September Is National Gum Care Month. Do You Know How To Protect Your Gums for a Healthier Smile?

September is National Gum Care Month, and it is a big deal for your oral health. Good oral health is the foundation to a healthy-looking, self-confident appearance when it comes to your smile. By ensuring healthy teeth and gums – because when it comes to tooth loss, it is not just from tooth decay and cavities – periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults! It is why your daily oral hygiene care (combined with regular dental checkups) is crucial to getting the healthy, beautiful smile you want and deserve.

Progressive Disease

As National Gum Care Month gets into full swing this month, we want to encourage you to get your biannual checkup and cleaning. If you have not already, book an appointment today. We can spot and stop gum disease in its tracks.

Gingivitis

Gum disease starts as gingivitis as bacterial infection sets into your gums. It happens if you don’t brush and floss that harmful oral bacteria away, so it builds up into plaque, a sticky bacterial film you can feel when running your tongue across your teeth. If left unchecked, gingivitis continues to thrive until it forms deep gum pockets where it deteriorates gum tissue from inflammation, bleeding, and pain. When gingivitis is found, treatment can be done, and your gums can heal. You might have gum disease if you see the following:

  • Red, bleeding gums
  • Gum pain
  • Sour taste in your mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal

Periodontitis

If your gum is aggressive, your gum tissue recession steadily worsens. It can also happen in young people because of vitamin deficiency (rather than just bacterial infection). Any advancing gum disease needs treatment as early as possible to avoid losing your teeth to periodontitis. And it is not just because unhealthy teeth and gums make you look older or because replacing teeth is costly; it is because it affects your smile and your body! Gum inflammation travels through your bloodstream to cause additional inflammatory conditions in your body, including heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune issues.

So what can you do to ensure healthy gums?

Address oral bacteria build-up

Daily brushing, flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash help minimize germs. Otherwise, they collect and harden from plaque into tartar or calculus. Do not neglect to brush or scrape your tongue every day because it is a large surface that can hold onto bacteria. Your routine dental checkups and cleanings help get rid of tartar and calculus using special instruments. We can even recommend some devices you can use to remove oral bacteria from your teeth and tongue.

Build up your body’s immune system

Help your body resist infection so it can’t strengthen and spread. You will need vitamin C to lower inflammation (which can cause red, bleeding gums). Eat fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens. You can get Vitamin B12 from milk, eggs, and meat, as well as B12 from fortified bread, pasta, and cereals. Omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed oil and fish are great sources) also fight inflammation and boost gum health. If your diet is restricted, you can also take supplements for vitamin C, B12, and Omega 3.

Seeking Help

If you have noticed that your gums are bleeding and regular, gentle flossing around the gum line and between teeth is not helping, you may need treatment. Depending on the stage of gum disease you are fighting, you may need to visit a dentist, periodontist, or endodontist to stop the bleeding and make sure your gums are not receding or leading to bone loss and tooth loss.

This year, do not let gum disease cause tooth loss in your smile. You can achieve healthy teeth and gums. Our experienced team is here to help ensure your smile and overall health are as healthy as possible!

Start the New Year off With a Bang by Creating a Healthier, More Beautiful Smile!

Whenever we begin a new year, we often feel like making resolutions for better habits and better health. Along with better general health, striving for better oral health can make a huge difference in our happiness. That is because the smile and the body are intricately linked, and a healthier smile makes for a more attractive and confident smile. In fact, with proper care, a new year can bring a new smile. Here are some changes you can make to create your best smile for a healthier, happier 2021!

Brush at Least Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth removes harmful oral plaque, protecting your smile against gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing removes oral debris from the front, top and back surfaces of your teeth. It is essential to brush your teeth at least twice a day every day for two minutes each time. Skipping out on daily brushing can quickly harm your teeth as dental plaque wears down the tooth enamel needed to keep your teeth healthy, strong and cavity-free.

Floss Teeth at Least Once Daily

Brushing by itself can’t remove plaque and food particles between your teeth, especially where two teeth touch. Plaque also collects and builds up around the gum line. It doesn’t matter when you floss, morning, or evening, just as long as it is within a 24-hour period. It takes 24 hours for oral plaque to build up around your teeth, and you need to clean those areas where your toothbrush isn’t designed to clean so harmful bacterial buildup can’t harm your smile.

A good choice for flossing is using an interdental brush that fits between the teeth or a water flosser that can easily rinse those areas where your toothbrush can’t. People who floss have healthier gums, which are vital for supporting your teeth. Without flossing, oral bacteria can quickly lead to inflamed gums, bad breath, and gum disease.

Eat and Drink Healthier

A healthier diet is often on the menu during the New Year, and a smile-healthy diet is similar to a healthier diet. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks benefits your teeth, gums, and waistline. Sugar feeds the bad oral bacteria that lead to cavities, not just empty calories. Consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants benefits your body, teeth, and gums. Drinking more water hydrates your mouth and your body, boosting saliva production, and washing away oral debris, and preventing dry mouth.

Give Up Smoking

Smoking is bad for your body and your smile! Smoking promotes bad breath, stains teeth, leads to cavities, gum recession, gum disease, and tooth loss, not to mention oral cancers. The new year is a wonderful time for a fresh start and a healthier body and smile! You might also enlist the help of a cessation support program if needed. Your body, lungs and smile will thank you!

Visit the Dentist

For a better smile, you need to supplement your daily at-home dental care with biannual dental checkups. In addition to removing hardened plaque from your teeth and around the gumline, our dental team will check for any dental issues you might be experiencing before it grows into something bigger. Starting 2021 with a clean bill of dental health can boost your smile and your wellbeing, setting the tone for a healthier year.

Not only can dental checkups protect teeth and gums, but this is also a time to get needed dental work done. Whether you want to brighten your smile with professional whitening treatments or replace missing teeth, a dental checkup is a great way to start making improvements.

Missing teeth can affect the appearance of your face and cheeks, inflame the gum pockets that are used to hold teeth and leave you feeling self-conscious of your smile. Feeling good about your smile is as important as feeling good about your body, and our smile-friendly habits can help you accomplish both!

Call Today!

Our dental team is excited to help you reach your smile goals and invite you to give us a call today to schedule your next dental visit. We are excited to help you create the healthy, beautiful smile you have always wanted. Call today!

Don’t Let a Preventable Dental Emergency Sideline Your Oral Health

Winter is almost here, and sports activities can find a way to bring a dental emergency into your life during the busy holiday season. Whether you are skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, swimming, or surfing, accidents can happen. It can mean running into a tree while sledding, falling on your face at an ice skating rink, or knocking a tooth out on your surfboard. Your mouth can sustain a dental emergency all year round!

Protecting Your Smile

Whether you are out having fun hitting the snow-covered hills, playing hockey with friends, or even celebrating the season with friends, you usually are not thinking about how you can prevent a dental emergency. It’s what you can do beforehand that will really count! Protecting your smile is as easy as wearing the right gear for your recreational activity, whether that’s a mouth guard, face cage, or helmet.

So, what happens when the unthinkable happens? Seeking help right away can help stop your oral pain and lower the risk of having permanent oral damage. During business hours, calling our office is simple, but what if you have an accident on a holiday, weekend, or in the middle of the night that can’t wait? It might require getting help from an emergency room visit. But first, let’s look at what constitutes a dental emergency.

What Is a Dental Emergency?

Some emergencies can wait until the next morning, but others could result in a lost adult tooth if treatment is not sought out immediately. Ask yourself the following to make that assessment:

  • Do you have severe pain along with bleeding?
  • Do you have a partially dislodged or knocked-out adult tooth?
  • Do you have a loose permanent tooth (but no pain)?
  • Do you have an oral abscess or infection combined with swelling in the mouth or face?
  • Do you have a severely bitten tongue or lip?
  • Do you have a cracked or broken tooth?
  • Have you lost a dental crown or filling?
  • Do you have an object stuck between your teeth that shouldn’t be?
  • Have you broken your jaw from trauma/injury?

Please call us right away if you have any of those conditions, and if you can’t reach us for emergency dental care, visiting the ER is your next best option.

What Is Not a Dental Emergency?

The easiest question you can ask yourself here is, “Can you wait to see your dentist in the next day or so?” It means that a chipped tooth that isn’t causing you pain can be delayed, but a chipped or cracked tooth that hurts or has sharp bits that hurt cannot wait. Sometimes, even a painful toothache can safely wait if it is not accompanied by an abscess or facial swelling, bumps on your gum tissue, or a rising fever. Losing a filling or crown can typically wait several days if necessary.

Dental emergencies benefit from remembering to stay calm. Knowing what to do beforehand can help facilitate that needed self-control, especially when pain is combined with stress, making it harder to think clearly. When should you visit an emergency room if you can’t reach our dentist?

Visiting Your Nearest Emergency Room

  • You’ve sustained an injury to your head or eye
  • You’ve suffered a concussion and are experiencing confusion
  • You’ve broken a bone or dislocated a joint in your jaw
  • You have a cut or facial laceration likely to require multiple stitches

When it comes to your oral health, remember to never ignore dental injuries, illnesses, or conditions. Sometimes a problem can wait until you see your dentist, but many times, early intervention is necessary. When in doubt, call our office to make sure! And if you can’t reach us after hours, please seek help at your local ER.

In between dental visits, stay on top of your oral hygiene habits to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong throughout the year. And if you are participating in recreational activities this winter, wear a mouth guard and helmet as needed. Speak to our team about what you can do today to prevent a dental accident. Your smile deserves your best care!

Are You Thankful for Dental Care That Makes Your Smile Look and Feel Its Best?

Autumn is in full swing, and that means the cold weather is fast approaching (if it isn’t already here)! You may be tempted to hunker down with holiday goodies and snacks, but you do not want to ignore your health or even your dental health. Even if you are busy during this season, you might be overindulging in sweet and starchy treats for the next couple of months. It can spell disaster for your teeth and gums if you are not brushing and flossing daily. Besides, who wants to start the new year with cavities or gingivitis?

Now is the perfect time to feel gratitude for your teeth and gums because they work hard for us every single day. Your mouth helps you speak, chew and smile with confidence. While seasonal treats can be enjoyed, it will help if you stay on top of your daily oral hygiene routine. But that is not the only reason your smile is your ally!

Improved General Health

Healthy teeth allow you to get the nutrition your body needs. You can do this by eating fresh, crisp produce, grains, and protein that your body needs. Poor oral health, especially periodontal disease, can also lead to general health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Clear Speech

When teeth are missing – whether from poor oral hygiene or injury – your teeth help you to speak clearly so you can converse with others each day. Unless replaced, missing teeth can harm your smile, affecting your speech and the alignment of your jaw.

Strong Self Esteem

A healthy smile is a beautiful smile, and when you can smile with confidence, the world seems brighter. Conversely, damaged or unsightly teeth can make you feel self-conscious and reluctant to smile. It can affect relationships with loved ones, friends, coworkers and other public interactions.

Better Breath

Healthy teeth and good breath allow you to smile, speak, kiss, and eat with ease and joy. Poor dental hygiene allows bacterial plaque to collect around teeth and under the gum line, leaving your mouth with tooth decay and bad breath. During the holiday season, take the time to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once daily, and, if needed, follow up with an antibacterial mouthwash to keep your mouth sparkling and clean.

Save Money

When teeth deteriorate, they can be expensive to treat. It starts with fillings, but neglect can lead to decay and extraction, requiring a root canal or dental restoration. Since your dental insurance encourages and pays for your routine dental cleanings, be sure to take advantage of the benefits before they run out and resets in January.

Don’t Skip Routine Dental Cleaning

At the minimum, dental cleanings should happen twice a year unless you have a problem such as gum disease. While brushing and flossing protect your smile every day, they can’t quite remove hardened plaque or tartar. Using a dental instrument, your hygienist removes tartar and polishes your teeth. Another thing your dental team does is take X-rays to spot potential problems while they are still small. It allows them to be treated and fixed while still being economical and less invasive to repair. Preventative care is key to a healthy smile!

When you do need a dentist to address problems with your smile, you can count on us to provide you with everything from cosmetic dentistry to fix stained teeth and remove excess gum tissue. Preventative care may also include dental sealants, mouth guards for sports or night guards for bruxism. With restorative dentistry, we can replace one or more teeth with fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, or implants.

Top-Notch Dental Care

Be sure to use your dental insurance benefits for 2020 before it resets at the beginning of the new year. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it! This season, express your gratitude for your smile and how hard it works for you (and for your dentist!). Together, we can make a great team and make sure your smile is healthy and beautiful all year round. Now that’s something to smile about!

Healthy Dental Tips For the Spooky Season!

Our amazing team at Real Life Dental loves welcoming patients of all ages to our office! We are dedicated to taking care of you and your family and work hard to provide that quality treatments that you need. We engage with each other and with you to meet your oral health needs and help you achieve a beautiful smile. Please call us at 540-552-5433 to make your appointment with our dentists and learn more about dental care in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia.

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National Gum Care Month Is a Good Reminder for You To Prevent Gum Disease

September is National Gum Care Month, so let’s talk about everything related to gums. This month is a good time to reflect on your dental health and commit to taking better care of your gums. Sometimes, we forget your gums help keep your teeth in their place and functioning at top capacity. When your gums are damaged, you risk losing your teeth!

Protecting your gums is simple; brushing and flossing every day is part of a personal dental hygiene practice as well as keeping routine dental cleanings. This way, tartar can be removed and your teeth polished. Your gums can also be checked for signs of trouble and to treat problems early. Stick to a balanced diet to give your gums the nutrients they need to fight disease.

The Problem With Gum Disease

Treating gum disease is most effective when done in the early stage of gum disease because treatment can reverse the progress of gum disease. Once your gums are fighting serious infection, it’s harder to treat and progressively worsens. Like most things medically related, preventative care supports your oral and general health most effectively. When teeth are lost (other than teeth that are pulled for a purpose like wisdom teeth or tooth extraction procedures), the cause is often progressive gum disease. Gum disease is a common problem in our country, affecting around 67 million Americans.

Two Types of Gum Disease

Gum disease is broken down into two types. The mild version is the early stage, called gingivitis. Over time it progresses into periodontitis, a more dangerous phase. Both are caused by bacterial toxins leading to infection. In the gingivitis stage, you’ll see your gums as red, swollen, painful, and bleeding. In the later stage, you’ll see infection from inflammation in the gums, ligaments, and bone surrounding the teeth loosening teeth that either fall out or need to be removed from bone loss.

Gingivitis

We urge you to tell your dentist right away if you notice that your gums are bleeding, find sores in your mouth, have gum pain or find yourself with an unpleasant taste in your mouth along with bad breath. Having your gums checked and treated right away will help them stay healthier, longer, and with minimal damage.

Periodontitis

Advancing periodontitis involves rapid gum recession. This version often appears with young people having a growth spurt. They may be deficient in vitamins that protect the gums, rather than being overrun by bad oral bacteria. Once gum disease advances because of periodontitis, you may see spurts of infection mingled with improvement as you receive treatment. But gum disease affects the rest of your health, not just your mouth. As a systemic disease, gum disease will spread through your bloodstream to other organs in the body, resulting in inflammation related to diabetes, heart disease and even autoimmune issues.

Preventing Gum Disease

Avoiding gum disease means stopping bacterial plaque in the mouth that leaves a sticky film coating your teeth that you can feel when you run your tongue across them. Brushing twice a day for two minutes each session – followed by flossing – removes harmful bacteria to keep it from building up and hardening into tartar. Some tartar buildup is inevitable around the gum line, and this is one of the main reasons you see your dentist for a professional cleaning every six months. As gingivitis progresses and the gums start to recede from the teeth, bacterial plaque hardens into tartar inside the pockets around the teeth. Without intervention, the bone and ligaments keeping your teeth in position continue to deteriorate until they loosen.

Keep your gums pink and healthy by using a soft-bristled toothbrush (replacing when the bristles start to fray) and enamel strengthening toothpaste. Don’t forget to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash. Fend off dry mouth by staying hydrated throughout your day and chewing sugar-free gum or lozenges. Be sure to control diabetes if you have it, and quit tobacco use. Limit the sugar in your diet, and incorporate more nutrient-dense and vitamin-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and calcium.

Treating Gum Disease

National Gum Care Month is a great time to see your dentist if you have any concerns about your gums. Once gum disease is a problem for you, you may also need to see a periodontist, endodontist or oral surgeon who can help reverse gum disease. Your smile deserves the best care, so contact our team today!

Recognize National Fresh Breath Day With Fresh Breath!

The mouth is home to millions of bacteria, some of them good and some bad. In fact, half of the bacteria in your mouth can lead to bad breath! National Fresh Breath Day is observed every year on August 6th to create awareness of oral hygiene in the fight against bad breath. It is a daily battle, and how you handle it makes all the difference in the world of healthy smiles.

How Halitosis Thrives

Halitosis, or bad breath, has quite a few causes, and it’s not those garlicky, oniony foods you like so much. Eating pungent food, dry mouth, gum disease and tobacco use are frequent contributors to why your breath is less than stellar. Halitosis also shows up if you have underlying medical conditions and as a medication side effect.

Thankfully, daily brushing and flossing lessen the bacterial activity in the mouth, so your breath smells better. Cleaning your mouth is especially helpful when wearing braces because they can harbor food particles and oral residue. If you’re out and about and can’t clean your mouth after eating, you can also chew sugarless gum or sugar-free mints. These boost your mouth’s natural bacteria-fighting resource, saliva, which helps rinse away bacteria and bits of food particles. So, what can you do to keep your breath fresh?

How to Keep Your Breath Fresh

  • Brush twice a day and floss daily to get rid of bacterial plaque. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
  • Upgrade your toothpaste to one that fights oral bacteria on your tongue, cheeks and gums.
  • Keep routine dental cleanings and checkups to remove bacteria buildup under the gum line and tartar that can’t be removed with a toothbrush and dental floss alone.
  • Clean your dental appliances daily; this includes cleaning dentures, retainers and mouth guards daily to remove plaque.
  • Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to kill bad bacteria.
  • Since sugar causes bad breath, only chew sugar-free gum, and limit your intake of sweetened drinks like soda.
  • Tuck some breath mints into your pocket or bag when you are on the go.
  • Prevent dry mouth and wash out the mouth by drinking lots of water throughout your day.
  • Snack on raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, or carrots that scrape away bad breath causing bacteria.
  • Give up smoking!
  • Take a vitamin C supplement since a deficiency can lead to bad breath.

If you are struggling with bad breath, add a tongue scraper to your daily brushing and flossing routine to remove bacterial plaque. If you wake up in the morning and see a coating on your tongue when looking into the mirror, scraping it off can do wonders for your breath.

Drinking plenty of water throughout your busy day isn’t just good for your body and waistline. Staying hydrated promotes saliva production! Saliva is your mouth’s natural line of defense against oral bacteria leading to halitosis. Conversely, alcohol dries out the mouth, so limiting your consumption is a good idea.

Fun fact: Eating parsley with your meal has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help your breath smell cleaner. Basil, mint, or cilantro also neutralize odors with their chlorophyll. Eat more plain yogurt since it fights oral bacteria, and chew sugar-free gum with Xylitol to keep your saliva flowing.

Observing #NationalFreshBreathDay

Take this month to check in on your breath to see if it’s as fresh as it can be. If you find that you have chronic bad breath, it may be time to schedule a visit with our dental team to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition like gum disease. Treating the causes of bad breath will help your mouth stay healthier, fresher and more appealing!

Dental Implants Are a Solution to Replacing Lost Teeth

When it comes to your smile, taking care of your teeth is an investment in your oral health that pays many dividends. With tooth loss, missing teeth can affect you in multiple ways. Even losing just one tooth can cause problems. Some of that is emotional, as people often feel self-conscious and embarrassed to smile if a prominent tooth is missing, but losing a tooth can also impact your oral health. There are a variety of reasons that a tooth may be lost.

What Causes Tooth Loss?

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Dental injury
  • Family history/genetics
  • Poor diet
  • Lax oral hygiene

Replacing a missing tooth early on is important, and it’s not just about how you look. It also impacts your mouth, jaw and body as they work together to keep you functioning. Anyone can lose teeth, not just the elderly. It often happens gradually, starting when you are younger and worsening over time if left untreated or there are no changes made.

What Happens When a Tooth Is Lost?

Each tooth is a placeholder and exists for a reason. When you lose one tooth, the rest of your teeth must work harder, placing stress on them and wearing them out sooner. As the remaining teeth shift to fill the tooth gap, it can make cleaning between them much more difficult because you can’t get in to remove harmful plaque and developing tartar. The extra space left behind from the missing tooth tends to harbor bacteria that can spread to nearby teeth. Proper brushing and flossing are essential to prevent gum disease that could lead to more tooth loss.

If a tooth is lost, you may find yourself experiencing the following:

  • An altered bite alignment as the upper and lower jaws don’t meet correctly, causing problems with your jaw joint and tooth sensitivity.
  • The jawbone deteriorates when the tooth root structure is gone, leaving your facial profile sunken and misshapen.
  • Losing teeth can impact your diet, making it difficult to eat healthy foods when it hurts to chew and cause problems digesting your food if you’re unable to break down the foods more with your mouth.
  • Pronunciation is affected, leading to slurred words, lisping, or spitting when talking.
  • You can have lower confidence because of problems such as incorrect speech, chewing and appearance.

Why Choose Dental Implants?

If you have lost one or more teeth, it is important to replace them for your dental and general health. Common tooth replacement options include a fixed dental bridge, removable partial dentures and dental implants. Thanks to advances in dentistry, dental implants are considered the gold standard for tooth replacement. In particular, implants are rooted in the jaw, preserving jaw bone health by replacing the lost tooth root.

Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces and integrates the tooth root. While dental bridges and dentures can give you a beautiful smile, your jawbone will keep deteriorating and will require adjustment or replacement in the years ahead. It is where dental implants shine as they maintain jawbone health along with your youthful appearance by preventing the facial sagging effect that can occur with other dental options.

Dental Implants Benefits:

  • They are the most stable tooth replacement because they are anchored into the jawbone.
  • Won’t shift around in the mouth or fall out.
  • Don’t require daily attachment with a dental adhesive like dentures do.
  • Your diet stays the same with 100% bite capacity.
  • Dental implants don’t require a change in brushing and flossing.
  • Look and feel natural in your mouth.
  • Don’t take time getting used to since they look, feel and function like your own teeth.

Implants are a three-part restoration:

    1. A biocompatible titanium post is placed into the jawbone (acting as a tooth root for stability).
    2. An abutment piece is attached to the top of the post (acting as a connector).
    3. It is then topped with a dental crown, dental bridge or denture for optimal security.

As you can see, dental implants are most like your natural teeth. If you want help replacing the missing teeth in your smile, dental implants are a proven dental restoration that can have you speaking, eating, and looking your best once again. Give our team a call to learn more!

Bad Habits to Avoid If You Want Healthy Teeth and Gums

As humans, we are regularly developing habits throughout our lifetime, and they aren’t always good ones. Bad habits are quite common, and a lot of them are formed unintentionally. Many times we develop habits that aren’t good for us without being aware of it, but bad oral habits can cause problems, pain, and cost a lot of money to correct.

Being proactive is the best approach if you want to keep your teeth for your lifetime, so make it your mission to practice excellent oral hygiene, routine dental visits, and good oral habits. Here are eight habits to avoid if you want a healthier smile.

1. Biting Your Nails

If you are always biting your nails, your oral health will pay the price. Not only are you spreading harmful bacteria that hang out under your nails, biting non-edible items like fingernails can crack, fracture, or chip your teeth, and even hurt your jaw over time.

Instead: Apply some bitter-tasting nail polishes and work on lowering your stress levels. Awareness and calming your anxiety can keep your nails (and teeth) looking their best!

2. Brushing Harshly

Scouring your chompers with harsh strokes can leave them hurting instead of clean and healthy. Rough handling can wear down tooth enamel and irritate the gums, which can end up receding the gums, exposing the layer of dentin below.

Instead: Brush at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush and massage the teeth gently. It will clean the teeth surfaces without damaging them in the process.

3. Clenching and Grinding

If you are constantly clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth (awake or asleep), it can damage your teeth and jaw. This habit is called bruxism, and it often arises from unrelieved stress. It wears down enamel leaving teeth and makes them vulnerable to decay. You may also find yourself with painful jaw or joint pain, or even fractured or chipped teeth.

Instead: Practice relaxation techniques to relieve jaw stress and wear a custom night guard while you sleep.

4. Chronic Snacking

Whether you continually snack or sip sweetened beverages throughout the day, both can hurt your teeth. And it’s not just bathing your teeth in sugary pools that can lead to cavities. Snacking on chips and carbohydrate-filled goodies feed your mouth’s harmful oral bacteria, resulting in plaque buildup and tartar that can harm your gums.

Instead: Quench your thirst and protect your teeth with good, clean water. In fact, hydrating with water will also prevent dry mouth by giving your saliva the solution it needs to clear out oral debris and bacteria during the day.

5. Heavy Drinking

Regularly drinking alcohol increases plaque levels in your mouth that ultimately leads to tooth loss. Since alcohol acts as a diuretic, it can reduce saliva flow (which can result in dry mouth).

Instead: Limit your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water in between to hydrate.

6. Ice Chewing

Chomping on ice cubes might feel good on a hot day, but your teeth are not designed for it (especially when it is habitual and leads to cracks and chips). Both your teeth and ice are crystals, so the effect of rubbing them together can cause tooth damage, even potentially damaging dental fillings.

Instead: Consume your beverages through a straw to keep you from accidentally munching on ice. Be sure not to chew on the straw! Also, try chilling your drinks in the refrigerator beforehand.

7. Kick the Tobacco Habit

A tobacco habit not only stains your teeth but inflames your salivary glands so they can’t perform correctly. As if that wasn’t bad enough, smoking leads to bad breath, gum disease, increased loss of jaw bone density, and oral cancer.

Instead: Find a smoking cessation support program that works for you. Your lungs, teeth and gums will thank you!

8. Teeth Are For Chewing

Your teeth are not tools! Do not use them to tear off tags, open a bag of chips or hold your pen.

Instead: Stick to biting and chewing your food with your teeth, and use the correct tools to handle everything else.

When it comes to your habits, we encourage you to take extra care of your smile so it will take good care of you! You will reap the benefits of healthier teeth, longer-lasting dental work and a more beautiful smile!

Your Toothbrush Has Come a Long Way to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

Your toothbrush is one of the most important tools you have in your home to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful. Used properly twice a day, your toothbrush will help you ward off tooth decay, gum disease and even bad breath. Its job in your daily oral hygiene kit is vital because unchecked gum disease is one of the main causes of tooth loss for adults.

While toothbrushes today have come a long way, your forebears recognized the importance of brushing your teeth. Early predecessors to the common toothbrush include tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills.

Toothbrushes Throughout the Ages

– Ancient Egyptians invented the first toothbrushes (or chew sticks) around 3000 B.C., from frayed ends of wooden twigs.
– Ancient Greeks and Romans used toothpicks, and the Greeks also used rough cloths.
– Ancient Chinese made proto-toothbrushes by attaching rough hog bristles to bamboo or bone, and in the Middle Ages, travelers brought these to Europe.
– Late 18th century Englishman William Addis used his time in prison to carve a bone handle, drill holes and stick boar bristles into it with glue to create a toothbrush. He went on to mass-produce his invention after his release.
– In 1938, the DuPont company manufactured the first “toothbrush” using nylon fibers.

Did you know? Toothbrushing became a widespread practice throughout the United States when soldiers came back from World War II, thanks to hygiene habits in the military.

To Brush or Not to Brush

Keeping your teeth clean is about removing plaque from settling on your teeth. Plaque is fed by the sugars and starches you eat, releasing acids that break down tooth enamel and irritate the gums, which become swollen, tender and red. Cleaning teeth properly can reverse gum disease in the early stages (gingivitis) so that the gums don’t pull away from the teeth. Otherwise, gum pockets can form, allowing bacteria and their byproducts to destroy the supportive bone holding the teeth in place, until they fall out or need to be extracted.

Breaking Down the Toothbrush

You have three main kinds: soft, medium and firm. The No. 1 dentist-recommended version is the soft-bristled brush, as it protects tooth enamel and sensitive gum tissue. Smaller brush heads fit into your mouth better than large ones do so you can maneuver easily around the molars in the back. There are all kinds of bristle designs, such as flat bristles, angled bristles, dome bristles or rippled bristles, so pick one that feels right for you.

Toothbrush handles can be thick or thin, so try both and just make sure it’s comfortable to use. You might enjoy using one that has non-slip grip areas or a flexible brush neck. Whatever you choose, we recommend a toothbrush carrying the American Dental Association® (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the packaging, showing they have been tested and proven to be safe and effective at cleaning your teeth and gums.

Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes are simple and effective, but some people prefer an electric version for ease of use. Children don’t always have the manual dexterity or discipline to use a manual toothbrush effectively, so an electric version can help them. Adults, including seniors, who have compromised dexterity can effectively clean their teeth using an electric toothbrush. Making your daily oral hygiene routine easier helps you do it consistently for better oral health.

Caring for Your Toothbrush

Keep your toothbrush upright in an open container so it can dry out between uses. Never allow it to touch another toothbrush to avoid germs (this also means never sharing your toothbrush, even with healthy family members). Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after every use. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) advises replacing your toothbrush (or toothbrush head, if using an electric one) every three to four months, or when the bristles are frayed, to brush away food particles and plaque effectively.

Your toothbrush is truly your gateway to a healthy smile; just be sure to brush your front, side and back teeth for at least two to three minutes each session. Your smile will thank you! Call us today if you have any questions or to schedule a visit with our dentist.