12 Frequently Asked Questions

Do mouth rinses work?

There are several types of mouth rinses. Typically any mouth rinse that addresses bad breath does so by decreasing the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease and gingivitis. Some mouth rinses are for decay prevention and typically have fluoride in them which has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel and help it to resist cavities.  Still other mouth rinses may offer to help with dry-mouth or help to make your teeth whiter. The important thing is to get the mouth rinse that addresses your specific needs. If you look for the American Dental Association (ADA)  seal of approval and it addresses your concern, then this is a great choice and will help you to achieve your goal.  It is important to remember, though, that mouth rinse is meant to be an addition to your oral hygiene regimen and is by no means a substitute for brushing twice a day and flossing daily.

What are the early signs of dental problems?

There are two main types of dental problems: dental decay and gum disease.

Dental Decay early signs:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet
  • Pain when biting down
  • Brown, black or white staining on any part of the tooth
  • Toothache
  • Visible pits or holes in your tooth

Gum Disease early signs:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth, causing them to appear longer
  • Persistent bad breath

Are dental x-rays necessary/safe?

At Jackson Dental we have digital dental x-rays, which produce 80% to 90% less radiation than traditional dental x-rays. We are exposed to radiation on a regular basis as we go through our daily lives. Several examples that meet or exceed the amount of radiation at a routine dental visit include spending  3 days in Atlanta (equal to radiation from your annual digital dental x-rays) or spending two days in Denver (exceeds the annual radiation exposure from digital dental x-rays). The TV and computer produce radiation, as well as ceramic floor tiles and granite countertops. The annual amount of radiation you get from food is equal to 60 digital dental x-rays. Some of the worst are bananas, meat, potatoes, carrots, and beer. As you can see, we live in a world that exposes us to radiation every day.  In the grand scheme of things, dental x-rays contribute very little to that. In addition, they are necessary to diagnose cavities that are between teeth before they will require more extensive treatment, as well as to detect dental abscesses and a host of other oral conditions.

Do I need to floss?

Flossing is the best way to clean between your teeth, which is a common area for tooth decay.  This is also the area that traps the bacteria that cause gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Therefore, it is important to disrupt this area daily with the use of dental floss.  There are other options if flossing is just not for you. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that interdental brushes or devices like a waterpik are okay substitutes if you can't make yourself floss on a regular basis.

How often do I need to brush?

In line with the American Dental Association, our recommendation is that you brush twice a day, for two minutes each time you brush.  It is essential to brush in the morning and in the evening to remove all the plaque that develops through the day and night.  Proper removal of plaque aids in keeping you cavity-free. Electric toothbrushes have been shown to remove plaque more effectively than regular brushes, and you can inquire about these at your next visit with us!

How can I prevent cavities?

The most effective way to prevent cavities is to remove all the plaque from your teeth, by brushing and flossing. Plaque is a sticky substance composed of many different types of bacteria. These bacteria unfortunately produce acid, and when left on teeth, this acid starts to destroy the tooth, causing a cavity.  Proper brushing and flossing remove plaque, preventing cavities. However, plaque can harden to the point where it cannot be brushed or flossed off, and we call this tartar.  Tartar can be effectively removed by our hygienists, which aids in keeping you cavity-free. Even the most diligent among us will miss some plaque over time, which is why we recommend visiting us at least every 6 months for a professional cleaning and exam.

How often should I go to the dentist?

It depends! Our recommendation is that most patients should visit us twice a year, or every six months, for cleanings and exams.  Doing so allows us to keep a close eye on your teeth, so we can catch issues when they are easier to treat.  However, some patients develop periodontitis or gum disease. Depending on the severity of gum disease, we may recommend these patients come every 3 or 4 months.  In either case, patients should be aware that dental issues are often not visible to the naked eye, and often don’t cause any symptoms. Coming in at least twice a year is essential to prevent small issues from becoming bigger issues.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that can allow a patient to keep a tooth that is causing a lot of pain, or that has caused an infection. While small or medium size cavities can usually be fixed with a filling, deep cavities can affect the nerve tissue in the middle of your tooth.  If this happens, you may develop severe pain, and sometimes swelling of the gums or cheek, which indicates an infection, or abscess, is present. A root canal accomplishes two important tasks.  It removes the nerve tissue from inside the tooth, alleviating pain, and allows medication to be placed where it can aid in treating an infection, as infections from teeth, unfortunately, do not heal on their own.  

What can I do for dental pain until my appointment?

If you are experiencing dental pain you may be curious as to what you can do until your appointment. During this time, over the counter medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen (so long as your doctor hasn't told you to avoid one or both of these medications) work great for controlling dental pain. Be sure to follow dosage instructions on the bottle and not to exceed the maximum daily dosage.  Another means of temporary pain relief may be a topical anesthetic ointment such as Orajel.  Again, follow the instructions for use on the package. In some instances, the pain may be partially due to something being lodged between your teeth and contributing to the pain. In this case, thorough flossing in this area may help to dislodge whatever is stuck and could provide you with some relief. It's always best to still follow up with your dentist to make sure that everything is alright though. Finally, a warm salt water rinse 3-4 times daily is a tried and true method of bringing about some additional relief without the need for additional medications.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone.  Over time the bone of the jaw permanently fuses to the dental implant through a process known as osseointegration, which may take several months. This allows for a tremendously stable and comfortable anchor to support your missing tooth or teeth.  Please see the dental implant section on our site for tons more helpful information.

What's the difference between a crown and a veneer?

A crown is a dental restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth.  The crown allows us to restore the tooth back to its original form, function, and appearance before decay, fracture, wear, or a large existing filling compromised the tooth. A veneer is a porcelain facing on a tooth that only covers the part of the tooth that you see looking in a mirror.  This is why oftentimes veneers are done as a conservative means of changing a tooth's (or multiple teeth's) appearance to better suit the patient's desires. Crowns can also accomplish this goal and are sometimes used in lieu of veneers depending on the specific case of the patient.

Do cavities hurt?

This really depends on the size of the cavity and may vary greatly from one patient to another.  The larger a cavity gets, the closer it gets to the nerve that runs through the center of the tooth. Therefore, a deeper or larger cavity is more apt to cause pain or sensitivity than a smaller one. Some patients have more sensitive teeth than others.  Therefore, even a small cavity may cause noticeable pain or increased sensitivity in a patient with teeth that are already more sensitive. Our goal is always to treat a cavity (typically with a filling) BEFORE it gets to the point at which it starts to cause discomfort. These smaller cavities can be detected at your check-up visits either visually or with digital x-rays. This allows us to not only treat cavities before they cause discomfort, but also before the tooth requires a more invasive and more costly procedure.