Routine Oral Hygiene and Care
Brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day. Many dental experts recommend brushing after every meal and once before you go to bed. However, make sure you don’t brush right after you eat, since the protective enamel of your teeth may be softer and more prone to damage then.
When you’re brushing, the bristles should be at a slight angle (tilted toward the point where your teeth meet your gum line). Use gentle motions, back and forth, and clean every surface of the tooth – outside, inside and over the area where you chew. Take your time (no less than 2-3 minutes), and make sure to brush your tongue as well!
Both can be equally effective at cleaning, provided you brush regularly and properly. Some people find electric toothbrushes easier to use, especially if they suffer from medical conditions like arthritis. If you tend to rush through your brushing routine, or brush with too much force, the motor-powered bristles can do a better and safer job of removing plaque!
You should change your toothbrush (or electric brush head) as soon as the bristles begin to fray, usually after 3-4 months of use. Irregular or frayed bristles cannot reach between your teeth (or into hard-to-reach areas like the back of your mouth) as well.
Use dental floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day. This helps reduce the buildup of plaque and bacteria, and keeps various oral health problems at bay. If possible, floss after every meal to dislodge food particles stuck in the gaps between your teeth. Just remember this old saying: floss the teeth you want to keep!
Take an 18-inch piece of dental floss and wind most of it on one hand, around your middle finger. Wind the rest around the middle finger of the other hand, and use your forefingers and thumbs to hold it. Keep the floss tight against your tooth surface and use a gentle rubbing motion to remove plaque without damaging your gums.
If you are unable to floss or find it too difficult, there are other interdental cleaners you may use. Try a pre-threaded flosser, dental pick, water flosser or silicone/wood plaque remover. Keep up with the rest of your oral health routine and dental checkups too!
Brush and floss regularly, either using a fluoride rinse after you brush or a fluoride gel for brushing (fluoride helps prevent cavities). Keeping your teeth clean is even more crucial when you wear retainers and braces, since food particles can get stuck more easily in them.
Visiting the Dentist
According to the guidelines published by the American Dental Association, you should see your dentist at least twice a year. This is one of the best preventive measures you can take (in addition to a good diet and oral hygiene routine), so call us for an appointment if you haven’t had a checkup in over six months!
If your oral health is impeccable, then congratulations. You’re doing better than most! Still, to ensure that your mouth remains healthy, you should see a dentist every six months. Remember, certain problems are painless at first (like gum disease), but dentists are trained to recognize symptoms that may escape your notice.
Regular dental checkups help to prevent a wide range of oral health problems, and early treatment keeps the existing ones from getting any worse. When you visit All About Smiles, we will gather your dental and medical history, assess your oral health (no judgement!), take note of any pain or complaints you have, determine if there are any issues, and explain the treatment options. We’re also very friendly, and will make you feel right at home!
You aren’t alone. Many people feel anxious or afraid before a dental appointment, but we’re not as scary as you’d think. When you visit our clinic for a checkup, we’ll do everything possible to ensure that your experience is painless, stress-free and (dare we say it?) even pleasant!
The consequences of neglecting a dental problem can be far worse than any hassle or discomfort you fear today. For instance, untreated tooth decay can “eat up” your teeth, causing root canal infections or even tooth loss, while gum disease can cause abscesses, bone damage and cysts. Untreated dental diseases is also very strongly linked to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even strokes.
While a regular schedule of brushing and flossing combined with a good diet and plenty of water can help keep teeth clean, you should still get a professional cleaning done twice a year. This helps to remove built-up plaque from dental pockets as well as tartar.
We understand that emergencies aren’t in the habit of calling first. If something unexpected happens (like an accident where one of your teeth gets knocked out) we’ll don our “superhero capes” and tell you exactly what to do. Call us as soon as you face a dental emergency, and we’ll schedule your appointment as soon as possible!
We are preferred providers of all major Dental PPO Plans. Please call our office at 210-342-2000, if you have any questions concerning your insurance.
No insurance? No Problem. We have affordable prices and offer in-house financing/payment plans.
Common Dental Problems and Solutions
Bad breath can be caused by a wide range of dental issues, but lack of oral hygiene is usually to blame. Brush and floss twice a day, and use a tongue scraper to clean the surface of your tongue once a week. This removes volatile sulphurous compounds, or “white matter” buildup, one of the main causes of unpleasant breath.
Plaque is a white, sticky layer that collects on your teeth due to bacterial buildup. If neglected, it can increase the risk of cavities and other dental problems and may eventually cause more serious general health problems. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis help remove plaque and reduce the growth of bacteria.
If plaque is not removed from the surface of your teeth, it can harden and turn into tartar. This is much harder to remove without professional cleaning, so pay attention to your dental hygiene and visit your dentist for “in-depth” tooth cleaning twice year.
Periodontal or gum disease is an infection that affects the supporting tissue around a tooth. It can cause loose, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, and if it is neglected, early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) may eventually lead to cysts, abscesses, bone damage, tooth loss and a LOT of pain. Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) has even been linked to higher risks of heart disease and other medical conditions.
Also known as caries and tooth decay, a cavity is a section of your tooth surface that is permanently damaged, turning into holes or openings if left untreated. It can be caused by many factors, including sugary/acidic foods, bacterial growth and lack of oral hygiene.
Even with regular care and cleaning, there is bacteria living in your mouth. When you eat high-sugar foods, they “feed” the bad bacteria, which produce acids that damage tooth enamel. This raises the risk of cavities and promotes the growth of plaque.
Tobacco use raises the risk of oral cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. It can also cause tooth staining, bad breath, receding gums and excessive bacterial growth in your mouth.
Follow an oral care routine and improve your diet by eating nutritious, vitamin-rich food (as well as lots of fresh, crunchy fruits and veggies). Eating strawberries is a natural way to whiten teeth! Limit your intake of sugary, acidic and stain-causing foods like coffee and red wine. Also, avoid tobacco use and make sure you drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth clean.
Whitening toothpastes can help reduce surface discoloration on your teeth (stains caused by coffee, red wine, etc.). They usually contain gentle abrasives or chemicals that polish the tooth surface or break down stain-causing substances. They can make teeth seem whiter after around 2-6 weeks of use, but you should look into professional dental bleaching for heavily stained teeth.
Sensitive teeth can be caused by damage to tooth enamel as well as exposed roots, cavities, chipped teeth and certain dental procedures. It can be prevented to some extent by maintaining mouth health and hygiene. If you feel pain or discomfort while brushing, flossing and eating/drinking certain foods, visit your dentist for a checkup.
Diabetics can benefit from good oral hygiene and professional cleanings, since high blood sugar affects the health of your teeth and gums. It can significantly raise the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, so stay alert for warning signs and visit your dentist regularly.
TMJ is a painful condition caused by damage or injury to the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull. It can lead to jaw pain, headaches, earaches, clicking or “popping” sounds and discomfort when you eat, chew or speak. Physical therapy, dental bite guards and medication can help alleviate the symptoms.
Most people believe that TMJ affects adolescents and young adults alone, but many patients are middle-aged or older. Unfortunately, few seek help in the prime of their life, and continue to suffer as they age. Consult your dentist for TMJ diagnosis and treatment.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is an oral health condition indicated by a lack of saliva in the mouth. The causes can range from medication or diet to salivary gland disorders and even aging, but dry mouth can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections.
If you have dry mouth, drink plenty of water and avoid sugary foods or drinks that can promote tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals may also help with the production of saliva, but visit a dentist for diagnosis and medication if the condition persists.
Dentistry Services and Treatment
Corrective or restorative dentistry deals with a wide range of oral diseases and disorders that affect the teeth as well as their supporting structure. It also includes procedures and treatments (like fillings, root canals, etc.) that help restore teeth to their natural looks and function, hence the name.
As the name suggests, cavity risk assessment is a preventive procedure that helps your dentist determine whether you’re at risk of tooth decay. If it’s caught early, caries can be treated with minimal trouble! Read more.
When a tooth is very badly infected, root canal therapy may help save and repair it. The treatment involves the removal of the dental pulp and nerve from inside the tooth, so the “root” cavity can then be cleaned and disinfected before rebuilding the tooth. Read more.
Tooth replacement options include dental implants, bridges and dentures. Of all these, implants are the only ones that replicate the feel, appearance, and function of natural teeth. After a consultation, we’ll help you select the right treatment depending on the type, location and extent of damage to surrounding teeth or tissue.
Wisdom teeth can get impacted if they don’t have enough space to emerge fully. Impacted wisdom teeth raise the risk of gum disease, infection and damage to other teeth by pushing against them, and are often harder to clean as well. This is a very common dental complaint, and extraction is almost always the best solution. Read more.
Orthodontic treatment is the use of braces (wire-based dental appliances) for correcting alignment problems, crowding and crooked teeth. It can take as little as 6 months or as much as 3 years for braces to realign your teeth.
Traditionally, braces were only used for children, right after the emergence of permanent teeth. With modern orthodontic solutions (known as adult braces or six month braces), you can get alignment and crowding issues corrected even later in life! Read more.
The materials used for braces today, especially adult braces, can blend in with your natural teeth for cosmetic appeal. There may be some discomfort initially as your mouth gets used to them, but it’s minimal. Braces will not damage your teeth.
High-sugar foods can promote plaque and bacterial growth, but avoid sticky, hard and crunchy foods too. Sticky foods can make it difficult to keep your teeth and braces clean, while hard or crunchy foods can damage the wires or brackets, and cause alignment issues.
Crafted with synthetic materials that look and feel like natural teeth, composite or white tooth fillings are a very common choice for tooth restoration. They are used to repair cavities, root canal openings, chips and other minor damage, and can be colored to perfectly match the rest of your teeth. Read more.
Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin, which are bonded to the front surface of a tooth. These cosmetic dentistry solutions are often used to cover up imperfections in color, size or shape. Some veneers may also resist stains. Read more.
Also known as “caps”, dental crowns are a versatile dentistry solution typically used to restore teeth that are badly chipped, worn or otherwise damaged. They can be fitted over the affected teeth to strengthen them, as well as improve their appearance. Read more.
Dental bridges are artificial tooth replacements that are normally used to correct gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. They are attached to the adjoining teeth (on either side of the gap) for support, but only if these supporting teeth are healthy. Read more.
When you’re missing a few teeth in your upper or lower jaw, partial dentures may be used to replace them. These are artificial teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored base, with a metal frame that holds them in place. Partial dentures may be fixed or removable. Read more.
Also known as full jaw replacements, complete dentures are used when you’ve lost all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw (or if they need to be extracted). Depending on when the tooth loss occurred, we may suggest immediate or conventional dentures. Read more.
Dental implants are popular replacement solutions for missing or severely damaged teeth. An implant replaces the root section of a tooth with metal posts (that are something like screws). This helps strengthen the supporting structure of the tooth, before a bridge, crown or other artificial tooth restoration is fitted in place. Read more.
Implants are fitted by periodontists through a surprisingly easy and painless surgical procedure. The use of a local anesthetic numbs your mouth, to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible while the procedure is conducted! Read more.
Transitional bonding is a procedure where filling material is attached to your tooth’s natural enamel and dentin, to correct gaps, chips, cracks and stains. It’s typically used as an interim cosmetic solution when you’re between other dental treatments. Read more.
Dental sealants are a kind of protective coating that helps lower the risk of cavities and bacterial buildup in the back of chewing teeth. These surfaces can be hard to reach with a toothbrush, so filling in the pits and grooves with sealants prevents food particles from sticking to them. Read more.
It’s a good idea for children to get dental sealants on their (permanent) molars and premolars right after they all emerge, so their teeth are protected against caries for the next few years at least. Sealants can also be great for adults, though! Read more.
Cosmetic dentistry is a term used to describe dental services and procedures that aim to enhance the aesthetic value and appeal of your teeth (although they can also be restorative). These include teeth bleaching, veneers, crowns, dental bonding, etc. Read more.
Yes. Cosmetic dentistry solutions like transitional dental bonding, crowns and veneers can alter the shape of your teeth as per your needs, whether for purely aesthetic purposes or more practical reasons. Book a consultation with us to discuss your options.
To whiten teeth and make them brighter, you can opt for over-the-counter tooth bleaching products like whitening toothpastes, gels, strips or trays, as well as professional dental procedures performed at a clinic. Going to a dentist for in-house or overnight tooth bleaching usually offers faster, safer and more effective results.
If you’re getting in-house bleaching, the process will take 1-2 hours at most. For overnight bleaching, your dentist will create a custom-fitted mouth guard from an impression of your teeth, which you need to fill with bleaching gel and keep in your mouth overnight (usually for a fortnight).
For severe discoloration, it’s best to let an experienced dentist bleach your teeth. If you plan to do it at home, get a dentist’s advice on the procedure, safety and effects of the product you’re using. A dental checkup will also ensure that your teeth are strong and healthy enough for the procedure!
Contemporary (digital) dental X-rays expose you to very little radiation, by removing the exposure time needed to develop films, emitting lower radiation levels and focusing the beams on a smaller area. In addition, protective lead aprons minimize your exposure even further. Read more.
CBCT is an advanced form of CT (computed tomography) scanning, which uses a cone beam to generate sophisticated 3-D scans of your dental structure, nerve paths, bones and soft tissue. It improves diagnosis and treatment for oral health issues by giving us clear, detailed images of the interior of your mouth and jaw. Read more.
CBCT emits higher radiation levels than regular dental X-rays, but less than traditional CT scans. It’s not recommended for pregnant women or children, unless additional dental scans are absolutely necessary for diagnosis. Read more.
You can get any dental treatment during your pregnancy, but the risk of side-effects and discomfort is lower during the second trimester. You could simply wait for some procedures, but not if you have any pain, swelling or soreness. These typically signal an infection, which could put you or your baby at risk!
Baby bottle tooth decay is typically caused when they nurse right before sleeping, or you give them sweetened milk or honey in their baby bottle or pacifier. Caring for your little one’s teeth and gums right from birth is also essential, as is visiting a dentist who specializes in family dentistry or pediatric dentistry.
Right after your baby is born, start using water with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush to clean his/her gums. When baby teeth start to emerge, brush them twice daily with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Increase it to a pea-sized amount when they’re 3 years old, up to the age of 6, and assist them with brushing their teeth.
Teach your kids about the importance of good oral hygiene, and help them brush their teeth when they are very young. Don’t let them swallow toothpaste after they brush, and make sure they eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Regular dental checkups will also help keep tooth problems at bay! Incorporate xylitol containing products into their diet. Research shows that taking 6 mg of xylitol per day significantly reduced the occurrence of dental decay.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child’s first dental checkup should be scheduled right after their first baby tooth shows, and no later than when they turn one. During the checkup, we can check their oral health and diet, as well as suggest the right brushing, flossing and tooth care routine for you.
After your child is a year old, schedule a dental appointment every six months to check their dental health and correct any issues early on. For instance, we can begin orthodontic treatment if your child needs braces, or apply protective dental sealants to molars after all their permanent teeth set in.
The answer lies in the name! Pediatric dentists specialize in treating young children, and you will usually have to start visiting a family dentist after your child reaches a certain age. Family dentists continue to provide oral healthcare to your kids (and the rest of the family) even as they grow older.
Also known as primary teeth, baby teeth start to erupt when your child is between 5-7 months old. These help your baby speak, chew and smile, but more importantly, they also create the “path” for permanent teeth to emerge later. Your child should have all of his/her permanent teeth (including molars) between 8 and 14 years of age.
A child’s baby teeth normally start to fall out when they’re around 6 years old, to be replaced by permanent teeth that are already starting to emerge. The loss of baby teeth starts with the bottom front teeth, and ends with the molars (usually at around 9-12 years).
Most baby teeth fall out on their own, and kids are usually curious, excited and, let’s be honest, a little nervous at first. If your little one is apprehensive about a loose tooth and asks you to remove it, use a clean tissue or gauze to grab and quickly twist it. If it doesn’t come out, give it a few more days or visit the dentist for an extraction.
New teeth often lead to an inflammation in the gums while erupting. Your little one may feel an itch, pain, congestion, swelling, soreness and other discomfort, in addition to excessive drooling, which can cause irritability and restlessness. Gently massage their gums with a clean finger, and visit the dentist if teething problems persist.
It’s common for parents to worry about their child’s safety during rough games or sports, and a dental mouth guard can set your fears at ease. These soft, custom-fitted plastic appliances help prevent injury to the lips, cheeks, teeth, gums and head. In case your child loses a permanent tooth, wash it in clean water and try to insert it back into the gum. If that doesn’t work, drop it in a glass of milk and call your dentist for an emergency appointment!