Cosmetic Dentist San Antonio

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Dental Issues - Answered!

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that is not answered below, feel free to call us and we will be happy to assist you.
Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums
How often should I visit the dentist?
You 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 they worsen and thereby making them harder to treat. The result will ultimately cost you more financially and in valuable time. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque and tartar in areas you may have missed or cannot reach. Oral hygiene instruction to reach those areas is also a preventive measure that helps review brushing techniques to prevent decay and gum disease. 
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.
What is the proper way to brush my teeth?
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly:

1. First, 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 very short back and forth strokes to brush your teeth. Each movement should massage the gums at the same time it brushes the teeth.

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 and cause recession of the gums.

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

6. Finally, do not cut your brushing time short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 - 3 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 used. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss, leaving 1-2 inches in between your fingers for cleaning the spaces between your teeth.
2. Gently insert the floss between the teeth and wrap it around the tooth under the gum. Move the floss up and down the spaces between your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage.

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

4. Repeat this process for all of your teeth.

What is plaque?
Dental plaque is a biofilm that develops naturally on the teeth. It is formed by colonizing bacteria trying to attach itself to a smooth surface. It forms every day on the teeth and supporting structures. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum disease, bone loss and cavities. Regular dental check ups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque.
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 forming calculus or tartar. This is often due to poor brushing habits or difficult to reach areas due to malpositioned teeth. 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 bleeding gums, halitosis or bad breath and the destruction of the supporting bone ultimately resulting in loss of teeth.

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 and/or flossing.
  • Red, swollen or tender gums.
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth.
  • Bad breath that does not go away.
  • Pus between your teeth and gums.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Teeth that begin to separate creating gaps.
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures.
  • Development of an abscess.
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, diligent soft tissue management (gum care) and visiting your dentist and dental hygienist regularly. Also, eating a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums is essential in preventing periodontal disease.
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 the next layer of tooth structure also covering the root of each tooth, dentin, to show through its yellow color. The transparency of the enamel with the yellow dentin underneath is what gives teeth a yellowish tint.
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.

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.

Over the Counter Whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are less expensive, 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 and inconsistent whitening.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening will usually last 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. Consistent oral hygiene with regular check ups and the minimal use of staining agents such as all tobacco products, coffee and red wine will allow the whitening to last longer.
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, medications and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, thus enabling you to take steps to eliminate it.

Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce the problem. 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 and plaque build up..