Frequently Asked Questions
“What causes bad breath?”
Bad breath is usually caused by microbial deposits on the tongue, particularly near the back. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue can reduce bad breath by 70 percent. Other causes of bad breath include:
- Just waking up - Saliva flow slows significantly during sleep, which allows bacteria to grow.
- Poor oral hygiene – When food particles remain in the mouth for long periods of time bacteria tends to grow.
- Periodontal Disease – Pockets of bacteria underneath inflamed gums.
- Dry Mouth – Whether caused by medications or salivary gland problems (or even continuous mouth breathing), dry mouth can diminish the mouth’s ability to fight off bacteria.
- Tobacco products – These can dry the mouth out and promote bacterial growth.
- Dieting – Sometimes chemicals called ketones are released as the body burns fat, which can cause bad breath.
“How often should I have a dental cleaning and exam?”
You should have a dental cleaning at least twice per year. Not only does the cleaning keep plaque under control, but it gives your dentist the opportunity to check for cavities and other more serious problems with your teeth and gums. The earlier your dentist can detect and treat these problems, the easier and less expensive it will be for you.
“How do I know if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?”
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! This is largely because in the early stages there is no pain, unlike tooth decay which can become uncomfortable.
Periodontal disease begins when plaque is left on teeth and gums. The bacteria begins producing toxins that wear away at teeth and gums. It can be difficult to tell at first when this begins happening, which is another reason regular visits to the dentist are important.
“Why do I need to floss?”
Brushing doesn’t remove all the food particles, plaque, and bacteria from between your teeth. Food that builds up here is a big cause of periodontal disease.
The most effective way for you to remove this debris is by flossing. Use 12-16 inches of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches of floss between your hands. Gently guide the floss between your teeth with your forefingers using a slow sawing motion, cleaning both sides of each tooth.
If you have difficultly maneuvering conventional floss, floss holders are recommended.
“Why are my teeth stained or discolored, and what can I do about it?”
Over the years our outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, which can reveal a darker or yellower shade. Smoking, coffee, tea, and wine can all discolor teeth. Certain medications, particularly during childhood, can also discolor teeth.
A popular method for correcting stained or discolored teeth is professional whitening. This is a simple, non-invasive procedure used to enhance the brightness and color of your teeth and restore your smile. Over the counter methods of tooth whitening are also available, but are less effective and slower acting than what your dentist can offer. Additionally, not all over the counter whitening products are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
“What do I do if a tooth is knocked out?”
A tooth that has been knocked out can potentially be re-implanted if certain conditions are met. First, after you’ve locating the missing tooth handle it only by the crown, or the part of the tooth used for chewing. Try not to touch the roots of the tooth.
If the tooth has dirt or debris on it, rinse it only in whole milk or your own saliva. If that is not possible you can rinse it very gently with water.
If it’s possible, try to place the tooth back into its socket immediately, and bite down gently to keep the tooth in place. Apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling as needed. If the tooth cannot be placed back into its socket, place it in a small container covered with whole milk or your saliva. You can also place the tooth under your tongue or lower lip to keep it moist during transport. Try to make it to your dentist within 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out to maximize the chances the tooth can be re-implanted.