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Dental health is a matter of life-long concern. Whatever your age, you can and should have a healthy mouth, a pleasant smile and good breath. Your dental health is an important part of your general health. Correct dental care can help you keep your teeth for a lifetime. At one time or another, questions on dental health would have cropped up in your mind. Here are 32 of the most Frequently Asked Questions regarding dental health.

At what age should you take your child to the dentist for first time?

Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be when he is between 2 and 3 years of age. However, if a child younger than 2 has a cavity, or his teeth are injured in an accident, he should of course, be taken to a dentist for examination and the necessary treatment.

How can tooth decay and gum disease be prevented?

Follow the 5 golden rules:

a) Eat foods enriched with vitamins and minerals.

b) Avoid eating sweet or sticky foods between meals.

C) Brush your teeth after every meal.

d) Use trusted dental aids recommended by dentists.

e) Visit the dentists once every six months to ensure good dental health.

How does tooth decay start?

When food particles are left on the teeth, especially sugary food, bacteria turn them into acid which eats way into the Enamel*, then into the Dentine* and finally into the Pulp*. This can be very painful. When the decay reaches the roots, the teeth may have to be pulled out.

How is a Crown different from a Veneer?

A Crown, often called a “cap” covers the entire tooth, unlike a Veneer which covers only the front surface of a tooth. A Crown requires more shaping of a tooth structure and is often used to strengthen a weak or broken tooth. Crowns are extremely durable, aesthetic and are commonly used in the front and the back of the mouth.

How long does a Braces treatment take?

Orthodontic treatment usually takes 18 – 24 months. Some cases may be finished earlier and others may take longer to complete. The total treatment time depends on the severity of the original malocclusion, the type of treatment carried out, and the co-operation of the patient.

Is professional cleaning of the teeth necessary?

Yes, because even the most careful and conscientious can leave some Plaque and Tartar deposits. Therefore, it is usually necessary to have your dentist give your teeth a professional cleaning every 6 months. Professional cleaning or scaling improves periodontal health.

Is thumbsucking harmful to child’s dental health?

Thumbsucking during the first year or two of a child’s life need not cause any concern. Any irregularities in the position of teeth that is directly due to sucking habits will probably correct itself if it corrects before the age of 5. After that however, thumb or finger sucking may affect the position of the incoming teeth and shape of the jaws. So, the child should be discouraged from sucking the thumbs or fingers.

Should X-ray pictures be taken of children’s teeth?

Yes, if the dentist considers it necessary for a detailed examination.

Should you give your child calcium tablets while teeth are forming?

According to most authorities, the best source of calcium is the daily diet. If a child eats a balanced diet and drinks an adequate amount of milk, he will obtain all the calcium and phosphorous he needs. Ask your dentist or doctor for any dietary supplement if necessary.

Should you use a mouthwash?

You may use a mouthwash if you want to freshen your breath temporarily. But do not expect it to remove Plaque and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Bad breath may indicate some other bodily disorders. Do not mask these signs of trouble by using mouthwash.

What are Braces?

Braces are the most efficient and accurate way of moving irregular teeth into  normal and required form and shape. Braces (bands, brackets and wires) are usually made of stainless steel although clear brackets are available, usually at extra cost. Fitting the braces usually involves two visits. Braces remain on the teeth for the entire duration of treatment.

What are Dental Implants?

A Dental Implant is an artificial fixture, usually made of titanium, which is placed surgically into the jaw bone to substitute for a missing tooth and its root.

What are the major complications caused by Wisdom Tooth?

The major complications caused by the Wisdom Tooth may involve:

a) infection in the wisdom tooth or the adjacent tooth.

b) Pain over the angle of the jaw.

c) Headache and other facial pains.

d) Inability to open mouth properly.

e) Inflamed or swollen gums over the affected area.

f) Pressure on adjacent teeth leading to crowding.

(An oral surgeon like Dr.Arvind Agrawal is a qualified dentist to do wisdom Molar surgeries)

What are the major symptoms that calls for a R.C.T.?

Following symptoms if persists calls for a Root Canal Treatment:

a) Throbbing pain in the tooth.

b) Swelling in the jaw.

c) The tooth may be painful to chew on.

d) Pain on consuming hot and/or cold foods.

e) Teeth are severely worn out.

What are the types of teeth?

There are two types of teeth: the primary, often called ‘baby’ or ‘milk’ teeth, and the permanent teeth. There are 20 primary and 32 permanent teeth. In some persons, one or more of these teeth may be absent, or there may be one or more extra, or supernumerary, teeth.

What can happen if missing teeth are not replaced by artificial teeth?

If missing are not replaced by artificial teeth, the adjacent teeth will, over a period of time, lean into the empty space. Food is likely to accumulate between the remaining teeth, providing a breeding ground for decay-causing bacteria. Irregular spacing also makes cleaning of teeth difficult and leads to formation of Tartar. Further, the pressure caused by chewing is not properly distributed among the remaining teeth. This uneven pressure may contribute to the destruction of gums and bone. So removable or permanent artificial teeth that replace the missing teeth will help you maintain your dental health.

What causes tooth discoloration?

Teeth can discolor due to variety of reasons:

a) The commonest discoloration is due to smoking or tobacco.

b) Food and beverages such as tea, coffee, colas and red wine can be the culprit.

c) Age can cause a natural darkening of teeth.

d) Certain medications such as tetracycline, taken at very young age.

e) Increase exposure to fluoridated water.

What harm can irregular or malformed permanent teeth do?

Irregular or malformed permanent teeth can be hindrance to brushing which may lead to formation of Tartar on the teeth, and finally, to tooth decay and gum disease. They also interfere with chewing, good speech habits and appearance. For advice, consult your dentist. He will recommend the necessary orthodontic treatment or a minor surgery.

What is a bridge?

A bridge replaces one or more missing teeth. The teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are crowned and an artificial tooth bridges the gap. Depending on the position and number of the missing teeth, the number of supporting teeth will vary.

What is a composite resin?

A composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Composites are not only used to restore decayed areas, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

What is a crown?

A crown is a cap that covers the entire tooth to restore it to proper function and aesthetics. It can be made of acrylic, metal or ceramic. To fit a crown the tooth needs to be shaped. Crowns are either cemented or bonded onto the tooth.

What is a healthy tooth?

A healthy tooth is strong and clean with solid bones and sound gums. It is free from cavities and decay.

What is a Porcelain Laminate Veneer?

Porcelain Laminate Veneers are coating crafted out of porcelain that are bonded to the front surface of a tooth. These veneers greatly enhance the look of your smile with as little discomfort as possible. These veneers are made to suit the patient’s individual needs and are indistinguishable from natural teeth.

What is a wisdom tooth?

Wisdom tooth is the last tooth to come  in-and the ones last needed for good oral health. In most cases they may do more harm than good.

What is dental bleaching?

Dental bleaching is a procedure where by certain bleaching agents are applied to the teeth in order to remove external and internal stains thus leaving the teeth several shades lighter.

What is gum disease?

Bacteria in Plaque can release substance that irritate and inflame gum tissues. This condition is called Gingivitis. When Plaque is not removed, it hardens around the gum line and forms Tartar. The infection then spreads to the bone supporting the tooth and eventually, the tooth may fall out. This is called Periodontal disease or Pyorrhea. (A Periodontist like Dr. Shalini Agarwal is a qualified dentist to treat such cases of gum disease). Gum diseases may also take the form of a gum boil which results from infected pulp. As pus collects, it works its way through the end of the root and into the jaw bone and pushes out the gum to resemble a boil.

What is the proper age at which to begin correcting irregular teeth?

An age of 8 years is ideal for a child to correct his irregular teeth. The  Dentist after diagnosing will decide when the treatment is necessary.

What is the relation between nutrition and dental health?

Calcium and phosphorous are necessary for hardening of the tooth structures during the years of the teeth are being formed. A balanced diet throughout life is adequate for dental health.

What should be done if you accidentally break or crack a tooth?

You should visit your dentist immediately. The dentist will probably take and x-ray examination and then place medicated cement over the sensitive part of the fractured tooth. Or, he may smoothen the rough edges of the break. If it is a serious fracture, he may place a band or a crown over the tooth to protect it. If the tooth is knocked out, try and rinse it in water and try and place it in the socket from where it has detached, in case that does not fit well, wrap it in a wet cloth or place it in milk. Then visit the dentist as early as possible. In many cases it is possible to re-attach the tooth to the jaw so that it functions normally.

When is a Root Canal Treatment needed?

A Root Canal Treatment is needed when a tooth’s nerve and associated blood vessels are irreversibly damaged either by trauma to the tooth or because of the tooth cavity. This results in infection that may lead to an abscess at the base of the tooth.

When should you consult your dentist?

At the appearance of any of the following symptoms, consult your dentist immediately: toothache; bleeding gums during brushing; persistent unpleasant breath; cavities; painful sensations; teeth growing out of order; swollen, loose or flabby gums and loose teeth.

Why does tooth sensitivity occur?

a) Wrong/aggressive brushing can wear down the enamel causing sensitivity.

b) Receding gums can expose the roots of the teeth, causing pain.

c) After layers of Tartar are scrapped off by the dentist, teeth could become  sensitive to cold air.