11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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If you’re a fan of making New Year’s resolutions – and sticking to them – then we have 11 helpful tips for keeping your smile bright and your mouth happy in 2018. Even if you aren’t a fan of New Year’s resolutions, our list is still a great place to start on the road to good oral health this year.

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

If you’re a fan of black tea or red wine - or a smoker - your teeth are going to suffer. Dark foods and beverages stain your teeth which equals a dingy smile. Gravies, dark juice and colas are also hard on your smile. To counter these dark foods, brush right after you eat or drink them. Eating an apple is also a great on-the-go solution to clean your teeth.

Toss your toothbrush regularly

Get yourself in the habit of getting rid of your toothbrush every three months. That includes the head of your electric toothbrush. Bacteria settle into the bristles of your brush over time, and after a couple of months, you are just transferring a bunch of bacteria to your mouth every time you brush. Plus, worn bristles don’t clean your teeth as well. In fact, plan for the year by getting out your 2018 calendar now and note every 90 days to change your toothbrush.

Eat foods that “scrub”

Raw carrots, celery and popcorn – along with apples – are great foods that naturally scrub your teeth. Eat them at the end of a meal if you know you won't be able to brush your teeth right after eating. They are great for when you can’t get to your toothbrush and they have the added value of being high in vitamins and fiber.

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great natural multi-purpose mouthwash. Gargle with it in the morning before your brush. It will help remove stains on your teeth, whiten them, and zap bacteria in your mouth.

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

Baking soda will naturally remove stains and make your teeth whiter. Use it the same way you would your toothpaste.

Be a boss of your floss

Less than half of Americans say they floss daily – which is a definite oral health mistake for those who don’t floss regularly. It just takes two minutes once a day. To make it easier to get in a daily floss, stash packages in your purse or backpack, in your desk, and next to your bed. That will make it much more difficult to find excuses not to floss.

Switch your gum

If you like gum, then be sure to use sugar-free gum. For an even better result, purchase gum with xylitol, a non-sugar sweetener that has been proven to reduce plaque. Plus, gum produces saliva, which washes away food particles in your mouth and acid from your teeth.

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

Brush when you first get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. Why? Because saliva – which is a natural plaque fighter – dries up when you sleep, so you should be sure to avoid getting into bed with a mouth full of plaque. When you get up in the morning and brush, your toothbrush will remove any plaque that built up during the night. Plus it will get rid of bacteria, which causes bad breath!

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

Spend two minutes twice a day brushing your teeth and you are almost guaranteed to reduce the bad news (cavities) when you visit your dentist the next time.

Moderate your sugar intake

Bacteria in your mouth love sugar. When sugars aren't cleaned off your teeth, bacteria feed on them and produce acids. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky film that covers the teeth. Once plaque forms, the acids wear away the enamel, which is the tooth's hard outer surface. These tiny openings in the enamel represent the first stage of cavities. So cut down on your sugar intake. Swap water for soda, or sugar-free gum for your regular gum.

See your dentist regularly

Twice a year is how often you should be seeing your dentist. Book a dental hygiene appointment every six months for a professional cleaning of your teeth and gums. Plus, your dentist will take a thorough look in your mouth and spot any potential issues before they become full-blown emergencies.

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate, WebMD, Stealth Health/Reader’s Digest

 

 

7 Surprising Foods That Are Staining Your Teeth

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And How to Keep Eating Them While Reducing Their Impact on Your Pearly Whites

Wine, coffee and tea – it's the trifecta of tooth-staining foods that almost everyone knows to avoid in order to protect their pearly whites. These beverages, however, are just the beginning of a long list of foods that can sabotage your smile, and chances are that many are flying undetected right under your very nose! From condiments to candy, put these sneaky offenders on your radar to keep tooth discoloration at bay.

Common Tooth-Staining Foods

1. Tomato-Based Meals
The high acidity level of tomatoes coupled with their bright red color can pack quite the punch on the enamel of your teeth. From your mom's homemade spaghetti sauce or soup, or your favorite brand of ketchup, constant exposure to even the smallest of doses can be damaging.

2. Curries
As rich in color as they are in flavor, many spice blends rank high in staining power, due to brightly colored ingredients such as turmeric and saffron. Over time, their pigments can leave a yellowish tint on your teeth.

3. Dark Sauces
Whether it's food infused with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or other dark liquid, you can bet that eating enough of it will also dim your smile. If it's the base of your meal, there's a definite risk to the enamel of your teeth, but even side dips can be just as harmful because they are often more concentrated.

4. Clear Soda
Dark sodas already get a lot of notoriety for discoloring teeth, but don't switch to clear soda just yet! While its lighter color can make it seem like the better choice for those who love soda, it's still high in sugars that can eat away at tooth enamel and leave them prone to staining.

5. Fruit Juices and Berries
Fruit is undeniably nutritious, and many juices now come with no sugar added, but fructose is still a form of sugar, and it is bad news for tooth enamel. In fact, the darker color of certain fruits and juices – such as blueberry or grape – can have a staining effect similar to wine.

6. Sports Drinks
Because their makers often do a masterful job of promoting rehydration and electrolyte replacement, it's easy to overlook the sugar content and bright, fluorescent colors. Similar to soda and fruit juice, however, both the pigment and sugary nature of these drinks can leave your teeth less than white in no time.

7. Hard Candies and Popsicles
If they can turn your tongue into a rainbow of colors in a matter of seconds, just think of what they can do to your teeth! Even if consumed occasionally, prolonged sucking puts the surface of your teeth in direct contact with sugar, acid and dye – resulting in tooth decay as well as discoloration.

Tips To Prevent Tooth Staining

Cutting out many of these problem foods can go a long way in keeping your smile sparkling, but it may be unrealistic to avoid certain foods completely. Here's how you can help protect your teeth from sugary, acidic and/or colorful food:

Eat thoroughly, but quickly to minimize any contact with the tooth's surface

Use a straw to help bypass most of your teeth when drinking beverages

Drink plenty of water during and after meals to wash away food particles

Brush and floss your teeth after meals to help prevent stains from setting in

Use whitening toothpaste to help remove stains and keep teeth sparkling

Professional Treatment Options

In addition to practicing good hygiene and being more mindful about your diet choices, professional dental care can do wonders in keeping your smile bright. Seeing your dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup can help prevent and detect tooth staining, and there are many cosmetic whitening procedures that can remedy existing discoloration, whether mild or severe. Schedule a visit with your dentist for the optimal treatment plan for you.

 

Sources: Women’s Health Magazine, WebMD

 

 

9 Common Procedures to Fix Your Smile

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Restore, Repair or Replace: Options for a Great Grin

With the rise of cosmetic dentistry, people of all ages have been able to have the perfect smile. There are plenty of options to choose from – you can manipulate the shape of your teeth, whiten them, close the gaps between them, remove cavities and plaques, and more.

Keep on reading to learn about nine common procedures that can help you have a healthy, happy smile!

1. Teeth Whitening

Teeth often lose their white shade over time. This often comes naturally as it absorbs various chemicals from the food and drinks you consume throughout your life.

Your dentist can create a custom mouthpiece tray that ensures the right amount of whitening solution reaches your teeth.

Keep in mind, whitening products are not meant to clean teeth, it is still important to continue practicing daily oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.

2. Crowns

Sometimes called caps, crowns completely cover a tooth, restoring a normal shape and appearance. You may need a crown to:

·        Cover a misshapen or discolored tooth

·        Protect a weak tooth

·        Restore a broken or worn tooth

·        Cover a tooth with a large filling

·        Hold a dental bridge in place

·        Cover a dental implant

·        Cover a tooth that's had a root canal procedure

Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Because crowns are costly, dentists usually suggest them only when other procedures can't produce a pleasing result.

Permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.

3. Bonding

Bonding may improve how your teeth look if they have excess space between them, or if they are chipped, broken, stained, or cracked.

Dentists also use bonding materials to fill small cavities or to protect the exposed root of a tooth.

The dentist can usually do this procedure in a single office visit by applying an etching solution followed by tooth-colored materials -- sometimes composite resins -- directly to the tooth's surface where needed.

Although bonding can last for several years, it is more likely than other types of restorations to chip or become stained or just wear down.

4. Veneers

These custom shells, typically made of porcelain (sometimes plastic), cover the front sides of the teeth to change their color and/or shape. Veneers last longer than bonding and provide a superior appearance. They are less expensive than crowns. Veneers can improve teeth that:

·        Have spaces between them

·        Have become chipped or worn

·        Are permanently stained

·        Are poorly shaped

·        Are slightly crooked

Before inserting veneers, the dentist first takes an impression of your tooth, then buffs the tooth before cementing the veneer in place. A beam of light helps harden the cement, which secures the veneer to your tooth.

Porcelain veneers are made in a laboratory, so you need a second visit to the dentist to have them inserted.

5. Enamel Shaping and Contouring

Enamel shaping and contouring involves removing or contouring dental enamel to improve the appearance of your teeth. Dentists may combine this process with bonding.

Often used to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth, reshaping and contouring can correct:

·        Crooked or overlapping teeth

·        Chipped and irregular teeth

·        Minor bite problems

You may be a good candidate for reshaping and contouring if you have normal, healthy teeth, and there's still adequate bone between your teeth to support them.

6. Bridges

Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, bridges are used to replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. Bridges can be made of gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination. Dentists anchor them onto surrounding teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth. Only your dentist can remove a fixed bridge.

The success of your bridge depends upon its foundation. So, remember that oral hygiene to keep remaining teeth healthy is particularly important if you wear a bridge.

7. Braces

Braces are becoming increasingly common because they not only straighten out your teeth, but they can fix overbites, underbites, and other jaw and teeth problems. Braces pretty much force the teeth to the desired places, usually for a few months to a few years depending on how badly the teeth are positioned.

Braces were traditionally made of metal, ceramic, or plastic brackets with wires that go through them. Every time you visit the dentist, the braces are tightened. This is often a very uncomfortable experience at first – a lot of people report losing weight due to loss of appetite.

8. Clear Aligner Trays

Clear aligners are an alternative to braces. It’s less noticeable because it’s transparent, and it’s also removable. It’s usually more expensive than braces, but it’s often more convenient and less painful. However it can only correct minor problems though – you won’t be able to correct horribly misaligned teeth.

9. Implants

Implants are very expensive but are better alternatives to removable dentures that could easily fall out. Implants are surgically connected to the jawbone and look like a real tooth. The procedure consists of several steps and will therefore take quite a few sessions. They last very long and won’t lose their white shade anytime soon.

Cosmetic dentistry has led to a lot of promising procedures that can help just about anyone have a perfect smile, but you have to remember that the procedures can only do so much in restoring your original teeth. Prevention is always better than the cure, so make sure you practice good oral hygiene. The better you take care of your teeth, the less damage control you’ll need to do later on.

 

Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD

 

Choosing Between At-Home or Professional Teeth Whitening

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A Dark Side to DIY Whitening: Why Your Dentist Offers the Best Results

At-home whiteners are easy to use and relatively cheap. But if your teeth or gums are sensitive, custom-made trays that you get at your dentist's office will help you avoid irritation. This is just one great reason to see your dentist for keeping your smile as white as it can be.

It comes as no surprise that a major Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trend is teeth whitening or bleaching. Although pharmacy-sold whitening can often improve the shade of your teeth, the disadvantages of over-the-counter kits far outweigh the benefits.  For more effective and safer results, it’s recommended that you ask your dentist to perform in-office teeth-whitening services.

In-Office Procedures

The most common one involves custom-made trays filled with bleaching solution that fit firmly over your teeth. Because your dentist supervises the procedure, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than what's found in home kits.

He may recommend doing everything in his office. In that case, a light or heat source may be used to speed up the process. 

Another option is to get fitted for custom-made whitening trays that you can use at home.

If you’re considering whitening your teeth without the help of a professional, here are some potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of:

 

Risks of DIY Whitening

 

Harmful to the Gum Line

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits contain varying levels of peroxides, otherwise known as bleach. If the product isn’t applied properly, the peroxide can cause serious damage to your gum line.

The problem that customers face is that DIY teeth-whitening products come as one size fits all.  As our mouths come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, DIY whitening strips or gel trays can often be too big or small. Either scenario can lead to unnecessary contact with your gum line. The last thing you want is bleach to burn your gums – they’re especially sensitive and full of thousands of susceptible nerve endings.

In a dentist’s office, whitening trays are custom made for each patient in order to avoid the gums. As there’s a lesser risk of gum contact, they can use higher concentration of peroxides in stronger gels that ultimately yield better, whiter results.

Aggravated Dental Problems

If applied at the wrong time, do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits can make pre-existing dental problems worse.  The bleach from the kits can find its way into any abscess of the mouth and cause immediate pain – or worse, an infection.

It is important to make an appointment with your dentist before considering DIY teeth-whitening products. They can check for any cavities or gum disease that could be aggravated by the bleach. If you have a severe cavity, the bleach can travel as far as the root of the tooth and may lead to requiring root-canal therapy.

If there’s pre-existing gum disease like gingivitis or periodontitis, the bleach will burn the inflamed gums and even cause the loss of soft tissue. Aggravated gum disease could lead to serious illness as the bacteria from the gums can find its way to other parts of the body.

Spotted/Weak Results

Without the help of a dental professional, teeth whitening can lead to spotted or ineffective results. Most DIY treatments contain bleach concentrations between 10%-20% – somewhere in between is the safest bet for a bleaching agent. However, a large number of DIY teeth whitening kits don’t list the concentration on their box, making it impossible for the customer to choose a strength that’s sensitive to their oral health.

As users can’t tell how strong the bleaching product is, they may pick one with a lower concentration that produces weak or ineffective results. As it’s difficult to get a full view of our teeth, it’s common for users to miss patches when applying the gel or strips.

Damage to Tooth Enamel

Enamel is the protective layer around our teeth that protects it from daily forces like chewing, talking, biting and grinding. It is the hardest tissue in our body, but can be stained by things like caffeine, tobacco and food. These yellow-colored spots are one of the primary reasons why people whiten their teeth.

DIY teeth whitening kits are known to contain sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide – two chemicals that, if not applied properly, can cause erosion of the tooth enamel. If the enamel wears away, the layer of yellow dentin underneath becomes exposed and extreme pain becomes inevitable.

See Your Dentist

If you still decide to try over-the-counter teeth whitening, ask your dentist for more information or recommendations on which brand to use. They should also give you a full dental examination to make sure you don’t have any pre-existing problems. Whether you or a professional apply the product, it’s important that you’re educated on the risks with a clean bill of oral health.

Professional solutions used by your dentist are stronger than those in over-the-counter kits, so your teeth will whiten more quickly. He or she can also make sure that sensitive gums don't get more irritated.

 

Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD