Q: How often should I see my dentist?
This depends, in large part, to the overall condition of your teeth and gums. Most people have their teeth examined and cleaned every six months. Visits may need to be more frequent if you have gum disease or another condition that needs additional care.
Q: Is it really important to floss my teeth every day?
Yes, it is. Your toothbrush only reaches about 60 percent of the surface of your teeth. When you don’t floss, bacteria grow, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Also, people who floss at least once a day can live up to 6.4 years longer, according to studies performed at Emory University for the Centres for Disease Control.
Q: I know I shouldn’t smoke, but what does smoking have to do with my teeth?
In addition to causing unattractive discolouration, smoking escalates the build-up of calculus on your teeth and irritates your gums, both of which can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. In fact, 41 percent of daily smokers over age 65 are toothless and smoking is the top risk factor for oral cancer.
Q: When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
Children should have their first dentist visit by their first birthday.
Q: My two-year-old still sucks his thumb. Should I be concerned?
Thumb-sucking and use of pacifiers can eventually push the front teeth forward and affect the child’s bite. Your dentist and paediatrician can give you advice on ways of stopping the habit. The time to be concerned is if he is still sucking his thumb after he starts getting permanent teeth.
Q: What are dental implants?
Dental implants function as artificial roots that are attached to the jawbone. Over time, the implant and bone fuse, forming a durable support for a crown or bridge, replacing lost teeth.
Q: I’ve heard some people say fluoride isn’t good for you. Is this true?
More than 50 years of study have shown fluoride administered at proper levels poses no health hazard. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in some water supplies. People who have fluoride in their local water show a marked decrease in tooth decay and gum disease.
Q: Is there anything I can do to reduce my extreme anxiety about going to the dentist?
What you describe sounds like dentophobia — a fear of dentists. There are several ways to address this condition. First, find a dentist who is sympathetic and specialises in dealing with people who are anxious. Tell the dentist about your feelings and arrange for him or her to stop work on your mouth when you raise your hand. Many people also are more comfortable if the dentist explains each step of the procedure before it begins. If your fear is extreme, you may find it helpful to take an anti-anxiety medication before going to the dentist or to be sedated in the dental offices— many dentists offer nitrous oxide. You’re not alone in this fear. Five to 10 percent are so afraid that they don’t ever visit the dentist.
Q: Is tooth whitening bad for your teeth?
Tooth whitening is very safe when performed by a dentist, or when a home whitening product from a reputable manufacturer is used as directed. Keep in mind that your newly whitened teeth may not match existing crowns, bridges, veneers, bonding and fillings. If you have your teeth whitened by a dentist, he or she will monitor the process and be able to minimise differences in colouring.
Q: I brush, floss and gargle, but still have bad breath. Can I do anything else?
Bad breath is usually caused by bacteria in your mouth. Although it can come from bacteria on your teeth and gums, normally your tongue is the culprit. Use of a tongue scraper and prescription rinse will cure most mouth odour.