If there’s one thing my patients need to do more of, it’s floss. Regular flossing removes plaque buildup between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, preventing gum disease.
Types of dental floss:
- Unwaxed floss—a thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking.
- Waxed floss—a standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.
- Dental tape—broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than traditional floss.
Using a “flosser”
If you have trouble reaching the back of your mouth or gripping traditional floss, try a flosser. A flosser is basically a piece of floss on a handle. Like toothbrushes, flossers come in a variety of shapes and colors (even battery-powered!). Look for one with a long handle for easier holding and a compact head that makes it easier to reach behind the back teeth—a particularly tricky spot to clean. Dental flossers also come in a variety of kid-friendly colors and cartoon characters.
The best type of dental floss is the one that is most comfortable for you. The easier to use, the more likely the patient will floss on a regular basis.
Source: Oral B
Many of the things we do every day, often without a second thought are actually harming your teeth.
Chewing on ice—It may seem harmless, ice is just frozen water and water is good for you, right? Wrong. Chewing on hard, frozen cubes can chip or crack your teeth. Try chewing sugarless gum instead.
Tongue/lip piercings—Accidently biting down on a metal stud can crack a tooth. It can cause gum damage if the metal rubs against the gums. And since the mouth is a haven for bacteria, a piercing raises the risk of infections and sores.
Opening things with your teeth—Using your teeth as a tool to open bottle caps or plastic packaging can cause them to crack or chip. Keep scissors and bottle openers handy.
Drinking pop—It can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, plus phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet pop may have less sugar, but it contains more acid in the form of artificial sweeteners.
Chewing on pencils—Just like chewing on ice, this can chip or crack your teeth. When you feel the need to chew, grab a stick of sugarless gum.
Bedtime bottles—Giving your child a bottle in bed may seem comforting, but it could lead to decay. By sleeping with a bottle in their mouth, their teeth are immersed in sugars all night.
To keep your smile shining bright and healthy, be sure to have your teeth cleaned and examined twice a year.
Pregnant women need to be especially careful when making healthy food choices. The baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy and making smart food choices will help in developing his/her dental and overall health.
- Eat a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grains (cereal, breads, crackers) and dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, such as cookies, candy, cake and dried fruit
- If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day
- Drink water or milk instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks or pop
- Drink water throughout the day (between meals and snacks). Tap or bottled is fine, as long as it is fluoridated water
- Take your prenatal vitamins daily. Make sure you are getting 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Foods rich in folic acid include:
- Vegetables—asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach
- Legumes—beans, peas, and lentils
- Fruits—papaya, tomato juice, oranges and orange juice, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
- Grain products fortified with folic acid—breads, cereals, cornmeal, flour, pasta and white rice
You know the guidelines: Your kids should brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes to help prevent tooth decay, cavities and promote oral health. But how often do your kids actually brush for the full two minutes? To kids, two minutes can feel like an eternity! Here are some ways to make brushing fun and easy for parents and kids:
- Brush with your child–Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique.
- Set a timer–Electronic timers are readily available, but if you can find a small two minute hourglass timer, even better.
- Cute toothbrushes–Great-looking children’s brushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. Every few months you should replace it—particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush.
- Tasty toothpaste–Use toothpaste made for kids … it’s a safe and non-abrasive version, in mild flavors that kids love.
- Say ahhhhh!–Your child can’t say “ahhh” with his or her mouth closed. As you brush, suggest varying the pitch, tone, and rhythm of the “ahhh” to keep things interesting.
- Bring a friend–At bedtime, invite your child’s favorite stuffed animal into the bathroom to watch the brushing.
- Make a sticker poster–Hang a piece of bright construction paper on the bathroom wall. Each time your child has a thorough brushing, he or she can choose a sticker or star and put it on the poster.
Sources: Orajel and www.sheknows.com
On average, we spend a third of our day at work. While at work, we eat lunch and often grab a snack from the vending machine or birthday cake from the lunchroom. Do you clean your teeth during the long workday? Here are a few tips for keeping your smile healthy at the workplace:
- Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk, locker or lunchbox and brush after eating.Or try the single-use toothbrushes, preloaded with toothpaste (Ex: Colgate Wisps).
- If you are embarrassed to brush your teeth at work, try rinsing your mouth with mouthwash.
- Chewing sugarless gum will increase saliva production and neutralize acids in the mouth that cause tooth decay.
Diet pop doesn’t have the high sugar content of regular pop, however, it is high in acid. Acid in pop is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel.
Sports drinks may have less sugar, but they have just as much acid as most soft drinks. Drink water instead of pop and sports drinks. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
Many of us are making resolutions to exercise, lose weight and get organized. What about your teeth? Here are a few suggested resolutions to help your smile stay bright and healthy.
- Brush twice a day and floss daily. Brushing your teeth twice a day fights plaque and decay. Flossing gets rid of food particles trapped between your teeth and gums that a toothbrush just can’t reach.
- Use mouthwash. A daily rinse with antiseptic mouthwash will help kill germs and bacteria that you can’t reach with a toothbrush. Mouthwash will also freshen your breath and fight plaque.
- Drink more water. At least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day is the recommendation. If you are drinking water, you are less likely to drink cola, tea and coffee, which can stain your teeth.
- Use protective devices. Wear a custom-fitted mouth guard when playing sports (even during practice!) to protect those pearly whites.
- Visit your dentist twice a year. Taking care of your teeth at home is just the first step in keeping a bright and healthy smile. Your dentist can diagnose and treat any potential problems before they become big issues.