Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which type of toothbrush should I use?
A: The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It's unnecessary to "scrub" the teeth as long as you are brushing thoroughly at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings. If you wish to or are able to invest in an electric toothbrush the "Sonicare" with a small head is superior to others on the market.
Q: Is one toothpaste better than others?
A: Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. Some toothpastes can be abrasive so if you find you have teeth that are senitive to cold "Sensodyne" is a great product. Many toothpastes contain "sodium laurel sulfate" which is usually not a problem, however an estimated 10% of the population is sensitive to this ingrediant which may trigger an increase in the incidence of oral ulcers. Sensitive indiduals should look for a toothpaste that does not have sodium laurel sulfate in it, for example most Sensodyne products.
Q: How often should I floss?
A: Dr. Marra recommends flossing of your teeth twice per day. This helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach and also helps to keep your gums healthy. Another excellent product, in addition to dental floss is made by GUM and called "soft-picks". These are disposible, and can remove food particles between teeth and stimulate gum tissue.
Q: What's the difference between a "crown" and a "cap"?
A: Nothing...these are restorations to repair a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and all decay. The restoration material is made of gold, porcelain, composites, or even stainless steel. Dentists refer to all of these restorations as "crowns". However, some people refer to these as "caps" because they cover and protect the tooth.
Q: What's the difference between a "bridge" and a "partial denture"?
A: Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to adjacent abutment teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the remaining teeth and is easily removed by the patient. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges than with partial dentures.
Q: What about "silver" fillings versus "white" fillings?
A: Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), most patients today are requesting "white" or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer tooth-colored fillings because they "bond" to the tooth structure and therefore may help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. White fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, do not contain any mercury and they look better. However, "white" fillings cannot be used in every situation, and if a tooth is very badly broken-down, a crown will usually be necessary to provide a better and more durable restoration for the patient.
Q: Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?
A: No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen, protect and restore the tooth and to return the tooth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.