Have questions about dental hygiene and care?

At Arlington Dental, we've compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions about dental hygiene and care. Keep reading to learn more!


Frequently Asked Questions

Can my first appointment just be a cleaning?

In the past, you may have been able to schedule your first appointment with a new dentist for a cleaning. However, current standards in the dental field strongly recommend that a patient’s first visit with a new dentist include a comprehensive oral examination and any necessary x-rays. This ensures that the dentist has a full and clear picture of your mouth and oral health before proceeding with care. If a cleaning is the proper next course of treatment, appointments are often available on the same day.

We do our best to ensure an exam is done on the same day as your first cleaning / first visit with us, but on occasion we do have to schedule the exam on a later date

How early should I arrive for my first appointment?
New patients should arrive 10-15 minutes early for their first appointment. This gives time to review any insurance benefits, practice policies, and complete necessary paperwork.
How long is my first appointment?
Please plan at least 1 hour for your first visit. The length may vary depending on your specific needs.
I am afraid of going to the dentist ... What can I do?
We understand that going to the dentist can be challenging for some people. Our offices are designed with patients in mind. Our front desk and clinical staff are trained to help anxious patients feel more comfortable. Before your first visit, plan a visit to come by, tour the office, and meet the staff. We're happy to accommodate you. During treatment, we recommend anxious patients wear earbuds with music, an audiobook, or a podcast to tune out external noise. For very anxious patients, speak with your dentist directly before treatment for additional options.
What if I require premedication?
If you require premedication, request a prescription from your healthcare provider before your appointment. For specific questions about premedication, please call our office.
What should I bring to my first appointment?
New patients should arrive with identification, insurance card, if applicable, and any relevant forms, including health history or medication list.
What should I expect during my first appointment?
As a new patient, you will first see the dentist for a comprehensive exam. During your exam, your dentist will review your dental x-rays and complete an oral cancer screening which includes an examination of your jaw, neck, tongue, and inside of the mouth. On your first visit, you may not receive a cleaning. A cleaning may be completed after the doctor ensures it is the appropriate treatment for your specific oral health. Certain conditions determine that a cleaning is not the first best course of treatment. For more information about your first visit please read "What To Expect At Your First Visit."
Is your office accessible to patients with disabilities?
Each of our office makes every accommodation possible for patients with disabilities. Please call our office for specific accessibility information.
Can my child arrive at their appointment alone?
A parent or legal guardian must accompany anyone under the age of 18 during an office visit.
How often should I visit the dentist?
Generally speaking, adults and children should visit the dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning. Certain patients may require more frequent visits to maintain optimal oral health. Visiting the dentist "only when it hurts" may cause more extensive and expensive dental care.
How many times a day should I brush my teeth?
The American Dental Association advocates brushing after each meal. The best way to be sure you are caring for your teeth properly is to discuss your home care techniques and needs with your dentist or hygienist.
At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child goes to the dentist by age 1 or six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing at around 6 months of age.
Do I still need dental checkups every six months if I have braces?
Yes, it is important to continue to have dental checkups every six months if you have braces. Food may be caught in places your toothbrush cannot reach, and this will cause bacteria to build up. This can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
I knocked out a tooth. Can it be saved?
A dentist should treat a serious injury like a knocked-out tooth. Carefully rinse the tooth to remove any dirt and place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue. If you cannot do so, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth and immerse it in milk. Successful re-implantation can be possible if the treatment is performed promptly, so get to your dentist as soon as possible.
What is fluoride, and why is it important to dental health?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in your mouth. Fluoride can also reverse early decay. City water often contains fluoride, so by drinking tap water, you will acquire fluoride. If your drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about whether you are getting the daily amount of fluoride you need. The ADA recommends fluoride for adults as well as children.
What should I do about bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums can be a sign of periodontal disease or gingivitis, which, if caught early, can be reversible. It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible to have a periodontal screening to determine if you have gum disease and the best course of treatment. . When gums are inflamed, brushing and flossing could help reduce the inflammation, so continue to follow your oral health protocols. Ignoring the problem can lead to more serious problems, including tooth and bone loss.
Should I get a cleaning if I'm pregnant?
Yes, oral health is extremely important during pregnancy when hormonal changes can impact the health of your gums. Make sure to tell the dentist you are expecting and any new medicines or supplements you are taking.
What is a comprehensive treatment plan?
Our dentists will take your health history, complete an exam, and create a personalized treatment plan just for you. X-rays will be taken, and the doctor will examine your entire mouth to evaluate your overall oral health. Your treatment plan will make recommendations for your long-term health as well as plans to fix any immediate problems.
How do I take care of my teeth between appointments?
It is important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss as well!
When should I change my toothbrush?
Replace your toothbrush every three months. It is recommended that patients with periodontal disease replace their toothbrushes every four to six weeks. If you have been sick, be sure to replace your toothbrush as soon as possible. It is recommended to read the instructions for replacement guides for electric toothbrushes as they may need to be replaced more frequently.
What are sealants?
Sealants are a thin, protective coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. They act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealant bonds to the grooves in your teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Sealants have proven effective at preventing cavities in adults as well as children but are most commonly used on children. Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for your family.
Why should I floss, isn't brushing enough?
Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can't get to. That's the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth, and eventually, it may harden into calculus/tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist or dental hygienist can remove calculus/tartar. Ask your dental professional to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.
What is a filling?
A dentist uses a filling to fill a cavity. First, all tooth decay is removed, and then a composite material is used to fill the hole. A filling can be made from a variety of different materials, including composites, gold, or ceramic, and can be made to match the color of your teeth.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a small hole on the surface of your tooth caused by tooth decay. Cavities form when plaque builds up on your tooth and combines with sugar from the foods you eat, creating an acid that eats away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by brushing and flossing regularly.
Why does the dentist take X-rays?
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal: small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings), infections in the bone, periodontal (gum) disease, abscesses or cysts, developmental abnormalities, and some types of tumors. Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, and often unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, X-rays may even help save your life. Your dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on your conditions and dental history. There are many benefits to having X-rays taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.
What is a dental emergency?
A Dental Emergency is any problem related to the teeth, gums or tongue which causes extreme discomfort, severe pain or bleeding.