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Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques

September 18th, 2012

When it comes to the care of your teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques do make a difference in the health of your mouth. Establishing a daily oral care routine should not be difficult. Unfortunately, you face an overload of information from advertisements touting the latest in brushing and flossing products.

Types of brushes:

Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and bristle styles. Here are some tips to help you choose.

- The ends of the bristles should be rounded; jagged ends can damage your gums.
- Most individuals will benefit from a soft bristled brush. Softer bristles will be gentler on tooth enamel, even if you have a heavy hand when brushing.
- The head of the toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth. If the head is too large, you may not be able to properly brush your back teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Frayed or worn out bristles will do more damage than good.


Brushing techniques:

While getting your teeth clean is important, over-brushing can actually be damaging to your teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can wear away the tooth enamel and cause sensitivity.

- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface.
- Use short, gentle back and forth strokes.
- Clean all of the surfaces of your teeth. The inside, outside, and chewing surfaces are all important.
- To brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth hold the brush vertically. Use gentle up and down brush strokes.
- Do not forget to brush your tongue.
Types of floss:

- Floss is available as waxed or unwaxed string. Waxed floss may glide more smoothly between your teeth.
- The flavoring in floss is designed to make the process more enjoyable.
- Floss tape is used in the same manner as string.
- Floss picks can be useful in reaching back teeth or if you have dexterity problems.
Flossing techniques:

To use string floss you will need a piece that measures about 18 inches in length. Wrap the ends a couple of times around your middle or index fingers. Gently work the floss back and forth between each of your teeth. You should be making a “C” shape against the tooth surface.

Be careful not to cut into your gums while flossing. If you notice any bleeding of your gums, consult your dentist. We recommend that you floss your teeth once a day. The time of day and the brushing and flossing sequence do not matter.

Every individual does have different needs and we will work with you to determine what works best for your situation. If you have questions regarding brushing techniques or which floss or toothbrush to use, ask at your next visit. Keeping your mouth healthy will make your checkups a pleasant experience.

How to Prevent or Get Rid of Gum Disease Naturally

September 10th, 2012

If you have, or are at risk for gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) then you probably know about the traditional treatments that your dentist has to offer. Thanks to advances in technology, there are several options for treatment such as periodontal surgery, laser therapy and other non-surgical methods. However, according to the American Academy of Periodontists, non-surgical methods don't work for every situation. Also, not everyone is comfortable with these procedures due to possible pain, side effects and medicines that may be used in the process. Fortunately, nature has provided a solution in the form of a naturally occurring substance called xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn't break down the way that regular sugar does and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.


Here are some additional benefits that xylitol provides for your oral health:

* Helps to reduce plaque formation
* Helps to reduce the development of cavities and aids in repairing them
* Increases saliva which helps to repair damaged enamel


Preventing Gum Disease

To maintain optimum oral health, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits, but more than ten to 12 grams a day is no more effective than 20 grams. To prevent gum disease, make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of xylitol throughout the day in five to six doses, not all at once. Drinking water, with one to two teaspoons of granulated xylitol stirred in, is an effective way to get the recommended amount. Do this in addition to your usual brushing and flossing routine.

Eliminating Gum Disease
Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you've developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition. Since you already have a higher level of bacteria in your mouth, you'll want to be sure to get in at least ten grams of xylitol each and every day in addition to maintaining a good brushing and mouth rinsing routine. Use a toothpaste with xylitol, a mouthwash that is highly effective at killing bacteria, and floss daily. As your final step, you should drink some water with a few grams of xylitol, chew a piece of gum or eat a candy with xylitol. Make sure that you get your xylitol in small, frequent doses throughout the day in order to gain the most benefit.
Tips and Warnings
* To get enough xylitol, try eating xylitol candies and chewing gum made with 100 percent xylitol or drinking xylitol mixed with water.
* Consuming too much xylitol in a given day, usually more than 20 to 30 grams, often causes diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
* While it's perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is lethal to dogs. Be sure to keep your xylitol in a cupboard or high shelf so that your canine friends can't get to it.

The Truth Behind Six Popular Dental Myths

September 4th, 2012

Myths about dentistry and general dental care abound. These myths are passed on by word of mouth and are presented as being factual; although they are typically inaccurate. There are dangers associated with dental misconceptions. By believing in these dental myths, you are placing your oral health at risk and you may not be receiving proper dental care. Find the answers behind many popular dental myths.

Myth: It is not important for young children to care for their baby teeth.

Fact: Although baby teeth are not permanent, long-term problems with permanent teeth can develop if baby teeth are not properly cared for. The malpositioning of permanent teeth, misalignment issues, and early orthodontic treatment are just a few of the concerns related to losing baby teeth too early as a result of tooth decay. It is crucial that children learn the basics of proper oral hygiene at an early age. Doing so will help them form permanent habits that are essential for oral health.

Myth: If you are not having problems with your teeth, seeing a dentist is not necessary.

Fact: Most dental issues are not evident in the early stages. It is only when they have progressed further that you start to notice there is a problem. In most cases, only a dentist can detect when there is a problem. Scheduling an appointment in our office twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a vital component to your dental health. In this way, dental problems can be treated early before they become a serious concern and require a more advanced form of treatment.

Myth: You should avoid brushing and flossing if your gums are bleeding.

Fact: If your gums are bleeding, it is usually a warning sign of gum disease or gingivitis. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth gently during this time since poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bleeding gums. If the bleeding worsens or continues to be a problem, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is a good substitute for brushing your teeth.

Fact: Although chewing sugar-free gum offers the benefits of freshening your breath and minor teeth cleaning between meals, it should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. Dental plaque and food particles can only be thoroughly removed by brushing and flossing.

Myth: Cavities are only a concern when you are a child.

Fact: Cavities can develop at any age. There are many situations and conditions that place both adults and elders at risk for the development of cavities. As an adult, you are more prone to developing receding gums, which can quickly result in tooth decay. Many adults and elders also take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. This can cause tooth decay as there is an insufficient amount of saliva within the mouth to wash away bacteria and neutralize acids.

Myth: Once you treat a decayed tooth, it will not become decayed again.

Fact: It is possible for other areas of the tooth to become decayed; although proper brushing and flossing will prevent the treated area of the tooth from becoming decayed again. If a filling gets old and begins to break down, there is a possibility that bacteria can become trapped inside and cause tooth decay.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 28th, 2012

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

 

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

1) Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erodes the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.

2) Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.

3) Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.

4) Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

 

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

 

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

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