What should I do if I knock out a tooth?

So you caught a fly ball with your mouth? Not to worry. With a little TLC and a quick trip to our office, we can usually replant a knocked-out tooth. First, find the tooth. Pick it up by its crown—the part used for chewing. Picking it up by the root may compromise the root’s integrity, lessening the likelihood that we can successfully replant the tooth. If the tooth landed in the grass or on a dirty floor, your first impulse may be to wash it off. Avoid scrubbing the tooth; instead, rinse it gently in water or milk. If you can, put the tooth back in its socket immediately and bite down on a cotton swab to hold it in place. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling. If you can’t put the tooth back in its socket, place it in a container with a little bit of milk or water. Transporting the tooth in a dry container, such as a paper towel or napkin, will cause the tooth to dry out, and we need it to be moist for implantation. Finally, try to get to us within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the lower the likelihood that we can replant the tooth.

What should I do if I am experiencing a toothache?

A number of things can cause or result in a toothache. If you are experiencing jaw or tooth pain, you may be feeling the effects of an unfilled cavity. You may be suffering from an infection or more serious concern, such as oral cancer.  Or you may simply be experiencing sinus pressure. Since we can’t identify the source of the pain without taking a look, you should come see us as soon as possible. If your tooth is infected, leaving the infection untreated could lead to more serious issues. So don’t waste time; if you have tooth pain, schedule an appointment immediately.

How often should I get my teeth cleaned?

We recommend that everyone, regardless of age or medical history, have their teeth cleaned at least twice every year. In some cases, we recommend more frequent cleanings—it just depends on the overall condition of your mouth. Regular cleanings are essential for maintaining the health of your teeth and gums and for preventing major dental problems. They also give us a chance to review your medical history and take new X-rays, which help us identify not only cavities but also tumors, cysts, and bone loss.

Do I really need to floss?

Floss: that stringy stuff that comes in the tiny plastic box we put in the bag with the toothbrush and toothpaste. We give you that stuff for a reason. Brushing removes food particles and plaque from all major surface areas except those between your teeth, and these areas are very susceptible to decay and gum disease. In fact, most people show their first symptoms of gum disease between the teeth. So yes, you do need to floss.

What should I do about bad breath?

Bad breath goes by many names, most of them associated with foods: garlic breath, coffee breath, dragon breath. Diet does affect breath quality. But the foods you eat aren’t the only factors impacting the freshness of your breath. Most bad breath is caused by residual bacteria in the mouth, particularly on the tongue. It can also be caused by sinus drainage and is sometimes an indicator of periodontal disease. In most cases, you can eliminate bad breath by brushing and flossing at least twice a day. You should also brush your tongue, or use a tongue scraper, daily. Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months to totally eliminate any bacteria clinging to your brush. Mouthwashes can provide temporary relief, but are not permanent solutions. If you do wish to use a mouthwash, use an antiseptic rinse; it will alleviate bad breath but also kill the germs causing the problems. Finally, as with all dental concerns, seeing us regularly will help you maintain good breath quality.

Should I be using a particular type or brand of toothbrush and toothpaste?

For the most part, the particular brand and “flavor” of toothbrush and toothpaste you use is entirely a matter of personal preference. We do recommend that you use only a soft-bristled brush. Medium and hard-bristled brushes can lead to receding gums, especially if you are a bit heavy-handed when you brush. We also recommend that you purchase a “kid friendly” toothpaste for children under 12. Children’s toothpastes have a lower fluoride content, so if your child decides to eat it (trust me, we’ve all been there), you need not call 911. If you still aren’t sure what to buy or are overwhelmed by all of the choices available, chock it up to this: if it’s approved by the American Dental Association (ADA), it’s safe to use and sufficient for meeting your daily oral hygiene needs.

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