Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.
The important part of brushing is proper technique and time (many people do not brush for 2 - 3 minutes). Children do not have the dexterity to brush their own teeth until they have reached the development stage where they can tie their own shoes. Plus, as we age, dexterity begins to wane. While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, it can be very beneficial. We can help you determine what is best for your at-home care.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a toothpaste containing flouride to decrease the risk of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.
Q: What’s the difference between a “crown” and a “cap”?
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as “crowns”. However, the term 'cap' has been around for years to refer to the tooth-colored ones as “caps” and the gold or stainless steel ones as “crowns”.
Q: What is plaque and why is it bad?
A: Plaque is a clear sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. As plaque collects it forms a hard layer of tartar (or calculus) particularly in hard to reach areas between teeth and near the gumline. Bacteria found in plaque create toxic chemicals that irritate the gums. Eventually these bacteria cause the underlying bone around the teeth to be destroyed, a condition known as gum disease.
Recent research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and some pregnancy complications. Removal of plaque with brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis and removal of tartar by your dentist and dental hygienist is the first step in addressing gum disease.
Q: How are dentist whitening products better than what I can purchase at the store?
That depends on the condition of your teeth. Plaque (see question above) does not whiten and restorations do not whiten so your money is wasted on over-the-counter options if you have plaque or dental work. In office options offer more instant gratification and certainly work best after a cleaning. If a restoration needs to be repaired or replaced we can give you those options as well. Certainly, if considering a crown or other dental work, whiten first so you can get optimal results and the smile you want.
Also, those with sensitivity to whitening can benefit from and additional fluoride treatment that we can provide.
Q: What’s the difference between a “bridge” and a “partial denture”?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures are options for tooth replacement. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth (the ones next to the missing tooth spaces) or, in some cases, implants.
A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Most patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures, but it is up to the individual's preference.
Q: What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report as early as 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting “white” or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they “bond” to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. While fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, “white” fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.
Q: What can I do about bad breath?
A: Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, it’s an unpleasant condition that’s cause for embarrassment. Some people with bad breath aren’t even aware there’s a problem. If you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which causes bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can cause damage, leaving an unpleasant odor and worsening dental problem. If you’re concerned about bad breath, come in to see us. Dr. Pak can help identify the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it.
Q: I have not been to a dentist in years...should I bother to start now?
A: Not to worry! Many have been (and still are) in your position. Whether it’s been 6 months, 6 years or more, it’s never too late to get back into the routine. Call us.
Q: I have no symptoms, do I still need a dentist?
A: Yes. Even with no symptoms, dental health problems can exist that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.