Frequently Asked Questions
You should consider toothbrushes with soft bristles. Medium and firm toothbrushes can damage your teeth and gums. Brush using soft pressure, for at least 2 minutes twice a day.
Powered and manual toothbrushes clean teeth well. Manual brushes with mixed bristle heights or angled bristles clean better than those with all flat and even bristles. Powered toothbrushes may be easier to for you to use if you have a diffcult time brushing manually.
It is recommended to set a reminder to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Toss it sooner if the bristles look bent or spread out. Bent bristles don't clean as well and they may also be a sign you may be brushing too hard.
There's no getting around the need to get around your teeth daily with dental floss. It clears food and plaque from between teeth and under the gumline. If you don't, plaque hardens into tartar, which forms wedges and widens the space between teeth and gums, causing pockets. Over time, gums pull away and teeth loosen.
Either waxed or unwaxed floss will do the job. Using floss picks or interdental brushes is another easy option.
Mouthwashes for cavity protection, sensitivity, and fresh breath may help when you use them with regular brushing and flossing. However, this is not a substitute for daily cleanings. Your dentist can recommend the best type for you.
Some people need twice-daily rinses for gum health or alcohol-free washes for dry mouth.
Kids under 6 shouldn't use mouthwash to avoid the chance of them swallowing it.
Visit a dentist if you have any of these issues or see your child having trouble chewing or complaining of soreness:
- Mouth sores
- Jaw pain
- Swollen face or gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Broken teeth
- Dry mouth
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Getting checked out right away prevents more serious problems and infections.
Regular exams help spot trouble early to prevent bigger and more costly treatments later.
A dental hygienist will start by cleaning buildup from your teeth. Then the dentist will probe spots on the surfaces and near the gumline with special tools. If it's been a while between appointments, you may have some sore and sensitive areas.
You should get an exam every 6 months, or more often if your dentist recommends it. Find one who makes you feel at ease and lets you know what to expect. Often the dread of seeing the dentist turns to big relief when the visit is over and you have a care plan set up. Being positive as a parent can help your kids overcome any of their fears.
Medical and dental experts study the use of X-rays and set limits for their safety. Your dentist should take as few as possible.
Expect to get them during a first exam or after not seeing a dentist for a while. This helps check tooth and gum health. If you have gum disease, the dentist may want pictures every 6 months. For regular check-ups, it's about every 2 years, depending on your dentist's plan.
Kids have more X-rays done than adults because their teeth are changing and because they get cavities more easily.
Stores sell many whitening products, and you can get take-home gels and trays from your dentist, but neither is as strong as procedures done in a dental office
If you want to try an over-the-counter whitener, look for one with an ADA seal. Check with your dentist for advice before you buy, especially if you have dental work or dark stains. And don't keep using them, or you could damage your teeth.