Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that you have questions about Oceanfront Dentistry and our dental services, which is why we’ve put together the following Frequently Asked Questions. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Please don’t hesitate to contact our office so that one of our friendly staff can answer your questions.

 

What should I do if I have bad breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.

What may cause bad breath?

  • Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
  • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
  • Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath, as the body burns fat.
  • Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.
  • Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with you dentist.

 What can I do to prevent bad breath?

  • Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
  • See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
  • Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
  • Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
  • Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.
  • In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

How often should I brush and floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.

How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?

You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.

Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:

  • Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your over all health and also your dental health.
  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any sings of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing and scaling.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
  • Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.

As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.

Toothache

If your tooth hurts, the pain usually comes from one of two sources.

  • Pain can come from inside the tooth, and it indicates that there is an irritant affecting the tooth.
  • Pain can come from the ligament that attaches your tooth to the jaw.

If your pain comes from inside, usually it is aggravated by cold, air, sweets, or heat. If any of these makes your tooth hurt worse, your tooth is irritated. Then it becomes important to know if you need to see your dentist.

There are two general cases where you absolutely need your toothache treated. If, when the tooth is provoked, the toothache lingers for more than one or two seconds, the tooth almost certainly needs to be treated. For example, let’s say your tooth is sensitive to cold. You drink cold water, and you get a sharp jab in your tooth. In that case, it may not need any treatment. But if that jab persists more than two seconds, see your dentist. You probably need a root canal treatment.

Many people fear root canals. However, with recent technological advances, these appointments themselves are generally not painful, nor are they traumatic-there isn’t a lot of grinding as there is with a filling or a dental crown. Most of the work is done with small hand instruments. And when the tooth is dead, which is often the case, it can even be done with no novocain. Root canal treatment often means the relief of toothache pain, and often that relief is immediate and dramatic. Extraction-taking a tooth out-is much more traumatic, from my experience as a dentist.

Also, if the pain progresses to where your tooth hurts without any outside stimulus, that is the second situation that definitely indicates you need to see a dentist, quickly. But if the pain is only provoked by a stimulus, and then it is only transitory, even if it hurts quite bad, there is still a chance that it could get better on its own.

The other source of toothache is the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone. When the infection inside your tooth spreads through the tooth apex to the bone around the tooth, your toothache may become this type. In this case, cold or heat or air won’t bother you at all, but your tooth will be sensitive to biting. However, most of the time when your tooth is sensitive to biting, it isn’t infected. Check the link below for more information about sensitivity to biting.

The more promptly you seek attention for your toothache, the less likely you are to have pain after the treatment. When your tooth is infected, the longer you allow the infection to become entrenched, the more likely you are to have that infection try to spread when it’s treated.

Gum Disease and its association with other health issues

Researchers have found that the same bacteria and viruses that live in your mouth and cause gum disease are also linked to other health problems, i.e. heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature births.

For people with diabetes, it is important to see a dentist regularly. This is because your saliva can contain high sugar levels, and you may be more likely to develop tooth decay if you are diabetic. Diabetes also contributes to gum disease because your body is less resistant to infection making you a higher risk for periodontal disease.

During pregnancy your body experiences hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react to the hormonal changes. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease. In addition, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver pre-term, low birth weight babies.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is also known as gingivitis or periodontitis, depending on its severity. Periodontitis is a chronic bacterial infection that affects approximately 34% of the American population over age 30. About 5% – 15% of adults have a severe form of periodontitis, which leads to tooth loss. The disease begins as an inflammation of the gum tissue known as gingivitis. The main symptom is bleeding, for example when tooth brushing. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is when the destructive inflammatory process extends into the surrounding bone. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss because of the loss of supporting bone.

Dental Implant vs. Bridge

When should you have a dental implant and when should you have a dental bridge?

Advantages of a dental bridge:

  • Faster
  • Almost and dentist can do it

Advantages of a dental implant:

  • The adjacent teeth don’t have to be ground down
  • Generally more comfortable
  • Maintenance is less complicated
  • If there is later a problem with any of the teeth involved in the bridge, you usually have to get a complete new bridge, which involves at least three teeth. With a dental implant you have to treat only the tooth with the problem.
  • A bridge stresses adjacent teeth.

Dental Implant Candidate

To be a dental implant candidate, you need to be in good general health and missing some teeth. And you need to be motivated to take care of them after you get them. So most likely, if you are missing teeth, you qualify.

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In order for dental implants to be able to be placed in your jawbone, there needs to be enough bone present. However, if you are lacking bone, there are bone grafting procedures that may be able to take care of that.

And even if you don’t have enough bone in your jaw, there are bone-grafting procedures that can prepare you to receive implants.

Health Conditions That Could Contraindicate Dental Implants

Here is a list of some of the most common health conditions that could cause problems with dental implants:

  • Certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, hemophilia, or immune-deficiency disorders would cause you to be at high risk for dental implant failure. You would be more susceptible to infections around the fixtures. The amount of risk depends on the severity of your problem.
  • Smoking increases the risk of failure. Studies have shown that a smoker is two-and-a-half times more likely to have implant failure than a non-smoker. And clearly, the more you smoke, the more likely you would be to have a problem. If you are a heavy enough smoker, it may be wise not to attempt the treatment.
  • It is not advisable to get dental implants while you are pregnant.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse not only causes health problems that could compromise treatment, but they would likely affect your motivation to care for them after treatment.

Snore Guard

Do you snore? Do you lose sleep because of someone else’s snoring?

Snoring, besides being a nuisance, can lead to serious health problems from chronic fatigue to sleep apnea. If you wake up tired or always need a nap, it could be that you are not sleeping soundly and are not getting enough oxygen during sleep. These can be the effects of snoring.

For the last 20 years we have been helping people with this problem. There is a simple mouthpiece which when worn during sleep, positions the lower jaw so as to maintain an open airway. This appliance eliminates or greatly reduces snoring. Our percentage of success with this treatment has been in the high 90’s for mild to moderate snoring.

Snoring is something that usually gets worse with time. The sooner snoring is controlled, the less chance you have of developing serious problems. Rarely can something so simple (one short appointment) or inexpensive make such a big difference in people’s lives.