Here are some of the more commonly asked questions about dental health and best practices for oral health care.

1) Do I really need to visit the dentist every 6 - 9 months?
How often you should visit your dentist depends on the state of your dental health and how well you care for your teeth. If there are on-going concerns about your dental health, you may need to visit more frequently to ensure that any issues are kept under control. Waiting too long between visits can make things worse, harder to fix and much more expensive.

2) When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The earlier you can start your child’s dental health care routine, the better. The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) encourages parents to take an infant to the dentist within 6 months of their first tooth or by age one. Even at this early stage, dentists can assess whether the jaw and teeth are developing normally and take steps to prevent any problems that may occur and avoid any unnecessary expense later on.

3) Should I use a fluoride rinse as part of my dental health routine?
It used to be that communities provided fluoride in the public drinking water system, however, many areas have now ended that practice. As a result, some people are choosing to purchase fluoride rinses or receive fluoride treatments from their dentist. Whether you decide to use a rinse is a matter of personal preference. Certainly, adding this habit to your routine is of great benefit and patients with certain dental health issues are even more likely to benefit from a fluoride rinse.

4) Are whitening toothpastes effective and safe?
The kind of whitening paste you purchase at the store is perfectly safe. These pastes use abrasives and very mild chemicals to remove surface stains from the teeth. They do not contain any bleaching agents. Whitening treatments (that are not toothpastes) do contain a bleaching agent, but are still not as strong as the systems that some dentists use. Some severe tooth discoloration that is caused by heredity, medication or disease will not be affected by over-the-counter products.

5) I’m afraid of the dentist, what should I do?
Many people have some concerns about going to the dentist. Whether it is fear of pain, not understanding dental procedures or even the potential cost, you will feel more at ease after discussing your fears with the dentist before your visit. There are many ways the dentist can help make you feel more comfortable, but you need to talk about it first. The dentist will do all that he can to make your dental visit as pleasant an experience as possible.

6) I have bad breath. Does that mean I have a cavity?
Bad breath can be cause by a number of issues. Explanation for bad breath can be as simple as the food you have eaten to more serious dental health issues. Even after brushing, some food odors can become locked in the soft tissues of your mouth causing halitosis. A device known as a tongue scraper may be all you need to alleviate this. Bad breath can also be caused by infection from an undetected cavity or other issue that can’t be seen without x-rays. If your bad breath is persistent, a visit to your dentist will help determine the cause.

7) Do my wisdom teeth have to be removed?
Not necessarily. Some patient’s experience no problems with their wisdom teeth at all. Others have to have them removed due to impaction (when the teeth erupt improperly affecting the position of the other teeth). Only your dentist can determine if your wisdom teeth will be healthy and normal, or if they will have to be removed. Not removing wisdom teeth that are impacted can cause severe damage to other teeth, nerve endings, or the jaw structure.

8) How do I choose a good toothbrush?
The brand name of the toothbrush isn’t as important as the actual brush. Bristles come in soft, medium or hard, but soft bristled toothbrushes are the healthiest choice for your gums. A small head on the brush allows you to reach deeper behind your tongue and around rear molars, covering more surfaces of your teeth. How often you change your brush is equally important. Toothbrushes eventually become clogged with germs, and the bristles break down making them less effective at removing plaque and food particles. It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three months, and immediately after you have had a cold, the flu or a mouth infection.