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Responses to Basic Questions About Your Teeth

If you have questions about the health of your teeth, let us help you find answers to many common dental care questions. Below is a list of some of the questions the team at Oak Ridge Family Dental is frequently asked.


 If you still have questions, contact our office and our staff will be happy to assist you.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

How often should I visit the dentist?

You should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before they get worse and harder to treat. 


Additionally, getting a cleaning from a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.


How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well.


What is the proper way to brush my teeth?

The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly: 

  • Make sure to use a soft-bristled brush. Hard-bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth. 

  • Place your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gumline. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gumline.

  • Use short, back-and-forth strokes or tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth. 

  • Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque. Too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth. 

  • Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. 

  • Don’t cut your brushing short! Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes.

What is the proper way to floss?

The following guidelines are important in order to floss correctly:

  • Take 18" of floss and wind it around the middle finger of each hand. You can use these fingers to take up floss as it becomes dirty. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss leaving 1" to 2" in between for cleaning.

  • Gently move the floss up and down the spaces of your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage.

  • As you move the floss down into the space between two teeth, slide it up and down against the surface of one tooth. Gently clean at the gumline as well. Repeat this for the other tooth.

  • Repeat this process for all of your teeth.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth from food debris and bacteria. If not removed, the presence of plaque buildup can lead to gum disease and cavities. Regular dental checkups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth.


In addition, you can help control plaque by avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet.

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bones that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens – often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, which is called gingivitis.


As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, and tooth loss.


What are the signs of periodontal disease?

The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease; contact your dentist if you experience any of these:

  • Gums that bleed while brushing

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums

  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth

  • Bad breath that doesn't go away

  • Pus between your teeth and gums

  • Loose teeth

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

How can I prevent periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly. Make sure to eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth.

Teeth Whitening

Why do our teeth turn yellow?

While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow-colored substance that makes up the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint.


What are the types of teeth whitening options?

Here are the 3 most popular teeth whitening options available today:

  • In-office teeth whitening works by producing a significant color change in your teeth in a short period of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is performed in the dentist’s office by applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth after they have been protected with a special shield.

  • Professionally dispensed take-home whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, so it can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually, the trays are worn a couple of hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks, depending on the product.

  • Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are store bought and use a lower concentration of gel than the in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. While they are cheaper, they typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist. Additionally, over-the-counter trays are not custom fit for your teeth, which can result in irritation to your gums while wearing the trays.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Teeth whitening results usually last from 1 to 3 years before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Once your teeth have been initially whitened, touch-ups are usually enough to maintain the whiteness.

Other Common Dental Questions

What can I do about bad breath?

Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including the types of food you ingest, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and other causes. Going to your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath so that you can take steps to eliminate it. 


Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups with the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food stuck between your teeth which emit odors. It will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath. 


Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist). Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.

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