How often should I visit my dentist?

It’s important to have your teeth professionally examined and cleaned at least two times a year. You might require more than two annually if you are vulnerable to certain periodontal or dental conditions. Dental visits can prevent, identify and treat problematic oral issues. Other reasons for dental checkups include:

  • Tooth decay assessment: Special instruments are used to check for signs of cavities.

  • Gum disease assessment: Your gums and the bone around your teeth will be checked for signs of periodontal disease.

  • Restoration assessment: Your current fillings, crowns and other dental fixtures will be checked to make sure they’re in good condition.

  • Plaque removal: Growing colonies of oral bacteria, food debris and saliva known as plaque produce toxins that inflame the gums and eat away at your teeth.

  • Tartar (calculus) removal: Tartar is plaque that has hardened and becomes firmly attached to your teeth over time. It can form above and below the gumline, and may only be removable with special dental tools.

  • Teeth polishing: Significantly reduces stains and plaque that aren’t removed during brushing and scaling.

  • X-rays: X-rays can help identify the locations of teeth and their roots, as well as detect cavities, tumors, bone loss and cysts.

  • Oral cancer screening: Your face, lips, tongue, throat, gums and neck may be checked for signs of cancer.

  • Diet review: Your eating habits contribute to your dental health.

  • Hygiene recommendations: Dr. Whisenant will go over suggestions for regimen improvements, including electric toothbrushes, rinses, cleaning aids and more.

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How often should I brush my teeth?


 Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time, especially at bedtime. Use fluoridated toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association and toothbrush with soft bristles (electric toothbrushes are especially useful). 

Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle from your gums, using small, gentle, circular motions. Be sure you can always feel the bristles on your gums. Brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of each tooth, then scrub the surface of your tongue.


How often should I floss my teeth?


Flossing daily is the best way to keep the areas between teeth clean. These areas are hard or impossible to reach with a toothbrush. Flossing also cleans under the gumline, and prevents plaque colonies from building up. This prevents damage to the teeth, gums and jawbone. 

Wrap 12-16 inches of dental floss around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches between your hands. Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss gently between your teeth with a sawing motion. Hug the sides of your teeth in a C shape with the floss and slide it all the way down under the gumline. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty with conventional floss.

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Why is it important to brush and floss?


Brushing and flossing help control the bacteria and plaque that cause dental disease. Plaque is a film of bacteria, food particles and saliva that adheres to the gums and teeth. The bacteria in the film turn food into acid, which can lead to tooth decay. If plaque is not removed, it can turn into tartar, or calculus, and lead to gum disease, or periodontal disease, that destroys gum and bone tissue. Plaque formation and proliferation can only be controlled by brushing, flossing and the use of other dental aids.


How can I clean my teeth if I don’t have my toothbrush or floss handy?


The answer is simple. Rinse your mouth out with water. This can help flush oral bacteria before it builds up.


How do I know if I have gum disease?


The majority of people who have gingivitis or periodontitis, also known as gum disease, don’t realize they have it. It is typically painless in its early stages, causing little discomfort or other symptoms, unlike tooth decay. Regular dental checkups and periodontal exams are crucial to detecting gum disease.


What causes gum disease?

Periodontal disease and gingivitis begin when plaque builds up on your teeth and gums. Eventually, your gums can become inflamed and your bone tissue is eaten away. Brushing and flossing regularly can help ensure that plaque does not become concentrated enough to do damage.

However, poor oral hygiene is not the only cause of periodontal disease:

  • Issues with tooth fixtures: Crowded teeth, defective fillings and ill-fitting bridges can lead to the buildup of bacteria and plaque.

  • Some medications: Steroids, blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives and some cancer therapy drugs have side effects that reduce saliva, making it easier for plaque to stick to teeth.

  • Hormones: Changes caused by oral contraceptives, puberty and pregnancy can make gum tissue more susceptible to the effects of oral bacteria.

  • Diseases: Diabetes, HIV/AIDS and blood cell disorders can contribute to periodontal disease.

  • Tobacco: Plaque and tartar are more common in the mouths of tobacco users.

  • Genetics: Patients whose family history includes frequent tooth loss may be susceptible to more aggressive forms of periodontitis.