Frequently asked questions in a dentist’s world

Girl in dentist chairMany patients have similar questions when they come for a dentist visit. So today, we’re going to address some of the most commonly asked patient questions!

Q1. How many times can I floss per day?
You should be flossing your teeth at least once per day to achieve a healthy, gum disease free mouth! I doesn’t really matter what time of day you do it; before breakfast, after lunch or—as long as you are flossing every day. Flossing is important because it removes food debris and bacteria that can cause cavities or gum infections. You can actually floss your teeth more than once a day, but many times may cause the gums to be sore or bleed.

Q2. How many times should I brush per day?
Brushing your teeth at least once a day is recommended. Three times per day after every meal is optimum, but twice per day is the minimum number of times you should be brushing your teeth daily. When you brush your teeth, you should do so for two minutes or more. To make this easier for you, try to play one of your favorite songs that lasts just a few minutes, and brush for the entire song. The time will pass you by!

Q3. How do I get cavities?
When a tooth is exposed to acid frequently (if you eat or drink often) the repeated cycles of acid cause the enamel to lose minerals. An early sign of decay is when the tooth develops a white spot, this means that minerals have been list in that spot. At this point, the tooth decay can be reversed or repaired with saliva, and fluoride from toothpaste or mouth rinse.

If this decay process continues and more minerals are lost over time, the enamel becomes weakened and forms a cavity. From there, the dentist will have to repair the tooth with a filling. The good news is, with new technology, your filling can show up white, and no one will ever notice!

To prevent cavities, you need to protect your teeth with fluoride—this can be found in toothpastes or mouth rinses. When you visit our office and it appears as though the tooth has suffered a small amount of decay, we will apply a fluoride gel or varnish of the tooth surfaces to help seal the tooth.

Q4. Are dental x-rays safe?
May patients are concerned with the radiation associated with getting dental x-rays. Radiation can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and sometimes can lead to the development of cancer. The good news is, there is only a small amount of radiation a patient is exposed to when receiving x-rays. At our advances facility, we have low radiation machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being x-rayed. We use lead-lined full body aprons to protect the body from possible stray radiation and place film-holders in-between the patient’s teeth.

Q5. What are dental sealants?
Sealants protect your teeth from decay. They are a thick plastic coating that is painted on the surface of the teeth where you chew, which is generally your premolars or molars. Sealant quickly bonds into the depressions of the tooth and serves as a shield over the enamel of each tooth. Those who benefit from sealants are generally children when they receive their permanent molars, and adults who have tooth decay or fillings.

Q6. Should I have an electric or manual toothbrush?
Selecting a type of toothbrush can be a challenge, but when you are choosing between manual or electric toothbrushes, it really just depends on your individual needs and comforts.
Manual toothbrushes are very reasonably priced and accessible. They are also

  • Easy to travel with because of the size and it doesn’t need to charge
  • Doesn’t put as much pressure on your teeth and gums (too much pressure can cause tooth enamel decay, sensitivity, and increased risk of tooth decay)

Electric toothbrushes are a great innovation. The key is to choose one right for you. Electric toothbrushes can sometimes clean harder to reach spots in your mouth, and is good for people with limited ability to move their shoulders, arms and hands because of the larger handle. Electric toothbrushes with bristles rotate together in one direction and then switch and rotate in the opposite direction (known as rotating-oscillating) appear to be more effective than manual brushes, because they spin in other directions, whereas a manual toothbrush only moves in one direction.

Q7. How often should I change my toothbrush?
Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm. When replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head, be sure it has soft bristles.

We hope this quick fact guide was helpful in answering all of your questions. At Shane McDowell, we are here for you and aim provide the best dental care for all of our patients! If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 239-936-0597 or email us at info@myfortmyersdentist.com

Why Flossing is Important for your Dental Health

It’s difficult to reach the plaque and food debris that lodge between your gum line and teeth by just brushing alone. A survey conducted by the American Dental Association says that only 50 percent of Americans floss daily, and percent of Americans floss less than daily.

Girl Flossing

We understand that remembering or taking the time to floss can be challenging. But it’s really important for you to make sure you floss! Here’s why:

Reducing Plaque

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon to fight against plaque. You might think that statement is exaggerated, but floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums. It also polishes tooth services to help control bad breath.  Many people think that flossing is a way to remove food debris from between your teeth, but more importantly it removes plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleaning.

Plaque can cause tooth decay, and eventually, if not properly taken care of, can result in tooth loss or gum disease. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.

Tips on how to floss

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. Even flossing 2-3 times a week is a better option than none at all, but always try to floss at least once per day. It’s hard to know the right way to floss if no one has ever showed you. Luckily, The American Dental Association outlined some tips and directions on how to floss properly:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand; this finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion—never snap the floss onto the gums
  • When floss reaches the gum line, create a C shape against one tooth, and gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, gently rubbing the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth near your molars! The most decay will rest near the back of your teeth

Flossing should not be painful. When you first begin flossing again, you may feel some initial discomfort. With daily brushing and flossing, the discomfort will ease within a week or two. If this pain persists, please contact us for an appointment, for you may be at risk for gum disease.

Choosing Floss

We know there’s a lot of different kinds of floss on the market. How often you floss is actually more important than the type of floss you choose. So essentially, your choice of floss is based on your preference:

  • Multifilament floss: This kind of floss is made of nylon or silk floss. Generally, nylon dental floss will be more common. This type of floss also comes in waxed or unwaxed. Floss is coated in wax to help fit around your teeth. An example of this kind of floss is Johnson & Johnson’s REACH Fluoride Woven Floss.
  • Monofilament Floss: A newer kind of technology, this floss’ fabric is like nylon, but doesn’t rip or tear. Because it’s stronger, more patients feel that it is easier to pull in-between teeth. Some brands like Glide are made with this material (which of course is where it got its name!)

As long as you are taking the time to brush twice daily for two minutes each, and floss at least once per day, you are helping to keep your mouth healthy and free of plaque and potential gum disease.

At Shane McDowell, we love seeing our patients healthy and happy. We are committed to serving you with the best dental health care possible. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or email us at info@myfortmyersdentist.com