Cosmetic Dentist Lewiston

Answers to your oral hygiene care Questions

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to give us a call and our team at Tooth Protectors Inc. will be happy to assist you.
Common Dental Questions
How often should I receive a dental cleaning?
You should visit your dental hygienist at least twice a year (once every 6 months). Catching decay and other oral conditions early can help control them before it gets worse and harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque & tartar build up in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
At what age should my child have their first dental cleaning?
Your child should  have their first dental cleaning at age 1 (12 months).
Please keep in mind that your child will not have the dexterity to properly brush his/her own teeth until around age 10, so please assist your child with brushing until they can effectively brush on their own.
At what age should my child floss?
You should start flossing your child's teeth once two teeth touch each other. This will usually be the back teeth first. You should be flossing their teeth at least once per day.
You should continue flossing your child's teeth until they are about age 10, or until you notice that they are capable of flossing effectively on their own.
What is ECC (Early Childhood Caries) previously called "baby bottle rot"?
Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as baby bottle caries, baby bottle tooth decay, and bottle rot, is a syndrome characterized by severe decay in the teeth of infants or young children. Early childhood caries (ECC) is a very common bacterial infection. Its prevalence is epidemic; in the US its rate is highest in minority and rural populations, at times infecting over 70% of the children. A large body of scientific evidence indicates that ECC is an infectious and transmissible disease, with Streptococcus mutans the primary microbiological agent in the disease. The disease process begins with the transmission of the bacteria to the child, usually from the primary caretaker, the mother. Mothers with untreated dental disease present a very high risk to their children.
Transmission of bacteria to a child, can occur by:
 - Sharing eating utensils,
 - Drinking out of the same container (cups, cans, bottles)
 - Sharing a toothbrush
 - Kissing on the mouth (don't pass spit with your child!)

Other forms of causing decay (cavities):
 - Putting infant/young child to sleep with bottle (breast-milk, formula, milk, juice)
 - Sugary snacks and/or drinks during the day
 - Poor diet
 - Lack of oral home care - not brushing and flossing
 - Not receiving regular dental cleanings twice per year (once every 6 months)

How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well, best to do at night.
What is the proper way to brush my teeth?
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly.
Please keep in mind that your child will not have the dexterity to properly brush his/her own teeth until around age 10, so please assist your child with brushing until they can effectively brush on their own.

1.Firstly, make sure to use a soft bristled brush. Hard bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth as well as cause gum loss and irritation.

2. Place your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gumline. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gumline.

3. Use short tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth.

4. Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque, while too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth and irritate your gums.

5. Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

6. Finally, don't cut your brushing short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes on upper teeth and 2 minutes on the lower teeth.
For children, it is recommended that you set a timer.
What is the proper way to floss?
The following guidelines are important to flossing correctly.

You can use loose floss or floss on a stick.

1. For loose floss: Measure about an arms length of floss, gently wrap each end around your middle fingers. Grasp 1 to 2 inches of the floss with your index "pointer" finger and thumb.

2. For both types of floss: Gently glide the floss in-between the teeth in a sawing motion. Use care not to snap the floss between the teeth as this may cause trauma to the gum tissue.

3. Angle the floss so it hugs the tooth in a "C" shape. Gently slide the floss up and down the tooth making sure it goes slightly below the gum-line. When complete, angle the floss the hug the tooth in the opposite direction. Be sure that you are using a clean section of floss  before going to the next tooth.
If you are using the floss on a stick be sure to wipe it clean with a tissue before going to the next tooth.

4. Repeat this process for all of your teeth.

What is fluoride?
Fluoride...
 - makes teeth more resistant to decay (cavities)
 - repairs tiny areas of decay before they become big cavities
 - makes germ in the mouth less able to cause decay (cavities)

There are two forms of fluoride, topical and systemic fluoride therapy for preventing tooth decay (cavities):

Topical fluoride
is found in toothpaste & dental treatments after your dental cleanings. These are applied directly to the teeth.

Systemic fluoride
is found in fluoridated drinking water. If your water supply is provided by a private well, it is important to have the water tested for fluoride amounts. If there is no fluoride in your water your doctor can prescribe you a fluoride supplement to help insure the health and reduction of decay (cavities) of your families teeth.
If your family drinks bottled water, there is no fluoride in bottled water - please discuss this with your doctor to see if your family needs a fluoride supplement!

What is Plaque and Tartar buildup?
Plaque also known as "sugar bugs" is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth from food debris and bacteria. Plaque can cause many problems such as bad breath, cavities, tartar buildup which can lead to more severe oral diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease,

Tartar buildup
If plaque is not removed, It can harden to the tooth like cement, know as tartar buildup. Once the plaque has hardened to tartar it can no longer be brushed away by your toothbrush, you need a dental cleaning. Tartar is like little splinters that irritate your gums, which can lead to gum disease/gingivitis and/or periodontal disease. 

Regular dental cleanings, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque.
What can I do about bad breath?
Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, so that you can take steps to eliminate it.

Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dental hygienist and/or dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.
Why do my gums bleed when I brush/floss and I brush/floss my teeth regularly?
They question you want ask yourself is, when was my last dental cleaning?
Because if it has been a year or more, then you have tartar buildup which you cannot brush away as it has hardened/cemented to your teeth causing gum irritation. Until this tartar is removed by having a dental cleaning, it will continue to bleed and be sore. If this is not done in a timely manner you may end up with periodontal disease/tooth loss. Please read the FAQ about Periodontal (gum) Disease in this FAQ section for more information.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is periodontal (gum) disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens into tartar, often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. At this stage if the infection is cleared up it can be reversed. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, as well as tooth loss. At this stage it cannot be reversed.
So it is important to receive regular dental cleanings and have excellent home care (brushing & flossing) to keep your teeth.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dental hygienist if you experience any of these:

  • gums that bleed while brushing
  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • bad breath that doesn't go away
  • pus between your teeth and gums
  • loose teeth
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • a change in the fit of partial dentures
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting your dental hygienist regularly (once every 6 months). Also make sure to eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth.
Sealants (Tooth Protectors uses BPA FREE Sealant Material)
What are sealants?
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing services of the back teeth. Getting sealants put on is simple and painless. Sealants are painted on as a liquid and quickly hardened to form a shield over the tooth!!

Tooth Protectors only uses BPA (bisphenol A) Free Sealant Material
Why get sealants?
The most important reason for getting sealants is to AVOID tooth decay!
Fluoride in toothpaste & in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth but back teeth need extra protection. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and keep out germs and food. Having sealants put on teeth before they decay will also save time and money in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth. Prevention is the key to saving your teeth.

Tooth Protectors only uses BPA
(bisphenol A) Free Sealant Material
How long do sealants last?
Sealants can last up to 10 years, but they need to be checked at regular dental checkups to make sure that they are not chipped or worn away. If so the sealants can be prepared by adding more sealant material.

Tooth Protectors only uses BPA (bisphenol A) Free Sealant Material
Are sealants new?
No, sealants have been around since the 1960's. Studies by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and others lead to the development of dental sealants and showed that they are safe and effective.
Still many people do not know about sealants and the benefits of reducing decay (cavities).

Tooth Protectors only uses BPA (bisphenol A) Free Sealant Material
What if a small cavity is accidentally covered by a sealant?
The decay (cavity) will not spread, because it is sealed off from its food and germ supply.

Tooth Protectors only uses BPA (bisphenol A) Free Sealant Material
Besides sealants, are there other ways to prevent tooth decay (cavities)?
Yes, using fluoride toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water, brushing 2-3 times per day for 3-4 minutes, flossing once per day, using a fluoride rinse at night, maintaining a low sugar diet and visiting your dental hygienist for regular dental cleanings (once every 6 months).
Teeth Whitening
Why do our teeth turn yellow?
While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow color substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint.
What are the different types of teeth whitening options?
Below are the three most popular teeth whitening options available today.

In-office teeth whitening
In-office teeth whitening works by producing a significant color change in your teeth in short amount of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is done at the dentist's office applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield.

Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits
These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product.

Over the counter whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are cheaper, they typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist because of the low concentration gel. Additionally, over the counter trays are not custom fit for your teeth, which can result in irritation to your gums while wearing the trays.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening usually lasts from one to three years before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Additionally, once your teeth have been initially whitened, typically only "touch ups" are required to maintain the whiteness.