Dental FAQs

What is dentistry?

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that revolves around the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions that affect the mouth and related adjacent tissues and structures, such as the jaw and facial area. While the field of dentistry is often associated with teeth and gums, the practice involves other aspects, including the temporomandibular joint, and even seemingly unrelated fields like snoring and Botox treatments. The term dentistry comes from odontology, a word derived from the Ancient Greek word odous, meaning tooth.

What is a dentist?

A dentist specializes in the field of dentistry, and works to prevent, treat and diagnose illnesses, conditions and disorders related to the oral cavity. A team of oral health professionals, including dental technicians, dental hygienists and dental assistants, typically supports a dentist. A dentist and his or her team work together to improve and protect patients’ oral health.

Dentists can specialize in a variety of fields, including Endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontology, family dental care, cosmetic dental care, pediatric dental care and prosthodontics. No matter their field, dentists are required to undergo extensive study – including bachelor and post-bachelor degrees – and thorough testing on state and national boards before receiving a license to practice.

Why do I need to visit a dentist?

Plaque – a stick biofilm comprised of bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating – builds up on the surface of your teeth, and uses the foods we consume to produce harmful acids that slowly erode away at tooth enamel. Over time, the acids created by plaque will permanently damage your teeth, leading to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

Visiting a dentist helps protect your teeth from the harmful effects of tooth decay. Regular dental appointments allow your dentist to spot the signs of decay early on, before the condition can cause any permanent damage. Regular cleanings provide dental hygienists the opportunity to remove plaque deposits from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Removing plaque decreases the amount of damage that can be done to your teeth after eating and drinking.

Furthermore, recent studies have found compelling links between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall health. Researchers have discovered that individuals who suffer from gum disease have a significantly higher risk of developing a range of chronic, long-term health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer. By visiting the dentist, like Louisville Colorado dentist like Dr. Chuck Skinner and Dr. Brian Chudleigh, you can not only help improve the long-term health of your teeth and gums, but also improve your overall health, as well.

Why should I visit the dentist if my teeth feel fine?

We commonly think of visiting the dentist like going to see the doctor – when we don’t feel well, we get the problem taken care of before it gets any worse. However, in some ways visiting the dentist is more like seeing a mechanic – when something breaks, we get it fixed.

Unlike a cold or other illness, oral health problems don’t display any noticeable symptoms until the underlying condition has seriously advanced. When you finally notice a toothache or problems biting, significant damage has already been done to your oral health. At that point, the role of the dentist is not to prevent the condition from getting worse, but to repair the damage that’s been done. This often requires expensive and potentially uncomfortable procedures, such as dental fillings, root canals and gum disease treatment.

Visiting the dentist even when your teeth feel fine helps to ensure they stay that way. Cleanings and checkups provide your dentist with the opportunity to perform routine maintenance that will keep your oral health running smoothly for years to come.

Your dentist even provides treatment options that help restore the luster a smile may have lost over a lifetime of wear, such as from cracked, chipped or discolored teeth. Teeth whitening treatments, dental veneers, implants, crowns and bridges can all help to restore the form and function of your teeth, so you feel confident in your smile once again.

How do I take care of my teeth at home?

Practicing a quality oral hygiene regimen at home ranks as the best way of protecting your teeth and gums from the harmful effects of tooth decay and gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day – once in the morning for two minutes, and again before bed for another two minutes. The ADA also recommends flossing at least once a day, preferably before brushing at night. While brushing after every meal is ideal, you can help offset the risks to your oral health by thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water after eating.

Your diet also plays an important role in protecting your oral health. By cutting back on sugars – whether from cookies and candy bars or from pastas and breads – you can reduce the amount of fuel plaque has available to produce the harmful acids that damage tooth enamel. Instead, make sure to eat a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables, while also drinking plenty of water everyday.

At what age should my kids start visiting the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental appointment shortly after he or she begins teething, or by the age of one – whichever comes first. While this may seem like an early age, the development of your child’s baby teeth play an important role in the development of adult teeth. During this early period, a dentist can examine a child’s baby teeth to determine if everything is developing properly. Any potential concerns will be noted by your dentist, who will continue to monitor your child’s oral health to see if those concerns correct themselves naturally during development.

How often should I visit the dentist?

For most patients, dental visits should be scheduled once every six months. However, patients with an underlying medical condition like diabetes or who are pregnant may need to schedule more frequent visits to maintain and protect their oral health. Your dentist will help determine how frequently you should visit after your initial exam. Should your health change, such as becoming pregnant, make sure to notify your dentist immediately so that any necessary changes can be made to how often you visit.

What is a cavity?

Harmful oral bacteria known as plaque uses the foods we consume to produce harmful acids that erode away at tooth enamel. Over time, plaque will wear holes in the surface of our teeth known as cavities. Cavities weaken the overall strength and resiliency of a tooth, making it more likely to suffer further permanent damage by cracking or breaking. Treating cavities ranks as an important part of protecting your long-term oral health.

What is a filling?

A dental filling is used to restore the function and integrity of missing tooth structure. In most cases, the structural loss typically results from tooth decay or from facial trauma. Fillings can be made from a range of materials, including metal, porcelain and gold.