Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry
Andrew Phung, DDS
Call for an appointment: (916) 771-0757

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.


Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the odor temporarily. Odors continue until the body eliminates the food. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.

If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Dentures that are not cleaned properly can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.


Regular checkups will allow your dentist to detect any problems such as periodontal (gum) disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be the cause. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating periodontal (gum) disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.

Regardless of what may be the cause, good oral hygiene is essential. Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners. Brush your tongue, too. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.


The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following for good oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

How to floss properly:

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with.

  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth.

  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.

  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.


You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities.


Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, warning signs of periodontal disease include the following:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food

  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before

  • Loose or separating teeth

  • Pus between your gums and teeth

  • Sores in your mouth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • A change in the fit of partial dentures


You may want to start by speaking with your dentist. He or she can tell you whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellowish hued teeth will probably bleach well, brownish colored teeth may bleach less well, and grayish hued teeth may not bleach well at all. Likewise, bleaching may not enhance your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials, and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or dental bonding.


Porcelain veneers are custom-designed shells of tooth-like ceramic material that, when applied over the surface of a tooth, can cover worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing and chips or cracks.

Veneers may be used to restore or correct the following dental conditions:

  • Severely discolored or stained teeth

  • Unwanted or uneven spaces

  • Worn or chipped teeth

  • Slight tooth crowding

  • Uneven teeth