Patient Education

Dental Concerns

1What causes bad breath?
Most people will have an occasional bout of garlic breath after a satisfying meal. But what about the more often and unfortunate and bad breath that might present itself without explanation? A common cause for malodorous breath is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This disease that is the #1 reason adults lose their teeth.
2What causes periodontal disease?
Most likely it is due to poor oral hygiene or infrequent trips to the dentist. If you don’t visit your dentist regularly you will experience a build-up of plaque and tarter underneath your gums. This debris of bacteria and decomposing food particles creates toxins that eat away the delicate structures supporting your teeth, causing an inflammation that releases sulfur-like smelling compounds. If not addressed, periodontal disease will progress over time.
3How do you know if you have periodontal disease?
Take a good look in the mirror. Do you see red, puffy gums? Do you bleed easily when you brush your teeth? Are your teeth loose or separating? And of course, do you have bad monster breath? If you’re not sure, ask a good friend or close relative, or your co-worker who is always offering you a breath mint or a piece of gum.
4I’m not having any symptoms. Do I need to see a dentist?
Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.
5How often do I have to go to the dentist?
There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. Some people need to visit the dentist once or twice a year; others may need more visits. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs. Dr. Emma will provide you with sound advice on when and what is needed to keeping your smile healthy.
6How important is flossing?
According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chance of keeping them for a lifetime and decrease the chance of getting gum disease. Most people cite lack of time as a reason for not flossing. However, the AGD says flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits and is far better than not flossing at all.
7How do I pick the right floss?
Whether waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, wide or regular size, floss of any type helps clean and remove plaque. Which type you use depends upon your mouth, personal preference and dentist's recommendations. Here are some tips about the characteristics of different types of flosses:
  • Wide floss, also known as dental tape, may be a better choice for people with bridgework. Dental tape also is recommended when people have wider-than-average space between their teeth.
  • Waxed floss can be easier to slide between closely spaced teeth.
  • Unwaxed floss will squeak against cleaned teeth, indicating plaque has been removed.
  • Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.
8How do I select the right toothbrush?
With so many shapes, sizes and styles of toothbrushes on the market, deciding which kind to buy can be confusing. To ensure your toothbrush has undergone rigorous quality control tests for cleaning effectiveness and safety, ask Dr. Emma for a recommendation. Or look for manual or powered toothbrushes that have earned the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval. Here's what you should look for:
  • Soft-bristles – most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth and along the gum line.
  • Comfort is key – pick whatever shape and size is most comfortable for you. The best toothbrush is one that fits your mouth and allows you to reach all teeth easily.
  • Powered toothbrushes versus regular brushes – powered toothbrushes are fun and may remove more plaque than regular toothbrushes. Regular toothbrushes work fine, but powered toothbrushes make brushing easier.

Reminder: Your tooth brush or brush head (electronic or sonic care) should be routinely changed every 3 months or after an illness.

Myths about Root Canals

1Myth #1—Root canal treatment is painful.

Root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves it.

The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago but with modern technologies and anesthetics; root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. In fact, a recent survey showed that patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as "painless" than patients who have not had root canal treatment.

Most patients see their dentist or endodontist when they have a severe toothache. The toothache can be caused by damaged tissues in the tooth. Root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, thereby relieving the pain you feel.

2Myth #2—Root canal treatment causes illness.

The myth: Patients searching the Internet for information on root canals may find sites claiming that teeth receiving root canal (endodontic) treatment contribute to the occurrence of illness and disease in the body. This false claim is based on long-debunked and poorly designed research performed nearly a century ago at a time before medicine understood the causes of many diseases.

In the 1920s, many dentists advocated tooth extraction—the most traumatic dental procedure—over endodontic treatment. This resulted in a frightening era of tooth extraction both for treatment of systemic disease and as a prophylactic measure against future illness.

The truth: There is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal-treated teeth and disease elsewhere in the body. A root canal is a safe and effective procedure. When a severe infection in a tooth requires endodontic treatment, that treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.

3Myth #3—A good alternative to root canal treatment is extraction

Truth—Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet.

Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime.