Questions about family or cosmetic dentistry?
Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, feel free to give our Alma, NE dental practice a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.
Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums
You should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before them get worse and harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well.
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly.
- Firstly, make sure to use a soft bristled brush. Hard bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth.
- Place your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gumline. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gumline.
- Use short back and forth strokes or tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth.
- Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque, while too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth.
- Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Finally, don’t cut your brushing short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes.
The following guidelines are important to flossing correctly.
- Take 18″ of floss and wind it around the middle finger of each hand .You can use these fingers to take up floss as it becomes dirty. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss leaving 1-2 inches in between for cleaning.
- Gently move the floss up and down the spaces of your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage.
- As you move the floss down into the space between two teeth, slide it up and down against the surface of one tooth. Gently clean at the gum line as well.
- Repeat this process for all of your teeth.
Plaque is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth from food debris and bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum disease and cavities. Regular dental check ups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
You should visit the periodontist three times a years. A dental and periodontal exam can reveal early signs of decay and periodontal disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control the disease process before it gets worse and harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occures when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens, often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, as well as tooth loss.
The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of these:
- gums that bleed while brushing
- red, swollen or tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- bad breath that doesn’t go away
- pus between your teeth and gums
- loose teeth
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- a change in the fit of partial dentures
Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting you dentist regularly. Also make sure to eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth.
While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow color substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint.
Below are the three most popular teeth whitening options available today.
In-office teeth whitening
In-office teeth whitening works by producing a significant color change in your teeth in short amount of time, usally within an hour. The procedure is done at the dentist’s office applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield.
Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits
These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product.
Over the counter whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are less expensive, they typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist because of the low concentration gel. Additionally, over the counter trays are not custom fit for your teeth, which can result in irritation to your gums while wearing the trays.
Teeth whitening usually lasts from one to three years before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Additionally, once your teeth have been initially whitened, typically only “touch ups” are required to maintain the whiteness.
Other Common Questions
ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day. Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities! If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken. Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher. During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities. Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.). Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.
With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.
Today, braces can be a fashion statement. At times, instead of traditional metal braces, contemporary looking braces can be used. For Self-ligating braces, which require no elastic ties, can possibly reduce the number of orthodontic visits. There are several types of so-called “invisible braces.” Some of these are “clear/transparent” in color but work like traditional metal braces. In addition, there are a series of invisible mouth guard like appliances (not really braces) that patients can remove to eat and clean. The choice of appliance is somewhat dependent on the arrangement of the crooked teeth.
Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry concerned with the straightening of teeth to correct functional or cosmetic issues. Using specially designed and fitted appliances, constant and gentle pressure is applied to the teeth causing them to move into the desired position. While orthodontic appliances were traditionally, made of metal, orthodontists now provide patients with the option of metal, ceramic, or plastic appliances. Such appliances can be removable or bonded to the teeth, based on the patient’s wants and the doctor’s recommendation. The movement of the teeth is triggered by a static yet gentle force which slowly shifts the teeth in a controlled direction. Braces are no longer an unpleasant impediment. Today, orthodontists provide their patients with top of the line products which are less painful, appearance-abusive, and much more effective! With the option of selecting between metallic or ceramic brackets, the color of the ties holding the brackets, and the style of braces, orthodontists have made wearing braces fun and easy!
Although treatment it is rarely needed at this age, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by AGE 7. This is around the time that jaws are developed enough to predict if treatment will be needed in the future. Having an early screening allows pediatric dentists and orthodontists to assess and monitor the development of the patient before a problem occurs. When you have time on your side you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems by intervening when necessary.
When teeth are first moved, mild discomfort may result. The sensation usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of discomfort as the treatment progresses. Medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may be taken to alleviate the discomfort.
- Upper Front Teeth Protrude Excessively over Lower Teeth or Are Bucked
- Upper Front Teeth Cover the Majority of Lower Teeth When Biting (Deep Bite)
- Upper Front Teeth Are behind/inside Lower Front Teeth (Underbite)
- Upper & Lower Front Teeth Don’t Touch When Biting (Open Bite)
- Crowded or Overlapped Teeth
- Center of Upper & Lower Teeth Doesn’t Align
- Finger- or Thumb-Sucking Habits Continue after Age 6 or 7
- Difficulty Chewing
- Teeth Wearing Unevenly or Excessively
- Lower Jaw Shifts to one Side When Biting
- Spaces between Teeth
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist for cleanings and dental checkups. During orthodontic treatment, some dentists suggest adding an additional cleaning to the hygiene schedule to the common two times a year schedule.
Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, so that you can take steps to elminate it.
Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.
Taking proper care of your dentures helps to ensure that they last as long as possible and that your mouth remains healthy.
Clean and Soak
Removable dentures should be taken out at bedtime, cleaned, and soaked in a water-based cleaning solution overnight to keep your mouth healthy, remove food and plaque, and minimize staining. Dentures should be cleaned only with dish washing liquid or denture cleanser applied to a moistened denture brush or soft toothbrush, and all surfaces, inside and out, should be gently scrubbed. Individuals with implant overdentures need to practice especially careful oral hygiene, with thorough cleaning of the gums, attachment mechanism, and overdenture.
Keep Those Appointments!
Periodic examinations are key to maintaining oral health and ensuring that your dentures continue to function properly. In addition to routine exams, see your dental professional to:
- Address sore spots and irritations
- Remove stubborn stains that don’t come off with routine cleaning
- Repair broken dentures
- Determine if dentures need to be replaced (usually needed every 4 to 8 years).
Fees for denture-related services vary widely. Speak to your dental professional and contact your state or local dental society about any available resources.
Your Beautiful Smile
Communicating your needs, concerns, and expectations will help your dental professional provide you with the treatment plan and dentures that are best for you—giving you peace of mind, good oral health, and a reason to smile for years to come.