Daily Tips for Good Oral Hygiene

Daily Tips for Good Oral Hygiene

 

Bacteria can live in your mouth in the form of plaque, causing cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease. In order to keep your mouth clean, you must practice good  oral hygiene every day.

 

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including where toothbrushes can’t reach. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but there are others that you might not realize can cause harm. Starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also cause acids to form. Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease, in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed and teeth may become loose or have to be removed.

 

How can I get rid of plaque?

The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.  Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth and allow you to reach all areas easily. Use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Clean between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners to remove plaque from between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is essential to prevent gum disease.

 

How do I brush and floss my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends the following techniques for brushing and flossing your teeth:

 

Brushing

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

 

Flossing

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
  • Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.

 

Is there anything else I can use to clean my mouth?

A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Always talk to your dentist about any new products you are interested in trying. Not everyone should use a fluoride mouth rinse. For instance, fluoride rinses are not recommended for children ages 6 or younger because they may swallow them. Always check the manufacturer’s label for precautions and age recommendations  and talk with your dentist about the use of fluoride mouth rinse.

Wrong Choice of Mouthwash Could Have Negative Side Effects

Wrong Choice of Product Could Have Negative Side Effects

Brush. Floss. Rinse mouth with mouthwash. From a young age, people are taught to follow this procedure to maximize the benefits of proper oral hygiene, but could mouth rinse actually cause more problems than good? According to the April 2007 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the AGD, the improper selection of a mouth rinse may cause side effects worse than the condition being treated.

 

“It all depends on each individual’s oral health concerns,” explains Barbara Rich, DDS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson. “If someone has a lot of inflammation which is causing bleeding gums, then the side effect of staining caused by some prescription mouthwashes may be worth it to improve their health. Staining can be polished off at the regularsemiannual visit to the dentist.”

 

Dr. Rich further explains, however, that if minty-fresh taste is the only reason for a person using mouth rinses, but they have dry mouth or get ulcers from strong alcohol content in the mouthwash, it may not be worth using it.

 

There are two categories of mouth rinses: cosmetic (over-the-counter) and prescription. Both products are meant to help remove oral debris before or after brushing. These products provide a pleasant taste in the mouth and temporary relief from bad breath while diminishing bacteria in the mouth. Therapeutic rinses are prescribed by a dentist and contain active ingredients that protect against some oral diseases.

 

What are the pros and cons of using mouthwashes? “The pros are improved health of gums, germ killing effects, fresh taste, and cavity prevention,” says Dr. Rich. “The cons include altered taste, tooth staining, drying of oral tissues in the mouth, burning sensation, and ulcers.”

 

When selecting a mouthrinse, Dr. Rich advises patients to choose one that is based on their individual needs. “If they have a dry mouth, but want a nice taste, they should look for a non-alcohol mouthwash so their tissues stay moist,” she says. “If they often have cavities, they should use a fluoride rinse.” It is best to consult with a general dentist about the best mouth rinse to meet the needs of your mouth.

 

What are the proper steps when using mouth rinses?

 

  • Before using a mouth rinse, brush and floss teeth.
  • Measure the proper amount of rinse recommended on the container or by a dentist.
  • Close lips and, keeping teeth slightly apart, swish liquid around the mouth.
  • Thirty seconds is the suggested rinsing time.
  • Finally, spit liquid from mouth thoroughly.
  • Do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes after using a mouthwash. Doing so will diminish the effects of the mouthwash.

Why is Brushing With Toothpaste Important?

Why is Brushing With Toothpaste Important?

 

Brushing with toothpaste is important for several reasons. First and foremost, a toothpaste and a correct brushing action work to remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth that causes cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss if not controlled. Second, toothpaste contains fluoride, which makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage can even be seen. Third, special ingredients in toothpaste help to clean and polish the teeth and remove stains over time. Fourth, toothpastes help freshen breath and leave your mouth with a clean feeling.

 

What type of toothpaste should I use?

 

As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, the brand you buy really does not matter, neither does whether or not it is in paste, gel or even powder form, or containing a certain flavor. All fluoride toothpastes work effectively to fight plaque and cavities and clean and polish tooth enamel. Your toothpaste brand should bear the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval on the container, which means that adequate evidence of safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in controlled, clinical trials.

 

If your teeth are hypersensitive to hot or cold, consider trying a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These “desensitizing” toothpastes, which contain strontium chloride or potassium nitrate, protect exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. Desensitizing pastes must be used for at least one month before any therapeutic effects are felt.

 

Toothpastes containing baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide (which are both good cleansing agents) give the teeth and mouth a clean, fresh, pleasant feeling that can offer an incentive to brush more, but fluoride is the true active ingredient at work protecting your teeth. Some prefer a tartar-control toothpaste containing pyrophosphates to prevent the build-up of soft calculus (tartar) deposits on their teeth. New pastes offer advanced whitening formulas aimed at safely removing stains to make teeth brighter and shinier, although they can’t nearly match the effectiveness of a professional bleaching formula administered or prescribed by a dentist.

 

How much should I use?

 

Contrary to what toothpaste commercials show, the amount of paste or gel needed on your brush for effective cleaning does not have to be a heaping amount. Simply squeeze a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush. If you brush correctly, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth, the paste should foam enough to cover all of your teeth. Children under age 6, however, should be given a very small, baby pea-sized dab of toothpaste on their brush.

 

Is brushing with toothpaste enough to fight cavities and gum disease?

 

No. Although brushing thoroughly after each meal helps, flossing your teeth every day to remove plaque and food particles between teeth and at the gumline is just as important. Studies show that plaque will regrow on teeth that are completely clean within three to four hours of brushing.

What is the Best Technique for Brushing?

What is the Best Technique for Brushing?

 

There are a number of effective brushing techniques. Patients are advised to check with their dentist or hygienist to determine which technique is best for them, since tooth position and gum condition vary. One effective, easy-to-remember technique involves using a circular or elliptical motion to brush a couple of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.

 

Place a toothbrush beside your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in an elliptical motion. Brush the outside of the teeth, inside the teeth, your tongue, the chewing surfaces and between teeth. Using a back-and-forth motion causes the gum surface to recede, can expose the root surface or make the root surface tender. You also risk wearing down the gum line.

 

Soft or hard bristles?

 

In general, a toothbrush head should be small (1″ by 1/2″) for easy access. It should have a long, wide handle for a firm grasp and soft, nylon bristles with round ends. Some brushes are too abrasive and can wear down teeth. A soft, rounded, multi-tufted brush can clean teeth effectively. Press just firmly enough to reach the spaces between the teeth as well as the surface. Medium and hard bristles are not recommended.

 

How long should I brush?

 

It might be a good idea to brush with the radio on, since dentists generally recommend brushing three to four minutes, the average length of a song. Using an egg timer is another way to measure your brushing time. Patients generally think they’re brushing longer, but most spend less than a minute brushing.

 

To make sure you’re doing a thorough job and not missing any spots, patients are advised to brush the full three to four minutes twice a day, instead of brushing quickly five or more times through the day.

 

Should I brush at work?

 

Definitely, but most Americans don’t brush during the workday. Yet a survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows if you keep a toothbrush at work, the chances you will brush during the day increase by 65 percent.

 

Getting the debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning to damaging acids and catches starchy foods like potato chips before they turn to cavity-causing sugar. If you brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before going to bed, you don’t even need to use toothpaste at work. You can just brush and rinse before heading back to your desk. If you don’t have a toothbrush, rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch also helps.

 

Tips to improve your office brushing habits:

 

  • Post a sticky note on your desk or computer as a reminder to brush teeth after lunch.
  • Brush teeth right after lunch, before you become absorbed in work.
  • Store your toothbrush and toothpaste at work in a convenient and handy place.
  • Make brushing your teeth part of your freshening-up routine at work.
  •  When brushing at the office or away from home, it’s important to make an extra effort to keep your toothbrush germ-free.

Tips on how to properly store and care for your toothbrush at work:

 

  • Always store your toothbrush in a travel container.
  • Dry your toothbrush after use and before returning to its container.
  • Change the toothbrush you take to work more often than your toothbrush at home to avoid bacteria build-up.

Using Floss Once a Day Helps Fight Decay

Using Floss Once a Day Helps Fight Decay

 

Some people loop. Some people spool. Others simply refuse. The verdict is in: Flossing is one of the best things you can ever do to take care of your teeth.

 

“Flossing every 24 hours to break up plaque is imperative for good oral health,” says Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson Gordon Isbell, DMD, MAGD.

 

An article in the October 2005 issue of AGD Impact, AGD’s monthly newsmagazine, describes how floss is the single most important factor in preventing periodontal (gum) disease, which affects more than 50 percent of adults.

 

Flossing, which is just as important as brushing, helps removes the plaque and debris that stick to teeth and gums between the teeth. It also helps polish the tooth’s surface and control bad breath.

 

Dental floss can be waxed or unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. All floss helps clean and remove plaque. Wider floss, also known as dental tape, may help people with a lot of bridge work and is usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. Waxed floss can be easier to slide between teeth with very little space between. Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound, which lets the user know their teeth are clean.

 

Electric flossers are now on the scene, but most dentists contend there is no substitute for manually flossing one’s teeth.

 

“Electric flossing is no substitute, but if someone has a disability and can’t manually floss, it is better than nothing,” says Dr. Isbell.

 

Similarly, dentists say that waterpicks should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing because they don’t remove plaque. Dentists do recommend waterpicks for people with braces or dentures or those with gum disease who have trouble flossing because of pain.

 

Benefits of flossing:

 

  • Decreased risk of gum disease
  • Better breath
  • Removes plaque between teeth
  • Polishes tooth surfaces

The Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

Being a parent, though wonderfully rewarding, can also be stressful and full of uncertainties, especially when it’s your first child and everything is new and overwhelming.

Our practice might not be able to take away all of the uncertainties, but we can certainly help you out when it comes to pacifiers and thumb sucking and their effects on your child’s dental health.

Benefits of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

According to the American Dental Association, it’s a natural reflex for babies to suck on things. They find it comforting and soothing, which means that allowing thumb sucking or giving them a pacifier can help them feel happy and safe as they grow from infancy to toddlerhood. At this stage, are many benefits to pacifiers or thumb sucking, for the baby and for the parents:

  • It helps your baby sleep (which also helps you sleep).
  • It keeps your baby calmer when separated from you.
  • Studies have shown that pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

When To Wean

One of the main concerns parents often have about thumb sucking in particular is whether or not it will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked. This certainly can be a problem, but not for toddlers. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four. If they don’t stop on their own, this is when it becomes important to encourage them to stop.

If vigorous thumb sucking continues around when they start getting their permanent teeth, it can lead to changes in the palate that affect the permanent bite. Dental alignment and bite issues are less common with pacifiers because breaking that habit can be as simple as taking the pacifier away if they’re still using them by age three.

For more information about weaning your child off of their pacifier, watch the video below:

Thumb Sucking And Pacifier Don’ts

Because these sources of comfort don’t cause damage until the adult teeth are coming in, it isn’t necessary to attempt to break your child’s habit before the age of four. Younger toddlers in particular aren’t old enough to understand why parents want them to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier, so they’ll only get upset.

When you do want to wean them off thumb sucking, be careful with topical aids that make the thumb taste unpleasant, because they can be ineffective or even harmful.

Weaning Strategies For Thumb Suckers

Ideally, you’ll be able to wean your child off thumb sucking before they turn five, but if your child is close to age six and is still an avid thumb sucker, it’s definitely time to get serious. Here are some safe strategies you can use:

  • Praise them for successes rather than scolding them for continued thumb sucking.
  • Use a rewards chart so they can see the goals they’re working towards.
  • Make sure they have plenty of activities to do with their hands, like arts and crafts.
  • Put socks on their hands while they sleep so that they don’t have access to their thumbs. You may need to tape the socks in place so they can’t pull them off.

4 Ways Smiling Improves Our Health!

We’ve all heard the old cliché that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so you should smile to conserve energy! That’s actually false.

It takes a minimum of ten muscles to smile but only a minimum of six to frown, so the expression should really be “smile to burn calories!” But smiling will do much more for your health than just giving your face a workout.

Here’s four ways smiling benefits our health.

#1: Reduces Pain

Smiling releases endorphins, which are our bodies’ feel-good hormones. They serve as natural painkillers with no side-effects. What’s particularly interesting about this is that it’s the smile itself that releases the endorphins, not the attitude behind it.

Our brains are so hard-wired to associate smiling with joy that even a fake smile will get you the chemical benefits. So whenever you get injured, it really is a good idea to grin and bear it!

#2: Relieves Stress

Another thing the endorphins released by smiling do for you is help relieve stress. A study in 2012 tested how quickly subjects’ heart rates could go back to normal after performing a stressful task. One group was instructed to hold a pencil between their teeth (which forces a smile) and the other was instructed to hold the pencil between their lips (which forces a neutral expression). The subjects with the biggest smiles recovered the fastest.

This goes back to the way our brains react to smiles. We don’t just smile when we’re happy; smiling can actually make us happy, which means you really can “fake it till you make it” when it comes to smiling!

#3: Boosts Our Immune System

Relieving tension and stress by smiling can have a profound cumulative impact on your health. It can make you more resilient against illness and it can even reduce your chances of getting cancer by lowering the number of stress-induced mutations your cells go through.

#4: Increases Longevity

Smiling doesn’t just make you look younger and more attractive; it can also add years to your lifespan. Taking advantage of every opportunity to smile (and then some) could make you live up to seven years longer!

Medications’ Impact On Oral Health

Many of us need to take medications to treat a wide variety of conditions.

However, even as those medications treat our illnesses, they could be causing problems for our teeth and gums.

Medicine And Oral Chemistry

Some medications—even some vitamins—can damage our teeth for the brief period that they’re in our mouths. This can pose a particular problem for children. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines. Children’s medicine tends to come in the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins, which feed oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Inhalers for asthma can also cause problems, specifically oral thrush, which is white patches of fungus in the mouth that can be irritating or painful. The best way to avoid this complication of using an inhaler is for you or your child to rinse with water after each use, and the same goes for sugary cough syrups and chewable multivitamins.

Side-Effects For Your Mouth

Plenty of other medications, though they don’t do any damage while you’re ingesting them, can be harmful to your mouth in the long term because of the side-effects. Let’s take a look at some of the more common side-effects.

Inflammation And Excessive Bleeding

If you notice your gums becoming tender and swollen shortly after you start on a new medication, you should talk to a medical professional about it. Several medications can cause gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of the gums), which puts you at increased risk of gum disease.

To learn more about the risks of gum disease, watch the video below:

Altered Taste

Some medications, such as cardiovascular agents, central nervous system stimulants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and smoking-cessation products can leave you with a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth, or even interfere with your overall sense of taste. This isn’t necessarily a serious side-effect, but it can be unpleasant, especially for food-lovers.

Dry Mouth

The most common mouth-related side-effect of medications is dry mouth. A wide range of medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinson’s disease medications, and antidepressants can all cause it.

Aside from feeling uncomfortable, dry mouth is very dangerous to oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense. It contains compounds that remineralize your teeth, neutralize acids, and keep bacteria in check. Without enough saliva, that bacteria runs rampant and there’s nothing to neutralize the acid or add minerals back into your tooth enamel. From there, you can develop mouth sores, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Easy Ways To Improve Your Dental Health

We’ve all heard that if we want healthy teeth, we should brush twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule regular dental cleaning appointments twice a year.

Definitely keep doing those things, but if you want to step up your oral health game, here are a few easy ways to do that.

Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

One of the simplest ways you can improve your dental health and hygiene is to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis. Vigorous brushing will make the bristles fray and reduce the brush’s cleaning ability, but that’s not the only reason toothbrushes should be replaced often.

A lot of the bacteria we brush off our teeth stays on the bristles of our toothbrushes. Proper storage–meaning storing the toothbrush upright and letting it dry out between uses–can keep a toothbrush from getting smelly and nasty too fast, but it’s still important to replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months.

Use A Tongue-Scraper

Brushing your teeth twice daily is a no-brainer, but don’t forget your tongue! The same bacteria and gunk that flourishes on teeth can hide on your tongue too. Using a tongue scraper or just running your toothbrush over your tongue will leave your mouth feeling much fresher than if you only focus on your teeth and gums.

Don’t Brush Too Hard

Sometimes it seems like we need to really work at those teeth when we brush, to get absolutely all of the food particles and plaque out. However, if we brush too hard, we risk scraping away at the tooth enamel, which is your teeth’s first line of defense against decay. Brush gently or use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging your teeth.

Eat Teeth-Friendly Foods

Many foods are bad for your teeth. Sugar and carbs feed the harmful bacteria living in your mouth and acidic drinks erode tooth enamel. Avoiding some of these foods will help, but there are also plenty of foods you can eat that are actually good for your teeth.

Adding more cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery, and almonds to your diet will make your teeth happy, whether by scrubbing them as you eat, fighting bad bacteria, treating gum disease, neutralizing your mouth’s pH, or remineralizing your enamel.

Cooking For A Happy, Healthy Sweet Tooth

Most of us find ourselves craving something sweet every once in a while—or perhaps more often than that!

Unfortunately, as good as sweet treats taste, they can have a big impact on our dental health.

Sugar And Your Teeth

There are many ways that sugar is bad for our overall health, but it’s also specifically bad for our teeth. Our mouths are diverse microbiomes containing dozens of species of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, that can reproduce multiple times per day. Sugar may taste good to us, but harmful bacteria love it. They eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth and excrete acid that dissolves tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is usually enough to keep the bacteria populations under control, but your teeth will thank your for avoiding excess sugar. So how can we satisfy a sweet tooth craving without also satisfying the cravings of millions of harmful bacteria? By cooking sugar-free desserts, of course!

Healthier Sweet Options

There are a few ways you can cut down on sugar without cutting down on sweets when you’re cooking. Some of them can be pricey, so your budget might play a role in determining which one you use.

Rebaudioside A

Rebaudioside A is a polyol or sugar alcohol produced by Stevia, a leafy South American plant. The FDA has approved rebaudioside A as a safe food additive, which means we can cook with it. But what makes it better for our teeth than sugar? Well, all those hungry bacteria in our mouths can’t digest sugar alcohols. We get to enjoy the sweet taste, but they don’t! The only downside is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. Since you only need one teaspoon to match the sweetness of a whole cup of sugar, it’s easy to overdo it.

Xylitol and Erythritol

Xylitol and erythritol are two more sugar alcohols that serve as excellent sweeteners. You may be familiar with xylitol, because that’s what sweetens sugar-free gum. While it’s even better for your teeth than other sugar alcohols–which is why dentists recommend it–it might not be the best to cook with, as it can cause digestive discomfort if you eat too much of it. Erythritol doesn’t have that drawback, but it can be pretty expensive.

Fruit

Fruit is another great sugar substitute. If you’d rather work with ingredients you already know, unsweetened applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs are four great replacements for table sugar that you can use in many recipes. You’ll end up with desserts that are still sweet and moist, but which contain far less sugar, which your teeth will appreciate. Fruits are sweet because they contain fructose, a type of sugar, but you’ll use less sugar overall by using pureed fruit instead of table sugar.

Need some extra inspiration for a sugar-free treat? Check out this sugar-free cheesecake recipe below!

Keep Up With Your Oral Health Basics

Even if you completely cut out all foods that are bad for your teeth out of your diet, it’s still crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and come see us for a cleaning appointment every six months! Be sure to bring your favorite sugar-free dessert recipes the next time you come!