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Monthly Archives: August 2019

Daily Habits That Harm Our Teeth

OUR TOOTH ENAMEL holds the distinction of being the hardest substance in our bodies — even harder than bone! But don’t take that to mean our teeth are invincible. As hard as enamel is, it’s also somewhat brittle, so we should be careful to avoid daily habits that attack that weak point. Two of the most dangerous ones are mouth breathing and nail biting.

Nail Biting: Bad For Nails, Bad For Teeth

The most obvious evidence that nail biting is a harmful habit is the shredded, torn nails, but it’s just as bad for oral health, if not worse. Nail biting can erode, chip, and crack teeth. It can shift them, creating gaps, and can even affect the bite, increasing the risk of developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit.

It also introduces all the dirt and germs under the fingernails to the gum tissue, where it can cause gum disease. Possibly the worst thing nail biting can do to the teeth is trigger root resorption, which is when the roots of teeth begin to break down, leaving the teeth in danger of falling out. This risk is even greater for orthodontic patients with wire braces.

Mouth Breathing: Use As Emergency Backup Only

One of the amazing things about the human body is the many redundancies built in so that we don’t lose all function if one thing breaks down. We have two kidneys, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, and two ways to breathe: through our noses and through our mouths. However, we should really try to avoid breathing through our mouths unless breathing through our noses isn’t an option.

Mouth breathing leads to a number of problems, both short and long term:

  • Lethargy. Nose breathing produces nitric oxide, which helps our lungs absorb oxygen. Mouth breathing leads to reduced oxygen levels, leaving you with less energy. For kids, this can make it harder to pay attention at school, while adults may struggle to be as productive at work.
  • Dry mouth. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth, leaving it without saliva, its first line of defense against harmful bacteria. This can lead to issues like chronic bad breath and tooth decay.
  • Sleep apnea. Mouth breathing increases the risk of sleep apnea, which makes it hard to get a full, restful night’s sleep, leading to lower energy and many other problems.
  • Altered facial structure. A mouth-breathing habit in a child can actually affect the way their facial bones develop, leading to flat features, drooping eyes, a small chin, and a narrow jaw and dental arch.
  • Orthodontic problems. Narrowed dental arches will typically not have room for the full set of adult teeth, and this will need orthodontic treatment to fix.

We Can Help You Break These Habits

If you or your child has one or both of these harmful habits and you aren’t sure what you can do to fix it, we’re here to help! Give us a call or schedule an appointment with us, and we can discuss ways to discourage mouth breathing and nail biting so that they won’t continue to endanger your oral health. Meanwhile, keep up with the good habits like twice-daily brushing and daily flossing!

We look forward to seeing you at our practice!

Top image by Flickr user David Merrett used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How To Choose A Great Dentist

THERE ARE A NUMBER of reasons why someone might need a new dentist. Maybe their insurance changed, they’re moving to a new area, or they simply haven’t looked for a dentist yet. Whatever the reason, if you don’t already have a dentist, it’s a good idea to choose one now so that you and your family can get regular dental exams and so that you’ll be ready in the event of a dental emergency.

Five Factors To Consider In Your Dentist Search

Many variables play a role when you’re choosing the best dentist for you and your family. How you rank your priorities is up to you, but here are five items that we feel should be on everyone’s list.

  1. The location of the practice is definitely something to consider. How close is it to your home or to your child’s school? Is the distance convenient enough that twice-yearly checkups will be easy? Set up a range based on your answers to these questions and look for dentists inside it.
  2. What is the dentist’s reputation? Within the radius you’re willing to travel, which dentists have the best reputations among their other patients? Find out by checking Yelp and Google, and ask around if you know any of the patients in person. You can also get recommendations from neighbors and friends.
  3. Do you need a dentist with a certain specialization? Do you need a family practice, someone particularly good with kids, someone who specializes in treating gum disease or root canals? Be sure to research different types of dentists to find the one that suits your needs best.
  4. As important as it is to get high quality dental care, cost is an important factor too. What’s your household’s budget for dental care? Do you have dental insurance or can you get it? Keep in mind that preventing dental problems or treating them early will be much cheaper than waiting until they get serious, so slightly greater upfront costs are often well worth the investment.
  5. How comfortable are you around the dentist? It doesn’t matter how affordable and skilled a dentist is if you can’t relax in their practice. Go in for a visit ahead of time to get a sense of the place, the team, and the dentist. Good dentists always prioritize patient comfort!

We Can’t Wait To Meet You And Your Family

Hopefully this list gives you a good place to start in your search for a great dentist, but if you’re still uncertain, come see us! We can answer your questions about our practice and find out if we’re a good fit for you and your family’s dental needs.

We love meeting new patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Common Toothbrush Mistakes To Avoid

MAINTAINING GOOD DENTAL health isn’t just about the quantity of your brushing — it’s also about the quality. There are several mistakes many of us make when brushing our teeth, whether because we’re using the wrong tools or because we’re using the right tools the wrong way.

1. Keeping A Toothbrush Too Long

How long has it been since you got a new toothbrush? The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush at least three times a year, because broken, frayed bristles can’t do as good of a job of keeping your teeth clean.

2. Racing Through Your Brushing

The average time people spend brushing their teeth is 45 seconds, which obviously falls far short of the full two minutes recommended. If you’re having trouble making it through two whole minutes, try setting a timer or playing a song.

3. Brushing Too Hard

You might assume that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will get, but you really only need gentle pressure to scrub the leftover food and bacteria away. If you brush much harder than that, you risk damaging your gum tissue.

4. Using A Hard-Bristled Brush

Like brushing too hard, using a toothbrush with hard bristles can do more harm than good, especially to gum tissue. Talk to us if you’re not sure which type of bristles your toothbrush should have.

5. Brushing Immediately After Eating

A common mistake people make when they’re trying to take good care of their teeth is to immediately brush them after a meal. Acidic foods and drinks temporarily weaken our tooth enamel, and brushing right away can cause damage. This is why we should wait at least half an hour to brush so that our saliva has time to neutralize things.

6. Poor Toothbrush Storage

Is your toothbrush smelly? Do you store it somewhere it can get plenty of air, or do you put it in a case where it never really dries out? Bacteria love moist environments, so the best thing we can do to keep our toothbrushes clean is to store them upright somewhere they can air dry between uses.

7. Bad Brushing Technique

Even brushing for two full minutes twice a day with the best toothbrush with the perfect bristle firmness won’t do much for your teeth if your technique is off. Remember that you’re brushing to get plaque and food particles out of the gumline, so hold your brush at a 45° angle to the gums and gently sweep the bristles in small circular motions. Do this at least 15 times in each area of the mouth, on the tongue side and outside of the teeth, and don’t forget the chewing surfaces!

Come To Us With Your Tooth Brushing Questions

If you want to learn more about good brushing technique, toothbrush storage, or how to pick the perfect toothbrush for you, just give us a call! We want to make sure that all of our patients have the right tools and knowledge to keep their teeth healthy for life!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

Top image by Flickr user Robert Cupisz used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Dental Scaling And Root Planing: The Basics

ROUTINE PROFESSIONAL DENTAL cleanings by your dental hygienist include scaling, or the careful removal of plaque and tartar from around the gumline. Tartar in particular can only be removed at a professional cleaning, as brushing and flossing alone can’t do the trick. However, if you have symptoms of gum disease, your teeth may need an even more advanced cleaning called dental scaling and root planing.

The Effects Of Gum Disease

Healthy gums fit snugly around the teeth, providing a barrier that keeps bacteria away from the roots. When gums become diseased, they begin to pull away from the teeth, forming deeper pockets where bacteria can grow. That’s how plaque and tartar can build up beneath the gumline.

Check out this video for the warning signs of gum disease:

What Is Dental Scaling And Root Planing?

When you brush your teeth, you’re cleaning the visible surfaces. Dental scaling and root planing is a deeper cleaning. Dental scaling gets rid of all plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, and root planing smooths out any uneven areas on the surfaces of tooth roots so that bacteria will have a harder time sticking and gum tissue will be able to heal effectively.

This kind of deep cleaning has been described as the gold standard of treatment for patients with gum disease. To get the gums healthy again, all that gunk needs to be cleaned out, which is what dental scaling and root planing does. While routine scaling helps prevent gum disease, scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment for existing gum disease. In cases of severe periodontitis, it may be recommended before gum surgery.

Removing Tartar Is Like Pulling A Splinter

If you’ve ever had a splinter in your finger, you know that getting it out isn’t very comfortable, but as soon as it’s gone, you feel instant relief. Dental scaling and root planing is the same way. It may require multiple appointments and a local anesthetic to eliminate discomfort, but it leaves your teeth and gums feeling wonderful.

Afterward: Taking Care Of Your Gums

Getting your gums healthy again is a process, and the dentist is your best resource. After your periodontal treatment, whether it’s surgical or just scaling and root planing, we’ll want to pay close attention to your gums through regular maintenance visits. Every two to four months, you’ll come in for routine cleanings and examinations where we check the pocket depth of your gums.

Getting Your Healthy Smile Back — And Keeping It!

The best treatment for gum disease is prevention, whether you’ve had it before or not. A good oral hygiene routine is critical, so make sure you’re brushing the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces of your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, replacing worn out toothbrushes, and scheduling regular appointments with us. Avoiding smoking will also help you keep your gums healthy.

A healthy life starts with healthy gums and teeth!

Top image by Flickr user Pedro Ribeiro Simões used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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