Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It's unnecessary to "scrub" the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day including massaging the gums plus visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings. If you have problems with gum recession, then an extra soft (sometimes called sensitive) toothbrush would be recommended to reduce the possibility of causing more damage to the gingiva.
Q: Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?
A: First the facts--> there is an estimated 10-20% reduction in plaque biofilm over a 3-6 month period of use and an approximated 10% reduction in gingival inflammation (gingivitis). That is good news, but it is difficult to determine which electric toothbrush is the best for you. The statistics are based on a variety of different kinds/brands of electric toothbrushes. Here at Sarah Mowery, DDS, we recommend the Sonicare DiamondClean (by Philips) for adult and the SOnicare Kids for the children. Independant studies show that the DiamondClean will remove up to 7X more plaque than a manual toothbrush PLUS you get 3100 brush strokes in a minute vs 100-200 in 2min with a manual brush. Those are some significant changes. We also recommend the DiamondCLean based on our own staff's experience with oral health improvements with this product. Ask the staff their recommendations for you, specifically, to be sure you are making the correct decision since an electric toothbrush is an investment in your oral, as well as, overall health.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride. We also advise against whitening toothpaste as generally they are abrasive, like using sand paper to brush your teeth.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy. It is recommended to floss at night before bedtime. Typically, you are advised to floss, interdental brush, WaterPik, toothbrush w/ fluoride toothpaste, then use a non-alcohol mouthrinse (not every patient will need all of these steps- ask your dental health professional for the best at homecare for you.)
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, zirconia, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns". However, patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as "caps" and the gold or stainless steel ones as "crowns".
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. It is permanently cemented in the mouth. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures as they are more stable during eating.
Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. "White" fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, plus they also look more pleasing to the eye. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary and provide better overall satisfaction for the patient.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.