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Q: How often should I brush my teeth?
A: Daily cleanings are critical in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. It is recommended to brush your teeth for approximately 2 minutes twice a day with a fluoride containing toothpaste. An electric toothbrush or a soft-bristled manual toothbrush may be used to achieve proper at-home dental hygiene results. Your manual toothbrush or the head of your electric toothbrush will need to be replaced periodically when signs of wear are present.
Q: How often should I floss my teeth?
A: Flossing of the teeth once per day is essential in achieving a beautiful and healthy smile. Flossing is essential in removing plaque from between the teeth where serious damage can be done to the teeth as well as the supporting structures of the teeth.
Q: Why are regular dental hygiene visits important?
A: No matter how well we clean our teeth at home, there are areas that we simply cannot clean efficiently. A professional dental cleaning will allow the dental hygienist to remove hard deposits, called tartar that accumulate on the teeth. Also our teeth may acquire external stain over time due to certain beverages as well as tobacco stain and those stains need to be removed. It is also important that you receive a dental exam at every hygiene appointment, in order to identify any possible dental problems and treat them accordingly.
Q: What is tooth decay and what causes it?
A: Tooth Decay or Caries is a disease process that degrades the teeth by destroying the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel), working its way through the middle layer (the dentin) and finally to the internal structure of the tooth (the pulp). Tooth decay is caused by the acidic byproducts of bacteria in the mouth that feed upon sugars found in the food and beverages that we eat and drink. If tooth decay is not treated, dental abscesses may form leading to the need for root canal therapy or extraction.
Q: What is Periodontal Disease?
A: Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the tissue and the bone that support the teeth. Gingivitis occurs initially as the gum tissue becomes inflamed in response to the presence of bacterial plaque. As bacterial plaque continues to build between the tooth and the gum tissue, the bone can become affected. The bacterial plaque can form into hard deposits called tartar that in turn harbor more bacteria and result in bone loss and can lead to mobility of the teeth and ultimately tooth loss.
Q: What are some simple suggestions for a healthy smile?
A: Make it a habit to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, every day. Be sure to floss your teeth at least once a day, sliding the floss gently between the gum tissue and the tooth surface. Visit your dentist every 6 months for a periodic oral evaluation and cleaning. Avoid tobacco products. If you are experiencing any dental pain or problems, call your dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible.
Q: Where can I go to learn more?
A: Here are some helpful links that answer general questions about dental care as well as different types of dental procedures:
American Dental Association
Academy of General Dentistry
ADA Patient Website