Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does sugar cause cavities?
A: Plaque forms on your teeth daily. When sugar combines with the bacteria in plaque it produces acids that damage the enamel on your teeth. Although decreasing sugar intake will help, it is impossible to avoid sugar completely as it is naturally found in many of our foods, including fruits and vegetables. In order to maintain healthy teeth and gums you must brush and floss daily using good techniques to ensure the best results.
Q: There are so many different toothbrushes. Which one should I buy?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is less important than the type of brush, and how often you brush your teeth. We recommend that you have a soft bristle brush. This type of brush will effectively remove plaque and a soft brush will not damage your gums. We also recommend that you brush at least twice a day. The condition of your brush is also important, as when the bristles begin to bend over it is time to start using a new brush. When the bristles on your toothbrush are bent over they lose their ability to remove food and plaque. It is the tip of the bristles that clean your teeth the best.
Q: How does fluoride help my teeth?
A: Tooth enamel is hard but also has microscopic pores in it. Sugar combines with the bacteria in plaque, which forms on your teeth daily, to produce acids that seep into the enamel’s pores. This causes the enamel to demineralize and become weak, contributing to the formation of cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the natural remineralization process. This keeps your teeth strong and healthy. Fluoride also fights cavities by reducing the amount of acids that are produced by plaque.
Q: Why do my teeth feel sensitive?
A: Tooth sensitivity is often experienced when the surface of the tooth has been worn down. One of the most common reasons for adults is that the roots of the teeth are exposed because the gums are receding. This allows the effect of heat and cold to penetrate to the pulp where the nerves are located. The problem gets worse as you tend not to brush your teeth properly if they are causing you pain. If you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, let us know so we can assess your situation and recommend the best treatment to take care of your discomfort.
Q: Is there anything I should do before my appointment?
A: There are a few things that you should keep us informed about in order to ensure that we are most effective when treating you. Please keep
us informed about:
- whether your teeth or gums are more sensitive to heat, cold or sweets
- any changes in your gums, such as changes in color, tenderness or
bleeding when you brush or floss
- whether your floss catches on rough edges of teeth that causes the floss
- any changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth, such as changes
- if you clench or grind your teeth, or if your neck and jaw muscles
are tense or sore
- inform us of any allergies you have
- if you are pregnant
- any medicine you are taking
- if your medicine has changed since your last check-up
- any health problems or medical condition that you are being treated for
- any other changes in your general health
Q: Does Dr. Barnes take X-rays?
A: X-rays help us see problems in the early stages of development; this helps us treat problems long before they become serious. If we catch a cavity early, we may be able to treat it without even having to fill or restore the tooth. If decay is not detected soon enough, you may not know you have a problem until it is causing you some pain or discomfort. Major tooth restoration may be needed to repair a tooth if the decay has advanced enough. X-rays reveal:
- cavities between teeth, under the gums and around old fillings
- bone loss due to periodontal disease
- problems below the gums, such as long or crooked tooth roots
Q: Are X-rays safe?
A: You are already exposed to low levels of radiation from the environment on a daily basis. This is caused by natural sources of radioactive substances in the earth, the sun and from naturally occurring radiation in our bodies. This is commonly referred to as background radiation. The amount of radiation you receive during a single x-ray is equivalent to a few days of background radiation. In addition to the low levels of radiation used, we target the x-ray machine only at those areas we need to review in order to ensure that you have healthy teeth. We also cover the remainder of your body with a lead apron providing you with additional protection.
Q: How common is gum disease?
A: It is the most common dental problem, and it can progress quite painlessly until you have a serious problem. The end result is bone loss and the loss of teeth. Even though you may brush and floss regularly, regular visits to the dentist will help detect gum disease in the early stages.
Q: What if I am already in the early stages of gum disease?
A: If you already have gum disease, getting rid of plaque and tartar gives your gums a chance to get better. That’s why in the early stages of gum disease, the best treatment is:
- regular cleanings in our practice
- brushing twice a day
- flossing once a day
Q: Why do I have bad breath?
A: Many people suffer from bad breath; in fact, 40% of the population has problems with bad breath at some time in their lives. Some reasons for bad breath may be:
- poor dental hygiene
- eating certain foods, such as garlic or onions
- chewing tobacco
- diseases, such as cancer or diabetes
- dry mouth (often called morning breath)
You can help reduce the incidence of bad breath by brushing and flossing each day to remove plaque. By avoiding certain foods you can also eliminate a lot of bad breath problems. If you wear a denture or removable partial denture, it is important to clean it thoroughly everyday and remove it at night so your mouth tissues can restore themselves daily. If a bad breath problem persists then let us know and we will try to discover what the problem is and recommend a treatment.
Q: What is the difference between silver fillings and tooth-colored fillings?
They are made of different materials. Tooth-colored fillings are mercury-free. Tooth-colored white fillings bond to your teeth and typically require less tooth structure removal. Tooth-colored fillings blend in with the color of your natural teeth.