Many patients have questions for their dentist about dental care and procedures. We have compiled a list of frequently asked dental questions to answer your dental questions between visits. This list is not exhaustive, so remember that there is no substitute for dental advice. If you have concerns about your oral health, a call or visit to your dentist’s office is the best source of information about your unique mouth.
What Should I Use to Clean My Teeth?
The number of products to choose from to manage your oral health can be daunting – the oral care isle at your local drug store is continuously growing! Here’s what you need to know when choosing oral care products:
- Choose products that are approved by the Canadian Dental Association. If you’re unsure, refer to the CDA website for a list of approved manual and powered toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and mouthwashes or seek a dentist’s recommendation.
- Select a soft or extra soft brush to clean your teeth. Hard bristles can damage the enamel and cause gum recession over time, which can lead to tooth sensitivity as dentin becomes exposed.
- Select a head size that allows you to comfortably reach all sides of your teeth and select a brush with several different heights of bristles. The variation in bristle length will clean your teeth more effectively than a brush with uniform bristle lengths.
Should I Use a Fluoridated Toothpaste?
Your dentist will likely recommend the use of fluoridated toothpastes in adults and children beginning around the age of 3. Fluoride is a mineral added to the toothpaste product which assists your tooth enamel in resisting acid attacks which lead to tooth decay. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 should use a small amount of fluoridated tooth paste (about the size of a grain of rice) and should be assisted by an adult to prevent swallowing. Swallowing fluoride can lead to the development of small white specks on the surface of the teeth – evidence of overexposure. This is referred to as dental fluorosis.
I’ve Recently Been Sick, Should I Change My Toothbrush?
Your toothbrush is used to clean away plaque bacteria that accumulates in the mouth, and as a result, it should be changed every three months to avoid reintroducing harmful bacteria into the mouth. We recommend setting a reminder in your phone or on your calendar to replace your toothbrush. To reduce the likelihood of bacterial overgrowth between the bristles of the toothbrush, always allow your toothbrush to air dry between uses and replace the brush if you have recently suffered from a cold, flu or infection.
The Bristles of My Toothbrush Are Splayed – Why?
If the bristles of your toothbrush are bent and splayed, it will not clean your teeth as effectively. Bent and warped bristles are also a sign that you could be brushing too hard. After replacing your toothbrush, pay special attention to clean the teeth and gums with gentle pressure only. Prolonged hard brushing can wear out the tooth enamel and cause painful exposure of dentin as gums recede.
Do I Really Need to Floss?
Yes. Plaque bacteria hidden between teeth is not able to be removed with brushes or chemicals. It can lead to hidden decay between teeth. Don’t believe us? Try flossing and notice the smell of the floss. If your floss gives off a putrid smell, it is an indication that cavity causing bacteria is growing between teeth. Flossing after meals keeps breath fresh as well as protects teeth and gums from the risk of decay and/or gum disease.
What is Causing My Tooth Sensitivity?
There are several common causes of tooth sensitivity.
- Aggressive brushing can lead to gum recession.
- Inspect your teeth for signs of decay or gum disease which can cause pain and sensitivity.
- If you are using whitening products too often, it can result in tooth sensitivity.
- Night time grinding can cause pain, and often patients are unaware that they are doing it. Consult with your dentist to assess the source of your pain or sensitivity.
Will Scaling Damage My Teeth?
No. Scaling is required to ensure that tartar and plaque do not harden on teeth and progress to gum disease. Your hygienist is trained to remove tartar without harming your enamel.
How Are Cavities Filled?
Your dentist will prepare you for the filling my first numbing the area. A numbing gel is applied to the gums and once numb, a needle will inject anesthetic to numb the root of the affected tooth. A thin rubber sheet called a dental dam may be placed in the mouth to isolate the problematic tooth and prevent debris from being swallowed. The dentist will remove the decayed area of the tooth using a drill and the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned before the application of filling product. After a few checks to ensure that the filling is properly seated in the tooth, you will be on your way. Be sure to use caution when eating until the sensation in your mouth returns.