Questions About Family or Cosmetic Dentistry?

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to give us a call and our team at Hughes Dental Clinic will be happy to assist you.
Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums
How often should I visit the dentist?
You should visit the dentist at least twice a year. A dental exam can reveal early signs of decay and disease that you may not see or feel. Catching these conditions early can help control them before they get worse and are harder to treat. Additionally, getting a cleaning by a trained professional will remove plaque in areas you may have missed or cannot reach.
How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

You should brush at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed. You should floss once a day as well.

What is the proper way to brush my teeth?
The following guidelines are important to brushing correctly.

1. First, make sure to use a soft bristled brush. Hard bristled brushes can wear down the enamel of your teeth.

2. Place your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gumline. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gumline.

3. Use short back and forth strokes or tiny circular movements to brush your teeth. Each movement should be no bigger than the size of each tooth.

4. Make sure to use gentle strokes while brushing. Gentle strokes are effective in removing plaque, while too much pressure can wear down the enamel of your teeth.

5. Brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

6. Finally, don't cut your brushing short!  Brush for at least 2 minutes.
How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Proper toothbrush care is important to your oral health.  Because a worn toothbrush is less effective in cleaning, the American Dental Association recommends replacing your family's toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months or sooner if the bristles show wear or family members have been sick. 

What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky, clear film which forms every day on teeth from food debris and bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum disease and cavities. Regular dental check ups, along with brushing and flossing every day, can help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and eating a balanced diet can help control plaque.
What is the proper way to floss?
The following guidelines are important to flossing correctly.  If you are unable to do the following, ask us about the other interdental cleaners we have available.

1. Take 18" of floss and wind it around the middle finger of each hand.  You can use these fingers to take up floss as it becomes dirty. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the floss leaving 1-2 inches in between for cleaning.

2. Gently move the floss up and down between the spaces of your teeth. Never snap the floss down onto your gums, as it can cause damage.

3. As you move the floss down into the space between two teeth, slide it up and down against the surface of one tooth. Gently clean at the gumline as well. Repeat this for the other tooth.

4. Repeat this process for all of your teeth.

Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is periodontal (gum) disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Typically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens, often due to poor brushing habits. The gums can become swollen and red in the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis. As the disease advances, periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, pain while chewing, and tooth loss.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
The following are signs of periodontal (gum) disease, and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of these:

  • Gums that bleed while brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn't go away
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly.  Eat a healthy diet to get the required vitamins and minerals necessary for your teeth.
Teeth Whitening
Why do our teeth turn yellow?
While our teeth start out pearly white, they can discolor through the years as our enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellow color substance that makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a yellowish tint.
What are the different types of teeth whitening options?

Below are the two most popular teeth whitening options available today.

Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits
These whitening kits are purchased from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product.

Over the counter whitening
Over the counter teeth whitening kits are store-bought and use a lower concentration gel than both in-office bleaching and take-home kits purchased from your doctor. They typically are less effective than methods that can be performed by your dentist because of the lower concentration gel. 


At Hughes Dental Clinic we also offer Laser Whitening. 

It is best to consult your dentist to understand which whitening option is best for you. There are potential risks and limitations of tooth whitening.

How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening usually lasts from one to three years before darkening of the teeth is noticed. Once your teeth have been initially whitened, "touch ups" may be required to maintain the whiteness.
How soon should my child receive an orthodontic exam?
An orthodontic evaluation should be done at your child's first dental visit. After the age of three any cross-bites should be dealt with as soon as your child will cooperate with wearing orthodontic appliances. Interceptive therapy should be done during the primary growth period (ages 5-8) to correct problems and undesirable habits. Interceptive therapy can reduce the length of future orthodontic therapy.
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?
  • Improve "cleanability" of teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to eventual tooth loss
  • Maintain proper oral function related to chewing, breathing and speech
  • Reduce chance of trauma to severely protruded front teeth
  • Avoid abnormal or excessive wear of teeth
  • Correct improper jaw relationships and reduce stress on chewing muscles and jaw joints
  • Contribute to improved appearance and self-esteem
Other Common Questions
What can I do about bad breath?
Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors, including
  • Types of food you eat
  • Particles of food stuck between your teeth
  • Periodontal disease
  • Plaque build up
  • Dry mouth


Your dentist will help you determine the cause of your bad breath, so that you can take steps to eliminate it.

Regardless of the cause of your bad breath, good oral hygiene and regular checkups to the dentist will help reduce it. Brushing and flossing will eliminate particles of food that stick between your teeth and emit odors. Brushing and flossing will also help prevent or treat periodontal disease (gum disease), caused by plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to bad breath.
Dentures should be properly cleaned and soaked overnight in antibacterial solution (unless otherwise advised by your dentist).
Finally, make sure to brush your tongue regularly to eliminate any residue.
What is the difference between conventional dentures and overdentures?
Conventional dentures are maintained in the mouth by suction. 
An overdenture typically requires 2 - 6 implants. Abutments are attached to the implants and connect to the denture.  The denture is anchored in place, stable and secure.
Disadvantages of Conventional Dentures
  • Limited diet - Patients with natural occlusion can bite with 200 lbs. of force; denture wearers bite with about 50 lbs. of force; those who wear dentures for 15 years can only bite with 6 lbs of force.
  • Accelerated bone loss changes your appearance and dentures loosen.
  • Discomfort - the denture base must fit tightly around the gums, and can cause sore spots
  • Require frequent checking, occasional relining or even replacement
  • Denture movement during talking may affect speech
  • Cost of dental adhesives
Advantages of Overdentures
  • Eat whatever you want
  • Prevent rapid bone loss
  • Improved appearance
  • Does not interfere with speech
  • No dental adhesives
Is dry mouth serious?
Lack of saliva can lead to aggressive dental decay. That's because saliva does more than just keep the mouth wet - it helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.
  • Dry mouth can cause decay along the gum line and on the roots of teeth. Root decay progresses quickly and can be difficult to treat.
  • Dry mouth causes dentures to become uncomfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help dentures adhere properly to oral tissues.
Symptoms of dry mouth
    • Sticky, dry feeling in mouth or throat
    • Limited saliva that seems thick or stringy
    • Burning sensation in the mouth
    • Trouble chewing, swallowing or speaking
    • Altered sense of taste
    • Rough, dry tongue
    • Cracked lips, sores, or split skin at the corners of the mouth
    • Increased plaque (thin film) on teeth, tooth decay and gum disease
    • Bad breath
    The reasons salivary glands might not function properly include medication side effects, diseases, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, menopause or smoking.
    To fix dry mouth
      • Switch medications
      • See your dentist, who may recommend saliva substitutes
      • Brush after every meal
      • Floss daily to remove plaque and particles between teeth and under the gum line where toothbrushes can't reach
      • Chew sugarless gum or suck on tart, sugarless hard candies
      • Use special toothpastes, chewing gum, or alcohol-free mouthwashes
      • Avoid dry, salty foods
      • Restrict intake of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages
      • Drink frequent sips of water