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Patient Education

Frequently Asked Dental Questions

Following are questions that patients frequently ask Angwin Dental dentists and dental hygienists:

What Causes Tooth Loss?

The most common causes of tooth loss are dental caries, also known as tooth decay, and periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone structure that supports the teeth. Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults; however, it too can afflict youngsters.

What Causes Periodontal Diseases?

Plaque, a thin, colorless, sticky film containing bacteria, which constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria use carbohydrates—sugars and starches—to produce an acid that attacks the enamel covering the teeth. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can be broken down and a cavity begins. Continued acid attacks eventually dissolve the enamel and penetrate the softer, inner layer of the tooth, where decay can spread rapidly throughout the tooth’s structure. Acid attacks begin immediately after every meal or snack and last about 20 to 30 minutes.

Can Periodontal Diseases Be Prevented?

Teeth can be protected from acid attacks by removing plaque, reducing the number of times and the amount of sugar and starches eaten, using fluorides, having plastic sealants applied to teeth, and by regular professional cleaning of teeth by a dental hygienist.

How many times a day should I brush my teeth?

The American Dental Association advocates brushing twice each day. Although there is research indicating that brushing once a day is sufficient to disrupt the formation of plaque that feeds the bacteria that cause decay, this may not be enough for some people, depending on factors such as their diets and the efficacy of their brushing technique. We recommend that you discuss this with your dental hygienist who understands your individual oral health needs and will be able to make a recommendation appropriate for you.

Which is better: a manual toothbrush or an electric one?

Comparisons have been made between power-assisted (electric) toothbrushes and manual toothbrushes to look at the ability of each to remove plaque and prevent or reduce calculus (tartar) buildup, thus reducing gingivitis (gum disease). These research studies have shown both powered and manual toothbrushes to be equally effective when used correctly. So probably, in practical terms, which brush you use is not the critical factor, but how you use it.

What kind of toothpaste should I use?

There are a lot of products to choose from, and much of the decision depends on individual preference. A fluoride toothpaste is essential for optimal oral health. Beyond that, your dental hygienist and dentist can alert you to any other features that make one product more suitable than another for you as an individual.

What is the best way to get my teeth whiter?

Most people have teeth that are naturally darker than “pure” white. Different people respond differently to different procedures used to whiten teeth, and it will take an in-person consultation with a dental professional to determine what is best for you. Sometimes all it takes is professional prophylaxis to remove stain and then abstinence from behaviors that stain teeth, such as drinking coffee or tea, or smoking tobacco. Other options available include bleaching, at home or in the office, with chemicals or with lasers, as prescribed by a dentist.

Please keep in mind the information found on angwindental.com is for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as medical advice. It is not designed to replace the doctor-patient or dentist-patient relationship. Please call Angwin Dental at 707-965-2479 for more information.