Frequently Asked Questions

Resources to help you feel comfortable and well-informed.

Dental FAQs

Why is it important to use dental floss?

Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth.  Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth.  It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins 9acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums.  Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gum line, it hardens and turns in to calculus (tartar).  This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone.  This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

Why are sealants recommended?

Although thorough brushing and flossing remove most food particles and bacteria from easy to reach tooth surfaces, they do not reach the deep grooves and pits on chewing surfaces of back teeth. More than 75 percent of dental decay begins in these deep grooves (called pits and fissures).  Toothbrush bristles are too large to possibly fit and clean most of these areas.  This is where sealants play an important role.

A sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers and protects the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars, and any deep grooves or pits on teeth.  Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas free of decay.

How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontis (gum disease)?

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.  Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms.  Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums.  The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone.  Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Signs and symptoms of Periodontal Disease:

  • Red and puffy gums: Gums should never be red or swollen
  • Bleeding gums: Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss
  • Persistent bad breath: Caused by bacteria in the mouth
  • Loose teeth: Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers
  • New spacing between teeth: Caused by bone loss
  • Puss around the teeth and gums: Sign that there is an infection present
  • Receding gums: Loss of gum around a tooth
  • Tenderness or Discomfort: Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth
What does heart disease and other medical conditions have to do with periodontal disease?

Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease can affect your overall health.  Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections; often more prevalent than the common cold!  Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!

There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions.  These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease and indicate that periodontal disease may cause oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections.  Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream may:

  • Contribute to the development of hear disease
  • Increase the risk of stroke
  • Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases

Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby
To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation.  Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce the plaque and bacteria in the mouth.


I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist. What should I do?

Many people fear going to the dentist.  Between 9% and 15% of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of fear or anxiety.  It is very important for you to talk with your dentist regarding your fear.  The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with them.  This will give the dentist the opportunity to discuss options of how to lessen your fear and make you feel more comfortable. 

There are many strategies today that can be used to reduce anxiety, fear, and pain.  These strategies can include the use of medications to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax before the procedure begins.  There are also mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques that can be used to help you through your appointment.  Please talk with Dr. Forbes or our staff regarding your fears as we want you to feel comfortable coming to our office for your dental work.

How often should I brush and floss?

Brushing and flossing are very important in helping control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste is recommended.  It is especially important to brush your teeth before going to bed at night. Electronic toothbrushes are recommended.  They remove the plaque more efficiently.

Flossing your teeth daily is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  This disrupts plaque colonies from building up and preventing damage to the teeth, gum, and bone. You can use floss holders if you have a difficult time using conventional floss.

“Since after the turn of the century, I’ve been a patient of Dr. Forbes. He and his dental assistants and hygienists are exceptional. The office rivals Disneyland as one of the happiest places anywhere. Dawn (Mrs. Forbes) and Carol (Front Desk) are always cheerful. They are amazing. In 2001, I made a wise decision when I chose Forbes Dental Care.”

Roy B. Quady in St. Anthony Village

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