+What is plaque and why is it bad?

Plaque is a clear sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. As plaque collects it forms a hard layer of tartar (or calculus) particularly in hard to reach areas between teeth and near the gumline.

Bacteria found in plaque create toxic chemicals that irritate the gums. Eventually these bacteria cause the underlying bone around the teeth to be destroyed, a condition known as gum disease. Recent research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and some pregnancy complications.

Removal of plaque with brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis and removal of tartar by your dentist and dental hygienist is the first step in defeating gum disease. By the time gum disease begins to hurt, it may be too late. Seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent this and many other problems.

+Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

If a manual toothbrush is used for the appropriate amount of time, and done with proper technique, it can perform just as well as a powered toothbrush. But many people don’t brush for the recommended two to three minutes. Children are also good candidates for powered brushes as their brushing habits tend to be less than optimal.

While everyone certainly does not need an electric toothbrush, in many instances they can be beneficial. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.

+What causes bad breath?

While bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases, the majority of bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence bad odor.

There are two main goals in the management of bad breath. First, controlling the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds and second, to neutralize the sulfur compounds that are produced.

+It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the dentist. What do I need to do?

You’re not alone! Whether it’s been 6 months or 6 years, it’s never too late to get back into the routine.

At our office, we can arrange for you to have a thorough and educational exam appointment. We have been taking care of people just like you for over 50 years – take advantage of our experience! We’re here to help!

+Why should I have my teeth cleaned twice a year?

In a perfect world everyone would brush and floss twice a day. Plaque builds up over time and this sticky bacterial film can solidify and turn into calculus or tartar. This cement-like substance is removed by the hygienist at your regular cleaning visits. A six-month interval not only serves to keep your mouth healthy and clean, it allows potential problems to be found and diagnosed earlier.

In some instances a six-month schedule in not enough. Based on your dental history, rate of calculus buildup, and pattern of decay a 3 or 4 month interval may be needed. Your dentist can work with you to determine what will be best for you.