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Editor's Choice

What is an Abscessed Tooth?
An abscess of the tooth is an infection. An abscess can include pus and swelling of the soft gum tissues surrounding the tooth. An abscess can develop from tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken tooth. If there is an opening in the enamel of a tooth, such as a cavity, bacteria can get in and infect the pulp (center) of the tooth and cause an abscess. Once an abscess happens, the infection could spread throughout the mouth and body. If you suspect that you have an abscessed tooth, you should see your dentist right away.

Which Toothbrush is Really Better – Manual or Electric? 

The most important thing to consider when deciding which toothbrush to buy is which one you will actually use. Both electric and manual toothbrushes have some pros and cons, but both will be useless if not used. The South African Dental Association recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. If you’re not sure which type of toothbrush you would use the most, here are some pros and cons of both: 

Manual Toothbrush:
Pros:
Inexpensive 
Most have an easy grip handle 
Some come with a tongue scraper 
Easy to travel with 

Cons

No built in timer to tell you when two minutes are up 
Can be difficult for some people to hold onto firmly 

Electric Toothbrushes:
Pros

The larger ergonomic handles can be beneficial for arthritis patients or the elderly 
Some have built in timers that let you know when you have brushed for a full two minutes 
Electric toothbrushes provide a far more thorough cleaning 
Some electric toothbrushes dispense toothpaste 

Cons

Some electric toothbrushes can be quite expensive 
Most electric toothbrushes require charging or battery replacement 
The replacement heads can be quite expensive 

Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work? 
Whitening toothpastes, like all other toothpastes, contain carbamide peroxide to remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes may have additional polishing agents and special chemicals that are more effective against stains than regular toothpastes. While whitening toothpastes can make your teeth appear a little lighter, by getting rid of stains, they do not actually bleach your teeth. Whitening toothpastes are ideal for people who smoke, drink coffee and tea and eat certain foods that can stain your teeth.
Whitening toothpastes are also good to use after you have undergone a teeth whitening procedure to keep surface stains from building up on your teeth. If you decide to use a whitening toothpaste, be sure that it contains fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay.

What is Tooth Decay? 
Decay is the destruction of tooth structure. Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

What is Fluoride? 
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. It occurs naturally in all water sources. Studies show that fluoride reduces cavities in people of all ages and is effective and safe when used correctly. The correct use of fluoride has been said to have dramatically reduced tooth decay over the past few decades.

What is a Root Canal? 
A Root Canal is a dental procedure to fix a tooth by removing the pulp chamber of the tooth (not the roots of the tooth) and filling it with a suitable filling material. A root canal is usually performed when the tooth cannot be filled or restored any other way because the decay has reached the nerve of the tooth or the tooth has become infected. Today, with modern technology and better anaesthetics, root canal treatments are no more painful than having a filling.
Most root canals can be performed in two to three office visits. It is important to remember that after a root canal treatment you will need to make a follow up appointment with your dentist to have the tooth permanently restored. After the pulp of the tooth has been removed, the tooth can become very dry and brittle. Having a permanent restoration placed will help protect your tooth from fracturing.

What is a Cavity? 
A cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by decay. Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the food we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to your regular dental check ups. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay. 

What causes bad breath?
According to dental studies, about 85% of people with persistent bad breath also known as halitosis have a dental condition that is to blame. These conditions could be one or more of the following:
Gum disease 
Cavities 
Poor oral hygiene 
Oral cancer 
Dry Mouth (xerostomia) 
Bacteria on the tongue If bad breath is the cause of a dental condition, mouthwash will only mask the odour and not cure it. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Seven key ways to prevent bad breathe are, brushing twice a day, flossing daily, regular dental check ups, using a mouth rinse, brushing your tongue, avoiding tobacco and drinking water.

How Often Should I Floss My Teeth? 
You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing in between your teeth removes food debris and plaque from in between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
When flossing, be sure to gently insert the floss in between the teeth, without snapping, which could damage the gum tissue. Gently move the floss up and down into the spaces between the gum and teeth. Floss the sides of all of your teeth, even if there isn’t a tooth next to another one. There are a number of dental products available that are designed to make flossing easier. Please ask your Smiles dentist for more details.

How often should I brush my teeth?
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Always use a soft bristled toothbrush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make sure that the toothbrush fits inside of your mouth so that you can easily reach all areas. When brushing, use gentle up and down strokes, brushing all sides of the teeth. Always brush your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

What is the Difference Between a Silver and White Filling? 
The main difference between silver and white dental fillings is the material that they consist of. Silver (amalgam) fillings, are made up of 50% mercury and 50% of other various metals. White (composite) fillings are made up of acrylic and various glass particles. Other differences in silver and white fillings are cost, strength and the way they look.

How Often Should I Change My Toothbrush? 
Adults and children should change their toothbrush every 3 months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. Exceptions to this would be if you were using an electric toothbrush, and the manufacturer states otherwise. Some electric rechargeable toothbrushes have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every 6 months. If you have gum disease, you should change your toothbrush every 4 – 6 weeks because bacteria can harbour in the bristles. You should always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after every use and change it after you have been sick.

How Often Should I See the Dentist for a Check Up and Cleaning?
Most children and adults should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and check up every six months. People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental check-ups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check-up

What are Dental Sealants? 
Dental sealants are a clear and protective coating that is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant protects the tooth from getting a cavity by shielding against bacteria and plaque. Sealants are most commonly placed on children’s permanent back teeth because they are more prone to cavities. They can also be placed on adult’s teeth.

Editor's Choice

 

1. What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth? 
Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. 

2. When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up? 
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday. 

3. Are baby teeth really that important to my child? 
Primary, or “baby” teeth, are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. 

4. How can I prevent decay caused by nursing? 
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. 

5. How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist? 
A check-up every six months is recommended in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health. 

6. How do dental sealants work? 
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable, and can effectively protect teeth for many years.