How often should I change my toothbrush?

Most dental professionals recommend that toothbrushes be replaced every three months, or more frequently if you are an extremely vigorous brusher. Toothbrushes should also be replaced after you or family members have had a cold, flu, or other upper respiratory infections.

Can my teeth be whitened?

Today there are more options than ever for vital tooth bleaching/whitening. There are numerous over-the-counter as well as professionally dispensed whitening products. Many stains that are the result of smoking, coffee, tea and/or age may be improved with these treatments. Staining due to antibiotic use or excess fluoride are less likely to respond to these treatments. Before trying any whitening procedures, discuss your condition with your dental professional and together you can decide which treatment will achieve the results you`re seeking.

Do I really need to floss my teeth?

Yes, you do NEED to floss. Brushing alone reaches only 3 out of 5 tooth surfaces. Also, the surfaces tooth brushing can’t reach (the interproximal surfaces) are areas where periodontal diseases can most easily get started in your mouth. Some type of daily interproximal cleaning is essential for healthy teeth and gums.

At what age should my child first visit the dentist?

Generally speaking, when a child has all of his primary teeth in place is a good time to have his or her first oral exam. The first cleaning and check-up appointment can follow a few months later, depending on the child’s maturity and his readiness to accept the treatment. The goal is to have your child’s first dental experience be a positive one.

Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

The majority of the dental community feels that amalgam fillings are completely safe and that the risk associated with the mercury contained in these restorations is minimal. If you have any concerns about amalgam fillings your dental professional will be happy to discuss alternative restorative options.

Are routine dental x-rays really necessary?

Dental x-rays are taken to diagnose problems that may be occurring in your teeth and supporting bone that are not visible to the naked eye. If the condition is allowed to develop until it is detectable by a visual exam the problem will have progressed significantly and will probably require more extensive treatment than if it was caught in the early stages. Nevertheless, the radiation we receive from all sources is cumulative over our lifetime, so we need to be aware of exposures. Discuss with your dental professional why the x-rays are being taken and always have your x-rays forwarded if you change dental care providers.

Can children get too much fluoride?

Yes. If excess fluoride is ingested it can result in a condition known as fluorosis. Fluorosis can cause varying degrees of staining and irregular enamel formation in your child`s permanent teeth. Most municipal water supplies are fluoridated at safe levels (1.0 ppm). If your water source is an independent well, or if you drink only bottled water, you will have to investigate the level of fluoride that the water contains. Another potential source of excess fluoride is fluoridated toothpaste. Children should use a “pea” size dab of fluoridated toothpaste and expectorate as much as possible. Parents should always supervise young brushers.

Are fluoride treatments effective for adults?

Yes. Topical application of fluoride increases the level of fluoride in the outermost surface of the tooth, regardless of the age of the tooth. While we tend to think of children as being more prone to cavities, adults still get decay. People are maintaining their natural teeth longer and root decay is a condition that is more likely to occur as we age. The key is multiple applications of fluoride with fluoridated toothpaste, possibly a home fluoride gel, and in-office treatments. Your dental professional will be able to prescribe the best home care and in office treatment options for your dental condition.

Do I need a “cleaning” appointment every six months?

All patients are individuals, and have varied needs. The interval of six months for “cleaning & check-up” is a commonly recommended time frame which may or may not be appropriate for you. If you have concerns about the frequency of your “recall” appointments you should discuss them with your dental professional. Together you can reach a “recall” schedule that is appropriate for your oral condition and that fits your busy schedule.