FAQ

1. I’m not having any symptoms. Do I still need to see a dentist?

Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.

2. Why should I floss, isn't brushing enough?

Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually, it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist can remove the tartar.

Ask Dr. Pelts to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.

3. How can I prevent cavities?

Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.

Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers, and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like the best. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and brush your teeth afterward.

If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water – which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. And do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.

4. Why does the dentist take X-rays?

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, and often unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, X-rays may even help save your life. The dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on the conditions present in development. There are many benefits to having X-rays taken. Your dentist should take a full set of dental X-rays early into the doctor-patient relationship. X-rays help your doctor monitor any changes that could be happening in your teeth between appointments. Most adult patients have bitewing X-rays every year and a full mouth series every four to five years. But those with a higher risk for dental caries problems may need them more frequently.

5. What causes morning breath?

When you are asleep saliva production in your mouth decreases. Since your saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, most people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles, which produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds that give our breath a bad odor. During the day, your saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. Your saliva also helps to dissolve the foul-smelling sulfur compounds.

Chronic, long-term mouth odor can be a sign of more serious illness. See your dentist if this is a concern.

6. What can I do about sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate is very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, as well as tea and soda, can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce – if not eliminate – the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.

7. What should I do about bleeding gums?

People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of the disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.

8. When is it smart to remove wisdom teeth?

Some dentists are rethinking automatically extracting wisdom teeth, but in some cases, keeping your wisdom teeth just isn’t that wise. As your wisdom teeth begin to push through the gums, you might experience some pressure or discomfort, just like when you were younger. At each checkup, your dentist will look for signs that they are developing properly and occasionally take x-rays to make sure they are in the right position.

If they aren’t, they may need to be extracted. Here are a few reasons why your third molars may need to come out

  • They are Impacted – An impacted tooth is a tooth that is blocked from coming completely out of the gum. It can be lying on its side or too close to another tooth to erupt fully. An impacted tooth can damage its neighboring teeth and damage the roots of nearby teeth, causing bone loss.
  • Tooth Decay – Wisdom teeth are far back in your mouth, and it can be hard to clean them well, especially if they are only partially erupted. Food can get trapped and give bacteria a place to grow and create cavities.
  • Infection – If a tooth has only partially come out of the gum, bacteria can get trapped and seep down into the surrounding periodontal (gum) pocket. This can cause an infection that, if not treated, can lead to bone loss, periodontal disease, pain, swelling, and jaw stiffness.

Wisdom teeth are usually extracted under local anesthesia with mild sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the situation, and you will probably need a ride to and from the office. The procedure itself is relatively straightforward and generally doesn’t take long. If you still have wisdom teeth, rest assured we will continue to watch their growth and position.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth or their development, give us a call. We’re happy to answer all your questions!

9. How Do I Know If I Am Grinding My Teeth?

These are just some of the symptoms of you might be grinding or clenching your teeth (also known as bruxism).

  • If you wake up with a headache, jaw pain or soreness, facial muscle soreness, or teeth pain, you’re grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep.
  • Your back teeth appear flattened or look like they have small ‘pot holes’ on them.
  • Experience tooth sensitivity or pain when eating cold and hot foods or drinks
  • Earaches have become a regular occurrence
  • Have problems with opening your jaw really wide
  • Hear a clicking sound coming from your jaw when you’re trying to eat
  • Chipped, fractured, or cracked teeth

Bruxism or teeth grinding has been found more frequently in people who snore or suffer from some form of sleep apnea and in people who regularly smoke, drink alcohol, use recreational drugs and caffeine.

Speak to Dr. Pelts about getting a nightguard to prevent further damage to your teeth!

10. Does frequent snacking damage my teeth?

If you eat small frequent meals, you may have a healthy weight, but you might find your teeth suffering from it. Frequent eating interferes with the natural ability of saliva to protect teeth. Your saliva is designed to increase your oral pH after eating and drinking. As you eat or drink, your oral pH drops. In addition to allowing unhealthy microbes to grow and reproduce, acidic conditions in the mouth dissolve minerals out of your tooth enamel. When the cycle is working properly, after eating, your saliva has time to raise your oral pH levels to the safe zone for your tooth enamel.