Even though it’s recommended that adults and children visit the dentist twice a year for preventive care, there’s a great deal confusion that seems to surround dental care and oral health in general. In fact, questions related to visiting the dentist, restorative treatments, and cosmetic dentistry are some of the most commonly researched queries online. Let’s consider the answers to some frequently asked questions below:
- Are dental X-rays really safe? Many people are concerned about the amount of radiation they are exposed to during dental x-rays. After all, it’s well-documented that radiation damages the body’s cells and can eventually lead to cancer. Fortunately, the amount of radiation patients are exposed to during dental x-rays is minimal. With today’s digital x-ray technology, the radiation beam is confined to the small area of the mouth being x-rayed. As an added precaution, your dentist or hygienist will ask you to wear a lead-lined apron in order to reduce your exposure to stray radiation.
- What is the role of my dental hygienist? Your dental hygienist plays a crucial role in your oral health, so understanding his or her role is a good idea. Dental hygienists have a number of responsibilities including: taking dental x-rays, removing calculus and plaque from the teeth, counseling patients about good oral health practices, applying fluoride treatments, reviewing patient health history, maintaining patient charts, and much more.
- I take good care of my teeth at home. Do I really need to visit the dentist’s office twice a year? You’re an avid brusher and flosser, so you wonder if you really need a professional check-up and cleaning at your dentist’s office. The answer is a resounding yes. Practicing good at-home care is only a part of maintaining your oral health. An equally important part is visiting your dentist’s office twice a year. Why? For starters, if you have dental tartar, it can’t be removed at home no matter how vigorously you brush your teeth. Additionally, your dentist can detect oral health problems—such as tooth decay or gum disease—early, before they develop into more serious issues. Your dentist will also perform an oral cancer screening as part of your check-up. When detected early, oral cancers are highly treatable.
- Do whitening toothpastes actually work? Whitening toothpastes have become extremely popular over the last decade. But are they really effective? The answer is yes, although they’re typically not as effective as whitening procedures you can have done in your dentist’s office. Professional whitening in the office, often referred to as chair-side bleaching, can make your teeth appear anywhere from 3 to 8 shades lighter. In contrast, whitening toothpastes—which use polishing or chemical agents to remove surface stains—typically make your teeth appear one shade lighter.
- Can a dentist change the shape of my teeth? Many people are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth. Some feel like their teeth are too short while others are self-conscious about the large spaces in between their teeth. Fortunately, there are many cosmetic dentistry options available today to help you achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed about. For example, recontouring removes small portions of enamel so that the length or shape of the teeth are changed. Dental veneers are another potential option for patients who are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth. Veneers are custom-made, tooth-colored shells that cover the front of the teeth. Your dentist can help determine which procedure will best fit your needs.
Do you have additional questions regarding oral health concerns or dental procedures? Remember: the more you know about dental care, the more empowered you are to take charge of your own oral health. Contact us today to learn more.