Essential Dental Info

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At what age should children have their first dental check-up?

I personally advise parents to send their children as early as 2 1/2 to 3 years of age to the clinic just for familiarization. We are more concerned about the psychological development of the child rather than their teeth. We want them to be familiar with the dental environment and know and trust us, so they will grow up not fearful but with the impression that dental visits are pleasant visits. So during the first encounter, we only count their teeth and let them play with some of the hand instruments. All the milk teeth are expected to come out at 2-1/2 years for female and 3 for male, lower teeth always erupt first before upper teeth.

Which tooth paste is the best?

There are so many available brands in the market, we really don't have any preference for as long as the patient brushes his teeth. However, since dental caries is a major disease problem in the Philippines affecting almost 96% of all Filipino children at age 6, and since we don't have a national fluoridation program (no fluoride in our water), a toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride would be better to use. Fluocaril is the only one available in the market with a lot of fluoride in it.

What is the best mouthwash to use? Why?

Studies have shown that Chlorhexidine gluconate is most effective in the prevention and cure of gum diseases. It stays longer in the oral cavity unlike other preparations which get washed away immediately after rinsing, and are therefore not as effective. So, we recommend the use of Orahex rinse which is only available at the Cebu Doctors' Hospital pharmacy and some dental clinics.

What is the proper way to brush teeth?

Our rule is downward strokes for upper teeth and upward strokes for lower teeth on the facial aspect of the teeth. On the top and palatal or lingual surfaces horizontal strokes. Gums need to be massaged during brushing as well as the tongue. We suggest that the patient counts at least 10 strokes per area starting from the upper right side, then front, then left then proceed with the lower teeth. Brushing should at least be a 10 to 15 minute habit... How often? The rule is to brush immediately after eating. If you eat 3 meals a day then brush after each meal. Others do it 6 times a day, which is OK

What should be the daily routine tooth care?

Brush and floss after every meal and after eating in between....avoid sweets.

Should one floss first and brush, or brush and then floss?

I have not encountered any studies suggesting that doing one before the other is more effective. As long as you brush and you floss your teeth, they will help.

How can one prevent plaque formation, and staining teeth?

Stains, the external kind, is related to the patient's diet, habits and sometimes water supply. Smoking causes a lot of tobacco stains, coffee also. If you are a caffeine addict, rinse immediately after coffee. For chronic smokers, stop smoking! Brushing mechanically removes plaque deposits. However, there will always be plaque residues...since we all have to eat...so regular visits to the dentist is a must to prevent plaque formation.

How can one prevent tooth decay?

Proper habits, proper diet, proper dental care, and regular dental visits, at least 2x a year, can prevent tooth decay.

How often should one visit the dentist for prophylactic care?

We usually evaluate patient's teeth and gums. Not all patients are the same. Some develop more plaques than others. Some have crowded teeth that tend to trap more food and are therefore more prone to dental caries. For high risk patients, we recommend quarterly visits.

Is veneer ("jacket") good and long lasting to hide ugly teeth?

There are so many ways now to improve one's smile. The patient should have his/her teeth properly evaluated and diagnosed to see if he/she really needs the treatment. Sometimes a veneer or a crown is installed even if it is not indicated.

Are those teeth whitener safe and effective? Long lasting?

The available methods for bleaching or whitening are generally safe and, yes, effective. Some patients may complain of sensitivity but condition is usually transient and subsides after use of bleaching agents. Long lasting? It depends on patients oral care and eating habits. We usually inform patients that the whiteness is temporary and may require retouching after a year.

Is chewing gums good for our teeth? If so, which kind?

The body needs saliva to maintain the pH in the oral cavity and initiate remineralization. When we eat, the pH in the mouth goes down and becomes more acidic hence the tooth loses some of the Ca and OH ions in the enamel. The function of saliva is to buffer the acidity, hence chewing gum (sugarless gum) is good, since it stimulates the release of more saliva. Stimulated saliva is better than the normal saliva since it contains more ions to replace the ones lost. There chewing gum Orbit is a good one.

Is the use of toothpick good for our teeth?

No, it is not. It irritates the gums. Use dental floss instead. It is more gentle.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.