Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is basic oral care?
For most of us, thorough daily oral hygiene lays the groundwork for a healthy smile. Just a simple routine of brushing and flossing, in addition to regular dental checkups, can be enough in most cases to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
What is good brushing technique?
Since there are various techniques for brushing your teeth, it's a good idea to ask your dentist which one to use. Here are a few tips to help you develop a good brushing routine:
- Brush twice a day.
- Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.
- Place your brush at a slight angle toward the gums when brushing along the gum line.
- Use a gentle touch - it doesn't take much pressure to remove the plaque from your teeth, and a vigorous scrubbing could irritate your gums.
- Concentrate on cleaning all the surfaces of the teeth.
- Brushing your tongue gently can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath.
How important is flossing?
Cleaning between your teeth is every bit as important as brushing. Since brushing can't effectively clean between teeth, it's important to use floss to get to those areas. Clean between your teeth once a day. As with brushing, use a gentle touch to avoid injuring your gum tissue.
What do you recommend for knocked-out or broken teeth?
For information on these and other dental emergencies, see what the ADA recommends.
What about oral cancer?
An estimated 30,000 new oral cancer cases will be diagnosed this year. Although the percentage of deaths has been decreasing since 1980, nearly 8,000 Americans die from oral cancer. Smoking in combination with heavy alcohol consumption (30+ drinks/week) is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Oral cancer is more likely to strike after the age of 40. Additional risks factors that may be linked to oral cancer include: smokeless tobacco use; regular, prolonged exposure to the sun (lip cancer). Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help prevent the development of precancerous lesions. Oral cancer can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissues, cheek lining, tongue, and the hard or soft palate. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
- a sore that bleeds easily or does not heal;
- a color change of the oral tissues;
- a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area;
- pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips;
- difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue; or
- a change in the way the teeth fit together.
Regular visits to the dentist can increase the chance of early detection, which can improve the potential for successful treatment.
How can baby bottle tooth decay be avoided?
Baby bottle tooth decay - also known as nursing bottle or nursing mouth syndrome - is a dental condition that can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child. It occurs when a child's teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids for long periods. Among these are milk, formula, fruit juice and other sweetened liquids like sugar water.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends several steps to preventing baby bottle tooth decay:
- Never allow your baby or toddler to fall asleep with either a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquids or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey. Use only water in the bottle or give the child a clean pacifier.
- Begin oral care early. Wipe the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding. Begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
- Schedule your child's first visit to the dentist by the first birthday. If you suspect that your child may have dental problems, see a dentist as soon as possible.
- Check your child's teeth regularly. As soon as the first tooth comes in, lift the baby's lips and regularly check the teeth for changes.
You can find more information about Baby Bottle Tooth Decay at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry web site.