why is oral health so important?
Our mouth is the gateway to our body. We use it for speaking, eating, smiling and when necessary, breathing. Good dental health is part of good overall health. Dental disease is associated with several serious general health conditions, inclusing diabetes, atherosclerosis and poor nutrition. Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to reduce your risk of dental decay and periodontal disease is by thorough and consistent daily dental care habits. Make good nutrition part of your life as what’s good for your general health is good for your oral health. Avoid smoking and tobacco products and if you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar well-controlled.
Periodontal disease and decay are both initiated by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria, which adheres to your teeth and gums and is constantly forming. While some bacteria are friendly and helpful, others are aggressive and harmful. If harmful bacteria are allowed to persist, our immune system attempts to defend us from them, resulting in inflammation of our gums. This inflammation can destroy the bone support around our teeth and is often not painful or evident until the late stages of the disease. Periodontal disease is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis, the hardening of our arteries. It is also associated with several other systemic diseases.
What Kind of Toothbrush Should I Use?
Dr. Watts recommends using a manual or powered toothbrush with soft bristles. We often recommend powered brushes as they have a timer to ensure enough brushing time and are very effective in removing dental plaque. With any brush you choose, the head of the brush should be small enough to maneuver around all the surfaces of all your teeth.
Dr. Watts or our dental hygienists can recommend what may be best for you at dental cleaning appointments.
Do I Need to Floss?
Although flossing is our ‘gold standard’ in removing plaque from the surfaces of our teeth and gums, many people have difficulty with the technique and dexterity required for this. Everyone should use some method of cleaning between their teeth where plaque bacteria live, as they frequently cause dental decay and gum disease in these areas. Many alternatives to flossing exist today, including water flossers, small, thin brushes and other cleaning devices to reach these areas. Our dental hygienists are experts in working with people to help them find something they like to use for this!
Why are My Teeth Sensitive?
There can be many reasons for tooth sensitivity. If people have had gum recession, the exposed part of the tooth root can be sensitive. Some toothpastes and mouthrinses contain ingredients that can increase tooth sensitivity, such as abrasive whitening or tartar control agents. People who habitually clench or grind their teeth can also have generalized sensitivity from the stress they put on their teeth. Tooth sensitivity can also be due to a crack in a tooth, tooth decay, a dental infection or recent dental work. Once the cause of your sensitivity is determined, effective treatment is available for all these issues.
How do I Choose Oral Hygiene Products?
There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.
- Look for the ADA seal of approval on the package. Rigorous testing and proof of any claims on the package are required to earn the seal of the American Dental Association
- Added ingredients for whitening and tartar control can be abrasive and increase tooth sensitivity in some people.
- Be careful of product claims implying ‘natural’ ingredients are superior; these are often untested and unproven and may be irritating and harmful in some cases.
- People of all ages benefit from the topical fluoride present in toothpaste as it helps strengthen weakened enamel and reduce oral bacteria.
- If you get frequent canker sores, avoid SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste.
- If your mouth is frequently dry, gentle products formulated for a dry mouth can be soothing and more comfortable.
- Products formulated for sensitive teeth have ingredients that can help reduce generalized sensitivity.
- Avoid mouthrinses that contain alcohol, as this dries out our oral tissues.
- Choose something that you enjoy the taste of as it will motivate you to use it more often.
- Please ask at your visits what we may recommend for your specific needs, we are happy to answer your questions!
Why Do I Need a Professional Dental Cleaning?
Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental plaque and tartar (calculus) to a minimum, and a professional dental cleaning will remove bacteria and stains in places your toothbrush and floss may have missed. Our dental cleanings always include an assessment of the health of your gums. Regular cleanings are recommended as an important part of helping you reduce your risk of gum disease and helping you keep your teeth for your lifetime. The frequency that cleanings are recommended depends on your past and current dental health, systemic health conditions such as diabetes, genetics, habits and the biochemistry of your mouth.