Q: My son hates the fluoride treatment, even though it's supposed to taste good. He's 10 years old and his dentist recommends this treatment for at least another four years. Should we stop any sooner?
A: No, I do not recommend stopping any sooner. In fact, I recommend continuing fluoride treatments until he's age 18. Professional fluoride treatments are essential for strengthening teeth and helping to prevent cavities in the future.
You might consider asking your dentist for a different flavor of fluoride. Perhaps other people do not like the taste of the brand that he uses as well. I would caution, however, that your son should not swallow the high concentration fluoride used in the fluoride treatment. It can cause upset stomach.
Q: I haven't been to the dentist for years and it shows, but I would like to start going. Besides brushing and flossing, can you recommend a good way for me to get them in a little better shape before I visit a dentist? I am embarrassed to go as they are right now.
A: Aside from brushing your teeth and flossing, there is really no other way to improve the overall appearance of your teeth and gums. I think what you are really concerned about is that the dentist will scold you about the condition of your teeth. Every day in my office, people come in with that same fear. I remind them that I've seen teeth in far worse condition than what they have come in with -- from teeth that are all black and broken down to no teeth at all. Your teeth will not shock the dentist, I can assure you. You need to find a dentist who has a reputation for being skilled, caring, and compassionate. That should allay any of your fears about coming to the dentist. Good luck!
Q: I've been wearing a retainer behind my lower teeth for several years. The retainer was put in after my braces were removed. I've left the retainer in for fear my teeth may separate if removed, but if it's no longer needed, I would like to have it removed.
A: A permanent retainer is useful in preventing teeth from shifting after dental braces have been removed. They can present a problem because they collect food and plaque and make teeth cleaning more difficult. You should ask your family dentist and orthodontist whether they feel that the retainer can be removed at some point. Sometimes, a removable retainer can be made and only worn part time to prevent teeth from shifting.
Q: Is drinking a lot of soda bad for the teeth?
A: Yes, any sugar containing beverage can increase the risk of tooth decay. Drinking soda with frequent sips throughout the day is more harmful than drinking it all at once in one sitting. The reason is that every time the sugary solution contacts the teeth, bacteria in the mouth can use that sugar to create damaging plaque acids. These acids cause dental cavities. If you drink soda, you should brush your teeth directly afterwards.
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