To help you take good care of your oral health and smile, Dr. Engelhardt, Dr. Slootmaker, Dr. Ralston, and our dental team are happy to give you the information you need to succeed. In order to do so, we are thrilled to provide the answers to frequently asked questions about teeth and oral hygiene. If you have additional questions that were not included in this page, please feel free to call Engelhardt & Associates at 970-484-4890. Our dental team is more than happy to help you!
Which type of toothbrush should I use?
It’s important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head. This is recommended because medium and hard bristles tend to irritate the gums and promote recession. Small-headed toothbrushes help you get around each tooth and the soft bristles help you clean and care for your gums without injuring them. We also strongly encourage you to use an electric toothbrush, like Waterpik, Oral B 3D, or Sonicare, because studies show that they are more effective than manual brushes.
Which toothpaste should I use?
Dr. Engelhardt, Dr. Slootmaker, and Dr. Ralston think that your toothpaste choice should be your preference. However, no matter which paste you decide to use, make sure it contains fluoride. Fluoride decreases the chances of cavities. We recommend that you only use a small amount of toothpaste while brushing. Too much toothpaste can abrade the root structure of the teeth and gums, which can cause recession and erosion. It’s also recommended to use a paste that has been approved by the American Dental Association. This is because some toothpaste manufacturers use different chemicals that provide a marketable outcome but don’t necessarily help your smile. If it has been approved by the ADA, it is safe for oral use.
How often should I floss?
It’s best to floss your teeth once a day. This keeps your gums healthy and decreases your chance of gum disease and bone loss. It also helps prevent cavities from forming in the crevices where your toothbrush cannot clean.
What’s the difference between a “cap” and a “crown?”
A dental cap and a dental crown are the same thing. They are strong restorations that can repair teeth that are decayed or broken by covering all or most of the tooth enamel, which is the outer layer of the teeth. These restorations will be placed after your dentist removes old fillings, damaged tooth structure, and decay. The cap and crown are usually made from porcelain, composite resin, stainless steel, gold, or zirconium.
What’s the difference between a “dental bridge” and a “partial denture?”
Both dental bridges and partial dentures can replace missing teeth. However, a dental bridge is cemented in place over teeth or dental implants. It’s a more permanent restoration. A partial denture is attached to the teeth with clasps and is easily removed. Patients are usually more satisfied with bridges or implants than with partial dentures.
What about “silver” fillings vs. “white” fillings?
Even though the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam fillings, which are also known as silver fillings, more patients request white, or tooth-colored, composite fillings. Dr. Engelhardt, Dr. Slootmaker, and Dr. Ralston also prefer white fillings because they bond to the tooth enamel and help strengthen a tooth that has been damaged from decay. However, white fillings cannot be used in every situation. If a tooth is badly broken or decayed, a dental crown will oftentimes be necessary. We will still use silver fillings in certain situations when patients request them.
Do I need to have a root canal just because I need a crown?
No. Most teeth that are crowned do not have to have a root canal, also known as endodontic therapy. We can determine the need for root canal therapy depending on how the tooth reacts to the treatment. However, most teeth that have root canals do need dental crowns to keep them healthy and strong.