FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Maintaining Dental Health
Maintaining dental health has two main components — at-home dental hygiene and professional cleanings and examinations. Simple maintenance of your dental health can prevent complications such as tooth loss, as well as the need for restorative or cosmetic dentistry in the future.
How can I prevent tooth decay and gum disease?
Good oral hygiene starts at home, though it needs to be supplemented by regular visits to our cosmetic and general dentistry practice, Wynn Dentistry. Steps you can take to prevent tooth decay and gum disease include:
Brush at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. This helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the need for costly cosmetic or restorative dentistry in the future. Replace your brush every two to three months.
Flossing is crucial to the health of your teeth and gums and the prevention of gum disease. When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader.
Regular dental visits
How does fluoride help prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride helps reverse and prevent tooth decay in three ways:
1. Promoting Tooth Remineralization
Acids can demineralize a tooth — that is, create a weak spot that develops into a cavity. Fluoride helps promote the opposite process, called remineralization, which can reverse the very early stages of tooth decay.
2. Helping Teeth Become More Resistant to Tooth Decay
Fluoride actually strengthens teeth, giving them natural protection against future tooth decay.
3. Inhibiting Oral Bacteria’s Ability to Create Tooth-Attacking Acids
Fluoride disrupts bacteria’s ability to metabolize sugars, the process that leads to the attack of tooth enamel.
What are the stages of gum disease? How is gum disease treated?
Gum disease has several stages. The initial stage is called gingivitis and is an infection of the gingival (gum tissue). In this stage, gums become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. The underlying bone is unaffected. In later stages, however, gum disease can lead to bone loss and the loosening or even loss of teeth.
Gum disease treatment varies according to the stage of the disease. At its mildest stages, gingivitis can be treated by clearing plaque and tartar deposits from the gum pockets. Severe gum disease, on the other hand, might require treatment that includes bone and gum grafts.
What causes sensitive teeth?
Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of factors. The porous part of the tooth, called dentin, is the region that registers pain, and dentin can become exposed due to:
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Teeth injured by clenching or grinding
- Receding gums caused by gum disease or improper brushing
How can sensitive teeth be managed?
Pain from sensitive teeth often comes and goes, but if you experience constant pain, you may have a more serious problem.
There are many effective treatments for sensitive teeth, including:
- A soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent gum irritation
- Toothpaste designed to insulate the nerve that registers pain
- A fluoride rinse or gel, available at Wynn Dentistry
If you have sensitive teeth, visit Wynn Dentistry to discuss your symptoms. We can help determine the cause of your pain and develop a course of treatment.
What are the causes of bruxism (teeth grinding)?
Teeth grinding can be caused by a range of factors; often, both emotional and physical factors are involved. Causal factors can include stress, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth.
How can bruxism be treated?
Once the cause or causes of bruxism are determined, your dentist can develop a course of treatment. Treatment methods may include:
- Relaxation techniques if stress is at the root of the problem
- Physical therapy
- Muscle relaxants
- A plastic tooth guard to wear at night during sleep
Bruxism can cause serious pain and headaches, as well as dangerous wear on the teeth. In severe cases, restorative dentistry techniques such as inlays or porcelain crowns are needed to rebuild teeth damaged by bruxism. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment for bruxism early to avoid waking up with headaches or jaw pain.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a plastic coating painted on the grooved, hard-to-reach surfaces of the back teeth. Pits and fissures on these surfaces are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. Dental sealants can be used to seal out cavity-causing bacteria from damaging the teeth.
How do dental sealants protect teeth?
Because fluoride is effective in preventing decay from forming on the smooth surfaces of teeth, and dental sealants protect the grooves of teeth, these treatments are best used in conjunction.
Dental sealants are particularly effective for protecting children’s teeth. The first permanent molars emerge when a child is about 6. A dental sealant treatment performed shortly after these first permanent teeth emerge protects the teeth from developing cavities. Another good time for applying sealants occurs when a child is about 12, when the second permanent molars emerge.
We may also recommend sealants for adults who are at a particularly high risk of tooth decay.