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Tooth Decay - Exams and Tests

When you visit your dentist for tooth decay, he or she will:

  • Ask you questions about your symptoms and past medical and dental problems and care (medical and dental history).
  • Look at your teeth using a pointed tool and a small mirror. Your dentist will look for discolored areas and obvious holes in your teeth.
  • Take X-rays if he or she thinks you have tooth decay that cannot be seen.

Early detection

Having a dental checkup once or twice a year can help your dentist find tooth decay and other problems before they cause severe problems. If you often have dental problems, your dentist may suggest more frequent visits.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Bad Breath: Good and Bad Foods

Got bad breath? You may want to take a look at your diet. If your dental hygiene is great -- you brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and clean your tongue -- your bad breath could be linked to your diet. Certain foods can taint your breath for hours and contribute to dragon breath in other ways. Here are some of the culprits: Garlic and onions. "Garlic and onions top the list when it comes to halitosis," says Lisa Harper Mallonee, MPH, RD, associate professor at Texas A&M...

Read the Bad Breath: Good and Bad Foods article > >

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 19, 2011
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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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

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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