FAQ


 

Unlike other dental web sites, our FAQ is not prepared by one or two doctors. We have compiled the best answers for our FAQ, organizing it all here for you. So instead of getting your answer from an individual doctor, you get it from the most reputable sources.

All the answers provided are for general information only. Your dentist will be able to answer any specific questions about your case. You should consult your dentist before making any decisions regarding treatment for your oral health issues.

Contact us if you have a question and you live in or around Murrieta.

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D.D.S. or D.M.D. Degree: What's the difference?

by Simon W. Rosenberg, D.M.D.
based on some Research by
Kimberly A. Loos, D.D.S. and Brad J. Loos

Background:
Many people, including dentists, are confused over the use of the D.D.S. and D.M.D. degrees. Today some dental schools grant a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree while others prefer to award the D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree instead. The training the dentists receive is very similar but the name of the degree granted is different.

Ancient medicine was divided into two groups: 1) the surgery group that dealt with treating diseases and injuries using instruments; and 2) the medicine group that dealt with healing diseases using medicine. Originally there was only the D.D.S. degree, which stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. It was given by independent schools of dentistry that were more like trade or apprenticeship schools and in the beginning were not affiliated with any university.

The Harvard Factor:
This all changed in 1867 when Harvard University added a dental school. Harvard University only grants degrees in Latin. Harvard did not adopt the D.D.S. or Doctor of Dental Surgery degree because the Latin translation was Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris or C.D.D. The people at Harvard thought that C.D.D. was cumbersome. A Latin scholar was consulted. The scholar suggested the ancient Medicinae Doctor be prefixed with Dentariae. This is how the D.M.D. or "Dentariae Medicinae Doctor" degree was started. (Congratulations! Now you probably know more Latin than most dentists!)

The Current Picture:
At the turn of the 20th century, there were 57 dental schools in the U.S. but only Harvard and Oregon awarded the D.M.D. In 1989, 23 of the 66 North American dental schools awarded the D.M.D. I think about half the Canadian dental schools now award the D.M.D. degree. In the Northeast, Tufts (my alma mata), Harvard, Boston Univ., Univ of Connecticut, New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, Pennsylvania Univ., and Temple Univ. all issue D.M.D. degrees to their dental school graduates.

The American Dental Association (A.D.A.) is aware of the public confusion surrounding these degrees. The A.D.A. has tried on several occasions to reduce this confusion. Several sample proposals include: 1) eliminate the D.M.D. degree; 2) eliminate the D.D.S. degree; or 3) eliminate both degrees and invent a brand new degree that every dental school will agree to use. Unfortunately, this confusion may be with us for a long time. When emotional factors like school pride and tradition arise, it is difficult to find a compromise.

The California Dental Association (CDA) debated the differences between dental degrees during 1997 and could not form a consensus. In places like New York where D.D.S. is the most common degree, some dentists with D.M.D. degrees prefer to use the D.D.S. as their degree on their stationary or when they advertise. These dentists argue that in their areas the public understands that D.D.S. means "dentist". Indeed, many entities such as the New York and California State Boards of Dental Examiners communicate with all licensed dentists as D.D.S., even if they originally graduated with a D.M.D. or other similar dental degree. Some D.D.S. dentists object to D.M.D. dentists using D.D.S., mostly out of a desire to cut down on competition. Is this an educational or equality issue?

In my experience, where I have only used D.M.D. since receiving it from Tufts University in Boston, there are a group of patients that think the D.M.D. is a better degree. Some patients think that it is a variation of the M.D. medical degree or that the D.M.D. degree is “superior” in some way because it is given by what they consider to be better universities -- either Ivy League or the more elite colleges such as Tufts, Harvard, BU, Penn, etc. Generally, it is the state schools such as SUNY at Buffalo and at Stony Brook, or dental schools that started as independent schools that later affiliated with universities, such as NYU’s and Columbia’s dental schools, that give D.D.S. degrees.

In academic and political circles, advocates for the D.D.S. say it represents the "Doctor of Dental Surgery" aspect of treatment since most of dental treatment involves the cutting or removing of tooth, gum or jaw bone tissue before restoring it. D.M.D. advocates emphasize the so-called Medical model where emphasis is on information gathering and diagnosis before treatment is planned. In that approach to dental care the patient’s medical history, general health and the reasons the patient has sought care is gathered. Then all of the soft tissues of the head and neck are examined to identify abnormalities such as oral cancer, local oral pathology or oral signs of a systemic disease such as diabetes, blood disease, etc. Following this there is an assessment of the periodontal (gum) condition and the teeth are examined for decay, functional bite, esthetics as well as their orthodontic and jaw relation. All of these factors are considered and the dentist and patient act as “partners” in determining the treatment to be done and the priorities and treatment sequences.

Who’s “Right” in this argument about D.M.D. versus D.D.S.?

In my opinion, neither side.
Dentistry today demands proper diagnosis that takes into consideration all of your patient and dental factors and plans treatment geared to your desires and financial realities. All dental schools now emphasize excellence in both diagnosis and clinical skills and I think most dentists practice with that as their goals as well. You need to choose a dentist whom you feel has done a good job of examining you with all of the tools of modern dentistry, has an office with proper infection control and a “quality care” environment and whom you feel comfortable and confident that their dental team can provide you with the level of dental care you need and want.

I hope this article provides some historical and current details regarding these equivalent dental degrees.

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FELLOWS AND MASTERS OF THE AGD

What do these designations mean?
Your general dentist cares about long-term dental health for you and your family and demonstrates that concern by pursing additional designations. The Fellowship and Mastership designations are two of the most rigorous continuing dental education programs today.

What are the Fellows of the AGD?
A general dentist who is a “Fellow” in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD) has been recognized by other general dentists as a leader and an example to other dentists of the importance of quality continuing dental education. To earn a FAGD, your dentist must complete a minimum of 500 continuing dental education credit hours, pass a comprehensive exam and have been an AGD member for three continuous years.

What are Masters of the AGD?
A general dentist who has earned the designation “Master” of the AGD (MAGD) has completed a structured and demanding set of requirements. To attain a MAGD, your dentist must first be a Fellow in the AGD. Then your dentist must earn an additional 600 approved continuing dental education credits, meeting minimum requirements in certain dental disciplines, of which 400 hours are hands-on courses.

How do these designations benefit my family and me?
Fellows and Masters of the AGD follow a lifelong pursuit of continuing education. They want to provide the highest quality of dental care to you and your family. The awards symbolize the professional responsibility of your dentist to remain current in their profession. These are awards however, and should not be confused with post-graduate degrees or certification. Every dentist who applies for the Fellowship or Mastership Award has their application reviewed by the AGD to ensure they meet AGD’s high standards.

How does my dentist’s membership in AGD benefit my family and me?
Your general dentist cares about long- term dental health for you and your family and demonstrates that concern by belonging to the AGD. Members are dedicated to continuing education to help them stay up-to-date on the latest procedures to provide you and your family with quality treatment. The general dentist who remains current in general dentistry is better able to offer you and your family a variety of diagnosis and treatment choices.

What are the requirements to become an AGD member?
Members never stop learning since the AGD requires its members to participate in 75-hours of voluntary continuing education every three years. However, surveys show that members average more than 40 hours each year.

Compiled for you by the Academy of General Dentistry
www.agd.ord

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Are you taking new patients?

YES. Because our patients love us they often refer their friends and family because they want to see them receive the same level of care. We are proud of the confidence our patients have placed in us by being a referral only based practice.

We’d love for you to send in somebody as nice as you!

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What happens at my first visit?

In order to treat each and every patient, as an individual with unique dental needs it is vital to completely assess their current oral health. We perform an oral cancer screening, we look at muscles and joints that open and close the mouth. We will look at your teeth, and your gums and bone that hold the teeth (the periodontium). We then take photos and x-rays when necessary. With this information we can determine the type of treatment that is right for you.

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What Do You Offer for the Nervous, Anxious Patients?

We realize that even though dental care has come a long way in terms of patient comfort, there are still those with concerns and fears. Dental care should not be an unpleasant experience so we provide a full array of options for those patients. We offer several techniques to help you relax so please ask us about the different methods we offer.

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What is Fluoride?

For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.

In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.

Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a safe compound found throughout nature-from the water we drink and air we breathe, to many kinds of foods.

Why Is Fluoride Important To Teeth?

Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called "remineralization" uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.

How Do I Get Fluoride?

Just drinking public water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. But for years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many toothpastes and some kinds of rinses. Certain beverages such as tea and soda may also contain fluoride. Certain kinds of dental varnishes and gels may also be applied directly to teeth to boost fluoride intake.

Fluoride Safety

It is generally NOT safe to swallow toothpastes, rinses, or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, some people may be overexposed to high concentrations of fluoride, resulting in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark enamel stains on teeth.

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How to Treat Canker Sores?

Common causes of canker sores:

  • Local trauma and stress
  • Diet and food allergies
  • Hormonal changes
  • Use of certain medications

Common treatments of canker sores:

  • Antimicrobial mouthwashes
  • Local painkillers
  • Over-the-counter remedies (oral adhesive patches, liquids and gels)

Updated: October 2008
© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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Nutrition and your teeth

It has long been known that good nutrition and a well-balanced diet is one of the best defenses for your oral health. Providing your body with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals helps your teeth and gums-as well as your immune system-stay strong and ward off infection, decay and disease.

Harmful acids and bacteria in your mouth are left behind from eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. These include carbonated beverages, some kinds of fruit juices, and many kinds of starch foods like pasta, bread and cereal. While no links have been actually made between gum disease and a poor diet, nutrition problems (including obesity and overeating) can create conditions that make gum disease easier to contract.

Children's Nutrition and Teeth

Good eating habits that begin in early childhood can go a long way to ensuring a lifetime of good oral health.

Children should eat foods rich in calcium and other kinds of minerals, as well as a healthy balance of the essential food groups like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, poultry and meat. Fluoride supplements may be helpful if you live in a community without fluoridated water, but consult with our office first. (Be aware that sugars are even found in some kinds of condiments, as well as fruits and even milk.)

Allowing your children to eat excessive amounts of junk food (starches and sugars)-including potato chips, cookies, crackers, soda, even artificial fruit rollups and granola bars-only places them at risk for serious oral health problems down the road, including obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes. The carbonation found in soda, for example, can actually erode tooth enamel. Encourage your child to use a straw when drinking soda; this will help keep at least some of the carbonated beverage away from the teeth.

Adult Nutrition and Teeth

There's no discounting the importance of continuing a healthy balanced diet throughout your adult life.

If you develop a weight problem, change your diet and get regular exercise. Be aware that some so-called fad diets have been known to cause serious deficiencies in recommended levels of minerals and vitamins.

Of course, good oral hygiene helps ensure that harmful bacteria and plaque-the sticky substance that coats your teeth during sleep and after meals-are effectively minimized. Adults also are encouraged to avoid eating "sticky" foods such as caramels and dried fruits because they leave behind stubborn substances on teeth and only encourage needless plaque formation.

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What Causes Bad Breath?

More than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath. In most cases it originates from the gums and tongue. The odor is caused by wastes from bacteria in the mouth, the decay of food particles, other debris in your mouth and poor oral hygiene. The decay and debris produce a sulfur compound that causes the unpleasant odor.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene but can also be caused by retained food particles or gum disease.

Does bad breath come from other sources than the mouth?

Bad breath also may occur in people who have a medical infection, diabetes, kidney failure or a liver malfunction. Xerostomia (dry mouth) and tobacco also contribute to this problem. Cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy may experience dry mouth. Even stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your breath. An odor that comes from the back of your tongue may indicate postnasal drip. This is where mucus secretion, which comes from the nose and moves down your throat, gets stuck on the tongue and causes an odor.

Why is saliva so important in the fight against bad breath?

Saliva is the key ingredient in your mouth that helps keep the odor under control because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. When you sleep, however, salivary glands slow down the production of saliva, allowing the bacteria to grow inside the mouth. To alleviate "morning mouth," brush your teeth and eat a morning meal. Morning mouth also is associated with hunger or fasting. Those who skip breakfast, beware, because the odor may reappear even if you've brushed your teeth.

Do certain foods cause bad breath?

Very spicy foods, such as onions and garlic, and coffee may be detected on a person's breath for up to 72 hours after digestion. Onions, for example, are absorbed by the stomach, and the odor is then excreted through the lungs. Studies even have shown that garlic rubbed on the soles of the feet can show up on the breath.

How do I control bad breath?

It is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Proper brushing, including brushing the tongue, cheeks and the roof of the mouth, will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. To alleviate odors, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds on the tongue. Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control odor. If you have dentures or a removable appliance, such as a retainer or mouth-guard, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Before you use mouth-rinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with your dentist, because these products only mask the odor temporarily and some products work better than others.

What is my dentist's role?

Visit your dentist regularly, because checkups will help detect any physical problems. Checkups also help get rid of the plaque and bacteria that build up on your teeth. If you think that you suffer from bad breath, your dentist can help determine its source. He or she may ask you to schedule a separate appointment to find the source of the odor. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source, such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.

Updated: February 2007
© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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Electric or Manual Toothbrush?

Never before has there been such a dizzying array of toothbrushes on the market. Consumers are inundated with new designs, materials, attachments, and colors.

Whatever toothbrush design you choose, the most important thing is that you use the toothbrush--at least two or three times a day. Toothbrushes accomplish one major purpose: removing plaque. A good quality toothbrush with well-made bristles will accomplish that.

Moreover, how long you spend brushing your teeth is as critical as how often you brush your teeth. Many people simply brush for a few seconds, spit, and place the toothbrush back in the cup. It is very important to spend at least 2-3 minutes brushing your teeth. This helps to ensure that the brush doesn't miss hard-to-reach or often neglected surfaces. Use short, circular motions and brush at a 45-degree angle.

Following are some tips for choosing a toothbrush:

  • Choose toothbrushes with soft, round-headed bristles
  • Avoid big-headed toothbrushes. Dental associations recommend that you buy a toothbrush with a compact head-1" by 1/2"-so you can easily reach the small areas of your mouth.
  • Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to handle.
  • You should replace your toothbrush at least four times a year-more often if you have been sick.

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes

There are a wide variety of electric toothbrushes on the market today. Some are even disposable. A few models have even received positive reviews by the American Dental Association.

Electric toothbrushes, for the most part, can be just as effective as the old-fashioned, non-powered varieties. Some studies have shown electric toothbrushes cover more area quickly because of their rapid, rotating bristles.

If only the novelty of them, electric toothbrushes may encourage more frequent brushing among people who normally hate to brush. They also may be advantageous for people who have arthritis, or for children with braces who find it more difficult to navigate around the appliances with a manual toothbrush.

After testing numerous brushes, we have concluded that electric, if used, is the best. We usually recommend electric toothbrushes because of their design, ease of use, and availability. There are numerous models on the market that work well. If you have a question about a specific brand, please ask us.

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What is the Best Technique for Brushing?

There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Patients are advised to check with their dentist or hygienist to determine which technique is best for them, since tooth position and gum condition vary. One effective, easy-to-remember technique involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.

Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue, the chewing surfaces and between teeth. Using a back-and-forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.

Soft or hard bristles?

In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1" by 1/2") for easy access. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp and soft, nylon bristles with round ends. Some brushes are too abrasive and can wear down teeth. A soft, rounded, multi-tufted brush can clean teeth effectively. Press just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Medium and hard bristles are not recommended.

How long should I brush?

It might be a good idea to brush with the radio on, since dentists generally recommend brushing three to four minutes, the average length of a song. Using an egg timer is another way to measure your brushing time. Patients generally think they're brushing longer, but most spend less than a minute brushing.

To make sure you're doing a thorough job and not missing any spots, patients are advised to brush the full three to four minutes twice a day, instead of brushing quickly five or more times through the day.

Should I brush at work?

Definitely, but most Americans don't brush during the workday. Yet a survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows if you keep a toothbrush at work, the chances you will brush during the day increase by 65 percent.

Getting the debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning to damaging acids and catches starchy foods like potato chips before they turn to cavity-causing sugar. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before going to bed, you don't even need to use toothpaste at work. You can just brush and rinse before heading back to your desk. If you don't have a toothbrush, rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch also helps.

Tips to improve your office brushing habits:

  • Post a sticky note on your desk or computer as a reminder to brush teeth after lunch.
  • Brush teeth right after lunch, before you become absorbed in work.
  • Store your toothbrush and toothpaste at work in a convenient and handy place.
  • Make brushing your teeth part of your freshening-up routine at work.
  • When brushing at the office or away from home, it's important to make an extra effort to keep your toothbrush germ-free.

Tips on how to properly store and care for your toothbrush at work:

  •  Always store your toothbrush in a travel container.
  • Dry your toothbrush after use and before returning to its container.
  • Change the toothbrush you take to work more often than your toothbrush at home to avoid bacteria build-up.

Updated: February 2007

© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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Why is Brushing With Toothpaste Important?

Brushing with toothpaste is important for several reasons. First and foremost, a toothpaste and a correct brushing action work to remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth that causes cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss if not controlled. Second, toothpaste contains fluoride, which makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes demineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage can even be seen. Third, special ingredients in toothpaste help to clean and polish the teeth and remove stains over time. Fourth, toothpastes help freshen breath and leave your mouth with a clean feeling.

Is brushing with toothpaste enough to fight cavities and gum disease?

No. Although brushing thoroughly after each meal helps, flossing your teeth every day to remove plaque and food particles between teeth and at the gum line is just as important. Studies show that plaque will re-grow on teeth that are completely clean within three to four hours of brushing.

Reviewed: January 2011

What Type of Toothpaste To Use

As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, the brand you buy really does not matter, neither does whether or not it is in paste, gel or even powder form, or containing a certain flavor. All fluoride toothpastes work effectively to fight plaque and cavities and clean and polish tooth enamel. Your toothpaste brand should bear the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval on the container, which means that adequate evidence of safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in controlled, clinical trials.

If your teeth are hypersensitive to hot or cold, consider trying a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These "desensitizing" toothpastes, which contain strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, protect exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. Desensitizing pastes must be used for at least one month before any therapeutic effects are felt.

Toothpastes containing baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide (which are both good cleansing agents) give the teeth and mouth a clean, fresh, pleasant feeling that can offer an incentive to brush more, but fluoride is the true active ingredient at work protecting your teeth. Some prefer a tartar-control toothpaste containing pyrophosphates to prevent the build-up of soft calculus (tartar) deposits on their teeth. New pastes offer advanced whitening formulas aimed at safely removing stains to make teeth brighter and shinier, although they can't nearly match the effectiveness of a professional bleaching formula administered or prescribed by a dentist.

Reviewed: January 2011

How Much Toothpaste To Use

Contrary to what toothpaste commercials show, the amount of paste or gel needed on your brush for effective cleaning does not have to be a heaping amount. Simply squeeze a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush. If you brush correctly, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth, the paste should foam enough to cover all of your teeth. Children under age 6, however, should be given a very small, baby pea-sized dab of toothpaste on their brush.

Reviewed: January 2011

© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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What Kind of Toothpaste is Best?

The most important part of brushing your teeth is the technique used. Toothpaste is important for what it supplies, fluoride and tartar control. Be careful of the whitening brands because some are abrasive and they can remove enamel from teeth.

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Should I Floss?

Do I Really Need to Floss?

Yes. Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including places where toothbrushes can't reach. This can lead to gum disease. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chance of keeping them for a lifetime and decrease the chance of getting gum disease.

Why should I floss?

Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime and decrease your chance of having periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay.

Flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. A toothbrush cleans the tops and sides of your teeth. Dental floss cleans between them. Some people use waterpicks, but floss is the best choice. Many people just don't spend enough time flossing and many have never been taught to floss properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.

Which type of floss should I use?

Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridge work. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss but does tear more than waxed floss.

How should I floss?

There are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool method is suited for those with manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. (Don't cut off your finger's circulation!) Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don't pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don't rub it side to side as if you're shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times, forming a "C" shape around the tooth and being sure to go below the gumline.

The loop method is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline and forming a "C" on the side of the tooth.

How often should I floss?

At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.

What are floss holders?

You may prefer a pre-threaded flosser or floss holder, which often looks like a little hacksaw. Flossers are handy for people with limited dexterity, for those who are just beginning to floss or for caretakers who are flossing someone else's teeth.

Is it safe to use toothpicks?

In a pinch, toothpicks are effective at removing food between teeth, but for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. When you use a toothpick, don't press too hard, as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums.

Do I need a waterpick (irrigating device)?

Don't use waterpicks as a substitute for brushing and flossing. But they are effective around orthodontic braces, which retain food in areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. However, they do not remove plaque. Waterpicks are frequently recommended by dentists for persons with gum disease; solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist's prescription, can be added to the reservoir in these cases.

Updated: September 2008
© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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Types of floss

Dental floss comes in a variety of colors, materials and even flavors. Waxed varieties are slipperier, allowing people with extremely tight spaces between their teeth to floss more easily. Popular flavors of floss include wintergreen and cinnamon. Waxed floss does tend to fray more than unwaxed floss.

A type of material called wide floss can be effective for people with large spaces between their teeth, or for people with delicate bridge work.

Floss can be purchased in small self-dispensing boxes. Floss can also be purchased in special, single-use holders, which are useful for people who have a hard time wrapping floss around their fingers, including those with dexterity problems or arthritis.

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Water Picks

There is never a suitable substitute for daily brushing and flossing.

While some products, including water irrigation devices (or "water picks"), may be useful for specific applications, they do not accomplish one major task: removing plaque.

Water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to blast away food particles and other debris in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Dentists use professional-grade water picks when preparing a tooth for restoration, or in general cleaning and exams.

People with painful gum disease or highly sensitive gums may find water picks useful for supplementing their brushing regimen. And people with orthodontia, including braces, have found water picks quite useful because toothbrush bristles often get stuck.

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What are Mouth Rinses?

Mouth rinse or mouthwash is a product used for oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claims to kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. Anti-cavity mouth rinse uses fluoride to protect against tooth decay. Mouth rinses are generally classified either as cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of the two. Cosmetic rinses are commercial, over-the-counter (OTC) products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth, and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. Therapeutic rinses have all of the benefits of cosmetic rinses but also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases. Therapeutic rinses also can be categorized according to use: anti- plaque/anti-gingivitis rinses or anti-cavity fluoride rinses, for example.

Dentists will prescribe special rinses for patients with more severe oral problems, such as cavities, periodontal disease, gum inflammation, and xerostomia (dry mouth). Therapeutic rinses also are strongly recommended for those who can't brush due to physical impairments or medical reasons.

Should I use a mouth rinse?

Whether or not you should use a mouth rinse depends upon your needs. Many dentists consider the use of fluoride toothpaste alone to be more than adequate protection against cavities. Although anti-cavity rinses with fluoride have been clinically proven to fight up to 50 percent more of the bacteria that cause cavities, and most rinses are effective at curbing bad breath and freshening the mouth for up to three hours, initial studies have shown that most OTC anti-plaque rinses and antiseptics are not much more effective against plaque and gum disease than rinsing with water.

Most dentists are skeptical about the value of these anti-plaque products, and studies point to only a 20 to 25 percent effectiveness, at best, in reducing the plaque that causes gingivitis. Mouth rinses can cause harm by masking the symptoms of an oral health disease or condition.

How should I use a mouth rinse?

Before using mouth rinses, dentists suggest that you brush and floss your teeth well. Then, measure the proper amount of rinse as specified on the container or as instructed by your dentist. With your lips closed and the teeth kept slightly apart, swish the liquid around with as much force as possible. Many rinses suggest swishing for 30 seconds or more. Finally, thoroughly spit the liquid from your mouth. Teeth should be as clean as possible before applying an anti-cavity rinse to reap the full preventive benefits. Consumers should not rinse, eat, or smoke for 30 minutes after using rinses, as these practices will dilute the fluoride and rinse it away.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, and they can vary depending on the type of rinse. Habitual use of antiseptic mouthwashes that contain high levels of alcohol (18 to 26 percent) may produce a burning sensation in the cheeks, teeth, and gums. Many rinses with more concentrated formulas can lead to mouth ulcers, sodium retention, root sensitivity, stains, soreness, numbness, changes in taste sensation, and painful mucosal erosions. Most anti-cavity rinses contain sodium fluoride, which can lead to fluoride toxicity if taken excessively or swallowed. Because children tend to accidentally swallow mouthwash, they should only use rinses under adult supervision. If you experience any irritating or adverse reactions to a mouth rinse, discontinue its use immediately and talk to your dentist.

© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

How Can My Dentist Improve My Smile?

From subtle changes to major repairs, your dentist can perform a variety of procedures to improve your smile. There are many techniques and options to treat teeth that are discolored, chipped, misshapen or missing. Your dentist can reshape your teeth, close spaces, restore worn or short teeth or alter the length of your teeth. Common procedures include bleaching, bonding, crowns, veneers and reshaping and contouring.

These improvements are not always just cosmetic. Many of these treatments can improve oral problems, such as your bite.

Bleaching

Bleaching is a common and popular chemical process used to whiten teeth. Some people get their teeth bleached to make stains disappear, while other just want a whiter shade.

Discoloration occurs in the enamel and can be caused by medication, coffee, tea and cigarettes. Discoloration also can be hereditary or due simply to getting older.

Bleaching can be performed by your dentist in the office or, under dental supervision, at home. Many patients enjoy bleaching at home because it is more convenient. Treatment begins when your dentist creates a custom mouthpiece to ensure the correct amount of whitening solution is used and that your teeth are properly exposed. Typically, whitening at home takes two to four weeks, depending on the desired shade you wish to achieve. Whitening in the office may call for one or more 45-minute to one-hour visits to your dentist's office.

Bonding

Bonding is tooth-colored material used to fill in gaps or change the color of teeth. Requiring a single office visit, bonding lasts several years. Bonding is more susceptible to staining or chipping than other forms of restoration. When teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice. Bonding also is used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities. Additionally, it can be used to close spaces between teeth or cover the entire outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape.

Crowns

Crowns, also known as caps, cover a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and appearance. Due to their cost, they are used in cases where other procedures will not be effective. Crowns have the longest life expectancy of all cosmetic restorations, but are the most time-consuming.

Veneers

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic placed over the front teeth to change the color or shape of your teeth. Veneers are used on teeth with uneven surfaces or are chipped, discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced or crooked. Little or no anesthesia is needed. Veneers are used to treat some of the same problems as bonding.

This treatment is an alternative to crowns, which are more expensive. The procedure requires your dentist to take an impression of your tooth. Before the custom-made veneer is cemented directly onto the tooth, your dentist will lightly buff the tooth to compensate for the added thickness of the veneer. Once the cement is between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam is used to harden it. Porcelain veneers require more than one visit because they are fabricated in a laboratory. Veneers have a longer life expectancy and color stability than bonding.

Contouring and reshaping

Tooth reshaping and contouring, is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped or irregularly shaped teeth or even overlapping teeth in a single session. Tooth reshaping and contouring, is commonly used to alter the length, shape or position of your teeth. Contouring teeth may also help correct small problems with bite. It is common for bonding to be combined with tooth reshaping.

This procedure is ideal for candidates with normal, healthy teeth but who want subtle changes to their smile. Your dentist will take X- rays to evaluate the size and location of the pulp of each tooth to ensure that there's enough bone between the teeth to support them.

Which procedure is right for me?

Your dentist can answer any questions you may have about techniques used to improve your smile. The condition of your teeth and desired result you want often dictates the best procedure. If you are considering a treatment, there are a few questions you can ask your dentist before deciding if a particular procedure is right for you.

  • What will the changes look like?
  • What should I expect through the course of treatment?
  • What type of maintenance will be required?

What should I look for in a cosmetic dentist?

In order to make sure your dentist is skilled in cosmetic dentistry, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends that you ask your dentist for the following items before undergoing treatment:

  • Before and after photos.

 These photos will allow you to examine the results of other patients being treated by the dentist to make sure his or her work fits your dental needs.

  • References.

 References allow you to get a sense of the quality of care the dentist provides.

  • Proof of continuing education.

Be certain that your dentist has taken continuing education courses to keep him or her up-to-date with the latest techniques in clinical cosmetic dentistry.

 Your dentist can answer the questions you have about the techniques used to improve your smile. The condition of your teeth and your desired result often indicate the best procedure for you.

Why would someone need or be interested in cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry provides more than just a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), cosmetic dentistry has also been shown to improve a person's overall health and emotional well-being. An improved smile can boost a person's self-image, making them more confident in their daily lives. Cosmetic dentistry is for anyone who desires to improve the quality of their smile, their oral health and their quality of life. The very essence of cosmetic dentistry almost always improves one’s bite, health and function.

Updated: September 2008
© 1996-2011 Academy of General Dentistry. All Rights Reserved.
www.knowyourteeth.com

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Murrieta, CA 92562
Phone: 951-304-3044
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