Regular dental visits are an essential part of maintaining good oral health. Regularly seeing a dentist can help prevent and detect dental problems before they become more serious. Dentists perform various preventative and diagnostic procedures during these visits to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy. From routine cleanings and X-rays to more complex treatments like fillings or crowns, dentists can provide the necessary care to keep your mouth healthy and functioning properly. Regular dental check-ups can enhance oral health, avert major dental issues, and result in long-term cost savings on expensive treatments.

At Washington Dental, we pride ourselves on providing professional and compassionate care to our Carson clients. And part of that service is addressing some of the questions you could have about dental care. Here is a look at the most common dental concerns and queries.

Is there Value in Visiting My Dentists Regularly?

Absolutely! Visiting your dentist every so often is crucial for maintaining good oral health. Honoring regular dental visits helps prevent dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. These can lead to more profound issues if left untreated.

Dentists can perform routine cleanings, check for cavities, and provide treatments to address any issues before they worsen. Dental visits can also help identify and address problems with your bite or alignment, impacting your overall health and well-being. Having regular dental checkups can assist in preserving healthy teeth and gums, avoiding significant dental issues, and reducing expenses on expensive treatments in the future.

How Long Should I Stay Before Visiting My Dentist?

It is generally recommended to visit your dentist for a routine check-up and cleaning every six months. However, the recommended frequency varies depending on your individual oral health needs. Your dentist could suggest more frequent appointments if you have a history of dental issues like gum disease, frequent cavities, or specific health conditions that can impact your oral health.

Following your dentist's recommendations for regular visits is vital to maintaining good oral health and preventing dental problems. If you experience any pain or unusual symptoms between visits, you must contact your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you experience any pain or unusual symptoms between visits, again, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

When Should My Child Go For Their First Dental Visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises that a child have their first dental visit by their first birthday. Alternatively, the child’s visit can be within six months after their first tooth erupts, whichever comes first. This first visit is typically a short and straightforward check-up to assess the child's dental health and identify potential issues early on.

Early dental visits can help children become more comfortable with going to the dentist and reduce any anxiety or fear associated with dental visits. Regular dental check-ups every six months are recommended to maintain good oral health and prevent potential dental problems from developing or worsening.

You should consult a pediatric dentist or family dentist if you have concerns about your child’s dental health or development. They can evaluate your child's oral health, provide guidance on proper dental care, and recommend the best course of treatment if necessary.

When Selecting a Dentist, What Factors Should Be Taken Into Consideration?

When choosing a dentist, you should consider several factors that can significantly impact your oral health:

  • Qualifications and experience — Look for a dentist with the necessary qualifications and experience to provide your needed services. Check their credentials, education, and professional memberships to ensure they have the appropriate training and expertise.
  • Services offered — Ensure the dentist provides the needed services, including routine cleanings, fillings, or orthodontic treatment.
  • Location and convenience — Choose a conveniently located dentist with office hours that suit your schedule.
  • Reputation and patient reviews — Look for a dentist with a good reputation and positive patient reviews. Check online reviews and ask for referrals from friends or family members.
  • Technology and equipment — Look for a dentist who uses modern technology and equipment to provide high-quality care.
  • Communication and rapport — Choose a dentist who communicates well and makes you feel comfortable. Good communication can help you understand your treatment options and feel more at ease during procedures.
  • Insurance and payment options — Make sure the dentist accepts your insurance plan or offers payment options that match your budget.

By considering these factors, you can find a dentist who meets your needs and helps you maintain good oral health.

What Can I Expect During a Dental Check-Up?

You can expect a thorough examination of your teeth, gums, and mouth during a dental check-up. The check-up typically involves the following:

  • Cleaning — A dental hygienist will remove any plaque or tartar buildup from your teeth and gums.
  • Examination — Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for any signs of decay, gum disease, or other dental problems.
  • X-rays — Your dentist could take X-rays to detect undiscovered dental problems during the examination.
  • Oral cancer screening — Your dentist may perform an oral cancer screening to detect any signs of cancer or precancerous lesions.
  • Bite evaluation — Your dentist will evaluate your bite to check for any issues with alignment or TMJ disorders.
  • Treatment recommendations — Your dentist could recommend treatments or procedures to address dental problems or improve oral health.

What Signs Are Indicative of Dental Problems?

Various indicators could suggest an individual is suffering from dental problems. These signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Tooth pain or sensitivity — A toothache or sensitivity in a tooth indicates tooth decay, a fractured tooth, or gum disease.
  • Bad breath — Persistent bad breath can indicate gum disease or tooth decay.
  • Bleeding gums — Gums that bleed easily may indicate gum disease or gingivitis.
  • Loose teeth — If your teeth feel unstable or shaky, it could indicate tooth decay or progressed gum disease.
  • Changes in bite — Changes in how your teeth fit together or discomfort when biting down can be a sign of tooth decay or problems with the jaw.
  • Swelling or redness — Swelling or redness in the gums, tongue, or other mouth areas can indicate infection or other dental problems.
  • Mouth sores — Mouth sores that are painful or don't heal may indicate oral cancer or other dental issues.

It is crucial to consult a dentist promptly if you encounter these indications or symptoms to address the problem and prevent any additional dental issues.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe And Necessary?

Dental X-rays are generally safe and necessary for dental care. While X-rays do emit tiny amounts of radiation, the levels used in dental X-rays are very low and considered safe.

Dental X-rays are essential for dentists to detect problems visible during a regular dental exam. X-rays can help dentists detect tooth decay, gum disease, impacted teeth, and other dental issues. Some dental problems could go undetected and untreated without X-rays, leading to more severe problems.

The frequency of dental X-rays depends on a person's individual needs and risk factors. The frequency of X-rays required varies among individuals. Those with a history of dental issues or undergoing orthodontic treatment could need them more frequently. Your dentist will assess your requirements and medical background to determine the appropriate frequency of X-rays.

However, the recommended frequency of dental X-rays for adults and children can vary depending on their dental health needs and risk factors. Generally, dental X-rays are recommended every 1 to 2 years for adults with a low risk of dental problems. Children could require more frequent X-rays as their teeth and jaws are still developing and more susceptible to decay.

More frequent X-rays could be necessary for individuals with a higher risk of dental problems, including those with a history of cavities or gum disease or those undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Note: Your dentist will consider your needs and medical history to determine the appropriate frequency of X-rays. They will also use lead aprons and other safety measures to minimize radiation exposure during X-ray procedures.

How Do Fillings Work?

Fillings are a common dental procedure used to treat cavities or tooth decay. Throughout the procedure, the dentist will eliminate the decayed portion of the tooth and replace it with a material to reinstate the tooth's structure and utility.

The filling material can vary, but some common types include amalgam (a mixture of metals), composite resin (a tooth-colored material), or porcelain. The dentist will typically apply a local anesthetic to numb the area before removing the decayed portion of the tooth. They will then clean and prepare the tooth for the filling material.

The material is mixed and packed into the prepared cavity for amalgam fillings. The dentist will then shape and polish the filling to match the tooth's shape.

The material is applied in layers and hardened using a special light for composite resin fillings. The dentist will then shape and polish the filling to match the tooth's shape.

Porcelain fillings are created in a dental laboratory and require multiple appointments to complete. The dentist will first take impressions of the tooth and create a temporary filling. The impressions are then sent to a dental laboratory for custom filling. Once the porcelain filling is ready, the dentist will remove the temporary filling and bond the porcelain filling in place.

Treating tooth decay with fillings is a prevalent and efficient method of reinstating the tooth's structure and function. Determining the optimal filling material depends on individual preferences and requirements, and your dentist can assist in making that decision.

What is the Purpose of Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventative layer administered on the chewing surfaces of teeth to deter the formation of cavities. Dental sealants aim to create a barricade between the teeth and hazardous bacteria that can lead to decay. The sealant material is typically a plastic resin applied to the teeth' pits and grooves, where bacteria and food particles can accumulate and lead to cavities.

Sealants are commonly applied to the back molars, the teeth most susceptible to decay due to their location and shape. The procedure is quick and painless and does not require drilling or tooth structure removal. The teeth are first cleaned and dried, and the sealant material is then painted onto the chewing surface of the tooth and cured with a special light.

Sealants are most commonly used for children and teenagers, as their developing teeth are more susceptible to decay. However, adults with a high risk of cavities may also benefit from sealants. Sealants can last several years with proper care and can be reapplied as needed.

Dental sealants aim to offer an additional shield against cavities and encourage optimal oral health. Your dentist can determine if sealants are a good option for you or your child based on individual needs and risk factors.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity, and Why Do I Experience It?

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that causes pain or discomfort in the teeth when exposed to particular stimuli, like hot or cold temperatures, sweet or sour foods, or even the air. This transpires when the dentin, the layer beneath the enamel, becomes exposed, which activates the nerves inside the tooth.

Several factors can contribute to tooth sensitivity, including:

  • Gum recession — When the gums recede, the tooth's root surface becomes exposed, which can cause sensitivity.
  • Enamel erosion — The tooth enamel erosion can expose the tooth's dentin layer, leading to sensitivity.
  • Tooth decay — If tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to sensitivity and pain.
  • Teeth grinding — Grinding or clenching the teeth can wear down the enamel and expose the dentin, causing sensitivity.
  • Dental procedures — Certain dental procedures, for example, teeth whitening or the placement of fillings or crowns, can cause temporary sensitivity.

To treat tooth sensitivity, your dentist could recommend desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatments, or, in more severe cases, dental bonding, a gum graft, or a root canal. Preventative measures can also help to reduce tooth sensitivity, including practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding acidic foods and drinks, and wearing a mouthguard at night if you grind your teeth.

Tooth sensitivity can be a bothersome and uncomfortable condition, but it is treatable.

What do Dental Implants Entail, and When is it Appropriate to Consider Them?

Dental implants are a popular tooth replacement option that involves surgically placing an artificial tooth root, typically made of titanium, into the jawbone. Once the implant has fused with the bone, a dental crown, bridge, or denture is attached, creating a natural-looking and functional replacement tooth.

You should consider dental implants if you have one or more missing teeth and want a long-lasting and durable tooth replacement option. Dental implants are an excellent option for individuals who want to restore their smile's aesthetics and functionality and avoid the potential problems associated with traditional dentures or bridges.

Dental implants can also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, maintain the natural alignment of the teeth, and improve oral health. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental implants. It is crucial to seek advice from a dental expert to determine whether this alternative is right for you.

Factors that could affect your eligibility for dental implants include:

  • Sufficient bone density in the jaw to support the implant.
  • Good overall oral health.
  • Not having uncontrolled diabetes or other medical conditions that may interfere with the healing process.
  • Not being a smoker or willing to quit smoking before and after the implant surgery.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. It is a condition that impacts the gums and adjacent tissues of the teeth. Plaque accumulation, a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth and gums, is the cause of this disease, which can result in inflammation and infection.

Gingivitis is the preliminary phase of gum disease. It is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. This is a severe type of gum disease. The disease can form pockets as the gums recede from the teeth, allowing for infection. This situation can ultimately lead to bone and tooth loss.

Gum disease is a prevalent condition caused by inadequate oral hygiene, smoking, hormonal shifts, certain medications, and genetic susceptibility. Regular dental check-ups, proper brushing and flossing techniques, and a healthy diet can assist in preventing and managing gum disease.

How Common is Dental Decay in Children?

Tooth decay, or dental decay or cavities, is a prevalent chronic ailment among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is more common among children than asthma. It is five times more frequent than asthma and seven times more frequent than hay fever.

Studies show that dental decay affects about 42% of children aged 2 to 11 in the country. By age 17, about 78% of children have had at least one cavity. Dental decay can cause pain and difficulty eating, affecting a child's health and well-being.

Preventing dental decay in children involves establishing good oral hygiene habits, including flossing daily, brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and limiting acidic and sugary foods and drinks. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings also help detect and treat dental decay early on.

When Should I Consider Braces?

You should consider braces if crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth affect your bite, your ability to speak or eat properly, or your confidence in your smile.

Braces are highly recommended to correct problems like underbite, overbite, or crossbite, which lead to jaw pain and discomfort. In some cases, braces could also be recommended for cosmetic reasons to improve the appearance of the teeth and smile.

The ideal age for getting braces is between 10 and 14 when the jaw grows, and the teeth are more easily moved. However, braces can also be used to correct dental problems in adults.

Schedule a consultation with an orthodontist if you are considering braces. He/she can assess your dental needs and recommend the best treatment option. Different braces are available, including traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, clear aligners, and Invisalign.

What Are Some Ways to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home?

Good oral hygiene at home is necessary for healthy teeth and gums. The following tips will help you practice good oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily — Brush your teeth with a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, you should brush for a minimum of two minutes. This will help you maintain good oral hygiene, Ensure that you brush all areas of your teeth, including the chewing surfaces, fronts, and backs.
  • Floss daily — Flossing removes food particles and plaque between your teeth and under the gumline, which a toothbrush can't reach. Use about 18 inches of floss and slide it gently between your teeth, curving the floss around each tooth in a C-shape.
  • Use mouthwash — To freshen your breath and kill bacteria, using mouthwash can be helpful. When choosing a mouthwash, selecting one that contains fluoride and has been approved by the ADA Seal of Acceptance is recommended.
  • Limit acidic and sugary foods and drinks — Reduce your consumption of acidic and sugary foods and beverages. They can wear down tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities. If you do consume them, remember to brush your teeth afterward.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly — It is recommended to replace your toothbrush:
  1. Every three to four months or
  2. Earlier, if you notice that the bristles are frayed.
  • Visit your dentist regularly — Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can assist in preventing dental problems and identifying issues in their early stages when they are simpler to treat.

By following these tips, you can maintain good oral hygiene at home and promote a healthy smile.

Find a Dental Care Specialist Near Me

If you need dental services, it is important to do your due diligence and find a trustworthy and skilled Carson dentist. Factors to consider include their qualifications, experience, and feedback from previous patients. Maintaining good oral health is crucial for your overall health and well-being. It is worth prioritizing. You can start that by contacting Washington Dental at 310-217-1507 to schedule your appointment.