Little Rock dentist answers General Dentistry FAQ's You've got questions, we've got answers. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you. Q: WHAT CAUSES BAD BREATH?A: Halitosis -- known as bad breath to most -- is an embarrassing condition that can affect anyone at anytime, and is caused by several factors. The most common causes of bad breath are preventable and easily treated, however certain medical conditions may also cause bad breath. Most commonly, bad breath is caused by: the food we eat and digest, infrequent brushing and flossing, oral diseases and infections, dry mouth, cigarette smoking or a underlying medical condition Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BRUSH?A: According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Always use a soft bristled toothbrush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make sure that the toothbrush fits inside of your mouth so that you can easily reach all areas. When brushing, use gentle back and forth strokes, brushing all sides of the teeth. Always brush your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh. Q: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SILVER AND A WHITE FILLING?A: The main difference between silver and white dental fillings is the material that they consist of. Silver (amalgam) fillings, are made up of 50% mercury and 50% of other various metals. White (composite) fillings are made up of acrylic and various glass particles. Other differences in silver and white fillings are cost, strength and the way they look. Q: WHAT ARE VENEERS?A: A veneer is a thin shell made out of porcelain or composite material. They are custom made and cemented to the front side of the tooth. A veneer can be used to treat dental conditions such as a slightly crooked tooth, discolored teeth, chipped teeth or they can even be used to cover spaces in between the teeth. A veneer can be made by the dentist or in a dental laboratory, depending on the materials used and the preference of the dentist. Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I REPLACE MY TOOTHBRUSH?A: Adults and children should change their toothbrush every 3 months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. Exceptions to this would be if you were using an electric toothbrush, and the manufacturer states otherwise. Some electric rechargeable toothbrushes have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every 6 months. If you have gum disease, you should change your toothbrush every 4 - 6 weeks because bacteria can harbor in the bristles. You should always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after every use and change it after you have been sick. Q: WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?A: Often taken for granted, the monotonous task of brushing and flossing our teeth daily has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and the risks gum disease place on our overall health. It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease, which has been linked to serious health complications and causes various dental problems that are often avoidable. Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is mainly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. Other factors that have the potential to cause gum disease may include: Tobacco use, clenching or grinding your teeth, certain medication, genetics Q: WHAT IS AN ABSCESSED TOOTH?A: An abscess of the tooth is an infection. An abscess can include pus and swelling of the soft gum tissues surrounding the tooth. An abscess can develop from tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken tooth. If there is an opening in the enamel of a tooth, such as a cavity, bacteria can get in and infect the pulp (center) of the tooth and cause an abscess. Once an abscess happens, the infection could spread throughout the mouth and body. A root canal is usually the only option to save a tooth once it has become abscessed. If you suspect that you have an abscessed tooth, you should see your dentist right away. Q: WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT STAINED OR DISCOLORED TEETH?A: The color of your teeth comes from the inside of the tooth, and may become darker over time. Additionally as we grow older, the outer layer of our tooth enamel can wear away, to reveal a darker or yellow shade beneath. Teeth whitening (also known as teeth bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment that is used to change the colour of your natural tooth enamel, making it the ideal way to enhance your smile. There are also many over-the-counter products that you can choose from, however these are much less effective than the professional dental treatments offered by your Dentalways in Little Rock. Q: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I HAVE MISSING TEETH?A: With many state-of-the-art dental treatments and prevention options available in dentistry today, there are fewer reasons for having to extract (remove) teeth. When something does go wrong with a tooth, we try to do everything possible to restore the tooth to its original function. Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced. Options for replacing missing teeth include: removable bridges, fixed bridges, dentures and implants.