Facts to know

Straight from the dentist's mouth

The following are some facts and tips that are designed to make you a better-informed and less anxious patient:

1.  Dental checkups include oral cancer screenings.
When you go for your regular dental checkup, your dentist and hygienist are also screening you for any signs of oral cancer. Every hour of every day, someone dies of oral cancer in the United States. This serious dental disease, which pertains to the mouth, lips, or throat, is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Regular checkups, avoiding tobacco, and minimizing alcohol consumption are the key factors in preventing oral cancer.

2. Gum (periodontal) disease affects your overall health.
Gum disease is not only one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults, but it has also been linked to heart disease and strokes. If diagnosed in the early stage, gingivitis can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage of gum disease (periodontitis) which includes bone loss, may follow. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and getting regular dental checkups and cleanings are the best prevention against gum disease.

3.  Dental cleanings and checkups are extremely important.
Going to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings is one of the most important factors in maintaining good oral health.  Regular checkups can prevent cavities, root canals, gum disease, and oral cancer. Help prevent problems before they happen.

4.  Brushing twice a day keeps the cavities away.
When you brush your teeth properly, at least twice a day, you are removing the plaque that causes cavities. Plaque is the soft and sticky substance that accumulates on the teeth from debris and bacteria. Flossing daily will remove the plaque from in between the teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach. Removing plaque from your teeth also helps to prevent gum disease.

5.  Bad breath could be the result of a dental problem.
About 85 percent of people with persistent bad breath have a dental condition that is to blame. If bad breath is the cause of a dental condition, mouthwash will only mask the odor and not cure it. Flossing daily, brushing your teeth, and scraping your tongue twice a day can greatly reduce and possibly eliminate bad breath.

6. Proper nutrition is important for good health.
The sugars from soft drinks and non-nutritional foods combine with the bacteria in our mouths to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities and gum disease.  Limiting the amount of beverages and foods that are high in sugar and acids can greatly help to maintain good dental health.

7.  Problems do not improve or disappear w/o treatment.
If your dentist gives you a treatment plan for dental work that you need to have done, you should focus on getting your teeth fixed as soon as possible. Cavities will continue to get bigger and if they get big enough to reach the nerve in your tooth, your only options will be to have a root canal or have the tooth extracted.

8.  A root canal is usually not painful.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard a patient say. "Just pull the tooth, I've heard root canals are horrible." With today's technology, root canals are nothing like most people think. Root canal treatment has become increasingly sophisticated over the past 15 years, particularly since dentists have begun using surgical operating microscopes that make it far easier to trace the paths of root canals. But if you're still concerned about pain, talk to your dentist about how much pain makes you uncomfortable. Your dentist will be able to adjust the amount of anesthesia or give you nitrous oxide to make you more comfortable.

9.  Change your toothbrush.
Manual toothbrushes wear out after about three months and are not as effective as they once were. If you have gum disease, you should change your brush every four to six weeks because bacteria can harbor in the bristles. There are inexpensive sterilizers for some types of toothbrushes that can completely eliminate bacteria and viruses from your brush.