Frequently Asked Questions
Browse our patients’ commonly asked questions below to familiarize yourself with our office and proper dental care techniques.
Don’t see your question below? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help!
- Why is it important to have regular teeth cleaning?
Did you know "teeth cleaning" does more than just clean your teeth? Removing plaque is essential if you want to preserve your teeth. It builds upon the tooth surfaces and between the teeth. Brushing and flossing are, of course, vital, but everyone needs their teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Remember, only a dental hygienist can completely clean your teeth.
- Is fluoride bad for you?
Fluoride is an excellent caries (decay) preventative...in proper amounts. Excessive fluoride can cause tooth enamel irregularities. Young children especially often swallow too much toothpaste while brushing. So parents, supervise your young kids while they brush. Kids (and even adults) often use way too much toothpaste (a pea-size drop is plenty). A little goes a long way.
- My 12-year-old likes to chew ice. Is this harmful?
Tooth enamel is very hard, but that doesn't mean you can't break it. Try to avoid eating "hard foods" such as popcorn. Don't crack nutshells with your teeth or chew on ice. Opening packages with your teeth can also damage the enamel.
- Why are soft drinks bad for your teeth?
Sugar and acids are your teeth's worst enemies. What kinds of foods contain these? Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and candy. As a result of the acid content, Mountain Dew seems to be the worst of the worst. Dentists even have a name for the damage it does; they call it "Dew Mouth". These drinks soften the tooth enamel, making it highly susceptible to decay. Parents, watch your kids’ consumption of these, because young children's enamel hasn't developed fully. This makes these drinks even more damaging for kids. As well as eliminating the above (or at least reducing their consumption), use sugar-free xylitol chewing gum after meals. Also, rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing dental mouthwash.
- Does the doctor check for oral cancer?
Yes, we do. Dentists and hygienists are your first line of defense in detecting and treating oral cancer! Each year in the US, approximately 30,000 people are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Worldwide, the problem is far more significant, with new cases annually approaching 300,000. In the US alone, a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. If you add the subcategory of laryngeal cancers, the rates of occurrence (about 10,000 additional new cases per year) and death are significantly higher. However, the good news is when found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90% cure rate.
- I think I grind my teeth at night. What can I do about this?
Do you wake up with discomfort in your jaws, neck tightness, or a persistent headache? If so, you may be grinding your teeth (called bruxing) while you sleep. Persistent bruxing can damage teeth and cause them to wear, looking shorter and flatter over time. It can also damage your temporomandibular (jaw) joints and even affect your hearing. If you suspect that you are a bruxer, schedule an appointment with us today. Dr. May might recommend a night guard or other oral appliance.
- What is a TMJ disorder?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, also known as your jaw joints. The ache, discomfort, or tenderness in or around the jaw joints is called TMJ disorder.
Signs that you might have a TMJ disorder are:
- Facial irritation or tenderness
- Jaw ache
- Ache in or around the ears
- Neck strain
- Jaw stiffness
- Discomfort while chewing
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Jaw "locking up"
- Jaw makes a clicking sound
- Teeth that don't come together properly when eating or chewing
There are a variety of treatment options for TMJ. Be sure to ask us about these.
- Do I need a dental crown or a bridge after losing a permanent tooth?
Even a single damaged tooth can cause the adjacent teeth to shift and move around. This can affect chewing and your ability to absorb nutrients from your food. Other undesirable things can happen, as well: your face can change shape ( looking more sunken), your speech can be affected, and you may find yourself favoring softer foods which can have an additional effect on your overall nutrition. Even with the availability of implants, dental crowns and/or bridges and still excellent ways to treat damaged teeth or replace a missing tooth or multiple teeth. They can be made to look so natural that even a dentist may have to look twice to tell the difference.
- When should I start being screened for oral cancer?
Any suspicious lump or bump on your gums, cheeks or tongue that doesn't resolve in three weeks should be checked regardless of age. Additionally after the age of 18, oral cancer should be screened for annually. Our screenings are painless and straightforward, as Dr. May examines your oral tissue, lips, and gums for any signs of abnormalities. With a test as easy as this, everyone should be screened for oral cancer.