Top 5 Dental FAQ's

We get a lot of questions from our Patients. So we've compiled a list of the top 5 questions we hear and answers from Dr. Burton. 

1. How often do I really need to visit the dentist?

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Dentists, as a group of health care professionals concerned for the health of our patients, have determined that it is in your best interest to come see us every 6 months. Every person, whether you have good teeth or not, whether your gums are healthy or not, whether you build up a lot of plaque and tartar or not, whether you are the world’s best brusher and flosser, or not should visit the dentist at least every six months. 

Some patients with active gum disease and a lot of decay require visits every 3 or 4 months to maintain healthy teeth and gums. 
 

2. What's the best way to whiten my teeth?

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Whitening  teeth seems to be the first question patients ask me about. 

There are two different types of bleaching procedures that are offered to patients, one is an ”In office” method that is provided in the dental office which has dramatic, immediate results and a second procedure called  ‘At home whitening’. You are provided a whitening kit and a set of custom trays and over a period of a couple weeks using the whitening gel provided by the dentist your teeth slowly get brighter. 

With the ‘”In office“method, one can expect to have the procedure last about one hour. Your lips and gums are covered and protected because the bleaching gel is very strong and can cause irritation. The gel is applied to the teeth and usually activated by a special light or a laser. The nature of this method allows the dentist to control the entire process and the results are immediate. The advantage to this process is that results are instant and you are able to leave the dental office with a noticeable change in the brightness of your teeth. The disadvantage is the cost and possible temporary sensitivity that last for a short time. 

The “At home” method varies from whitening kits provided by your dentist to over the counter whitening strips. Most whitening kits include a tray that the whitening gel is placed in and then the tray is placed in your mouth for a period of time ranging from about an hour to wearing the tray overnight. Over a 5-10 day period your teeth will lighted to a brighter shade. People try to use the less expensive over the counter kits but for the most find the results less the desirable because the concentration of the whitening gel is not as effective in getting your teeth noticeably whiter. The whitening gels prescribed from your dentist are proven to be more effective.  The advantage is that it is less expensive but more time consuming. Some individuals will experience sensitivity as with the in office method but this too will only last for a short time and can be controlled with special desensitizing gels. 

Teeth whitening can be an effective way to increase your confidence and improve your looks. However not everyone is a good candidate to whiten their teeth.  One should visit their dentist and ask if you would benefit from a whitening program and see what your dentist recommends or your optimal results.  

3. are dental x-rays safe?

It's an important question, since dental X-rays are the only form of medical radiation received on a regular basis.  

The newer digital x-rays have much less exposure of radiation than x-rays of the past and considered safe as long as proper safety measures are taken. 

That does not mean that they should be taken for no apparent reason.   

Deciding how often to get X-rays

If you have a lot of decay or other dental problems, you'll likely need more X-rays than other patients. But if you have a healthy mouth and aren't at high risk for decay, you don't necessarily need X-rays every 6 months, once a year is sufficient. 

 The key is that each patient should be assessed by the dentist before getting an X-ray. 

The second step is to ask why X-rays are needed, particularly if you've had them done recently. 

Third, make sure your dentist uses a thyroid shield to cover your neck. Sometimes it's a part of the lead apron that covers your chest, and other times it's a separate piece. 

4. Can I straighten my teeth without metal braces?

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Some people say that having a straight, beautiful smile is the best asset, but not everyone is confident in the appearance of their teeth. While braces are typically considered the best way to straighten teeth, not everyone likes the metallic look of traditional braces. Luckily, there are other ways to straighten your teeth without getting braces fitted; it just depends on your specific dental needs. 

Consider a clear aligner. Clear aligners are a series of tight-fitting, custom-made retainers that slip over the teeth and slowly realign them. Because children’s mouths are still growing and developing, clear aligners are best for teens or adults whose mouths are no longer shifting. This treatment option is also typically used for patients with issues like mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues, and not for the treatment of severe under bites, overbites, or more complex problems. Treatment with clear aligners typically takes 10 – 24 months, and costs $4,000 – $6,000 depending on the length of treatment.  

One advantage is that clear aligners can be taken out, which makes it easier to clean them and maintain oral hygiene. 

Another advantage is that the clear aligner is less obvious than traditional braces. If you are concerned with the appearance of traditional braces, this is a good option. 

Clear aligners require patients to be extremely compliant with wearing them. Not wearing them enough will result in a longer treatment period. 

5. What’s the best way to protect my teeth from cavities? 

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When you eat and drink sugary or starchy food and beverages, bacteria in your mouth digests the food and turns it into acid. This becomes plaque on your teeth that eventually demineralizes enamel by creating small holes. These holes are what we know as cavities. Keep sugar off your teeth by cutting down on soda, candy, and junk food. Eat plenty of vitamin and mineral-rich food.  

 Brushing your teeth after every meal is of course the best way to keep tooth decay and periodontal disease at bay. You don’t even need tooth-paste every time you brush, just the brushing action alone will break up the plaque from forming around the teeth. 

If you can't manage that, brush at least twice a day. Brush your teeth for two minutes each time. Play a song that lasts two minutes, set an alarm, or watch the clock while you brush. 

The new electric tooth brushes have built in timers to ensure you brush for the proper amount of time, a great feature for indeed 

A few minutes a day of good home care for your teeth will certainly pay off in the long run with less visits to the dentist  and beautiful heathy teeth and gums. 

Have more questions?