Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as important as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums when improperly used, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. Excessively "scrubbing" your teeth is unnecessary as long as you are brushing properly at least twice a day and visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend that our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride. People with recession of their gum tissues should avoid "whitening" toothpaste as it tends to be abrasive and can cause rapid wear or notching of the root surfaces of the teeth.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Flossing teeth once a day helps prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps keep your gums healthy. It is best done at bedtime.
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns." However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored covers as "caps" and the gold or stainless steel ones as "crowns."
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.
Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there are no health reasons not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. These white fillings are usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look less conspicuous. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation and, if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown can also be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient. Sometimes a silver filling is a better option in the very back of the mouth.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return them to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.
Q: How important is a fluoride rinse to my dental health?
A: If decay is beginning to form along the gumline or between the teeth then fluoride rinses can actually stop the decay process and heal the area. However, for this to work, good hygiene is required before use and the individual must amend his or her diet that was contributing to the formation of cavities.
Q: Can a whitening toothpaste cause sensitivity?
Yes, some are very abrasive and can actually negatively affect healthy tooth structure and cause sensitivity.