FAQ’s

How often should I see my dentist?

You should visit your dentist at least every 6 months or more frequently to get your teeth cleaned.

By seeing your dentist twice a year, your dentist can monitor your oral health and help you prevent any problems that may arise before they become uncomfortable or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment.  The dentist may suggest more frequent visits, depending on the diagnosis.

How often should I brush and floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

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 is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing-Brush your teeth at least twice a day with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums. Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.

Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They can make it much easier to remove the plaque and brush for the recommended two minutes.

 Ask us about our discounted Rotadent professional care electric toothbrushes.

Flossing-Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. Take 12-16 inches of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches between the hands.Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between the teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline.  Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by plaque in your mouth reacting with the sugary and starchy deposits from food. This reaction produces acid, which damages the enamel over time and weakens the tooth.

My gums bleed when I brush, what does it mean?

Bleeding gums is an early indicator of gingivitis, usually caused by plaque and/or calculus accumulated under the gumline.

If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease (gum disease), bone loss, and eventual tooth loss. Gingivitis can be reversed by proper brushing and flossing within a few weeks. If bleeding persists two to three weeks, consult your dentist.

What causes gum disease?

Gum (periodontal) disease is caused by bacteria. These bacteria, if left along the gumline, will irritate the gums and cause an inflammation reaction. The gums then begin to bleed and swell allowing the bacteria to go deeper under the gumline. If the inflammation is allowed to continue, the bone will begin to demineralize and dissolve. As the bone dissolves around the teeth, the teeth become loose and will fall out. Unfortunately, pain does not occur until the final stages of the disease and treatment at that time has very little chance of being successful. If your gums bleed regularly, seek treatment as soon as possible.

Do water irrigation systems replace the need for flossing?

Water irrigation systems are not a substitute for flossing. These devices are effective in removing retained food from hard to reach places, but do not remove plaque which can cause gum disease.

What do heart disease and other medical conditions have to do with periodontal disease?

Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health. Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections; often more prevalent than the common cold! Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body! Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, is called gingivitis. It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) is NOT regularly removed from the gums and teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums and eventually destroy the jaw bone that supports the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!

There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions. These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease and indicate that periodontal disease may cause oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections.

Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream may:

  • Contribute to the development of heart disease
  • Increase the risk of stroke
  • Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases
  • Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby

Researchers conclude there is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, but enough research has been done to support that infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.

To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation. Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce the plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Remember….the mouth body connection! Taking care of your oral health may contribute to your overall medical health!

What is scaling and root planing and why is it done?

Root planing is a technique performed in the dental office to stop the adverse effects of periodontal disease. The procedure cleans below the gumline and smoothes the roots. When the roots are smoothed, the gums will usually reattach to the root stopping the bacteria from spreading. Scaling and root planing can stop and reverse some of the damage done by periodontal disease.

What causes bad breath and what can be done about it?

Bad breath, or halitosis, is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also be caused by retained food particles, gum disease, drainage from sinus dripping, or systemic respiratory or gastrointestinal problems. Proper brushing, including brushing the tongue, cheeks, and roof of the mouth will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque, and food that may be trapped between the teeth. Mouth rinses are effective in temporary relief of bad breath. Consult your dentist and/or physician if the condition persists.

Are silver fillings, fluoride, or x-rays a danger to my health? What are the alternatives?

Dental amalgam, or silver filling material, is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. The release of mercury in silver fillings is so small that it is much less than what patients are exposed to in food, air and water. There are, however, other materials that can be used for restorations.These include gold, porcelain, and composite resins.

Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine, which is found throughout nature in water, soil, air, and most foods. Fluoride is absorbed easily into the tooth enamel, especially in childrens growing teeth.Once teeth are developed, fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is visible.

Radiographs, or x-rays, help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses, cavities, and many abnormal growths such as cysts and tumors.They can help pinpoint the location of cavities that may not be possible to detect on a visual examination. Drs James and Bone are trained to prescribe radiographs when they are appropriate and will tailor the radiograph schedule to your individual needs.

At James Family Dentistry, we use digital radiographs, which have 90% less radiation than conventional radiographs.

What are dental implants and how do they work?

Dental implants are substitutes for natural tooth roots and rely on the jawbone for support.Strategically placed, implants can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble real teeth.

What are porcelain veneers and why are they used?

Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic material, which are bonded to the front of the teeth, similar to the idea of a press-on fingernail. This procedure can be an ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth by masking discolorations, whitening teeth and/or reshaping a smile.

What is a root canal?

Root canals are necessary to save teeth if decay has progressed to the nerve inside the tooth. A root canal might also be indicated when a tooth fractures into the nerve inside the tooth. During the procedure, the nerve and other infected tissue are removed from inside the tooth.The cleaned nerve chamber is then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta percha.When the nerve is taken out of a tooth, the blood supply for the tooth is also lost.The tooth becomes non-vital, or dead, but still can be functional for a patient’s lifetime if properly protected.A non-vital tooth is more brittle than a vital tooth, so to prevent the tooth from breaking, a porcelain or gold crown is usually placed over the tooth.

What are my options if I have missing teeth?

With many state-of-the-art dental treatments and prevention options available in dentistry today, there are fewer reasons for having to extract (remove) teeth. When something does go wrong with a tooth, we try to do everything possible to restore the tooth to its original function.Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced. Losing a tooth can be a very traumatic experience and it’s very unfortunate when it does happen. Injury, accident, fracture, severe dental decay, and gum disease are the major reasons for having to remove a tooth. If teeth are lost due to injury or have to be removed, it is imperative that they be replaced to avoid cosmetic and dental problems in the future. When a tooth is lost, the jaw bone that helped to support that tooth begins to atrophy, causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth. Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on. These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ (jaw joint) problems. These problems and movements do not result immediately, but will eventually appear, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite, and the beauty of your smile.

Options for replacement of missing teeth are…

Implants – A great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They may also help to support ill fitting dentures. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.

Fixed Bridges – This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is anchored (cemented) permanently to the natural teeth adjacent to the missing tooth site. The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed (not removable) and it is very sturdy.The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, two healthy, natural teeth will have to be crowned (capped) to hold the bridge in place.

Removable Bridges – This type of bridge is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, especially in complex dental situations where other replacement options are not possible. They are usually made of tooth-colored, artificial teeth combined with metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth, but may be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because the metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal.

Dentures – This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patients original teeth.

What is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?

When removal of wisdom teeth is determined necessary, it is best done when the roots are approximately 2/3rds formed, usually in the adolescent years. Removal at this time allows for an easier procedure and decreases the risk of damage to the nerves in that area.

Should my child wear a mouth guard while playing sports?

Yes! The earlier a child starts using one, the easier it is to get used to it.

What should my child do if a tooth gets knocked out?

If the tooth is a permanent tooth, time is extremely crucial. Pick the tooth up by the crown, not the root. If it is dirty or contaminated, gently rinse the tooth off with water or milk and place the tooth back in the socket. Immediately call your dentist.

If the tooth is a baby tooth, do not put it in the socket because damage to the permanent tooth can occur.

At what age should my child start seeing a dentist?

“First visit by first year” sums it up well. Babies should see a dentist around the time that their first tooth comes in, usually between 6-12 months.

Why is it important to fix baby teeth that have decay? Aren’t they going to come out soon anyway?

It is very important to maintain the baby teeth because these teeth hold the space for the future eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent tooth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits, and weaker teeth.

When will my child lose his/her baby teeth?

Children will begin losing their teeth at approximately age 5. They will usually lose their front teeth first. Children continue losing baby teeth until the age of 12 or 13.

Does “Bleaching” damage the teeth?

No, when carbamide peroxide, the active whitening agent, contacts water, hydrogen peroxide is released which whitens the teeth. Bleaching does not soften or weaken the teeth.

Do over-the-counter bleaching products work?

There is some evidence that over-the-counter bleaching products do whiten teeth, however, many of the products are too abrasive and can damage the teeth with extended use or misuse. Younger people will usually get better results with over-the-counter products than older adults, but supervision by your dentist is always the fastest, safest, and most effective way to whiten your teeth.

What causes my jaw to pop when I open it?

There is a pad or disk that separates the jaw bone from the base of the skull. The primary cause of the “popping” occurs when you open your mouth too wide and the jaw bone “pops” off the pad or disk. Treatment is not required unless pain is associated with the “pop” or the jaw locks.

What can be done for ulcers or canker sores in the mouth?

Ulcers are very difficult to treat. There is no proven technique that will eliminate ulcers or speed the recovery time once they appear. There are a few medications that will give temporary relief from the pain, but they need to be started as soon as symptoms appear. Ulcers generally diminish in 7-10 days.

How can I stop grinding my teeth at night?

Grinding your teeth can be very damaging to the teeth and also difficult to stop. If vigorous grinding occurs at night, teeth can be worn down to the gumline because the instinctive reflex to stop does not work while you are sleeping. Grinding due to stress can only be cured by removing the stress trigger. If grinding continues, a night guard may be prescribed to prevent ultimate damage to the teeth.

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