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Frequently Asked Dental Questions

We have tried to answer some of the most asked questions here. Keep in mind though that these are general responses and that the answers that you need or are looking for, may be different from the ones discussed here. To be able to properly answer your questions and diagnose your problems, you need to make an appointment and give Dr. Delgado the chance to examine you thoroughly. If you need answers to questions that are not mentioned here, feel free to contact us and ask your questions directly. 

What can I do about my uneven teeth?


Are the teeth overlapping each other? Are there spaces between the teeth? Is the gumline too low or too high? Have the teeth worn away because of grinding? Depending on the answers to these questions and numerous others a different approach may be necessary to correct the uneven look. After a smile consultation at our office, we can get a general feel of what is the best approach.


Which is best, a bridge or an implant?


They each have advantages and disadvantages. We are not advocates of one treatment over another. Since any cosmetic situation that involves a missing tooth presents its own challenges and circumstances, careful and well-thought-out plans will give the best outcome. The advantage of an implant is that it will permanently replace a tooth since it’s anchored in the bone with a crown placed on top of it. A disadvantage of implants is that they can take at least 6-8 months to complete. Bridges are not anchored into the bone like implants are, but they are anchored to adjacent teeth. This will require the preparation of teeth for crowns. If you have teeth that do not have any fillings in them or they are minimally restored you might not want to put crowns on them for a bridge. In this case, it would be better to do an implant.  Another disadvantage of having a bridge is that the teeth that are anchoring the bridge can no longer be flossed. An implant-supported crown is a separate unit and is flossed like your own teeth. But, the advantage of having a bridge as opposed to an implant is that it is fairly quick and can be completed in a few short weeks.


What is the difference between a cap and a crown?


A cap and a crown are the same thing. They refer to complete coverage of the tooth. They are generally necessary when teeth have gotten weak from previous large fillings to protect them from fracturing or teeth that have fractured and now need support. Crowns are also placed on top of implants or on teeth that have had root canal treatment.  


What causes tooth sensitivity?


If you've ever felt pain in your teeth after drinking or eating hot or cold food and drinks, you've had tooth sensitivity. One out of every four adults has had tooth sensitivity, often coming and going over time. Tooth sensitivity is tooth pain that comes from a wearing away of the tooth's surface or gums. When gums recede or pull away from the teeth, they leave the root of the tooth bare. These roots which are not covered by enamel (the hard outer layer of the tooth), have thousands of tiny channels leading into the tooth causing the sensitivity.


Should I floss every day?


Yes. Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing, not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. * Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands. * Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. * Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.


What is a tooth abscess?


A tooth abscess is a collection of infected material (pus) resulting from a bacterial infection in the center of a tooth. A tooth abscess is a complication of tooth decay. It may also result from trauma to the tooth, such as when a tooth is broken or chipped. Openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to infect the center of the tooth (the pulp). Infection may spread out from the root of the tooth and to the bone supporting the tooth. Infection results in a collection of pus (dead tissue, live and dead bacteria, white blood cells) and swelling of the tissues within the tooth. This causes a painful toothache. If the pulp of the tooth dies, the toothache may stop, unless an abscess develops. This is especially true if the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissue.


Why do I need to extract my wisdom teeth?


When wisdom teeth have fully erupted, aligned properly, and gums are healthy, you do not have to extract your wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, in most cases, the crowding and malposition of the erupting wisdom teeth are likely to happen. When the wisdom teeth are not erupting properly within the mouth, it is best to have them extracted. 

Which is the best toothpaste?


The best of anything is a choice that has a lot of variables and options. For example, a person with sensitive teeth will choose a toothpaste that handles sensitivity, and the person who wants whiter teeth will call the whitening toothpaste the best. I would recommend discussing this question with Dr. Delgado to be able to choose what's best for you.


How to brush my teeth properly, and how often?


Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA-approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. * Brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums. * Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth. * Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth. * Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.


What is the difference between tooth caries and tooth decay?  


 Actually, tooth caries is the medical (Latin) term for tooth decay. So if you have been told by your dentist that you have a cavity that means you have tooth decay, and it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.


Why do I need to visit a dentist if my teeth don't hurt?


You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist may recommend more frequent visits. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health.


Will my tooth infection go away by itself, if the tooth doesn't hurt anymore?


The existing toothache will ease as a result of the release of the pus from the infected area. As soon as all the accumulated pus finds its way out and releases the pressure on the nerve you are more likely to feel some pain relief. In no case does this means though that your problem is solved. If left untreated, the infection will spread fast and affect the other teeth, as well as other areas of your face and head.


What causes tooth grinding?


Does your jaw feel stiff or do you have difficulty opening your mouth wide? Are your teeth sensitive to cold drinks? Do your jaw muscles feel tired in the morning? You may be grinding your teeth at night (a medical condition called bruxism) or you may be clenching your teeth, which can be just as harmful. People with nighttime grinding habits may wear away their tooth enamel “ten times faster” than those without “abusive chewing habits.” Eventually, your teeth may be worn down and destroyed. In addition to relieving head, neck, jaw joint, and shoulder pains, treating bruxism and clenching is cost-effective compared to ignoring the condition and exposing teeth to continued grinding. Without treatment, crowns (caps), bridges, implants, and dentures are often needed to repair or replace worn and damaged teeth. Ask your dentist if a nightguard can help to provide temporary relief from grinding, bruxing, or clenching.


What is dry mouth?


Some adults develop a condition called dry mouth, which results when there is insufficient saliva. Dry mouth is caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, painkillers, and diuretics. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive cavities can form. Sugar-free candy or gum stimulates saliva flow, and moisture can be replaced by using artificial saliva and oral rinses. In some cases, Dr. Delgado may prescribe a medication that helps produce saliva and may suggest fluoride products to help prevent rapidly advancing tooth decay.

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