Dental Health FAQ

Dental Health FAQ

Information provided below courtesy of the American Dental Association

How do I brush my teeth? How long should I brush?

You should be brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Choose a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth and place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Gently move the brush back and forth in short, tooth-wide strokes. Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Do I really need to floss every day?

Yes. The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Cleaning between your teeth may also help prevent gum disease and cavities. You can use dental floss or another product specifically made for cleaning between your teeth, like a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth, water flosser or wooden plaque remover.

How often do I have to go to the dentist?

There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. Some people need to visit the dentist once or twice a year; others may need more visits. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs when it comes to keeping your smile healthy. Talk to your dentist about how often you need to schedule visits.

How do I find a dentist?
  • Click our Member Directory to find dentists on Guam.
  • Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations.
  • Ask your family physician or local pharmacist.
  • If you’re moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
What should I look for when choosing a dentist?

You may want to call or visit more than one dentist before making your decision. Dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good relationship between the dentist and the patient. During your first visit, you should be able to determine if this is the right dentist for you.

What can I expect during a dental checkup?

The dentist or hygienist will ask about your recent medical history, examine your mouth and decide whether or not you need x-rays. Depending on your treatment plan, the hygienist may use a special dental instruments to check your gums for gum disease. Your dentist will evaluate your overall dental health and conduct an oral cancer screening by holding your tongue with gauze, checking it and your whole mouth, then feeling your jaw and neck.

Is it safe to go to the dentist when I’m pregnant?

It is safe to see a dentist when you are pregnant. Make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and about any changes you have noticed in your oral health. In some cases, pregnancy can actually make some dental problems worse. Brushing and flossing contributes to your overall health, too, and if your mouth is healthy, it’s more likely that your baby’s mouth will be healthy. It’s important to continue to see your dentist during pregnancy for oral examinations and professional teeth cleanings. Good daily care is vital. That means always brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day, eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks.

What happens if I knock out a tooth?

For a knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums or in milk and get to your dentist’s office right away.

How do I treat a toothache?

For toothaches, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between your teeth. Do not put aspirin on your aching tooth or gums; it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact your dentist.

Why do I need fluoride?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, use other fluoride dental products and drink water with fluoride you are preventing cavities and strengthening your teeth’s enamel.

Fluoride, also called nature’s cavity fighter, occurs naturally in varying amounts in water sources such as rivers, lakes and even the oceans. Fluoride was first added to public water systems in 1945 and its use has grown significantly over the past 70 years. The most recent data indicates 74.6% of the U.S. population served by public water systems receive the benefits of fluoridated water.

Studies have consistently shown that optimizing the level of fluoride in community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in both children and adults by at least 25%. Simply by drinking water, people benefit from fluoride’s cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school.

Should my children have fluoride?

The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults use fluoride toothpaste displaying the ADA Seal of Acceptance. For children younger than 3 years, you should begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they start to appear in the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. You should be brushing their teeth thoroughly twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist or physician. For children 3 to 6 years of age, dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth thoroughly twice per day. Always supervise your child’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste and try and get your child to spit out most of the toothpaste.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Dental X-ray exams are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental X-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle). A leaded apron minimizes exposure to the abdomen and may be used when it will not interfere with acquisition of the dental radiograph. Also, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should also be used whenever possible. The use of a leaded thyroid collar is recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children.