Dr. Rodda Answers Your Dental FAQ’s
At Oasis Dental Care of Flagstaff, AZ we want to be here to answer any questions you may have.
Below are some of the most frequent questions we get. If we haven’t answered your question here,
please use the contact form below to ask or give us a call and we will be happy to assist you.
Q: Do I need to go to the dentist regularly?
A: There are many people that only go to see their dentist when they have a problem, or emergency. This is “reactive treatment” as opposed to “preventative treatment.” These patients often feel that they are saving money by doing this. However, it usually ends up costing them so much more in terms of money, time, and even pain or discomfort. Often, dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach more advanced stages of the disease process. For example, tooth decay. Tooth decay does not hurt until it has progressed deep into the tooth, and gets close to the nerve. Once that has happened, root canal therapy followed by a post and core buildup and crown are often what is necessary to eliminate the infected tooth structure and re-build the tooth. Your dentist can usually detect a cavity years before it develops any symptoms. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a large cavity who has never felt a thing. Catching cavities and other dental problems early leads to less of a need for treatment, and the associated cost. That is why regular checkups are so important!
Q: If I have dentures, do I still need to see a dentist regularly?
A: Patients who wear complete dentures no longer need to worry about tooth decay. However, dental check-ups involve more than just examining teeth. It’s important to make sure that dentures and partial dentures are well maintained and functioning properly. A poorly fitting prosthesis will cause discomfort and pressure sores. If not cleaned regularly and properly, dentures may also grow bacteria and fungus. Old or broken dentures and partials may also need to be repaired or replaced. Examination of the oral soft tissues is also very important. During check-up visits, oral cancer screening and a head and neck exam are performed. No one likes to think about it, but cancer is a very serious disease, and a favorable prognosis depends on early detection. Don’t neglect regular visits, they can help you to avoid more complicated problems in the future.
Q: Why do I need X-rays?
A: When examining your mouth, your dentist looks carefully at your teeth. However, he cannot see between them, or into the bone. This is the value of x-ray imaging (radiographs). X-ray imaging may reveal:
- Areas of decay between the teeth
- Abscesses, infections into bone
- Bone loss associated with gum disease (periodontal disease)
- Developmental abnormalities
- Bone and tooth-related tumors
It is important to find and treat dental problems early on. This can save time, money, pain/discomfort, and often leads to an easier and better outcome. There are many benefits to having dental x-rays (radiographs) taken. Any questions or concerns that you may have should be address and discussed with your dentist and/or dental hygienist.
Q: Are X-rays safe?
A: We are all exposed to natural radiation on a daily basis. From the sun, out space, and even from minerals in the earth. The annual natural background radiation is about 3,000 microsieverts (μSv). Radiation exposure during a flight from Paris to Tokyo is about 150 μSv. See the table below to help put it all into perspective.
Comparison of Radiation Doses
Type of Image
Equivalent Background Exposure (days)
|Digital X-Ray image|
Medical CT scan
For your safety, we adhere to the following radiation safety guidelines:
- We follow the radiation principle of “ALARA”. ALARA stands for: As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This means that we use the least amount of radiation possible when exposing digital images at our office. We also do not recommend unnecessary x-rays.
- Our patients are always shielded with a lead apron.
- If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to discuss them with Dr. Rodda.
Q: Do I really need to floss?
A: Brushing at least twice a day, and flossing daily is important to reduce the harmful bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria lives in plaque (biofilm) which can be removed by brushing and flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of the bacteria on the surfaces that the brush bristles can reach. Flossing removes the bacteria that your toothbrush can’t get access to. Without flossing, cavities often form between the teeth. Mouth rinses help to reduce the bacteria count in the mouth but don’t effectively get in between the teeth. Also “water picks” are useful for removing food debris, but still don’t accomplish what floss does.
Ask your dental hygienist or dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
Q: My gums bleed when I brush. What should I do?
A: Typically, gums that are red and inflamed, and prone to bleeding, are symptomatic of gingivitis, or the more advanced stage, periodontal disease. Often in this situation, people may stop brushing regularly and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed more. This leads to more plaque and calculus build-up and more inflammation and more bleeding. Instead, when gums are inflamed, brushing and flossing consistently and effectively is what is needed the most. If you have this problem, it’s important that you see your dentist to get an examination. A routine cleaning or deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) may be all that you need to restore your gums and bone to proper health.
Q: What is gum disease (periodontal disease)?
A: Gum disease (periodontal disease) is the result of inflammation caused mainly by plaque and bacteria buildup. Other contributing factors to periodontal disease include smoking and smokeless tobacco use, some medications, diabetes, and genetic factors. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and is easily treated. Left untreated, gingivitis may progress into periodontitis (periodontal disease). Advanced gum disease will lead to bone loss and resultant tooth mobility and eventual loss. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and visiting the dentist every six months will help to prevent these problems. Gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease, can be caught and treated early and effectively.
Here are some common signs of gum disease:
- Red, tender, swollen, and bleeding gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth, or loss of teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding Gums
- Abscessed teeth, or teeth with pus
- Pain with chewing
Q:What should I do to take care of my teeth?
- It’s very important to brush at least TWICE a day, and floss at least once a day
- Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is proven to be safe and will make teeth more resistant to cavities. If you are a cavity-prone person, make sure to ask your dentist about fluoride rinses, and special high-fluoride toothpaste.
- Candy, soda, and other foods high in simple sugar are known for rapidly growing bacteria in your mouth. It’s best to avoid these foods, but if you won’t, it’s important to drink more water and brush more often to remove the plaque and bacteria from your teeth.
- Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco. E-cigarettes are perceived to be a safer alternative, but the harmful effects on your health are starting to become more commonly known.
- Brush your tongue too! Brushing your tongue will remove food particles as well as plaque and bacteria. This will help to keep your breath fresh as well!
- See your dentist every 6 months for a check-up and professional cleaning.
Q: Will whitening toothpaste work for me?
A: Store-bought whitening toothpaste works by removing surface stains from teeth with the aid of mild abrasives. Toothpastes that are effective in removing surface stains can also wear away tooth enamel as part of the process. With regular use, these abrasives damage tooth enamel and this can lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If whiter teeth are what you’re looking for, there are also over the counter and professional whitening options to consider. If you are interested in tooth whitening options, consult with your dentist first.
Q: I have sensitive teeth, what can I do?
A: Sensitivity toothpastes are a very effective option in treating tooth sensitivity. The teeth are made of many small “tubules” which transmit hot and cold sensations to the nerve. The active ingredient, often potassium nitrate, will block these tubules. People often experience great results after just a few weeks of using these toothpastes. If gentle brushing and the use of a desensitizing toothpaste does not get you relief, talk to your dentist. There are other options such as fluoride varnish, or remineralizing toothpaste such as MI Paste.
Q: Do you offer financing or payment plans?
A: While we do not offer in-house payment plans, we do offer financing options. Lending Club and CareCredit both provide affordable payment plans. You can find out more information here on our website, or call our office, we’d be happy to discuss options wth you.