What is dentistry?
Dentistry is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions, disorders, and diseases of the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Often regarded as necessary for complete oral health, dental care can have an impact on the health of your entire body.
Who is a dentist?
A dentist is a specialist who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Dr. Patricia Webb has completed at least eight years of schooling to obtain a Doctorate of Dental Surgery. Specialists receive two to four additional years of specialized dental education and training needed to perform their specific field of dentistry, including:
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Oral and maxillofacial Surgery (including pathology, radiology, and surgery)
- Orthodontics (braces)
- Periodontics (gum disease)
- Prosthodontics (dentures, implants)
- Pedodontist (children's dentist)
Why is visiting the dentist so important?
Visiting our office regularly will not only help keep your teeth and mouth healthy, but will also help keep the rest of your body healthy. Dental care is important because it:
- Helps prevent tooth decay
- Protects against periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss
- Prevents bad breath; brushing, flossing, and seeing our team regularly will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath
- Gives you a more attractive smile and increases your self-confidence
- Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing them from becoming stained by food, drinks, and tobacco
- Strengthens your teeth so you can enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles for the rest of your life!
My teeth feel fine; do I still need to see a dentist?
Your teeth may feel fine, but it’s still worthwhile to see us regularly because problems can exist without your knowing. Your smile’s appearance is important, and we can help keep it healthy and looking beautiful.
With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth. Today’s dentists offer many treatment choices that can help you smile with confidence, including:
- Professional teeth whitening
- Fillings that mimic the appearance of natural teeth
- Tooth replacement and full smile makeovers
What should I look for when choosing the right dentist for me?
Choosing a dentist who “clicks” with you and your family is important, and you may wish to consider several dentists before making your final decision. During your first visit, you should be able to determine whether the dentist is right for you. During your appointment, consider the following:
- Is the appointment schedule convenient?
- Is the office easy to get to and close by?
- Does the office appear to be clean and orderly?
- Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?
- Does the dentist explain techniques for good oral health?
- Is information about cost presented to you before treatment is scheduled?
- Is your dentist a member of the ADA (American Dental Association)?
How can I take care of my teeth between dental checkups?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss at least once a day!
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask Dr. Webb whether you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities.
- Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth and can cause more plaque and possibly cavities), and avoid tobacco (which can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer).
- Don’t be afraid to brush your tongue! This will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh.
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkup. It is recommended that you visit us at the frequency recommended by our team, which is usually every 6 months, but could be every 3 to 4 months, depending on your mouth.
How often should I come in?
Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months, but this could be every 3 to 4 months, depending on the condition of your mouth. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be recommended to come in more than just twice a year. Dr. Webb will help determine how often you should visit us for regular checkups.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth because of tooth decay. Cavities form when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth.
If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss between teeth at least once a day.
What is a filling?
A filling is a synthetic material that dentists use to fill a cavity after all the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt, because we will numb your mouth with an anesthetic.
Fillings are made from a variety of different materials, including composites, gold, or ceramic. If you need a filling, be sure to talk to us about what type is best for you and your teeth.
How often should I brush my teeth?
According to Dr. Webb and the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth at least two times a day. Brushing keeps your teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque.
It is also recommended that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride when you brush your teeth. You should spend at least a minute on the top teeth and a minute on the bottom, and remember to brush your tongue; it will help keep your breath smelling fresh!
When should I change my toothbrush?
Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes each time. We recommend that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently.
Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks to keep bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you’ve been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.
What is periodontal disease?
Sometimes referred to as gum disease, it is a chronic infection caused by plaque bacteria. If left untreated, it can result in the breakdown of the attachment of the gum and bones to the teeth, which results in tooth loss.
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. It can be reversed by having your teeth professionally cleaned and maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. If not treated, the disease can worsen, leading to bone loss, tooth mobility, and eventual tooth loss.
The first stages of periodontal disease offer few signs or symptoms and is usually painless. This is one of the reasons it is important to have regular dental check-ups.
Signs of the disease, which become more advanced as the disease progresses can be:
- red, tender, bleeding or swollen gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath, and loose or separating teeth
- a change in the way your teeth fit together
If I have braces, how often should I get my teeth cleaned and checked?
In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
We will determine the appropriate frequency of dental cleanings for you, whether that be every 3, 4, or 6 months. Dr. Webb will also work closely with your orthodontist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces.
How do I schedule my next checkup?
Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to schedule your next dental checkup at your convenience. If you are a new patient, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need for your first dental visit.