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, damage the teeth, 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 hard as long as you are brushing at least twice a day with the correct technique and visiting your dentist at a minimum of two times a year for cleanings. Automated toothbrushes like the Sonicare© brush, are very safe and efficient.
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. Some specific toothpastes may be recommended for certain situations and conditions and some need to be avoided if special conditions occur with sensitivity and gum problems. Dr. Hinson will review this with you at your visit.
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. Oral irrigators may also assist patients with keeping the gums as healthy as possible. Flossing involves a careful technique to be efficient and the staff will review the technique with you as needed.
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?
A: Nothing. 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 generally made of gold, porcelain, 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". For general purposes, consider "caps" and "crowns" as synonyms.
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is fixed by cementaion and is permanently attached to the anchor or abutment teeth. A bridge can also be attached to implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the abutment or anchor teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures. In some cases however, a fixed bridge is not an option due to the postion or number of remaining teeth.
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, and they also look better. 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.
Q: What exactly is a root canal?
A: Due to certain conditions in the pulp tissue (nerve tissue) inside of a tooth, a root canal is a treatment that removes the pulp tissue and replaces it with a specialized filling. Consider a root canal as a filling that traverses the full length of a tooth, inside the tooth. Root canal procedures have improved considerably over the past few years and, although they have a negative conotation with many patients, are basically painless and routine.