Many people have questions about dentistry. Drs. Andre, Hall, and Muncy have provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions to help you better understand your oral health and dental treatments. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact our dental offices in Glen Allen and Louisa, Virginia, to speak with a member of our team.
What is dentistry?
Dentistry is a branch of medicine that involves the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and disorders involving your oral structures, including the teeth, jaws, mouth, and gums. Research has shown that your oral health has a lasting impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
What does a dentist do?
A dentist’s job is to prevent, diagnose, and treat oral health problems. In order to become a dentist, one must undergo 8 years of schooling and receive a doctorate in the dental field – either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. If a dentist becomes a specialist, additional training is required. Dental specialties include:
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Pathology, and Surgery
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Why is it important for me to visit the dentist?
Regular appointments with the dentist improve the health of your smile and your overall body. Visit the dents help you to:
- Prevent tooth decay
- Prevent periodontal disease
- Prevent bad breath
- Achieve a more beautiful, confident smile
- Maintain a beautiful smile by preventing stains and discolorations
- Straighten your teeth to for improved function and appearance
How should I care for my teeth between dental checkups?
Practice good oral hygiene. This include:
- Brush your teeth at least 3 times a day, or after each meal.
- Floss daily.
- Use toothpaste containing fluoride. You may also want to use a fluoride rinse for additional protection against cavities. Our dentists can recommend appropriate rinses and toothpastes.
- Limit your intake of sugary.
- Avoid the use of tobacco.
- Brush your tongue to remove food particles, eliminate plaque, and keep your breath smelling nice.
When should my child start visiting the dentist?
Children should visit the dentist for the first time when their baby teeth start to come in, or by the age of one. This initial visit will allow our team to gently inspect the new teeth and introduce your child to the dentist’s office. We will make sure that your child feels comfortable and safe during this visit, and will help you schedule regular follow-up appointments at six-month intervals.
How often should I visit the dentist?
Patients of all ages should visit the dentist every 6 months for a routine dental cleaning and exam. There may be circumstances that require more frequent visits, such as gum disease or an increased risk of tooth decay. If this is the case, our team will work with you to determine an effective schedule your handling your oral health needs and protecting your smile.
What is a cavity?
Cavities are a form of tooth decay. They form with plaque (a sticky, bacteria-filled substances) accumulates on the outside enamel of your tooth and creates a small hole within its structure. Cavities begin as relative minor problems, but can develop into more serious health concerns if left untreated. To avoid cavities, brush your teeth thoroughly at least 3 times each day and floss at least once.
What is a filling?
When you have a cavity, our dentists can provide a dental filling to restore the tooth. Fillings are a conservative treatment method to help you improve and maintain your remaining tooth structure. There are several materials available for fillings, including amalgam (metal) or composite (tooth-colored) resin and ceramic.
How often should I brush my teeth?
We recommend that you brush your teeth and gums three times each day to remove dangerous bacteria and plaque from your mouth, and prevent cavities, gum disease, and other common dental problems. We recommend using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a fluoridated toothpaste. Also remember to brush your tongue.
When should I change my toothbrush?
If you are using your toothbrush for the recommended amount of time each day, you should replace it every 3 months for the best results. If you use an electric toothbrush, follow the instructions included with your appliance. If you have gum disease, we strongly encourage you to change your toothbrush every 4-6 weeks to prevent any further spread of the bacteria.
We also recommend that you rinse the bristles of your toothbrush under hot water each day to kill germs and keep your toothbrush clean. If you have been sick, replace your toothbrush and quickly as possible.
What is gum disease?
Gum (periodontal) disease is a common health problem caused by the gradual build-up of dangerous bacteria and plaque. The use of tobacco, certain medications, teeth grinding, and genetics can also play a role in increasing your risk of gum disease. Gum disease has two stages – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is fairly mild, and can often be treated with deep dental cleanings and a diligent oral hygiene routine. Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of the disease, and is essentially permanent. It requires regular maintenance to prevent bone and tooth loss over time.
Common signs of gum disease include:
- Easy bleeding of the gums
- Unusually red or swollen gums
- Excessive bad breath that isn’t alleviated with oral hygiene routines
- Teeth that feel loose
- Teeth that appear longer than usual
- Increased tooth sensitivity
If you believe you have gum disease, please speak with one of our dentists. We will examine your teeth and gums, and create a treatment plan to meet your needs.
Do I still need to visit the dentist if I’m wearing braces?
Yes! When you are wearing braces or undergoing other orthodontic correction, it’s even more important that you receive regular professional maintenance. Bacteria can develop more easily in these instances because food particles tend to accumulate in areas that are difficult for your toothbrush to reach and adequacy clean.
How can I schedule an appointment with your team?
Just call our Glen Allen or Louisa, Virginia, practices today. Our front desk teams will be happy to help you schedule an appointment with our dentists at a time convenient to you. If you are new to our practice, we will also provide you with the information you need prior to your visit with Drs. Andre, Hall, and Muncy.