As a dentist, I’m often approached by friends and family with their dental questions. Either they’re looking for a second opinion, or they haven’t had a chance to see their regular provider and want an answer quickly. Based on my years of experience, here are the most frequently asked dental questions.
My jaw is popping, what can I do?
It’s actually very common to experience jaw popping. In fact, more than half of the population will experience jaw popping or jaw pain when they open their mouth. This is indicative of a ligament that has been stretched and damaged. Most of these pops or clicks occur with no discomfort. However, you should be cautious, so you do not overstretch the ligament.
If your jaw is popping, let your dentist know. This is not an emergency, but your dentist can determine if the pop is caused by a bite-related issue. If no bite-related issue is present, the pop is likely a result of trauma to the jaw such as a blow to the chin, or chronic clenching and grinding. The latter can be treated with a bite guard. Behavior modification can also help to soften a click over time.
Do I really have a cavity if there’s no tooth pain?
One of the biggest myths about oral health is that all cavities cause pain. I often see patients who have been told they have 10 cavities, but don’t believe the diagnosis because they don’t feel any cavity pain. Cavities do not hurt until they are very advanced. In this instance, the cavity is causing nerve damage, which is the cause of the pain – not the cavity.
If you’re wary of your diagnosis, ask your dentist to show you on an x-ray where you have cavities. They should be able to clearly identify the cavities and point them out to you.
Can cavities go away on their own?
Another question I get is “can cavities go away?” We’ve all seen the commercials that claim a toothpaste can reverse a cavity, and technically this is true. However, the cavity must be in the very early stages and only affecting the enamel. The tooth’s enamel has the capacity to demineralize and re-mineralize, and toothpastes – such as CariFree CTx4 Gel – help the enamel re-mineralize.
Once the cavity goes through the enamel, it is no longer reversible. If you’re wondering how to get rid of cavities, there are several other ways to stop them in their tracks, including keeping up with your regular hygiene appointments.
Can wisdom teeth make your teeth crooked?
This question is most often asked by the mothers of teenagers who have just invested in orthodontics. The mother is worried that if her child does not have their wisdom teeth removed, their teeth will crowd, and they’ll need braces again.
Wisdom teeth do not cause crowding, even if they are impacted. That is not the reason that we remove them. Most wisdom teeth are removed because they can cause damage to the surrounding molars, jaw pain and bite problems. Partially impacted wisdom teeth also present a risk of cavities and infection because they cannot be cleaned properly.
Can eating fruit whiten my smile?
Another common question I get is about using fruit to whiten teeth. Eating fruit to whiten your teeth has become more popular in recent years as people move away from chemicals. However, this is not a safe or effective way to whiten your teeth. In fact, what you are doing when you eat large amounts of fruit is removing your tooth’s enamel.
Fruits such as lemon and other citrus are very acidic and eat away at the enamel of your teeth. While your teeth may appear whiter, it’s because you are removing the strong protective layer of your teeth and exposing the dentin.
Can diet soda cause cavities?
People often drink diet soda because it does not contain any sugar. They believe that this will help them lose weight and help prevent cavities. However, it is not just the sugar in soda that causes cavities. Sodas, like citrus, are very acidic and can eat away at your tooth’s enamel. If you are looking for a way to reduce your cavities, I would recommend quitting soda and other acidic beverages – like sports drinks – all together.
Can you get a cavity under a crown?
Oftentimes, when a patient gets a crown, they think it will protect their tooth forever. A crown will protect your tooth long-term. However, it needs to be well-maintained with proper brushing and flossing, and regular dental checkups. While a crown can last you 30 years, the number one mode of failure is decay under the crown.
Decay happens when cavities form at the margin – where the crown meets the tooth – because the patient is not keeping up with their dental hygiene. When you visit the dentist, they are checking these margins to look for decay. That is why it’s so important to keep up with your regular hygiene appointments and at-home care.
Do I really need two dental cleanings a year?
The question “how often should you go to the dentist” is one I get often. People believe that if they have healthy teeth, or they are in the maintenance phase of treatment, they only need a dental cleaning once a year. Technically, some people can get away with going to the dentist once a year. But they are the exception.
The most important function of a dental cleaning is monitoring and catching things early. The tools that we use during a teeth cleaning also breakup plaque that gets under the gumline and disrupts the bacterial flora. This helps to maintain a healthy environment that is not possible with just brushing and flossing.
Have other dental questions?
Many dental questions can be answered on our blog. If you’re experiencing pain or looking for a second opinion, schedule an appointment with our dentist office in Brandon, FL. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and create a treatment plan.