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Dental FAQ’s and Patient Education

Dental FAQ’s and Answers

Bright Side Dental wants to do our best to help educate our patients.

If your question is not listed below, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-Painless (1-800-724-6537).

What is an Abscessed tooth?

An abscessed tooth is an infection that includes pus and swelling of the soft gum tissues surrounding the tooth. They usually happen when there’s an opening in the enamel of a tooth, such as a cavity. Bacteria enters here and infects the pulp (center) of the tooth and cause an abscess.

Usually, they develop from tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken tooth. Once an abscess happens, the infection could spread throughout the mouth and body. A root canal is usually the only option to save a tooth once it has become abscessed.

If you suspect that you have an abscessed tooth, you should see your dentist right away.

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What Causes Decay?

Decay occurs when plaque — the sticky substance that forms on teeth — combines with the sugars and/or starches of the food that we eat.

This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily.

Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

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How often should I see the Dentist for a check-up and cleaning?

Most children and adults should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and check-up every six months. People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental check-ups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene, and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check-up.

Your regular check-ups will help to keep your gums and teeth healthy as well as to detect any early problems such as gum disease, oral cancer, and cavities.

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What is Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects millions of people. Basically, tooth sensitivity means experiencing pain or discomfort to your teeth from sweets, cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks or ice cream. Some people with sensitive teeth even experience discomfort from brushing and flossing. The good news is that sensitive teeth can be treated.

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How does fluoride work?

When the element fluoride is used in small amounts on a routine basis it helps to prevent tooth decay. It encourages “remineralization,” a strengthening of weak areas on the teeth.

These spots are the beginning of cavity formation. Fluoride occurs naturally in water and in many different foods, as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements.

Fluoride is effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.

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What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease occurs in two major stages that are gingivitis and periodontitis.

The early stage is called gingivitis and it is treatable and can be reversed if caught in the earliest stage.

The more advanced and serious stage of gum disease is called Periodontitis, and this stage includes bone loss and is irreversible.

Failure to properly care for the teeth and gums, resulting from poor oral hygiene is the most frequent cause of periodontitis.

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What are the symptoms of Gum Disease?

Some symptoms include:

Red and swollen gums that bleed easily
Gums separating from the teeth
Loose teeth
Frequent bad breath
Change in your bite
Change in the way dentures or partials fit

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Why is Oral Hygiene considered so important during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is known to be a time of joy and concern for the new mother, there’s so a lot to deal with. The body has to make a lot of changes in order to prepare for the growth of this new body within. Because of the increase in hormone levels during pregnancy, dental problems can be intensified, increasing the need for good oral hygiene.

A common dental problem during the first trimester is a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. The symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis include swollen, bleeding, red and tender gums.

It is important for your fetus that you practice good oral health before and during pregnancy. It has been found by some researchers that the serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis, may cause low birth weight in babies and even premature birth.

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How do I maintain good oral health?

Good ways to achieve good oral health are:
Brush your teeth well at least twice a day to properly remove plaque. According to the Academy of General dentistry, the average person only brushes for 45 to 70 seconds a day, the recommended amount of time is 2-3 minutes.
Floss daily. Flossing removes food stuck between your teeth that your toothbrush didn’t reach.
Purchase and utilize an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Antimicrobial mouth rinses have been found to prevent gingivitis. Ask one of our offices for free samples.
Schedule regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist.
Scrape or brush your tongue daily in order to remove bacteria.
Make sure to eat healthy snacks and nutritious meals, avoiding sugars and other junk foods.

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How could I develop Gum & Bone Infections?

Gum and bone infections are caused by the germs in your mouth. The germs collect around your teeth in a film called plaque. If you have plaque, you are putting yourself at higher risk. But let’s be clear about the risk. If you watch the commercials, you’d think that everyone is running around with periodontal disease (periodontitis). Well, they aren’t. About 15% of the people in this country have periodontal disease (perio means around; dont means tooth = disease around the tooth.) Periodontal disease causes loss of bone support for a tooth. The rest of us have gingivitis, a mild swelling of the gums, but no bone loss. (Gingivitis – Gingiva = gum; -itis = swelling)

If you look at the commercials, they talk about toothbrushes that control gingivitis, toothpastes that control gingivitis, mouthwashes that control gingivitis, Water Pics that control gingivitis. You name it. They have everything that controls gingivitis. Over 90% of us have gingivitis. You figure it out. 90% have gingivitis, 15% have periodontitis. They never advertise anything that controls periodontitis. So they can treat something that doesn’t really cause a major problem, but the major problem is really not controlled by these products. Sounds a little fishy, huh? Well, if you can sell it, market it. And that’s what all these manufacturers have done; they’ve invented products. They might be good products. But they won’t get to the source of your periodontal disease.

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What are the different kinds of Gum & Bone Infections?

Let’s go over the different kinds of periodontal disease. Periodontal comes from two words, perio (around) and dont (tooth). So if we’re looking at periodontal problems, we’re looking at areas around the tooth. That means on the outside of the tooth. So what’s on the outside of the tooth? Well, if you look under the gum line, there’s the root of your tooth, there’s the bone around the root, and fibers called ligaments to connect the root to the bone. By the way, the root is not the same as a root canal. The root canal is a tube that goes through the center of the root and has nerves and blood vessels.

The different kinds of periodontal disease are the following:

Chronic Periodontitis – the usually gradual loss of the ligament and bone support of the tooth. It creates a pocket that is occupied by bacterial plaque and calculus.
Acute Periodontitis – a painful swelling of the gum tissue caused by bacteria that’s trapped below the gum line.
Gingivitis – the non-painful swelling of the gum tissue without any underlying bone or ligament damage.
Apical Periodontitis – the loss of bone support at the end of the root caused by a dead nerve within the root canal of the tooth.

There are other relatively rare problems that we see from time to time. What you’re seeing is the basics and covers the vast majority of the patients that we see.
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What are Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Symptoms include:

A sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within 3 weeks.
A lump or overgrowth of tissue anywhere in the mouth.
A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth.
Difficulty in swallowing, chewing or moving the jaw or tongue.
Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth.
A feeling that something is caught in the throat.
Chronic sore throat or hoarseness that persists more than 6 weeks.
Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
Neck swelling present for more than 3 weeks.
Unexplained tooth mobility persisting for more than 3 weeks.

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What is the relationship between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease?

There is a relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease. There is not enough evidence to clearly demonstrate a cause and effect relationship, but there is some evidence leaning in that direction.

Here’s what has been found.

Periodontitis causes the liver to secrete a protein called C-reactive protein. This protein causes the body to fight the periodontal infection by producing inflammation (swelling). The C-reactive protein doesn’t just go to the gums, it goes everywhere including the coronary (heart) arteries. The C-reactive protein becomes lodged in the walls of the arteries, causing the walls to be rough and inflamed. Other proteins collect on the roughened walls and the arteries get narrower. This is coronary artery disease.

What’s interesting is that when periodontitis is treated, there is less C-reactive protein circulating around the body and less in the coronary arteries.

The other piece of compelling evidence is this: the specific bacteria associated with periodontal disease has been found in the heart. There’s only one place that bacteria could have come from, and that’s the periodontal pocket.

There is also a relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes and periodontal disease and hormonal fluctuation in women. If you want to find out more about this, you can come to our office and ask for a brochure.

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What are the leading causes of periodontitis (loss of bone support)?

1. Genetics
2. Smoking
3. (and a distant 3 at that) Plaque

So, a family history of periodontitis makes you more prone to getting periodontitis. And if you’re a smoker, you’ve already been beaten up about smoking for other health problems. And now you have one more health problem that’s related to smoking. Sorry, I only report the data.

So, if you’re prone to periodontal disease from genetics and smoking, what can a periodontist do? Well, you can’t change your genetics. I hope that you’ll stop smoking. The only thing that can be done, is to treat the disease itself that is fueled by germs below the gum line called plaque. Plaque, that’s the only thing that we can control.

Plaque becomes hardened on the root of the tooth below the gum line. That hardened plaque is called calculus (tartar). Calculus is rough and collects more plaque. The plaque and calculus need a place to hide out, so they dissolve a little of the bone below the gum line, hide and do their thing, and dissolve a little more of the bone. As the bone dissolves it creates a pocket between the gum and the tooth. As the pocket becomes deeper and deeper, the tooth can become loose. The bigger the pocket the looser the tooth will become.

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Quick facts about smiles and dentistry.

A recent consumer survey found:

50% consider the smile the first facial feature they notice
80% are not happy with their smile
The average women smiles about 62 times a day! A man? Only 8!

Kids laugh around 400 times a day. Grown-ups just 15

People who drink 3 or more sugary sodas daily have 62% more dental decay, fillings and tooth loss.

More Details:

Americans spend $2 billion a year on dental products
94% of Americans say they brush nightly: 81% say they do it first thing in the morning.
28% of people say they floss daily.

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