Dental Tips Blog

Aug
19

Easy Ways to Clean Your Teeth During the Day

Most people understand that regular dental visits for teeth cleaning and dental checkups, twice daily brushing, and flossing once a day will go a long way toward keeping your teeth in great shape and maintaining your oral health.  However, when you’re at work or school, you still want to have fresh breath and keep your mouth as healthy as possible. For patients who are prone to getting heavy amounts of plaque buildup, gingivitis, or have areas where food constantly packs, supplemental cleaning throughout the day can help them enjoy their smile when they’re between toothbrushing.

Chewing gum that contains Xylitol is one of the most beneficial actions you can do when you’re away from a toothbrush. Xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar that actually prevents plaque from building up and depositing itself on your teeth. Getting at least 5 exposures to Xylitol a day has been suggested by some researchers as being just as beneficial as toothbrushing (but please don’t give it up just yet!)

Rinsing with water immediately after a meal, snack or drink can help wash away acids and bacteria, preventing enamel demineralization from occurring at normal levels. Teeth often get decay in the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces, or between the teeth, so a thorough rinsing can remove a portion of the damaging acids from juice, soda, or sports drinks before you get back home.

Angled flossers and bristled toothpicks. These standard accessories have an added twist, making debris removal easier and more effective. “Y” shaped flossers are easier to get between the back teeth, where it really counts. Wider spaces benefit from bristled toothpicks, as the ends easily disrupt and remove food between your meals.

Disposable, flavored brushes are great to use before a meeting, when you need to make sure your smile is free of the occasional spot of food. However, nothing quite beats a normal toothbrush. Consider keeping one in your desk drawer or purse to quickly dry-brush or use at the sink in a restroom with some tap water.

Posted on the behalf of Sarah Roberts

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Oct
25

Oral Health

Good oral health starts with healthy teeth.  Having healthy teeth allows you to eat properly and fully, speak more effectively, and gives you a bright smile!  The term ‘oral health’ refers to areas in your mouth, including your teeth.   Poor oral health can lead to other major problems.

Your teeth are composed of four dental tissues.  Enamel, dentin and cementum are hard, calcified areas of the tooth.  The pulp is a soft area that is non-calcified.  The visible part of the tooth is called the crown.  Enamel is the main part of the crown.  Enamel is a cement hard substance.  It is also ‘non-living’…this is important in the fact that if a tooth is damaged, it can not repair itself (like your skin can after a cut, self-repair is not possible).  The only way to correct tooth damage is by seeing a dentist.

Other parts of your teeth include your gingiva.  Gingiva are your gums, that are composed of soft tissue.  They provide the support for the teeth to remain upright.  The neck of your tooth is where the crown joins the tooth root.  Dentin is the part of the tooth beneath the enamel and cementum.  Another important part of tooth structure is the alveolar bone (jawbone).  This is the part of the jaw that surrounds the roots of the teeth.  Severe prolonged tooth decay can actually cause deterioration in the jawbone itself.

Maintaining good tooth structure requires preventative dental care including routine dental cleanings and examinations by a dentist.  A licensed, registered dental hygienist should perform all dental cleanings.  Dental cleanings should be performed twice a year, every six months, to help ensure the healthiest teeth possible.

If you need a dental check up, contact your local professional dentist for an appointment.

Oct
20

Oral Cancer

Posted in Oral Cancer

Cancers that occur in the lips, mouth or throat are generally referred to as ‘oral’ cancers.  Most of these cancers begin at the base of the tongue and the floor of the mouth (underneath your tongue).  This is why your dentist lifts your tongue and examines that area closely during your routine dental exams.

Oral cancers are common in all ages, races, and genders.  However, the risk is higher in men over the age of 40 who are smokers or who have a history of using smokeless tobacco.  There is also an increased incidence in oral cancers if you have had any other type of head or neck cancer.  Prolonged exposure to the sun places you at risk for cancer that begins on the lip.

More recently, a dramatically increased incidence of oral cancers have been seen in individuals who have been exposed to the human papillomavirus (HPV).  This is the virus associated with genital warts, and there is a vaccine for young girls now.

Some signs and symptoms of oral cancers include:

  • White or red patches in your mouth that do not go away, or appear to be getting progressively worse
  • A mouth sore that just won’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Earaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck (shows up as a lump in your neck)
  • Pain with swallowing or frequent choking

If you have any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your local dentist for an examination.  Your dentist is the appropriate person to screen for all oral cancers, and this is one of the main reasons to have a routine dental check up and cleaning at least twice a year.

Oct
20

Preventing Gum Disease

Posted in Gum Disease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is very common in the United States.  Recent estimates have shown that almost 80% of all Americans have some type of gum disease.  Regular preventative dental care is very important for preventing and treating gum disease.  Preventative dental care can stop a small problem from becoming a big problem.

Gum disease can be mild to extreme.  It can range from mild gum inflammation to more serious disease that will cause bone destruction and tooth loss.  Mild gum inflammation is also called gingivitis.

Signs of gingivitis include red and swollen gums that may bleed easily.  Bad breath may also occur.  Signs of further progressing gum disease include gingivitis symptoms, as well as loose teeth, increased sensitivity of teeth, abscesses in the mouth, gums or tooth area, and unexplained tooth loss.

Gingivitis can be reversed through regular dental cleanings, twice daily brushing and daily flossing.  Gingivitis that is left untreated can progress to further gum disease, leading to periodontitis.  In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that become easily infected.  If periodontitis is not treated, the jaw bone, gums and connective tissue can be destroyed.  Tooth loss will then occur.

The most common cause of gum disease is plaque and tartar build up.  Other things that lead to gum disease include smoking and use of chewing tobacco, grinding of teeth and some genetic factors.  Some medications, including immunosuppressant use, and some chemotherapies for cancer, can cause gum disease.  It is very important if you are taking these type of medications to be carefully followed during this time by your dentist.

Gum disease can be a sign of a more serious problem.   If you think you may have symptoms of gum disease, please see your local dentist right away.

Oct
20

Use Your Flexible Spending Account On Year End Dental Expenses

Posted in Dental Costs

Each year, many of us decide to participate in ‘cafeteria’ plans offered by employers to help provide a tax spending on health care or child care expenses.  At the end of the year, it is very common to have some extra money left over in the health care flexible spending account.  This is a good thing.  It means you have been healthy this last year.  But, it is bad because this money is ‘use or lose’ money.  So, what to do with your leftover cafeteria plan money?

Did you know that dentistry costs are qualified expenses under the flexible spending account rules?  Have you been putting off getting that crown, bridge, or dental implant because you are concerned the cost?   

Maybe you are embarrassed by the look of your teeth?  Do you have an extra space or gap?  Perhaps a missing tooth that never was replaced?  Did you take frequent antibiotics as a child, causing some dental changes to occur in your tooth enamel or tooth structure?

Maybe you just haven’t had a regular dental check up and cleaning in a while?  Routine dental check ups are important to ensure the health of your teeth, gums, mouth and lips.  Routine cleanings, when performed by a licensed dental hygienist will help keep your teeth healthy for months to come.

All of these expenses are great ways to use your flexible spending account money and it will be like a free trip to the dentist!  Don’t ‘lose’ the money!  Instead, find a great way to help improve yourself and put that money to work for you.

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