Dental Tips Blog


Why Cleaning Between Teeth Is So Important

Posted in Gum Disease

Toothbrushing seems to get most of the focus from dental patients, but yet all of them know that they’re still expected to floss. However, the majority of people don’t floss anywhere close to how often they should. Even the very best toothbrushing methods will not ever clean the bacteria from between teeth. Just why is it so important to use something else to clean between teeth?

1. Cavities easily form between the teeth

Cavities between the back teeth are a common occurrence for people that don’t clean between their teeth every day, or have frequent acid exposures from their diet. These cavities start right where the teeth touch one another, or around existing restorations. Brushing won’t keep these areas clean or reduce the risk of them getting decay.

2. Gum disease and bone loss starts between the teeth

Bacterial plaque seep deep below the gumlines, causing gingivitis and eventually bone loss and periodontal disease. This is the number one reason most adults lose their teeth. As bone loss becomes more severe, teeth become mobile and can fall out. Cleaning under the gumlines between the teeth will reverse gingivitis symptoms within 2 weeks and eliminate the risk of periodontal disease.

3.  Bad breath and visible tartar on your teeth affect what others think of you

When bacteria hide between your teeth and under your gums, it creates a bad odor. These bacteria can also calcify and build up to eventually create heavy tartar deposits on your teeth that cannot be removed except by your dentist. In other words, bad oral hygiene can affect your social life.

Posted on the behalf of Dr. Sarah Roberts, Crabapple Dental



So Your Gums Bleed When You Floss

Posted in Gum Disease

Did you know that bleeding gums is one of the number one reasons people don’t ever floss their teeth? In fact, the less often you floss, the more your gums will bleed. However, daily flossing is important for the prevention of tooth decay and periodontal disease.  If you’ve just picked the habit back up again, you’ll probably notice at least a little bleeding during the process. Instead of not flossing at all, this is the time when it’s most important to be more zealous than ever about your flossing routine.

Flossing does something that brushing does not: it cleans the areas between the teeth, and under the margin of the gumlines. When those areas are not cleaned regularly, plaque bacteria begin to accumulate and cause the immune system to target the area of infection. This increases blood flow and causes inflammation. If cleaning is intermittent, then bleeding occurs.

However, once cleaning with floss begins to occur on a daily basis, the plaque levels and infection go away. This means reduced bleeding and then no bleeding at all. It can take flossing correctly every day for up to 2 weeks before any evidence of bleeding goes away. The key is to be persistent, and tough it out the first several times even if it’s uncomfortable. Compare it to an open wound on your skin that has become infected because it was not cleaned properly. The first few times you begin to clean it, it will hurt. After a few days of taking care of it, the tenderness decreases, and most sores will heal within 10-14 days. The same goes for your gums.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Byron Scott, Springhill Dental Health Center



When Flossing Makes Your Gums Bleed

Posted in Periodontics

“I don’t floss, because when I do it makes my gums bleed.” That’s something that literally every dentist and hygienist has heard from a patient at one point or another. Flossing around areas of gingivitis or periodontal disease can be uncomfortable and cause bleeding every time when flossing is sporadic. The truth is, if you floss the right way, you can almost always get areas of bleeding to stop.

Cleaning under the gumlines and between the teeth is something that needs to be done everyday. Otherwise, brushing skips over these areas and bacteria remain present in your mouth. Sporadic flossing removes this debris, but causes the infected area to freely bleed, as inflammation and infection are already present.

Wrap your floss tightly around the tooth and slide under the gums several times, then move on to the next tooth. Use a clean portion of the floss for each area, to prevent spread of bacteria. Do this at least once every day, whether or not the gums bleed or are sore. Any area of infection will be sore until the infection goes away. For most people, gingivitis and bleeding will completely reverse itself if flossing is present for 10-14 days in a row. Continuing to floss will prevent the infection from returning.

There will always be some exceptions. Some patients have problem areas around crooked teeth or dental restorations that bleed every time they’re flossed around, even if they floss daily. The important part is to keep on flossing…otherwise the bacteria that cause the bleeding can progress into more severe infections. Keep at it, and with regular cleanings you can keep these areas localized and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the mouth.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry



3 Reasons Food Traps Between the Teeth

Posted in Gum Disease

For some people, getting food trapped between certain teeth after every meal is just a normal part of life. They find that keeping a toothpick or floss handy in their handbag or desk is a necessity. If it weren’t for food packing in this area, they might not ever floss. Instead, they floss several times each day in order to avoid discomfort, bad breath and gum irritation.

Periodontal Disease

As gingivitis turns into active gum disease (periodontitis), it causes the gums to detach from the tooth, creep farther away, and destroy supporting bone structure around the tooth. As a result, large triangular spaces are left between the teeth and gums. These areas almost always collect food. When periodontal disease isn’t controlled through regular maintenance and oral hygiene, the area will continue to worsen and can lead to loss of your teeth.


An overhang is a portion of a filling that extends out past or above where it should. Overhangs are usually evident on x-rays as white areas jetting out from the sides of the tooth, near the edge of the filling. This area catches food, plaque and bacteria on a routine basis, and will make the area experience chronic gingivitis symptoms until your dentist corrects it.


Decay can cause holes in the sides of the teeth, or in the chewing surfaces. Large areas of decay are known for holding large amounts of food debris after every meal. It can also cause bad breath, as this debris is sometimes impossible to remove adequately with flossing or brushing. For best results, the decay should be treated as soon as possible before it becomes any more advanced.

Posted on behalf of North Point Periodontics



What’s the Difference Between a Normal Cleaning and a Deep Cleaning?

When a patient is told that they need a “deep cleaning” they may wonder why they can’t simply have just a normal routine preventive cleaning. Then there are some patients who come in for a routine cleaning and think they’re not getting as thorough of a cleaning, so they insist on getting a “deep cleaning.” It’s understandable that many people aren’t able to recognize the difference between the two procedures and why one may be called for over the other. Here is a basic review of what the difference is between the two:

Routine Cleanings

A routine cleaning is technically referred to as a prophylaxis. Or “prophy,” as your hygienist probably refers to them.  Prophy means preventive, so this is in essence a preventive cleaning procedure. These are performed every 6 months as a way to maintain proper gum health, bone levels, and remove any tartar or plaque from the surface of the teeth, including the root surfaces below the gums. Because patients that receive routine cleanings have lower levels of tartar, only maintenance cleanings are needed in order to remove the bacteria from their mouth.

Deep Cleanings

Deep cleaning is the short term used for “scaling and root planing.” A scaling and root planing procedure (SCPR for short) is prescribed for patients with active gum disease, moderate or severe levels of bone loss, and heavy tartar accumulation on the surfaces of the roots of teeth. Most people that need SCRPs have not seen a dentist regularly or have progressively developed gum disease. All of the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned, as with a prophy, but the procedure is more involved and time consuming due to the amount of buildup and extent of bone loss.

Posted on behalf of Muccioli Dental



Essential Oils and Oral Health

Posted in Gum Disease

Essential oil use isn’t a new fad. In fact, essential oils have been used in oral care products for years. Some very common over the counter mouthwashes include oils as part of their key active ingredients.

Some dental patients find that using a drop or two of essential oil on their toothbrush, or rinsing with a few drops in a cup of water can greatly affect their oral health as well as give them fresher breath. The effects of the natural oils help kill odor causing bacteria, as well as harmful plaque that leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease (gum disease). Using concentrated essential oils as directed can help you have fresher breath for as long as 2 or 3 hours after using them. Rather than covering up bacteria that causes odors, essential oils help eliminate the bacteria altogether.

Patients that suffer from gingivitis or gum inflammation may find that using essential oils along with a modified brushing technique can reverse the inflammatory process. Patients with orthodontics who experience gingivitis and bleeding and then rinse with an essential oil mouthwash find that areas of bleeding are improved.  Other dental patients can benefit as well, and essential oils can be a part of your comprehensive home oral care plan. Simply adding this ingredient to your toothbrush in the morning can aid in faster gum healing, healthier oral tissues, and fresher breath.

There are products available through retailers, which formulate specific blends of essential oils for home oral hygiene. Some of the common oils that are used depending on specific needs include tea tree, rosemary, lemon, cypress, eucalyptus, mint and lavender. Too much oil could cause irritation or an unpleasant taste, so always use the product as directed.

Posted on behalf of Springhill Dental Health Center



Are Your Teeth Going to Last a Lifetime?

Posted in Gum Disease

Have you ever wondered if your teeth were really designed to last a lifetime?  The fast and simple answer is ‘yes, they are’, but lasting a lifetime requires a bit of work on your part.  Read this article to see if you are at risk for losing your teeth early!

One of the most common reasons adults lose teeth is trauma.  Our teeth do a great job of chewing food.  Our teeth are not designed to open packages, tear string, chew on pencils or pens, tearing off price tags on a piece of clothing or even chewing ice.  Use your teeth wisely;  they appreciate it when you do!  If you do experience a traumatic event to your mouth, see your dentist immediately.  Keep the misplaced tooth moist until you can see the dentist, if possible.

Another common risk factor for early tooth loss is gum or periodontal disease.  To prevent gum disease, brush twice a day, floss at least once, eat a well-balanced diet, and quit smoking.  See your dentist and dental hygienist at least twice a year for check-ups and cleanings, and keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy.  A healthy mouth has healthy teeth that last a lifetime.

While this sounds simple, a healthy diet cannot be emphasized enough.  What you feed your body shows up everywhere, including in your mouth.  Avoid sugary drinks, and brush or chew a piece of sugar-free gum after meals.  Drink plenty of water, eat a well-balanced diet, and have good intake of calcium and Vitamin D.  Your plate should be colorful, and you should have servings of fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Eating well keeps all of you healthy, including your teeth!

With just a few simple habits, your teeth can and will last a lifetime.  Start today to make sure that this happens, and do not forget to ask your dentist for additional tips on how to keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.

Posted on the behalf of North Point Periodontics



Alternatives to Flossing

Posted in Gum Disease

Let’s face it: nobody likes flossing. Well, almost nobody. Most dental patients find flossing tedious, cumbersome and if not done regularly, uncomfortable. Unfortunately even meticulous toothbrushing does not clean between the teeth or under the gums in areas that often develop gum disease. If left alone, plaque can destroy the bone structure and gum connection in these areas, resulting in periodontal disease and tooth loss. For some people just the dexterity needed for flossing is impossible.

There are various alternatives to and methods of flossing that can help rid these areas of bacterial plaque.

Waterpik / Water flossers

Water flossing is the most efficient method of plaque removal in lieu of flossing. Water flossers can remove plaque biofilm deep between the teeth and gums and are extremely easy to use.

Floss Picks

Floss picks can be easier to handle and use, especially on younger dental patients. Straight floss picks are best used on children, while “Y” shaped floss picks work best for adults as they allow you to clean between the back teeth easier.

Rubber Tip Stimulators

Orange in appearance, rubber tip stimulators are often found on the opposite end of certain toothbrushes. The stimulator is useful for individuals with dental bridges, gum recession or bone loss to help stimulate blood flow to the area through superficial stimulation.


Men tend to be big fans of toothpicks. While toothpicks do not clean under the gums between the teeth, they are useful for removing debris between the teeth. Some types of toothpicks also have small bristles on the end, functioning as a mini-brush for extra plaque removal.


This Christmas tree shaped brush with the appearance of a pipe cleaner on the end of a long handle can be useful for cleaning areas between orthodontic brackets, under dental bridges or between teeth with large spaces.


Tooth Tattoo Sensors: Latest Oral Health Technology

Posted in Gum Disease

Dentists have long understood that pathogenic bacteria play a central role in oral pathologies. Various kinds of bacteria in the mouth are associated with tooth decay, periodontal diseases, oral mucosal diseases, endodontic diseases, and even oral cancer. Early detection and monitoring of pathogenic bacteria is thus a critical component of oral disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Traditionally, dental practitioners have relied on microbiological tests to detect, diagnose and monitor oral health conditions that have pathogenic bacteria as an underlying cause or factor. These conventional tests however, are limited for a number of reasons. For one, many conventional microbiological tests do not pick up on bacterial agents that have a very low infectious dose (the amount of bacterial cells required to start an infection). Also, conventional microbiological testing requires collecting oral specimens and performing culture analyses in a laboratory. This process is technically complicated and the cultures can be difficult to interpret. Also, the need to wait for test results delays treatment.

New advances in oral microbiological testing hold promise for faster and more accurate detection and diagnosis of bacterial oral conditions. Recently, a wireless oral sensor has been developed that is able to measure and report levels and types of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. The sensor is an ultra-thin film that is pressed onto the surface of a tooth, hence the name ‘tooth tattoo’. The sensor’s detection ability rests in its layer of specially designed peptides which bond with specific bacteria. An antenna built into the sensor powers the device and transmits data to a handheld reading device.

Compared to traditional oral disease detection and diagnostic methods, tooth tattoo sensors provide onsite detection and monitoring without the need for time-consuming laboratory testing. They are faster and more accurate at detecting even very low levels of pathogenic bacteria, and allow for better, more customized treatment of oral pathologies. Tooth tattoo sensors are still being developed and tested but may eventually become a regular feature of general dental care.


Xylitol Gum

Did you know that chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth? As in, strengthen the tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay? It’s true! Chewing gum that contains the sweetener Xylitol has been proven to promote tooth remineralization and reduce the risk of tooth decay.  Many well-known brands now use Xylitol in their gums, such as Orbit and Trident among others.

Xylitol is also found to promote gum health and decreased bacteria and bleeding associated with gingivitis.  If you have symptoms of gingivitis or a history of periodontal disease, keeping a pack of Xylitol gum on hand can be useful and promote better oral health. Consider chewing it after a meal when you’re out and about with no time to brush or floss. It’s also a great option for patients that suffer from dry mouth. Common causes of dry mouth include radiation therapy and numerous prescription medications In 5-10 minutes you should find an increased in salivary production.  By increasing your saliva flow, bacteria are washed from the tooth surfaces and decay is reduced.

It’s best to steer clear of gums that contain sugar, as they can cause extremely advanced forms of tooth decay. It’s possible that chewing gum decay to go undetected without dental x-rays because so often it creeps into a narrow groove of the mouth but then causes immense damage to the inside of the tooth, hidden from view. Instead, make sure you read the label on your gum to be sure that it contains Xylitol, and see your dentist every 6 months for preventive care appointments to help diagnose and provide early intervention for minor developing forms of decay.

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