Q: Are there any alternatives to fluoride?
A: Yes! Arginine has proven to be effective in reducing tooth decay and also in treating sensitivity. There are over-the-counter toothpastes available for those preferring fluoride-free pastes.
Q: Is activated charcoal safe to use for teeth whitening?
A: There is no formal evidence supporting this yet. Unfortunately activated charcoal can be abrasive to our enamel which leads to erosion over time. I would consult your dental professional before proceeding as erosion can lead to discoloration and sensitivity.
Q: Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?
A: The biggest advantage is most electric toothbrushes have 2-minute timers built into them along with pressure sensors to ensure you aren’t brushing too aggressively. People who build up tartar quickly or have gum recession will be better served by using an electric toothbrush.
Q: How often should I get my teeth cleaned?
A: While most people are adequately served with a 6-month interval, those who are periodontally involved or build tartar up quickly may need to be seen every 3 or 4 months. While plaque can be brushed off, once it calcifies it must be removed by a hygienist or dentist.
Q: What causes gum recession? Can I prevent it?
A: There are so many factors that contribute to gum recession. Over-aggressive brushing can be a primary cause as well as one’s bite coming together functionally. Habits such as clenching/grinding and chewing tobacco can also contribute. Talk to your dental professional about your bite and habits to see if there are some resolutions to keep the recession from progressing.
Q: Are dental x-rays really necessary?
A: Yes. Unfortunately, there is no other way to see in between the teeth and under the gum without them. Having x-rays taken at an appropriate interval for your risk level ensures that decay and infection are caught early and hopefully before any symptoms arise.
Q: What are the numbers my hygienist calls out? What are “pockets”?
A: Your dental hygienist should be checking your gum measurements annually. This screens for bone loss and level of periodontal disease. Healthy numbers range from 1-3mm, whereas deeper numbers indicate a periodontal “pocket” or location where there is attachment loss from the gum to the tooth.
Q: Are whitening toothpastes safe?
A: Yes, and they help manage everyday stain from coffee/tea/etc. However, if you are someone who suffers from sensitive teeth the peroxide in whitening toothpastes can contribute to further sensitivity. You would be better served using a toothpaste targeted for sensitive teeth containing potassium nitrate or arginine.