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Learning Center

General Dental Health – Questions and Answers

Dr. Lu of Alexandria Dental Care is pleased to answer the many dental related questions of her patients from Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland. This section provides questions and answers for many frequently asked questions regarding general dental health.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?
Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. A worn toothbrush will not do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

What are some good tips for good oral hygiene?

What is plaque?
Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugared foods, such as candy and cookies, are not the only culprits. Starches, such as bread, crackers, and cereal, also cause acids to form. If you snack often, you could be having acid attacks all day long. After many acid attacks, your teeth may decay.

Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form and fill with more bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. The teeth may become loose or have to be removed. In fact, periodontal (gum) disease is a main cause of tooth loss in adults.

One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.

How should I brush my teeth?

Should I brush or floss first?
The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job.

How do I floss my teeth?

What Is Gum Disease?
In the broadest sense, the term gum disease--or periodontal disease--describes bacterial growth and production of factors that gradually destroy the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth. "Periodontal" means "around the tooth."

Gum disease begins with plaque, which is always forming on your teeth, without you even knowing it. When it accumulates to excessive levels, it can harden into a substance called tartar (calculus) in as little as 24 hours. Tartar is so tightly bound to teeth that it can be removed only during a professional cleaning.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two main stages of gum disease. Each stage is characterized by what a dentist sees and feels in your mouth, and by what's happening under your gumline. Although gingivitis usually precedes periodontitis, it's important to know that not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.

What causes a toothache?
Several possible causes of a toothache could include:

 

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We look forward to having the opportunity to serve your dental needs. For appointment requests or additional enquiries please call 703.955.3960 or send us an email.