Frequently Asked Questions

MAINTENANCE

Click on any of the questions below to find more about a specific issue:

What are cavities and how do they occur?

Cavities are a destruction of the tooth enamel. They occur when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, soda, raisins, cakes or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in cavities. This process is also called "tooth decay."

Why does the Dentist recommend having 2 cleanings a year?

Lots of patients share concern about bad breath. As a social embarrassment, it's surely near the top of the list. Since mouthwashes won't eliminate the problem, let's look at some possible reasons for the condition.

Certain foods, such as onions, garlic, and spices will cause temporary bad breath. Some medical and systemic problems, such as sinusitis, can also contribute. But most causes are local in nature. Bacteria, plain and simple, are the culprit. Bacteria do their work in the mouth, lungs, sinuses, and stomach. In the oral cavity, bacteria cause gum disease.

This infection is so prevalent today, it's the first dental problem we suspect when it comes to halitosis. With a thorough hygiene program, including 2 cleanings a year, there is a chance to control gum problems and this particularly awkward side effect. Less-than-pristine dentures or bridgework are also a source of odor. Tooth decay can be another culprit along with "dry mouth" syndrome (a lot of older people are prone to reduced saliva flow).

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath can be caused by such things as certain foods, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, a dry mouth (xerostomia), tobacco products or a medical disorder. When bacteria accumulate because of poor oral hygiene or gum disease, or when saliva is lacking, bad breath can result. Saliva is necessary to wash away food particles and bacteria. Certain medications and disorders can lead to a dry mouth. Sometimes a sinus infection, postnasal drip or other respiratory tract infection can cause bad breath. If bad breath is persistent, contact us to determine whether the cause is of dental origin.

What can I do about bad breath?

Regular checkups will allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be the cause. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.

Regardless of what may be the cause, good oral hygiene is essential. Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners. Brush your tongue, too. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.

Why did I get an dental abscess?

When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected (often from a deep cavity or a deep crack), the infection can spread throughout the pulp. If root canal treatment is not done, the infection may travel into the tissues near the root tip. This can cause the adjacent bone to erode. The pocket of pus that forms is the abscess. If the abscess increases in size, it can become more painful.

Should I be concerned about contracting AIDS when I go to the Dentist?

A recent survey of dental patients showed that patient protection was #1 on their list of concerns about dental care. Some patients have even quit going to the dentist because of their fears.

Fortunately, trips to the dentist have never been safer. The case in Florida where the patient was apparently infected with the AIDS virus by her dentist is the only such case out of tens of millions of dental treatments performed since the introduction of the virus. The Center for Disease Control still does not know the method of infection.

However, even one case is too many. We have responded by adopting "universal (or standard) precautions". These involve sterilizing all instruments in dry-heat ovens or steam autoclaves to kill any bacteria. Disposable items are used whenever possible. The chance of contracting an infection in the dental chair is extremely remote, but the chance of losing one's teeth because of lack of proper dental care is extremely likely.