At Summit Dental, we want to take the mystery out of dentistry. To help you feel more comfortable during your visit to our dental office in Ruidoso, New Mexico, we have provided the answers to our most frequently asked questions below. If you have more questions or would like to schedule an appointment with our dentist, Dr. Kendal Trujillo, please call our office at 575-257-5179 today.

Q: What can I do if I have bad breath?
Bad breath can be caused by something you eat or drink. It can also be caused by tobacco use. In some cases, it is caused by a medical condition or by prescription medication. It may even be brought on by dieting or a sinus problem. In many cases, bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by poor oral hygiene. If you are experiencing chronic bad breath, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Q: How often should I brush and floss my teeth?
You should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. If you would like to brush after every meal, wait for 30 minutes in order to give the saliva in your mouth time to neutralize the acids from your meal. You need to floss at least once a day. If you are wondering if you should brush before you floss or floss before you brush, it really does not matter as long as you do a thorough job of both.

Q: Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
Yes, amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are safe. There are small amounts of mercury and other metals in amalgam fillings, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that they do not pose any health threat. If you are uncomfortable with your amalgam fillings, let your dentist know. Some dentists remove amalgam fillings, and at Summit Dental, we use tooth-colored or composite fillings.

Q: How often should I see the dentist for a cleaning and exam?
You should have a thorough cleaning at least every 6 months and an exam with x-rays annually. That will give our team the chance to thoroughly clean your teeth and look for any issues. Depending on your oral health, the dentist may want to see you more often than six months.

Q: What are the signs of gum disease?
Gum disease has a number of symptoms. Healthy gums are pink. Gum disease can turn your gums red or even blue. You may notice blood on your toothbrush or your dental floss, or your gums may even bleed when you eat. If your gums become swollen or start to feel tender, it is time to see your dentist. Receding gums, or gums that are pulling away from your teeth, can be indicators of gum disease, along with loose teeth or bad breath.

Q: Why do I need to use dental floss?
One of the best things that you can do for your smile is to brush twice a day. However, your toothbrush cannot reach below your gumline or in between your teeth. Plaque, tartar, food debris and bacteria can make their way into those places. Along with seeing your dentist for your checkups, you should floss your teeth at least once a day.

Q: How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
A healthy smile is very important because everyone wants a smile that lights up a room! Cosmetic dentistry can be used to improve your appearance and bolster your self-confidence whether you are at work or out socializing. While some treatments such as a smile makeover may take a little time, a teeth whitening at Summit Dental can produce results right away.

Q: What are porcelain veneers and what can they do for my smile?
Porcelain dental veneers are very thin strips that are placed on the front of your teeth. They can conceal stains, add length to a tooth or close the gap between teeth. They are also useful for correcting teeth that are not the proper size. If properly cared for, your veneers may last up to ten years.

Q: What can I do about stains or discoloration?
Our dentist has several solutions to brighten your smile. Porcelain dental veneers fit over the fronts of your teeth for an aesthetically pleasing look. In some cases, a dental crown may be needed to conceal a stain or other discoloration. Our office also offers teeth whitening treatments. However, there are steps you can take as well to prevent or reduce stains on your teeth. Tobacco turns teeth brown, and nicotine stains them yellow, so if you use tobacco, consider quitting. Dark-colored and acidic foods and drinks can also stain your teeth, and there are some medications and medical conditions that can darken your smile. If this is the case for you, your dentist should talk with your primary care physician.

Q: What are my options if I have missing teeth?
You do not have to live with missing teeth! At Summit Dental, we offer a number of treatments that can restore your smile. Dental implants are a permanent solution that are very convenient. You may also opt for a dental bridge if you need to replace several teeth next to one another. Dentures are yet another solution for missing teeth. Your oral and overall health are both things that should be considered when choosing a replacement option, and you should also take your budget into account. The best thing to do is talk with your dentist to find out which solution is right for you.

Q: What I can do if I have fillings that are old, unattractive or discolored?
If you are having problems with your fillings, you should contact your dentist to discuss the process involved in having them removed. Many dentists are able to remove old amalgam fillings. At our office, we use composite fillings, which mold themselves to the shape of your teeth, contain no metal and are colored to blend in with the rest of your smile.

Q: Is there a link between gum disease and other medical conditions?
Your gums support your teeth, but they also protect your body from bacteria that can damage your smile and cause problems for your overall wellbeing. In fact, gum disease has been linked to clogged arteries, a disease known as atherosclerosis, and an infection of the lining of the heart called endocarditis. Bacteria from gum disease may spread to the lungs and cause respiratory problems, and there is evidence that it may contribute to neurological issues. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentist, can prevent or treat gum disease.

Q: When should someone get dental sealants?
Dental sealants are most effective the earlier they are applied. For that reason, sealants are usually applied to children’s baby teeth. In most cases, children receive sealants on their permanent teeth between the ages of 10 and 13.

Q: What can I do if I have a tooth knocked out?
Don’t panic! That’s the first thing. The second thing you should do is find the tooth and gently rinse it. Don’t wipe it with anything. Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt. See if you can slip the tooth back into the socket. If it will easily fit, bite down gently on it through a clean piece of gauze to hold it in place. If you can’t put it back in, hold it between your cheek and gums until you are able to come into our office. You can also submerge it in a glass of milk, your own saliva, or a tooth preserving solution. You will need to come in to see us as soon as possible.

Q: Why should I straighten my teeth?
There are many benefits to having a straighter smile. The most obvious is of course cosmetic. You will look and feel more attractive and confident with a properly aligned smile. However, straightening your teeth also has other benefits, such as being able to bite and chew your food properly and speak effectively. And, if your teeth are not in their correct alignment, they can strike one another, causing damage that, over time, can become severe.