Tag: oral health

Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss

Talking toothbrushes, water picks and more

With all the various dental products available to consumers, keeping your teeth healthy and clean has never been easier, once you can determine what dental hygiene routine is best for you.

Toothbrushes have come a long way since the days of the “chew stick,” a twig featuring a frayed end, or the hog bristle toothbrushes of the Tang Dynasty (619-907). But with so many options, it’s easy to wonder if you’re using the correct one.

Power up—Many people have turned to electric toothbrushes for that fresh out-of-the-chair feeling while others maintain their pearly whites using a hand-powered toothbrush. Manual brushing can deliver about 500 strokes per minute while an electric toothbrush averages 3,000 strokes per minute. Each option offers the ability to loosen food particles from on and between teeth.

Bring on the bristle—Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, you will need to determine what type bristles will whisk away plaque and grime. Most teeth will do well with soft bristles; and those with sensitive teeth and signs of enamel erosion, might prefer extra-soft bristles. Hard bristle brushes wear away enamel and are usually not recommended by dentists.

Toothbrushes are not the only tool for keeping teeth, gums and smiles healthy. Here is a rundown on additional oral care options.

Don’t be a fussy flosser—The art of flossing is important in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. In addition to the tried and true box of floss, there are flossing products that incorporate holders, picks or sticks to help with flossing. There is no difference between flossing before or after brushing, as long as its done daily.

Pick it up—Water picks are becoming increasingly popular, especially with people wearing braces or have other dental additions like crowns or bridgework. Water picks are also easier to use for those suffering from arthritis. Water picks are easy to use and can get to hard-to-reach areas with greater easy.

Tip of the tongue—For fresher breath, many people turn to the tried and true method of tongue scraping to remove bacteria from the tongue. Some studies have found that tongue scraping can lead to an improved sense of taste and tongue appearance. Concaved tongue scrapers come in a variety of materials.

Have questions about good oral health habits or dental products? Ask Dr. Baker or one of his professional team members during your next visit.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Proper dental health starts at an early age and there is no better time to highlight the importance of correct dental care for kids than in February, National Children’s Dental Health month.

Celebrate the month and elevate the importance of brushing and flossing with some fun activities designed to educate youngsters about proper teeth maintenance.

Toothy trivia—While in front of the sink, test your child’s knowledge (and your own) on all things dental with these fun facts:

  • Ancient Egyptians even brushed their teeth using a powdery substance made from pulverized eggshells and oxen hooves
  • The modern toothbrush was not developed until the 1700s, brushes with nylon bristles and ergonomic handles were developed in the 1930s
  • Which animal has the greatest number of teeth – dog, cat, pig or snail? A snail can have between 1000-12,000 teeth!
  • An average toothbrush has around 2000 bristles.
  • Americans buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste every year.
  • Teeth start to form before we are born.
  • It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile.
  • A fossilized T-Rex tooth can weigh up to a pound.
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.

Gummy games—Bring a smile to youngsters faces with these fun games sure to encourage proper brushing at an early age:

Toothbrush Tales: Make your child’s toothbrush the star of a goofy, adventure-packed story, but only when a child is brushing. Give the toothbrush a name and a voice and make Toothpaste, Floss or Mouthwash trusty sidekicks and give them a storyline.

Brush Your Body: Take the toothbrush, get in close and tells your child it’s time to brush teeth. But then pretend to scrub the child’s ears / elbows / toes / nose until they say, “No! My teeth, my teeth!” and show you how.

Practice makes perfect: Ask your child to help their favorite stuffy brush their teeth for them. A crocodile stuffed animal makes a great friend to practice on.

Other ideas to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health month include:

  • Buy a bunch of colorful, soft and child-sized toothbrushes, along with a variety of toothpaste flavors, so a child can pick and choose their own dental tools.
  • Make up a song to hum to during teeth-brushing time.
  • Let your child select a special, fun timer to use only for toothbrush time. Dentists recommend two minutes of brushing.
  • If you haven’t introduced your child to the dentist, do so on your next visit. When a child see’s a parent experiencing a good checkup, they are more apt to have a good dental experience themselves.

New Year Resolutions for Dental Health

If you usually include a healthy effort as a New Year resolution, why not this year put your money where your mouth is, literally, and turn your attention to making dental health a top priority in 2020.

The cool thing is, even if your resolution doesn’t include brushing or flossing, many other typical resolutions will also have benefits on your oral health. Quitting smoking, eating healthier and limiting alcoholic drinking will all help improve your teeth and gums as well as your overall health.

Here are some good dental habits to begin the new year right!

2 x 2—Scientists say it takes 66 days (just over two months) to form a good habit. If you start today, by mid-March, the healthy routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day will be totally second-nature for you. Make sure one of those times is before bed to clean off the accumulation of food from the day.

See ya, soda—Soda, especially energy drinks, are basically liquid sugar, which is extremely detrimental to your teeth’s protective enamel layer and can lead to all sorts of oral health issues including decay and tooth loss. Diet or sugar-free sodas are not much better as the acid content in them can do serious damage to the drinker’s teeth. Consider seltzer water as a refreshing alternative.

Make a date—Resolve to making you and your family’s cleaning appointments within the first month of the new year; as well as scheduling recommended dental work like crowns, implants and fillings for later on.

Change it up—When you change out all the batteries (and recycle them!) in the house, don’t neglect changing your toothbrush. Old, crushed and corroded toothbrushes don’t clean effectively and are just harborers of germs and crud.

Healthy eating—You know the foods to avoid, but did you know that there are some foods that are actually helpful in protecting your teeth? Cheese and cranberries have been shown to protect tooth enamel by “sticking” to your teeth and forming a protective coating on the enamel, while other foods like apples, celery and carrots naturally help clean your teeth while snacking on them.

Now that’s scary!

Halloween is a time-honored tradition in the United States, but the potential damage from all those sugary sweets on children’s teeth is downright frightening.

It takes only 20 minutes of a sugary attack on the teeth to lead to cavities. Sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel and create cavities.

Here are some tips to help keep your little ghoul’s and goblin’s teeth healthy:

  • Avoid long-lasting, hard candy (unless it is sugar-free) as these types of treats remain in the mouth for a much longer time, continuously coating tiny teeth with sugar.
  • Dole out candy with meals so the sugars are carried away by the saliva generated by eating.
  • Sticky candies, like gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
  • Sour sweets are highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
  • Brush your teeth after eating sugary treats.

This Halloween, consider offering teeth-friendly treats like sugar-free gum or lollipops as an alternative. Chewing gum or enjoying a sucker produces saliva, which helps remove cavity-creating acid from teeth.

Use it, don’t lose it

Most dental insurance policies or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) run out at the end of December and it would be a shame to not use those dental dollars. Dental insurance is a very nice option to have, so don’t let your investment go to waste.

While it’s common to have two cleanings per year, some policies actually cover additional preventive cleanings so take advantage of that opportunity and polish up those pearly whites once more. Call 586-992-9222 and schedule a cleaning today.

Stop putting off necessary dental work. At this point in the year, your deducible should be covered, so there is no excuse for putting off needed work. Remember too, the longer you put off a dental issue, the worse it will become.  Call us and make an appointment today.

Do you have questions about your dental insurance or FSA? Call our office and we can help you sort out any issues you have.

Causes and treatment for teeth grinding

If you often wake up with a sore jaw, headache, and/or you feel your teeth are sensitive to heat and cold, you may be a grinder. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding affects up to 50 percent of the population. Clenching your teeth and grinding while you sleep may seem harmless, however if not treated it can lead to fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth.

Some effects of bruxism include:

  • Pain and damage to the gums and teeth
  • Sore facial muscles, headaches and earaches
  • Shortened teeth, from being ground down
  • Sensitive teeth, due to worn enamel
  • Fractured teeth and cracked fillings from the pressure of grinding
  • Damaged TMJ (the small joint connecting the lower jaw with the upper jaw)

 Treatment

The first thing you should do if you think you grind your teeth in your sleep is to see your dentist. Dr. Baker will examine your mouth for signs of grinding. You can be fitted for a mouth guard to wear at night, that will keep you from grinding in your sleep.

Here are some tips you can do to cut down on grinding:

  • Avoid or cut back on caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol, which can intensify grinding
  • Do not chew on anything other than food. Avoid chewing gum, as it makes your jaw muscles used to clenching, making you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself. If you notice you are clenching or grinding during the day (like in traffic), position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This will help your jaw muscles relax.
  • Try holding a warm washcloth against your cheek, in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles at night.

Sources: Michigan Dental Association and WebMD

What is the “correct” way to brush my teeth?

  1. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in a circular motion.
  2. Since your toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time, change its position to properly clean each tooth.
  3. Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces of all your teeth.
  4. Use the tip of your brush to clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  5. Be sure not to brush your teeth too hard or use a hard bristled toothbrush, as this can cause your gums to recede and also wears down the tooth structure. These conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity.
  6. Last but not least, remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Do this for two minutes, two times a day, and floss once a day to keep your smile healthy.

For tips on selecting a toothpaste, read “Are you using the right toothpaste?”

 Source: American Dental Association

Tips for choosing a mouthguard

Is your child participating in a spring sport? Make sure their smile is protected by wearing a mouthguard during both games and practices.

Types of mouthguards:

  • Stock or ready-made mouthguards are the least expensive and can be purchased at most sports stores. These mouthguards are pre-formed, so often they don’t fit perfectly.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be molded to fit your child’s mouth by boiling them in water and then biting into the warm plastic. They are available at most sporting goods stores.
  • Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed and constructed by your dentist. This type of mouthguard can be more expensive than others, but ensures a perfect fit.

Caring for your mouthguard is simple. Just rinse it under cold water after each use and occasionally clean it with soap and cool water. Since mouthguards can tear or wear out, be sure to replace it after each sporting season.

To learn more about mouthguards and take a fun quiz, visit the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website.

Source: American Dental Association

Prevent bad breath with good oral hygiene

Worried about bad breath? You’re not alone. 50% of adults have had bad breath, or halitosis, at some point in their lives. Bad breath can get in the way of your social life. It can make you self-conscious and embarrassed. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.

  1. Floss daily. Need another reason to floss your teeth at least once a day? Flossing daily helps improve bad breath by effectively removing the food particles and bacteria that contribute to it. That makes flossing one of the easiest ways to prevent and banish bad breath.
  1. Scrape your tongue. The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush, or, better yet, use a tongue scraper. They’re designed to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells.
  1. Drink more water. Drink plenty of water to help maintain the level of saliva in your mouth to help prevent bad breath in addition to following a good oral care routine. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.
  1. Kick the habit. Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.
  1. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead. Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum, which stimulates saliva … the mouth’s natural defense against plaque acids.

Sources: American Dental Association WebMD, Oral-B

What are some early warning signs of oral cancer?

Like all forms of cancer, early detection is extremely important. Be sure to check your mouth when brushing and flossing. If you notice any changes, or any of these signs and symptoms, contact Dr. Baker immediately, especially if you’ve experienced them for two weeks or more:

  • A mouth sore that does not heal or that bleeds easily.
  • A white or red patch in the mouth that will not go away.
  • A lump, thickening or soreness in the mouth, throat, or on the tongue.
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing food, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when your mouth is closed.

Source: American Dental Association (ADA)