Cosmetic Dentist Havre de Grace

Questions About Family or Cosmetic Dentistry?

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our Harford County dental patients. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to give our Havre de Grace, MD dental practice a call and we'll be happy to assist you.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums
How often should I visit the dentist?
Most people should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before them get worse and harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well. Flossing before bed protects your teeth the most since people produce less saliva at night.  Saliva protects teeth from decaying because it dilutes acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth, resulting in less decay.
What is the proper way to brush my teeth?
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly.

1.Firstly, make sure to use a soft bristled brush. Hard bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth.

2. Place your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gumline. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gumline.

3. Use short back and forth strokes or tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth.

4. Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque, while too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth.

5. Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

6. Finally, don't cut your brushing short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes.
What is the proper way to floss?
The following guidelines are important to flossing correctly.

1. Take 18" of floss and wind it around the middle finger of each hand .You can use these fingers to take up floss as it becomes dirty. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss leaving 1-2 inches in between for cleaning.

2. Gently move the floss up and down the surfaces of your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage.

3. As you move the floss down into the space between two teeth, slide it up and down against the surface of one tooth. Gently clean at the gumline as well. Repeat this for the other tooth.

4. Repeat this process for all of your teeth.

What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth from food debris and bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum disease and cavities. Regular dental check ups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque. Plaque converts sugars into acids which dissolve teeth and damage gums. After about 24 hours the bacteria in plaque begin to die and calcify, resulting in a hard crust called calculus.  Once this is formed, it is much harder to clean your teeth.  New bacteria colonize the porous surface of the calculus and cannot be fully cleaned off until the underlying calculus is scraped off, usually by a dentist or hygienist.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is periodontal (gum) disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens into calculus, often due to poor brushing and flossing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, tooth loss and finally systemic diseases which affect many parts of the body.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of these:

  • gums that bleed while brushing
  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • bad breath that doesn't go away
  • pus between your teeth and gums
  • loose teeth
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • a change in the fit of partial dentures
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, it can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene to eliminate bacteria. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting you dentist regularly to be professionally cleaned. Also make sure to eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth and to maintain a healthy immune system.
Teeth Whitening
Why do our teeth turn yellow?
While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow colored substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint. In addition, as teeth wear they develop microscopic cracks which trap discoloring bacteria and food products.
What are the different types of teeth whitening options?
Below are the three most popular teeth whitening options available today.

In-office teeth whitening
In-office teeth whitening works by producing a significant color change in your teeth in short amount of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is done at the dentist's office applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield. This procedure is always followed by using trays at home to re-apply the bleaching solution because the in-office procedure will produce only temporary results.

Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits
These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product. Bleaching teeth with long lasting results is the result of holding the correct concentration of bleach in the right place for a long enough period of time.

Over the counter whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleachin and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are cheaper, they typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist because of the low concentration gel. Additionally, over the counter trays are not custom fit for your teeth, which can result in irritation to your gums while wearing the trays.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening usually lasts from one to three years before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Additionally, once your teeth have been initially whitened, typically only "touch ups" are required to maintain the whiteness.
Other Common Questions
What can I do about bad breath?
Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, so that you can take steps to elminate it.

Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.