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Basic Dental Care - Common Concerns

The following are some concerns that many people have about going to the dentist and dental care:

  • What can I do about being scared?Dental anxiety is being nervous before or during a dental visit. This can make going to the dentist a difficult experience. You can take steps to limit your anxiety, such as explaining your fears to the dentist and setting up a system of hand signals.
  • Do I need teeth whitening?Teeth whitening uses a bleaching product or an abrasive to make teeth whiter. Teeth whitening is not a medical procedure—it does not result in healthier teeth—but it can result in a brighter smile. This in turn can make people feel better about themselves. Teeth whitening works better for some types of stains than others, so talk to your dentist about whether it is right for you and about the products and procedures available.
  • Do older adults have any special concerns? Concerns of older adults include dentures and trouble brushing.

Dental procedures

The following are some concerns about what might happen at the dentist's office:

  • Will a routine visit hurt? If you go to the dentist regularly and take good care of your teeth, there will probably be no pain. If this is your first visit in a long time, or you do not take good care of your teeth and gums, there may be some irritation as the dentist cleans the spaces between your teeth and between your teeth and gums.
  • Will I need a filling? A filling is a substance that dentists use to replace a decayed or broken portion of a tooth. You often need a filling to fix a cavity. Whether you need a filling depends on how well you take care of your teeth. If you brush and floss on a regular basis and limit how much sugar you eat, chances are you won't need a filling.
  • Will I need dental X-rays?Dental X-rays can identify cavities, bone disease, and infections and help in planning orthodontic treatment. In children, they can also identify when new teeth are coming in. X-rays can help your dentist find problems at an early stage, which can save you time, money, and unnecessary pain or discomfort. You and your dentist will set up an X-ray schedule based on your needs.

Children

The following are some concerns about dental care for children:

  • How can I make a trip to the dentist enjoyable for my child? A visit to the dentist can be a scary thing for children. You can reduce this possibility by choosing your dentist carefully and preparing your child for his or her first visit. Most importantly, don't communicate your own fears to your child.
  • Will my child need fluoride?Fluoride is a chemical that helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Normal amounts of fluoride added to public water supplies and bottled water are safe for children and adults. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements. Use these supplements only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
  • How do I brush my child's teeth? It is important to start brushing and flossing your child's teeth when they first come in. This keeps your child's teeth and gums healthy and provides a good model for what he or she will do in the future.

Note:Fluoride is safe in the amounts provided in water supplies but can be toxic in large amounts. Toxic levels depend on your child's weight. A lethal dose of fluoride for a 3-year-old child is 500 mg and is even less for a younger child or infant. Keep all products containing fluoride, such as toothpastes and mouthwashes, away from children. If you think your child may have swallowed too much fluoride, call your local poison control center or the National Poison Control Hotline right away at 1-800-222-1222.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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