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The opinions within this web page are not ours and replies relate to the period when questions were asked. Authors have been credited for the answers given. This information is provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your dentists for advice about a specific medical condition

Pregnancy and Oral Health
"Studies have demonstrated that mothers of low-birth-weight infants tend to have more severe
periodontal disease (gum disease) than mothers with normal birth-weight babies. Additional work is needed to
determine whether periodontitis is a risk factor." U.S. Surgeon General's Report

Why are pregnant women prone to oral health problems?
What oral problems are pregnant women likely to experience?
What precautions should be taken for teeth and gums during pregnancy?
What special precautions will the dentist take with pregnant patients?
Can the foetus be protected if the mother has to have an x-ray?
Should amalgam fillings be avoided during pregnancy?
Does gum disease cause premature births?
Is it true that the foetus draws calcium from the mother's teeth?
Can the pregnant mother's diet affect the dental development of her baby?

Dentists and Dental specialities
Reasons to Call Your Dentist By Dr. David Leader- Aug 12,2009
What causes cavities By Dr. David Leader- June 18,2009
Cosmetic Dentistry "Please Straighten My Front Teeth" By Dr. David Leader- Apr 16,2009
Sensitive Teeth - Diagnosis and Treatment By Dr. David Leader- Mar 18,2009

The Dental Examination
Dentists and dental hygienists are very serious about regular dental examinations. It may be the most important service we provide.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 1/15/2009

Porcelain Laminate Veneers - What Are They Good For?
What are porcelain laminate veneers good for? Why should people consider veneers?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/12/2008

GERD Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a common ailment. It can cause esophageal ulcers and cancer. Also, GERD causes dental disease.
This article outlines diagnosis and treatment of GERD.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/12/2008

Ditropan (Oxybutynin) Causes Xerostomia/Dry Mouth/Cotton Mouth
The same chemical trickery that Ditropan uses to aid bladder control causes xerostomia,
dry mouth or cotton mouth.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/3/2008

My Experience with Canker Sores
A physician misdiagnoses an outbreak of canker sores as a Herpes simplex infection.
Most dentists learn the difference early in dental school.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/1/2008

Mouth Sores? See Your Dentist
Dentists know how to diagnose and treat the most common oral infections and conditions.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 11/21/2008

Oral Surgery - Before and After
Expect dentists to spend time with their patient before and after the surgical procedure
to ensure success than during the procedure.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 9/24/2008

When Mouth Pain is Not Dental Pain
There are some very interesting causes of oral-facial pain that dentists should consider. Some are more common. Some are quite unusual.
Some diagnoses herald chronic disease. Some diagnoses demand a quick trip to the hospital emergency room.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 8/13/2008

What is Root Canal Treatment?
What is root canal treatment? Why do we need it? Who should provide this treatment?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/20/2008

Foods for Healthy Teeth/Protecting Teeth with Healthy Nutrition
Today, more than ever, mothers need to know what foods will support the oral health of their children.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/16/2008

Studies Question Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Many do not realize that there is a controversy in the dental community regarding the advisability of prophylactic wisdom tooth (third molar) extraction.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/18/2008

Fighting Cavities, Dentistry's Most Important Role
The more dentistry expands and improves, the more society pressures dentistry to treat the classic dental problem, tooth decay.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/13/2008

The Close Relationship of Medicine and Dentistry
Dentists and physicians understand that oral health is likely to impact on any medical condition, and many medical conditions and their treatments
may affect oral health.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/13/2008

Jaw Pain, the TMJ, and Your Dentist
The most vexing of dental ailments effects the muscles and joint that allow for the lower jaw to move.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 4/14/2008

Morning Sickness and Oral Health
What causes morning sickness? What can women and their significant others do to help them feel better?
What does any of this have to do with oral health?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 2/13/2008

How Dental Insurance is Improving Subscribers' Health
Dental insurance companies recognize the relationship between oral health and general health.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 2/13/2008

Bad Tastes in Your Mouth in the Morning? Patients Beware of GERD!
There are a few common causes of bad taste. The some causes should receive treatment.
There is no treatment for other causes.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 9/13/2007

Root Canal Treatment or Dental Implant - Which is Best?
Patients and dentists often face a complex dilemma - whether to save a tooth using root canal treatment and a permanent restoration
(a filling or a crown), or remove that tooth and replace it with a dental implant and a crown.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 8/15/2007

Sports Mouthguards: Which is the Best?
There are three kinds of mouthguards. Which is the best?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 8/6/2007

Pain After Dental Treatment
Teeth with new fillings, crowns, and root canal treatment may develop pain due to the original decay, trauma, the filling material, bonding agents
or technique. The pain may subside in a few days, weeks or not at all.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/25/2007

The Skin of Your Teeth: Porcelain and Composite Veneers and Lumineers
There are a variety of techniques to whiten teeth. A dentist guides a fictitious patient in her choice of treatment.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/25/2007

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Oral Health
People who suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) live with an array of symptoms that range from mild to debilitating. The obvious effects of
RA are on the joints of the the hands, wrists, knees and feet. Less well known are the myriad effects on oral health.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 4/23/2007

Oral Health Side Effects of Medications
Many medications have unintended results called side effects. When medications cause oral health side effects, your dentist can be very helpful.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 3/19/2007

Pedodontist - The Dentist for Children
"... you take your child to a Pediatrician and not your own primary-care Doctor. So why would you not take your child to a Pediatric Dentist,
instead of your own General Dentist?"
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 2/14/2007

Tighten Loose Dentures
Many people find that pastes and powders are enough to tighten their loose dentures.When adhesives don't work, there are ways your dentist can help.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/11/2006

The American Dental Association's New Guidelines for Dental X-rays
Dentists around the world will read "The Use of Dental Radiographs - Update and Recommendations," by the American Dental Association's Council
on Scientific Affairs. What will change?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 11/7/2006

Can You Get Rid of Canker Sores? Dealing With Aphthous Ulcers
Canker sores or aphthous ulcers are an uncomfortable condition that lasts a short time and does not
require treatment. What causes this problem? How is it treated?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 10/18/2006

Bisphosphonates, Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, and Your Dentist
Bisphosphonates are an important and useful family of medications. Recently, a side effect of these medications causes some to question their value.
Learn valuable ways to prevent Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, and keep taking bisphosphonates.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 8/25/2006

Halitosis: Many Causes and Treatments of Bad Breath
Various ailments, foods and hygiene practices affect mouth odor.
There is not a single way to treat halitosis.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/25/2006

Dental Floss: Cleaning Between Teeth
Flossing is the standard of care for cleaning between teeth. Manufacturers offer many devices and medicaments that clean between teeth,
but not one matches the effect of floss.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/8/2006

How to Replace One Missing Tooth - Bridge or Implant
When adults loose a tooth, the first job of the dentist is to assist their patient with the decision of how to replace that tooth.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 4/7/2006

How to Recement a Crown
In many cases, people can temporarily recement their loose crown just like a dentist.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 3/21/2006

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners and Tooth Decay
Which sweeteners are natural sugars, which are not, and which are safe for kids?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 3/14/2006

Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is the removal of tissue and debris from the inside of a tooth's root and filling the space with an inert material to
prevent infection or reinfection. A tooth may require this treatment due to infection, trauma and misalignment..
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 1/26/2006

Choosing Which Toothpaste You Should Buy
Toothpaste manufacturers provide so many kinds of toothpaste for two reasons. First, people have different dental problems and benefit from
different toothpastes. Also, more kinds of toothpaste mean more shelf space for that manufacturer.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 1/26/2006

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be disfiguring and deadly. Nearly 30,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
Over 7,000 oral cancer related deaths are expected.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/28/2005

Choosing a Dentist
Choosing a dentist is not the same as finding a life partner or even a business partner. Some people will go to the dentist near their home
or office. Others will scour the yellow pages.
Suggestions for locating the dentist who is right for you.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/21/2005

Porcelain Veneers - Straighten Teeth Fast
Porcelain veneers can change the color and shape of teeth in a dramatic way. For many people, years of stain and wear, or misalignment are
corrected in days with veneers.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 12/8/2005

Gum Disease - Prevent Periodontitis and Tooth Loss
Sometimes, the only way to know if you have gum disease is to ask a dentist to examine your teeth. There are different types of gum disease.
Early gum disease is easy to treat. Later, the cost of treatment may seem prohibitive.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 11/15/2005

Which Toothbrush Should You Buy?
The most important question for a dentist is which toothbrush design to recommend to patients. Michael Garvey's job is to educate dental office
staff on the advantages of Oral-B products. Independant testing oraganizations disagree with Oral-B.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 9/23/2005

Tongue Piercing Source of Possible Infection
Don't pierce your tongue or lip. If you choose to pierce, against medical advice, carefully research your choice of piercer as you would
a dentist or physician.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 8/7/2005

Scleroderma and Dentistry
Scleroderma affects dental health 4 ways. By making the mouth smaller and the lips tighter, causing dry mouth, and by causing depression.
Medications to treat scleroderma have oral health effects, as well.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/28/2005

Raise Your Self-Esteem with an Extreme Dental Makeover
Television shows like "Extreme Makeover" demonstrate how modern dental techniques can improve appearance. Improved appearance can
help to increase self-esteem.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/21/2005

Extensive Dental Treatment for a Child
Caries is the most common disease of childhood. Nearly half of all 4-year-old children have at least one cavity. Dentists and physicians
recommend early dental visits.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 7/7/2005

Dental Emergency?
There are times when a dentist is needed right away. What is an emergency? What should you do if you have one?
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/30/2005

Caring For Baby Teeth
Your child's first dental appointment should be before his or her first birthday. Baby teeth are very important to children's mental
and physical health.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/27/2005

Veterinary Dentistry
Good dental health will help your cat or dog live longer and be healthier. If you think that your pet may have a dental problem due to odor
or their behavior, please speak with their vet.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/22/2005

Whitening Teeth with Bleach and Fillings
Some of the techniques that turn back the dental clock are very simple and inexpensive. Tooth colored fillings can replace aging silver ones.
Then, you may decide to whiten your teeth.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/22/2005

Inexpensive Dental Care in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are dental services available to low-income families to help them afford dental treatment.
This article lists some of those programs and locations.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/21/2005

Dental Implants
When a single tooth is lost and must be replaced there are few alternatives. The implant-supported crown is the solution
that will look and feel the most like the tooth it replaces.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/19/2005

A Guide to Dental Insurance
Think of dental insurance as a gamble with low odds and rules that benefit the house. Know what you are getting and how your insurance plan works.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/16/2005

Misaligned Teeth - Malocclusion
Dental treatment, growth, habits and accidents are all causes of uneven bites. All types of malocclusion are treatable.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/12/2005

The Art of Denture Fabrication
The new denture wearer learns to use new dentures to talk, eat and smile. Recreating or improving a smile with false teeth is an art.
The dentist is most successful if no one notices the final product.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/11/2005

Dentures - Are They Right for You?
Dentures are a poor replacement for natural teeth. Complete dentures never feel like the teeth they replace. For the dentist who offers
this treatment option there must be compassion and sensitivity. For the patient there must be understanding.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 6/6/2005

Xerostomia is the lessening or lack of saliva. It may be the side effect of medication, radiation treatment or the autoimmune disease,
Sjogrens syndrome. Usually, the best treatment is advice from your dentist or hygienist on how to decrease the effects.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/30/2005

Thumb Sucking: Breaking the Habit
Finger habits such as thumb sucking start before birth. This habit can be very hard to break. This article discusses ways that parents
can help their children stop.
By Dr. David Leader  |  Published 5/30/2005

 1. What new methods are under development to treat and prevent tooth decay?
2. What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
3. When will drill-less dentistry become a reality?
4. Whatís the latest word on the safety of amalgam-type fillings?

Stop Periodontitis Fast

What new methods are under development to treat and prevent tooth decay?
Several new treatments are under development. One experimental technique uses fluorescent light to detect
the development of cavities long before they can be detected by traditional means, such as X-rays or dental
examination. In many cases, if cavities can be detected early, the decay process can be stopped or reversed.
Researchers are also working on a "smart filling" to prevent further tooth decay by slowly releasing fluoride
over time around fillings and in adjacent teeth.

New means to prevent tooth decay are also being studied. A study has shown that a chewing gum that contains
the sweetener xylitol temporarily retarded the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. In addition, several
materials that slowly release fluoride over time, which will help prevent further decay, are being explored.
These materials would be placed between teeth or in pits and fissures of teeth. Toothpastes and mouth rinses
that can reverse and "heal" early cavities are also being studied.

What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth ó usually the back teeth
(the premolars, and molars) ó to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the
depressions and groves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in.
In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However,
adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing
at regular dental check-ups.

When will drill-less dentistry become a reality?
Drill-less dentistry, also called air abrasion and microabrasion, is being offered by some dentists now.
Air abrasion can be used to remove tooth decay, to remove some old composite restorations, to prepare a tooth
surface for bonding or sealants, and to remove superficial stains and discolorations. The air abrasion instrument
works like a mini sandblaster to spray away the decay or stain, or to prepare the tooth surface for bonding or
sealant application. With air abrasion, a fine stream of particles is aimed at the tooth surface. These particles
are made of silica, aluminum oxide, or a baking soda mixture and are propelled toward the tooth surface by compressed
air or a gas that runs through the dental handpiece. Small particles of decay, stain, etc, on the tooth surface
are removed as the stream of particles strikes them. The remnant particles are then "suctioned" away.

Whatís the latest word on the safety of amalgam-type fillings?

Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-colored fillings, otherwise called amalgams.
Because amalgams contain the toxic substance mercury, some people think that amalgams are responsible for causing
a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimerís disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The American Dental Association (ADA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and numerous public health agencies
say amalgams are safe, and that any link between mercury-based fillings and disease is unfounded. The cause of autism,
Alzheimerís disease, and multiple sclerosis remains unknown. Additionally, there is no solid, scientific evidence to
back up the claim that if a person has amalgam fillings removed, he or she will be cured of these or any other diseases.

As recently as March of 2002, the FDA reconfirmed the safety of amalgams. Although amalgams do contain mercury, when
they are mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they form a stable alloy that dentists have
used for more than 100 years to fill and preserve hundreds of millions of decayed teeth. The National Institutes of
Health has several large-scale studies currently under way to ultimately answer many of the questions raised about
silver-colored amalgams. Results of these studies are expected to be released in 2006.

In addition, there has been concern over the release of a small amount of mercury vapor from these fillings, but
according to the ADA, there is no scientific evidence that this small amount results in adverse health effects.

Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam?

It is possible, but fewer than 100 cases have ever been reported, according to the ADA. In these rare circumstances,
mercury or one of the metals used in an amalgam restoration is thought to trigger the allergic response. Symptoms of
amalgam allergy are similar to those experienced in a typical skin allergy, and include skin rashes and itching.
Patients who suffer amalgam allergies typically have a medical or family history of allergies to metals. Once an
allergy is confirmed, another restorative material can be used.

What role are lasers playing in the field of dentistry?
Lasers have been used in dentistry since 1995 to treat a number of dental problems. But, despite FDA approval,
no laser system has received the American Dental Associationís Seal of Acceptance, which assures dentists that
the product or device meets ADA standards of safety and efficacy, among other things. The ADA, however, states
that it is cautiously optimistic about the role of laser technology in the field of dentistry.

Still, some dentists are using lasers to treat:

Tooth decay  Lasers are used to remove decay within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for receipt of the
Lasers are also used to "cure" or harden a filling.
Gum disease  Lasers are used to reshape gums and remove bacteria during root canal procedures.
Biopsy or lesion removal  Lasers can be used to remove a small piece of tissue (called a biopsy) and send it for
testing to determine if it is cancerous.
It can also be used to remove lesions in the mouth and relieve the pain of canker sores.
Teeth whitening  Lasers are used to speed up the in-office teeth

whitening procedures. A peroxide bleaching solution, applied to the tooth surface, is "activated" by laser energy,
which speeds up of the whitening process.

How do whitening toothpastes work and how effective are they at whitening teeth?

All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain
gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can
help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach. Over-the-counter and professional whitening products
contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface, as well as stains
deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect
you get from your dentistís office through chair side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten
your toothís color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentistís office can
make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

What about whitening strips and whitening gels? Whatís the opinion on these products?

Both of these products contain peroxide in a concentration that is much lower than the peroxide-based products that
are used in your dentistís office. Although some teeth lightening will be achieved, the degree of whitening is much
lower than results achieved with in-office or dentist-supervised whitening systems. Additionally, use of
over-the-counter products do not benefit from the close supervision of your dentist -- to determine what whitening
process might be best for you, to check on the progress of the teeth whitening, and look for signs of gum irritation.
On the positive, the over-the-counter gels and strips are considerably less expense (ranging from $10 to about $55)
than the top-of-the line in-office whitening procedures, which can cost nearly $800.

Beyond simply changing the color of my teeth, Iím interested in changing the shape of my teeth.
What options are available?

Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between
teeth, or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and re-contouring.

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to
the tooth surface and hardened with a special light, which ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a tooth. The crowns, when cemented into place,
fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
Veneers (also sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells
of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the
front of the teeth. Recontouring or reshaping of the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping,
or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a toothís length,
shape, or surface.

Each of these options differ with regard to cost, durability, "chair time" necessary to complete the procedure,
stain resistant qualities, and best cosmetic approach to resolving a specific problem.

I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I recognize the importance of seeing the dentist to maintain
good oral health. What should I do?

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9 percent and 15 percent of Americans state they avoid
going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact,
if your dentist doesnít take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is
to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able
to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be tailored to the individual to reduce fear,
anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medicines (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or
anesthesia to help you relax), use of lasers instead of the traditional drill for removing decay, application of
a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback and deep breathing,
acupuncture, mental health therapies), and perhaps even visits to a dentophobia clinic or a support group.

Iíve been a cigarette smoker for a number of years and am concerned about the possibility of developing oral cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

First, itís important to note that more than 25 percent of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke
and who only drink alcohol occasionally. To answer your question, the following are the common signs and symptoms
of oral cancer:

Swellings/thickenings, lumps, bumps, rough spots/crusts/,or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside
the mouth The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks
A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or changes in the voice
Ear pain
A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together Ė a change in your "bite"
Dramatic weight loss.
If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist immediately for a professional examination.

With so many toothpastes in the market today, can you offer any tips to help make a wise choice?
Hereís some advice. First, when purchasing a toothpaste for you or your child, select one that contains fluoride.
Toothpastes with fluoride have been shown to prevent cavities. One word of caution: check the manufacturerís label.
Some toothpastes are not recommended in children under age 6. This is because young children swallow toothpaste,
and swallowing too much fluoride can lead to tooth discoloration in permanent teeth.

It is also wise to select a product approved by the American Dental Association. The ADAís Seal of Acceptance means
that the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that packaging and advertising claims are
scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek the ADAís Seal of Acceptance. Although these products
might be safe and effective, these productsí performance have not been evaluated or endorsed by the ADA.

Next, when considering other properties of toothpaste Ė such as whitening toothpastes, tartar-control, gum care,
desensitizing, etc -- the best advice for selecting among these products might be to simply ask your dental hygienist
or dentist what the greatest concerns are for your mouth. Also, be aware that your needs will likely change as you
get older. After consulting with your dentist or hygienist about your oral healthís greatest needs, look for products
within that category (for example, within the tartar control brands or within the desensitizing toothpaste brands)
that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Finally, some degree of personal preference comes into play. Choose the toothpaste that tastes and feels best.
Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint all work alike. If you find that certain ingredients are irritating to your
teeth, cheeks, or lips, or if your teeth have become more sensitive, or if your mouth is irritated after brushing,
try changing toothpastes. If the problem continues, see your dentist.

Since the introduction of fluoride and other advances in dental care and dental products, is it still necessary
to visit the dentist twice a year?

The standard recommendation still is to visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings.
The three best arguments that can still be made to support the twice-yearly visitation schedule are:

So that your dentist can check for problems that you might not see or feel
To allow your dentist to find early signs of decay (Decay doesnít become visible or cause pain until it reaches
more advanced stages.)

To treat any other oral health problems found (Generally, the earlier a problem is found, the more manageable it is.)
That being said, however, people who have taken great care of their teeth and gums, and have gone years without
any problems whatsoever might choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask your dentist what visitation schedule
works best for your state of dental health.

At the other extreme, it should be kept in mind that some people ó such as some people with gum disease,
a genetic predisposition for plaque build-up or cavities, or a weakened immune system ó  might need to visit
the dentist even more frequently than twice a year for optimal care.

Iím on a limited, fixed income and canít afford regular dental care. Are there some resources available to me?
Yes. Thousands of dentists across the country offer their services at reduced fees through dental
society-sponsored assistance programs. Since aid varies from one community to another, call your local
dental society for information about where you can find the nearest assistance programs and low-cost care
locations (such as public health clinics and dental school clinics).

Check your local phone book or the internet site for your local dental society. (Check under [name of state]
dental society or [name of state] dental association, or county or region dental society or association).

The ADAís website provides links to state dental associations, local societies, and state dental schools.
Ask your dentist or call your local social service organization for assistance in locating these types of
services in your local community.

I recently moved and am in need of finding a new dentist. How should I go about this task?
The ADA offers these suggestions:

Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
If you're moving, your current dentist might be able to make a recommendation.
Call or write your local or state dental society. Your local and state dental societies also might be listed
in the telephone directory under "dentists" or "associations." The ADA provides a list of local and state
dental societies on their website.
A few other online dentist directories you might try include:

DDS4U Dentist Directory (http://www.dds4u.com)
Americanís Finest Dentist Directory (http://www.afdd.com/index.htm)
Dentistinfo.com (http://www.dentistinfo.com)
Dentist Directory (http://www.dentistdirectory.com/)
The ADA suggests calling or visiting more than one dentist before selecting one with whom you feel you can
build a good long-term relationship.

What should I look for when choosing a dentist?

You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore you need to find someone with whom
you can be comfortable.  To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions
as a starting point:

What are the office hours? Are they convenient to meet your schedule?
Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
Where was the dentist educated and trained?
Whatís the dentistís approach to preventive dentistry?
How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable
during any necessary dental treatment?

What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements
with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)

Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled?
(If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays,
oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.)

Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?

What is the dentistís office policy on missed appointments?

How safe are dental X-rays?

Exposure to all sources of radiation  including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home,
and dental X-rays  can damage the bodyís tissues and cells, and can lead to the development of cancer
in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is
extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by todayís X-rays.
Some of the improvements are new X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being
X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds
to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents
the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of
lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost non-existent
with the modern dental X-ray machines). In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked
for accuracy and safety every two years. Some states require more frequent checks.

Even with these advancements in safety, it should be kept in mind, however, that the effects of radiation
are added together over a lifetime. So every little bit of radiation you receive from all sources counts.

Are women more prone to oral health problems?

Yes. Women have an increased sensitivity to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes
they experience. These hormonal changes not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the
bodyís response to the toxins that result from plaque build-up. As a result of these changes, women are
more prone to the development of periodontal disease at certain stages of their lives, as well as to
other oral health problems. The five situations in a womenís life during which hormone fluctuations make
them more susceptible to oral health problems are during puberty, the monthly menstruation cycle, when
using oral contraceptives, during pregnancy, and at menopause.

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