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Alder Family Dental
Walla Walla, WA Dentist

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Answering Common Dental Questions

Posted on 7/26/2017 by Michael Mettler
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When it comes to understanding the best ways of protecting the health of your teeth and gums, it’s not uncommon to have questions. While most people know about the importance of brushing and flossing daily, when it comes to maintaining and improving their oral health, there are a variety of common oral care questions people have about less obvious topics. To help you better understand what it takes to keep a brilliant smile, Dr. Patty Martin of Stone Creek Dental, offers some answers to common questions we hear from our patients.

Q: How long should I help my kids brush their teeth?

A: It takes a couple of years before your child develops the motor skills needed to properly brush their own teeth. We advise parents to continue brushing their child’s teeth until he or she can tie his or her own shoes. Since motor function can vary from child to child, consider continuing to assist your child with brushing until some time between the ages of six to eight when your child has shown himself or herself capable of handling the responsibility of brushing alone.

Q: Are sticky foods and candies bad for my teeth?

A: Sticky foods and candies, like raisins and taffy, are bad for a number of reasons. The sticky, chewy nature of these types of foods can easily pull loose fillings and crowns from your teeth. Sticky foods high in sugar also have a tendency to remain stuck to your teeth for hours, until you either thoroughly rinse of brush. During the time they remain on your teeth, the sugar in these foods provides plaque with the fuel it needs to produce acids that erode away at tooth enamel. The longer these types of food remain, the more potential damage they can cause.

Q: Why do I continue to get cavities even though I brush and floss daily?

A: If you practice quality oral hygiene (i.e. brushing, flossing, and the use of mouthwash) but continue to develop cavities, you need to reexamine both your oral care technique and diet with Dr. Martin. Assuming that you brush for long enough (at least two minutes at a time, at least twice per day) and floss hard-to-reach places of the mouth (most cavities form between the back molars), your diet may be the cause of your oral health problems.

Diets high in acidic foods and drinks such as colas, sports drinks, citrus fruits and juices, etc. can raise the acidity levels of your mouth. The higher the acidity level of your saliva, the more damage harmful mouth bacteria can do to the health of your teeth’s enamel, which increases your risk of developing decay and cavities. High acidity can even make brushing harmful to the health of your teeth, as mouth acid softens tooth enamel and leaves it easily susceptible to damage. One rule of thumb, as odd as it may sound, it to wait 30 minutes after eating a meal or drinking something acidic to brush your teeth.

Q: What causes my teeth to turn yellow or become stained?

A: While tooth enamel forms colorless, years of eating or drinking enamel staining items like coffee, tea, berries, beets, red wine, etc. can slowly cause your smile to lose a little of its luster. In addition to tooth enamel becoming stained, a buildup of tartar or plaque on the surface of your teeth can also change tooth color, as can cigarette smoking. As a person ages, the enamel on their teeth begins to thin, which exposes the yellowish colored dentin that lies underneath.

Fortunately, a number of whitening products can help restore the brilliance to your smile by removing stains. However, if the color of your teeth is due to a thinning of enamel, teeth whitening products cannot help restore your smile.

Q: I had a cavity filled a week ago, but my teeth are still sensitive to hot and cold. How long should this last?

A: Depending on how deep the filling, it’s not uncommon to have sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures for anywhere between eight and 12 weeks. Even though tooth sensitivity is common, you need to pay attention to make sure the problem doesn’t become worse. If your sensitivity begins to worsen, you may be experiencing irreversible nerve damage to your tooth that could lead to an infection. Monitor your symptoms closely and call Stone Creek Dental Care if the pain starts to become worse.

If you have any questions when visiting the team at Stone Creek Dental Care about your oral health, don't hesitate to ask. We're here to serve you! Book your next appointment with our team by calling us today at 509-525-5902.
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