Our dentist, Dr. Amy Fournier and her team at Fournier Family Dentistry are here to answer your most commonly asked questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please give our dental office in Lincoln, Nebraska, a call at 402-486-4744 today for more information.
Does an electric toothbrush clean my teeth better than a manual toothbrush?
It has been proven by a great deal of studies that regular use of an electric toothbrush is more effective in the reduction of plaque bacteria than regular use of a manual toothbrush is at the same task. Electric toothbrushes can also have helpful additional features, like a timer or a shut off if too much pressure is being applied.
Dental Insurance or Dental Assistance?
Dental benefits are NOT dental insurance. For those who have needs beyond their regular cleanings, your dental care will need more of an investment than what insurance will provide for. Your benefits package will assist you in preventive measures, but are not intended to be the only thing you need.
What do I do in a dental emergency?
Rinse out your mouth with warm water to clear food debris. Floss out any food that is trapped between your teeth. If you notice swelling, press a cold compress gently on the outside of the cheek at the site of the ache. Don’t use heat or place aspirin directly on the tooth or gum tissues that are giving you problems. Be sure to call your dentist as soon as you can.
If you notice a wire jabbing your mouth or otherwise causing irritation or discomfort, put a small cotton ball, some beeswax or a bit of gauze on the end of the wire until your you can see the dentist. If a more serious condition, like a wire becoming embedded in any soft tissue in your mouth (cheek, gums, tongue, etc.), don’t try to remove it yourself. Go to your dentist as soon as possible. If a fixed appliance comes loose, or pieces break off, take all pieces of the appliance to the dentist.
Gently rinse the tooth in running water. Do not scrub the tooth. Try to gently insert the tooth into its socket to hold it in place. If you cannot do this, drop the tooth in a small container of milk or cool water. Get to the dentist ASAP (within half an hour if you can). Bring the tooth with you.
Clear any debris or dirt from the area by rinsing gently with warm water. Press a cold compress on the outside of the face near the injury to minimize any swelling. Go to the dentist as soon as possible.
Bitten Tongue or Lip:
Apply direct pressure to the injury with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. If there is swelling, use a cold compress. If you cannot stop the bleeding, go the hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
Foreign Object Wedged Between Teeth:
See if you can get the object out using dental floss. Guide the floss with care to ensure you don’t cut your gums. If you can’t remove the object with floss, go to the dentist. Don’t attempt to remove the object with a sharp or pointed object.
Possible Jaw Fracture:
Immobilize your jaw with any means available to you (handkerchief, necktie, towel, etc.), being sure not to choke yourself or cut off your air supply. If there is any swelling, use a cold compress. Call your dentist or go directly to the hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
Do I need a root canal treatment on a tooth that already has a crown?
Sometimes. Crowns are intended to restore a tooth’s shape and function. They are put in place when the tooth is fractured, or if there is not a sufficient amount remaining in the tooth’s structure to prevent additional breaking.
If a tooth has previously been treated with a crown, you may need a root canal treatment if the tooth becomes infected or abscessed, or if injury, fracture or decay cause severe further damage to the tooth. If enough of the tooth’s structure is missing, you may need a root canal and post to retain the crown and restore the tooth.
How are periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease linked?
The bacteria that contribute to and cause gum disease also create proteins that cause inflammation and find their way into the bloodstream, having potentially disastrous effects on the cardiovascular system by making blood vessels thicken.
What is the difference between a bridge and a removable partial?
Bridges and partial dentures can both be used to replace missing teeth. The main difference being that bridges are bonded in place by the dentist and partial dentures are an oral appliance that can be removed for cleaning and sleeping.
What is xerostomia?
Xerostomia, or “dry mouth,” is a problem faced by one in four adults. This happens when the salivary glands cease to function or fail to function properly. Many medications are known to cause dry mouth, including antihistamines (for allergies), antidepressants, painkillers, diuretics/anti-hypertensives (for blood pressure) and tranquilizers. Dry mouth can be brought on by cancer treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It can also be affected by diseases like diabetes, lupus and Alzheimer’s. There are many methods of treating and managing xerostomia, including saliva substitutes, special mouthwashes, gels and sprays. You can also mitigate discomfort through regularly brushing and flossing twice a day, chewing sugarless gum, having regular dental checkups and drinking an adequate amount of water.
How do I minimize tooth wear?
You can minimize the wear on your teeth by using the correct ADA®-approved toothpaste for you and brushing using the proper technique. Be sure to use short, gentle strokes in a circular pattern with soft bristle toothbrushes.
How do I figure out what toothpaste is best for me?
Be sure to look for a toothpaste that treats and manage your particular oral health needs. Some help to lessen pain from sensitivity, some cut down plaque and tartar and others help remove stains and discoloration. Talk to your dentist to see what is most appropriate for your teeth.
What type of toothbrush should I use?
Toothbrushes take many forms and are used for many oral health functions including head size and the consistency of the bristles. Be sure to pick a toothbrush with soft or extra soft bristles with a head size appropriate for your mouth. Many patients think that harder bristles will help them to brush more effectively, but these can cause harm to the gum tissue.
Why should I visit the dentist regularly?
Many people only visit the dentist when they have a noticeable problem. While they may think that they are saving money, the reality is that the treatments to repair and restore their teeth and smiles cost more money and time than it does to visit the dentist at regular intervals. Visiting the dental office regularly ensures that you receive preventive care to stop problems in the earliest stages of development and hopefully prevent them from developing in the first place. We can monitor your oral health and help you learn the best ways to care for your teeth so that they remain healthy. You should visit our office twice each year.
Why do I need to floss?
Brushing your teeth will clean the surfaces of your teeth but will not reach the areas between the teeth or below the gumline. Flossing ensures that plaque and bacteria are removed from your mouth before they can cause damage to your teeth.
How often should I brush and floss?
You should brush at least twice each day. It is especially important that you brush your teeth before going to bed. Use an ADA-approved soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. You should floss daily. We also recommend that you use a mouthrinse. Contact our office if you have questions.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Dental X-rays are extremely safe. In fact, you are exposed to less radiation with dental X-rays than you are in your day-to-day life from the sun. Advances in dentistry continue to make dental X-rays safer through digital imaging technologies and higher-speed X-rays. Additionally, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for safety and accuracy every two years.
I’m terrified to visit the dentist — what can I do?
Please speak with our team. We take your fear seriously and will work with you to help you feel more comfortable in our office. There are many strategies that we can use to help reduce anxiety and fear. These include medications to numb treated areas, sedation dentistry, the use of lasers instead of drills in your treatment, and a variety of techniques to reduce anxiety and mind or body pain (guided imagery, deep breathing, biofeedback, acupuncture, etc.). There are also dentophobia clinics and support groups available.
When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children visit the dentist for the first time about six months after their first tooth erupts or no later than their first birthday. These appointments are designed to help your child become comfortable in the dental office and ensure that he or she is growing and developing correctly.
When will my baby start getting teeth?
Babies actually begin to develop teeth in the second trimester of pregnancy (about 16 to 20 weeks.) Teeth typically begin to emerge between 6 and 10 months of age. You should begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two adjacent teeth.
Why are primary teeth important?
Primary teeth are critical to maintaining good oral health and proper development. Your child’s primary teeth facilitate:
- Proper speech production and development
- Proper chewing, nutrition and good digestion
- Straighter smiles — primary teeth hold the places of the adult teeth
- Excellent oral health
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you take good care of your child’s primary teeth. Please make an appointment with our team if you have questions.
What is cosmetic dentistry, and how can it help me?
Cosmetic dentistry is a dental field that focuses on improving the appearance of your teeth so that you can enjoy a more beautiful smile. It includes preventive care as well as restorative treatments. Some common cosmetic dental treatments include:
- Teeth whitening
- Dental veneers
- Composite (tooth-colored) dental fillings
- Dental bonding
- Dental crowns and bridges
- Dental implants
I’ve lost a tooth. What are my options for replacing it?
There are several options available to replace your missing tooth. When you visit our office, our dentist will examine your mouth, discuss your oral health needs and smile goals with you, and review your treatment options. We will design a customized treatment plan to restore your tooth and your smile. Some of the tooth replacement options we may discuss include:
- Dental implants
- Dental bridges
- Complete or partial dentures
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a procedure performed when injury, infection or decay reach the inner tissues of the tooth. Our dentist will clean out the infected pulp tissue within your tooth roots, sterilize the canals, and then fill them with medicated material and seal the tooth to prevent future infection. While root canals have a reputation of being painful, advances in dentistry have made it possible to perform your treatment comfortably as well as effectively.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a field of dental specialty that focuses on diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities, including misaligned teeth and jaws. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training following dental school in managing tooth movement and guiding facial development.
When should my child receive their first orthodontic screening?
The American Association of Orthodontists® recommends that children receive their initial orthodontic screening by age 7. At this age, several permanent teeth have erupted and any developing problems will be easy to diagnose and treat.
Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?
No! While the majority of patients who receive orthodontic treatment are children or teenagers, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment to improve their smiles and oral health. As long as your teeth and supporting structures are healthy, you can receive treatment.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an oral condition that affects the gums and supporting structures in your mouth. It begins as a bacterial infection of the gums and gradually progresses until it destroys your gums and bone structure. The milder stage of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis, while the more severe form of the disease is known as periodontitis. You should be checked for periodontal disease each time you visit our dentist.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the harmful bacteria trapped in plaque. As plaque hardens into calculus (tartar), the disease becomes more established in your mouth. Gum attachments begin to separate from your teeth and create pockets that harbor these harmful bacteria. If gum disease is allowed to progress without treatment, the condition may become irreversible.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
Symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Red, swollen or tender gums, or other pain in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating hard foods
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of dentures or other removable appliances
- Halitosis (bad breath)
What do I do if I have bad breath?
Halitosis (bad breath) may be caused by any number of factors, including:
- Morning time
- Poor oral hygiene
- Periodontal disease
- Poorly fitted appliances
- Dry mouth
- Tobacco products
- Medical conditions or illnesses
- Dehydration, hunger or missed meals
- Certain foods
You can prevent bad breath by visiting our dentist regularly, staying hydrated, practicing good oral hygiene, using mouthrinses and by not using tobacco products. If your halitosis persists, we recommend that you consult a physician to determine if your bad breath is caused by a medical condition and receive an appropriate treatment.