Our teeth are pretty spectacular. They’ve been a part of our lives for decades. They help us talk and eat and kiss. But despite our familiarity with our chompers, we consistently get some great questions. Here are the top ten questions we receive.

    1. Is an electric toothbrush really better? If you’re a patient of Dr. Andy’s or have read any of our blogs, you will know his favorite toothbrush is Sonicare. Why, you ask? Because it does what it says it will do. In fact, upon switching from a traditional toothbrush to one that is electric, Dr. Andy needs to fix less. He says it is because of the toothbrush’s vibration frequency, which breaks up particles on teeth and thoroughly cleans an area. But that’s not all. The frequency and vibration go beyond the areas it touches, reducing the need for gum surgery and tissue grafting. And yes, it lessens one’s risk for cavities too. 
    2. Can the dentist (or hygienist) tell if I have been flossing my teeth regularly? Yes, they most certainly can. And don’t think they can’t recognize that you just started feverishly flossing a few days before your appointment. You’ve never done that before, have you? According to Dr. Andy, the gums get pretty beat up when you first start flossing or when you floss inconsistently. Thus the tissue becomes inflamed and may bleed. If you floss regularly, the gum tissue looks healthy and not traumatized. So go for untraumatized gums. That’s what your dentist wants to see. 
    3. Do I need to replace my toothbrush after I have been sick? For this one, you will get answers for and against tossing your toothbrush after being ill. But here’s the deal: most germs are anaerobic, meaning they will die when exposed to oxygen. Different viruses take different lengths of time to kick the bucket. According to the American Dental Association, unless you are immunocompromised, you’ve already been infected with whatever got you sick in the first place. Your body has built immunity to fight it, which helps prevent reinfection. If you’re worried about it, by all means, toss it out. Regardless of which you choose, avoid storing your toothbrush next to other people’s toothbrushes to prevent contamination. 
    4. Do I need to see the dentist if I am not having any problems? Dentistry, like a dermatological skin cancer check, is about prevention. If you regularly visit the dentist – we’re talking every six months if you want to be our BFF – we can identify any potential problems before they jump up and rear their ugly heads. You’ve waited too long if you wait until you’re having symptoms. Dental problems aren’t always obvious. Do yourself a favor and consistently see the dentist for an exam and the hygienist for a cleaning. 
    5. My friend/spouse/partner/neighbor has horrid breath. How do I let them know without offending them? This is the question of the hour and challenging to broach – even with someone you love. When you are smacked in the face with dragon breath, you can run and hide or get strategic. People with bad breath often have no clue their breath is bad. They just get used to the smell and don’t notice anything awry. One angle you can take is to talk about your fantastic dentist and ask who they see and when they last visited them. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is often a sign of periodontal disease, leading to tooth loss if left untreated. Bad breath and no teeth are not a complimentary combination. 
    6. Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed? According to Dr. Andy, around 95 percent of people need their wisdom teeth removed. The lucky folks who get to keep them have space in their mouth to accommodate the four extra teeth AND a big enough mouth to get the toothbrush back there for cleaning. Our mandibles are smaller than our prehistoric ancestors. Smaller space means less access to clean teeth properly, putting people with wisdom teeth at a higher risk of cavities and infection. So, when is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?  Younger than you’d probably think! Dr. Andy recommends they be removed when the roots are still growing, which typically falls between 16-19 years of age.
    7. Do I clench or grind my teeth? How can you tell if you do something when you’re sleeping? Sometimes YOU can’t, but thankfully your dentist can. Grinding and clenching teeth can wreak havoc on them, causing permanent damage. The effects of this nocturnal activity can show up quickly or take years, but rest assured, it will show up. Recently, Dr. Andy saw a patient who wore 40 percent of her tooth structure down and had numerous fractures. But she had no pain and didn’t notice her teeth were getting smaller by night. When she went in to see Dr. Andy, her damage was so severe that she needed crowns. If your dentist mentions your teeth are looking worn down, if your partner says you grind your teeth at night, or if you wake up with a headache – take action. A nightguard can protect your teeth and help you avoid costly repairs. 
    8. What is a dental implant, and how does it work? An implant is often used when a tooth must be replaced due to periodontal disease, injury, or other reasons. An implant is a permanent tooth replacement made of titanium surgically placed in the bone. Unlike dentures, which rest on the gum line and are removable, implants function like teeth without the risk of cavities. Bonus: you don’t have to eat a special diet if you have implants! 
    9. How long can I wait before I have something fixed? This is the million-dollar question. When a recommendation is made to have a problem fixed, such as placing a crown, patients often wonder how quickly they need to act. But the reality is that it is hard to predict such a thing. Someone could be lucky for several weeks before trouble starts appearing. All we can tell you for sure is that if you don’t treat it, it won’t get better, and it will worsen. The moral of the story is that if you discover something needs to be repaired in your mouth, make every effort to have it done as soon as possible. 
    10. What is the best way to clean a toothbrush? All kinds of gadgets claim to clean and disinfect a toothbrush, including UV lights, but they are not as effective as you’d probably like. Toothbrushes harbor bacteria, including fecal coliform, released into the air after flushing the toilet or touching a contaminated surface. The ADA states that one effective solution is to soak a toothbrush in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or Listerine mouthwash. Always store your toothbrush upright and allow it to air dry. If you use an electric toothbrush, take the head off to let the interior portion dry between uses. 


Living Dental Health