Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Care
1. How often should I have my teeth cleaned by a dentist?
This is a question that comes up often in our Santa Ana office. Patients want to know how many times in a year they should have their teeth cleaned. We believe that this varies for each person, and that it really depends on an individual’s oral hygiene regiment. There are some people who have extremely healthy teeth and gums, and who only need to have a cleaning once a year. However, for most people, those who follow the standard oral hygiene regiment, a cleaning and exam every six months is what they need. If you suffer from chronic gum disease or if you’re prone to cavities, visiting more frequently could benefit your dental health in the long run.
2. How often should I brush my teeth?
We recommend brushing your teeth at a minimum of 2 times per day; however, brushing 3 times per day is optimal. For a thoroughly deep clean make sure to brush for at least a full 2 minutes. If you have trouble keeping track of time, we suggest brushing to one full song on Pandora, Spotify or the radio since most songs range from 2 to 3 minutes in length. Also, make sure to have a comfortable tooth brush and the brand of toothpaste that you like. Don’t forget to rinse with mouthwash.
3. Should I brush my teeth after eating?
Brushing your teeth after eating or drinking is a great habit to have; however, brushing too soon after certain food and drinks can actually damage enamel over time. Food and drinks with a high acidity like some fruits, oranges and lemons, some sports drinks, and sodas have higher potential to soften enamel if brushed too soon after eating. You must allow time for the natural enzymes in your saliva to neutralize the acidity in your mouth. Our saliva is what helps your enamel stay hard and absorb calcium to remain healthy. A good rule is to wait about 30 minutes after eating and drinking acidic foods before brushing. However, if you really need to get the taste of that last meal out of your mouth, you can always rinse with water or an acid-neutralizing mixture of one part baking soda to eight parts water.
4. Can you brush your teeth too often?
While it's important to brush your teeth regularly do make sure that you don't go overboard. We suggest brushing 2 to 3 times a day as a good rule to follow.
5. When should I floss?
Whether flossing one time per day, or if you floss before and after every meal, what’s important is that you do a thorough job. Don’t skip a tooth here or a tooth there. Make sure that you floss each and every tooth. However, don’t be so aggressive with your flossing that it’s painful or bleeding occurs. If you do see that your gums are bleeding easily, this could be symptoms of a deeper problem and you should contact your dentist.
6. Why are my teeth sensitive?
Teeth sensitive can happen for any number of reasons. It can be the result of brushing or rinsing your mouth too often. (Refer to Question 2) You might not realize that your diet has become more acidic which could lead to sensitivity. If you have recently whitened your teeth or switched to a tooth-whitening toothpaste, you might find that your teeth have become more sensitive as well. If any of these don’t apply to you, the cause could be something more serious and a visit to your dentist might be required. A dentist will be able to determine whether it’s gum disease, excess plaque buildup, a cracked tooth or something more severe that’s causing sensitivity. If ever tooth sensitivity persists for a long period of time or gets worse; contact your dentist.
7. How do I know if I have a cavity?
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy from us to know if we have a cavity or not without an x-ray or dental exam. Some cavities can be very painful and obvious while others will cause no pain at all, and will require an x-ray to find them.
8. How long does getting a filling take?
Depending on the size and severity of the cavity that needs to be filled, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes per cavity.
9. Can I eat after getting a cavity filled?
We recommend that you wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating after getting a filling. Also, it’s a good rule to stay away from eating anything too hot, too cold or too hard immediately after having a cavity filled.