What is dentistry?

Dentistry is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions, disorders, and diseases of the tooth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Often considered necessary for complete oral health, dentistry can have an impact on the health of your entire body.

What is a dentist?

A dentist is a specialist who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Haeberle have completed at least eight years of schooling, and received either a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) degree, or a DMD (doctor of dental medicine) degree.

When doctors are qualified as pediatric dentists, this means they specialize in caring for children from infancy through their teen years. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Haeberle have received the proper education and training needed to work with young kids.

Other specializations include:

  • Endodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial (including pathology, radiology, and surgery)
  • Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

Why is visiting the dentist so important?

Visiting our office regularly will not only help keep your children’s teeth and mouth healthy, but will also help keep the rest of their body healthy. Dental care is important because it:

  • Helps prevent tooth decay
  • Protects against periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss
  • Prevents bad breath; brushing, flossing, and seeing us regularly will help reduce the amount of bad breath-causing bacteria in the mouth
  • Gives the patient a more attractive smile and increases his or her self-confidence
  • Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing them from becoming stained by food, drinks, and tobacco.
  • Strengthens teeth so the person can enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles for the rest of his or her life!

How can I take care of teeth in between dental checkups?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least three times a day, and floss at least once!
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask us if a fluoride rinse would be a good idea. This will help prevent cavities!
  • Avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in the mouth and can cause more plaque and potential cavities. Also avoid tobacco, which can stain teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to brush their tongue! This will remove food particles and reduce the amount plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep the breath fresh!
  • Be sure to schedule routine checkups. It is recommended that you visit the dentist every six months; that’s twice a year!

At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months of age, and no later than one year. During this time, your son or daughter’s baby teeth will be coming in and we can examine the health of those first few teeth. After the first visit, be sure to schedule regular checkups every six months!

How often should I see the dentist?

Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. That’s twice a year! Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to come in more than just twice a year. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Haeberle will help determine how often you should visit our office for regular checkups.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth and is caused by tooth decay. Cavities form when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food a person eats. This can produce an acid that can eat away the enamel on the teeth.

If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush one’s teeth at least three times a day, and floss between teeth at least once.

What is a filling?

A filling is a synthetic material that a dentist uses to fill a cavity once all the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt because we will numb the mouth with an anesthetic (typically Novocain) and relax the patient’s body with a light dose of nitrous oxide.

Fillings are made from a variety of different materials, including amalgam, composites, gold, or ceramic. If the patient needs a filling, be sure and talk to us about what type is best for your child and his or her teeth.

How often should I brush my teeth?

According to Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Haeberle, and the American Dental Association, everyone should brush their teeth at least three times a day. Brushing keeps the teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque.

It is also recommended that when people brush their teeth, they should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Everyone should spend at least two minutes on the top teeth and two minutes on the bottom, and remember to brush the tongue, which will help keep the breath smelling fresh!

When should I switch toothbrushes?

A toothbrush eventually wears out, especially if a person is brushing his or her teeth three times a day for four minutes each time. We recommend that adults and children should change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions, because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently.

Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks in order to keep bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse the toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If a person has been sick, be sure to change the toothbrush as soon as possible.

What is gum disease?

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is mostly caused by plaque and bacteria buildup that is not treated in its early stage. Other causes of periodontal disease include tobacco use, teeth grinding, some medications, and genetics.

Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease. If detected, it is treatable. However, if a person has gingivitis and it is left untreated, it may turn into gum disease. Advanced gum disease will lead to tooth and bone loss, and is a permanent condition.

Brushing teeth regularly, and visiting our office every six months will help prevent gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease. Common signs of gum disease:

  • Red, irritated, bleeding, or swollen gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Loose teeth, or loss of teeth
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity
  • Receding gum line
  • Abscessed teeth

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places a toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. We will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while they have braces.

How do I schedule the next checkup?

Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to schedule the next dental checkup at your convenience. If your little one is a new patient, please let us know, and we will provide you with all the information you need for the first dental visit.