MAINTAINING GOOD DENTAL health isn’t just about the quantity of your brushing — it’s also about the quality. There are several mistakes many of us make when brushing our teeth, whether because we’re using the wrong tools or because we’re using the right tools the wrong way.
1. Keeping A Toothbrush Too Long
How long has it been since you got a new toothbrush? The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush at least three times a year, because broken, frayed bristles can’t do as good of a job of keeping your teeth clean.
2. Racing Through Your Brushing
The average time people spend brushing their teeth is 45 seconds, which obviously falls far short of the full two minutes recommended. If you’re having trouble making it through two whole minutes, try setting a timer or playing a song.
3. Brushing Too Hard
You might assume that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will get, but you really only need gentle pressure to scrub the leftover food and bacteria away. If you brush much harder than that, you risk damaging your gum tissue.
4. Using A Hard-Bristled Brush
Like brushing too hard, using a toothbrush with hard bristles can do more harm than good, especially to gum tissue. Talk to us if you’re not sure which type of bristles your toothbrush should have.
5. Brushing Immediately After Eating
A common mistake people make when they’re trying to take good care of their teeth is to immediately brush them after a meal. Acidic foods and drinks temporarily weaken our tooth enamel, and brushing right away can cause damage. This is why we should wait at least half an hour to brush so that our saliva has time to neutralize things.
6. Poor Toothbrush Storage
Is your toothbrush smelly? Do you store it somewhere it can get plenty of air, or do you put it in a case where it never really dries out? Bacteria love moist environments, so the best thing we can do to keep our toothbrushes clean is to store them uprightsomewhere they can air dry between uses.
7. Bad Brushing Technique
Even brushing for two full minutes twice a day with the best toothbrush with the perfect bristle firmness won’t do much for your teeth if your technique is off. Remember that you’re brushing to get plaque and food particles out of the gumline, so hold your brush at a 45° angle to the gums and gently sweep the bristles in small circular motions. Do this at least 15 times in each area of the mouth, on the tongue side and outside of the teeth, and don’t forget the chewing surfaces!
Come To Us With Your Tooth Brushing Questions
If you want to learn more about good brushing technique, toothbrush storage, or how to pick the perfect toothbrush for you, just give us a call! We want to make sure that all of our patients have the right tools and knowledge to keep their teeth healthy for life!
We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
“BRUSH YOUR TEETH for two full minutes twice a day and floss your teeth once a day.” You’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve heard that, but how often have you heard that you should be cleaning your tongue every day too?
The Difference A Clean Tongue Makes
More bacteria likes to live on our tongues than just about anywhere else on our bodies. That’s because all those tiny crevices in the tongue’s surface are prime real estate for all kinds of pathogens. If we don’t actively keep our tongues clean, the harmful bacteria will stay put and multiply, causing bad breath and contributing to tooth decay on the inner surfaces of our teeth.
Another reason to regularly get rid of all that tongue bacteria is that it can dramatically improve your sense of taste. When the tongue is covered in bacteria, the tastebuds have a hard time doing their job, but with the bacteria gone, they’re free to absorb all those delicious flavors at their full capacity. Yum!
Chemical digestion begins in our mouths, and a clean tongue makes this process more effective too. So, if you want to enjoy your favorite foods as much as possible, keep your breath clean and fresh, and improve your digestive health, clean your tongue!
Finding The Best Tools For Cleaning Your Tongue
Keeping your tongue clean takes more than swishing mouthwash or rinsing with water. The bacteria hiding in all those tiny grooves is very stubborn, and washing with liquid won’t be enough do dislodge them. To really clear off the biofilm of bacteria, you need to scrape it with a tongue-scraper.
If you don’t find these in the grocery store near the toothbrushes, you can order one online, and some toothbrushes have tongue scrapers built in on the reverse side. Between brushing and rinsing your teeth is the best time to scrape your tongue. Start at the back and work forward, and try to get as much of the surface area as you can.
For the first few days, you might be surprised by how much biofilm comes away with the tongue scraper, but the longer you stick with it, the cleaner your tongue will become, until it seems like you’re scraping away nothing but clean spit. See if you notice the difference in your breath and your sense of taste when you get to this point!
Tongue-Scraping Is Older Than You Think
If you’ve never heard of tongue-scraping before, you might think it’s a new idea, but it’s actually been around since ancient times in some cultures. It’s part of the daily hygiene routine in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Tongue-scraping tools have been made of many different materials across the centuries, including copper, silver, gold, ivory, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. Today, they’re typically plastic or stainless steel.
Have Any Questions About Tongue Cleaning?
If you have questions about tongue cleaning or would like our recommendations on the best tools for the job, just give us a call! We’re always happy to help our patients improve their daily dental hygiene regimens, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED any extra sensitivity in your teeth after a fun afternoon swimming? You aren’t imagining things, though it usually takes more than just one trip to the local pool before there are any effects. But what does swimming have to do with tooth sensitivity?
The Effects Of Chlorine On Tooth Enamel
When you hear the phrase “swimmer’s calculus,” you might think it’s advanced math for mermaids, but it’s actually the name of what gradually happens to tooth enamel with enough exposure to acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Chlorine in pools is great for keeping them sanitary for the public to swim in, but it also changes the acidity of the water.
Prolonged exposure to the diluted hydrochloric acid in pool water can wear away the tooth enamel of avid swimmers, leading to yellow and brown stains on the teeth and increasing tooth sensitivity. A few visits to the pool over the summer wouldn’t be enough to produce this result, but members of swimming or diving teams, water polo players, and anyone who swims laps multiple times a week to work out, could be susceptible.
A Deeper Dive: Scuba Diving And Teeth
Natural bodies of water won’t give you swimmer’s calculus, but they come with their own dental concerns. If you’ve ever dived into the deep end of a pool, you’ve probably felt the pressure building up in your ears on the way down. The deeper you go, the stronger the pressure becomes, and it can even happen in your teeth.
Tooth squeeze (barodontalgia) is when tiny air bubbles that get trapped in crevices, cracks, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure, which can be painful and may even cause a tooth to fracture! This is why it’s a good idea to visit the dentist before you begin diving, especially if you’ve had dental work done in the past.
Diving Mouthpieces And TMJ
A lot of divers agree that the “one size fits all” design of the mouthpieces is more like “one size fits none,” but if you want to breathe underwater, you have to grip it between your teeth for the entire dive anyway. This can be pretty hard on your jaws.
Clenching your jaws for extended periods can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), with symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. If you dive more than once or twice a year, a good solution might be to get your own custom-fitted mouthpiece.
Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!
In addition to these issues, simple tooth injuries are more common around pools than other places. To avoid these kinds of accidents, be careful around those slippery surfaces, don’t come up out of the water too fast at the edge of the pool, and don’t dive in shallow water. If you have any questions about what you can do to protect your teeth at the pool, just give us a call!
We hope that all of our patients are having a wonderful summer!
TOOTH DECAY, ACCIDENTS, and sports-related injuries are a few of the most common causes of tooth loss, but thanks to modern dentistry, we don’t need to live with a gap in our smiles. Among the most effective ways to fill in the gaps are dental implants.
Implants Versus False Teeth
Dentures (whether partial or full) are a time-honored solution for missing teeth, but they aren’t without their drawbacks. If they aren’t fitted well or properly secured, they may slip and fall out frequently, and they can also lead to soreness in the gums and jaw. Unlike real teeth, dentures don’t stimulate the jawbones, which results in gradual bone loss.
Unlike dentures, implants are surgically placed in the jawbone beneath the gums, the metal posts serving as new roots for replacement teeth that look and act just like natural teeth.Dentures may be cheaper than implants, but that’s the only advantage they offer. Implants prevent bone loss and stay in place while you’re speaking or enjoying your favorite foods, and you can brush them just like your regular teeth!
Types Of Implants
Depending on how healthy the patient’s jawbone is, we may recommend either endosteal or subperiosteal implants. Endosteal implants are ideal for patients with healthy jawbone. These consist of titanium posts placed into the jaw with oral surgery. After a healing period, a crown is placed on top in a second surgery.
Patients with insufficient bone to support endosteal implants may still be eligible for subperiosteal implants, which consist of metal frames placed between the jawbone and gum tissue. Posts are added to this framework and protrude from the gumline so that crowns can be attached to them.
Even if you don’t need implants, you might benefit from artificial crowns:
Should Implants Come Before Or After Braces?
Typically, when a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as one or more implants, braces come first. This is because an implant won’t move once it’s in the jaw. Sometimes, an implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment, and then it might be used as an anchor to help the natural teeth move into their proper place.
Talk To Us About Implants
Over three million people in the U.S. alone have at least one dental implant, so you’ll be in excellent company if you choose this option to complete your smile. If you have a missing tooth and need to fill that gap, give us a call to schedule an appointment! We’ll evaluate the health of your jawbone and see what type of implant will be best for you.
WITH THE ARRIVAL OF SUMMER comes the season of family vacations and exciting trips to new places. We’re as excited for it as our patients, but before everyone leaves to explore parts unknown, we want to give you a few tips and reminders about taking care of your teeth while you’re away from home.
Before You Go, See The Dentist
The last thing anyone wants while relaxing on a beach or enjoying the rides at a theme park is for their fun to be interrupted by a toothache or dental emergency. Depending where you go on your vacation, it might be hard to get proper dental treatment. You’ll save yourself a major potential hassle by simply scheduling a dental appointment before you leave!
A simple dental checkup will ensure that your teeth are clean and cavity-free when you start your trip. It’s especially important to get any restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings) checked in case they’re becoming loose, and untreated cavities and weakened dental work can become painful due to the pressure changes on flights.
Don’t Get Too Carried Away With Vacation Food
We can probably all agree that the food is often one of the best parts of any vacation, but that can make it easy to overdo it. Try to avoid eating too many sweet treats and snacks, and maybe keep a pack of sugar free gum handy to help prevent cavities.
Don’t Slack On Brushing And Flossing
When we’re at home, it’s easy to go through daily routines like brushing in the morning and brushing and flossing in the evening. Make sure to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss when you go, and quickly establish these routines in your new location.
One important thing to remember is that bacteria grows fast on a toothbrush that is damp and in an enclosed space, such as in luggage. Give your brush time to dry before you pack it, and store it somewhere it can get plenty of ventilation between uses.
Instead of leaving your toothbrush out on a hotel counter, try a simple solution like this:
Have A Great Vacation!
Following these tips will help you keep your teeth strong and healthy while you’re away from home. That should make it easier to flash a big, bright smile for the camera during your adventures! Have a wonderful time, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Thank you for trusting us with your dental health!
ACCIDENTS ALWAYS SEEM to happen when we least expect them. When those accidents involve tooth damage, it’s important to know what steps to take. Being prepared before a dental emergency occurs can save a damaged or knocked out tooth, prevent infection and decrease the need for extensive treatment.
Step One: Find Your Dental Home
The most important step to being well-prepared for a dental emergency is establishing a dental home. This means finding a dental practice that is right for you and sticking with it. When the worst happens unexpectedly, it can be a great help to have a dentist and practice you trust by your side.
If you have found your dental home, you will likely be more familiar with their hours and know if and when your dentist provides emergency services. With an already established relationship, you know your preferred practice will be able to provide high-quality care, advice and support.
Step Two: Be Prepared
We all know accidents happen. Being “prepared” simply means knowing what to do in certain situations before a mishap actually occurs. In a dental emergency, time is of the essence–it could mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here’s how you should handle these dental emergencies:
When a baby tooth is knocked out…
If this happens to your child, contact their dentist as soon as possible. The tooth will most likely not be replanted because of potential damage to the developing permanent tooth.
When a tooth is fractured or chipped…
Contact your dentist immediately as prompt treatment is required. Rinse out your mouth with water and find any broken tooth fragments. Place the fragments in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dentist.
When a permanent tooth is knocked out…
Again, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention from your dentist. Most knocked-out teeth can be saved if a dentist is seen within 30 minutes to an hour of the accident. In the meantime, find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water (no soap), without scrubbing or cleaning it. Replace the tooth back in the socket, if possible, and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a container with cold milk, saliva or water.
We’re Here For You
If you have a dental emergency, call us immediately. We make it our priority to be here for you, rain or shine!
OUR TEETH ARE pretty amazing, and there’s a lot they can do. They chew our food, they provide structural support for the lower third of our faces, they help us speak clearly, and they give us our beautiful smiles. However, many people also find other uses for their teeth, which can be very dangerous. Teeth are not tools, and shouldn’t be used in place of them.
Teeth Are Not Bottle-Openers
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it might seem like that makes teeth perfect to use when you don’t have a bottle opener handy, right? Wrong. Tooth enamel isn’t just hard, it’s brittle, and it is not designed to win a fight against materials like metal and glass.
Using your teeth as a bottle opener can easily chip, crack, or break them, as well as risking damage to the soft tissues of the lips and gums if you slip. Doing it over and over again can even cause your teeth to shift out of their proper alignment and wear down unevenly. It isn’t worth it.
Teeth Are Not Nutcrackers
Like with trying to open a bottle, trying to crack a hard walnut, pecan, or even pistachio shells and popcorn kernels between your teeth risks chipping or cracking the teeth instead. Teeth that are already weaker due to decay or a filling are at even greater risk of damage.
Teeth Are Not An Extra Hand
When your hands are busy, it can be very convenient to hold a pencil, sewing pins, or maybe a few nails between your teeth. However, making a habit out of doing this can have a number of consequences. If you trip, the items in your mouth could cause a serious injury. If a yawn or hiccup catches you by surprise, you might even end up swallowing or choking on the object. And over time, you can wear down your enamel. Pencils would be better off behind your ear, pins in a cushion, and nails in a utility belt until you’re ready to use them.
Teeth Are Not Scissors (Or Nailclippers)
A particularly common way people use their teeth as tools is to bite through packing tape instead of using scissors, and some people even try to use their teeth to cut through wire. It takes much greater biting pressure to cut through non-food items than it does to chew food, and cutting things requires grinding the teeth together. This wears down the chewing surfaces and risks chipping and fracturing.
A nail-biting habit is particularly bad, both for the teeth and for the nails. The germs from the nails increase the risk of tooth decay, teeth will become worn down more quickly and shift out of alignment, and pieces of fingernail can damage the gum tissue, all while the nails themselves are left ragged and misshapen.
Protect Your Teeth By Using Them Right
Cracked and fractured teeth are the third highest cause of tooth loss. Don’t take risks with your teeth by using them as tools. Save yourself an expensive emergency dental visit; use your teeth only for what they are meant for and continue your daily brushing and flossing routine to keep them healthy.
CHEWING ICE MIGHT SEEM refreshing in the moment, but it’s not doing any favors for your teeth in the long run. Today we’re going to take a look at why ice chewing is such a common habit despite the dangers it poses, as well as what someone with this habit can do to stop.
Compulsive Ice Eating
The scientific name for compulsive ice eating is pagophagia. This goes beyond a simple habit and enters the territory of a mental disorder. Getting cravings for ice can be a sign of an eating disorder called pica, which involves a compulsion to eat things with no nutritional value, such as ice, clay, hair, and dirt. Pica is often the result of a nutritional deficiency.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Studies have shown a correlation between compulsive ice eating and iron deficiency anemia, which is pretty common, with 20 percent of women, 50 percent of pregnant women, and 3 percent of men being iron deficient. Without enough iron in the blood, the red blood cells can’t effectively do their job of carrying oxygen throughout the body.
What does iron have to do with ice? Well, researchers theorize that chewing ice sends more blood to the brain, temporarily improving alertness and clarity of thought. This feels good, and so they keep doing it even when it causes dental problems.
Ice Versus Your Teeth
Our teeth are not designed to crunch against solid ice, and they are particularly not designed to chew through several trays of ice cubes a day. Doing this can destroy tooth enamel over time, not just because ice is hard but because it’s cold. The enamel expands and contracts due to these extreme temperature changes, creating tiny cracks in it and making it much weaker, just like pavement in snowy climates. All of this leaves the teeth painfully sensitive to hot and cold and far more vulnerable to cavities.
The texture of the ice can also cause injuries to gum tissue, which you may not even notice because of the numbing effect of the cold, and sometimes the ice can actually chip or break a tooth!
Breaking The Ice Eating Habit
The first step to kicking the ice eating habit is to find out what’s causing it. If the ice chewing is a symptom of anemia, getting iron supplements may eliminate the cravings, so it will be much easier to stop. If it’s pica, there are interventions to explore such as therapy and medication.
There’s also plenty you can do on your own. You can replace the crunchy texture of ice with baby carrots or apple chunks. If you struggle to give up the ice altogether, try letting slivers of ice melt on your tongue like candy rather than crunching on them. This will spare your teeth and gums from the damage of chewing the ice.
Your Dental And Health Care Professionals Can Help
If ice chewing is something you struggle with, make sure to schedule appointments with your doctor and dentist. Iron deficiency can cause a number of other problems besides triggering ice cravings, and it’s important to get diagnosed and treated before it gets worse, particularly for pregnant women.
IS A SIMPLE SPOONFUL of ice cream enough to make you cringe because of the pain in your teeth? Do you have to be careful when you drink hot coffee that none of it touches your chompers? If you know the feeling, then you’re one of millions who experience tooth sensitivity. Let’s take a closer look at what causes tooth sensitivity and what can we do about it.
How We Feel Sensation In Our Teeth
Each of our teeth is covered in a layer of protective enamel. Underneath this is dentin, which is a lot like bone. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules that run through it from the inside of the tooth out to the enamel. At the core of each tooth is the pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Because of those tubules, the nerves inside the tooth can detect what’s happening on the tooth’s surface.
Common Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity
If the enamel wears away, the tubules become exposed and the nerves in the dental pulp suddenly get much more stimulation than they like. This is what makes enamel erosion one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Without enamel, the nerves get a nasty shock whenever anything too hot or cold, or even too sweet or sour, touches the outside of the tooth.
Root exposure from gum recession also leads to sensitivity. The enamel only covers the crown of the tooth, not the roots. Those are protected by the gums. If the gums recede (sometimes as the result of teeth grinding or improper brushing over time), it exposes the roots.
Cavities and tooth injuries can cause sensitivity as well, even if you’ve been taking great care of your gums and enamel.
Use The Right Tools To Protect Your Teeth
Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to fight back, even if our teeth are already sensitive. Using a soft-bristled brush will help prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. There is also special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks (particularly soda) is another way to help your teeth.
We Can Help You Fight Tooth Sensitivity
Your best ally in the fight against tooth sensitivity is the dentist! Schedule a dental appointment as soon as you notice a change in your sensitivity level, or if you’ve been struggling with it for a while. The dentist can help protect your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform restoration work to combat enamel erosion, and may recommend a gum graft for receding gums or prescribe a toothpaste to help with sensitivity.