(614) 350-4959

Some Questions Just Get Asked More Than Others, Here Are Some. . .

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Causes Bad Breath

Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.

Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.

Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.

Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.

Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.

Tobacco products – Dry the mouth, causing bad breath.

Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.

Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.

Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

 

Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries, or illnesses with your dentist.

2. What can I do to prevent bad breath?

Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.

See your dentist regularly – Get a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.

Stop smoking/chewing tobacco – Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.

Drink water frequently – Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.

Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odor. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

 

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.

3. Why do I need to floss?

Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

How to floss properly:

Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands. Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

 

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss. Daily flossing will help you keep a beautiful smile for life!

4. What does heart disease have to do with gum disease?

Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health. Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections; often more prevalent than the common cold! Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth, it can also affect the health of your body!

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis. It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) is NOT regularly removed from the gums and teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums and eventually destroy the jaw bone that supports the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!

There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions. These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease, and indicate that periodontal disease may cause oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream may:

▪ Contribute to the development of heart disease

▪ Increase the risk of stroke

▪ Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases

▪ Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby

Researchers conclude there is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, but enough research has been done to support that infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.

To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation. Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce the plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

 

Remember….the mouth body connection! Taking care of your oral health may contribute to your overall medical health!

5. What do I do if a tooth is knocked out?

We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year! If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we may be able to actually save the tooth. Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly reimplanted if we act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps:

1. Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.

2. DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk. If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.

3. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.

Ways to transport the tooth Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately. Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag, or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place. Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.

If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk. You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums. Keep the tooth moist at all times. Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.

Consider buying a “Save-A-Tooth” storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit. The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive and possibly last for many years. So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.

You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

▪ Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports

▪ Always wearing your seatbelt

▪ Avoiding fights

 

▪ Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc.

6. What precautions do you take to ensure patient safety?

There are so many different ways we put your safety first: using gloves, masks and glasses; ensuring sterilization and disinfection of all instruments and counters; testing our sterilizer weekly to make sure it meets all hospital level standards and more. Our state-of-the-art sterilization center is something you can see at any time if you’re interested in learning more. Each room is cleaned between patients and all proper sterilization procedures are carried out and monitored in meticulous fashion. Rest easy at Dr. Heller’s practice – we’re taking care of you probably better than you’ll ever know!

7. What are some of the symptoms of oral cancer?

More than 34,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer yearly. Early detection is key to effective treatment. An oral cancer screening is a part of every exam when you see the dental hygienist. Seeing a dentist every 6 months is crucial in the fight against oral cancer.

The following are the common signs and symptoms of oral cancer:

▪ Swellings/thickenings, lumps, bumps, rough spots/crusts/,or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth 

▪ The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth 

▪ Unexplained bleeding in the mouth 

▪ Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck 

▪ Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks 

▪ A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat 

▪ Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue 

▪ Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or changes in the voice 

▪ Ear pain 

▪ A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together – a change in your "bite" 

▪ Dramatic weight loss.

 

If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist immediately for a professional examination.

8. How safe are amalgam-type fillings?

Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-colored fillings, otherwise called amalgams. Because amalgams contain the toxic substance mercury, some people think that amalgams are responsible for causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The American Dental Association (ADA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and numerous public health agencies say amalgams are safe, and that any link between mercury-based fillings and disease is unfounded. The cause of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis remains unknown. Additionally, there is no solid, scientific evidence to back up the claim that if a person has amalgam fillings removed, he or she will be cured of these or any other diseases.

As recently as March of 2002, the FDA reconfirmed the safety of amalgams. Although amalgams do contain mercury, when they are mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they form a stable alloy that dentists have used for more than 100 years to fill and preserve hundreds of millions of decayed teeth. The National Institutes of Health has several large-scale studies currently under way to ultimately answer many of the questions raised about silver-colored amalgams. Results of these studies are expected to be released in 2006.

 

In addition, there has been concern over the release of a small amount of mercury vapor from these fillings, but according to the ADA, there is no scientific evidence that this small amount results in adverse health effects.

9. Is it possible to have an allergic reation to amalgam?

It is possible, but fewer than 100 cases have ever been reported, according to the ADA. In these rare circumstances, mercury or one of the metals used in an amalgam restoration is thought to trigger the allergic response. Symptoms of amalgam allergy are similar to those experienced in a typical skin allergy, and include skin rashes and itching. Patients who suffer amalgam allergies typically have a medical or family history of allergies to metals. Once an allergy is confirmed, another restorative material can be used.

10. Which toothpaste should I use?

First, when purchasing a toothpaste for you or your child, select one that contains fluoride. Toothpastes with fluoride have been shown to prevent cavities. One word of caution: check the manufacturer’s label. Some toothpastes are not recommended in children under age 6. This is because young children swallow toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.

It is also wise to select a product approved by the American Dental Association. The ADA’s Seal of Acceptance means that the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. Although these products might be safe and effective, these products’ performance have not been evaluated or endorsed by the ADA.

Next, when considering other properties of toothpaste – such as whitening toothpastes, tartar-control, gum care, desensitizing, etc -- the best advice for selecting among these products might be to simply ask your dental hygienist or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth. Also, be aware that your needs will likely change as you get older. After consulting with your dentist or hygienist about your oral health’s greatest needs, look for products within that category (for example, within the tartar control brands or within the desensitizing toothpaste brands) that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Finally, some degree of personal preference comes into play. Choose the toothpaste that tastes and feels best. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint all work alike. If you find that certain ingredients are irritating to your teeth, cheeks, or lips, or if your teeth have become more sensitive, or if your mouth is irritated after brushing, try changing toothpastes. If the problem continues, see your dentist.

Since the introduction of fluoride and other advances in dental care and dental products, is it still necessary to visit the dentist twice a year?

The standard recommendation still is to visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings. The three best arguments that can still be made to support the twice-yearly visitation schedule are: So that your dentist can check for problems that you might not see or feel To allow your dentist to find early signs of decay (Decay doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it reaches more advanced stages.) To treat any other oral health problems found (Generally, the earlier a problem is found, the more manageable it is.)

That being said, however, people who have taken great care of their teeth and gums, and have gone years without any problems whatsoever might choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask your dentist what visitation schedule works best for your state of dental health.

 

At the other extreme, it should be kept in mind that some people — such as some people with gum disease, a genetic predisposition for plaque build-up or cavities, or a weakened immune system — might need to visit the dentist even more frequently than twice a year for optimal care.

We Are Here For You!

We Know That Understanding your Oral Health Can Be Confusing...

This is the exact reason that we are here for you to address any questions you may have and help guide you to all of your oral health goals!  Whether it is a procedure, an existing condition, finance, or simply directions and any where in between, we have you covered.  Please just contact us because we are here to serve you!

Schedule Your Appointment

Schedule an appointment with us, so we can see how we can help! Our office is open throughout the week with a variety of hours to help you fit in an appointment around your schedule.

Book Now!