At Metropolitan Dental Care, We’re happy to answer your most frequently asked questions.
For more assistance, call 303-534-2626
Q. I lost a tooth—what do I do?
When we lose a primary (baby) tooth, we excitedly put it under a pillow for the tooth fairy. But what about losing a permanent tooth?
FAST action is needed to save your tooth!
It can be possible, with proper dental care, to re-implant a permanent tooth that has been knocked out. Re-implantation is most successful when performed within two hours. For the best success, IMMEDIATELY follow these steps:
- Handle it only by the crown, or bottom part. Do not touch the roots.
- Inspect the tooth. If any part is missing, you will want to try to find it.
- DO NOT RUB OR SCRAPE IT. If it needs to be cleaned off, rinse it gently in a bowl of lukewarm water for no longer than 10 seconds. Do NOT rinse it with running water.
- Once clean, try to put it back into the socket. If it won’t go all the way in, use a moist paper towel or gauze to gently and slowly bite down. Keep it in place until you see your dentist or ER doctor.
- If you can’t get it into the socket, IMMEDIATELY place the tooth either between your cheek and gum or in a clean container with cold milk. If you don’t have milk, use your saliva.
- Seek IMMEDIATE care from your dentist or an emergency room.
Q. Why do my gums bleed?
A. Bleeding gums are not normal. When your gums bleed, it is a sign you have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, which is an infection of your gum tissue. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. With proper brushing and flossing, this can be reversible. However, if it progresses on to periodontitis, you could be facing trouble, including bone and gum damage that can lead to teeth loss. This is why routine dental care is so important. Gum disease has also been linked to other health problems, including heart disease and low birth weight babies . In addition, it can cause less serious but troublesome problems, such as chronic bad breath and sensitive teeth.
Q. I brush and floss regularly, so why do I have periodontal (gum) disease?
A. While proper home hygiene can go far in preventing or even reversing early gum disease, there can be several other contributors. Diabetes, hormone fluctuations, smoking, poor diet, certain medications, stress, and even genetic factors can increase your risk. Also, once gum disease has advanced to the point of gum and tooth loss, it requires more than flossing and brushing. If your dentist finds deep pockets in your gums indicating periodontitis, the first step is deep cleaning with scaling and root planing.
Q. Is scaling and root planing painful?
A. Scaling involves cleaning below the gum line. This treatment is necessary to remove tartar and sticky plaque that brushing, flossing, or even regular dental cleanings can’t reach. Once the teeth are thoroughly cleaned, the gums can heal. Scaling can be uncomfortable, so you can expect your dentist to numb the involved areas. Once numb, you may feel pressure, but it should not hurt. If you feel pain, be sure to ask for more numbing medicine. Root planing is a procedure that smooths the rough spots of the tooth roots to minimize future bacterial growth. After completion of treatment, your gums may be tender. Soft foods and Tylenol for a couple of days should be all you need.
Q. Why do I have bad breath?
A. Obviously, if you just drank a cup of coffee, smoked a cigarette, or consumed food with garlic or onion, you can expect bad breath. Another common cause is poor oral hygiene. But if you brush and floss regularly and find a constant need for mouthwash, gum, or mints to cover the odor, bad breath could mean something more is going on. The leading dental causes include gum disease (see above), cavities, loose-fitting dentures or mouth appliances, and oral yeast infections. Things that lead to a dry mouth, such as certain medications and excessive mouth breathing, can also be a culprit. There could be more serious considerations as well since many illnesses and diseases can contribute to bad breath. Pneumonia, bronchitis, postnasal drip, sinus infection, acid reflux, diabetes, and kidney or liver problems can all be factors.
Aside from giving up coffee, garlic, and tobacco, the first step to fresh breath is good oral hygiene. Flossing every day, brushing after meals, and regular visits to your dentist for routine dental care are the most important things you can do. Antiseptic mouthwash is also quite helpful. A tongue scraper can also be beneficial, as it can remove odor-causing bacteria in the crevices of your tongue. If bad breath continues, talk to your dentist to see what more can be done.
Q. What is the fastest way to get a beautiful smile?
A. If your teeth and gums are in good shape, maybe all you need is teeth whitening (see below). However, if you are unsatisfied with your smile due to gaps or uneven spaces or have chipped, misshapen, uneven, worn, crooked, or highly discolored teeth, veneers may be what you are looking for. Veneers are thin, custom-made coverings for the front surface of your teeth. Depending on your needs, veneers are possible for one tooth, such as a chipped or misshapen tooth, or your entire smile. They are made of either composite resin or porcelain, and both give you an immediately dazzling smile. Chances are, if you have ever appreciated the stunning smile of a Hollywood star, they have veneers to thank for their pearly whites.
Q. With so many over the counter (OTC) teeth whitening options, why should I pay a dentist to do it?
A. While there are many options for OTC teeth whitening, it can be a gamble. Due to the lack of regulation, it can be like a roll of the dice when choosing a product. Most are too weak to make any real difference. Some are effective but only with long-term use. If you don’t comply with the described instructions for the appropriate amount of time, you will likely be dissatisfied. Generic trays with gel can be quite messy and cause irritation if the gel gets on your gums—a likely scenario when the tray isn’t fit for your teeth and gums.
Some strips can be quite effective, but they can be difficult to use, and care must be taken to keep the bleach off the gums. Also, if you don’t have perfectly straight teeth, bleaching may not be uniformly distributed. A dentist can make custom trays trimmed perfectly to your teeth for whitening , keeping the proper amount of gel where it belongs. This makes it much more comfortable and less messy. Also, a dentist can use a far more concentrated solution than what is available at the store. They can also use a high-intensity light that breaks up and removes stubborn stains and discoloration. So, while OTC methods do save you money, your dentist can make sure your treatment is safe for you—and it will be much more effective, giving improved results. The investment you make in ensuring the best whitening treatment is worth it.
Q. What are the options if my child is missing a tooth because it never developed?
A. When a patient is missing one to six permanent teeth because they failed to develop, it is called hypodontia. The cause is usually genetic, meaning it runs in the family, but it can also be a product of environmental factors that occur during tooth development. If only one tooth is missing, orthodontic braces can be considered to close the gap, depending on which tooth is missing. Since the jaw continues to grow until adulthood, a permanent solution should wait until at least 18 years of age. In the meantime, there are several options for maintaining the space. Once a patient is old enough, the best permanent option is a dental implant—but other options such as a dental bridge can be considered. For more information click here
Q. Why should I choose a dental implant when there are cheaper options?
A. While there are cheaper options, an implant is your best bet for long-term dental health. A dental implant should last a lifetime, whereas a bridge may only last 10 years. Also, consideration should be given to how each option affects other teeth and your jaw, as well as chewing and speech. Dentures can slip and move around, causing difficulties with eating and slurred speech. They can also be embarrassing, and the glue can be messy. A bridge supported by adjacent teeth requires either reduction of the adjacent teeth for the placement of crowns, or it places stress on them, increasing instability of those teeth, which can lead to additional tooth loss. Implants keep your other teeth intact, improving long-term oral health. In addition, when you are missing a tooth root, bone loss occurs. This can be a significant contributing factor to adjacent tooth loss. A dental implant includes a metal post, usually titanium or zirconium, that is inserted into the jaw. This post bonds with your bone, creating artificial roots. Even though the roots are artificial, they halt bone loss. Also, you are spared the embarrassing “caving in” of your face that can occur with tooth loss. In addition, implants feel and look like your own teeth. So, even though implants seem more expensive, the long-term benefits more than outweigh the extra upfront cost.
Q.Why do I grind my teeth (bruxism), and what does it matter?
A. There are many causes for bruxism, including a bite disorder, teeth misalignment, stress, and sleep apnea. Many people grind their teeth occasionally. It’s just something people do when angry, irritated, or stressed. But if it occurs regularly, complications such as damaged or broken teeth, tooth sensitivity, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can arise. The fact is, most chronic grinders don’t even realize it’s happening, as It usually occurs at night. The truth may not come out until your bed partner finally admits you keep them awake, you break a tooth, or your dentist discovers its effects. Jaw tenderness and popping can also be warning signs of grinding. If stress is the culprit, you can try things like meditation, reduction of caffeine and alcohol, exercise, and massage. If your stress is extreme, you may need counseling or medication. If this doesn’t help, or if your problem is due to sleep apnea, you may need a nightguard or even crowns to protect your back teeth. Talk to your dentist about what is right for you so you can keep your teeth healthy and intact.