FAQs

Dental care is important to your overall health. Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as “crisis treatment” versus “preventive treatment.” You may feel that you’re saving money, but a neglected mouth often ends up costing much more in dollars and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. Early detection can help you prevent root canal treatment.

We will ask about your recent medical history, examine your mouth and decide whether you need X-rays. We will check your gums for gum disease, and we will evaluate your overall dental health and conduct an oral cancer screening by holding your tongue with gauze, checking it and your whole mouth, then feeling your jaw and neck.

Buy toothbrushes with soft bristles. Medium and firm ones can damage teeth and gums. Use soft pressure, for 2 minutes, two times a day. Both powered and manual toothbrushes clean teeth well. Manual brushes with mixed bristle heights or angled bristles clean better than those with all flat, even bristles. Powered toothbrushes may be easier if you have trouble using your hands.

Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Toss it sooner if the bristles look bent or splayed out. Bent bristles don’t clean as well. (They’re also a sign you may be brushing too hard.)

Most toothpastes will clear away bacteria growth and acids from food and drinks. Toothpastes with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance always have fluoride, which strengthens and protects teeth. If you want a non-fluoride option, stores carry toothpastes and powders made with natural ingredients that don’t have ADA testing and approval. If cold or hot food or drinks make you cringe, pick a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and let us know.

Yes! Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only we can remove tartar.

Call us if you have any of these issues or see your child having trouble chewing or complaining of soreness:

  • Mouth sores
  • Jaw pain
  • Redness
  • 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.

Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Brush and gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between your teeth. Do not put aspirin on your aching tooth or gums because it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, call us right away.

Oral injuries are often painful and should be treated by us as soon as possible. If you have knocked out a tooth, these tips may be able to save it:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • See us right away. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk

Sensitivity toothpastes, which contain strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda, can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, call us. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce – if not eliminate – the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.

Commercial whitening toothpastes vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives. However, unlike professional whitening, some whitening toothpastes do not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth. Toothpastes that are effective in removing stains can also destroy tooth enamel in the process. These toothpastes use harsh abrasives. With repeated use, harsh abrasives begin to damage tooth enamel and can contribute to increased tooth sensitivity. If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, consult us first.

The American Dental Association recognizes that piercing is a widely accepted form of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth. However, the potential problems from piercings are numerous. Some symptoms after a piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva, none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also cause excessive bleeding. If you’re thinking of placing a piercing in or around your mouth, talk to us. If you already have piercings and are having problems, see us right away.

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Washington, MO 63090
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Academy of General Dentistry
Greater St. Louis Dental Society
American Dental Association