WHAT IS DENTISTRY?
Dentistry is a form of medical practice that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions and disorders of the mouth. These conditions may involve the teeth, gums, mouth and jaw. Dentistry is often considered a necessary part of maintaining optimum overall health, as your oral health can affect the entire body.
WHAT IS A DENTIST?
A dentist is a type of doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of problems within the mouth. In order to become a dentist, a person must complete their undergraduate studies and then attend another four years of dental school, where they will receive their DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. A pediatric dentist must receive additional, specialized training that focuses on caring for the unique dental needs of children and teenagers. There are several other areas of dental specialization, including:
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Oral and maxillofacial (including pathology, radiology and surgery)
- Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
- Periodontics (gum disease)
- Prosthodontics (implants)
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO VISIT THE DENTIST?
Regular visits to the dentist not only help keep your mouth healthy but they also help keep the rest of your body healthy. It is important to receive regular dental care because it can:
- Prevent tooth decay
- Help protect your mouth from periodontal (gum) disease, which can result in tooth and bone loss
- Reduce bacteria to prevent bad breath, when combined with brushing and flossing
- Boost your self-confidence by helping you achieve a more attractive smile
- Keep your teeth looking white by helping to prevent stains caused by food, drinks and tobacco
- Help strengthen your teeth so that your smile can be healthy and beautiful throughout your life
MY TEETH FEEL FINE. DO I STILL NEED TO SEE A DENTIST?
Even if your teeth feel fine, visiting the dentist is extremely important because there are several dental problems that can develop without you even knowing. It is important to keep maintain a beautiful smile, but having a healthy smile is even more important. Over the years, advances in dentistry have made it possible to not only maintain good oral health but also to correct stained, chipped, missing or misaligned teeth. Some of the most common services that dentists offer include:
- Professional teeth whitening
- Dental fillings that give the appearance of natural teeth
- Tooth replacements and complete smile makeovers
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT DENTIST FOR ME?
It is important that you find a dentist who is not only educated and experienced but also one who can establish a good rapport with you and your family. Because there are almost countless dentists to choose from, you may need to consider several dentists before making your final decision. In most cases, you should be able to tell whether a dentist is right for you during your initial visit. During this appointment, keep the following in mind:
- Was it easy to schedule a convenient appointment time?
- How close is the office, and how easily can I get there?
- Is the office neat and organized?
- Did the dentist record your dental and medical history, storing it in a permanent file?
- Did the dentist explain treatment options and offer techniques for good at-home dental care?
- Was the cost and other important information presented before further treatment was scheduled?
- Is the dentist a member of the American Dental Association® (ADA)?
HOW CAN I TAKE CARE OF MY TEETH BETWEEN DENTAL CHECKUPS?
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day, EVERY DAY.
- Use fluoride toothpaste while brushing. You can also ask your dentist if your teeth could benefit from a fluoride rinse to help prevent cavities.
- Limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods. Sugar increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth, which causes plaque. Avoid tobacco use to avoid staining your teeth, developing gum disease or developing oral cancer.
- Brush your tongue when you brush your teeth. This will remove food particles and lower the amount of bacteria that causes bad breath and plaque.
- Schedule and keep regular visits to the dentist, about once every six months.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I START TAKING MY CHILD TO THE DENTIST?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that you take your child in for their first dental visit after they receive their first tooth but no later than their first birthday. By visiting the dentist while your child’s teeth are coming in, your dentist can monitor their growth and health, in addition to providing any early treatment to avoid future problems. After your child’s first visit, they should have regular checkups every six months.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEE THE DENTIST?
Patients of all ages should go to the dentist at least once every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup. Those who have a higher risk of developing gum disease or other problems, or those who already have these conditions, may require more frequent visits. Your dentist can evaluate your oral health and help you know how often you should come for regular visits.
WHAT IS A CAVITY?
A cavity is a hole that forms inside the tooth as a result of tooth decay. Cavities form when plaque builds up along the outer surface of the tooth, where it combines with sugars and starches from your food. This combination creates an acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. If a cavity develops and is left untreated, the acid can continue to eat away at your tooth and result in more serious problems. You can prevent cavities by brushing and flossing your teeth every day, and by regularly visiting the dentist.
WHAT IS A FILLING?
A dental filling is a synthetic material that dentists use to fill holes created by cavities. Before placing a filling, the dentist will remove any decayed parts of the tooth to ensure that the tooth remains healthy. It does not hurt to get a filling because the dentist will numb the area with an anesthetic. Fillings can be made from a variety of materials; the most common materials are gold, tooth-colored composites, ceramic, and amalgam (a silver-mercury compound). You can talk with your dentist about which type of filling is right for your teeth.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BRUSH MY TEETH?
Standard recommendations from dentists worldwide and the American Dental Association state that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Keeping your teeth and gums clean prevents bacteria from building up and causing plaque. When you brush, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush both the top and bottom teeth for at least one minute, and do not forget to brush the tongue!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY TOOTHBRUSH?
Toothbrush bristles will eventually wear out, especially if you are consistently brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Generally, it is recommended that you replace your toothbrush about every three months. If you use an electric toothbrush, you may not need to replace your head as frequently; you can read the instructions for specifics. If you have gum disease, replace your toothbrush every four to six weeks. If you are sick with a cold or the flu, replace your toothbrush after you have recovered. To help keep your toothbrush clean while using it, rinse the bristles with hot water.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is mainly caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria that is not treated in the early stages. There are other factors that can contribute to gum disease, such as tobacco use, grinding your teeth, certain medications and genetics. The early stages of gum disease are known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into the developed stages of gum disease, which can lead to both tooth and gum loss. Advanced stages of gum disease are incurable, although they can be managed. To prevent gum disease, brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit the dentist every six months. Common signs of gum disease to look out for include:
- Red, irritated, bleeding or swollen gums
- Frequent bad breath
- Loose teeth or loss of teeth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Receding gumline
- A painful infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth, known as an abscessed tooth
IF I HAVE BRACES, DO I STILL NEED DENTAL CHECKUPS EVERY SIX MONTHS?
Definitely! In fact, it is even more important for patients with braces to visit their dentist regularly. Braces can cause food to be caught in places that your toothbrush cannot reach, which can lead to a buildup of bacteria and even cavities, gingivitis or gum disease. Your dentist and orthodontist will work together to make sure that your teeth stay healthy and clean while wearing braces.
HOW DO I SCHEDULE MY NEXT CHECKUP?
Simply give Sweet Spot Smiles a call! Our front desk staff is happy to schedule your next dental checkup at your convenience. If you are new to our practice, please let us know, and we will provide all the information you need to be ready for your first visit with our dentist.