Protect Your Smile with These 11 Tips

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Making the right decisions can have a huge impact on your teeth and your overall oral health. Remember, once your adult teeth have grown in, you’re stuck with them for the rest of your life. Lose one and you can’t regrow it. So follow our advice with these 11 tips on how to protect your smile in 2018.

Cough Drops

Most cough drops are full of sugar. And sugar is loved by bacteria, which convert the sugar into an acid that damages your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth after you take a cough drop, or even better, brush quickly to get rid of the sugar sticking to your teeth.

Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding – also called bruxism – wears your teeth down over time. Causes are generally stress and your sleeping habits, which means it can be difficult to control. Your dentist can fit you for a night mouth guard to prevent the damage that comes from grinding your teeth while sleeping.

Gummy Bears and Their Friends

You may love gummy bears – or gummy worms – but those sugary treats are tough on your teeth. Because they stick to your teeth, the sugar and resulting acids produced by bacteria in your mouth stay in contact with your enamel for hours. That is trouble for your teeth and can lead to cavities. Eat those gummy bears and worms with a meal instead of as a stand-alone snack. The added food from your meal increases saliva production, which washes away bits of candy and the acids they produce.

Not Wearing a Mouth Guard While Playing Sports

If you or your children play a contact sport, wear a mouth guard. There’s no “maybe” on this topic. The mouth guard’s molded plastic will protect your teeth from getting chipped or knocked out while playing sports like football or hockey. You can purchase decent mouth guards at sporting goods stores or your dentist can fit you for a custom-made one.

Drinking Soda and Pop

If you want to consume 11 teaspoons of sugar at one sitting, drink a soda. And remember what sugar does in your mouth – bacteria will feel like they hit the sugar jackpot when you drink a soda. Also, all the phosphoric and citric acids in soda eat away at tooth enamel. If you think diet soft drinks are the answer, consider that you may be avoiding the sugar intake, but those artificial sweeteners may be full of even more acids that a regular soda.

Munching on Ice

If you’re an ice muncher, beware – those little frozen cubes of ice can chip or crack your pearly whites. Plus continual ice chomping irritates the soft tissue inside your tooth, which may lead to regular toothaches and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. Instead of ice, reach for a piece of sugarless gum the next time you feel an urge to munch.

Beware of Sports Drinks

Like soda, sports drinks are often high in sugar and create an acid attack on your teeth. Use them regularly and you may be opening your mouth to tooth decay. Chug water in the gym or after a workout to rehydrate your body - and skip the sugar and the calories.

Chomping on Potato Chips

Sugar isn’t the only thing that the bacteria in plaque love – they also adore starchy foods. They break them down into acid and attach your teeth for the next 20-30 minutes. Drink lots of water to wash away the acids and floss to get rid of any stray chips stuck in your teeth.

Fruit Juices

Sugar is not your mouth’s best friend, remember? Most people know that fruit juices are full of  vitamins and antioxidants. What most people don’t know is that they are also full of sugar. In some cases, they have as much sugar as a soda. So check the fruit juice label to see how much sugar it contains, and look for brands that don’t add sugar but use the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Drinking Coffee

If you are a fan of coffee, be aware that you could be yellowing your teeth over time because of coffee’s acidity and dark color. But coffee is also one of the easiest stains to treat with whitening solutions. For the best results, see your dentist for a professional whitening solution.

Consuming Wine – Both Red and White

Red wines can be double-trouble for your teeth. But even white wines can impact your teeth. Wines contain acids that are corrosive to your tooth enamel. They create rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining. Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine's red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

SOURCE: WebMD

7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

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

Toss your toothbrush regularly

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

Eat foods that “scrub”

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

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

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

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

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

Be a boss of your floss

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

Switch your gum

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

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

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

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

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

Moderate your sugar intake

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

See your dentist regularly

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

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

 

 

7 Resolutions to Help You Improve Your Smile in 2017

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Happy New Year! The holidays have come-to-a-close, yet winter remains for another 2-3 months. It’s the perfect time for reflection at another year gone by and making resolutions for the one to come. Self-improvement is a great way to make these cold winter nights a little bit brighter after all. Maybe you’re finally ready to quit that bad habit or you’re planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take. There are a ton of ways you can improve your smile if you stop to think about it.

The trick to making your teeth healthy is not necessarily expensive dental work, unless of course you already have a dental problem that needs addressing. The very first step is a consultation with your dentist. A hygiene appointment and x-rays are affordable and serve as an excellent starting point. You can talk to your hygienist about a customized treatment plan at home to make 2017 the year of improving your dental health.

1.      Brush More Often

Brushing your teeth is crucial to good dental care. Professionals recommend that you brush your teeth . at least twice a day. When making your resolution, brushing more might seem daunting, but there are a couple things you can do to keep your schedule. And don’t forget to keep your family brushing regularly too, especially from an early age.

You may also consider a travel toothbrush for your office or work to keep your brushing routine regular. The trick to making a regular brushing schedule stick is set reminders for yourself the first few weeks on your phone or watch. Hopefully after a few weeks of practice, brushing two to three times a day will feel like second nature.

2.      Floss Every Day

No matter your age, flossing once each-and-every day is the BEST way to insure a healthy smile. Dental floss is stronger and easier to use than ever, and there are flossing aides like flossing picks and Waterpik available as alternatives if you find it difficult to start. If you haven’t flossed in a while, you might find it cumbersome or even painful to the point of it causing your gums to bleed. This is normal, for a time, however if bleeding continues more than a week or two you probably have gingivitis and should consult with your dentist.

3.      Eat (& Drink) Better

The most popular resolution each year is diet. We all want to look better, improve our physical appearance and become healthier. Your oral health effects the rest of your body and your appearance, and yet it is often forgotten when it comes to eating habits. Sure, we know sugar is bad and vegetables are good, but are you making sure you brush every time you drink a sugary drink or stain your teeth with coffee or red wine?

Avoiding certain food and drink in your diet isn’t the only thing you can do. Eating those vegetables, nuts, fruits and other foods with antioxidants helps to reduce inflammation and fight bacteria that can lead to gum disease. They also help with nutrition in most diets, as to not get in the way of shedding those extra pounds. Think of it as one more reason to get healthy this year!

4.      Curb Bad Habits

Nervous habits and addictions are bad for your teeth. Smoking for instance will stain your teeth, damage your gums and can cause oral cancer, and that’s just for starters. Coffee addicts will notice considerable staining to their teeth over time and if you chew your nails or lips you might find yourself with sores, increased risk of infection and damage to enamel.

Breaking a habit is always an uphill battle, but there’s no better time than the start of the new year. If you needed one more reason to drop the cigarettes, cut back on caffeine or find other ways to keep your hands busy and out of your mouth, your dental health is it. Cigarettes in particular, will be the biggest challenge and you can speak to your dentist for suggestions on breaking the chemical dependency over time. Dental friendly chewing gum is a great place to start in most cases.

5.      Get Your Oral Cancer Screening

Our dentists recommend an annual check-up for oral cancer. Every year thousands of people die from oral cancer and most of those cases are treatable if found early. When you visit, our dental care team will check for bumps and inflammation that may be an early sign of cancer. Oral cancer is on the rise due to HPV or the human papillomavirus. Screening only needs to be conducted annually but at the very least be sure to ask for a screening every few visits to the dentist.

6.      Set a Schedule

What is the single most important step in making dental health as a resolution stick? Sticking to the schedule of course. Not only do you need to set a personal, daily schedule for yourself and your family, but you’ll also need to set a schedule with your dentist. Every patient has different dental needs, but the average, healthy person should see the dentist for cleaning and an exam every six months, regardless of age.

Seeing a dentist regularly for smaller, routine care has proven to be more cost effective than waiting for restorative care. It’s especially worth considering a set schedule with your dentist if you have insurance benefits of some kind or if you are nervous about fillings or root canals. With a regular cleaning schedule at home that involves flossing, brushing and a healthy diet, visiting your dentist AT LEAST twice a year is the final and crucial piece to a perfect smile.

7.      Smile More

It might seem simple, but we don’t smile enough. Maybe you don’t smile because you’re shy or because you are self-conscious about your teeth. Maybe, like most of us, you don’t really remember to do it until it’s too late. Studies have shown how positive a smile can be on you and those around you. Smiling can improve productivity, energy and atmosphere at work. It can make shopping easier, and it can lead to social interaction you had closed yourself off to. If everyone made it their resolution to smile more, we could change that together.

 

Source: 123Dentist.com, Colgate.com

 

What Are the 10 Biggest Causes of Sensitive Teeth?

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Tooth Pain Can Affect Your Eating, Drinking, and Breathing Habits

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients. When you have sensitive teeth, certain activities, such as brushing, flossing, eating and drinking, can cause sharp, temporary pain in your teeth. Sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots.

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. 

Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

 

10 Biggest Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Here’s why you could be experiencing this mouth malady:

You brush with too much gusto. Sometimes tooth sensitivity comes from brushing with too much force or with too hard-bristled a toothbrush. Over time, you can wear down the protective layers of your teeth.

You eat acidic foods. If the pathways to your nerves are exposed, acidic foods such as tomato sauce, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, and pickles can cause pain.

You’re a tooth-grinder. Grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel, even though it’s the strongest substance in your body. By doing so, you expose the dentin. Talk to your dentist about finding a mouth guard that can stop you from grinding.

You choose tooth-whitening toothpaste. Many manufacturers add tooth-whitening chemicals to their toothpaste formulas, and some people are more sensitive to them than others.

You’re a mouthwash junkie. Like whitening toothpaste, some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol and other chemicals that can make your teeth more sensitive — especially if your dentin’s exposed. Solution: Try neutral fluoride rinses — or simply skip the rinse and be more diligent about flossing and brushing.

You’ve got gum disease. Receding gums, which are increasingly common with age (especially if you haven't kept up with your dental health), can cause tooth sensitivity. If gum disease or gingivitis is the problem, your dentist may suggest a procedure to seal your teeth along with treating the gum disease itself.

You have excessive plaque. The purpose of flossing and brushing is to remove plaque that forms after you eat. An excessive build-up of plaque can cause your enamel to wear away. Again, your teeth can become more sensitive as they lose their enamel protection.

You’ve had a dental procedure. Teeth often become more sensitive after you’ve been in the dentist’s chair. It’s common to have some sensitivity after a root canal, an extraction, or the placement of a crown. If your sensitivity doesn’t disappear after a short time, another visit to your dentist is in order — it could be an infection.

Your tooth is cracked. A chipped or cracked tooth can cause pain that goes beyond tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will need to evaluate your tooth and decide the right course of treatment, such as a cap or an extraction.

There is decay around the edges of fillings. As you get older, fillings can weaken and fracture or leak around the edges. It’s easy for bacteria to accumulate in these tiny crevices, which causes acid build-up and enamel breakdown. See your dentist if you notice this type of tooth sensitivity between visits; in most cases, fillings can be easily replaced.

 

Don’t Put Up With the Pain; See Your Dentist

If a tooth is highly sensitive for more than three or four days and reacts to hot and cold temperatures, it's best to get a diagnostic evaluation from your dentist to determine the extent of the problem. Before taking the situation into your own hands, an accurate diagnosis of tooth sensitivity is essential for effective treatment to eliminate pain. Because pain symptoms can be similar, some people might think that a tooth is sensitive, when instead, they actually have a cavity or abscess that's not yet visible. Your dentist can identify or rule out any underlying causes of your tooth pain.

  

Steps to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

The good news is there are many ways to control sensitive teeth. Depending on the circumstances, your dentist might recommend: 

Brush and floss regularly. Use proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth. 

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line so you don’t remove gum tissue. 

Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Several brands are available. Regular use should make teeth less sensitive. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth usually contains a desensitizing agent that protects the exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. In most cases, these products must be used on a regular basis for at least a month before any therapeutic benefits may be noticed. Another tip: Spread a thin layer on the exposed tooth roots with your finger or a Q-tip before you go to bed. Use a fluoridated toothpaste, not a tartar control one. 

Watch what you eat. Avoid lots of highly acidic foods and drinks, such as carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, wine and yogurt — all of which can remove small amounts of tooth enamel over time. When you drink acidic liquids, use a straw to limit contact with your teeth. After eating or drinking an acidic substance, drink milk or water to balance the acid levels in your mouth.

Use fluoridated dental products. Using a fluoridated mouth rinse daily can decrease sensitivity. Ask your dentist about products available for home use.

See your dentist every 6 months (or sooner, depending on your condition). Dentists have a variety of regimens to manage tooth hypersensitivity, including both in-office treatments and patient-applied products for home use.

  

Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Everyday Health, MouthHealthy.org, KnowYourTeeth.com, American Dental Association (ADA)