Common Dental-Related Questions

Don’t know the difference between a crown and a composite filling? Not sure if bleaching is right for you? Wondering if there are real steps to cure bad breath?

Look no further. We’ve taken our most frequently-asked questions and listed them below. Simply click on the link and you’ll find the answers you need.

Periodic Routine Care Visits

Periodic Routine Care visits are an important part of this practice. We believe that optimal oral hygiene is essential to prolong the life of your teeth and any dental treatment you have or will have in the future. Our hygienists work together with Wake Dental Wellness to help you recognize the state of your dental health and help you to discover what is best for you

An appointment with our hygienist for Continuing Care will vary according to your needs and may include the following:

  • Updating your medical history
  • Reviewing your current concerns
  • Taking annual cavity-detecting radiographs (bitewing x-rays)
  • Updating complete series of radiographs (FMX) every 3-5 years
  • Examination of existing restorations and diagnose any new decay or conditions
  • Oral Cancer Examination including the new enhanced (Vizilite Exam)
  • Occlusal (bite and TMJ) Examination
  • Periodontal (gum) Examination and Plaque and Bleeding Indices
  • Full mouth scale and polish (prophylaxis)
  • Application of topical fluoride or desensitizing agents
  • Oral Hygiene Instructions
  • Sealants
  • Ultrasonic cleaning of Bite Guards or Partial Dentures.

Oral Hygiene Care

Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop.

In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:

  • Brush thoroughly after every meal and floss daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
  • Use dental products which contain fluoride, including toothpaste
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouth rinse if advised to do so
  • Make sure children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months

The following are indications of good oral hygiene:

  • Your teeth are clean and free of debris
  • Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
  • Bad breath is not a constant problem

Bad Breath

We all have experienced bad breath at one time or another. What can you do about it? First, let’s eliminate the obvious. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss daily. Don’t forget to brush your tongue!! Using a toothbrush or tongue scraper will remove a tremendous amount of odor causing bacteria. Periodic routine cleaning visits to your dental hygienist at least twice a year are also needed.

The use of an electric toothbrush to better access all areas of the mouth may be recommended for some. We recommend the (Phillips Sonicare) brush for our patients.
Of course there are other reasons you may have bad breath. A small percentage of people can have mouth odors from sinus infections, stomach problems, and medical conditions like diabetes or medications. If you have periodontal disease (gum disease) then your breath probably smells. Also, let’s not forget cigarette smoking!

What about mouthwashes? Most mouthwashes are nothing more than a temporary cover up like perfume. Some contain alcohol which may not be healthy to the oral tissues for some people, especially smokers. Most mouth odors are caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSC). There are mouthwashes designed to neutralize the VSC. Our office carries a few of these (Breath RX, Oxyfresh, and Tooth & Gum Tonic). These mouthwashes seem to work better than regular mouthwash and do not contain alcohol.

Dental Cleanings

A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take only between 40 and 50 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay.

Scaling

This is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces in a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar.

Dental hygienists traditionally performs scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has lead to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. To achieve best results, both electric and manual scaling methods may be combined for dental cleanings.

Polishing

This is the last step in tooth cleaning and involves finishing the surface of the teeth to make them shiny and clean. A Rubber Cup is used at low speed with a mildly abrasive polishing paste that is ideal for removing stains.

Periodontal Disease (gum disease)

Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. This is an infection of the gums that when it becomes advanced, also affects the bone around the teeth. Symptoms of periodontal disease are not usually evident until later, more advance stages of the disease. These symptoms can include red, swollen or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and shifting or separating of your teeth or the way they bite together. Because these symptoms don’t usually manifest themselves until the later stages of the disease, early detection is important by having regular dental checkups. At these visits, the gums are examined and a periodontal probe is used to help determine the extent of tissue breakdown (periodontal pocket). There are many factors that can contribute to periodontal disease like hereditary factors, age, race, smoking, diseases like diabetes, neglecting regular dental checkups, and even pregnancy.
The most common stages of periodontal disease are:

  • Gingivitis is generally characterized as mild inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup. The gums may be red and/or swollen, and may bleed easily. This generally a reversible condition when treated early.
  • Periodontitis is a stage in gum disease when the infection from gingivitis has advanced to the point where it is also affecting the bone around the teeth. Depending on how advance this becomes before treatment is initiated, this bone deterioration may be irreversible.
  • With Advanced Periodontal Disease, the bone destruction is greater, the gums may recede, and tooth loss may occur unless there is surgical intervention.

Treatments

The treatment needed is dependent upon the type of periodontal disease and how far the condition has progressed. In the early stages of gingivitis, the regular dental prophylaxis, or more advance therapeutic cleaning may take care of the problem. In the more advance stages of periodontal disease, a type of treatment called scaling and root planing may be necessary to treat the problem. This involves cleaning the deposits that are attached to the roots of the teeth under the gum line. This procedure is done under general anesthetic and may take a number of visits to complete. May times antibiotics (Arestin) and prescription mouth rinses are recommended also. Using irrigating devices and/or electric toothbrushes, like the (Sonicare) may also prove to be beneficial.
In most advanced forms of periodontal disease, surgery may be necessary to repair the bone destruction and remove the periodontal pockets. This type of treatment is usually done by a specialist called a Periodontist.

COQ10

Dr. Morehead also highly recommends the supplement Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) for most all of her patients with periodontal disease. This is a vitamin-like substance also known as Ubiquinone. It functions as an antioxidant to prevent free-radical damage at the cellular level and is vital for cellular energy production. Studies suggest that people with chronic gum disease tend to have low COQ10 levels and improve this condition with COQ10 supplements.

Telescopic Loupes

Dr. Morehead and her dental hygienists perform most of their dental procedures while wearing a funny looking pair of glasses called “surgical telescopes”. These powerful glasses have magnifiers on them, allowing the dentist and hygienist to see fine details that would go unnoticed to the naked eye.