To keep teeth healthy, how often should I brush and floss?

Proper brushing and flossing are essential to maintain optimum dental and oral health and hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing the teeth twice each day.

Choose an appropriately sized, soft-bristled toothbrush with a tapered tip so it reaches all areas of your mouth and teeth easily. Use fluoride toothpaste that’s accepted and recommended by the ADA as well.

It is also vital that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months. In case the bristles get frayed or wear out sooner, you shouldn’t wait any longer to get a new one. A worn-out toothbrush won’t clean your teeth properly.

There is a proper way to brush your teeth:

  1. Position the toothbrush with the bristles at a 45-degree angle against your gums.
  2. With short, gentle strokes, move the brush back and forth across your teeth.
  3. Make sure you brush the inner and outer sections, as well as the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  4. Don’t forget to clean the back side of your front teeth. To do this, place the toothbrush in a vertical position and move it up and down gently against the inner surface of the front teeth.
  5. Finish off by brushing the surface and sides of the tongue. This will remove odor causing bacteria and help freshen your breath.

Oftentimes, brushing the teeth is not enough to keep them clean and healthy. Bacteria can linger in the mouth and cause tooth decay, particularly along areas of the teeth and gums that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. You’ll also need to floss daily or use an inter-dental cleaner to remove food particles stuck between the teeth and tartar-causing plaque beneath the gum line.

Other helpful habits in maintaining optimum oral and dental health include eating a well-balanced diet and limiting your intake of sweets and snacks. Make sure to visit your dentist every six months and get professional cleaning at least once a year.

What are the possible causes of sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth may be brought about by a number of reasons, the most common of which is tooth decay. Other probably causes of sensitive teeth include:

The exposed portion of your teeth above the gum line is known as the crown and in healthy teeth, this is protected by an enamel layer. On the other hand, the root of the tooth under the gum line is protected by a layer known as cementum. Beneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin, calcified tissue consisting of very small tubules. Dentin covers the pulp of the tooth and makes up for the majority of a tooth’s total structure.

Dentin can lose its protective enamel or cementum covering due to any of the reasons mentioned above. When it does, heat, cold or acid from certain foods can get into the nerves and cells of the tooth via the tubules and cause tooth sensitivity. Receding gums can also expose dentin which will result to hypersensitivity as well.

Can sensitive teeth be treated?

Yes, there are various remedies for sensitive teeth. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and your dentist may recommend any or a combination of the following treatments:

All things considered, tooth sensitivity can be prevented with proper oral and dental care. Consult with your dentist if you have tooth sensitivity concerns so he can recommend the proper daily care routine and administer the right form of treatment if needed.

Is it safe to have amalgam fillings?

More than a hundred million Americans can’t be wrong – that’s the number of patients who have used dental amalgam to restore their teeth. Dental amalgam is a mixture of several metals including silver, tin and copper and is bound into a hard and stable filling material with the use of mercury. Over the decades, extensive studies have been conducted on dental amalgam which has proven to be a durable, effective, and affordable substance that can be used safely as tooth fillings.

Other options to silver amalgam are porcelain and tooth-colored composite fillings. It is best that you discuss with your dentist to determine which option suits you best.

Is it safe to get a teeth whitening procedure?

Definitely. With the supervision of a certified dental practitioner, carbamide and hydrogen peroxide have been proven safe for use in teeth whitening procedures. You will also find other teeth whitening options available such as teeth-whitening kits and strips, although it’s best that you consult with your dentist first before using these over-the-counter options. Ask your dentist about in-office whitening procedures or dentist-prepared take home whitening systems.

What are the symptoms of periodontal or gum disease?

You may not be aware that you have periodontal disease since it’s usually painless at its early stages. The tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth become infected and this is usually caused by plaque, a sticky layer of bacteria that forms around the teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden over time.

However, there are warning signs that you may have gum disease and these include:

Certain factors may also increase your propensity to develop gum disease:

Gingivitis is gum disease at its early stage and is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis is reversible and treatment consists of professional cleaning at a dentist’s clinic. Proper daily brushing and flossing following the professional cleaning procedure will usually be enough to eliminate gingivitis.

Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease characterized by the gradual loss of tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Chronic periodontitis will cause teeth to move and loosen eventually and this is the most common type of gum disease among adults. An aggressive form of periodontitis can also develop in adults who are otherwise healthy. However, periodontitis can occur at any age. Periodontitis generally develops and worsens slowly although there may be intermittent stages of rapid progression.

It is recommended that you see your dentist the soonest if you suspect you have gum disease. Early treatment can arrest the condition and prevent more serious problems later on.

Research is ongoing to determine the connection between periodontal disease and systemic diseases. There are indications that severe gum disease could be associated with diabetes, stroke and other health conditions, although these are not yet conclusive.

One may have periodontal disease and experience no symptoms or warning signs whatsoever. That is why it is important to go and have dental and periodontal checkups and examinations on a regular basis. Treatment will vary depending on the type and extent of gum disease that is detected.

A very important note: You need not lose your teeth unnecessarily due to gum disease. Adapt a healthy lifestyle, eat a well-balanced diet and remember to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Regular visits to your dentist will also help ensure that your teeth and gums are in perfect condition.

Am I an ideal candidate for Invisalign?

You may be a good candidate for Invisalign in case you have any or a combination of the following teeth alignment problems and bite conditions:

What are the common causes of bad breath?

Bad breath may be temporary or persistent and can be caused by a number of factors including:

If you have persistent bad breath, it is advisable that you see your dentist to determine the cause. A dentist will be able to detect problems such as dry mouth or gum disease with regular checkups. In case your dentist verifies that your mouth and teeth are healthy, you may be referred to your doctor for further evaluation as bad breath can be a symptom of an underlying medical disorder.

Otherwise, treating gum disease, getting professional cleaning and maintaining appropriate dental and oral hygiene will reduce bad breath conditions. Remember to brush your teeth twice each day and clean between them with dental floss. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well.

Those who wear dentures shouldn’t sleep with them – they should be removed before bedtime and cleaned thoroughly before the next use. While you may opt to use mouthwash, take note that this can only mask bad breath temporarily. They do not have a lasting effect.

It is advisable to consult with your dentist if you feel you need to use a breath freshener to mask unpleasant mouth odor.