- What is an abscessed tooth?
An abscess of the tooth is an infection. An abscess can include pus and swelling of the soft gum tissues surrounding the tooth. An abscess can develop from tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken tooth. If there is an opening in the enamel of a tooth, such as a cavity, bacteria can get in and infect the pulp (centre) of the tooth and cause an abscess. Once an abscess happens, the infection could spread throughout the mouth and body. If you suspect that you have an abscessed tooth, you should see your dentist right away.
- What is tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity means experiencing pain or discomfort to your teeth from sweets, cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks, ice cream or even when brushing or flossing. Several factors can contribute to tooth sensitivity including cavities, gum disease, a fractured tooth or worn enamel. The good news is that it can be treated. Your Smiles Dentist would be happy to discuss options with you.
- Which toothbrush is really better - manual or electric?
The most important thing to consider when deciding which toothbrush to buy, is which one you will actually use. Both electric and manual toothbrushes have some pros and cons, but both will be useless if not used. The Irish Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. If you're not sure which type of toothbrush you would use the most, here are some pros and cons of both:
- Most have an easy grip handle
- Some come with a tongue scraper
- Easy to travel with
- No built in timer to tell you when two minutes are up
- Can be difficult for some people to hold onto firmly
- The larger ergonomic handles can be beneficial for arthritis patients or the elderly
- Some have built in timers that let you know when you have brushed for a full two minutes
- Electric toothbrushes provide a far more thorough cleaning
- Some electric toothbrushes dispense toothpaste
- Some electric toothbrushes can be quite expensive
- Most electric toothbrushes require charging or battery replacement
- The replacement heads can be quite expensive
- Do whitening toothpastes really work?
Whitening toothpastes, like all other toothpastes, contain carbamide peroxide to remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes may have additional polishing agents and special chemicals that are more effective against stains than regular toothpastes. While whitening toothpastes can make your teeth appear a little lighter, by getting rid of stains, they do not actually bleach your teeth. Whitening toothpastes are ideal for people who smoke, drink coffee and tea and eat certain foods that can stain your teeth.
Whitening toothpastes are also good to use after you have undergone a teeth whitening procedure to keep surface stains from building up on your teeth. If you decide to use a whitening toothpaste, be sure that it contains fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay.
- What is tooth decay?
Decay is the destruction of tooth structure. Decay occurs when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.
- What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. It occurs naturally in all water sources. Studies show that fluoride reduces cavities in people of all ages and is effective and safe when used correctly. The correct use of fluoride has been said to have dramatically reduced tooth decay over the past few decades.
- What is a root canal?
A Root Canal is a dental procedure to fix a tooth by removing the pulp chamber of the tooth (not the roots of the tooth) and filling it with a suitable filling material. A root canal is usually performed when the tooth cannot be filled or restored any other way because the decay has reached the nerve of the tooth or the tooth has become infected. Today, with modern technology and better anaesthetics, root canal treatments are no more painful than having a filling.
Most root canals can be performed in two to three office visits. It is important to remember that after a root canal treatment you will need to make a follow up appointment with your dentist to have the tooth permanently restored. After the pulp of the tooth has been removed, the tooth can become very dry and brittle. Having a permanent restoration placed will help protect your tooth from fracturing.
- What is a cavity?
A cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by decay. Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the food we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to your regular dental check-ups. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.
- What causes bad breath?
According to dental studies, about 85% of people with persistent bad breath also known as halitosis have a dental condition that is to blame. These conditions could be one or more of the following:
- Gum disease
- Poor oral hygiene
- Oral cancer
- Dry Mouth (xerostomia)
- Bacteria on the tongue If bad breath is the cause of a dental condition, mouthwash will only mask the odour and not cure it. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Seven key ways to prevent bad breathe are, brushing twice a day, flossing daily, regular dental check ups, using a mouth rinse, brushing your tongue, avoiding tobacco and drinking water.
- How often should I floss my teeth?
You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing in between your teeth removes food debris and plaque from in between the teeth that a toothbrush can't reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
When flossing, be sure to gently insert the floss in between the teeth, without snapping, which could damage the gum tissue. Gently move the floss up and down into the spaces between the gum and teeth. Floss the sides of all of your teeth, even if there isn't a tooth next to another one. There are a number of dental products available that are designed to make flossing easier. Please ask your Smiles dentist for more details.
- How often should I brush my teeth?
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Always use a soft bristled toothbrush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make sure that the toothbrush fits inside of your mouth so that you can easily reach all areas. When brushing, use gentle up and down strokes, brushing all sides of the teeth. Always brush your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
- What is the difference between a silver and white filling?
The main difference between silver and white dental fillings is the material that they consist of. Silver fillings are made from a metal alloy - an amalgamation of silver, tin, copper and zinc with traces elements of mercury to assist with binding the material together. White (composite) fillings are made up of acrylic and various glass particles. Other differences in silver and white fillings are cost, strength and the way they look.
- How often should I change my toothbrush?
Adults and children should change their toothbrush every 3 months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. Exceptions to this would be if you were using an electric toothbrush, and the manufacturer states otherwise. Some electric rechargable toothbrushes have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every 6 months. If you have gum disease, you should change your toothbrush every 4 - 6 weeks because bacteria can harbor in the bristles. You should always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after every use and change it after you have been sick.
- How often should I see the dentist for a check-up and cleaning?
Most children and adults should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and check-up every six months. People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental check ups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check-up. The government also provides benefits for dental examinations and scale and polishes. To find out your entitlements please view www.welfare.ie/publications/sw24.html
- What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a clear and protective coating that is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant protects the tooth from getting a cavity by shielding against bacteria and plaque. Sealants are most commonly placed on children's permanent back teeth because they are more prone to cavities. They can also be placed on adult's teeth.