Q. What is the difference between tap water and bottled water?

A. Most tap water is fluoridated; most bottled water is not. For more than five decades, the American Dental Association (ADA) has continuously endorsed the fluoridation of community water supplies as a safe and effective means of preventing tooth decay by as much as 15%. The effort began in Grand Rapids in 1945 when the city became the first nationwide to implement community water fluoridation. Today, nearly two-thirds of all municipal water supplies are fluoridated but, with the rising popularity of bottled waters, there is evidence of an increase in tooth decay. Home water purifers can also reduce the fluoride levels in tap water.

Source: American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control

Q. Are dental x-rays safe?

A. At Auburn Village Family Dental Center, we are proud to be among just 10% of all dental offices nationwide to offer low dose digital x-rays which reduce radiation exposure by 50% or more when compared to conventional x-rays. These targeted x-rays, taken once yearly to help diagnose common dental problems such as cavities, periodontal (gum) disease and other disorders, are an outstanding diagnostic tool in helping patients maintain good oral health. Digital x-rays utilize sensors that feed images directly to examination room computer monitors for real-time review with patients.

Source: AssociatedContent.com, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Q. How important is flossing?

A. For maximum oral health, daily flossing is essential, helping to remove plaque, food particles, and decay-causing bacteria between teeth and under the gum line where toothbrushes cannot reach. Because decay patterns change as we mature, teaching proper flossing techniques early is an important step toward a lifetime of good oral health.

Source: American Dental Association

Q. Why do my gums bleed when I brush my teeth?

A. If you haven't flossed in a while and your gums bleed when you brush, trapped bacteria may have inflamed your gums. It might be something as simple as a local irritant between the gum and teeth, like a popcorn kernel or a piece of food. With regular flossing, your gums should become firmer and healthier in a matter of days. If you do not experience improvement, however, your bleeding gums could be signaling gingivitis, an inflammation or swelling of the gums or periodontitis, a disease of the supporting gum tissue caused by plaque that has hardened on your teeth. Left untreated, periodontitis can damage the bone around your teeth and may even lead to tooth loss.

Source: University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Q. How can I alleviate the pain from teeth grinding?

A. Called attrition or bruxism, teeth grinding is often a habit of people who are anxious or stressed. It often occurs while sleeping and can result in a dull headache, sore jaws and even loose or fractured teeth. Severe cases may lead to decreased vertical dimension when the patient over closes his or her jaws and develops an ever-frowning expression. To help alleviate the damaging effects of mild attrition, Auburn Village Family Dental Center can fit a custom-molded acrylic bite guard that helps to relax the jaws. Patients suffering from decreased vertical dimension may require full mouth rehabilitation or even muscle relaxers to reduce the debilitating effects of excessive tension.

Source: American Dental Association

Q. Is thumb sucking harmful?

A. Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for babies and a source of comfort for toddlers. When limited to the first few years before permanent teeth come in there is little harm done. Should the habit continue however, thumb sucking can result in skeletal malformation from front teeth leaning forward, a large space between them and a "buck tooth" appearance. Severe cases that last into early childhood will require orthodontics to correct tooth alignment. To help children kick the thumb sucking habit, work on the cause(s) of their anxiety and offer positive reinforcement. When all else fails, Auburn Village Family Dental Center may suggest several different methods to curb this harmful habit.

Q. How often do I need a check up?

A. The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults visit their dentist for a professional cleaning and general check-up every six months. Other recommendations for good oral hygiene include brushing teeth twice daily with an ADA-accepted uoride toothpaste; replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or more often if the bristles are frayed; flossing daily; and eating a balanced diet.

For many oral health problems, multiple treatment options exist and vary in complexity, durability, and cost. A good example is a dental implant, bridge or denture to replace an extracted tooth. Which option is selected depends on the patient's needs and desires, and what his or her dentist recommends after reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Good oral health is a shared responsibility. At Auburn Village Family Dental Center, we encourage our patients to ask as many questions as possible so they fully understand their treatment options.

Source: American Dental Association, about.com

Q. How does diabetes affect my oral health?

A. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection and slows the healing process once infection appears. Recent research suggests that people with diabetes get gum disease (periodontitis) more often than those who do not. In addition, gum infections, such as chronic periodontitis, make it difficult to control blood glucose levels. Other oral problems associated with diabetes may include thrush (an infection caused by a fungus in the mouth), dry mouth (which can cause soreness, ulcers and other infections) and cavities.

Keeping blood glucose within a healthy range, and visiting your dentist twice yearly (or as recommended), are key to maintaining good oral health.

Please let us know if you have diabetes and if there are any changes in your health. Together, we can help manage the oral complications that diabetes can present.

Source: American Dental Association