Dental Frequently Asked Questions
How can I protect my teeth from damage?
The enamel on our teeth is hard, but as we all know, it can be chipped and cracked. In addition to following the instructions of your hygienist, here are some other ways you can protect your teeth:
- Avoid chewing ice, cracking nut shells, or opening packages with your teeth.
- Avoid “hard foods” such as popcorn.
- Limit acidic soft drinks and sugary foods that stick to your teeth.
- Decide against tongue and lip piercings, which can fracture teeth and increase infection risk.
My morning doesn’t start until I’ve had my first cup of tea. How bad is this for my teeth?
Tea and coffee are safe to drink in moderation. However, over time, large amounts can cause staining and damage. In addition to caffeine, tea and coffee contain chromogens, deeply pigmented molecules that adhere to dental enamel, and tannins, which boost a chromogen molecule’s ability to attach to dental enamel. Black tea is worse than black coffee, because coffee is lower in tannins.
Are dental X-rays safe?
Yes. New digital X-ray machines limit the low-dose radiation to a beam that targets only the areas needed to be filmed, faster film speeds allow for shorter exposure times, and the use of film holders prevents slipping, reducing the need for repeated exposure due to retakes. Stray radiation is almost non-existent with the use of modern dental X-ray machines, but the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protect against even that possibility. Every two years, federal law requires X-ray machines to be checked for safety and accuracy, and some states have even more stringent regulations.
I’m pregnant. Is it safe for me to go to the dentist?
Congratulations! Yes, you should continue to see your dentist, as pregnancy can increase certain dental issues. Be sure to inform your dentist that you are pregnant and if you’re experiencing any changes in your oral health.
Why don’t my dentures fit right anymore?
The tissues and bones of your mouth may shrink (atrophy) with the passage of time or with the gain or loss of body weight, causing a change in the fit of your dentures. A simple realign may help them fit snugly again. However, if you’ve worn your dentures for a number of years, or the bases are too far out of shape, it may be time for replacements. It is counterproductive to use more denture adhesive to try to make them hold better, because this may lead to faster bone loss and additional problems with the fit of your dentures.
I’ve heard that my silver-colored fillings contain mercury. Should I have them replaced?
Dental amalgam (silver) fillings comprise silver, tin, copper, and liquid mercury, which are combined to form an inert (non-active) alloy. According to the FDA, CDC, the American Dental Association (ADA), and a number of other public health agencies, there is no link between this type of filling and any known health issue. Because of speculation and controversy, amalgam is the most researched and tested dental filling material on the market.