Do You Know How to Floss Properly?

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Flossing is an important part of the Healthy Teeth Trio – which also includes brushing and regular visits to your dentist for a dental cleaning and check-up. Floss plays a unique role in oral health because it can remove a whole variety of things you don’t want between your teeth - food particles, plaque and bacteria – that a toothbrush usually can’t remove. Leaving all of those items stuck between your teeth can lead to gingivitis, which is a disease of the gums that can produce major oral health problems.

Floss was originally made from silk. However, floss has evolved since the 1800s and is now made from plastic beads. Yes, you read that right – plastic beads. The beads are melted and the squeezed into long, thin strands to make them stronger and very hard to break. The plastic is layered with wax and flavoring to make the process more palatable.

So what happens to your oral health if you don’t have time to floss or don’t think it’s worth the effort? To begin with, plaque will begin to build up between your teeth. The plaque will eventually begin to irritate your teeth and make your gums more sensitive. If you have neglected flossing and then decide to begin, your gums will probably bleed. So be sure you begin flossing slowly. But after a couple of weeks, your gums will get used to the floss and your oral health will begin to improve!

You have several options to choose from in terms of types of floss. Most people stick with regular floss, although there are many types of regular floss – unwaxed, waxed, mint flavored, etc.  The differences aren’t important and don’t improve your flossing effectiveness. What does impact the effectiveness is your technique.

Floss picks are also popular for flossing because they hold the floss for you. That makes it very convenient to floss because you only have to use one hand to floss. However, floss picks are not as effective as regular floss because they don’t give you the opportunity to reach the angles necessary for effective flossing.

So how do you floss properly?

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with;
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth;
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue;
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth; and
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth

Sources: Colgate.com

 

What Are the Top 10 Foods for Healthy Teeth?

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What you eat can be just as important to your teeth as brushing and flossing daily. In fact, certain foods and beverages will both keep your teeth in shape and provide them with the nutrition they need. You can’t get your original teeth back once you lose them, and imagine a life of eating and drinking minus your teeth.

So the next time you are looking for something to eat or drink, pick a food or beverage that will make your teeth smile! Here’s list of 10 smile-producing foods to benefit your dental health.

Fruit that is raw is a winner for your teeth because it reduces plaque and gives your gums a healthy massage. Fruits high in Vitamin C are the best because they keep our body cells together. If you are lacking Vitamin C, your gums will become tender and more easily develop gum disease.

Sesame seeds dissolve plaque and help you build tooth enamel. They are also high in calcium, which keeps your teeth healthy along with your jawbone. It’s best to consume sesame seeds on bread or rolls.

Vegetables are a wonderful “foundation builder” for oral health.  Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots and broccoli are bursting with Vitamin A, which helps to form tooth enamel. Plus if you eat them raw you get a double dose of goodness, since raw vegetables will clean your teeth and massage your gums.

Onions may have some smelly side effects, but they are loaded with bacteria-killing sulphur compounds. Don’t forget, it’s bacteria that does so much harm to your gums and teeth. If you like onions (and aren’t planning on going to a party), then eat them raw for maximum effect.

Celery eaten raw is like nature’s toothbrush. It will clean your teeth and massage your gums. It also prompts your mouth to produce more saliva, which will neutralize the bacteria that creates cavities.

Dairy products like yogurt and milk are a good choice to quench your thirst or have a healthy snack because they are low in acidity and sugar (and both of those lead to tooth erosion and tooth decay). Plus milk is full of calcium, which fortifies your teeth and bones.

Cheese also has important benefits for your teeth and gums. Cheese is packed with calcium and phosphate – which promotes healthy teeth – and helps to balance the pH level in your mouth (which is a good outcome). It also helps you produce more saliva, rebuild important tooth enamel and kill bacteria that create cavities and lead to gum disease.

Green Tea has earned a reputation for providing many benefits for your oral health. A major benefit of green tea is that is provides you with natural antioxidant compounds, which prevent plaque from accumulating. Plaque leads to cavities and bad breath. Plus some green teas have fluoride, which also helps reduce tooth decay.

Proteins such as chicken, beef, turkey and eggs contain a ton of phosphorus. That’s a good thing since phosphorus combines with calcium and Vitamin D to create our bones and teeth.

Water provides an array of good things. It hydrates your whole body (gums included), which is essential. But for your oral health, it helps clean your mouth so your saliva can nourish your teeth. When you rinse with water, it cleans your mouth so that your saliva can nourish your teeth, and it washes away food particles that can lead to cavities.

Source: Dental.Net Print        

 

 

Prevent the “Dangerous Duo” From Impacting Your Oral Health

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There are two words related to oral health that you should think of as the “dangerous duo” – plaque and tarter. Together, they work to wreak havoc in your mouth, causing gum disease, tooth decay, and teeth stains. They can be defeated by the “superheroes” of oral health – your toothbrush and floss - but if you skip using them, you’ll more than likely get to know personally the “dangerous duo”.

An Inside Look at the “Dangerous Duo”

The more you know about plaque and tartar, the better your odds of winning the oral health war. So what is plaque? It’s a colorless, sticky layer of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on your teeth. It’s the leading cause of gum disease and cavities, and if you don’t remove it daily, its buddy tartar will arrive. You can’t avoid plaque since bacteria are constantly forming in our mouths. These bacteria feed on ingredients in your diet and saliva to grow. Plaque creates acids, which attack your teeth after you eat and eventually cause cavities. That happens because the repeated acid attacks break down your tooth enamel and a cavity may form. Also, if you don’t get rid of the plaque, it can irritate the gums around your teeth, leading to gingivitis (red, swollen, bleeding gums), periodontal disease and tooth loss.

And what is tartar? Again, it is plaque that had hardened onto your teeth and become a mineral. It is also called calculus. It is fairly easy to spot when it’s above your gumline because it will create a yellow or brown color on your teeth or gums. Tartar can also form at and underneath the gumline and can irritate gum tissues. It provides a fertile breeding ground for additional plaque to adhere and eventually turn to tartar. Plus, your teeth will get stained more easily because tartar is porous and absorbs stains from beverages like coffee or tea.

Stopping the “Dangerous Duo” From Gaining Traction

If you’ve let plaque turn into tartar in your mouth, there isn’t much you can do except visit your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. But you can prevent plaque by using the “superheroes” of oral health on a daily basis. That means brushing twice a day and flossing daily. In addition, you can have an even better chance to win the battle against plaque by watching what you eat.

Lehigh Valley Smile Designs suggests this game plan for taking on plaque and tartar:

Be sure to brush at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste to get rid of plaque from all of your teeth’s surfaces. Don’t scrub hard back and forth when you brush. Instead, use small circular motions combined with short back and forth motions.

Use your floss each day to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gumline, (where your toothbrush may not reach). Remember to ease the floss between your teeth. Snapping it into place may damage your gums. The best time to floss is before you go to bed.

Another way of removing plaque between teeth is to use a dental pick — a thin plastic or wooden stick. These sticks can be purchased at drug stores and grocery stores.

Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. Food residues, especially sweets, provide nutrients for the germs that cause tooth decay, as well as those that cause gum disease. So less is better when it comes to sweets.

How Do I Know If I Have Plaque?

Dental plaque is difficult to see unless it's stained. You can stain plaque by chewing red "disclosing tablets," found at grocery stores and drug stores, or by using a cotton swab to smear green food coloring on your teeth. The red or green color left on the teeth will show you where there is still plaque—and where you have to brush again to remove it. Stain and examine your teeth regularly to make sure you are removing all plaque.

How Is Tartar Removed by a Dentist?

Once tartar has formed, only your dentist or hygienist can remove it. The process for removing tartar is called scaling. During a scaling, the hygienists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs use special instruments to remove tartar from your teeth above and below the gumline.

Sources: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; American Dental Association; Colgate-Palmolive, Inc.

 

 

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

 

Fight Kid’s Cavity Fright This Halloween

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Tricky Treats to Avoid and Good Oral Health Habits to Prevent Plaque

As the Halloween candy is being devoured, sugar and dental plaque can linger in the crevices in and between your child's teeth and cause cavities. Monitoring your child's sugar intake and ensuring regular brushing habits to remove plaque will help prevent tooth decay this Halloween and make your child's next visit to the dentist cavity-free.

Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing microorganisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.

Guidelines for Your Trick or Treaters

Here are a few guidelines to safeguard your little pirate's teeth against decay this Halloween:

Don't buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.

When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.

Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.

Encourage your child to eat a small amount in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy from after school until dinner time as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.

Beware of Hard or Sticky Candy

One of the worst types of candy in terms of your child’s oral health is hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, popcorn balls or lollipops. They are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Plus, they can crack or chip a child’s tooth.

On the other hand, sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth

To help parents at Halloween, we offer a list of the most harmful to the safest treats your kids should be choosing from their trick-or-treat bag:

Sour Power – Sour candies are the absolute worst in that studies have revealed that the acids in sour candies are so destructive because they dissolve enamel on contact!

Hardly Harmless – Hard candy needs to be sucked on for an extended period of time and very chewy candies are harmful in that they get stuck between the teeth. Both hard and chewy candy allow bacteria to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth for a much longer period of time.

Resist Raisins – Don’t be fooled by their natural derivative. Raisins easily damage dental work because they are very sticky and do not mix well with fillings, braces or retainers.

Candy Bars Get Four Stars – While we can’t say candy bars are good for your oral health, they are less harmful because they are eaten quickly allowing less time for the sugar to damage with acid.

Dissolve Your Worry – Powder candy is fairly safe as the sugar dissolves quickly and makes little contact with the teeth.

Eat Two or Three if They’re Sugar Free – As obvious as it seems, sugar-free candy is the most highly recommended Halloween treat for your children’s teeth. You can even prevent cavities by chewing sugar free gum! Sugar free gum promotes increased saliva which neutralizes harmful bacteria.

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com

 

 

10 Tricks for Dealing with Halloween Treats

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Halloween Can Be an Oral Health Learning Experience for Your Kids

Pediatric dental experts say Halloween can be a time to teach your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of Halloween treats (think moderation). Denying your children the Halloween experience can send the entirely wrong message -- deprivation -- and make candy seem even more irresistible, leading to other problems. They may end up sneaking sweets or eating too much candy once they're out on their own. Instead, let them have the joy of Halloween in all its sticky goodness and the experience of going to a party or trick-or-treating.

The message isn't "candy is bad," but that candy and other sweets, in excess, can lead to cavities. Children learn two important lessons:

How to control their diets.

That what they eat relates to oral health, not just physical health.

Here are some tips to help keep your children’s mouths happy so their smiles don’t start to look like the Jack-O-Lanterns on your front steps!

Eat a well-balanced meal before trick-or-treating. This helps to reduce chances children will fill up on empty calories and sugar.

Avoid more harmful candy options. Not all candy is created equal, and chewy and sour candies are amongst the worst for oral health. Chewy candies can easily get stuck in the crevices between teeth, making it nearly impossible to wash it all away. Gummies and caramel have the potential to dislodge fillings, crowns, space maintainers and orthodontic appliances. Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down the enamel on your teeth.

Beware hidden sugars and starches. Glucose, fructose and honey that appear in foods such as cereal bars, flavored yogurts, fruit bars, pureed fruit pouches and juices can be just as destructive on children’s teeth. Snacks such as pretzels, with starches that stay in the mouth longer, can also lead to cavities.

Establish a “treat time.” Snacking on candy over a long period of time can be more harmful for your children’s teeth. Limiting candy time will help you restrict the amount of candy consumed and protect their teeth from too much sugary contact. This ritual “treat time” may last long after Halloween and help promote healthy thinking about treats.

Children learn that eating sweets shouldn’t be an all-day feast. Moderation is key.

Knowing they have a specific sweet time can help make children less inclined to think about eating sweets at other times of the day.

Pick 10 treats. After your children get back from trick-or-treating or a party, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Tell them to each pick the 10 or so (whatever number you decide, based on factors such as age) treats they want the most. Letting children help decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to keep has benefits beyond good oral health.

Get the unpicked treats out of sight. You can donate them to a food bank, save them for future “treat times” or freeze them if you can't bear to throw them out.

Choose best options for a sweet treat. These include sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants like tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to the teeth, preventing infections in gums and battling tooth decay. Sugar-free gum made with xylitol promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria which can make it nearly impossible for bacteria and plaque to form.

Swish with water. Let’s face it - most kids don’t look forward to Halloween for the sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. And that’s ok. If kids are indulging in any kind of candy, ensure they drink plenty of water after eating the treat.  Encourage them to swish the water around in the mouth to help dislodge particles that can get stuck onto tiny teeth. Decorate a Halloween-themed reusable water bottle to encourage your child to drink lots of water.

Reinforce good brushing and flossing habits. The best way to protect your kid’s oral health from sugary sweets is to brush and floss regularly. This is especially important following your “treat times!” 

Find a healthy balance. Everyone is going to enjoy at least a couple sweets during Halloween – you don’t have to deny yourself or your children a little holiday fun! However, it’s important to balance those sugary foods with healthy ones.

Sources: AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry), WebMD

 

Comfort is King When Choosing a Toothbrush

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Americans Invest Nearly 1,000 Hours Each, Brushing Their Teeth over a Lifetime

 Never before has there been such a dizzying array of toothbrushes on the market. Consumers are inundated with new designs, materials, attachments, and colors. How do you choose your toothbrush? Perhaps you have a steady fave bought out of habit, or maybe you’re always on the lookout for a sale, jumping from toothbrush to toothbrush when the price is right. You might spend extra money for style, considering the handle’s shape or color before any other attributes. All of these strategies will get you a toothbrush, but none gets you the best one for the job. Let’s brush up on some history for perspective.

The Toothbrush through Time

Toothbrush design and materials have come a long way and, fortunately, we now have a far better selection than our ancestors did. Early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5000 years.

Circa 3,000 BC: Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end. The sticks were rubbed against the teeth to remove food.

500 (or so) Years Ago: Toothbrushes were crafted with bone, wood or ivory handles that held the stiff bristle hair of hogs, boars or other animals.

The 20th Century: The nylon-bristled toothbrush as we know it today was invented in 1938.

 

When to Buy a New Toothbrush

Buy a new toothbrush as soon as the bristles begin to look worn or frayed (usually every three months). A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

  • Always replace your toothbrush after an illness. Germs can linger and make you sick again.
  • If you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s probably time for a new one.

 

Components of a Toothbrush

Bristles: Soft is Safe

Most dentists agree on using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Go gently, too. You may have a penchant for scrubbing your teeth with a stiff-bristle toothbrush; however, this habit can damage teeth and gums. A survey of 700 dentists found that brushing teeth too hard was a leading cause of sensitive teeth.

Hard bristles may 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.
  • 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.
  • A lightweight, plastic handle is very comfortable to use. It helps you to easily maneuver and clean from all directions.  

 

Don’t Buy Dollar-Store Toothbrushes

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.

Leave the Cheap Ones on the Shelf:

  • The product could be from a manufacturer who doesn't care about safety or efficacy.
  • The toothbrushes could be made of inferior or unsafe materials
  • They’re better suited for cleaning grout than oral hygiene.

 

Get the Right-Size Toothbrush for Children

Babies need baby toothbrushes because of their tiny mouths, so it also stands to reason that small children need toothbrushes with smaller heads than adult versions.

Tips for a Toddler Toothbrush:

  • Instead of promising a small toy or sugary treat to reward good behavior at the supermarket or drugstore, let kids choose a new toothbrush with fun colors and graphics from the oral hygiene aisle.
  • Don’t forget to replace a child’s toothbrushes every three months when you replace your own, or possibly more often if they are hard on their brushes.

 

The ADA Way

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you buy the one that you will use and one that displays the 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.

To Qualify for the Seal of Acceptance, the Company Must Show That:

  • All of the toothbrush components are safe for use in the mouth.
  • Bristles are free of sharp or jagged edges and endpoints.
  • The handle material is manufacturer-tested to show durability under normal use.
  • The bristles won’t fall out with normal use.
  • The toothbrush can be used without supervision by the average adult to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque.

 

Toothbrush Selection Bottom Line

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), Best Health Magazine, Dentalsolutionscreatingsmiles.com