What exactly is dentistry?
Dentistry is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions, disorders, and diseases of the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Often considered necessary for complete oral health, dentistry can have an impact on the health of your entire body.
What qualifies a person to become a dentist?
A dentist is a doctor who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Dr. Fleitz and Dr. Hoppe have completed at least eight years of schooling to earn their Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS).
Why is visiting the dentist so important?
Visiting the dentist regularly will not only help keep your teeth and mouth healthy, but will also help keep the rest of your body healthy. Dental care is important because it:
- Helps prevent tooth decay
- Protects against periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss
- Prevents bad breath; brushing, flossing, and seeing us regularly will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath
- Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing them from becoming stained by food, drinks, and tobacco
Good dental health affects your overall health. Dental conditions such as dental infections from tooth decay and gum disease are known factors in systemic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, to name just a few.
My teeth feel fine; do I still need to see a dentist?
Your teeth may feel fine, but it’s still important to see a dentist regularly because problems can exist without your knowing. Dental problems start out small, and are easily treated when they are caught early. Many dental problems do not cause pain until they are quite advanced.
Your smile’s appearance is important, and Drs. Fleitz and Hoppe can help keep it healthy and looking beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth.
Even more importantly, maintaining good dental health is an important factor in your overall health. Poor dental health is known to exacerbate or even be a causative factor in many medical conditions.
What should I look for when choosing the right dentist for me?
Choosing a dentist who you trust and feel comfortable with, and who “clicks” with you and your family is so important. Here are some things you may consider when selecting your dentist:
- Does the office appear to be clean and orderly?
- Was your medical and dental history thoroughly recorded and placed in a permanent file?
- What qualifications, awards, or professional affiliations does your dentist have?
- Does your dentist have examples of work he or she havs done, or testimonials from happy patients?
- Is information about cost presented to you before treatment is scheduled?
How can I take care of my teeth between dental checkups?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times per day, and floss at least once per day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask us if you need a fluoride rinse. While fluoride should not be swallowed, it is known to help prevent cavities when topically applied to the teeth.
- Avoid foods with sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, and can cause more plaque and potential cavities.
- Avoid tobacco, which can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer.
- Don’t be afraid to brush your tongue. By brushing your tongue, you will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh.
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkup. It is recommended that you visit our office every six months.
At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months of age and no later than one year. During this time, your child’s baby teeth will be coming in and we can examine the health of those first few teeth. After the first visit, be sure to schedule regular checkups every six months.
How often should I see the dentist?
Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to come in more than just twice a year. We will help determine how often you should visit our office for regular checkups.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth because of tooth decay. Cavities form when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth.
If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems, such as a painful infection and inflammation. Cavities can be prevented by brushing your teeth at least two times a day and flossing between the teeth at least once per day. Avoiding sugar and seeing your dentist regularly are also ways to avoid cavities.
What is a filling?
A filling is a synthetic material that a dentist uses to fill the hole in a tooth caused by a cavity after all the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt, because we will numb your mouth with an anesthetic.
How often should I brush my teeth?
According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth at least two times a day. Brushing keeps your teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque.
It is also recommended that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride when you brush your teeth. You should spend at least a minute on the top teeth and a minute on the bottom, and remember to brush your tongue; it will help keep your breath smelling fresh!
When should I change my toothbrush?
Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes each time. It is recommended that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions, because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently.
Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks to keep bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you’ve been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.
What is gum disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is mostly caused by plaque and bacteria buildup that is not treated in its early stage. Other causes of periodontal disease include tobacco use, teeth grinding, some medications, and genetics.
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease. If detected, it is treatable. Gingivitis left untreated may turn into gum disease. Advanced gum disease will lead to tooth and bone loss, and is a permanent condition. Brushing your teeth regularly and visiting the dentist every six months will help prevent gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease.
Common signs of gum disease:
- Red, irritated, bleeding, or swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth, or loss of teeth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum line
- Abscessed teeth
If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?
Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Dr. Fleitz and Dr. Hoppe will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
How do I schedule my next checkup?
Simply call our office. Our team will be happy to schedule your next dental checkup at your convenience. If you are a new patient, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need for your first office visit.