Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride, which will decrease the likelihood of dental decay. I recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Flossing your teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?
A: These are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material could be gold, porcelain, plastic, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns". However, patients often refer to them as "caps."
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to teeth on each side of the missing tooth. A partial denture is attached by clasps to teeth and is easily removed by the patient.
Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. Sometimes I'll recommend a tooth-colored filling because it bonds to the tooth structure and therefore helps strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. White fillings can be less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown is necessary for the best long-term prognosis.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While back teeth that have had root canal treatment do need crowns to strengthen them, just because a tooth needs a crown doesn't mean it needs to have root canal treatment.