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    • 10 FEB 16
    • 0

    Not a Fan of Flossing? Try These Alternatives

    Options to Assist in Cleaning those Tough In-Between Spaces

    When you brush, you’re really only cleaning about 60 percent of your teeth – flossing cleans the rest. It’s true that flossing is the ideal way to clean in between the teeth but, for some people, flossing is difficult and often impossible.

    Portrait of young woman flosses her teeth with dental floss looking at camera

    People with limited dexterity and some types of dental restorations can make it challenging to clean with regular floss. And, for some people, flossing just plain isn’t going to become part of the oral hygiene regimen at home. Unfortunately, studies by Crest, Oral B, and the American Dental Association (ADA) have shown that not even half of the American population admits to flossing every day. The number could be lower in reality. As if bloody gums don’t give you away, a study by the American Academy of Periodontology found that 27 percent of people straight-up lie to their dentists about flossing.

    Here is a list of alternatives, or adjuncts, to flossing.

    Hand Held Flossers – Tired of numb, floss-strangled fingertips, and sticking your hands in your mouth? These Y-shaped pieces of plastic have a piece of floss strung across them that you can easily push between your teeth and pull out stubborn plaque and pieces of food. Essentially this is the same as the traditional way of flossing but allows for easier access and control with the fingers. There are different size handles and some have a small “pick” on the end that people often use to clean around the gum-line.

    Because the floss is strung tightly, it really can’t wrap around the tooth or reach under the gums. Also, you can’t reach the back of the tooth as well as you can with regular floss. However, if it’s between using a floss stick and not flossing at all, the choose the floss stick.

    Interproximal Brushes – For larger spaces, a smaller brush (that looks like a bottle brush) can be used. This can be a very effective way to clean as it mechanically disrupts the bacteria. Some people use brushes that affix to a longer handle and there are smaller “travel size” brushes as well. These can be used with or without paste. The brushes need to be replaced fairly frequently as the metal wire, that the bristles are attached to, starts to become flimsy.

    Soft Picks – A relatively newer product that is much like the interproximal brushes but intended for a one-time use. Again, there are a couple of different sizes available.

    Water Irrigation/Water Picks – Water picks were the rage for a while then seemed to lose their luster. In more recent years, the water pick has made a resurgence and can be an effective tool in helping to prevent and control periodontal disease. Water picks dislodge food particles, reduce plaque, irrigate around the gum-line and newer technology has designed a specialized tip for periodontal pockets which can also be used with antimicrobial solutions for irrigation. Water picks are often recommended for people that have braces as it can aid in cleaning around the metal arch wires and brackets that can easily trap food and plaque.

    Although studies show that water flossing is a better alternative to string flossing, some dental hygienists, who deal with teeth all day long, disagree over how effective water flossing can be.  They say in order to floss properly; the only way is to use string floss. If you do not properly use water flossers, they can cause a negative effect. If not properly used water flossers can push plaque further into your gums, cause irritated gums and excessive bleeding. It is also a bacteria feeding ground if not cleaned properly. Speak with your hygienist and dentist next time you go in for a cleaning to learn their position on water flossing.

    Air Flossers – A powered device that uses compressed air to push a spray of water or mouthwash between the teeth. Studies seem to show that they are on par with flossing for effectiveness. If you are averse to flossing, but you are okay with spending a little cash and using some new technology, this could be your answer.

    Avoid Using Toothpicks

    One other “picking point”: Don’t use a toothpick to clean your teeth. Despite the name, a toothpick is not designed for dental cleaning, and it could break off and become stuck between your teeth

    Ask Your Dentist and Hygienist About Flossing Alternatives

    Proper and traditional flossing is still the best way to prevent gum disease, remove plaque and bacteria. With the above alternatives to flossing your teeth, you will be able to develop a habit much like a tooth brushing habit. A final, slightly radical, idea: Come clean to your dentist and hygienist. Tell her them you hate flossing, and tell them why. They should be able to offer a perfect solution you didn’t know about.

    Sources: OralB.com, Shape.com, HuffingtonPost.com

     

    • 03 FEB 16
    • 0

    Tips for Dental Care as You Age

    Four Things You Can Do to Keep Your Teeth for a Lifetime

    Although good oral health habits should be a part of your young developmental years, consider the age of 40 the foundation of your overall health patterns for the years to come. We all know that as we age, we are susceptible to changes in the overall functioning of our immune system, our bone health and heart health. These facts make it vitally important to be diligent in the care of our teeth and gums.

    Developing a simple daily routine of brushing, flossing and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is important regardless of age.

    Here are four things you can do to retain your teeth as you get older:

    Defend Against Tooth Decay

    Although decay may occur in any area of the tooth, as you age decay is more likely to develop around old fillings or in the softer root of the tooth that is exposed as gums recede.

    Brushing your teeth regularly is important in all stages of life. Brushing helps to remove the thin film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth each day and contributes to tooth decay. You should brush your teeth for two to three minutes with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day. If you can brush your teeth after every meal, that’s even better. Finish by brushing your tongue, which helps remove bacteria from your mouth.

    Guard Against Gum Disease

    Did you know that gum disease – and not the aging process – is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults? In addition, recent research has shown that the health of your gums may have a connection to some chronic diseases. Having periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to and may be a risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease or diabetes. Experts are studying how inflammation in the mouth caused by gum disease may influence other areas of the body (brain, heart and pancreas), causing disease in those areas. Most adults show some signs of gum disease.

    Flossing your teeth can help keep your gums strong and prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Make sure to floss at least once a day, preferably before bed, to clean the places where a toothbrush can’t reach.

    How important is flossing? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, flossing is the only activity that can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline, where decay and gum disease often begin.

    Go Nuts About Nutrition

    What you eat can help you keep your teeth. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums.

    Some foods may actually help defend against tooth decay in special ways. For instance, recent studies have indicated that fresh cranberries interrupt the bonding of oral bacteria before they can form damaging plaque. Other foods that have beneficial effects on oral health include:

    Calcium-fortified juices, milk and other dairy products, which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, help promote healthy teeth and bones, and reduce the risk for tooth loss.

    Cheese, which unleashes a burst of calcium that mixes with plaque and sticks to the teeth, protecting them from the acid that causes decay and helping to rebuild tooth enamel on the spot.

    Crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery, which help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

    Check in to Getting Regular Check-ups

    According to the American Dental Association, people over 40 have three or more decayed or missing teeth as a result of untreated oral health problems.

    Also, as you age you become more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases. Researchers believe that symptoms of these diseases can manifest themselves in the mouth, making dentists key in diagnosing the diseases. In fact, your dentist may be the first health professional to notice a problem.

    In addition, it is important to visit your dentist regularly because some oral problems, for instance root decay, can only be detected in its early stages by x-ray examination.

    Oral Cancer can grow in any part of the mouth or throat. It is more likely to happen in people over age 40. A dental checkup is a good time for your dentist to look for signs of oral cancer. Pain is not usually an early symptom of the disease. Treatment works best before the disease spreads. Even if you have lost all your natural teeth, you should still see your dentist for regular oral cancer exams.

    You can lower your risk of getting oral cancer in a few ways:

    Do not use tobacco products—cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, pipes, or cigars.

    If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.

    Use lip balm with sunscreen.

    Your dentist can diagnose and treat dental health problems before they become serious. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are an important part of maintaining good dental and overall health as you age.

    Sources: Worldental.org, National Institute on Aging, Delta Dental

    • 27 JAN 16
    • 0

    Are You and Your Toothpaste Compatible?

    “Which One is Right for Me?” So Many Options Make Choosing a Brand Tricky

    Visit any drug store today, and you will discover an overwhelmingly wide range of toothpastes available. It is no surprise that you find yourself asking, “Which one do I choose?”

    Perhaps you could decide based on the brand or price, or even on the specific problem the toothpaste aims to correct. Is this the right way to decide or are there other criteria to consider as well?

    The first thing you should know is that there are 7 basic types of toothpaste available. In this blog, we take a look at each type and help you figure out which one might be the best choice for your oral health.

    Whitening Toothpastes

    Whitening toothpastes often promise you drastic results, which in reality may be minimal. They can also be abrasive to your teeth or cause allergic reactions in certain instances. It is also important to note that abrasives do not change the underlying (core) color of your teeth – they simply remove deposits on the outside surfaces.

    The ingredient concentrations and techniques necessary to safely and effectively whiten teeth are only available from your dentist. Store-bought brands aren’t strong enough to be effective and may carry increased side effects. For more predictable whitening results ask your dentist about other forms of treatment.

    Sensitive-Teeth Toothpaste

    These products can be very effective for treating tooth sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and food. For those patients who have experienced gum recession, these products work by providing extra protection on the sensitive, exposed root surfaces of your teeth.  The active ingredient in desensitizing toothpastes (most often 5% potassium nitrate) helps reduce temperature sensitivity in these areas. It will take about four to six weeks of twice daily use before you notice any sensitivity improvement.  They are not effective when used only periodically.

    However, toothpastes like Sensodyne and Crest Sensitivity only mask the symptoms. They don’t actually treat the underlying problem. You should have your sensitivity checked by your dentist first, to be sure it is not the result of a more serious problem.

    Tartar Control Toothpaste

    If your toothpaste has a particular biting flavor, it might contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate, an ingredient that is supposed to keep calcium phosphate salts (tartar, or calculus) from fossilizing on the back of your lower front teeth. A little tartar on your teeth doesn’t harm you unless it gets really thick and you can no longer keep it clean. The most common ingredient used in tartar control products (pyrophosphate) can also cause side effects such as:

    Increased tooth sensitivity – especially in patients with gum recession

    Sores on gums and inner borders of lips

    It is also important to note that these toothpastes only remove tartar above the gum-line and only a professional dental cleaning can remove the most harmful tartar – the tartar that builds up below the gum-line.

    Antibacterial/Anti-Plaque – Gingivitis Control Toothpaste

    Some brands claim to help control mild superficial inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) by reducing levels of bacterial plaque.  Some are marginally effective, while others are not at all.  If you suffer from chronic gingivitis, please ask your dentist which toothpaste product is best suited for you.

    It is important to note that these products will not reverse/treat more severe gum disease (periodontal disease).  This must be managed by your dentist.

    Cavity Fighting (Fluoride) Toothpaste

    Fluoride has been proven effective at reducing caries(cavities) for patients of all ages.  Twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is recommended by the Canadian and American Dental Associations.  Fluoride has also been shown to help re-calcify early caries – in essence “heal” superficial enamel weaknesses.

    Different manufacturers use different formulations of fluoride in their toothpastes.  Studies show that Sodium Fluoride(NaF) is the most effective of the available products.  Fortunately, it is also the most commonly used.

    For adults with high caries rates or reduced salivary flow, products with increased fluoride concentrations are available. Your dentist can help recommend an appropriate product.

    Baking Soda Toothpaste

    With its mild abrasiveness, baking soda was thought to remove stains from teeth.  Recently, however, studies are showing that once mixed with the saliva in your mouth, the abrasive action for baking soda is lost. While not being harmful, baking soda toothpastes appear to not provide any additional benefit to your overall oral health.

    Prescription Toothpastes

    Prescription toothpastes come with higher fluoride content and some also have tricalcium phosphate formulas, which contain phosphate and calcium. These ingredients are great at actually getting to the root of the problem in people with high cavity rates and sensitivity by repairing damaged teeth. They contain minerals found in your saliva naturally, and they incorporate into your teeth and repair damage caused by acid and bacteria.

    The ADA Seal of Approval: If your toothpaste comes with the American Dental Association (ADA) stamp of approval, you’re safe. It means that your toothpaste has been checked for the highest level of safety and performance by an independent board comprised of scientific experts. It goes without saying that all toothpastes that earn the ADA safety seal also contain fluoride, the basic ingredient of all good toothpastes.

    While toothpaste is important, it’s not so much what you use but rather how you use it. Proper brushing technique and habits are every bit as important as the kind of toothpaste you use.

    Sources: American Dental Association (ADA), Worldental.org, Prevention.com

    • 20 JAN 16
    • 0

    Take Our Healthy Nutrition, Healthy Teeth Quiz

    Good nutrition and good oral health are directly linked. Find out your nutrition IQ in our Dental Health Quiz. You’ll find the answers at the bottom of the page below the photo. But no peeking until you answer all the questions!

     

    1. How many servings of vegetables do we need each day? A) 6-11 B) 2-3 C) 3-5 D) 1-2

     

    1. What Vitamin is known as sunshine vitamin? A) Vitamin D B) Vitamin K C) Vitamin C D) Vitamin B12

     

    1. What is fluoride? A) A man-made chemical B) A natural mineral found in drinking water C) A volcanic ash D) Bacteria

     

    1. Which of the following nutrients is needed to build and maintain the structural components of the body? A) Carbohydrates B) Fat C) Fiber D) Protein

     

    1. The dairy group (milk, cheese and yogurt) are important for_____? A) Healthy skin B) Improved vision C) Building strong bones and teeth D) Building muscle

     

    1. Foods from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group are an important source of ________? A) Iron B) Fiber C) Beta Carotene D) Calcium

     

    1. Which of these is NOT considered a nutrient? A) Vitamins B) Minerals C) Fiber D) Fats

     

    1. Which of these is added to the food label because people sometimes don’t eat ENOUGH of this? A) Fat B) Calcium C) Sodium D) Cholesterol

     

    1. Which of these foods/drink have antibacterial qualities that help prevent tooth decay? A) Green Tea B) Coffee C) Broccoli D) Lemons

     

    1. This nutrient is needed for a healthy immune system. A) Fiber B) Vitamin K C) Fluoride D) Vitamin C

     

    1. If you do not get enough iron… A) Your skin will be dry and flaky B) Your eyesight will be poor C) You will feel tired and weak D) You will have soft bones.

     

    Older-couple-smiling

     

     

    Answer Key:

    1) C  2) A  3) B  4) D  5) C  6) A  7) C  8) B  9) A  10) D  11) C  12) C

     

    • 20 JAN 16
    • 0

    Are Hidden Sources of Alcohol Affecting Your Teeth?

    From Medications We Take to Food We Eat, Alcohol is Everywhere

    When consumed in moderation, there are health benefits associated with alcohol. The Mayo Clinic reports that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the odds of developing heart disease including heart attack, may potentially minimize the risks of stroke, lower the chances of getting gallstones and potentially lower the risk of developing diabetes. However, too much liquor can quickly destroy oral health and general wellbeing as individuals who consume too much liquor are at a higher risk for a myriad of dental woes. Excessive alcohol consumption may cause tooth erosion, dry mouth and up the odds of getting throat or mouth cancer.

    Alcohol’s Harmful Effects on Oral Health

    The main threat to your teeth and gums comes from the sugar content in alcohol which, when broken down in your mouth, creates an acidic breeding ground for bacteria and plaque.

    Tooth Erosion

    Unlike tooth decay caused by dental plaque bacteria, tooth erosion is a direct attack by the chemicals found in acidic foods and drinks, including liquor. Dental erosion results from continuously low pH levels in the mouth and alcohol is a major contributor to the imbalance

    Dry Mouth

    Liquor consumption will dehydrate a person making alcohol the worst option for quenching thirst. Courtesy of dehydration, the lack of water can increase the chances of a person developing dry mouth. Dry mouth is generally attributed to a lack of saliva production and saliva (98 percent water, 2 percent other compounds) is a body’s natural defense for washing away harmful dental plaque.

    Mouth Cancer

    The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) has reported that for every hour of every day, someone in this country loses his or her battle with mouth cancer. Alcohol consumption is considered to be one of the biggest causes of the disease. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the production of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Those cells are responsible for 90 percent of all mouth cancer cases and researchers believe that alcohol can irritate the mouth’s mucus lining and create a perfect haven for the cancerous cell growth.

     

    Unexpected Sources of Alcohol We Consume

    There can be ingestible alcohol hiding in our medicine cabinet and kitchen. Let’s explore some of those hidden sources of alcohol.

    Alcohol in Medicine

    Some medicines contain alcohol. The concentration is usually low. But this must be taken into account when too much medicine is taken. Some of the effects seen could be due to the alcohol and not the medicine.

    Over The Counter Medicines: Medicines that come in liquid forms are the ones likely to contain alcohol, and the volume of alcohol can range from as low as 1 percent to as high as 25 percent in night-time cold remedies. While any liquid medicine labeled “elixir” by definition contains alcohol, most are not quite that easy to identify. Besides cough syrups, other liquid medicines used in treating cold, allergy and flu symptoms can contain alcohol, including antihistamines, decongestants, liquid forms of fever reducer and pain reliever, expectorants and the like.

    Widely-Used Cold, Flu and Allergy Medications: These include liquid Theraflu, Tylenol Cold and Flu, Anti-Tuss DM Expectorant, Benedryl, Benedryl Decongestant, Cheracol, Contact Severe Cold, Dimetapp, Dristan Cough, Dristan Ultra, Formula 44 and Formula 44 D, Nyquil, Pertussin, Robitussin AS, Robitussin CF, Robitussin DAC, Robitussin PE, Robitussin DM, Sudafed Cough Syrup, Cotylenol, Novahistine Cough, Novahistine Cough and Cold, Novahistine DM, Novahistine DMX, Triaminic Expectorant, Vicks Cough, Wal-Act and Wal-Phed.

    Alcohol in Food

    While it was once thought that all the alcohol added to dishes burned off in the cooking process, since alcohol evaporates at 172 F, research by the United States Department of Agriculture found that foods do retain alcohol after most cooking processes. Although the amounts are often minute, many prepared foods do contain some alcohol.

    Packaged Food: You would be surprised at the number of packaged and already cooked foods that contain small amounts of alcohol, including many specialty foods found in delicatessen or gourmet shops. Pure vanilla and almond extract, and some brands of Dijon mustard are examples. Marinara sauce with wine, whipped cream and even fruit cake can all pose problems.

    Meats Cooked with Alcohol: Meats prepared with alcohol added at the end of the cooking time retain 85 percent of the alcohol, the USDA reports. Typical examples of dishes made with added alcohol include veal Marsala, made with Marsala wine added in the last few minutes of cooking. Other examples of foods cooked with alcohol include marinated meats and stews. While cooking for a longer time does eliminate more alcohol, foods marinated in alcohol retain 70 percent of the alcohol content. It takes 2.5 hours of simmering to reduce the alcohol content down to 5 percent in stews, according to the USDA.

    Sauces: Many sauces for meats and heavy pasta dishes are made with alcohol. This can include glazes for meats, such as a whiskey-based chicken glaze or port wine reduction sauces that commonly accompany pork, beef or pasta dishes. Meats are often marinated in alcohol-based marinades, because alcohol can help break down the meats and make them more tender. Other popular dishes include chicken or sirloin marsala, chicken piccata and various risottos.

    Cooking Extracts: Most kitchens will have vanilla extract. It might surprise you to know that pure vanilla extract contains 35-45% alcohol. This is almost as much as vodka. Lemon, orange, and mint extracts contain up to 90% alcohol. Desserts such as cookies made with vanilla extract baked for 15 minutes still retain 40 percent of their alcohol content. Pies and cakes cooked for 60 minutes retain 25 percent of their original alcohol content.

     

    Regular Check-ups Guard Against Alcohol Related Issues

    A dentist can detect alcohol-related dental problems and work aggressively to treat the issues. In regards to mouth cancer, a skilled dentist has the ability to pick up the symptoms during the earliest stages.

     

    Sources: Mayo Clinic, University of Maryland, LiveStrong.com

     

    • 12 JAN 16
    • 0

    7 Surprising Foods That Are Staining Your Teeth

    And How to Keep Eating Them While Reducing Their Impact on Your Pearly Whites

    iStock_000055375804_Medium - tomato sauceWine, coffee and tea – it’s the trifecta of tooth-staining foods that almost everyone knows to avoid in order to protect their pearly whites. These beverages, however, are just the beginning of a long list of foods that can sabotage your smile, and chances are that many are flying undetected right under your very nose! From condiments to candy, put these sneaky offenders on your radar to keep tooth discoloration at bay.

    Common Tooth-Staining Foods

    1. Tomato-Based Meals
      The high acidity level of tomatoes coupled with their bright red color can pack quite the punch on the enamel of your teeth. From your mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce or soup, or your favorite brand of ketchup, constant exposure to even the smallest of doses can be damaging.
    2. Curries
      As rich in color as they are in flavor, many spice blends rank high in staining power, due to brightly colored ingredients such as turmeric and saffron. Over time, their pigments can leave a yellowish tint on your teeth.
    3. Dark Sauces
      Whether it’s food infused with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or other dark liquid, you can bet that eating enough of it will also dim your smile. If it’s the base of your meal, there’s a definite risk to the enamel of your teeth, but even side dips can be just as harmful because they are often more concentrated.
    4. Clear Soda
      Dark sodas already get a lot of notoriety for discoloring teeth, but don’t switch to clear soda just yet! While its lighter color can make it seem like the better choice for those who love soda, it’s still high in sugars that can eat away at tooth enamel and leave them prone to staining.
    5. Fruit Juices and Berries
      Fruit is undeniably nutritious, and many juices now come with no sugar added, but fructose is still a form of sugar, and it is bad news for tooth enamel. In fact, the darker color of certain fruits and juices – such as blueberry or grape – can have a staining effect similar to wine.
    6. Sports Drinks
      Because their makers often do a masterful job of promoting rehydration and electrolyte replacement, it’s easy to overlook the sugar content and bright, fluorescent colors. Similar to soda and fruit juice, however, both the pigment and sugary nature of these drinks can leave your teeth less than white in no time.
    7. Hard Candies and Popsicles
      If they can turn your tongue into a rainbow of colors in a matter of seconds, just think of what they can do to your teeth! Even if consumed occasionally, prolonged sucking puts the surface of your teeth in direct contact with sugar, acid and dye – resulting in tooth decay as well as discoloration.

     

    Tips To Prevent Tooth Staining

    Cutting out many of these problem foods can go a long way in keeping your smile sparkling, but it may be unrealistic to avoid certain foods completely. Here’s how you can help protect your teeth from sugary, acidic and/or colorful food:

    Eat thoroughly, but quickly to minimize any contact with the tooth’s surface

    Use a straw to help bypass most of your teeth when drinking beverages

    Drink plenty of water during and after meals to wash away food particles

    Brush and floss your teeth after meals to help prevent stains from setting in

    Use whitening toothpaste to help remove stains and keep teeth sparkling

    Professional Treatment Options

    In addition to practicing good hygiene and being more mindful about your diet choices, professional dental care can do wonders in keeping your smile bright. Seeing your dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup can help prevent and detect tooth staining, and there are many cosmetic whitening procedures that can remedy existing discoloration, whether mild or severe. Schedule a visit with your dentist for the optimal treatment plan for you.

     

    Sources: Women’s Health Magazine, WebMD

     

    • 07 JAN 16
    • 0

    Demystifying Mouthwash: Good for Oral Health or Harmful?

    Four Proven Benefits and Five Myths of Oral Rinse

    Who doesn’t love that minty kick that comes from a swig of mouthwash? Your oral rinse could be doing more than just giving your breath a makeover, according to many mouthwash makers — it could be chockfull of health benefits, too. Just check out the label on your mouthwash container, and you may find that it’s a plaque zapper, a teeth whitener, perhaps even a gum-disease fighter.

    But are the claims true? Is mouthwash really good for your mouth? Turns out, the answer is yes and no.

     

    Close-up Of Person's Hand Pouring Liquid In Container

    Close-up Of Person’s Hand Pouring Liquid In Container

    Four True Mouthwash Benefits

    Mouthwash may:

    Cut Down On Cavities. Rinsing with a fluoride rinse can help reduce cavities and studies have shown the benefits of fluoride in reducing demineralization of the teeth.

    Fight Gum Disease. With periodontal disease (such as gingivitis), gums and tooth sockets can get inflamed or infected because of plaque from bacteria and food that lingers on teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash, like one with alcohol or chlorhexidine, may help prevent periodontal disease.

    Soothe Canker Sores. Mouthwash can ease a canker sore by detoxing the area and reducing the amount of bacteria that can irritate the site.

    Safeguard Your Pregnancy. Periodontal disease is actually a risk factor for giving birth to preterm, low-weight babies. The bacteria from a gum infection can get into a pregnant woman’s bloodstream and increase inflammatory markers, which in turn can stimulate contractions. And a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that moms-to-be who used mouthwash throughout their pregnancy were less likely to go into early labor.

     

    Five Mouthwash Myths

    Mouthwash can help keep your gums and teeth healthy—but only if you use them properly. We’ve got expert tips on boosting the benefits of mouth rinses.

     

    All Mouthwashes Are Made Equal

    Rinsing with a cosmetic mouthwash will loosen bits of food from your teeth, lessen bacteria in your mouth, temporarily reduce bad breath and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. But these products can’t make any greater claim than that.

    Therapeutic rinses contain additional active ingredients such as essential oils, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride and fluoride, which have been proven to reduce plaque or fight cavities.


    Mouthwash is Harmless

    Many mouthwashes contain a high amount of alcohol. This can cause a dry mouth, which ironically is a cause of bad breath, and irritate oral tissues. In some people, the alcohol can cause sensitivity to the root surfaces of the teeth. There have also been studies suggesting a link between alcohol-containing mouthwash and oral cancer, but the research is limited and many experts says there’s not enough evidence to draw this conclusion. It’s an issue that has been discussed since the 1970s with no definitive answers. One stumbling block has been the way the studies have been designed, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). As of now, the ADA has put its Seal of Acceptance on some mouth rinses containing alcohol after it extensively reviewed their effectiveness and safety.

    Alcohol-free mouthwashes are available. But other ingredients can cause side effects, too. Many can stain your teeth or cause a burning sensation. Essential oils may have an uncomfortably sharp taste. Chlorhexidine can temporarily alter your sense of taste, and isn’t recommended for long-term use. Mouthwash is not meant to be ingested, so it may cause problems if accidentally swallowed. It’s not usually recommended for young children.

     

    Mouthwash Cures Bad Breath

    Mouthwash may temporarily curtail bad breath, but it’s not a permanent fix. Some people may be masking the symptoms of an oral health disease or condition. With some conditions such as periodontal (gum) disease, bad breath, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth are indicators that something is wrong. There is no amount of mouthwash that can mask the effects of poor health.

    Also, smelly compounds from your garlicky lunch, for example, are actually coming from your lungs as you exhale, so freshening your mouth won’t help for long. Your saliva can work against you too. Saliva dilutes mouthwash. In some cases, the proteins in saliva can reduce the effectiveness of mouthwash ingredients.

     

    Mouthwash Can Replace Brushing

    Mouthwash can cut back the level of bacteria in your mouth. Regular brushing and flossing will do a much more effective job of removing plaque and debris than mouthwash alone. Research shows that adding a rinse with mouthwash to your oral care routine can in fact improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth and help keep gum inflammation at bay. But mouthwash is usually considered an add-on, not a replacement for brushing and flossing. In special situations, like after oral surgery, your healthcare provider might direct you to use a mouth rinse instead of brushing. This will be temporary, and soon you’ll be back to your usual mouth care.

     

    A Little Swish Is All You Need

    Do you gargle or rinse for a few quick seconds, then spit? Most mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds per use. But despite best intentions, some people say mouthwash is so strong or stings so much that it’s difficult to use for that long. Still, it’s worth sticking it out if you want the best results. Mouthwash should be used as directed by the manufacturer.

     

    The Bottom Line On Your Oral Rinse

    Ultimately, what is right for your best friend may not be the best choice for you, so consider your personal situation. Talk to your dentist on the effects of mouthwash and which one may be best for your mouth.

     

    Sources: EverydayHealth.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Best Health Magazine

    • 30 DEC 15
    • 0

    10 Tips for a Happy Mouth in 2016

    Healthy Resolutions for a Brighter Smile

    Failure to keep New Year’s resolutions is so commonplace these days that it has become an easy punch line for many jokes. Studies have found only eight percent of people actually keep their resolutions annually.

    But resolving to improve your dental health – and actually making good on that resolution – is very accomplishable if you follow these 10 tips. And keeping this resolution will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile in the coming year:

     

    Brush Twice Daily

    The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, but only 49 percent of American men pick up their toothbrushes more than once a day. At 57 percent, American women don’t fare much better. Adding another two-minute brushing session to your day is an easy resolution that requires minimal effort – but delivers mouth-friendly results.

     

    Commit to Flossing

    Though everyone should floss at least once a day to help remove debris and plaque from teeth, only 49 percent of Americans say they do – and 10 percent say they never floss. If you’re part of the half that flosses less than the recommended amount, fix that in 2016. It’s as easy as unspooling 18 inches of floss and adding two minutes to your nightly bedtime routine.

    One way to make it easier to remember is putting a container of floss on top of or directly next to toothpaste. Position the container so that you have to touch it when taking your toothpaste out of the drawer or cabinet. Stash another container of floss in your purse or desk drawer at work, so that you can floss on the go if you forget to do it at home.

     

    Stop Using Your Teeth as Tools

    Your teeth are tools – ones meant for chewing and tearing food, not ripping plastic packages or popping bottle caps open. Using your teeth for tasks like this – or for gnawing on pencils, ice, popcorn kernels or other hard objects – can result in chipped or cracked teeth, possibly even requiring a root canal.

     

    Swap your Gum

    If you’re a regular gum chewer, swap your sugary pack for a sugar-free one. With flavor options ranging from delectable desserts to good old spearmint, there’s no reason not to switch to guilt-free gum. Bonus: Chewing sugar-free gum generates saliva, which helps rinse stray food particles and acid from teeth. Double bonus: Chew gum with xylitol, which is a non-sugar sweetener that reduces plaque.

     

    Trade in Your Toothbrush Every Three Months

    The new year is the perfect time to put that saying “Out with the old, in with the new” into practice. Worn bristles won’t clean your teeth as well, so if you’re not consistently swapping out your toothbrush or toothbrush head about every three months as recommended, take 60 seconds right now to go through your calendar and jot down a note to yourself to check your toothbrush every 90 days or so.

     

    Cut Back on Sugar

    Cutting back on sugar can cut your risk for tooth decay considerably. The most convenient way to cut back on sugar is to reduce the number of sugary treats you buy. Simple swaps will help you cut back as well: Drink sugar-free seltzer water instead of soda, or chew a piece of sugar-free gum when you have a craving for something sweet.

     

    Kick the Habit

    Smoking doubles your risk for gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is linked to a host of other health issues. Pick a date to give up the habit, get rid of all the tobacco products from your home and solicit the support of your friends and family to help you quit. There will be cravings along the way, so it’s important to find a healthy activity to engage in when a craving kicks in.

     

    Flourish with Fluoride

    Drink fluoridated water. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause them. Most bottled water does not contain fluoride where tap water does. For additional cavity prevention, make sure you use fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist can also provide fluoride treatments if you are not getting enough exposure.

     

    Eat a Healthy Diet

    Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

     

    Schedule a Dental Appointment

    If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, you’re not alone. About one third of people in the U.S. don’t see a dentist yearly, according to the ADA Mouth Healthy web site. But booking this appointment is one of the most important things you can do when looking after your teeth. According to the ADA, some conditions – such as sensitivity in the teeth or bleeding gums – are sure signs that it’s time to see a dentist. Even if your teeth look and feel fine, enter a reminder in your phone or calendar for January 1 so that you can call your dentist on January 2 for an appointment.

     

    Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate

     

    • 23 DEC 15
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    Dentists are Disease Detectives

    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 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 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 — 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.

    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

    • 16 DEC 15
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    Holiday Oral Health Tips for Kids

    Child-Friendly Pointers On Opening Presents, Eating Sweets and Holiday Travel

    It’s not easy keeping kid’s mouth healthy during the holidays. Chances are good that visions of cookies, desserts and candy canes may be dancing in your children’s heads this holiday season. There are ways to keep your kids’ teeth and gums in shape and to minimize damage to their dental health.

     

    Teeth Are Not Tools for Tots

     Don’t let your kids crack nuts with their teeth: Although protein found in nuts helps keep muscles and bones strong, they shouldn’t test the strength of their teeth by shelling nuts. The hard surface of most nutshells can cause serious tooth and gum damage, and may even crack teeth. Your safest bet? Get a cool holiday nutcracker (they’re everywhere) and make shelling nuts fun for kids.

    Use proper tools to open your child’s packages and bottles: We know kids get excited to rip into that gift from great-aunt Martha, but their teeth are not the right tools for the task. Gripping a package or stubborn bottle cap with teeth can crack them, possibly requiring a root canal and a crown. Help children by getting the wrapping off stubborn packages started for them and then let them tear away. Make sure you’re the one reaching for a scissors or bottle opener and not the kids.

     

    Five Unhealthy Holiday Treats Kids Eat

    Cookies, candy and sweet holiday beverages all have at least one main ingredient in common: sugar. You don’t need to cut your kids off from holiday goodies completely, but take a conservative approach to these sweets in particular.

    Candy Canes:The problem with eating candy canes is the prolonged period of time that they linger in your mouth. Not to mention, the temptation to chomp on them, which can lead to cracks or chips in your teeth.

    Christmas Cookies:It’s tempting to overindulge when there’s an abundance of baked goods. Cookies are laden with sugar and can do significant damage to your pearly whites. We know that skipping cookies entirely may be impossible. Just enjoy them in moderation.

    Holiday Drinks: Eggnog, hot apple cider and hot chocolate are festive beverages that offer more than warm, holiday cheer. Eggnog boasts over 20 grams of sugar per cup, while hot cider can pack over 65 grams of sugar when dressed up with caramel sauce and whip cream. Stick to one small serving of your kid’s favorite drink.

    Caramels:Chewy, sticky treats, such as grandma’s famous homemade caramels are particularly damaging, because they are high in sugar and spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth. The same attributes apply to all of those sparkly gumdrops on your gingerbread house.

    Fruitcake:Even though it’s the butt of many holiday jokes, some people actually eat the fruitcake that gets passed around at holiday parties. Oral health reasons to avoid it include the sugary cake base and the chewy, candied fruit throughout.

     

    Counter Sugary Effects

    Sugarless gum: Sugarless gum (especially with xylitol) is great way to keep your kids’ mouths busy while boosting saliva production, which will help wash away sugar. After treat time give your kids a stick for a healthy tooth wash.

    Limit sugar time: Have special treat times during the day to limit the intake of sweets and so the holidays don’t become a sugar fest. You may also want to do as the French do and make cheese a part of dessert. Cheeses, such as mozzarella sticks, are not only kid friendly, they are also known to neutralize acid in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association.

    Drink water and rinse to refresh: When you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with tap water to wash away food particles and bacteria.

     

    Holiday Travel

    Make a kid-friendly dental travel kit: Nearly everything comes in a travel size and we’ve found that the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home.  Don’t forget to pack travel-sized mouthwash, floss and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. Your kids will love their own dental kit.  Help them to pick out a special brush and mini-toothpaste just for their time away.

    Schedule a visit to the dentist before you leave: Last but not least, your child probably has time off from school around the holidays. This is a great time to schedule a cleaning and checkup with your children’s dentist. As always, you can ask your dentist for additional tips on how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy during the holidays.

     

    Keep Your Routine

    Wherever you travel and whatever you decide to let your kids eat, don’t forget their regular dental habits.  It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of family fun, but forgetting their routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on. The holidays present a special opportunity to make dental health fun. Perhaps you can buy your children a toothbrush in holiday colors or a toothbrush that is decorated with their favorite cartoon character just for the season to make it special. Colored floss is also fun!

     

     

    Sources: KidsHealthyTeeth.com, Delta Dental, DentalPatientNews.com

     

     

    • 10 DEC 15
    • 0

    Six Smile-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

    ‘Tis the Season for Mouth Healthy Gifts!

    Stockings are the perfect opportunity to sneak in that practical gift for a child or teenager and even impress your partner or friend with something thoughtful that lasts long after the Christmas tree comes down. Besides, what better way to feel great about stuffing candy canes and chocolate into a stocking than to pair them with something healthy for your teeth?

    Include some of these items to see their faces – and smiles! – light up on Christmas morning:

    Xylitol-infused Chewing Gum: Sure, everyone loves some good peanut brittle around the holidays. But there is a sweet treat that can also improve children’s oral health. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal stimulates saliva to buffer the acid and helps dislodge food particles from the mouth. Gum containing the natural sweetener, Xylitol, is a particularly good option since studies have shown that consistent exposure to Xylitol can help prevent tooth decay.

    Flavored Toothpaste: Children can tire of brushing with mint or bubblegum-flavored toothpastes. Fortunately, those aren’t the only toothpaste options on the market. Uniquely-flavored toothpaste varieties like bacon, chocolate, cupcake, ice cream, pork – even pickle – can provide a change of pace and get kids excited again about the prospect of brushing their teeth. Always make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride to fight tooth decay.

    Flavored Floss and Mouthwash: No oral hygiene routine is complete without flossing after brushing. At least toothpaste usually tastes like mint or bubblegum. Floss is normally pretty plain, but it doesn’t have to be. Like toothpaste, there are many flavors to choose from like banana and cinnamon-flavored options for kids to enjoy. Though sometimes forgotten, both floss and mouthwash provide important services to improve oral health. Since brushing doesn’t get all the food particles, plaque and germs, oral care should be a three-step process.

    If your family doesn’t love flossing or mouthwash, try swapping out products for easier-to-use items instead: floss picks instead of regular string floss, or sweeter-tasting mouthwash if your kids hate mint. That way, their stocking stuffers get your kids excited about oral health.

    Toothbrush: The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests getting a new toothbrush every three or four months, but that’s not always the case if you leave it up to your kids. By popping a new toothbrush into their stockings, you’ve got the perfect way to reset the toothbrush timer, so you can remember when it’s time for a replacement come March or April.

    Focus on getting the right toothbrush for the right family member for the best results: Soft bristles for your toddler, favorite characters for school-aged kids and fun designs for picky teens should do the trick. There are even “smart” toothbrushes that light up or play tunes to let kids know how long they need to brush.

    Colgate Wisps have been on the market for a while now, but they can still be a great surprise to see in a Christmas stocking. Think of these as tiny disposable toothbrushes that you can bring to work, school, or even a night on the town. You may very well end up picking out a pack for yourself too!

    Fun Toothbrush Holder: Another way to get children brushing is by stuffing the stocking with fun oral health gifts like robot, tree or animal-shaped toothbrush holders that stick to walls. Kids like the characters and the holder provides a valuable and sanitary storage spot for their toothbrushes and toothpaste. There, the kids can place their toothbrush with a princess, race car or superhero-shaped handle.

    Sports Mouthguard: A recent study of America’s children’s oral health by Delta Dental found that 70 percent of kids do not wear a mouthguard during soccer, basketball or baseball/softball practices or games. Mouthguards should be worn during practices and games by kids playing contact sports to reduce the risk of injury to the mouth, teeth and gums. The quality of the mouthguard should be the primary concern, but there are plenty of fun colors and designs available to coordinate with a favorite team or uniform of any color.

    Sure, the holidays are all about family, food and festivities – but don’t make the mistake of letting your family ignore their oral health at Christmastime. By gifting them with dental-conscious stocking stuffers, you can ensure a new year of healthy smiles to come.

    Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate

     

    • 08 DEC 15
    • 0

    Chew On This

    Good Nutrition = Good Oral Health

    Research shows that healthy teeth and good oral health are directly linked to what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Take this nutrition quiz and see how many you can get correct – and more importantly, how many you have integrated into your daily life.

    milk

    1.How many servings of vegetables do we need each day?

    A) 6-11 B) 2-3 C) 3-5 D) 1-2

     

    2. What Vitamin is known as sunshine vitamin?

    A) Vitamin D B) Vitamin K C) Vitamin C D) Vitamin B12

     

    3. What is fluoride?

    A) A man-made chemical B) A natural mineral found in drinking water C) A volcanic ash D) Bacteria

     

    4. Which of the following nutrients is needed to build and maintain the structural components of the body?

    A) Carbohydrates B) Fat C) Fiber D) Protein

     

    5. The dairy group (milk, cheese and yogurt) are important for_____?

    A) Healthy skin B) Improved vision C) Building strong bones and teeth D) Building muscle

     

    6. Foods from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group are an important source of ________?

    A) Iron B) Fiber C) Beta Carotene D) Calcium

     

    7. Which of these is NOT considered a nutrient?

    A) Vitamins B) Minerals C) Fiber D) Fats

     

    8. Which of these is added to the food label because people sometimes don’t eat ENOUGH of this?

    A) Fat B) Calcium C) Sodium D) Cholesterol

     

    9. Which of these foods or drink have antibacterial qualities that help prevent tooth decay?

    A) Green Tea B) Coffee C) Broccoli D) Lemons

     

    10. This nutrient is needed for a healthy immune system.

    A) Fiber B) Vitamin K C) Fluoride D) Vitamin C

     

    11. If you do not get enough iron…

    A) Your skin will be dry and flaky B) Your eyesight will be poor C) You will feel tired and weak D) You will have soft bones

     

    12. Eating too many sugary foods may cause. . .

    A) Diabetes B) Hypertension C) Tooth decay D) Hair Loss

    See below for answer key.

     

     

     

     

    Answer Key:

    1) C  2) A  3) B  4) D  5) C  6) A  7) C  8) B  9) A  10) D  11) C  12) C