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Q: How frequently should I schedule checkups and cleanings?

A:We recommend children and adults visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup. If you are at a greater risk for oral diseases, you should schedule a dental checkup more than twice a year. Other factors your dentist might consider when deciding how often you need a dental checkup and cleaning include:

  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Periodontal and gum disease
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Certain medical conditions

Regular checkups help keep you gums and teeth healthy as well as offer early detection for problems like gum disease, oral cancer, and cavities.

Q: How often should I brush my teeth?

A:Experts from the American Dental Association recommend that you brush at least twice a day. By brushing your teeth frequently, you can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by removing plaque and other bacteria.

Tips on brushing your teeth:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Ensure the toothbrush fits your mouth and reaches all areas easily
  • Brush with gentle back and forth strokes
  • Brush all sides of your teeth
  • Remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep breath fresh

Q: When should I change my toothbrush?

A:After every 3 months, your toothbrush becomes worn out and is no longer as effective as it was. Electric toothbrushes may be an exception with some brands requiring their brush heads being changed only every 6 months. We recommend that you change your toothbrush every 4 to 6 weeks if you have gum disease because bacteria can linger in the bristles. Always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after each use. Also be sure to change it after you’ve been sick.

Q: What is plaque?

A:Created from food debris and bacteria, plaque is a soft and sticky substance that collects on your teeth. Brushing and flossing thoroughly can remove plaque. If not removed, gum disease and cavities can form.

To help prevent plaque, we recommend:

  • Regular dental checkups
  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing daily
  • Eating nutritional snacks

Q: What causes bad breath?

A:Bad breath, also called halitosis, can affect anyone at any time. It can be caused by several factors. Common causes of bad breath are preventable and easy to treat. On the other hand, medical conditions that cause bad breath might be more difficult to remedy. For instance, chronic halitosis may mean you have an underlying medical concern that should be addressed by either your dentist or medical doctor.

Q: How often should I floss my teeth?

A:We recommend that you floss once a day. Flossing removed food debris and plaque from areas between your teeth that are out of your toothbrush’s reach. When you floss, you remove plaque that can cause tooth decay or gum disease. Recent studies have even shown that flossing can help prevent heart attack or stroke.

Tips on flossing your teeth:

  • Gently insert the floss between teeth without snapping
  • Move floss up and down gently into the spaces between gum and teeth
  • Floss the sides of all teeth even when a tooth isn’t next to another one

If you struggle to floss your teeth, there are a number of dental products available that are designed to make flossing easier, such as disposable dental flossers. Ask your dentist for more details.

Q: What is a dental sealant?

A:Dental sealants are clear, protective coatings applied to the biting surface of your back teeth. The sealant shields your teeth from bacteria and plaque to help prevent cavities. We recommend adding dental sealants to your child’s permanent back teeth as children are more prone to cavities. The majority of insurance companies pay for children’s dental sealants; however, adults are usually not covered.

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