Ask A Dentist

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li

June 30, 2024

ask a dentist, dental FAQs, dental health, health and wellness, oral care, questions most commonly asked of dentists

We find there are many patient questions that go unanswered because patients either forget to ask or have their mouth full of dental instruments and can’t talk! So, what common dental questions do dentists get asked most often? Read on to get answers to the most common questions people ask a dentist.

Ask A Dentist…

Why do I always have bad breath?

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This is one of the most frequently asked questions of dentists, because it happens to a lot of us, and it is embarrassing to live with. Bad breath, or “halitosis”, is caused by bacteria that produces sulfur on your tongue and down into your throat. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs and although your breath won’t smell quite like that, it will be off-putting for those close to you.

The most common cause of bad breath is having a dry mouth which means food debris is not getting naturally flushed away. As a result, food debris basically starts to rot. However, other causes of bad breath can include poor oral hygiene, having those stinky bacteria in your mouth or throat, smoking, or eating powerful smelling foods like raw onions or garlic.

If you always have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, or notice it is something new, it’s best to speak to your dentist. They’ll do a check-up to figure out the cause and offer advice to help keep your breath smelling fresher.

All my friends have had their wisdom teeth out; why do I still have mine?

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Yep, this can be a common issue among people in their late teens and into their early 20s. Wisdom teeth are notorious for coming in crooked, causing an issue called impaction. When this happens, it means these back molars get trapped below the gums, which leads to painful symptoms and the risk of infection. As a result, it’s very common for people this age to have their wisdom teeth extracted.

If you still have yours and suffer from issues like tooth/jaw pain, gum inflammation, a bad taste in your mouth, etc., mention this to your dentist ASAP. They will check to see if your wisdom teeth have become impacted and determine if extraction is required.

However, if life is good and you feel fine, you are either one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth fit perfectly and came up through your gums without issue, or one of the few who don’t have wisdom teeth at all. Both these scenarios are perfectly fine, and there is no reason for alarm!

Do root canals really hurt that much?

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No! Root canals don’t hurt. It’s actually the reason for the root canal that is painful. A deep cavity or damage to your tooth can reach the tender tooth pulp where all the nerves are located. When this happens, infection can set in, causing the terrible pain people associate wrongly with root canals.

The root canal treatment is required to ease the pain by removing the decay and infected tissue, thereby reducing the inflammation. Although there will be some sensitivity afterwards, this will be far more bearable compared to the pain caused by the infection. Also, during the root canal process, we use numbing solutions to keep you comfortable.

So again, no — root canals don’t hurt that much and are rather the solution to resolve your pain.

Do I really need to take my one-year-old to the dentist?

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Yes! In fact, we highly recommend parents bring their child to the dentist at the arrival of their first tooth or by their first birthday, whichever happens first. While it might seem silly to have a dentist look at a single tooth in a baby’s mouth, there are several reasons an early start to dental care is important, including:

  • It ensures the tooth is healthy
  • It sets you off on the right foot to monitor your child’s oral health progression
  • Baby teeth can get cavities too
  • It allows your child to become accustomed to dentist’s visits, avoiding dental fear and anxiety
  • It provides an opportunity to learn helpful tips to keep your toddler’s teeth and gums healthy
  • Your dentist can offer tips to keep your baby comfortable during the teething process

Can I whiten my teeth naturally?

ask-a-dentist-can-i-whiten-my-teeth-naturally - Comparison of teeth before and after whitening

Yes and no. We’ve seen a lot of scary, dangerous, and misleading whitening trends appear on social media that can actually damage your teeth. Here are some safe natural whitening tips. However, nothing can give you the dazzling results that a professional whitening treatment can, and you can be assured it’s safe for your teeth and mouth.

Is following TikTok dental care advice really so dangerous?

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Yes! Know why? Because these people aren’t dentists or health professionals! Nothing is worse than dental care FAQs answered by completely unqualified individuals! Some of the worst advice we’ve seen on TikTok includes:

  • Dangerous teeth whitening advice that leads to tooth enamel erosion, which will not only yellow your teeth (the complete opposite result you’re after) but will also lead to sensitivity and tooth decay (see our link above for safe whitening tips)
  • DIY teeth filing to reshape your teeth or remove a sharp edge from a chipped tooth, as this will permanently damage tooth enamel and lead to sensitivity and tooth decay
  • DIY orthodontic treatment using rubber bands (really??) that, a) obviously won’t work and, b) can put you at risk of damaging your bite, gums, and teeth
  • Buying your own ultrasonic cleaners and scalers for DIY cleaning (blimey!)
  • Pulling your own infected or painful teeth (yikes), which we can’t even imagine — not only will you cause yourself more undue pain, you’ll no doubt make the infection much, much worse
  • Our advice on all these “tips”? Just don’t!

How is it possible for teens to have gum disease?

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Because teens have gums! So many people are under the misconception gum disease is an old people problem, when in fact, it’s an “anyone who has gums” problem. Everyone has to practice good oral health care routines, as everyone is susceptible to gum disease related to plaque buildup and poor oral health.

So, teens — grab that floss and get to work because your youth alone isn’t going to prevent gum disease. And remember, gum disease causes unsightly smiles and bad breath. Just saying.

Are removable dentures and glued-on bridges the only tooth replacement solution?

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No! You can also get dental implants for single, multiple, or full tooth replacement. Dental implants are the only permanent solution to missing teeth, using posts placed in the jawbone to simulate natural roots. The artificial tooth, bridge, or dentures are then screwed permanently into place for the most natural look and feel possible.

Implants prevent bone loss and provide the same chewing action as natural teeth and roots, resulting in increased bone health. Click here to learn more about dental implants.

Still have questions? No problem. Give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.

Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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