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?
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:
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:
Implants are a three-part restoration:
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!
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 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.
Good oral health is essential for a healthy smile. The mouth is home to colonies of microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, and when controlled by daily brushing and flossing, your oral health can thrive. Conversely, consuming a high sugar diet that feeds the bad bacteria creates harmful acids that erode your tooth enamel and lead to cavities. It also happens when you neglect your daily oral hygiene routine.
But it’s not just your teeth that can suffer. This sticky, bacterial film (plaque) congregates around the gum line. If it isn’t removed daily, it hardens into tartar, irritating gum tissue, and leaving you with gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease). If tartar isn’t removed by a professional dental cleaning using special tools, your gums can recede or pull away from the teeth, causing gum pockets (periodontitis) that allow your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Other factors leaving you more susceptible to gum disease include having a medical condition like diabetes, using medications that leave you with a chronic dry mouth or having a family history of gum disease.
Six-month dental checkups and cleanings are vital since treating dental and oral diseases early can give our team time to spot problems before they grow. We can examine your mouth, teeth, gum pockets, tongue, cheeks, throat, jaw, and neck with the help of X-rays so problems can be addressed quickly and efficiently. What kind of dental diseases are we looking to find?
Poor oral health is also connected to health problems in the body like heart disease, stroke, low birth rate babies and premature birth. Treating dental problems with fillings, crowns and dental sealants to protect molars are effective methods of treating tooth problems. A root canal can often save a damaged tooth from extraction while dental implants, bridges or dentures can replace teeth that are extracted. No matter what stage a dental problem exists, treatment is available.
What You Can Do at Home
Just as you eat right and exercise to take care of your body, you want to brush and floss daily to care for your mouth. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once removes harmful bacterial plaque and helps preserve teeth and gums.
You can boost your hygiene routine with an antibacterial mouthwash, upgrade to an electric or battery-powered toothbrush or use a water flosser to get rid of trapped food particles where brushing can’t. Follow up this daily care with biannual dental cleanings to remove plaque and detect dental problems early.
Follow a balanced diet that gives your body the disease-fighting tools it needs. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, lean proteins, and dairies (like cheese, milk and plain yogurt) provide essential vitamins and minerals. Drink plenty of water during the day, and add green or black teas rich in polyphenols to help get rid of bad bacteria in the mouth.
Boost healthy saliva production by limiting caffeinated drinks and alcohol and staying hydrated throughout the day. Saliva washes away harmful bacteria, and with its traces of calcium and phosphate, it replenishes minerals to parts of your teeth that have lost them from plaque. Chewing sugarless gum can also ramp up healthy saliva flow.
The bottom line is good oral health depends on doing everything you can do to prevent tooth decay and cavities from taking over your smile. Give our team a call if you have any concerns about your oral health or schedule a visit. Together we can create your healthiest smile!
More and more people are keeping their natural teeth healthy for a lifetime of beautiful smiles. At any age, a healthy mouth is a valuable asset when it comes to looking and feeling your best. Getting older means taking care of yourself to continue feeling great. Like your body, your dental health requires daily attention to protect teeth and gums. Exercising, eating right, and practicing good daily oral hygiene habits will help you maintain a healthy body and smile so you can live your best life!
Oral Health Conditions
Aging tends to affect the mouth along with the body. Nerves located inside the teeth can narrow, preventing you from feeling cavities. Routine checkups will ensure developing cavities are spotted and treated early so you can keep your teeth healthy without losing them to disease.
Since health issues requiring prescription medications tend to crop up over time, you can end up with dry mouth from a lack of saliva production as a drug’s side effect. Healthy saliva flow is needed to rinse away bacteria and oral debris while neutralizing harmful acids. A chronic dry mouth condition can lead to root and coronal cavities and gum disease. It can be combated by staying hydrated with water while limiting alcohol, sweetened or caffeinated drinks.
Gum disease is more prevalent as you age if you are not practicing good daily oral hygiene. This infection of the gum tissue, which holds the teeth in place, is the most common reason adults lose their teeth, thanks to harmful bacteria prevalent in plaque.
The early stage of gum disease is gingivitis, and you might notice red, swollen, or bleeding gums when you clean your teeth. At this stage, the disease is reversible with daily oral hygiene and professional dental treatment. If you neglect to treat gingivitis, it will only worsen.
The more advanced and severe stage of gingivitis is periodontitis. Unfortunately, it tends to affect over half of adults between 65 and 74. It can lead to the breakdown of the gums and bone material holding the teeth in place. The affected gum tissue can pull back from the teeth, revealing the root surfaces of the tooth. Once the root surfaces of the teeth are exposed because of gum recession, they are now more vulnerable to tooth decay. If enough supportive bone is lost, the tooth will fall out.
Adults over 40 are more susceptible to oral cancer. If you notice patches of red or white on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks, or other oral tissues, you should have an oral cancer check. Oral cancer can often be successfully treated if detected in the early stages.
What You Can Do at Home
– Brush your teeth with an electric or battery-operated toothbrush along with a cavity-fighting toothpaste and oral rinse to protect those pearly whites (this kind of toothbrush is especially useful if you have a condition such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis which prevents ease of movement).
– Floss between teeth with a flossing tool or interdental cleaner/brush to keep teeth and gums healthy.
– Clean full or partial dentures daily and remove them at least four hours a day to let the gums rest.
– Give up tobacco products as they can cause dry mouth, gum disease and tooth decay leading to tooth loss.
– Consume a diet rich in nutrients that support your body, teeth and gums.
– See your dentist regularly to spot developing problems early when they are least invasively treated.
Taking good care of your oral health as you age can help you keep your smile beautiful and strong for a lifetime! Give our team a call if you have any questions or concerns about your teeth and dental health.
In honor of February’s Gum Disease Awareness Month – a global public awareness campaign for preventing gum disease – our practice wants to help spread the word about this insidious disease. That’s because it can destroy your smile if it is left untreated. Fortunately, you can take action to help prevent this from happening!
Gum disease is caused by the ongoing attacks of the bacteria that live in dental plaque. Plaque is that sticky, colorless coating you can feel on your teeth before you brush them. The reason you need to brush and floss every day is to remove this bacterial film, which otherwise attacks tooth enamel and gum tissue to break them down. Plaque that isn’t removed daily quickly hardens into tartar, which then needs to be removed at your six-month dental checkup using special tools.
Factors Leading to Gum Disease
As you may have guessed by now, the leading cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. However, additional factors can speed up the development of this disease, including:
– A high sugar diet
– Chronic tobacco use
– Regular alcohol consumption
– Misaligned teeth (prevents you from cleaning your teeth effectively)
– Fluctuating hormone levels
– Cancer & diabetes mellitus
– Breathing through the mouth which dries out oral tissues
Symptoms of Gum Disease
How do you know if you have gum disease, especially since it’s often painless in the early stage? Watch out for these symptoms:
– Bleeding gums when you brush and floss
– Red, tender or swollen gums
– Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
– Tooth sensitivity to hot/cold temperatures
– Gum tissue pulling away from the teeth
– Loose-feeling teeth
– Altered bite pattern
– Loose-fitting partial dentures
– Pus around teeth and gums
– Pain when chewing
All of these are signs that you are dealing with some form of gum disease.
3 Stages of Gum Disease
This beginning stage is when you might start noticing gum inflammation, swelling, redness, and bleeding, especially when you go to brush and floss. The good news is that this stage of gum disease can be reversed since it hasn’t yet reached the supportive bone and connective tissue.
This intermediate stage irreversibly destroys supportive bone and connective tissue. You may feel pockets forming below the gum line. Gum pockets allow the formation of plaque buildup under the gum line, which often requires interventive periodontal treatment, like scaling and root planing coupled with a stepped-up daily oral hygiene routine.
3. Advanced Periodontitis
Should there be no periodontal intervention at stage two, you will likely find yourself in this final stage of the disease. Now the connective tissue and bone material will have been destroyed. It causes your teeth to loosen and shift out of position, altering your bite, speech, and ability to chew properly. Without periodontal treatment, the teeth will likely require extraction.
Gum Disease Prevention: Be Proactive!
Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prevent gum disease from attacking your smile!
– Stick to a diligent daily oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
– Keep all scheduled biannual dental checkups and cleanings.
– After eating (especially snacks), drink water to rinse away food particles and oral debris.
– Limit bacteria-feeding sugars in your diet, and when you do indulge, chew sugarless gum to increase saliva flow that helps rinse away bacteria.
– If you still use tobacco, there’s no better time than now to give it up. Your gums will thank you!
We hope spreading information about this disease in support of Gum Disease Awareness Month inspires you to be more proactive when it comes to protecting your oral health. After all, healthy teeth and gums are essential for a vibrant, beautiful smile!
If you find yourself with bad breath or have had someone remark on your breath, you might be experiencing halitosis. Bad breath may come and go depending on what food you are eating or if you have “morning breath,” common in those who tend to breathe through the mouth. Still, the most common culprit is neglecting your daily oral hygiene care.
The number one reason for halitosis is the unchecked millions of bacteria in your mouth (especially on your tongue) that release bacterial acids (plaque). The sulfur byproducts released by oral bacteria as waste are known as volatile sulfur compounds (VSC’s). Other causes include “fruity” breath that arises in those with uncontrolled diabetes, respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, tooth decay and gum disease.
Proper Diagnosis and Treatment
When you visit our dental office for help with bad breath, our dentist will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral cavity. It includes an inspection of your teeth and gums, salivary glands and tongue. Your medical history will be reviewed, including any medications that might leave you with dry mouth. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, leads to bad breath from the reduction of saliva flow – a vital function when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy.
Other causes of chronic halitosis might involve dietary habits like consuming garlic or onions, drinking coffee or alcohol, practicing intermittent fasting, or adhering to low-carb or ketogenic diets, which leaves you with bad breath. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, like smoking or chewing tobacco, also leave your breath smelling unpleasant.
Improve Your Breath and Boost Your Confidence
– Start by stepping up your daily oral hygiene game. Brush and floss at least twice a day for two minutes, and don’t skip cleaning your tongue! Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clean the surface of your tongue. An antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash can also help, and our dentist is happy to recommend the best one for your needs.
– Prevent dry mouth by staying hydrated. Drink drinking plenty of water to maintain healthy saliva levels and even chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production.
– Rinse your mouth after eating to flush away oral debris and prevent food particles from lingering.
– Eat a nutritious diet and stick with healthy snacks like apples, celery and carrots, which scrub the teeth and promote saliva flow.
Address Health Issues or Medical Conditions
Beyond your daily care, you’ll need to address any health issues you might have. Our dentist can determine whether you have oral infections stemming from tooth decay, gum inflammation (gum or periodontal disease) or poorly fitting dentures.
Seeing your primary physician will allow you to address other medical conditions such as respiratory tract infections in the sinuses, throat or lungs. Other conditions could include liver or kidney disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diabetes, etc.
NOW Is the Time!
When it comes to your oral health, taking good care of your mouth and addressing lingering health issues can effectively improve both! The New Year is a good time to renew your resolve to better care for your smile and your body by addressing bad breath issues. This can boost your self-confidence in social interactions, including your co-workers, family and friends!
If you need help alleviating your chronic bad breath, please reach out to our dental practice and schedule a visit with our dentist. Regular dental visits can detect problems early and allow us to remove hardened plaque leading to halitosis. Let us help you identify the cause of your bad breath and implement effective solutions for a healthier smile!
Winter is here and if you are exposed to the harsher weather, you could find yourself experiencing more cold and canker sores, chapped lips and dry mouth from the colder, drier conditions of the season. The good news is, there are steps you can take to protect your mouth, teeth, and gums during this time.
1. Cold and Canker Sore Protection
When your smile is exposed to the winter sun you can find yourself with cold sore breakouts. Stress is another trigger for mouth sores, so all the holiday shopping, decorating, baking, entertaining, and extra socializing can bring on stress. Mouth sores can show up as red, fluid-filled blisters on the mouth and lips, or as ulcers on your cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, the bottom of your mouth, or soft palate, and even be accompanied by pain.
Getting plenty of sleep and eating a nutrient-rich diet with vitamins and minerals can build up your immune system. This is important as a weakened immune system are more vulnerable to viral infection.
Canker sores can also arise because of overindulgence in wintery treats if the food is high in acid (hello hot cider and spicy treats)! These are generally small and painful ulcers in the mouth that look red, white, or yellow.
Tip: Treat oral sores and help speed up healing by gargling with salt water and applying a paste of baking soda and water to the ulcer. Over-the-counter medications can help soothe any pain.
2. Limiting Sweets
Another way your smile takes a hit in the winter is from all the excess sugar consumed during the holidays, like hot cocoa and sugary treats. Be mindful of how much sugar you expose your pearly whites to on a daily basis. It doesn’t just feed your sweet tooth but also feeds cavity-causing oral bacteria!
We recommend limiting your consumption of these sugary treats:
– Holiday candy: Candy canes, peppermint bark, chocolate, fudge, truffles
– Chewy, sticky candy: Caramel, jellybeans, divinity, toffee
– Dried fruit: Trail mix, apricots, figs, raisins and prunes
– Alcohol: A double whammy, alcohol is high in sugar and dries out your mouth
Notice we’re not saying to avoid sugar altogether, just limit your consumption. When you do indulge, take a moment to rinse your mouth well with water or brush your teeth to clear any sugary residue.
Tip: Hydration provides a healthier oral environment, so drink plenty of water! Since winter is cold-and-flu season, stick to sugar-free cold/fever medicines and sugar-free cough drops and lozenges for your throat. Your mouth will thank you!
3. Oral Protection During Sports
Protecting your smile from injury is a big deal when you participate in sports that can result in cracked, broken or knocked-out teeth, lacerated oral tissues or even jaw injury. The best protection for teeth and gums and to prevent oral injury is wearing an athletic guard (and a helmet) during sporting activities.
Along with winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating which can lead to mouth, head and jaw injuries,, an athletic guard can safeguard your smile when you engage in the following:
– Martial arts
Tip: The main reason people forgo wearing mouth guards is that they can be uncomfortable, and that is often true for the stock and bite-and-boil or over-the-counter versions. However, a customized athletic guard from the dentist can solve that problem as it will be made to fit comfortably in the mouth while letting you breathe with ease.
Winter is a fun-filled time of year, but it can also bring elements that harm your teeth and gums. Call our team if you have any questions or concerns about protecting your smile. Take extra care of your mouth this season and ring in the New Year with a beautiful smile all-year-round!
Upcoming holidays are around the corner, and you’re probably already thinking of all the foodie goodness coming your way. November is Good Nutrition Month, so you might want to consider adding healthy options to your meals to maintain good oral and general health and wellbeing. The goal of our dental practice is to help you keep your teeth healthy, strong and bright!
A healthy smile starts with eating a balanced diet to protect teeth and gums. Not only do healthy teeth allow you to chew (and digest) the nutritious foods that your body needs, but if your diet is poor, your mouth’s resistance to infection is lowered. Mouth-healthy foods include fresh fruits, leafy greens, vegetables and lean meat and dairy, all giving you the nutrients you need to thrive.
Modern diets can’t seem to get away from sugar because manufacturers add it to nearly everything. If you read the packaging on processed foods, it’s often added for flavor and as a preservative. The problem is sugar feeds the oral bacteria, which then attacks tooth enamel and creates harmful plaque and tartar.
If you love soda, you should know that it is one of the biggest “bad guys” when it comes to sugar (and acid). Sucrose is a major culprit in tooth decay, so regular consumption of soda, candy, cakes, pies and cookies are top tooth hazards. Even dried fruits harm tooth enamel since they are high in sugar and often sticky, so they cling to enamel. Sugar is also derived from starches like bread, chips, cereals, and pretzels, leading to tooth decay when consumed regularly.
Sticking to fresh fruits like raw apples can safely satisfy sweet cravings and protect your pearly whites. Raw fruits require lots of chewing, which stimulates saliva production that lowers oral acidity, rinses away food particles, and diminishes cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Permanent damage to teeth and gums also arises from acidic foods and drinks as they erode precious tooth enamel, and unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to begin the erosion process.
Highly acidic liquids:
– Citrus juice (lemon, grapefruit, lime, orange)
– Fruit juices (apple, grape, cranberry)
– Tonic water
– Iced tea
– Sports drinks
Highly acidic foods:
– Fruits (such as pineapple, berries, oranges and lemons)
– Pickles (such as cucumbers, artichokes, beets and sauerkraut)
Protect your teeth from an acid attack by waiting half an hour after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth. You can rinse food particles and oral debris out of your mouth after consuming these items by swishing with plain water for 30 seconds. When you do brush, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently at a 45-degree angle.
Oral Care Tips
– When you are away from home and can’t brush, try chewing sugarless gum. The act of chewing stimulates saliva production and flushes away food particles while lowering your oral acids.
– Avoid dry mouth (insufficient saliva production), which increases your risk of tooth decay. Stay well hydrated, and be sure to brush your teeth before bedtime. Saliva production slows down while you sleep, so don’t skip your nightly brushing routine!
– Don’t skip your biannual dental checkups. These are crucial to a healthy smile as we remove hardened dental plaque and check teeth and gums for potential problems.
This November, we hope you enjoy the sweetness of being with loved ones, consuming tasty, healthy foods and beverages and remember all the things you are thankful for! We are here to help you take good care of your teeth and gums so you can be grateful for your healthy smile and body!
Happy October, everyone! It’s one of the spookiest seasons of the year, and one of the scariest things we can think of is having problems with our teeth and gums. Since October is National Dental Hygiene Month, we want to promote a healthy mouth for everyone by acknowledging the importance of your daily hygiene efforts. Healthy teeth and gums are the foundation of a healthy, beautiful smile!
The mouth is full of living bacteria, some of which feed and thrive on carbohydrates and sugary drinks. These can release acids mixed with saliva and food particles to create a sticky bacterial film (plaque). As plaque builds up, it attacks and weakens tooth enamel, working its way through the softer dentin and tooth pulp below it to create decay and cavities.
Teeth with extensive decay often require a root canal treatment to save the tooth from the severe infection that has taken root. A root canal removes the bad bacteria and dead tissue that might otherwise require extracting the tooth.
Signs You Might Need a Root Canal
– Tooth pain or pain when chewing
– Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
– Sensitive gums
– Gum infection
– Darkened or chipped teeth
– Swollen lymph nodes
– Oral trauma
What You Can Do
Did you know that the first known bristle toothbrush was invented in China in 1948? Unlike the smooth nylon-bristled brushes we use today, the original toothbrush used boar hairs attached to bamboo or bone handles. We don’t know about you, but we’re grateful for today’s toothbrushes!
To prevent damaged teeth, you’ll want to start by protecting your mouth from plaque. For example, drinks like soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, carbonated water and other acidic and sweetened beverages are pretty much a lifeline for oral bacteria that attach your teeth. To lessen plaque, limit these beverages, and when you drink them, use a straw to reduce contact on tooth enamel. Better choices include water, milk, low-sugar vegetable juice, and unsweetened green and black tea.
This year’s National Dental Hygiene Awareness Month focuses on four habits you need to practice daily:
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session with a soft-bristled toothbrush (no boars hair!). You want to gently clean them without harming the enamel or soft gum tissues. Make sure the head and shape of the brush fit comfortable in your mouth so you can get to the back areas to remove bacteria and food particles. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Using short strokes, move your toothbrush back and forth to clean all tooth surfaces – outside, inside and the top of the molars – where the food is chewed. Make sure to clean those grooves and crevices. Use up-and-down-strokes to clean the inside of your front teeth.
Tip: Don’t forget to brush your tongue to get rid of plaque and freshen your breath.
Clean between your teeth once a day using a flossing tool of choice (one that makes you want to floss every day) to get rid of dental plaque your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque buildup will cause it to harden into tartar or calculus, which has to be removed by a dental hygienist using special tools.
Some areas of the mouth can’t get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing alone. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash daily destroys bacteria to prevent tooth decay and gum disease (infection of the oral tissue) from gaining hold. Your dentist can recommend a non-alcoholic antimicrobial rinse that is right for your needs.
Speaking of dry mouth, did you know that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you eat lessens the chances of tooth decay? That’s because chewing stimulates saliva glands to promote healthy saliva flow. Your saliva plays a vital role by rinsing away food particles and bacterial debris and neutralizes the acids from oral bacteria.
This month is a good time to toss out your old worn-out toothbrush and find a flossing method you will enjoy using every day. You’ll also want to thank your dental hygienist the next time you see them for all their efforts to make your smile the best it can be!