Can Chewing Gum Prevent Cavities?

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Stick You Pick Can Either Harm or Help Your Teeth

Chewing gum in various forms has been around since ancient times. The Greeks chewed sap from the mastic tree, called mastiche. On the other side of the world, the ancient Mayans favored the sap of the sapodilla tree (called tsiclte). Native Americans chewed spruce sap—a habit they passed on to European settlers. Currently, the base used for most gum products is a blend of synthetic materials (elastomers, resins and waxes in various proportions). And today, chewing gum is more popular than ever.

The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. Increased salivary flow helps neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.

So chewing gum is good for your teeth right? It is if you choose the right gum.

Sugary Gum

Chewing gum containing sugar actually increases your chances of developing a cavity because sugar is the very substance that plaque feeds on. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow, but the sugar is used by plaque bacteria to produce acids. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating conditions for decay. By chewing this type of gum you are literally bathing your teeth in sugar, giving plaque energy to develop and spread harmful acids in your mouth. While further research needs to be done to determine the effects of chewing sugar-containing gum on tooth decay, it’s safe to say prolonged exposure to sugar on your teeth can be harmful.

Sugar-Free Gum

However, there is clinical evidence that proves just the opposite for sugar-free gum. Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals and snacks can help prevent tooth decay. Both the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in the gum stimulate ten times the normal rate of saliva flow. In the future, look for chewing gum that delivers a variety of therapeutic agents that could provide additional benefits to those provided by the ability of gum to mechanically stimulate saliva flow. For instance, some gum might contain active agents that could enhance the gum’s ability to remineralize teeth and reduce decay, or enable gum to help reduce plaque and gingivitis.

Xylitol Reduces Decay-Causing Bacteria

Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. In the presence of xylitol, the bacteria lose the ability to adhere to the tooth, stunting the cavity-causing process. With xylitol use over a period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces.

Look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal

The ADA Seal is your assurance that the chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. All gums with the ADA Seal are sugarless and sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA.

Does Chewing Gum Replace Brushing and Flossing?

Sugarless chewing gum is an adjunct to brushing and flossing, but not a substitute for either. The ADA recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss. For most people, chewing sugar-free gum (especially gum sweetened with xylitol) can be a good, preventive measure in situations when tooth brushing and flossing aren't practical, but sugar-free or not, chewing gum should never replace good dental hygiene practices.

To Chew or Not to Chew

Although chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial in most instances, there are some cases in which chewing gum is not recommended. For example, if you are experiencing any type of jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder symptoms (TMD/TMJ), you should refrain from chewing gum. Also, gum can also dislodge fillings and other dental work, especially if it’s from an older, outdated procedure. Talk to your dentist if you have TMD symptoms or dental work in question about what options are available to you.


Sources:, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association



9 Common Procedures to Fix Your Smile

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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:, WebMD


Are Dental Veneers A Good Choice?

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Easy, Inexpensive Way to Fix Flawed Teeth

Veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic (porcelain) or a composite resin material, which are bonded to the front of your teeth. This procedure requires little or no anesthesia and can be the ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Veneers are placed to mask discolorations, to brighten teeth and to improve a smile.

Why a Veneer?

Veneers are an excellent alternative to crowns in many situations. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth's color, size or shape. Generally, veneers will last for many years, and the technique has shown remarkable longevity when properly performed.

Types of Problems Dental Veneers Fix

·        Teeth that are worn down.

·        Teeth that are chipped or broken.

·        Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them).

·        Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth).

What Happens During the Procedure?

Patients may need up to three appointments for the entire procedure, including diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation and bonding.

It's critical that you take an active role in the smile design. Spend time in the planning of the smile. Understand the corrective limitations of the procedure. Have more than one consultation, if necessary, to feel comfortable that your dentist understands your objectives.

To prepare the teeth for the veneers, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Usually, about half a millimeter of the tooth is removed, which may require a local anesthetic. Composite resin veneers are generally done in one appointment. After the tooth is prepared, the dentist carefully bonds and sculpts the composite material onto your teeth. For porcelain veneers, a mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent to the laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers. This may take several days. If the teeth are too unsightly, a temporary veneer can be placed, at an additional cost.

When your porcelain veneers are ready, the dentist places each veneer on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color. While the veneers are resting on your teeth, view the results, and pay particular attention to the color. At this point, the color of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The color cannot be altered after veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. Once a special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth, a light beam hardens the cement.

Advantages of Dental Veneers

·        They provide a natural tooth appearance.

·        Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.

·        Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.

·        The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.

·        Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth's color and shape; veneers generally don't require the extensive shaping prior to the procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative.

Disadvantages of Dental Veneers 

·        The process is not reversible.

·        Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.

Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.

How to Maintain Veneers

Dental veneers do not require any special care. For about a week or two, you will go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your "new" teeth that have changed in size and shape. After one or two weeks, your dentist will ask you to return for a follow-up appointment. Continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing as you normally would.

Realistic Expectations

Veneers are reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, not perfect replacements. It's not uncommon to see slight variations in the color of veneers upon close inspection, as this occurs even in natural teeth. Nevertheless, this procedure can greatly enhance your smile and can heighten self-esteem.


Sources:,, WebMD



All About Dental Crowns

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What You Should Know About This Common Dental Procedure

When do you need a crown – the dental kind – and what are your options for the material used to make that crown. Those are questions we are often asked by our patients, and we would like to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Let’s start by looking at the anatomy of a tooth, which can be divided into two basic parts - the root and the crown. In a person with healthy gums and bone, the root of the tooth is covered by the gums and bone. The part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth is called the clinical crown. A cemented restoration that partially or completely covers the outside of the clinical crown is referred to as a dental crown or cap.

When is a Dental Crown Needed?

There are a variety of situations that require a tooth to be restored with a dental crown. The following are the most common:

To protect a weak tooth from decay, from breaking or to hold together parts of a breaking tooth

To restore a severely worn down tooth

To cover and support a tooth with a large filling and one that doesn’t have enough tooth left

To hold a dental bridge in place

To cover a severely misshapen or severely discolored teeth

To cover a dental implant and as a cosmetic alteration

Types of Dental Crowns:

Crowns can be made out of a gold alloy, other metal alloys, stainless steel, all-porcelain/all-ceramic, composite resin, zirconia, or porcelain on the outside fused to metal or zirconia on the inside. In some cases, ceramic crowns can be made by milling the crowns out of blocks of porcelain in the dental office, without the need for temporaries or a dental laboratory. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the types of dental crowns. Stainless steel crowns are preformed crowns used to cover baby teeth for children. Gold dental crowns have traditionally been the most durable and require less of the tooth to be removed or shaved down. The primary advantage of porcelain crowns is their esthetics, while newer types of ceramic crowns have become increasingly more durable.

The Dental Crown Procedure:

A dental crown usually requires two visits to the dentist - the first step involves examining and preparing the tooth, the second visit involves placement of the permanent crown.

First Visit: Examining and Preparing the Tooth.

At the first visit in preparation for a crown, your dentist may take a few X-rays to check the roots of the tooth receiving the crown and surrounding bone. If the tooth has extensive decay or if there is a risk of infection or injury to the tooth's pulp, a root canal treatment may first be performed.

Before the process of making a crown begins, your dentist will anesthetize (numb) the tooth and the gum tissue around the tooth. Next, the tooth receiving the crown is filed down along the chewing surface and sides to make room for the crown. The amount removed depends on the type of crown used (for instance, all-metal crowns are thinner and require less tooth structure removal than all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal ones). If, on the other hand, a large area of the tooth is missing (due to decay or damage), your dentist will use filling material to "build up" the tooth to support the crown.

After reshaping the tooth, your dentist will use a paste or putty to make an impression of the tooth to receive the crown. Impressions of the teeth above and below the tooth to receive the dental crown will also be made to make sure that the crown will not affect your bite.

The impressions are sent to a dental lab where the crown will be manufactured. The crown is usually returned to your dentist's office in two to three weeks. If the crown is made of porcelain, your dentist will also select the shade that most closely matches the color of the neighboring teeth. During this first office visit your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the crown is being made. Temporary crowns usually are made of acrylic and are held in place using a temporary cement.

Care for a Temporary Dental Crown

Because temporary dental crowns are just that - a temporary fix until a permanent crown is ready - most dentists suggest that a few precautions. These include:

Avoid sticky, chewy foods (for example, chewing gum, caramel), which have the potential of grabbing and pulling off the crown.

Minimize use of the side of your mouth with the temporary crown. Shift the bulk of your chewing to the other side of the mouth.

Avoid chewing hard foods (such as raw vegetables), which could dislodge or break the crown.

Slide flossing material out-rather than lifting out-when cleaning your teeth. Lifting the floss out, as you normally would, might pull off the temporary crown.

Second Visit: Receiving the Permanent Dental Crown

At the second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and check the fit and color of the permanent crown. If everything is acceptable, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the tooth and the new crown is permanently cemented in place.

Is Getting a Dental Crown Painful?

The tooth being restored is numbed so that it isn't painful during the crown preparation. This requires a shot in the gums of a local anesthetic. After the procedure is over and the anesthesia has worn off, the patient may feel some sensitivity with the temporary crown or some soreness in the gums around the tooth. The pain is very minimal though and shouldn't last long.

How Long do Dental Crowns Last?

Dental crowns should last on average from 10 to 20 years. Crowns are still subject to fracture and cavities, so it is important to take extra care in brushing and flossing around crowned teeth to prevent them from needing replacement too often.

Does a Crowned Tooth Require Special Care?

While a crowned tooth does not require any special care, remember that simply because a tooth is crowned does not mean the tooth is protected from decay or gum disease. Your dentist will advise you on the proper care and maintenance of your dental crown which includes brushing and flossing twice daily and avoiding putting excessive force on it like biting on hard candy or ice. If you habitually grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend that you wear a mouth guard to protect your crowns while you sleep.





Is There a Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease?

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Help Your Heart by Taking Care of Your Gums

Paying attention to your dental hygiene and health - especially your gums - may pay you back with more than a gleaming, healthy smile and manageable dental bills. It may keep your heart healthy too.

Did you know that the plaque that develops on your teeth is the same plaque that causes heart attacks? The most common type of bacteria in dental plaque can escape into the bloodstream, travel through the arteries, and result in blood clots that can cause fatal heart attacks.

The Heart and Mouth Connection

The American Heart Association published a Statement in April 2012 supporting an association between gum disease and heart disease. The article noted that current scientific data do not indicate if regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease will decrease the incidence, rate or severity of the narrowing of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, many studies show an as-yet-unexplained association between gum disease and several serious health conditions, including heart disease, even after adjusting for common risk factors.

There are two different connections between heart disease and your oral health:

1.      Studies have shown that people with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

2.      Oral health holds clues to overall health. Studies have shown that oral health can provide warning signs for other diseases or conditions, including heart disease.

“The mouth can be a good warning signpost,” said Ann Bolger, M.D., William Watt Kerr Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “People with periodontitis often have risk factors that not only put their mouth at risk, but their heart and blood vessels, too. But whether one causes the other has not actually been shown.”

Common Association

Periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors such as smoking, age and diabetes, and both contribute to inflammation in the body. Although these shared risk factors may explain why diseases of the blood vessels and mouth can occur simultaneously, some evidence suggests that there may be an independent association between the two diseases.

People with periodontal (gum) disease are nearly twice as likely to suffer from heart disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. The following diseases have been linked to plaque:

·        Bacterial endocarditis - a condition in which the lining of the heart and heart valves become enlarged

·        COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Overall, people who have chronic gum disease are at higher risk for a heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque buildup along and below the gum line. It has been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Dentists can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. According to the AGD, proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth and gum infections in some of these patients have led to a decrease in blood pressure medications and improved overall health. If you currently have heart disease, make sure to tell your dentist about your condition as well as any medications you are currently taking. Remember to carefully follow your physician’s and dentist’s instructions about health care, and use any prescription medications, such as antibiotics, as directed.

Warning Signs

Gum disease affects 80% of American adults and often the condition goes undiagnosed. Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:

·        Red, tender or swollen gums

·        Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing

·        Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth

·        Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

·        Teeth that are loose or separating from each other

The best way to be proactive in maintaining your oral and overall health is scheduling regular dental checkups, getting professional cleanings and regular brushing and flossing.


Sources: (American Heart Association), (American Dental Association,



Chew On This

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Many of These Dental Fun Facts Can You Get Correct?

Take this quiz on dental-related fun facts and you could win a $100 Visa gift card. Email your name and which one was your favorite question to and you’ll be entered to win!


1)      How much does an elephant’s tooth weigh?

a.)    One Pound b.) Four Pounds c.) Six Pounds d.) Ten Pounds


2)      Over a lifetime you create enough saliva to fill:

a.)    A Kiddie Pool b.) A Hot Tub c.) Two Swimming Pools d.) Lake Superior


3)      A drop of saliva has more than:

a.)    100 Bacteria b.) 100,000 Bacteria c.) 1 Million Bacteria d.) 100 Million Bacteria


4)      What is the most common toothbrush color?

a.)    Red b.) Blue c.) Green d.) Pink


5)      How long have people been using the toothbrush?

a.)    200 Years b.) 1,000 Years c.) 3,000 Years d.) 10,000 Years


6)      What percent of adults do not brush twice a day?

a.)    25% b.) 35% c.) 55% d.) 65%


7)      How many days does a person spend brushing their teeth over a lifetime?

a.)    17 Days b.) 26 Days c.) 38 Days d.) 47 Days


8)      If you don’t floss how much of the tooth surface are you missing?

a.)    25% b.) 35% c.) 45% d.) 50%


9)      Flossing daily can extend your life:

a.)    Two Years b.) Three Years c.) Four Years d.) Six Years


10)   How many fillings does the average person have?

a.)    Two b.)  Four c.) Seven d.) Ten


11)   What percent of adults have had a tooth extracted?

a.)    22% b.) 43% c.) 65% d.) 74%


12)   What percent of adults have no natural teeth?


a.)    6% b.) 10% c.) 12% d.) 20%


Chew On This Answer Key

1)      C

2)      C

3)      D

4)      B

5)      C

6)      A

7)      C

8)      B

9)      D

10)   C

11)   D

12)   A


Can’t Afford Dental Care? You Can With This Plan

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , ,

Lehigh Valley Smile Designs Dental Care Membership Is Just $199

At Lehigh Valley Smile Designs, you will find gentle, affordable, convenient dental care. With our special Dental Care Membership, you will no longer worry about overwhelming dental expenses. Our membership is limited to allow for maximized dentist to patient time insuring a truly unique dental experience.

Why offer this membership?

People who do not have dental insurance often put off their care. Small issues grow into major problems such as root canals that could have been avoided with timely preventive care.

Better than employer-sponsored programs

Employer-sponsored dental programs result in payroll deductions, but don't cover all of the services. Dropping employer-sponsored plans can result in saving money and receiving better coverage at the same time. Plus, you don’t have to deal with deductibles, yearly maximums, and no waiting periods to begin treatment. The Dental Care Membership begins immediately on membership registration.

How Our Plan Works for You

For a flat fee you will receive the following dental services:

No Additional Charge Services

  • Adult dental cleanings (twice per year – does not include patients with periodontal disease)
  • Dental examinations (twice per year)
  • Digital bitewing X-rays (once per year
  • Digital full mouth X-rays (once every 5 years)!

20% Off Services

(deducted from our usual and customary fees)

  • bruxism appliances
  • non-cosmetic crowns and bridges
  • implants
  • inlays and onlays
  • partial dentures
  • tooth-colored fillings
  • periodontal therapy visit
  • root planing and scaling
  • ZOOM!TM or BOOSTTM in-office whitening

10% Off Services

(deducted from our usual and customary fees)

  • Invisalign invisible bracaes
  • full dentures and implants
  • multi-unit cosmetic crowns or bridges
  • porcelain veneers
  • simulations (a way to view your new smile_
  • smile makeover
  • velscope

With our special Dental Care Membership, you will no longer worry about overwhelming dental expenses. Call us today for additional details or to get signed up.




Gingivitis? Keep It Out of Your Mouth!

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Form of Periodontal Disease Can Lead to Inflammation and Infection…And Worse

Gingivitis is a word that many people have heard, but not a lot of people know what it is our why you don’t want it in your mouth. Why? Because gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease that produces inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets (alveolar bone).

Gingivitis is due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky material made of bacteria, mucus, and food debris that develops on the exposed parts of the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth decay.

If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar (or calculus) that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to become infected, swollen, and tender.

The following raise your risk for gingivitis:

Poor dental hygiene

Certain infections and body-wide (systemic) diseases

Pregnancy (hormonal changes increase the sensitivity of the gums)

Uncontrolled diabetes

Misaligned teeth, rough edges of fillings, and ill-fitting or unclean mouth appliances (such as braces, dentures, bridges, and crowns). Use of certain medications, including phenytoin, bismuth, and some birth control pills.

Many people have some amount of gingivitis. It usually develops during puberty or early adulthood due to hormonal changes. It may persist or recur frequently, depending on the health of your teeth and gums.

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis?

Bleeding gums (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)

Bright red or red-purple appearance to gums

Gums that are tender when touched, but otherwise painless

Mouth sores


Swollen gums

Shiny appearance to gums

How Do You Treat Gingivitis?

The goal is to reduce inflammation. The best way to do this is for your dentist or dental hygienist to clean your teeth twice per year or more frequently for severe cases of gum disease. They may use different tools to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth. Careful oral hygiene is necessary after professional tooth cleaning. Any other related illnesses or conditions should be treated.

How Do You Prevent Gingivitis?

Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent gingivitis. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs to show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth.

Special devices may be recommended if you are prone to plaque deposits. They include special toothpicks, toothbrushes, water irrigation, or other devices. You still must brush and floss your teeth regularly. Antiplaque or anti-tartar toothpastes or mouth rinses may also be recommended.

Regular professional tooth cleaning is important to remove plaque that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing. Lehigh Valley Smile Designs recommends having your teeth professionally cleaned at least every 6 months.


SOURCE: ADAM Medical Encyclopedia


Beating Bad Breath

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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,



Do You Floss Like a Boss?

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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 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:, Oral B, Colgate, American Dental Association