Hints to Fresh Breath for Holiday Parties

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The holiday season is stressful enough without having to worry about bad breath at the inevitable holiday parties and family get-togethers that feature rich foods and seasonal beverages. But you can reduce the odds of being burdened with holiday halitosis by following these tips.

Brush Your Teeth – And Your Tongue

For most people, it’s second nature to brush their teeth prior to attending a party or get-together. After all, all those pesky bacteria that hang around on your teeth and gums are removed by a thorough brushing. But don’t forget your tongue – it’s also a favorite place for icky-smelling bacteria to hang out. For work parties, be sure to keep a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your desk or locker at work so you can be minty fresh before the party. Colgate Wisps and FLIX Interdental sticks are also good solutions for on-the-go cleaning of your teeth and tongue.

Be A Smart Eater

The holiday season features lots of grazing on delectable foods at parties. All that grazing can leave you with a perpetual case of bad breath during the holidays. Here’s some simple tips to avoid that problem.

Beware the Buffet: Certain foods provide a source of sulphur-producing bacteria, which can cause stinky breath. The main culprits are brazil nuts, walnuts, smoked salmon, eggs, beans, and cream cheese. Eat them in small quantities and be sure to graze on other foods that don’t fall into the sulphur-producing category.

Pursue Parsley: Don’t think of parsley and mint as decorations on a holiday platter. Grab a sprig or two and munch on them – the chlorophyll in them is a proven breath deodorizer and odor neutralizer.

Have A Veggie: Vegetables are chock-full of water and Vitamin C, and both are effective bacteria fighters. The water helps flush out your mouth and Vitamin C kills odor-causing bacteria. So be sure to grab a handful of veggies periodically when grazing.

Look for a Lemon: Lemons – and other citrus fruits – kick start your mouth into producing more saliva. And that’s good, since saliva rinses away bacteria and plaque. Add a slice of lemon to your water, or even better, take a bite of lemon and swish the juice around in your mouth.

Drink Lots of Water

A dry mouth worsens bad breath, and alcoholic drinks just exacerbate the bad breath since they dry out your mouth. So keep a glass of water handy if you decide to have an alcoholic drink and sip from it periodically. It will keep your mouth – and your body – hydrated (and help you prevent a hangover).

Keep Sugarless Gum Handy

If you feel like you overdid it on onions or garlic, or your breath still smells foul, grab a stick of sugarless gum to chew. It will provide a double bonus by increasing saliva production in your mouth to rinse away bad-smelling bacteria and cover up odors.

Source: Colgate.com, Express.CO.UK

Dealing with Tooth Discoloration

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If your pearly whites aren’t so bright anymore, the discoloration of your teeth can be linked to an array of reasons. The three primary reasons that your teeth can become discolored are staining, childhood problems, or aging issues. Here are the details of each reason for tooth discoloration:

Extrinsic Discoloration — Your teeth’s outer enamel become stained from drinking beverages like wine, coffee or soda or eating intensely-colored foods like blueberries. Smoking is also a big cause of teeth discoloration.

Intrinsic Discoloration — When the inner structure of your tooth (called dentin) becomes exposed or darkens, it is called intrinsic discoloration. What causes this? The primary culprits are overexposure to fluoride during early childhood; trauma to your permanent or baby teeth; and/or exposure to tetracycline antibiotics while your mother was pregnant with you or as a child before age 8 years old. There is also a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta that causes discoloration.

Age-Related Discoloration — Tooth enamel will become worn as you age, which will allow dentin’s yellow color to become exposed. Also, millions of micro-cracks accumulate in your teeth’s enamel as you age – they are caused by chewing and grinding – and the micro-cracks fill up with debris and hold stains causing a dullness in teeth over time.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

You have a wide range of choices when it comes to whitening your teeth. You can visit your dentist for professional whitening or go with an over-the-counter method to save money. Here are your options for whitening your teeth:

At Home Whitening Toothpastes: This at-home approach may remove some of your minor stains, but whitening toothpastes won’t actually whiten the overall color of your teeth.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products: This approach is fairly inexpensive, but the products used are weaker than what you’ll find at your dentist so they aren’t as effective. You apply a whitening gel to a mouthpiece or use whitening strips in this approach. Over time, especially with the mouthpiece approach, you’ll see some lightening of your teeth. But because the mouthpiece isn’t fitted to your mouth, it won’t be as effective as a mouthpiece created by your dentist for just your mouth.

Power Bleaching: This is a procedure used by dental offices that involves using either hydrogen peroxide gel or carbamide. The bleaching agent is applied in the dental office or at home by the patient. Some dentists use a whitening light in addition to the gel while you’re in the office. This can often result in changes to your teeth discoloration in less than an hour.

Dentist Grade Whitening Trays: These use a more concentrated bleaching gel and a custom-fitted mouth guard provided by your dentist.

Composite Bonding Materials: Your dentist can use a bonding material to cover your teeth and to match color.

Veneers: These cover cosmetic imperfections and match color using thin ceramic shells applied by your dentist that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.

If you are interested in finding out more about your options for a brighter smile, give Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call at (610) 868-7601.

Source: Colgate, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)           

Veneers Are An Easy Way to Fix Flawed Teeth

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If you’re not happy with your smile because of discolorations in your front teeth, or you just want to have a brighter smile, then veneers may be your solution. What are veneers? They are very-thin shells made of ceramic (porcelain) or composite resin material. The dentist bonds them to the front of your teeth to improve your smile. You will require very little (or no) anesthesia for this procedure.

Veneers can often be a good alternative to crowns because they offer a more conservative solution to changing your tooth’s color, shape and size. Plus, they have shown to last for many years if done by one of the dentists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs.

So what types of problems can be fixed with dental veneers? Teeth that are broken or chipped; worn down teeth; misaligned, uneven or teeth that are irregularly shaped; or to fix gaps between your teeth.

It usually takes multiple appointments for the entire veneer procedure. This includes diagnosis, planning the treatment, preparing the teeth, and bonding. You’ll need to be actively involved in “designing” your smile. You’ll also need to understand that the procedure can’t fix every problem perfectly. But it can certainly improve your smile.

So what is the procedure like to attach veneers? First, the teeth are buffed lightly to provide room for the thickness the veneer will add. This usually means about half a millimeter of the tooth will be removed (this may mean you’ll need a local anesthetic). If you’re getting a composite resin veneer, then your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will carefully bond and sculpt the composite material onto your teeth. If you are getting porcelain veneers, then your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and then the veneers are fabricated in a lab, which may take a couple of days.

Once your porcelain veneers are back from the lab, your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will place each veneer on its tooth to make sure they fit properly and are the right shade or color you selected. Your dentist can still adjust the veneer’s shade at that point by choosing a certain type of cement to use. The veneer is then cleaned with a specific set of chemicals to make sure the cement used to bond the veneer to your tooth works properly. The final step involves a light beam being directed at the veneer to harden the cement.

You won’t have to take any “special care” of your new veneers. You’ll need to continue to follow good oral health practices – brushing and flossing daily – and your dentist will want to see you several weeks after the veneers are put on your teeth for a checkup.

What are the advantages of dental veneers?

  • They provide a natural tooth appearance.
  • Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
  • Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
  • The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.

What are the disadvantage of dental veneers?

  • The process is not reversible.
  • Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
  • Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.

Be realistic about veneers. Like natural teeth, you will see slight color variations if you examine them closely. But veneers can still go a long way to brightening your smile and making you more confident about your teeth.

Sources: Worldental.org, KnowYourTeeth.com, 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

 

 

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)

 

 

Seven Foods for a Happy Smile

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Can what you eat help your smile and overall oral health? The answer is a definite “yes”! We have seven foods in this week’s blog that will give your “pearly whites” a boost and help your gums and enamel stay happy and healthy.

Fruits and Vegies that Crunch

The high fiber in certain fruits and vegetables are like mini “scrubbers” in your mouth, replicating some of the work your toothbrush does by cleaning your teeth. Plus, they trigger saliva production in your mouth, which is a great way to wash away bacteria that have gathered on your teeth. In addition, any sugar in your mouth from other foods you’ve eaten will have a harder time sticking around, because the increased saliva will wash away that sugar. Raw celery, carrots, apples, broccoli, cauliflower and jicama are some of these oral health helpers.

Chocolate…Yes, Chocolate!

Believe it or not, dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) can be good for your smile if you eat it in moderation. Research has shown that a compound in dark chocolate actually hardens tooth enamel and can help prevent cavities. One square a day is enough – and we’re talking dark chocolate, not milk chocolate!

Cheese Please

Cheese is high in protein and calcium and low in sugar – a good combination for oral health. It also has been shown to lower the acidity in your mouth – and the lower acidity level, the lower the chance of developing cavities. Another benefit is that cheese helps remineralize the teeth and minimize decay. Milk is also a good choice for oral health, since it contains protein and calcium and helps wash away sugar from other foods (that glass of milk with dessert is a good combination for oral health).

Be a Fan of Tea

Both black and green teas are high in polyphenols, which kill or suppress bacteria in your mouth. Remember, bacteria produce acids which destroy your tooth enamel. They feed on sugar in your mouth, so having tea during or after your meal will fight the bacteria, wash away sugar, and replenish your saliva. That’s a trio of good benefits from tea.

Foods from the Sea

What do sea foods have in common? They are lean in protein and they contain natural fluoride. The combination strengthens your teeth and helps prevent cavities. A bonus is that they are a great source of Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium in your diet. Calcium helps your teeth and gums fight disease which can lead to oral health problems.

All Kinds of Nuts

Nuts provide a healthy dose of protein, which your teeth and gums benefit from. They also are loaded with calcium and phosphorus – both good for tooth enamel. And the “crunch” of nuts produces saliva in your mouth, which washes away bad stuff in your mouth.

The Wonders of Water

We’ve mentioned multiple times in our blog how important the production of saliva is for your oral health. Water is just as good for a variety of reasons. First, it replenishes your saliva (which is nearly 100% water) and hydrates your mouth. Second, the right amount of saliva in your mouth helps break down food you eat, reduces acid produced by bacteria, and slows down tooth decay. All of those are good for your smile.

 

SOURCES: Colgate.com

 

 

Dentists are Disease Detectives

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Your Oral Health Speaks Volumes about Your Body

Your mouth performs a range of important daily activities including eating, drinking, talking and smiling. But did you know that your mouth can also provide clues to other diseases? Dentists can act as disease detectives by simply examining your mouth, head, and neck for signs and symptoms that may point to more serious health issues. Dentists are at the forefront of saving lives, as more than 90 percent of common diseases have oral symptoms and can be detected in the dental chair.

The Presence of Disease

Many connections between your mouth and larger health issues have to do with bacteria. Studies have shown that heart disease and endocarditis (an inflammation of the lining of your heart), in particular, are linked to gum disease – a bacterial infection of the mouth. Inflamed gums can also signal a vulnerable immune system, which can be due to diabetes or disorders such as Sjogren's syndrome.

In addition to gum problems, other oral matters are also telling. Tooth loss, for instance, has commonly been linked with both osteoporosis and Alzheimer's. And lesions of the throat occur often in individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS. Last but not least, a dental exam can detect both oral and throat cancer, which typically present themselves via sores or patches that don't go away. Suffice it to say, dental checkups can prove themselves invaluable when it comes to early detection of life-threatening health conditions.

What Conditions May Be Linked to Oral Health?

Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.
HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
Alzheimer's disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Stress. Your teeth may be worn down or chipped if you've been unconsciously grinding or clenching them. This grinding - also known as bruxism - can eventually cause bone loss that your dentist may detect on your X-rays. Bruxism is usually caused by stress but can also occur because the top and bottom teeth aren't aligned properly. You may or may not be aware that you've been grinding your teeth, but your dentist can spot the signs.
Other conditions. Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth — and eating disorders.

Harmful Habits That Impact Your Oral Health and Overall Health

It may not necessarily mean life or death, but some habits can cause a world of trouble – and costly mouth problems are proof of that. 

Tobacco Use. Smoking, chewing and other forms of tobacco use pose serious threats, not just to your lungs, but also to the look and health of your teeth and gums. Red flags that alert your dentist that smoking is starting to do dental damage (and possibly much worse) are the telltale yellowing of teeth, white patches along the inside lining of the mouth, persistent bad breath, and lumps that can signal oral cancer.

Dietary Health. Finally, your mouth can offer clues about the safety and healthfulness of your diet. Severe tooth erosion and swelling of the throat and salivary glands are typical problems seen in patients with eating disorders, due to constant vomiting. Tooth decay and sensitivity can also come with excessive acid in your diet, and many times, signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease ("GERD" or simply, "acid reflux") become apparent to your dentist even before your doctor. Even your breath can be telling of certain food choices, such as garlic or onions, which have long been known to cause halitosis.

 Get Peace of Mind

Given everything a brief dental exam can uncover, there's no denying the benefits of a routine checkup. More often than not, tooth, gum and other oral problems may simply be due to poor hygiene, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Remain diligent about seeing your dentist regularly, and don't hesitate to schedule a checkup in between your typical visits if you notice anything amiss.

 Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic

 

Choosing Between At-Home or Professional Teeth Whitening

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A Dark Side to DIY Whitening: Why Your Dentist Offers the Best Results

At-home whiteners are easy to use and relatively cheap. But if your teeth or gums are sensitive, custom-made trays that you get at your dentist's office will help you avoid irritation. This is just one great reason to see your dentist for keeping your smile as white as it can be.

It comes as no surprise that a major Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trend is teeth whitening or bleaching. Although pharmacy-sold whitening can often improve the shade of your teeth, the disadvantages of over-the-counter kits far outweigh the benefits.  For more effective and safer results, it’s recommended that you ask your dentist to perform in-office teeth-whitening services.

In-Office Procedures

The most common one involves custom-made trays filled with bleaching solution that fit firmly over your teeth. Because your dentist supervises the procedure, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than what's found in home kits.

He may recommend doing everything in his office. In that case, a light or heat source may be used to speed up the process. 

Another option is to get fitted for custom-made whitening trays that you can use at home.

If you’re considering whitening your teeth without the help of a professional, here are some potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of:

 

Risks of DIY Whitening

 

Harmful to the Gum Line

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits contain varying levels of peroxides, otherwise known as bleach. If the product isn’t applied properly, the peroxide can cause serious damage to your gum line.

The problem that customers face is that DIY teeth-whitening products come as one size fits all.  As our mouths come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, DIY whitening strips or gel trays can often be too big or small. Either scenario can lead to unnecessary contact with your gum line. The last thing you want is bleach to burn your gums – they’re especially sensitive and full of thousands of susceptible nerve endings.

In a dentist’s office, whitening trays are custom made for each patient in order to avoid the gums. As there’s a lesser risk of gum contact, they can use higher concentration of peroxides in stronger gels that ultimately yield better, whiter results.

Aggravated Dental Problems

If applied at the wrong time, do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits can make pre-existing dental problems worse.  The bleach from the kits can find its way into any abscess of the mouth and cause immediate pain – or worse, an infection.

It is important to make an appointment with your dentist before considering DIY teeth-whitening products. They can check for any cavities or gum disease that could be aggravated by the bleach. If you have a severe cavity, the bleach can travel as far as the root of the tooth and may lead to requiring root-canal therapy.

If there’s pre-existing gum disease like gingivitis or periodontitis, the bleach will burn the inflamed gums and even cause the loss of soft tissue. Aggravated gum disease could lead to serious illness as the bacteria from the gums can find its way to other parts of the body.

Spotted/Weak Results

Without the help of a dental professional, teeth whitening can lead to spotted or ineffective results. Most DIY treatments contain bleach concentrations between 10%-20% – somewhere in between is the safest bet for a bleaching agent. However, a large number of DIY teeth whitening kits don’t list the concentration on their box, making it impossible for the customer to choose a strength that’s sensitive to their oral health.

As users can’t tell how strong the bleaching product is, they may pick one with a lower concentration that produces weak or ineffective results. As it’s difficult to get a full view of our teeth, it’s common for users to miss patches when applying the gel or strips.

Damage to Tooth Enamel

Enamel is the protective layer around our teeth that protects it from daily forces like chewing, talking, biting and grinding. It is the hardest tissue in our body, but can be stained by things like caffeine, tobacco and food. These yellow-colored spots are one of the primary reasons why people whiten their teeth.

DIY teeth whitening kits are known to contain sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide – two chemicals that, if not applied properly, can cause erosion of the tooth enamel. If the enamel wears away, the layer of yellow dentin underneath becomes exposed and extreme pain becomes inevitable.

See Your Dentist

If you still decide to try over-the-counter teeth whitening, ask your dentist for more information or recommendations on which brand to use. They should also give you a full dental examination to make sure you don’t have any pre-existing problems. Whether you or a professional apply the product, it’s important that you’re educated on the risks with a clean bill of oral health.

Professional solutions used by your dentist are stronger than those in over-the-counter kits, so your teeth will whiten more quickly. He or she can also make sure that sensitive gums don't get more irritated.

 

Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Floss Like a Boss?

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Using Proper Techniques Are Important if You Want to Floss Effectively

Techniques for Taking Care of Teeth and Gums

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

A spring 2015 MouthHealthy.org poll asked readers if they brush before or after they floss. The results were close: 53% said they brush before, while 47% said after.

So who’s right? Technically, everyone. The most important thing about flossing is to do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from flossing first thing in the morning or flossing after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.

And don’t forget, children need to floss too! You should be flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch. Because flossing demands more manual dexterity than very young children have, children are not usually able to floss well by themselves until they are age 10 or 11.

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

There are two types of floss from which to choose:

  1. Nylon (or multifilament) floss
  2. PTFE (monofilament) floss

Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. Because this type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. While more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant. When used properly, both types of floss are excellent at removing plaque and debris.

Talk to your dentist about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. Look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

 How Do I Floss to Get the Best Results?

Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth. Daily flossing is an important part of your oral health care routine to help remove the plaque from these areas where a toothbrush doesn’t completely reach. But to truly reap the benefits, you need to use proper flossing technique.

 Four Key Elements for Flawless Flossing

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains the key elements of proper flossing technique in four simple steps:

1.      Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.

2.      Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.

3.      Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.

4.      Slide: Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.

Keep in mind that flossing should not be painful. If you floss too hard, you could damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting the food out. It’s normal to feel some discomfort when you first start flossing, but don’t give up. With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist.

 Using a Flosser

If you use a hand-held flosser, the flossing technique is similar. Hold the flosser handle firmly and point the flossing tip at an angle facing the area you want to floss first (either top teeth or bottom teeth). Guide the floss gently between two teeth, and be sure to avoid snapping or popping the floss. Use the same zigzag motion that you would us with standard floss. Bend the floss around each tooth and slide it under the gum line and along each tooth surface.

 Flossing Around Dental Work

 If you wear braces or other dental appliances, proper flossing technique is especially important to avoid getting floss caught on wires or brackets. You can use special orthodontic floss which has a stiff end that can be easily threaded under the main wire (also called the arch wire) on your braces. Or you can purchase a floss threader, which is a flexible device with a pick on one end and a loop on the other. To use a floss threader, place an 18-inch piece of the floss of your choice through the loop. Then insert the pointed end of the flosser under the main wire and pull through so the floss is under the main wire. Once you have the floss in place, follow the same principles of proper flossing technique that you would use with standard floss.

You can always ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you techniques if you are still uncertain.

 Sources: MouthHealthy.org, Oral B, Colgate, American Dental Association

Mouth Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Go See Your Dentist Before These Signs Become Serious

Whether it's traces of crimson on your toothbrush or that nagging sensitivity that seems never to go away, it's easy to neglect your oral health. Persistent tooth or mouth pain generally indicates a serious problem. Symptoms could include a tooth sensitive to touch or changes in your gums. Keep in mind that even if the pain does go away after a day or two, you could still have a problem and should see your dentist.

Take the time while cleaning your teeth to look at your cheeks, your tongue and underneath your tongue to spot any changes. Basically, you’re checking for anything that wasn't there before. Any changes of color, such as white or red patches that aren’t going away and are getting bigger, or lumps that have formed in places which previously were smooth, should be investigated.

 

Bad Breath

Everyone experiences stinky breath, but brushing and flossing (including brushing your tongue) should nip bad breath in the bud. What about when it doesn’t? It could be a sign of advanced gum disease, so it’s important to talk to your dentist before this oral condition ruins perfectly healthy teeth.

Most of the time, however, the biggest bad-breath culprit is your diet. Onion, garlic, and pungent spices will produce mouth odor for hours after consumption.

 

Swollen or Receding Gums

Swollen gums are a sign of gum disease. Even if you believe you have healthy teeth, swollen gums absolutely require a visit to the dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to tell right away if you have gum disease — but you can check for swollen gums yourself by drying your gums with a napkin or a tissue and looking in the mirror. Although your swollen gums may feel fine, if they tend to bleed during brushing, they are a sign you should see your dentist right away.

 

Eroded Enamel

During dental erosion, the surface of a tooth or teeth gradually wears away. Once that happens, you are much more susceptible to cavities and other issue. Any source of acid can erode the tooth enamel of healthy teeth, including acid from citrus fruits and soda. One of the most common sources of acid in the mouth is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which acid from the stomach comes up the esophagus, causes heartburn, and reaches the mouth.

 

Sour Taste in Your Mouth

If you frequently have a sour taste in your mouth (which is often mistaken for bad breath), it could be another sign of GERD, especially if it’s accompanied by a sore throat, chest pain, and a hoarse voice, Besides this oral condition and dental erosion, GERD can lead to other problems such as an esophageal ulcer and inflammation of the esophagus. If you suspect you have GERD, get tested and treated as needed.

 

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a very common oral condition, especially as you age. There are also more than 425 medications that include dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can be related to issues beyond dental health. If you have chronic dry mouth, you should be concerned and talk to your dentist.

 

Loose Teeth

Loose teeth are another dental health symptom not to ignore because this may be a sign that you have gum disease. Bacteria that grow below the gum line can cause tissues and bones to break down, leading to the separation of the teeth from the gums. As more tissue and bone is destroyed, the more likely you are to lose healthy teeth as they become loose and need to be pulled.

Loose teeth may also be a sign of infection or scleroderma, a disease of the connective tissue that causes changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and organs.

 

Mouth Sores

A white or red patch on the tongue or lining of the mouth is the most common sign of oral cancer. Don’t be alarmed: Mouth sores are completely common and the chance your sore signals cancer is low. To be safe, show your dentist any sores in your mouth that don’t heal after two weeks.

 

Burning Mouth

If you’re experiencing a moderate to severe scalding sensation in your mouth, lips, or tongue, it could be an oral condition called burning mouth syndrome. When it does occur, it can be caused by a number of medications, certain specific oral conditions, or other health issues, including nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections in the mouth, and hormone changes in women.

With regular dentist visits, you should be able to keep on top of any problems that might affect our mouths. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of those symptoms that warrant a quicker appointment—especially for those of us who leave more time than we should between visits.

 

Sources: Every Day Health, Best Health