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Floss was originally made from silk.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

 

These 9 Foods Can Be Tough on Your Teeth

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Your teeth can be seriously impacted by what you eat and drink. Here’s a list of 9 foods and beverages that you should either avoid or consume in moderation. You’ll notice that some of the 9 are pretty obvious – chewing ice has never been a good idea – while others will provide a surprise.

Hard candies are tough on teeth

You might be a fan of hard candies, but because they are packed with sugar, constant sugar exposure can damage your teeth. Plus they can break or chip a tooth if you decide to chew on them. Instead of reaching for a handful of hard candy, grab a piece of sugarless gum.

 Ice is best for chilling, not chewing

Is ice good for your teeth? After all, it comes from water and contains zero sugar or additives. So the answer is yes – unless you decide to chew on that cube or chunk of ice. Then you’ll expose yourself to damaging your teeth enamel or creating a dental emergency. So the next time you put ice in your drink, let it do what it’s supposed to do – chill your beverage – and skip the chewing.

Be careful of citrus

The enamel on your teeth can erode if frequently exposed to foods and beverages that contain citrus. The acid in the citrus is the culprit, and the impact it can have on enamel can make your teeth more prone to decay. If you like citrus drinks and fruit, there’s a simple method to reduce the impact of the acid in citrus on your mouth. Drink a glass of water while you are eating that orange or grapefruit and rinse your mouth out after you have a glass of orange juice.

Coffee can be a problem

Coffee and tea can be healthy beverages – if you avoid adding tons of sugar. Unfortunately, that’s what many of the “coffee” drinks at places like Starbucks and Caribou are chock-full of. Plus coffee and tea that are caffeinated can dry out your mouth (remember, saliva washes away bacteria which cause cavities) and stain your teeth. If you do decide to regularly drink coffee or tea, be sure you’re drinking lots of water and keeping the add-ons under control.

Don’t get stuck on sticky foods

If you like a healthy snack, then dried fruit can be a winner. Unfortunately, they are often quite sticky – which can be a problem since sticky foods remain on your teeth much longer than other food types. Be sure to rinse with water when you finish those sticky foods and of course, carefully brush and floss to remove anything still sticking to your teeth.

If it goes crunch, it might be a bad munch

Potato chips are a wonderful habit for many people. The combination of the crunch and the flavor are hard to beat. But all that starch in a potato chip can get trapped in your teeth, which is the first step on the road to cavities. So be sure to brush and especially floss after you eat chips. That way, you’ll avoid leaving food particles that will become plaque.

Switch water for soda

Did you know that the bacteria that create plaque love sugar? They use the sugar to produce acids that go after the enamel on your teeth. Which means that if you are drinking lots of sugary soda or other drinks, then you are helping those plaque bacteria attack your teeth. Plus the carbonation in soft drinks – including diet sodas – is acidic and negatively impacts your teeth. So the next time you want to reach for a soft drink, think twice. And if you do decide to consume a soda, keep a glass of water handy and alternate between the soda and the water.

Keep a handle on alcohol consumption

Many people don’t realize that alcohol dehydrates your body and reduces the saliva in your mouth. Remember, saliva is good because it helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Long-term consumption can reduce saliva flow even when you aren’t drinking. Heavy alcohol use can also boost the risk of mouth cancer.

Beware of sugary sports and energy drinks

Powerade, Gatorade, Red Bull, Monster – lots of people use them to boost athletic performance or as a pick-me-up during a busy day or evening. Unfortunately, sports and energy drinks also share a common main ingredient – sugar. There is also a lot of research that says that sports drinks are in most cases unnecessary for someone engaged vigorous physical activity. A better solution would be to drink water instead!

 

SOURCE: American Dental Association

 

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.

 

 

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)

 

 

Overbrushing: Watch Out for Too Much of a Good Thing

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Toothbrush Abrasion Leads to Sensitive Teeth and Gums

Brushing regularly is considered vital for healthy teeth and gums, but dental experts warn that you can overdo a good thing. Known as “toothbrush abrasion,” overbrushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums.

Vigorous brushing can wear down the enamel on the teeth as well as damage and push back the gums, exposing the sensitive root area. Receding gums can also lead to other dental problems such as periodontal disease and cavities on the roots of the teeth and may lead to the need for treatments such as fillings, root canals and tooth extraction. According to the Wall Street Journal, dentists estimate that between 10 to 20 percent of the population have damaged their teeth or gums as a result of overbrushing.

The people most at risk for tooth or gum damage from overbrushing are those who are particularly diligent about their oral care and those who use medium- or hard-bristled toothbrushes. Other factors, such as a genetic predisposition to receding gums, clenching or grinding your teeth or having had your teeth straightened with braces, can increase your risk for damage from overbrushing.

Brushing vigorously isn’t necessary to remove plaque. “Plaque is so soft that you could remove it with a rag if you could reach all the surfaces where it hides,” says Dr. Kevin Sheu, managing dental consultant for Delta Dental. “Thoroughness is what is required for plaque removal, not aggressive brushing. You’re not going to achieve any extra benefit by brushing hard.”

Changing brushing habits can usually stop the problem from getting worse. In cases of severe toothbrush abrasion, dentists can fill in the grooves with bonding material.

Proper brushing technique

What’s important when brushing your teeth is not how hard you scrub, but that you use the proper technique and that you do a thorough job. And that takes time. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two to three minutes to get the most thorough cleaning. The following are some other tips for brushing your teeth correctly:

·        Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the soft tooth dentin (the less mineralized layer of tooth found just under the enamel) and in the root area. If you are accustomed to a hard-bristled toothbrush, even using a toothbrush that is softer than you are accustomed to will help.

·        Place the head of your toothbrush with the tips of the bristles at a 45-degree-angle to the gumline when brushing.

·        Move the toothbrush with short strokes and a scrubbing motion, several times in each spot – don’t saw back and forth across the teeth with your toothbrush.

·        Apply just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. If you are squashing the bristles, you're brushing too hard.

 

Worn Brush Bristles

The smoothness of your toothbrush’s bristles (which are rounded in the factory when they are made) also gets worn away back to its original jaggedness via brushing, which is why you may have heard that dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush often. The key is to throw away your toothbrush before the bristles splay, because by that point, it’s too late. Splayed bristles mean you’ve been using a worn toothbrush that is too abrasive and has been wearing away your tooth structure. Replace your toothbrush every four weeks for people who brush twice a day

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com, AskTheDentist.com

 

The Importance of Getting Your Teeth Professionally Cleaned

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Oral Hygiene Begins at Home and Should Continue at the Dentist Office

Regularly brushing and flossing are the most beneficial things you can do at home to minimize visits to the dentist for cavities or other nasty oral health issues. Most people have been brushing two or three times a day since childhood. But because tooth brushing is such a daily routine it’s easy to cut corners and not be as thorough as needed.

When a dentist or dental hygienist cleans your teeth they remove soft (plaque) and hard (tartar, calculus, or stains) deposits from your teeth. The primary purpose of having your teeth cleaned is to prevent or delay the progression of cavities, gingivitis and periodontal (gum) diseases. Your dentist and hygienist examine your mouth in ways you can’t do on your own by standing in front of a bathroom mirror. They are professionally trained to spot issues and address them before they become serious. X-ray images may be taken and assist in making the tarter build up under the gums more visible. X-rays also show the current condition of the bone.

Frequency of Professional Tooth Cleaning

The frequency of professional teeth cleaning depends on the health of your teeth and gums. Healthy adults and children should have their teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. Your dentist may suggest additional visits if he or she sees signs of harmful conditions or lack of effective home cleaning.

Reasons for Professional Tooth Cleaning

Dental tooth cleaning can help prevent oral cancer. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. When you have your dental cleaning, your dentist is also screening you for oral cancer, which is highly curable if diagnosed early.

Also, gum disease can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage of gum disease may follow. Regular dental cleanings and check-ups, flossing daily and brushing twice a day are key factors in preventing gum disease.

Three Ways to Detect Periodontal Disease

X-Rays reveal the condition of the bone and tartar build up under gums.

Clinical examination where your dentist can visually check the amount of plaque and tarter build up as well as the color and shape of the gums as indicators for gum disease.

Measuring the pockets that form between the gums and teeth. Destructive bacteria contained in plaque and tarter cause the formation of these pockets. Any pocket that measures greater than 3mm is probably an indication of periodontal disease.

Regular Tooth Cleaning

During a regular tooth cleaning your dental hygienist uses instruments and techniques that safely remove plaque and tarter build up. A hygienist will also follow-up by polishing your teeth removing stains caused by things like coffee, tea and smoking. Polishing will further remove anything that may have been missed in the cleaning. The result is a whiter and brighter smile!

Deep Cleaning - Scaling and Root Planing Treatment

When there are deep pockets along the tooth roots due to gum disease and bone recession, it is impossible for the patient to properly clean and keep the gum tissue free of inflammation. A deep cleaning is necessary to remove the inflammation and debris and sometimes this would be done prior to gum surgery.

Deep cleaning, or scaling and root planning, is normally performed by your dentist or dental hygienist in a couple of visits. The exact number of visits however depends on your dentist and the amount of tarter build up. Often your dentist will choose to administer local anesthetic to make the procedure virtually painless. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate the infection by removing the bacteria containing plaque and tarter that has attached to your teeth and their roots under the gum.

The deep cleaning is either done manually or with an ultra-sonic instrument, or sometimes a combination of the two. Both techniques loosen and remove plaque and tarter build up.

In addition, antibacterial irrigants or local antibiotics may be used in conjunction with the cleaning procedure to further reduce the number of bacteria around the gums.

Periodontal Follow-up Care

Periodontal disease cannot currently be cured; it can only be controlled, so it is important to follow your dentist’s recommendations for follow-up maintenance and treatment. In addition to routine checkups, performing proper dental hygiene at home is of course also important to help prevent the reoccurrence of this destructive disease.

Source: Worldental.org

 

 

 

Gingivitis? Keep It Out of Your Mouth!

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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

 

10 Tooth Brushing Techniques to Improve Your Smile

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To get the most benefit from brushing, you have to do it correctly.

Most of us learned to brush our teeth when we were children. We have stuck with the same brushing technique into adulthood. Unfortunately, many of us learned how to brush the wrong way. And even if we learned the right way, we might not always stick to it. Brushing correctly is tricky. You want to remove plaque without brushing too hard and damaging your gums.

Brush at least twice a day. One of those times should be just before you go to bed. When you sleep, your mouth gets drier. This makes it easier for acids from bacteria to attack your teeth. Also try to brush in the morning, either before or after breakfast. After breakfast is better. That way, bits of food are removed. But if you eat in your car or at work, or skip breakfast, brush first thing in the morning. This will get rid of the plaque that built up overnight.

Brush no more than three times a day. Brushing after lunch will give you a good midday cleaning. But brushing too often can damage your gums.

Here’s the correct basics of brushing:

Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle to the gumline.

Use just enough pressure to feel bristles against your gums and between teeth. (Don’t squish the bristles.)

Move the brush back and forth, using short strokes. The tips of the bristles should stay in one place, but the head of the brush should wiggle back and forth. You also can make tiny circles with the brush. This allows the bristles to slide gently under the gum. Do this for about 20 strokes or 20 circles. In healthy gums, this type of brushing should cause no pain. If it hurts, brush more gently.

Roll or flick the brush so that the bristles move out from under the gum toward the biting edge of the tooth. This helps move the plaque out from under the gum line.

Brush chewing surfaces straight on. Clean the inside surfaces of front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush.

Your toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time. Move your brush frequently to reach every tooth and make sure you brush for two minutes.

Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure no tooth is left behind.

Brush lightly. Brushing too hard can damage your gums. It can cause them to recede (move away from the teeth). Plaque attaches to teeth like jam sticks to a spoon. It can't be totally removed by rinsing, but a light brushing will do the trick. Once plaque has hardened into calculus (tartar), brushing can't remove it. If you think you might brush too hard, hold your toothbrush the same way you hold a pen. This encourages a lighter stroke.

Brush for at least two minutes. Set a timer if you have to, but don't skimp on brushing time. Two minutes is the minimum time you need to clean all of your teeth. Many people brush for the length of a song on the radio. That acts as a good reminder to brush each tooth thoroughly.

Brush your tongue. Oral bacteria can remain in taste buds. Brush firmly but gently from back to front. Do not go so far back in your mouth that you gag. Rinse again. 

Keep It Clean

Do you always rinse your brush? You should. Germs from your mouth and teeth can stay on it if you don’t. It will also get rid of leftover toothpaste that can harden bristles.

You shouldn’t use a disinfectant to cleanse your toothbrush. Just rinse it and let it air dry. Don't put it in a case where it will stay damp for a long time.

Most of us store our brushes in the bathroom -- not the cleanest place in the house. To keep yours tidy, stand it up in a holder. If you leave it on the counter, you could expose it to germs from your toilet or sink. Don’t let brushes touch each other if they’re stored together.

Let it air dry - a moist brush is more likely to grow bacteria. Use a cover that lets air in when you travel.

When it comes to preventive care, there is no “bad” time to dive in. There are different ways to brush correctly. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you the method that might be best for you.

 

Sources: Web MD, Delta Dental, Simple Steps Dental, Mouth Healthy (ADA)

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Bites That Can Harm Your Teeth

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Foods That Are a Treat to Eat Often Can Do Serious Damage

Your mouth is a busy place. Especially for bacteria – tiny colonies of living organisms are constantly on the move on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue. Having bacteria in your mouth is a normal thing. While some of the bacteria can be harmful, most are not harmful and some are even helpful.

Bad Bacteria Basics

Certain types of bacteria, however, can attach themselves to hard surfaces like the outside covering of your teeth called enamel.  Enamel is very hard, mainly because it contains durable mineral salts, like calcium. Mineral salts in your saliva help add to the hardness of your teeth. Mineral salts, however, are prone to attack by acids. Acid causes them to break down.

If bad bacteria are not removed, they multiply and grow in number until a colony forms on the tooth enamel. Eventually, the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film on the tooth called plaque. If it doesn’t get washed away by saliva or brushed away by your toothbrush, it produces acid.

Acid Produces Cavities

This acid is produced inside the plaque and can’t be easily washed away by your saliva. The acid dissolves the minerals that make your tooth enamel hard. The surface of the enamel becomes porous and tiny holes appear. After a while, the acid causes the tiny holes in the enamel to get bigger until one large hole appears. This is a cavity.

 

THE SEVERITY OF SUGAR

Sugar plays a harmful role in tooth decay. The bacteria that form together to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy.

They multiply faster and the plaque grows in size and thickness. Some of the bacteria turn the sugar into a kind of glue that they use to stick themselves to the tooth surface. This makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away with your saliva.

Sugar is sugar whether it’s refined white sugar, brown sugar or honey. It’s not the amount, but how often you eat it. The acidic environment in your mouth created by sugar persists for about two hours after it’s consumed. If you eat or drink a little bit of sugar every few hours, your teeth will be continuously bathed in the acid, which directly dissolves tooth enamel. 

Hard Candy. While hard candies may seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar damages teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth. Included are:

  • Suckers
  • Hard Candies
  • Breath Mints
  • Cough Drops

Tasty Tip: They might soothe your symptoms, but many cough drops have as much sugar as hard candy, experts warn. And because you suck on them for several minutes, and tend to pop them all day long when you have a cold, dental damage can be hefty. Skip the drops in favor of soothing your throat with herbal tea and water, or opt for sugar-free drops if necessary.

Chewy Candy. Sticky candies get stuck between braces and teeth, allowing plaque to build up. Plus, a chewy candy in the wrong place at the wrong time can easily take a filling or a whole tooth out. Beware of:

  • Taffy
  • Caramels
  • Sugary Gum

Tasty Tip: Chew sugarless gum that carries the American Dental Association Seal. 

Carbohydrates. Carb-heavy foods are processed as sugar when digested and food particles tend to linger by sticking in the grooves of teeth, creating a breeding ground for acid. The simple sugars quickly dissolve inside the mouth, causing a surge of acid that can erode tooth enamel. These include:

  • White Bread
  • Pasta
  • Potato Chips

Tasty Tip: They might go in your mouth light as air, but the texture of potato chips (crunchy at first, then gummy post-chewing) means they tend to linger in your mouth. When chip particles get stuck between teeth, acid-producing bacteria indulge in a snacking attack that ups your risk of tooth decay. And since we tend to chomp on chips over a long period (hey, no one can eat just one), that means a non-stop period of acid production. If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

Citrus.  Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C for healthy gums, but they’re also high in enamel-damaging acid. Because of the acidity it adds, even putting lemon slices in water can be a danger. Look out for:

  • Oranges
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit

 Tasty Tip: Continue to eat fruit for the vitamin content, but enjoy these foods in moderation to minimize their impact on your teeth. Also, drink a glass of water when you consume fruit – it will wash away the acid as you enjoy your snack.

 

SIP SMARTLY

Sugary Drinks. Be especially cautious of drinking them over a lengthy period of time, which promotes prolonged exposure to sugar and acid. Even something as innocent as lemonade is a destructive combination of acid and sugar that leads to tooth decay and cavities. These include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit Juices
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sports Drinks

Tasty Tip: Sports drinks sound healthy, don’t they? But for many sports and energy drinks, sugar is a top ingredient. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, in most cases they are unnecessary. Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar. Not sure? Drink water instead.

 

Fortunately, foods like candy and soda that don't always play nice with our teeth are generally harmless in moderation.  It’s important to see your dentist before a cavity forms so that the plaque you can’t reach with your toothbrush or floss can be removed.

 

SOURCES: Healthyteeth.org, besthealthmag.ca, prevention.com

 

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