Q1: I would like to have my teeth whitened. There are so many products and ads for whiteners that it is hard to decide which is best. What do you recommend?
Ans: You are correct. There are many products and techniques available. Some work great and some don't work at all. The various over the counter products give the least predictable results. To get a really great result you should probably use one of the products sold through dental offices which utilize custom made trays for home application of a bleaching gel. There are several great ones out there. Besides giving a great result, this product has overcome the sensitivity problem seen with some of the other products .We also get questions about "laser whitening". With this method a laser is used as a light source to activate the bleaching gel which is applied to your teeth in the dental office. It may be necessary to use the at home trays in addition to this initial lengthy treatment. Side effects can include sensitivity to treated teeth.
Q2: I am missing several teeth. A friend told me that she recently had implants to replace her missing teeth and is very happy. What are implants?
Ans: Dental implants are a wonderful way to replace missing teeth when certain conditions exist. Such things as your overall general health and the length of time you have been missing your teeth must be considered. The replacement of missing teeth using dental implants frequently requires a team approach.
After your dentist does a thorough examination and treatment plan the surgical phase of treatment takes place. In most cases a periodontist or an oral surgeon will put the implant(s), the artificial root(s) into the jaw. When healing is complete, usually after 4-6 months, the tooth or bridge segment can be placed on top of the healed implants by a general dentist or a prosthodontist. Some dentists are trained to place the surgical part of the implant as well as the prosthetic or tooth part.
Q3: There are many different types of toothbrushes available in the market today. How do I know which one is the right one for me?
Ans: This is a good question, which we hear daily. The brand of the toothbrush is not nearly as critical as the type of bristle, the size and shape of the head and how frequently you replace your brush. We recommend a soft bristled brush with a small head. The soft bristles are most important for the health of your gums. A small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. Daily frequency of brushing and replacement with a new brush are much more important issues than the brand you choose. We recommend replacing your brush at least once a month.
Q4: Which is better: a manual toothbrush or an electric one?
Ans: Comparisons have been made between power-assisted (electric) toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes to look at the ability of each to remove plaque and prevent or reduce calculus (tartar) build-ups, thus reducing gingivitis (gum disease). These research studies have shown both powered and manual toothbrushes to be equally effective when used correctly. So probably, in practical terms, which brush you use is not the critical factor, but how you use it.
Q5: My son is six years old and starting to get his permanent teeth. I am concerned because the teeth are discoloured. Some even have a brownish or greenish hue. What caused this and what can be done about it?
Ans: From your description, it sounds like a very normal situation and nothing to be concerned about. When the teeth are forming in the jaws, they are surrounded by a soft tissue membrane As the teeth erupt; remnants of this membrane remain on the surface of the enamel. The fibrous nature of the membrane readily picks up coloration from food. In most cases normal chewing and brushing will remove the remnants with time. If they don't come off, they can be removed by having a professional cleaning. Other causes for staining of teeth include high fevers during infancy, too much fluoride in drinking water and certain medications if taken while the teeth are still forming.
Q6: What cause tooth loss?
Ans: The most common causes of tooth loss are dental caries, also known as tooth decay, and periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone structure that supports the teeth. Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults; however, it too can afflict youngsters.
Q7: What Causes Periodontal Diseases?
Ans: Plaque, a thin, colourless, sticky film containing bacteria, which constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria use carbohydrates—sugars and starches—to produce an acid that attacks the enamel covering the teeth. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can be broken down and a cavity begins. Continued acid attacks eventually dissolve the enamel and penetrate the softer, inner layer of the tooth, where decay can spread rapidly throughout the tooth’s structure. Acid attacks begin immediately after every meal or snack and last about 20 to 30 minutes.
Q8: Can Periodontal Diseases Be Prevented?
Ans: Teeth can be protected from acid attacks by removing plaque, reducing the number of times and the amount of sugar and starches eaten, using fluorides, having plastic sealants applied to teeth and by regular professional cleaning of teeth by a dental hygienist.
Q9: How Does Plaque Attack the Gums?
Ans: Plaque can also produce harmful by-products that irritate the gums, causing gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal diseases. If plaque isn’t removed daily, it will build up into a hard deposit called calculus. If plaque continues to form on top of the calculus, it can irritate the gums, and a pocket may develop between the teeth and gums. Plaque build-up can eventually destroy the gums and bone that support the teeth.
Q10: How Do You Stop Plaque Attacks?
Ans: Two key factors in preventing dental caries are fluoride and dental sealants. Fluoride compounds are found naturally in soil, water, and in many foods. Plaque attacks can’t be stopped, but you can help to prevent plaque build-up by following a good oral care program of brushing, flossing, rinsing, and regular visits to your oral health care professional.