Many dental patients ask these common questions about their oral health:
What should I do if I have bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning. One may have bad breath for various reasons, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.
How often should I brush and floss?
Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease. Plaque formation and growth are continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.
Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
Over the years, there has been some concern about the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin, and zinc bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for over 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver-containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver-containing mercury and any medical disorder.
How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are unaware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations is very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.
Why is it important to use dental floss?
Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces but also disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bones.
What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?
Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel. It is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. The color of our teeth also comes from the inside of the tooth, which may become darker over time. Tobacco products, coffee, tea, and wine may also contribute to tooth discoloration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discolored from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development can also cause teeth to become discolored.