DENTAL ADVICE FROM YOUR TRUSTED DENTIST
GET QUICK ANSWERS ABOUT ORAL HEALTH
Our dentists are fully equipped to provide advice on all matters concerning dental care, dental treatments, and oral health. While it is important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a routine dental check-up and to see your dental hygienist for a cleaning, it is also important to maintain good oral hygiene at home and be on the lookout for any symptoms that may indicate and oral health issue. Issues like tooth decay and gum disease are often present long before we experience pain or discomfort. That is why regular dental visits are so important. Identifying the start of an evolving issue during a regular dental check-up allows the dentist to provide immediate treatment and advice, which are typically quicker and less costly than addressing a painful issue that has progressed for long without treatment. We hope that the information in this guide will help you to maintain good oral health and serve as a reliable source of information on dental care.
IN THIS GUIDE
How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
Why is it important to use dental floss?
Why do my gums bleed when I floss?
What can I do to prevent bad breath?
What should I do if I have bad breath?
What are periodontal diseases and what causes them?
How can I tell if I have gingivitis or gum disease?
Can periodontal diseases be prevented?
Common questions about dentures
Toothpaste for children: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?
INFINITELY BETTER DENTAL CARE WITH WOODBOURNE DENTAL
Woodbourne Dental provides a range of dentistry services, including family dental care, cosmetic dentistry, and complex dental procedures such as tooth extraction and dental implants. We take pride in our commitment to providing the highest quality dental care to our patients, and have taken care to put together a knowledge base of information on dental treatments and answers to commonly asked dental questions. We want our patients to be informed on what their dental treatment entails and the treatment options available to them. While our dentists will always discuss the available dental treatments and explain the procedures to patients in-clinic, we believe that informing yourself by consulting a trustworthy source of information can reduce anxiety and nervousness over dental visits considerably. Remember, the dentist is there to assist you in obtaining optimal oral health and will provide the best treatment and patient care possible.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE A DENTAL EXAM AND CLEANING?
You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year by a qualified dentist or dental hygienist. Regular dental visits not only ensure optimal oral health and help to prevent common dental issues from arising in the first place, but also allows your dentist to identify and address issues before they become painful and urgent. Depending on your specific situation, your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.
At a regular dental exam and cleaning visit, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. There are many other things the dental professional will check and monitor to help detect, prevent, and maintain optimal dental health. At Woodbourne Dental, we take your dental health seriously and provide a comprehensive examination to ensure you receive the best care possible. Not every dental visit will entail all of the mentioned checks, as your dentist is trained to know what to look for and to identify the necessary checks and treatments based on your individual situation.
A review of your medical history provides us with insight into your overall health, as well as your dental health, while our examination of diagnostic x-rays helps us detect decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. We also evaluate your gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease. All tooth surfaces are examined for decay with special dental instruments and existing restorations, such as fillings and crowns. We also remove calculus (hardened plaque) and plaque, both of which can only be removed with special dental instruments. Afterward, teeth polishing is used to reduce staining and remove remaining plaque. Lastly, we review and recommend oral hygiene aids, as needed, and your dietary habits to ensure your dental health is maintained. An oral cancer screening to check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of cancer, may also be conducted.
While this may seem like a long list of procedures, your dentist is experienced in executing these checks effectively in the least time possible and will have you out of the chair in no time.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BRUSH AND FLOSS MY TEETH?
Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental diseases. 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 hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids, as well as routing dental visits for expert teeth cleaning. Effective toothbrushing, daily flossing, and rinsing can go a long way to maintaining good oral health between dental visits.
Best practices for toothbrushing:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before going to bed at night, with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste, but not more than three times a day.
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 biting 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 are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.
Be careful of relying on "teeth whitening toothpastes" or natural alternatives to toothpaste, as these products may not contain the necessary ingredients, such as fluoride, to clean your teeth effectively. If you are unsure, ask your dentist whether your preferred toothpaste is ADA approved.
Best practices for flossing:
Daily flossing is an important part of your dental hygiene routine as it removes the food and plaque stuck between your teeth that a toothbrush often cannot reach.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between 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.
Rinsing completes your dental hygiene routine:
It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush.
If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.
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, to remove the plaque trapped there. Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.
Besides a visit to your dental hygienist, 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.
WHY DO MY GUMS BLEED WHEN I FLOSS MY TEETH?
It's common for your gums to bleed when you first start flossing between tour teeth or when it has been a long time since you last flossed, as long as the bleeding stops quickly. You should continue to floss daily, and the bleeding should stop after a few days as your gums become healthier and get used to the flossing. A common reason for experiencing bleeding gums, despite daily flossing, is an improper flossing technique. Regular flossing shouldn't hurt or lead to bleeding gums. Read our advice on the Best practices for flossing for guidance on the proper flossing technique. Remember to tell your dentist that you experience bleeding gums, so that they can check specifically for any causes and recommend measures to stop the bleeding.
As explained above, under certain circumstances gum bleeding can be normal and no cause for concern. However, gum disease is the most common reason for gums to bleed from flossing. Your dental hygienist or dentist will pick this up during an exam or cleaning, but if you experience pain or any of the other symptoms laid out in our advice on How to tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease), you should make an appointment with your dentist. If unsure, the best option is always to ask your dentist.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT BAD BREATH?
Bad breath is more common than you think, and dentists are used to dealing with it. Regular visits, at least twice a year, to the dentist for a good cleaning and examination to look for any signs of gum disease should prevent bad breath from occurring. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits. In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odour and an appropriate treatment plan.
There are also good practices you can follow to prevent bad breath. Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush and daily flossing to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline is a good way to eliminate bad breath. Your tongue is frequently the place where the bacterias that lead to bad breath hide. Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper to clean the tongue will remove these bacterias and improve the smell of your mouth and breath. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odour. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem. Clean your removable dentures or bridges thoroughly every night, as recommended by your dentist, and place them back in your mouth in the morning. It's important to replace your toothbrush every three months, or more frequently when you see noticeable wear on the bristles, to ensure that the toothbrush allows optimal brushing and to limit the buildup of bacteria on your toothbrush. Smoking and chewing tobacco often leads to bad breath, and your dentist can recommend aids to help break the habit. Drinking water frequently is an easy way to keep your mouth moist and wash away lingering bacteria.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BAD BREATH?
Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition, although it need not be. Dentists are skilled in all facets of the mouth and teeth, including dealing with bad breath. Everyone has bad breath from time to time, especially in the morning. There are various reasons one may have bad breath, 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.
Our normal daily routine may lead to bad breath, which can be eliminated by simply implementing a good dental hygiene routine. In the morning, you may wake up with bad breath because saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow. Certain common foods, like garlic and onion, contain odour-causing compounds which enter the blood stream, where they are transferred to the lungs and exhaled. Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth, which is why it is important to brush and floss as recommended by dental professionals. Other causes of bad breath include unhealthy habits, medications, and gum disease. A common symptom of periodontal (gum) disease is bad breath. Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances may also contribute to bad breath. A dry mouth (Xerostomia) can result in mouth odour and may be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, continuous mouth breathing, or the use of tobacco products. Dieting, dehydration, hunger, and missed meals also contribute to bad breath as ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat. Additionally, not drinking enough water or chewing food reduces your saliva flow, which is an important function in washing away bacteria. Certain medical conditions and illnesses, such as diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia may also contribute to bad breath.
Bad breath can typically be eliminated by following an recommended oral hygiene routine, such as set out in our advice on How often should I brush and floss my teeth?. If you struggle with persistent bad breath or suspect that you may have gum disease, visit your dentist or dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning and ask for advice. Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.
WHAT CAUSES TOOTH LOSS?
Missing teeth can have a significant impact on your overall health, self-esteem, and quality of life, and understanding why it occurs is the key to preventing it from happening in the first place. There are several common causes of tooth loss, the most common being poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene can lead to the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth which, if left untreated, can lead to decay, cavities, gum disease, and eventually tooth loss. Regular brushing and flossing as well as regular visits to the dentist can help to prevent this from happening. Many people loose teeth due to untreated gum disease, which is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, leading to inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, gum disease can cause the gums to recede, and may result in a person loosing teeth. Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the major cause of tooth loss in children. To prevent this from happening, it is important to follow a good dental hygiene regiment, as well as visiting the dentist or dental hygienist regularly.
Traumatic injuries to the mouth, often occurring in contact sports or car accidents, can cause teeth to become damaged or dislodged. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you have experienced a traumatic injury to the mouth in order to reduce the risk of further damage or loss. Tooth loss can also be an unfortunate side effect certain medical conditions. If you have any of medical condition that causes your gums to recede or is known to lees to tooth loss, it is important to visit your dentist regularly to monitor your oral health and to detect any potential problems early.
It is important to take steps to protect your teeth by practicing good oral hygiene and wearing protective coverings, such as mouth guards, when engaging in contact sports. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings also help maintain your oral health and reduce the risk of tooth loss. Where tooth loss has already occurred, you dentist can recommend the best course of treatment for replacing the missing teeth and preventing further tooth loss.
WHAT ARE PERIODONTAL DISEASES AND WHAT CAUSE THEM?
Periodontal diseases, or gum diseases, are conditions that affect the tissue and bones supporting the teeth. They are caused by bacteria that are found in the plaque that builds up on teeth. These bacteria use carbohydrates--sugars and starches--to produce an acid that attacks the enamel covering the teeth. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can be broken down and a cavity begins. Continued acid attacks eventually dissolve the enamel and penetrate the softer, inner layer of the tooth, where decay can spread rapidly throughout the tooth's structure. If the bacteria is not removed by regular and effective toothbrushing and flossing, it can cause inflammation of the gums and eventually lead to periodontal diseases. Gum disease is a leasing cause of bad breath and tooth loss, and can impact your overall health if left untreated.
Periodontal diseases can be caused by several factors, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, family history, diabetes, and genetics. Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of periodontal diseases. When plaque accumulates on the teeth and is not removed, the gums often become inflamed, which can lead to the development of periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings may also trap plaque and bacteria. Smoking weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off bacteria, and is a known cause of periodontal diseases. Smoking also reduces the flow of blood to the gums, which can slow the healing process of any small cut or mouth injury, making it more difficult for the gums to fight off infection. As family history and genetics play a role in the development of periodontal diseases, some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. It is likely that the family members of someone diagnosed with periodontal disease are also susceptible. Diabetes is also a major risk factor for periodontal diseases. People with diabetes have a weakened immune system, which can make them more susceptible to infection.
It is important for dental patients to be aware of the causes of periodontal diseases and to be on the lookout for symptoms that may indicate gum disease. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for preventing the build-up of plaque and bacteria, which often lead to periodontal diseases. If you have any concerns about your oral health, it is important to speak to your dentist or dental hygienist. Early detection and treatment is key to preventing the progression of periodontal diseases and the possibility of resulting tooth loss.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE GINGIVITIS OR PERIODONTITIS (GUM DISEASE)?
Four out of five people have periodontal disease, but don’t know it. Most people are not aware 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 are very important to help detect if periodontal problems exist and treat it at its early stages.
Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage. The typical signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are as follows:
red and puffy gums;
persistent bad breath;
new spacing between teeth (likely due to bone loss);
loose teeth (also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers);
pus around the teeth and gums, or other signs of infection in the mouth;
receding gums; and
tenderness or discomfort.
Under normal circumstances, your gums should not be red, swollen, or bleed when you brush or floss. While some bleeding may occur from flossing if you have not flossed in a while, you must be careful to not overlook this as an possible indicator of gum disease. See your dentist if you experience bleeding gums along with any of the above symptoms. Follow a dental hygiene routine as recommended by your dentist, to ensure that you maintain a healthy mouth that is not conducive to gum diseases. Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontitis.
CAN PERIODONTAL DISEASES BE PREVENTED?
Teeth can be protected from acid attacks by removing plaque, reducing the number of times and the amount of sugar and starches eaten, effective toothbrushing with toothpaste that contains fluoride. Some people are genetically more susceptible to gum disease, so it is important to tell your dentist if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with periodontitis, or if you have been diagnosed with any illness, such as diabetes, which makes you more susceptible to gum diseases. The dentist may recommend more frequent visits to the hygienist and provide advice that will aid you in maintaining a healthy mouth. A dentist can also apply plastic sealants to your teeth to help prevent gum diseases. Maintaining good oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing, along with visiting a dental hygienist for professional cleaning, will go a long way to preventing gum diseases from getting a hold on your mouth.
TOOTHPASTE FOR CHILDREN: WHEN SOULD WE BEGIN USING IT AND HOW MUCH SHOULD WE USE?
Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTURES
Do dentures look natural?
You might worry that your dentures will change your appearance, or that others will notice that you're wearing dentures. However, we'll custom-make your dentures to fit you, so that they look completely natural. Of course, as with any new situation, wearing new dentures may make you feel a little self-conscious, and close friends and family might notice a small change - though they probably won't be able to tell the reason for it. In general, changes that you notice and feel won't show to others around you.
How do dentures feel?
Dentures can feel a little strange at first. Talking, eating and smiling may require different muscle movements that need to be learned, and you may find that you produce more saliva than normal. But after a short while, using your dentures will feel natural. You may find it useful to practise movements in front of a mirror, and to pay attention to the sounds you make as you talk, so you adjust your speech successfully to your new dentures. It's also helpful not to use your old dentures if you're trying to get used to new ones, as this makes the process of adjustment much slower and more difficult.
Will dentures affect my taste?
At first, food may not taste the same, as the dentures may temporarily affect your taste buds. However, as most taste buds are on the tongue, eventually everything will taste as it should. In the meantime, it's often a good idea to take care with hot food and drinks, as your ability to sense heat may be affected.
Will I be able to eat and drink as I did before getting dentures?
It may take a while to get used to eating and drinking with dentures but with practice they shouldn't restrict your choice of food. It'll help to cut food into smaller pieces than usual to start with, to chew slowly, and to divide the food in your mouth into two and then chew each half at the back of each side of your mouth to avoid tipping the denture. Using a small amount of denture fixative will increase your confidence and help you adapt more quickly.
Will wearing dentures cause me pain?
If you feel any pain, tell us as soon as possible rather than waiting for your next planned visit. Wear your dentures to the visit so that we can see where the sore places are and so resolve them more easily.
How should I clean my dentures?
You need to treat your dentures as you would your natural teeth. Keep them as clean as possible to prevent any further tooth loss, inflamed gums, bacterial and fungal infections, and bad breath. Dentures need both brushing and soaking. Brush them twice a day and after eating, using either a denture brush, nail brush or medium texture toothbrush, with soap or a mild detergent - not toothpaste which will damage the surface of the dentures. Always clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them. Also, regularly soak your dentures to remove bacteria and stubborn stains. You should use a commercial cleaner; soaking for 10-20 minutes will kill 99% of bacteria. For plastic dentures only you could use very weak bleach or Milton, slightly warmed. For metal dentures, you can use vinegar. Don't use mouthwash - it's not designed for soaking dentures and has no effect. Sonic denture cleaners are units that produce a sonic wave to agitate the cleaning solution and makes it work more effectively.
Do I need to get my dentures professionally cleaned?
If the plaque that you produce in your mouth isn't removed properly, it can react with your saliva and harden into tartar; some people build up tartar on their dentures just as they would on their natural teeth. As with your own teeth, you won't be able to remove this tartar completely yourself and eventually it can make the denture uncomfortable and unsightly. We can remove tartar for you.
Should I still see the dentist, even though I wear dentures?
Even if you have no natural teeth it's still important to visit us regularly. We can check the gums and lining of your mouth to make sure they are still healthy. We can adjust your dentures so as to avoid your losing bone where the dentures are worn or have a bad bite, or so as to take into account any changes to your muscle control and the appearance of your face. We can also check any deterioration in your dentures, which can lead to an accumulation of bacteria - this will not only make your mouth sore and uncomfortable but will also lead to infection.