1. Why do regular dental visits matter?
    • Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.
  2. What are some signs I should see a dentist?
    • Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
    • Your gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss
    • You have fillingscrownsdental implantsdentures, etc.
    • You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look
    • You have persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
    • You are pregnant
    • You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
    • You have difficulty chewing or swallowing
    • You have a family history of gum disease or tooth decay
    • You have a medical condition such as diabetescardiovascular diseaseeating disorders or are HIV positive
    • Your mouth is often dry
    • You smoke or use other tobacco products
    • You are undergoing medical treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy
    • Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite
    • You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away
  3. I’m not having any symptoms. Do I still need to see a dentist?
    • Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.
  4. What can I expect during a normal check up?
    • The dentist or hygienist will ask about your recent medical history, examine your mouth and decide whether or not you need x-rays. Depending on your treatment plan, the hygienist may use a special dental instruments to check your gums for gum disease. Your dentist will evaluate your overall dental health and conduct an oral cancer screening by holding your tongue with gauze, checking it and your whole mouth, then feeling your jaw and neck.
  5. How often do I have to go to the dentist?
    • There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. Some people need to visit the dentist once or twice a year; others may need more visits. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs when it comes to keeping your smile healthy.
  6. What’s the difference between DDS and DMD?
    • If you’re looking to find a dentist you may notice that while most are listed with a “DDS”, some may be listed as “DMD”. They both mean the same thing—your dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same degrees. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. The level of education and clinical training required to earn a dental degree, and the high academic standards of dental schools are on par with those of medical schools. Upon completion of their training, dentists must pass both a rigorous national written exam and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. In order to keep their licenses, they must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder of their careers so that they may stay up to date on the latest scientific and clinical developments.
  7. How can I maintain a healthy smile with my dentist’s help?
    • Here are some tips to help you take care of your smile:
      • Healthy habitsBrushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily are essential for everyone, no matter how unique your mouth is. It’s the best way to fight tooth decay and gum disease.
      • Build a relationship. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. When your dentist sees you regularly, he or she is in a good position to catch oral problems early. For instance, catching gum disease when it’s still reversible, or cavities when they are small and are more easily treated.
      • Maintain. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health as well.
      • Talk about it! Only your dentist can determine what the best treatment plan is for you. Have questions about your oral health or certain dental procedures? Start a conversation. Ask your dentist to explain step-by-step. Dentists love having satisfied, healthy patients.
  8. How does nutrition affect my oral health and smile?
    • Sugar is the main cause of cavities. Sipping on sugary sodas, sports drinks or coffee all day can affect the health of your teeth.  What you eat also matters. While hard candies seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth. Better alternative? Chew sugarless gum that carries the ADA Seal. Here are some other easy tips to keep your mouth healthy and happy.
      1. Ice is for chilling not chewing
      2. Watch your citrus intake – The truth is that frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time.
      3. Not all coffee is good for you – In their natural form, coffee and tea can be healthy beverage choices. Unfortunately too many people can’t resist adding sugar. Caffeinated coffee and tea can also dry out your mouth. Frequent drinks of coffee and tea may also stain your teeth.
      4. Sticky foods are your mouth’s worst nightmare
      5. Beware of things that go crunch
      6. Swap out soda with water
      7. Limit alcohol consumption – Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth.
      8.  Watch out for sports drinks – They sound healthy, but sugar is a top ingredient for many sports and energy drinks.
  9. What should I do during my pregnancy?
    • Did you know that a baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? That’s why making smart food choices now can help set your child up to be Mouth Healthy for Life. During your pregnancy a sufficient quantity of nutrients—especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous—are needed.To assist you in making healthy eating choices, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center has compiled this list of tips to follow during pregnancy:
      • Eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits; vegetables; whole-grain products such as cereals, breads or crackers; and dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese or unsweetened yogurt.
      • Eat fewer foods high in sugar, including candy, cookies, cake, and dried fruit; and drink fewer beverages high in sugar, including juice, fruit-flavored drinks, or soft drinks.
      • For snacks, choose foods low in sugar such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and unsweetened yogurt.
      • Read food labels so you can choose foods lower in sugar.
      • If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day.
      • Drink water or milk instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks or soft drinks.
      • Drink water throughout the day, especially between meals and snacks. Drink fluoridated water (via a community fluoridated water source) or if you prefer bottled water, drink water that contains fluoride.
      • To reduce the risk of birth defects, get 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take a dietary supplement of folic acid and eat foods high in folate and foods fortified with folic acids, including:
        • Asparagus, broccoli and leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach
        • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
        • Papaya, tomato juice, oranges or orange juice, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
        • Grain products fortified with folic acid (breads, cereals, cornmeal, flour, pasta, white rice.)

      For more information about nutrition during pregnancy, including food safety risks, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

For more information on oral health, hygiene and other frequently asked questions, visit www.mouthhealthy.org