The Questions You’ve Always Been Curious To Ask Your Dentist

Ever dreamed of being on Jeopardy, or maybe just winning trivia night at your local watering hole? We doubt too many questions about oral health ever make the cut, but we are always hopeful that something you read here could make you a big winner! 


In addition to trivia questions, sometimes we get questions from patients that make even us scratch our head or revert back to medical literature to find the answer. Below is our “Best Of” list comprised of SIX questions we have heard—or great trivia that may come in handy someday. We only ask that if you win a game thanks to what you learn here that you let us know! 

 Ask your dentist THESE questions

Why do my teeth hurt when I run? 


Ankles, knees, and shins all commonly hurt on our runs, but what about teeth? Even avid runners have raised concerns that long distances are accompanied by tooth pain. There are several reasons why this happens. First, many runners unconsciously grit their teeth when they run. When you are working hard, like running up a hill, you automatically grit your teeth. Over time, this can lead to pain and other issues such as enamel erosion. Another cause of pain could be from the cold air. Each person has different levels of sensitivity when the cold hits their teeth. Try breathing though your nose to prevent cold air from hurting your teeth. 


Is my problem the worst you have ever seen? 


Some patients ask—and we know others are thinking or worrying—if their teeth are the worst we have ever seen. As dentists, let’s just say we have seen it all. You shouldn’t be worried about coming in to address lingering issues or even for a cleaning. The most important thing is you coming in. We’re here to help you rejuvenate your smile and alleviate any pain you are experiencing.  


Can you tell that I am lying about flossing? 


Yes, we can absolutely tell if you stretch the truth about your flossing routine. Without flossing, you are not cleaning 35% of the surface of the tooth. Due to this, your gums will be inflamed and tartar will have built up on your teeth. We won’t admonish you or embarrass you for this, but we will remind you that flossing is an integral part of your oral health routine. 


Can I get my teeth whitened without appearing vain? 


Of course you can! When a patient asks about tooth whitening we are excited that they are interested in the state of the smile and want to make it better. Wanting whiter teeth doesn’t make you appear vain or image-conscience. Brightening your smile increases confidence levels which can lead to better performance and work or in your home life. There are so many benefits to teeth whitening that we highly encourage all patients to consider it. 


Does oil pulling really work? 


With the craze around all-natural and holistic options for dental care, we have been asked many times about the benefits of oil pulling. Some believe that oil pulling (a process where you swish certain types of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes) help prevent gingivitis, plaque build-up and bad breath. This technique dates back 3000 years to ancient forms of medicine. 


It is important that patients understand that this process doesn’t reverse the effects of tooth decay nor should it replace your day-to-day dental care routine. While there are some studies to show that it does remove bacteria, it shouldn’t be the only preventive measure you employ. Also, it is vital that if you try oil pulling that you do not swallow any of the oil since you would also be consuming all the bad bacteria pulled from your teeth.  


Why do dentists ask so many question when my mouth is open? 


This question is just a bit of fun and to poke fun at our profession. We do have a tendency to ask a lot of non-dental related questions to patients while they lay in our chairs. We understand it’s hard to respond, but it is also human nature to engage with the patients we care so much about. We don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but prolonged silence can always be a little awkward. If you don’t want to talk, don’t worry, it won’t hurt our feelings, but unless we hear otherwise, we will probably still attempt to talk your ear off!

Also published on Medium.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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