7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

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

 

 

Top Tips to Choosing the Best Toothbrush for Your Smile

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How do you decide what is the best toothbrush for your oral health needs? Do you go with a favorite color? Maybe the type of bristles – soft or hard? How the toothbrush feels in your hand when you are brushing?  Or the cost? All of those are important (even the color of your toothbrush) because you want to be sure that you are doing everything possible to encourage you to brush twice a day. Remember, if you are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, you will end up spending about 1,000 hours during your lifetime brushing your teeth. You definitely want to give yourself every opportunity to make those hours as enjoyable as possible. 

Here are some simple tips to give you the best “toothbrush experience” possible:

When Should You Buy a New Toothbrush?

As soon as the bristles on your toothbrush begin to look worn or frayed, buy a new one. That usually happens every three months if you are brushing regularly. Remember, a worn-out toothbrush isn’t helping to keep your teeth clean. After an illness replace your toothbrush because germs can linger and make you sick again. Also, if you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s probably time for a new one.

The Parts of a Toothbrush – Bristles, Head Shape and Handle

Bristles: Soft is Safe

Most dentists agree on using a toothbrush with soft bristles and to brush gently. You may think that scrubbing your teeth with a stiff-bristle toothbrush will improve your oral health, but you’re probably wrong. Instead, you’ll end up damaging your teeth and gums. How? The hard bristles will cause gum tissue to pull back from teeth, which can expose the tooth root and lead to increased sensitivity to heat, cold or certain foods and drinks. Plus the hard bristles will create damage to enamel on teeth, which can leave them exposed to cavity-causing plaque.

Head: Size Matters

Consider the toothbrush’s head shape when selecting your tool of choice. Some toothbrush shapes will suit some mouths better than others. Make sure the head allows your toothbrush bristles to comfortably reach your back molars, as some brush heads may be too large or wide. Brush in front of the mirror to make sure you cover every tooth. If it doesn’t, swap your toothbrush for one that does.

Handle: Get a Grip

The handle of the brush should be long enough to hold comfortably. It should neither be too thick nor too thin to hold. Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to use. 

Do You Go Cheap on What You Pay for Your Toothbrush?

Five no-name toothbrushes in a package may seem like a steal at a handful of pennies each, but consider the risks. Seeing as you put a toothbrush in your mouth two or more times per day, it’s worth going with a reputable manufacturer. If you buy a cheap toothbrush, you may be getting a product could be from a manufacturer who doesn't care about safety or efficacy. Plus, the toothbrushes could be made of inferior or unsafe materials. Bottom line, cheap toothbrushes are better suited for cleaning grout than oral hygiene. 

Why Is the ADA Way Important?

Buy toothbrushes that have the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by producing scientific evidence that the product is safe and effective. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective guidelines for toothbrushes.

Does Color Matter?

Sure it does if color is important to you. Using an icky-colored toothbrush won’t motivate you to brush twice a day. Buy one that has a color attractive to you!

The Bottom Line on Selecting Your Toothbrush

At the end of the day, the best toothbrush is the one you’ll actually use. That means the toothbrush handle should fit comfortably in your hand and the toothbrush head should feel comfortable in your mouth and be able to reach every tooth surface. Look for the ADA Seal, your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and effectiveness. 

Sources: The American Dental Association (ADA)

 

 

Bad Breath Remedy Plan for Holiday Parties

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Bad Breath Can Be Uncomfortable for You and Those Around You

There's so much to worry about at Christmas, from the presents to what you should wear to event - but we often forget about our breath.

Bad breath can not only be embarrassing but it can also be a sign of something more serious like gum disease.

Whether it’s rich food, office drinks or pre-party exercise, you'll be shocked to learn how lifestyle changes during the festive season can impact bad breath.

Horrified at mouth odor, many people immediately reach for the mints. But this can create a vicious cycle in which they eat more sugar, which creates more bacteria and more bad breath. And then they eat even more mints, exacerbating the problem. Here’s some tips to keep your breath smelling great for the festivities.

Eat Smart

We’re all tempted to eat more of the things that we shouldn’t over Christmas and often don’t realize the effect that constant grazing can have on our breath.

·        Beat the buffet: Be aware that Christmas party favorites like walnuts, brazil nuts, smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés can contribute to bad breath, as they provide a source of sulphur-producing bacteria which can cause oral odor. Other foods with sulphur-producing bacteria include dairy, meat, fish, egg, nuts and beans, so mix it up when you’re piling up your plate.

·        Pass the parsley: Christmas platters are filled with parsley and mint, so don’t leave them on the buffet table! Chew on a fresh sprig of parsley, as the chlorophyll in these green plants are a known breath deodorizer and neutralize odors.

·        Munch on Veggies: Vegetables can also help to keep your breath fresh. Carrots and celery are full of water and vitamin C that flush out your mouth and kill odor-causing bacteria. Head to the crudité table at the party to snack on the veggies between each breath-spoiling course.

·        Bite on a Lemon: Citrus fruit causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts as a cleaning agent to rinse away plaque and bacteria. If you find yourself in a smelly situation, ask for a lemon with your water. Bite into the lemon, and swish the juice around your mouth for a few seconds.

Brush Your Teeth

Before you head out to the party, make sure to brush your teeth to get rid of all the bacteria that you have accumulated throughout the day. Pay special attention to your tongue; a lot of foul-smelling bacteria like to hang out there. For office parties, keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk at work so you can slip off to the bathroom before your office turns into a party zone.

Drink Water

When you have a dry mouth, it can make bad breath worse. Since alcoholic drinks are drying agents, they can exacerbate a bad breath problem. Sip on a glass of water in between each drink to stay hydrated. Bonus: This can also help to prevent hangovers caused by dehydration.

Chew Sugarless Gum

If you still can't shake that feeling that your breath smells terrible, or if you simply overdid it on the garlic, chew on a stick of sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum will not replace brushing your teeth, but it can cover up odors and increase saliva production to rinse away foul-smelling bacteria.

Source: Colgate.com, Express.CO.UK

 

 

 

Not a Fan of Flossing? Try These Alternatives

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Options to Assist in Cleaning those Tough In-Between Spaces

When you brush, you're really only cleaning about 60 percent of your teeth - flossing cleans the rest. It’s true that flossing is the ideal way to clean in between the teeth but, for some people, flossing is difficult and often impossible.

People with limited dexterity and some types of dental restorations can make it challenging to clean with regular floss. And, for some people, flossing just plain isn’t going to become part of the oral hygiene regimen at home. Unfortunately, studies by Crest, Oral B, and the American Dental Association (ADA) have shown that not even half of the American population admits to flossing every day. The number could be lower in reality. As if bloody gums don't give you away, a study by the American Academy of Periodontology found that 27 percent of people straight-up lie to their dentists about flossing.

Here is a list of alternatives, or adjuncts, to flossing.

Hand Held Flossers – Tired of numb, floss-strangled fingertips, and sticking your hands in your mouth? These Y-shaped pieces of plastic have a piece of floss strung across them that you can easily push between your teeth and pull out stubborn plaque and pieces of food. Essentially this is the same as the traditional way of flossing but allows for easier access and control with the fingers. There are different size handles and some have a small “pick” on the end that people often use to clean around the gum-line.

Because the floss is strung tightly, it really can’t wrap around the tooth or reach under the gums. Also, you can’t reach the back of the tooth as well as you can with regular floss. However, if it’s between using a floss stick and not flossing at all, the choose the floss stick.

Interproximal Brushes – For larger spaces, a smaller brush (that looks like a bottle brush) can be used. This can be a very effective way to clean as it mechanically disrupts the bacteria. Some people use brushes that affix to a longer handle and there are smaller “travel size” brushes as well. These can be used with or without paste. The brushes need to be replaced fairly frequently as the metal wire, that the bristles are attached to, starts to become flimsy.

Soft Picks – A relatively newer product that is much like the interproximal brushes but intended for a one-time use. Again, there are a couple of different sizes available.

Water Irrigation/Water Picks – Water picks were the rage for a while then seemed to lose their luster. In more recent years, the water pick has made a resurgence and can be an effective tool in helping to prevent and control periodontal disease. Water picks dislodge food particles, reduce plaque, irrigate around the gum-line and newer technology has designed a specialized tip for periodontal pockets which can also be used with antimicrobial solutions for irrigation. Water picks are often recommended for people that have braces as it can aid in cleaning around the metal arch wires and brackets that can easily trap food and plaque.

Although studies show that water flossing is a better alternative to string flossing, some dental hygienists, who deal with teeth all day long, disagree over how effective water flossing can be.  They say in order to floss properly; the only way is to use string floss. If you do not properly use water flossers, they can cause a negative effect. If not properly used water flossers can push plaque further into your gums, cause irritated gums and excessive bleeding. It is also a bacteria feeding ground if not cleaned properly. Speak with your hygienist and dentist next time you go in for a cleaning to learn their position on water flossing.

Air Flossers - A powered device that uses compressed air to push a spray of water or mouthwash between the teeth. Studies seem to show that they are on par with flossing for effectiveness. If you are averse to flossing, but you are okay with spending a little cash and using some new technology, this could be your answer.

Avoid Using Toothpicks

One other “picking point”: Don’t use a toothpick to clean your teeth. Despite the name, a toothpick is not designed for dental cleaning, and it could break off and become stuck between your teeth

Ask Your Dentist and Hygienist About Flossing Alternatives

Proper and traditional flossing is still the best way to prevent gum disease, remove plaque and bacteria. With the above alternatives to flossing your teeth, you will be able to develop a habit much like a tooth brushing habit. A final, slightly radical, idea: Come clean to your dentist and hygienist. Tell her them you hate flossing, and tell them why. They should be able to offer a perfect solution you didn’t know about.

Sources: OralB.com, Shape.com, HuffingtonPost.com

 

 

Eight Smile-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

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‘Tis the Season for Mouth Healthy Gifts!

Stockings are the perfect opportunity to sneak in that practical gift for a child or teenager and even impress your partner or friend with something thoughtful that lasts long after the Christmas tree comes down.

Include some of these items to see their faces – and smiles! – light up on Christmas morning (we have the first two available for purchase at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs):

Zoom Whitening Pen: Two applications a day will keep your smile looking great! Easy to use and can be taken anywhere.It requires no waiting after application.

UV Toothbrush Sanitizer: Zapi Luxe wobbles but the germs fall down.  This cute item kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria and sanitizes in just seven minutes.It has an automatic shut-off.

Xylitol-infused Chewing Gum: Gum containing the natural sweetener, Xylitol, is a particularly good option since studies have shown that consistent exposure to Xylitol can help prevent tooth decay.

Flavored Toothpaste: Uniquely-flavored toothpaste can provide a change of pace and get kids excited again about the prospect of brushing their teeth. Always make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride to fight tooth decay.

Flavored Floss and Mouthwash: Floss is normally pretty plain, but it doesn't have to be. Like toothpaste, there are many flavors to choose from like banana and cinnamon-flavored options for kids to enjoy.

Unique Toothbrush: Focus on getting the right toothbrush for the right family member for the best results - soft bristles for your toddler, favorite characters for school-aged kids and fun designs for picky teens should do the trick. There are even "smart" toothbrushes that light up or play tunes to let kids know how long they need to brush.

Fun Toothbrush Holder: Another way to get children brushing is by stuffing the stocking with fun oral health gifts like robot, tree or animal-shaped toothbrush holders that stick to walls. Kids like the characters and the holder provides a valuable and sanitary storage spot for their toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Sports Mouthguard: The quality of the mouthguard should be the primary concern, but there are plenty of fun colors and designs available to coordinate with a favorite team or uniform of any color.

By gifting them with dental-conscious stocking stuffers, you can ensure a new year of healthy smiles to come.

 

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate

 

Beating Bad Breath

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Are You Among the More Than 80 Million People Who Suffer?

Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Some people don't realize their breath could peel paint because others are afraid to tell them. You don’t have to distance the people around you with smelly mouth odor.

 

Do You Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur -- or worse.

Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.

Not sure if your breath is bad? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your significant other, "'Does my breath smell?” Because it's really hard to tell on your own. There's also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.

If your toothbrush or floss smells bad, then there are foul odors in your mouth.

 

What Causes Bad Breath?

Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.

Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You'll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).

If you’ve eliminated medical causes for your bad breath? Hit the kitchen for some bad breath battlers.

 

Try these Bites for Better Breath

Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.

Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth- freshening burst of flavor. (Wash the rind thoroughly first.) The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands—and fight bad breath.

Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.

Rinse with a 30-second mouthwash that is alcohol-free (unike many off-the-shelf products). Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (which changes the pH level and fights odor in the mouth) and a few drops of antimicrobial peppermint essential oil. Don’t swallow it! (Yields several rinses.)

Moisten your mouth. You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don't make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.

 

Crunch Your Way to Better Breath

Try this recipe from The Remedy Chicks (Linda B. White MD, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell-Grogan) from EveryDayHealth.com.

Raw crunchy foods clean the teeth. Apples contain pectin, which helps control food odors and promotes saliva production. Cinnamon is antimicrobial. Active cultures in yogurt help reduce odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.

1 cup apple chunks
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed walnuts
3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
Ground cinnamon

PREPARATION AND USE: Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)

 

Avoid Foods That Sour Your Breath.

Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn't help.

“The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out,” says Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.

The best way to stop the problem? Don't eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.

 

Take Care of Your Mouth

Keep your teeth and gums healthy with regular oral care. Gum disease and tooth decay causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.

Brush your teeth twice a day.

Floss daily.

Brush or scrape your tongue.

Visit your dentist.

 

The best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. If you have chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.

 

Sources: ADA, Web MD, Delta Dental, EveryDayHealth.com

 

 

Do You Floss Like a Boss?

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Using Proper Techniques Are Important if You Want to Floss Effectively

Techniques for Taking Care of Teeth and Gums

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

A spring 2015 MouthHealthy.org poll asked readers if they brush before or after they floss. The results were close: 53% said they brush before, while 47% said after.

So who’s right? Technically, everyone. The most important thing about flossing is to do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from flossing first thing in the morning or flossing after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.

And don’t forget, children need to floss too! You should be flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch. Because flossing demands more manual dexterity than very young children have, children are not usually able to floss well by themselves until they are age 10 or 11.

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

There are two types of floss from which to choose:

  1. Nylon (or multifilament) floss
  2. PTFE (monofilament) floss

Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. Because this type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. While more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant. When used properly, both types of floss are excellent at removing plaque and debris.

Talk to your dentist about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. Look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

 How Do I Floss to Get the Best Results?

Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth. Daily flossing is an important part of your oral health care routine to help remove the plaque from these areas where a toothbrush doesn’t completely reach. But to truly reap the benefits, you need to use proper flossing technique.

 Four Key Elements for Flawless Flossing

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains the key elements of proper flossing technique in four simple steps:

1.      Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.

2.      Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.

3.      Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.

4.      Slide: Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.

Keep in mind that flossing should not be painful. If you floss too hard, you could damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting the food out. It’s normal to feel some discomfort when you first start flossing, but don’t give up. With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist.

 Using a Flosser

If you use a hand-held flosser, the flossing technique is similar. Hold the flosser handle firmly and point the flossing tip at an angle facing the area you want to floss first (either top teeth or bottom teeth). Guide the floss gently between two teeth, and be sure to avoid snapping or popping the floss. Use the same zigzag motion that you would us with standard floss. Bend the floss around each tooth and slide it under the gum line and along each tooth surface.

 Flossing Around Dental Work

 If you wear braces or other dental appliances, proper flossing technique is especially important to avoid getting floss caught on wires or brackets. You can use special orthodontic floss which has a stiff end that can be easily threaded under the main wire (also called the arch wire) on your braces. Or you can purchase a floss threader, which is a flexible device with a pick on one end and a loop on the other. To use a floss threader, place an 18-inch piece of the floss of your choice through the loop. Then insert the pointed end of the flosser under the main wire and pull through so the floss is under the main wire. Once you have the floss in place, follow the same principles of proper flossing technique that you would use with standard floss.

You can always ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you techniques if you are still uncertain.

 Sources: MouthHealthy.org, Oral B, Colgate, American Dental Association

How Long Do Americans Spend Brushing Their Teeth?

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And What Percentage of Americans Make Their Partner Brush Before Kissing?

 The common advice when you brush your teeth is to spend a minimum of two minutes brushing. How do you compare to what is recommended – and how do you compare with the national average? And what about that kissing question – do you know the answer?

 The Results Are In

 Most Americans do it twice a day – once at bedtime and once after getting up in the morning – for an average of one minute and fifty-two seconds. These are some of the findings on tooth brushing from a recent national survey by Delta Dental .

 Nearly seven of 10 Americans (69 percent) brush their teeth at least twice a day, the amount recommended by the American Dental Association and other dental health professionals. However, that means more than 30 percent of Americans aren’t brushing enough.

On average, Americans brush for just under the two minutes recommended by dental professionals. African Americans brush 18 seconds longer than Americans as a whole, while younger adults ages 18 to 24 spend 16 seconds longer than average brushing.

Nearly six of 10 Americans brush their teeth at bedtime and as soon as they wake up in the morning, while 38 percent brush after breakfast. About 17 percent brush after lunch, and 21 percent brush after dinner

According to the Delta Dental survey, 91 percent of Americans brush most frequently at home in their bathrooms over the sink. However, about 4 percent say they most frequently brush in the shower. Americans ages 18 to 44 are twice as likely to brush in the shower.

Brushing Habits Linked with Oral Health

 Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is key to good oral health. In fact, according to the Delta Dental survey, people who brush at least twice a day are 22 percent more likely to describe their oral health as good or better compared with those who brush less frequently.

Unfortunately, 23 percent of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth in the past year. Nearly 37 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 have gone that long without brushing.

Flossing is another area that could use some improvement. Only four of 10 Americans ( 41 percent) floss at least once a day, and 20 percent never floss. The survey showed a strong relationship between flossing daily and reporting good oral health.

Brush First, Please

 Through one of the lighter topics addressed in the survey, Delta Dental found that one-third of Americans (33 percent) have made their partners brush their teeth before a kiss. Men were less likely to require brushing before kissing – one of the activities made possible by good oral health.

 

SOURCE: Delta Dental

 

 

 

Do You Keep Making Excuses to Not Floss Your Teeth?

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Learn the 8 most common excuses and what you can do to solve each one

Do you floss? Or, like many people, do you always seem to find a reason not to? A 2014 survey found that only 41% of Americans floss daily, and 20% never floss. That’s most unfortunate, because flossing is even more important than brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss. 

The list of excuses for not flossing are varied and many. But for every excuse, there is a simple workaround that can help you consistently floss and enjoy better oral health. 

Excuse #1: Food doesn’t get caught between my teeth, so I don’t need to floss.

Flossing isn’t so much about removing food debris as it is about removing dental plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease, and eventually tooth loss. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth. 

Excuse #2: I don’t know how to floss.

Flossing isn’t easy. In fact, it’s often considered the most difficult personal grooming activity there is. But practice makes perfect. Here’s a great primer on how to floss from the American Dental Association:

  • Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
  • Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and use a gentle shoeshine motion to guide it between teeth.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
  • Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
  • Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth, “unspooling” fresh sections of floss as you go along.

Don’t forget to floss the backs of your last molars. By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth.

Excuse #3: I’m not coordinated enough to floss.

Many tooth-cleaning options exist for people whose manual dexterity is compromised by poor coordination, hand pain, paralysis, and amputations -- or simply by fingers that are too big to fit inside the mouth.

One option is to use floss holders. These disposable plastic Y-shaped devices (some equipped with a spool of floss) hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use.

Another option is to forgo floss and clean between teeth using disposable toothpick-like dental stimulators (Stim-U-Dents, Soft-Picks, and so on); narrow spiral brushes (interproximal brushes); or the conical rubber nubs (tip stimulators) found at the end of many toothbrushes or mounted on their own handles. 

 

Excuse #4: I don’t have time to floss.

Effective flossing does take a while -- once a day for several minutes is recommended. But even 60 seconds of flossing is of enormous benefit. As with exercise, bathing, and other daily activities, the key is to make flossing a habit. Keep floss in plain view, alongside your toothbrush and toothpaste. If you’re too tired to floss before bed, floss in the morning or afternoon. Or keep floss on hand and use it when you find the time.

 

Excuse #5: It hurts when I floss.

If flossing causes gum pain or bleeding, odds are you have gingivitis or gum disease -- precisely the conditions for which flossing is beneficial. Stopping flossing because of bleeding [or pain] is just the opposite of what you should be doing. The good news? With daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing, gum pain and bleeding should stop within a week or two. If either persists, see a dentist.

 

Excuse #6: My teeth are spaced too close together to floss.  

If unwaxed floss doesn’t work for your teeth, you might try waxed floss or floss made of super-slippery polytetrafluoroethylene. If the spacing between your teeth varies (or if you have significant gum recession), yarn-like “superfloss” may be a good bet. It stretches thin for narrow spaces and fluffs out to clean between teeth that are more widely spaced.

 

Excuse #7: The floss keeps shredding.

In many cases, broken or fraying floss is caused by a cavity or a problem with dental work -- often a broken or poorly fabricated filling or crown. Consult your dentist.

 

Excuse #8: I have dental work that makes flossing impossible.

Try floss threaders. These monofilament loops make it easy to position floss around dental work.

 

 SOURCE: WebMD and Lehigh Valley Smile Designs