What is dentistry?
Dentistry is diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth, gums, and related structures of the mouth and jaw.
Who is a dentist?
A dentist is a specialized doctor who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. They complete at least 8 years of schooling, and can receive either a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD). Your dentists also receives continuing education through different courses which keep them up to date on the latest information in dentistry. Dentists can also be trained in a wide range of different specializations, some of which include:
- Pediatrics (child dental health care)
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Oral and maxillofacial (this can include pathology, radiology and surgery)
- Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics (dental and facial abnormalities)
- Periodontics (gum disease)
- Prosthodontics (implants)
Why is it important to visit the dentist?
Going to the dentist for regular checkups helps keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy, and helps prevent a variety of dental and overall health issues. Here are just some of the reasons why you should visit your dentist:
- Helps prevent tooth decay
- Protects against gum disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss.
- Reduces the amount of bad-breath causing bacteria in your mouth.
- Improves your smile and boosts self confidence.
- Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing stains from food, drinks and tobacco.
- Strengthens teeth for a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.
Even if your teeth feel fine, it is still important to maintain regular visits with your dentist. Dental care not only treats problems, it prevents them from even happening. Plus, dentists offer treatments that can help maintain the beautiful smile you already have, such as professional teeth whitening.
How can I take care of my teeth between checkups?
At-home care is extremely important and necessary to maintain a healthy smile.
- Brush your teeth at least 3 times a day, and floss at least once a day.
- Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride. This will help prevent cavities.
- Avoid foods with a lot of sugar and avoid using tobacco.
- Brush your tongue – this will remove food particles, reduce bacteria and helps keep your breath fresh.
At what age should I begin taking my child to the dentist?
Children can first see a dentist as early as six-months-old and should go by the time they are one. As baby teeth begin to grow in, it is important for the dentist to examine your child’s first few teeth to ensure that they are coming in healthy and normal.
How often should I see the dentist?
To maintain proper dental health, children, teens, and adults should see the dentist at least once every six months (twice a year). Depending on the health of your teeth and gums, you may need to schedule more frequent visits. This can be determined between you and your dentist.
How often should I change my toothbrush?
You should get a new toothbrush every three months. After time, the bristles become worn down and are much less effective, so it is important to change it frequently to keep your teeth and gums clean and plaque-free. In addition, toothbrushes are prone to germs and bacteria, and this only gets worse the longer you keep them. You should also change toothbrushes after you’ve been sick or had an infection in the mouth. Germs hide in the bristles and this can lead to reinfection if you don’t throw it away.
What is a cavity?
Cavities are small holes in the teeth that are caused by tooth decay. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth use the sugars to produce acids which can dissolve the outer layer of the tooth. If you eat too many sugars, the acids can cause serious damage to your teeth. You can prevent decay by reducing the amount of sugar you consume, using a fluoride rinse or toothpaste, or your dentist can put sealants on your back teeth.
What is a filling?
If tooth decay produces a cavity, it will need to be cleaned and filled by your dentist. A filling restores the tooth to its normal function and prevents further decay. There are different types of fillings, including gold, porcelain, composite resins and amalgams. Your dentist will discuss with you what material is best for your specific needs. Typically only one visit is needed to fill a cavity, with the exception of gold fillings.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by bacteria in plaque. If not consistently removed, this bacteria builds up, infecting your teeth, gums, lower gum tissue and eventually the bone that supports your teeth - a common cause of tooth loss. This disease has three stages of progression: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis; the longer the disease has to advance, the more damage it causes.
Common Signs of Gum Disease
- Red, tender, and swollen gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Constant bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Gum line receding , or gums are pulling away from teeth and forming pockets
- Changes in your bite or teeth alignment, loose teeth
If detected early, gum disease can be treated and prevented from progressing. This is why regular checkups and daily brushing and flossing are necessary to keep teeth and gums healthy and disease-free.