Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes? Dover NH Dentist Dr. James Rochefort answers this and other common questions about dental health.

Routine Dental Care

Q: Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

A:You should brush your teeth for two to three minutes twice a day. A manual toothbrush works fine if you use the proper method for the appropriate length of time. If you don’t, an electric toothbrush works better. Children are good candidates for powered brushes since they don’t often use the best procedure or take the proper amount of time. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about which brush is best for you.

Q: What causes bad breath?

A:Bad breath (or “halitosis”) can be linked to numerous systemic diseases; the majority of bad breath originates in the mouth. A dry mouth or a low salivary flow can also influence odor.

Q: It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the dentist. What do I need to do?

A:You’re not alone! It’s never too late to get back into the routine.
At our Dover NH dentist office, we will arrange for you to have a thorough and educational exam. Request an appointment today. We’re here to help!

Q: What happens if I have a dental problem when I am pregnant?

A:Changing hormone levels during pregnancy can cause normal, healthy gums to become red, irritated and swollen. This irritation, known as “Pregnancy Gingivitis” is the body’s exaggerated response to plaque and calculus. During pregnancy it’s important to stay current with your regular dental cleanings and exams to ensure that infections don’t get missed and lead to greater problems down the road.

Q: When will my child get his or her first tooth?

A:It varies. The teeth might come in as early as one month of age, or they may erupt when the child is one-and-a-half years old. Generally the lower front teeth come in first, and girls’ teeth typically erupt earlier than boys.

Q: My child’s baby teeth have cavities. Why should they be filled if they’re just going to fall out in a few years?

A:Cavities can cause pain and infection. It can also be difficult for children to eat a well-balanced meal with a mouth full of cavities. Untreated cavities also increase the amount of decay causing bacteria in the mouth. As permanent teeth erupt, they are at increased risk for developing cavities because of the higher bacteria count. Baby teeth also hold space in the mouth for the erupting permanent teeth. If the baby teeth become decayed or are taken out too early, the permanent teeth often become crowded and your child would likely need braces in the future.

Q: What are sealants and why are they done?

A:The pits and grooves of the teeth are prime areas for opportunistic decay. Even regular brushing sometimes misses some of these intricate structures on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Sealants are thin coatings applied to the biting surfaces that help prevent bacteria and other debris from getting into the deep crevices on the teeth.

Fillings, X-Rays, and Other Procedures

Q: My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling. But why doesn’t my tooth hurt?

A:Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages; so don’t wait for things to hurt! Waiting often makes problems more difficult and more expensive to fix.

Q: What is a root canal?

A:Root canal therapy is intended to be a tooth-saving procedure that removes the pulp, or nerve and other tissue from inside a tooth. Each tooth typically has from 1 to 3 roots and each root has 1 or 2 canals that stretch the length of the root. In a healthy tooth, these canals are filled with tissue (consisting of the nerves and blood vessels) that keeps the tooth alive and provide sensations like hot and cold. Sometimes the tissue can become damaged or diseased due to decay, fracture or trauma. This in turn can cause a toothache or there may be no pain at all. During root canal treatment the dentist cleans and disinfects these canals and seals them with a special filler material. Root canal therapy is highly successful and with today’s technology, it can be painless.

Q:Are silver fillings safe?

A:Dental amalgam is a filling material used by dentists to restore the proper size and shape of decayed or damaged teeth. It is an alloy, meaning a blend of different metals, that includes silver, tin, copper, and liquid mercury. It is the most commonly used filling material in the world and has been used extensively since the early 1800’s.

Q: How much radiation do I get from a dental x-ray?

A:The radiation exposure with dental x-ray is very low. Today, with non-film digital x-rays available (which we use in our office), the radiation is reduced by an additional 90%. 

Dental Emergencies

Q: What if a tooth gets knocked out in an accident?

Time is your enemy when an accident or any trauma dislodges a tooth. First locate the tooth, or teeth, and determine if the tooth broke or if the entire tooth and root came out in one piece. Gather together the pieces you’ve found, and with warm water gently rinse off obvious dirt or debris.  Avoid touching the root as much as possible.  Place and transport the tooth in milk or ideally in saline solution (like for contact lenses). Rush the injured person and tooth to our dental office in Dover NH. Ideally the tooth will be re-implanted. The tooth may also be splinted with a wire to the adjacent teeth for a period of time.

This is a true dental emergency. If it is after regular business hours you should still call our office. The more time that goes by, the less likely that the re-implantation will be successful. If you cannot reach our office, the nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room may be able to help.