At Pax Dental, we are dedicated to educating you on your oral health and dental treatments so you can make informed decisions about your oral healthcare. We invite you to browse our frequently asked questions, and we also welcome you to contact our office if you would like to learn more about dentistry in Lexington Park, Maryland. Dr. Jenny Hawkins and Dr. Denise Mullinix look forward to hearing from you!

Why should I visit the dentist regularly?

Most dentists recommend receiving regular checkups about every six months. Most people, however, only visit a dentist when there is a problem. Visiting a dentist only in a crisis can end up costing you much more time and money than if you visit a dentist on a routine basis. During your regular checkups, your dentist can help catch and prevent problems from arising, thus helping you avoid painful and expensive treatments to repair your teeth. In the long run, going to the dentist every six months is one of the best things you can do to keep your mouth healthy.

Why do I need to floss?

It is easy to develop a habit of brushing twice a day, but what about flossing? Most dentists recommend doing both to provide maximum protection against tooth decay. Brushing is great for getting plaque and bacteria off the front and back surfaces of your teeth, but a toothbrush can only reach so far. When it comes to reducing bacteria between the teeth and along the gumline, flossing is the best choice of action. If you do not floss, plaque can build up and harden between your teeth and ultimately cause tooth decay. By flossing daily, you can remove the plaque before it hardens and help protect your teeth.

How safe are dental X-rays?

Some people are worried about receiving dental X-rays because they are worried about radiation exposure. In most dental offices, dentists use digital radiography, which produces a significantly lower amount of radiation. These X-rays limit the radiation to a targeted area (the area being X-rayed) and require shorter exposure time. Most dental offices also use a lead-lined, full-body apron to protect the rest of your body from exposure. All in all, dental X-rays are some of the safest X-rays you will receive.

I knocked out a tooth. Can it be saved?

Oral injuries can cause serious problems, and it is important to have any emergencies treated right away. If you have a knocked-out tooth, try these simple tips to save your tooth:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, your tooth to clean it.
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth, either between your cheek and gum or under your tongue.
  • Do not try to put your tooth back in, as this may cause further damage.
  • Visit your dentist to have your tooth put back into place.
  • If it is not possible to receive immediate treatment, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and place it in a glass of milk.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is an infection and inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, this infection can spread and cause permanent damage to your jawbone and teeth. Untreated gum disease can also be a factor in several other major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, preterm delivery, low-birth weight babies, prostate cancer and respiratory disease. When your gums are inflamed, they begin pulling away from your teeth, causing receding gumlines and creating pockets. These pockets can fill with bacteria and cause further damage. Other common signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose or moved teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain while chewing

Most dental offices can treat periodontal disease in its early stages. If it is more advanced, however, surgery may be required. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated by regularly visiting your dentist and receiving dental cleanings.

How do I clean my dentures?

Even though you have replaced your natural teeth with dentures, it is still important to maintain consistent dental hygiene habits. A good way to keep your dentures clean is to brush them like you would your natural teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and clean all surfaces of your dentures daily. It is also good to soak your dentures in nonabrasive denture cleanser to help remove additional plaque and food particles. Overnight soaking provides the best results. By consistently cleaning your dentures, you can keep them looking naturally beautiful and help prevent infection.

Does it matter which toothpaste I use?

When choosing a toothpaste, it is good to pick one that has the ADA®’s Seal of Acceptance. This means the toothpaste has met the American Dental Association’s safety and effectiveness criteria. It is also important to consider additional properties, such as whitening, tartar control, desensitizing, etc. With so many options, it is best to simply ask your dentist for their advice on which toothpaste would best address your dental concerns. The final thing to consider when choosing a toothpaste is its taste and feel. If you prefer minty toothpaste, do not get the bubblegum-flavored toothpaste. Do you prefer a gel or paste? Make sure that the toothpaste you get will not only treat your dental concerns but also be one that you will want to use.

At what age should I bring my child to the dentist?

Typically, you should bring your child to the dentist for their first visit when their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. Once your child has their first visit, it is important to bring them in for a regular checkup every six months. This allows your dentist to monitor their growth and development and treat potential issues early on. By bringing your child to the dentist at a young age, you can also help your child fight against tooth decay and gum infection.

How can I prevent tooth decay?

Some of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is to brush and floss your teeth regularly and keep your biannual appointments with your dentist. Brush your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes. Be mindful not to brush too hard. Floss at least once a day to clean out the bacteria that sit between your teeth. Another great way to prevent tooth decay is to be mindful of how much sugar you eat. This includes food like candy, fruits, chips and other snacks. When you eat high-sugar foods, try to brush your teeth soon after. If you cannot brush your teeth, rinse your mouth with water to remove food particles that may be hanging around. With these simple habits, you can protect your teeth and help prevent unwanted tooth decay.