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Q. What are some examples of dental care emergencies?

A. Some examples of dental emergencies are avulsed teeth, extruded teeth, broken teeth, a bitten tongue or lip, objects that are caught between teeth, toothaches, tooth pain and possible broken jaw.

Q. What is plaque?

A. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. Following a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to weaken, eventually causing tooth decay. Many of the foods we eat cause plaque bacteria to produce acids. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.

Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.

One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.

Q.  Why do we brush our teeth?

A. We brush our teeth to remove bacteria and leftover food particles from the mouth.

Q.  How long should you brush your teeth?

A. You should brush your teeth twice a day for at least two to three minutes (until they are clean!).

Q. What can you do to slow down acid production when you can’t brush your teeth?

A. If you can’t brush your teeth you can rinse your mouth with water after a meal or snack to reduce acid reproduction by 30 percent. Wiping your teeth with a napkin is also a temporary measure until you can brush your teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum helps, too.

Q. What is tooth bleaching?

A. Tooth bleaching or whitening is the process of lightening stains or discoloration of your teeth.

Q. What is involved in tooth bleaching?

A. Dentists can determine which bleaching method is right for you. They will either use an in-office bleaching system or laser bleaching during your dental care visit. But, most patients choose dentist-at-home-supervised bleaching. This method involves a custom-made mouth guard for the patient along with bleaching materials. You will be given instructions on how to wear the mouth guard; this type of method generally requires 10 to 14 days to complete.

Q. What are digitized X-rays?

A. A digitized X-ray is a computerized technology that allows a small sensor placed inside the patient’s mouth to take the X-ray and instantly display it on a computer screen for dentists to review.

Q. What are avulsed teeth?

A. Avulsed teeth are teeth that are knocked out.

Q. What should you do if your tooth is knocked out?

A. If your tooth is knocked out you should carefully rinse the tooth with water. You should attempt to place the tooth back in its socket and secure it with a wet wrap. If you can not place the tooth back in its socket, put it in a glass with either saliva or milk. Then you should contact your dentist immediately.

Q. What are extruded teeth?

A. Extruded teeth are teeth that are forced out of position.  This can cause serious tooth pain.

Q. What should you do if your tooth is pushed out of position?

A. If your tooth is pushed out of place you should reposition it to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure. You should hold the tooth in place with a moist gauze or tissue. Make sure that a dentist sees you within a half an hour.

Q. What do you do when you have a toothache?


When you have a toothache, you should clean your mouth by rinsing with warm water and remove any food that is trapped between teeth by flossing. Do not apply aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues. See your dentist as soon as possible.

Q. What do you do if you have something caught between your teeth?

A. If you have an object caught between your teeth you should try to remove it with dental floss gently. Sometimes it helps to double up the floss. Do not attempt to remove the object with a sharp or pointed device. If you still cannot remove the object, see your dentist.

Q. How would you treat a bitten tongue or lip?

A. To treat a bitten tongue or lip you should gently clean the area with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If the bleeding continues, go to the hospital emergency room.

Q. I am considering having a makeover on my smile.  Where do I begin?

A. Begin with a consultation at your dentist’s office. It’s common to start with having your teeth whitened, which is safe, relatively inexpensive, and can dramatically improve your smile.  There are other   procedures to improve the shape, size, or position of your teeth.

Q. Why should I remove my wisdom teeth even if they don’t hurt?

A. There are several reasons for removing wisdom teeth, or “third molars.”  Impacted wisdom teeth may put potentially damaging pressure on other tooth roots; cysts can occur around unerupted teeth; and partially erupted teeth can cause pericoronitis, which results from bacteria in the tissue.

Q. What can I do to maintain my oral health?

A. Start with good oral hygiene: proper brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. Avoid harmful snacks such as sugars, starches, and high-sugar beverages. Instead, use fruits, vegetables, water or sugar-free beverages.  Limit tobacco and alcohol: smokers are 7 times as likely to develop gum disease, and combining tobacco with alcohol increases the risk.

Q.  What can I do to prevent oral cancer?

A. Eliminate known risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol.  Schedule regular dental exams, and make an appointment to see your dentist at once if you notice a sore that does not heal,  pain or tenderness in the mouth, color changes in tissue such as red or white lesions, difficulty in chewing or swallowing, lumps or thickening of tissue, or a change in your bite.

Q. What’s better, implants or a bridge?

A. Studies show that only 50 percent of bridges are still successful after 10 years, compared to 95 percent of implant cases. And implants cause no undue damage to adjacent teeth. In some cases, one of the teeth that hold the bridge will be lost within 15 years because of stress; implants, on t he other hand, help maintain bone integrity.

Q.  How much fluoride is enough?  Or too much?

A. The water in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties is optimally fluoridated, so no supplemental fluoride has to be ingested.  Fluoride in toothpaste effectively reduces decay, and daily rinsing with topical fluoride is even more effective.  Ask your dental professional for the fluoride products that will work best for you.

Q. Must an extracted tooth be replaced?

A. When a tooth is lost, the neighboring teeth can tilt into the empty space; teeth in the other jaw can shift down or up toward the empty space, affecting your bite.  A bridge or implant is advisable.

Q.  What are implants? How are they used?

A. Implants are used to replace missing teeth. An implant has a metal post inserted under the gum, into the bone, which then fuses to the jawbone and acts like the root of a tooth.   Implants are also used to anchor dentures.

Q.  What is a crown composed of?

A. Metal alloys, ceramics and porcelain are all used to make crowns.  The choice depends on the look and function desired for the crown.

Q. What is tooth scraping?  Why is it done?

A. Plaque and tartar that are left on the teeth provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums, which then bleed more easily. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth by planing, or scaling, and polishing them.  If gingivitis is not treated, the inflammation will work its way toward the foundations of the tooth, causing a "periodontal pocket." Gum disease can break down the support (bone) structures of the teeth, so that eventually, they will become loose.  The damage to the support structures of the teeth is irreversible but, if caught in time, the disease’s progression can be halted.

Q.  Is there a dental device that reduces the pain of migraine headaches?

A. The devise is called a NTI-tss (tension suppression system).  It works at treating migraine headaches that are related to clenching and grinding of the teeth and jaws, and is considered about 80 percent effective in reducing the severity and frequency of migraines.

Q.  My dentist suggests a “workup” with models and a CT scan prior to beginning implant treatment.  Why should I do this?

A. Radiographs, models, wax workups and CT scans are tools to help us get the final results. The CT scan, for example, gives a full 3D view of the patient’s bone level, height, width, density and sinus structure.  Workups are valuable tools in helping the dentist achieve the final result.

Q.  Are crowns for the back teeth different than those for the front?

A. Once, back teeth were made of gold, which is strong but not very aesthetic.  Porcelain and metal crowns are strong and resemble teeth,  and today they are used regularly on back teeth. Porcelain crowns are most desirable for front teeth as they have a natural appearance.

Q.  Should I X-ray my child’s teeth?

A. X-rays not only check for cavities or early weak spots developing between teeth, but also give information about gum and bone health and tooth eruption problems.  They are often the first way cysts, tumors and other anomalies are detected in young patients.  Follow your dentist’s advice about X-rays.