Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist for the First Time?

Children should visit the dentist when their first tooth comes in or no later than their first birthday.

What is Tooth Erosion?

Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard calcified tissue that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in our bodies.
The saliva in our mouth contains calcium which helps to strengthen and remineralize the teeth, however, remineralization can not occur when a great deal of acid is present.

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is the reduced flow of saliva. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces.
Gingivitis, gum disease and severe tooth decay often occur if dry mouth is left untreated. Other common problems linked to dry mouth are:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hoarseness
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Problems with speaking
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Dry nasal passages

If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is mainly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. Other factors that have the potential to cause gum disease may include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Certain medications
  • Genetics

Types of Gum Disease Include:

  • Gingivitis – The beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.
  • Periodontitis – Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition when the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

Do Teeth Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?

Teeth whitening toothpastes seem to be popping up everywhere and you’ve got to wonder if they really work.
Whitening toothpastes, like all other toothpastes, contain mild abrasives to remove surface stains. Teeth whitening toothpastes may have additional polishing agents and special chemicals that are more effective against stains than regular toothpastes. Tooth whitening toothpastes however are only somewhat effctive on the superficial stains on teeth. They do not act on the internal colour of the tooth itself.
Teeth whitening toothpastes are thus ideal for people who smoke, drink coffee and tea and eat certain foods that can superficially stain your teeth. Teeth whitening toothpastes are also good to use after you have undergone a professional teeth whitening procedure to keep surface stains from building up on your teeth.
If you decide to use a teeth whitening toothpaste, be sure that it contains fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay.

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.

Which Toothbrush is Really Better - Manual or Electric?

With all the bells and whistles and hundreds of toothbrushes on the market, you’ve got to wonder, which is really the best toothbrush to buy — manual or electric?
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the best toothbrush that you can buy is the one that you will actually use. That’s it. Yes, it’s really that simple. While both electric and manual toothbrushes have some pros and cons, the bottom line is which one you will use. The Australian Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes using a soft toothbrush.

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is an orthodontic appliance (usually removable) that is supposed to be worn after your braces have been removed. When braces are removed, the teeth have a tendency to want to return back to their original positions. Retainers prevent this from happening.
During the first several months, retainers are usually worn full time and then nightly from then onwards.
When your braces come off, it is very tempting not to wear your retainers. To keep your teeth from shifting and avoiding having to wear braces again, it is crucial to wear your retainers regularly.

What is Tooth Decay?

Decay is the destruction of tooth structure. Decay occurs when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods 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.
If decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

What is Calculus?

Calculus, also known as tartar, is the hardened residue that forms on your teeth when plaque is not removed. Plaque can be removed by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth and below the gumline, it can lead to chronic infection and inflammation. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth professionally cleaned at your dental office.

What is a Dental Implant??

A dental implant is a metal device designed to replace missing teeth. The device is usually made out of titanium and is surgically placed into the jawbone where the tooth is missing. Unlike a dental bridge, an implant does not affect any other teeth adjacent to the empty space being replaced.
A dental implant is designed to act as the tooth root and can anchor an artificial tooth or teeth such as a crown, bridge or denture.

What Causes Decay?

Decay occurs when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods 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.

What is a Veneer?

A veneer is a thin shell made out of porcelain or composite material. They are custom made and cemented to the front side of the tooth. A veneer can be used to treat dental conditions such as a slightly crooked tooth, discolored teeth, chipped teeth or they can even be used to cover spaces in between the teeth.
A veneer can be made by the dentist or in a dental laboratory, depending on the materials used and the preference of the dentist.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is often added to drinking water and is commonly found in toothpaste. Research has shown that the rate of cavities decreases in areas where fluoride is added to the water supply.

Are Silver Fillings Safe??

Silver (Amalgam) filling material contains about 50% mercury and 50% of various other metals. While there have been no conclusive studies relating the mercury in amalgam to any dangers, mercury by itself is very toxic.
With the introduction of new filling materials, amalgam is not used as often as it once was. More than 70% of all fillings today are placed in the tooth by the dentist with resin or composite materials.

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.
Going to your regular check ups will help to keep your gums and teeth healthy as well as detect any early problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities. The best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist on a regular basis.

How Often Should I Floss My Teeth?

You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing in between your teeth removes food debris and plaque from in between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
When flossing, be sure to gently insert the floss in between the teeth, without snapping, which could damage the gum tissue. Gently move the floss up and down into the spaces between the gum and teeth. Floss the sides of all of your teeth, even if there isn’t a tooth next to another one. There are a number of dental products available that are designed to make flossing easier, such as disposable dental flossers..

How Often Should I Change My Toothbrush?

Adults and children should change their toothbrush every 3 months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. Exceptions to this would be if you were using an electric toothbrush, and the manufacturer states otherwise. Some electric rechargable toothbrushes have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every 6 months. If you have gum disease, you should change your toothbrush every 4 – 6 weeks because bacteria can harbor in the bristles. You should always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after every use and change it after you have been sick.