Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:  What kind of toothbrush should I use?

A:  We recommend a soft bristle toothbrush with a small bristle head.  Medium or hard brushes with larger heads tend to irritate the gums rather than clean your teeth.  A smaller head allows you to more completely clean all around the tooth.

Q:  How often should I floss?

A:  Think of flossing as brushing in between your teeth.  We often refer to decay in between your teeth as “flossing cavities”.  If you don’t floss, you are not cleaning a good portion of your tooth.  Also, flossing brings oxygen down into your tissue pockets, and the bacteria that cause decay and gum disease are killed by oxygen.  You should floss once a day.

Q:  What can I do if I have bad breath?

A:  In a healthy person, the main cause of bad breath is bacteria or microbes usually found in food particles trapped around your teeth.  So, BRUSH YOUR TEETH!  Also, remember to brush your tongue, as the back of your tongue can trap food particles and microbes as well.  Bad breath can also be caused by certain foods and the chemicals found in those foods (think onions and garlic).  Tobacco use can dry out the tissues in your mouth, also causing bad breath.

Q:  Do silver fillings contain mercury?  Are they safe?

A:  Yes and Yes.  With an explanation!  Silver fillings are an “amalgam” (mixture) of silver, copper, zinc and tin, bound by mercury.  A reaction takes place where the filling hardens, and the mercury combines with the other metals to form an “alloy”.  This alloy has no free mercury present, and is therefore not toxic, as large doses of free mercury can be.  The American Dental Association, The Center for Disease Control, The U.S. Public Health Service, The FDA, and The World Health Organization have all stated that silver fillings done today are safe and cost effective.  However the public in general has repeatedly asked dentists to provide an alternate, non-toxic, non-metallic, tooth-colored filling material.  And we have.  Today’s tooth-colored fillings allow us to “bond” the filling to the tooth, making a more conservative and more comfortable restoration.  However, these fillings are not appropriate in all situations, since they are not as strong as metallic fillings.  Also, replacement of old, large silver fillings may require your tooth to have a crown or cap placed instead.  Many options are available, and it is important to ask the dentist what your best choice might be.

Q:  What’s the difference between a crown and a cap?

A:  Dentists refer to any full coverage restoration as a crown. Caps usually were porcelain crowns placed on teeth in part to improve the cosmetics of the patients.  Crowns and caps are the same thing.

Q:  Is bleaching or whitening my teeth safe?

A:  Yes. Whitening or bleaching solutions have been in use by the dental profession for over 20 years, and all studies have shown no damaging effects to your teeth or tissues.  Over-the-counter products are usually less concentrated solutions of what we generally use in our office.  Though not nearly as effective, they should pose no hazards as well.

Q:  How often should I get my teeth cleaned?

A:  You should have your teeth cleaned and checked at least twice a year, though your hygienist and the dentist may recommend visits more often to treat disease if present.