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

 

11 Tips to Help Protect Your Tooth Enamel

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Tooth Enamel Erosion: Causes and How to Prevent It

Tooth enamel is a semi-clear, hard, outer layer that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also keeps you from feeling temperature extremes from the hot and cold things you eat and drink. Acids and chemicals that can damage your teeth are also fended off by it.

Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while, and loses some of its mineral content. Your saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself and tiny bits of enamel can be brushed away. Over time, you start to lose the surface of your teeth.

When this shell erodes, your teeth are more likely to get cavities and decay. You may notice you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

A few easy habits can help you protect your pearly whites. But first you need to know what to watch out for.

 

What Causes Enamel Erosion?

Damage to your teeth’s outer layer can come from:

·        Too many sweets. Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and they make acids that can eat away at enamel. It gets worse if you don’t clean your teeth regularly.

·        Sour foods or candies. They have a lot of acid.

·        Dry mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away bacteria acids and leftover food in your mouth. It also brings acids to an acceptable level.

·        Acid reflux disease, GERD, or heartburn. These bring stomach acids up to the mouth, where they can damage enamel.

·        Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking. People with these conditions vomit often, which is hard on teeth.

·        Drugs or supplements that have a lot of acid. Think aspirin or vitamin C.

·        Brushing too hard. A soft brush and a gentle touch are best.

·        Grinding your teeth. Your dentist may call this bruxism. Too much of it can do damage.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Erosion usually shows up as hollows in the teeth and a general wearing away of the tooth surface and biting edges. This can expose the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower color than the enamel. If your teeth start losing their outer shell, you might notice:

·        Pain when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks

·        Rough or uneven edges on the teeth, which can crack or chip when they lose their enamel

·        Smooth, shiny surfaces on the teeth, a sign of mineral loss

·        Yellow teeth

·        Cupping, or dents, that show up where you bite and chew

 

How Can I Protect My Enamel?

Because it can't be replaced, your best option is to do what you can to prevent tooth enamel loss.

·        Good dental care is the best way to keep your mouth healthy.

·        Cut down on acidic drinks and foods, like sodas, citrus fruits, and juices. When you do have something with acid, have it at meal times to make it easier on your enamel. You can also switch to things like low-acid orange juice.

·        Rinse your mouth with water right after you eat or drink something acidic.

·        Use a straw for sodas and fruit juices so they bypass the teeth. Don’t swish them around in your mouth.

·        Finish a meal with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese. This will cancel out acids.

·        Chew sugar-free gum. This lowers the amount of acid in your mouth. Gum also helps you make more saliva, which strengthens your teeth with key minerals.

·        Drink more water during the day if you have dry mouth.

·        Use a soft toothbrush. And try not to brush too hard.

·        Wait at least an hour to brush after you've had acidic foods or drinks. They soften the enamel and make it more prone to damage from your toothbrush.

·        Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Your dentist can tell you which products can protect your teeth and make them less sensitive.

·        Get treatment for conditions like bulimia, alcoholism, or GERD.

 

Work with Your Dentist

Ultimately, one of the best ways to protect your teeth's enamel is to work with your dentist. He or she can detect any erosion and offer tips on ways to reduce it. As well as using a fluoride toothpaste, your dental team may suggest you use a fluoride-containing mouthwash and have a fluoride varnish applied at least every six months. They may also prescribe a toothpaste with more fluoride in it.

If a tooth does need treatment, it is important to protect the enamel and the dentine underneath to prevent sensitivity. Usually, simply bonding a filling onto the tooth will be enough to repair it. However, in more severe cases the dentist may need to fit a veneer. If it's been a while since you've been in a dentist's chair, book an appointment today.

Sources: WebMD, DentalHealth.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