Brent Cornelius D.D.S.'s Posts (48)

Have you never lost a tooth? Good for you because many people have lost at least one tooth: 178 million American adults have lost at least one. What’s more, 3.75 percent have none of their original adult teeth at all!

 

So if you want to be one of those who does keep all of her adult teeth (not including molar extractions as a young adult), read below for some tips on how you can keep all of your teeth for all of your life.Have you never lost a tooth? Good for you because many people have lost at least one tooth: 178 million American adults have lost at least one. What’s more, 3.75 percent have none of their original adult teeth at all!

 

So if you want to be one of those who does keep all of her adult teeth (not including molar extractions as a young adult), read below for some tips on how you can keep all of your teeth for all of your life.

1.      In addition to brushing/flossing regularly, eat crunchy fruits and vegetables after meals.

 

Eating an apple or carrot at the end of a meal or as a snack can act as a bit of a short tooth-brushing session. The fruit’s/vegetable’s hard flesh and skin can act as a cleanser.

 

2.     Eat more salmon.

 

Or at the least work on getting more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Harvard Medical School a few years ago researched federal data which tracked 9,000 people for five years and found that those who took a fish oil supplement and/or ate more fish rich in omega-3 had a 30 percent less chance of having gum disease. (Gum disease can lead to tooth loss.)

 

3.     Get more Vitamins D and C in your diet.

 

The Vitamin C can help keep your gums free of gum disease. Aim for at least 180 milligrams of the vitamin a day. A glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice should provide 80 milligrams. You also can find Vitamin C in guava, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, and green and red sweet peppers.

 

As for Vitamin D, studies are starting to show that people who have low levels of this nutrient are more likely to lose teeth because research is finding that the vitamin can reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria can form plaque, which can create cavities as well as gum disease, which – if untreated – could lead to tooth loss.

 

What’s more, Vitamin D has been proven to be crucial to your body’s ability to absorb calcium and calcium is essential for providing you with strong teeth and bones.

 

A State University of New York-Buffalo study found that individuals who ingested 800 milligrams of calcium a day were less likely to develop serious gum disease. (The federal recommendation for calcium is 600 international units [IU] per day for adults up to age 70 and 800 IUs per day for adults older than 70.)

 

4.     Exercise regularly.

 

Individuals who work out regularly have been found to come down with periodontal disease than people who are more sedentary.

 

It’s believed exercise helps because anything you do to keep yourself healthy helps keep your teeth and gums in good shape because people who are in poor health tend to have more tooth loss. In other words, your general health and oral health are entirely related!

 

Image courtesy Wenceslaus Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Oral Hygiene Advice to Live By

When it comes to good oral hygiene, following the basics is really all you need to do. There’s no need to follow gimmicks or new fads. Practicing the essential oral hygiene habits truly are all you need to do to enjoy good oral health for your entire life.

 

Below are what we believe to be the quintessential – and easy – oral hygiene habits everyone should follow:

1.      Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day. Repeat. Every day.

 

You know the drill: brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing your teeth once a day are the bedrock of good oral hygiene.  Doing so removes bacteria and plaque that could eventually erode your teeth, causing cavities, and/or lead to gum disease, possibly resulting in tooth loss. Your dentist is always telling you to brush and floss for one simple reason: they work!

 

Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and make sure you brush all surfaces of all your teeth, both on the outside and inside sides of the teeth.

 

2.   Get a professional checkup with your dentist at least twice a year.

 

Flossing and brushing get most, but not all, of the bacteria and plaque buildup from your teeth. Your dentist will get rid of the rest. If you tend to excrete more plaque than other people, your dentist may recommend that you have a professional checkup more than twice a year. If so, heed his advice if at all possible. The 70-year-old you will thank you.

 

3.  If you want whiter teeth, use some hydrogen peroxide.

 

Don’t use a lot and don’t let it get on your gums. Just pour a bit of the liquid into its bottle cap and dip your toothbrush in it. Brush your teeth (being careful regarding your gums) and then rinse the toothbrush and brush your teeth again with fluoride toothpaste.

 

4.   Get a tongue scraper and use it on your tongue.

 

Plaque and bacteria also build up on your tongue and a scraper will help get it off. Scrapers are pretty easy to find and aren’t that expensive. But if you can’t find one, brush your tongue with your toothbrush every time you brush your teeth.

 

5.   Brushing is best, but in a pinch, rinse your mouth after eating.

 

Not everyone can always brush their teeth after eating. But most of us can certainly rinse our teeth. Doing so will help remove sugars, food bits, plaque, and bacteria from our teeth. Follow up with brushing/flossing in the morning and evening.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Many children dislike going to the dentist. As in, really dislike going to the dentist! They are worried about getting a shot and feeling pain. Having to sit in the dentist’s chair with their mouth open for several a minutes a time isn’t all that easy, either. What’s more, the dentist is poking and prodding in their mouth with tools that make some pretty loud noises.

 

While some children are very afraid of going to the dentist, most just don’t like it and feel uncomfortable going. Still, most kids are troopers and go the dentist relatively willingly.

 

But what if you could make a visit to the dentist fun? It is possible. Take a look below for four ideas on how to do so.

1. Don’t wait; start young.

 

Your child should visit the dentist at least 10 times before starting kindergarten. This is to ensure that her milk (baby) teeth come in well and allows your dentist to treat any issues as they come up.

 

In fact, it’s best if you bring your child to the dentist as soon as that first milk tooth erupts, and definitely by the time your child reaches her first birthday.

 

Starting young not only ensures that your child’s teeth receive the care they need, it also helps your child look at the going to the dentist as a routine part of her life.

2. Visit the office before the official visit.

 

Let the office staff give your child a tour of the facilities. Look at teeth x-rays, play with the tooth models, sit in the dentist chair, talk to the dentist and his staff. Doing this can go a long way toward helping your child look forward to seeing his new friends.

3. Be positive, but don’t lie.

 

Don’t provide too many details about the dental visit, particularly if it’s your child’s first time seeing a dentist or if your child will be getting a cavity filled.

 

Talk about how the dentist will help keep your child’s teeth white and shiny and that he’ll be wearing a coat like her friendly pediatrician.

 

Keep a positive attitude but do not say everything will be fine or that nothing will hurt because your child could lose trust in you and your dentist if it turns out that she does need some type of treatment. Still, you shouldn’t use words such as pain, shot or hurt, as this can cause undue anxiety in the child as she anticipates these sensations.

 

4. Try to schedule the visit before a special and fun activity.

 

Remind your child that you will be taking her there right after her visit with the dentist and how much fun all of you will have.

 

Scheduling all dental visits before a special, fun activity can help your child associate going to the dentist with the activity. Going to the dentist will be just a speed bump on the road to entertainment.

 

Image courtesy of artzsamui/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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If you brush your teeth twice a day religiously with fluoride toothpaste, good for you! You’re taking an important step toward preventing cavities and tooth decay.

 

But while brushing your teeth every day is important, doing so isn’t going to prevent cavities. Why not? Read below.

 

1. Brushing your teeth does get a good amount of plaque from your teeth, but it can’t get all of it.

 

Why can’t it get all of the plaque that builds up on your teeth? Because brushing with a toothbrush can’t get between your teeth! That’s why it’s important to floss at least once a day. (It’s best to floss and brush at the same time, but you should floss at minimum once a day).

In fact, if you’re ever stuck on a desert island, make sure you have floss with you because if you don’t have a toothbrush, your tongue can get a good amount of bacteria off your teeth, but your tongue can’t get between your teeth. So if stuck between flossing and brushing, floss! (But you’re more than likely not on a desert island or far from a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, so there’s no excuse: brush your teeth!)

1.    2We eat so much sugar, it’s a wonder our teeth aren’t completely cavity-riddled.

 

The American Heart Association reported in 2014 that the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar each day, an amount more than double what we should be consuming. (According to the American Heart Association, women should consume less than six teaspoons a day and men should consume no more than nine teaspoons.)

 

You may think that you’re safe because you rarely eat sweets, but so much of the food we eat today has a ton of “hidden” sugar in it. One tablespoon of ketchup, for example, has four grams of sugar (more than in a chocolate chip cookie)!

 

Tooth decay starts when sugary or starchy foods and drinks stay on our teeth and then interact with the bacteria-producing acid that’s on our teeth to dissolve our tooth enamel. Once the enamel is worn down, the inside dentin layer of our tooth becomes exposed, leading to a cavity.

 

And it doesn’t take long at all for sugars/starches to start teaming up with the bacteria to start dissolving our tooth enamel: if you eat frequently (snacks) between sessions of brushing, the sugars remain there and can keep a thin layer of acid on your teeth, allowing for plaque buildup.

 

So the best thing to do is to brush your teeth each time you eat. That’s probably not possible, but that’s why it’s best to cut your way back on your sugar/starch intake.

 

2.   Visit your dentist at least twice a year to get rid of the plaque brushing and flossing didn’t remove.

 

Plaque buildup will lead to tooth decay. End of story. Since brushing and flossing won’t get all of it from your teeth (because even the best of us skip sessions every now and then), it’s important to visit your dentist’s office at least twice a year to get that remaining plaque removed from your teeth.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Dental Hygiene Resolutions for 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year, the time to make New Year’s resolutions. And, yes, we’re going to offer you some you should make regarding your dental health.

 

Will you follow our suggestions? Quite possibly. Will you keep these resolutions if you make them? Quite probably not! Still, trying is better than not trying, and if you follow the four resolutions listed below for at least 30 days, you very well may be able to say to friends and family in mid-February, “Why, yes, I did keep my New Year’s resolutions, thank you very much!”

 

And then smile broadly and show off those beautiful and healthy teeth your kept resolutions are helping you protect.

1. I resolve to brush and floss my teeth at least twice a day (brushing) and once a day (flossing).

 

This is perhaps the easiest, quickest and best way for you to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It takes just two minutes or so each morning and evening. It’s inexpensive (toothpaste and floss should last for weeks at a cost of less than $10 for the two of them), and it’s easy to do.

 

Brushing and flossing is critical to good oral health because brushing and flossing removes the plaque (a film of bacteria that grows on your teeth) from on and between your teeth that if left alone eventually will cause cavities, gum disease and even tooth loss. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste also is important because fluoride makes your teeth more resistant to decay and helps remineralize (build up) your teeth.

2. I resolve to visit my dentist at least twice a year for a professional dental cleaning and checkup.

 

You should do this even if you brush/floss your teeth religiously because even brushing/flossing simply can’t remove all of the plaque from your teeth. Visiting your dentist for a regular cleaning also allows your dentist to check for any issues that may have cropped up between visits.

3. I have real anxiety about visiting my dentist, so I resolve to speak to him about the different ways he can help relieve my stress and fear.

 

Most people who fear the dentist do so because they are worried a procedure will be painful. Others become stressed because they are worried an anesthesia may not work. Still others are just plain afraid of the needle that injects pain medication.

 

There’s nothing to be embarrassed about if this is you: between nine and 20 percent of Americans have some anxiety or fear regarding the dentist. 

 

Because so many people are anxious or downright panicked about visiting a dentist, modern dentistry has come up with many ways to make sure you feel no pain at all while undergoing any procedure.  The best way to alleviate your worry is to speak to your dentist and let him know about your specific fears so that he can work with you to find the best ways to make your more comfortable and less anxious.

 

If you’re really serious about your oral health, consider this last resolution:

4. I resolve to quit smoking or chewing tobacco.

 

Smoking can make you twice as susceptible to tooth loss than your non-smoking friends and family members. Smoking and tobacco chewing can do a big number on your oral health: smoking/chewing tobacco can result in cavities, discolored teeth, gum loss, gum disease, and throat, lung and oral cancer.

 

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If you’re of a certain age, you may have heard your parents – or even yourself – humming this tune. (Although it may not be as passé as we feared, for Elmo and Michael Bublé provided a delightful rendition of the 1944 novelty song as recently as 2012.) Or you may have sung it to your 7-year-old child when he lost those two front baby teeth.

 

But if that cute kid grows up without taking proper care of his teeth, he could lose his adult teeth when older…and that definitely wouldn’t be an adorable sight to see.

 

So how can you help your young child understand how important it is to practice good oral hygiene habits now and long into the future?

 

We’ve put together a short list of some tips you could try. Take a look below.

1.      The earlier you start talking to your child about taking care of his teeth, the better.

 

How early is best? Toddler-age. You’ll still be helping to physically brush your child’s teeth when he is 2 or 3, so make sure you make it a regular part of his routine each morning and evening. Talk to him about why it’s important and how easy it is to keep a healthy and bright smile.

 

2.      Practice good oral hygiene habits yourself.

 

Children do as you do and much more so than what you say. They are watching you constantly and if you don’t make a habit of brushing/flossing and going to the dentist for checkups, they’ll balk big time at having to do so themselves.

 

3.      Don’t talk about what a pain it is to go the dentist.

 

You always should say how you’re looking forward to going and discussing how you’re doing with your own oral health with the dentist. Even if you’re afraid yourself of the dentist and truly do loathe having to go, go! And be calm about it when speaking with your children. (And be sure to talk to your dentist about your anxiety. He has ways of helping lessen your fear and anxiety.)

 

4.      Consider going as a family for your regular checkups.

 

Making it a family affair shows that the entire family thinks enough about these checkups to go as a unit. In addition, you can make the outing even more enjoyable by heading to a movie afterward, or going out for lunch/dinner. (Skip the sweets, of course!)

 

5.      If you discover you have a cavity or need dental work, talk to your child about it.

 

Let your child know that it’s your own fault you have a cavity or otherwise need dental work. You know what you should have done better – you should have brushed/flossed more, or and not eaten all those sweets – and you promise to take better care of your teeth from here on out.

 

Then, when you return from your next checkup without any issues, make sure you let your child know that your dental habits are the reason for this “good” checkup.

 

6.      As your child ages, talk to him about gum disease, tooth loss, etc.

 

There’s probably someone in your family or close circle of friends who has lost one or more teeth. Gently, and without disparaging the individual, explain that he or she more than likely could have prevented the problem just by brushing/flossing/seeing a dentist regularly.

 

7.      Praise your child for his good oral hygiene habits.

 

As your child continues to practice good dental habits, congratulate him on his hard work and remind him that if he keeps it up, he should be able to keep all his teeth for the rest of his life.

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do you brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day? Or do you do so sometimes, when it’s convenient?

 

As you know, brushing your teeth provides you with a ton of benefits, not the least of which is preventing tooth loss as you get older. But so many of us just don’t brush twice a day. Sometimes we even skip brushing for an entire day or two.

 

So how can you get yourself to always brush your teeth twice a day, 365 days of the year? Take a look below for five tips we think will be helpful.

 

1.      Pay yourself to brush your teeth.

 

There’s little like the incentive of cash to get us to do something. Put a dollar in a jar every time you brush your teeth and in a year you’ll have saved $730. Spend it on something you normally wouldn’t buy, or go on long-weekend trip.

 

Think about it. Two dollars a day is nothing when it comes to your finances. But powerful when multiplied by 365 days of brushing twice a day. 

    Have a contest with your kids.

 

Make everyone participate in this contest. Make its duration at least two months. The person who brushes his or her teeth every day for the longest amount of time wins (you decide what the prize will be, and be sure to make it something both you and your children will enjoy).

 

To make sure everyone is brushing his/her teeth, do a breath test to make sure you detect the scent of toothpaste.

 

2.      Reward yourself with something inexpensive – but not cheap – each month you brush twice a day, every day.

 

Your reward needn’t be extravagant, but it should be something you normally don’t “allow” yourself, such as pancakes for dinner, a manicure with your pedicure, a three-inch-thick steak for dinner at the steakhouse of your choice.

 

3.      Brush your teeth at the same times every day.

 

In other words, make brushing your teeth such a routine that you do it at the same time every day. It soon will become a true habit and, like all habits, it will become something you don’t think about: it becomes something you just do.

 

4.      Regularly look at photos of people who don’t brush their teeth.

 

If these don’t make you want to grab a toothbrush right now, nothing will.

 

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Do you drink a lot of coffee or tea? Someone who knows this and meets you for the first time probably wouldn’t be surprised to see that your teeth are yellow. The same goes for red wine: if you drink it regularly, it could dull the brightness of your teeth.

Liquor drinker? You could see a bad case of periodontal disease, possibly even mouth or throat cancer.

Take a look below for more information on how your drinking habits can affect your teeth.

·    You worry when you spill red wine or coffee/tea on a white blouse. That stain it’s making on the blouse also means it can stain your teeth. In fact, the deeper the color of the beverage (hello, red wine!) the more it can stain your teeth because deeply colored drinks get that way because of chromogens, highly pigmented molecules that can – and often do – latch on to your tooth enamel, staining the tooth.

·         But wait, there’s more: the acidity found in beverages (even if not colored brightly) can stimulate tooth staining because they erode your tooth’s enamel, which softens your teeth briefly, making it easier for those chromogens to cleave to your teeth.

·         Coffee and tea also have a compound known as tannins within them and tannins also can help chromogens’ ability to stick to your tooth enamel.

·         Wine contains both tannins and acid. And you’re not safe if you drink “only” white wine, as these beverages also promote teeth staining.

·         If you think switching to tea will mean your teeth will stain less than if you were to continue to drink coffee, think again: black tea is quite rich in tannin. Aim to drink less black tea and more green, herbal and white tea; you’re less likely to see your teeth stain than if you drink primarily black tea.

·         We don’t have to tell you that colas and sodas have a lot of enamel-eroding acid within them, paving the way for staining. But don’t think you’re safe if you drink the sports drinks instead: they also can be highly acidic/enamel softening.

·         Heavy drinkers should know that alcohol irritates the mouth’s soft tissue and lessens the amount of naturally excreted saliva. Because the skin inside your mouth is very delicate, alcohol can easily corrode your gums, skin and cheeks. Heavy drinkers also have a greater chance of developing cancer in the throat or mouth because alcohol can change the way tissue cells divide.

 

To help your teeth stay bright, as you drink these beverages, if possible:

·         Use a straw.

·         Swallow promptly – don’t let the drink sit in your mouth.

·         Rinse your mouth as soon as you can with water.

·         Brush and floss your teeth as soon as you can.

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5 Pieces of Veneer Advice to Live By

Porcelain veneers can make dull, chipped or crooked teeth look like new. Place veneers on several of your teeth and your smile could look like that of a movie star’s.

 

Now that you have gorgeous teeth, it’s time to care for your veneers properly so that they’ll continue to provide you with a white and bright smile for years to come. In fact, you’ll need to continue to care for your teeth and gums just as you would if you didn’t have veneers.

 

To help you take care of your veneers properly, we’ve put together a short list of things you’ll need to do care for them. Take a look below for five tips to help keep your veneers looking great and your teeth and gums healthy.

1.   

b   Watch the “hard stuff.”

 

A porcelain veneer just covers the front of your tooth; it doesn’t replace it. Your real tooth is still there, sitting in your mouth, ready to bite and chew the foods you love. However, because the veneer doesn’t have “tensile” strength (it could still break under tension), it’s best not to eat chicken or rib bones, hard candies, pistachio nuts, etc. and you should never open things with your teeth.

 

2.      Use a non-abrasive toothpaste.

 

You’ll be able to eat and drink as before, but you also will need to brush and floss your teeth/veneers regularly in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

 

In addition, you can use toothpaste with baking soda, but you should stay clear of “extra whitening” toothpastes, as they can be very abrasive. Your dentist probably will give you a polishing paste to use on all of your teeth that have been covered by veneers.

 

3.      Stay clear of mouthwashes.

 

Mouthwashes tend to be high in alcohol, which can soften and weaken porcelain’s bond. Instead of using a store-bought brand of mouthwash, mix a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. You also could use a mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol.

 

4.      If you grind your teeth at night, be sure to tell your dentist.

 

If you grind your teeth at night (bruxism), your dentist will give you a nightguard to wear over your teeth when you go to bed so that your tooth grinding won’t wear down the surface of the veneer as well as the enamel on your regular teeth.

 

5.      Whenever you visit a dentist, let the staff know you have veneers.

 

Veneers aren’t noticeable, often even to dental professionals.  So if you’re going for a routine cleaning from a dentist who didn’t place the veneers on your teeth, let the hygienist know. Yes, the veneers will be detectable on x-rays, but mouth x-rays are taken only every so often and certainly not always for “just” a cleaning.

 

Tell the hygienist about the veneers so that he or she can use a neutral serum fluoride to help protect the porcelain’s or resin’s bonding.

 

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Do you grind your teeth at night? You may not be aware that you do, but if you wake up with a sore jaw or achy teeth, chances are it’s because you’re grinding them.

 

Some people know definitely, no doubt about it, that they grind their teeth: either their spouse complains about the noise – or wakes up because of it – or the grinder wakes up with the sore jaw, as mentioned above.

 

So if this is you – or your partner – take a look below for the causes of teeth grinding as well as some tips you can try to stop or alleviate it.

 

“Teeth grinding” is a condition known as bruxism and it actually has you clenching your jaws rhythmically. While it’s possible to grind your teeth while awake, most of those who do, do so when asleep.

People tend to grind their teeth due to anxiety, stress, after drinking a lot of alcohol, or smoking heavily. Some teeth grinders may be depressed or have a sleep disorder.

 

Bruxism tends to present itself more in those with sleep apnea, regular smokers, or heavy coffee (caffeine) or alcohol drinkers, while most people (about 70 percent) of tooth grinders do so because of stress and/or anxiety.

 

Bruxism’s symptoms include:

 ·     Headaches when awake

·         Enlarged facial muscles

·         Pain or discomfort in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

·         Stiff neck or shoulders

·         Sleep disorders

·         Ear pain

 

Your teeth also may show increased wear and even movement. Some people who grind their teeth are at risk of breaking or losing teeth.

 

About 10 percent of adults suffer from bruxism, and it presents itself more commonly in women than in men. If you notice jaw pain once awake, it usually dissipates during the day.

 

Before treating your bruxism, it’s important to try to figure out what’s causing it because your dentist will create a comprehensive treatment plan specifically for you.

 

If you and your healthcare provider believe the bruxism is caused by stress, he may recommend that you work to reduce your stress by exercising, meeting with a stress reduction counselor and/or performing relaxation exercises such as meditation. Your physician or dentist also may prescribe muscle relaxants or even Botox (if you don’t respond to other treatments). You also should cut back on alcohol and caffeine, as well as medications that contain amphetamines.

 

Your dentist also could recommend – and teach you – how to hold your jaw and mouth properly so that you can learn how to change the grinding behavior.

 

Other treatments involve protecting your teeth from wear and breakage by wearing a mouth guard or splint while you sleep. These keep your upper and lower teeth separated so that if you do clench your jaw, your teeth won’t grind. These splints/guards usually are made of soft material or even a hard acrylic shaped to fit over your lower and upper teeth.

 

If your teeth aren’t aligned properly and if your dentist feels it to be the right course of action, he may decide to either place crowns on your teeth or reshape their chewing surfaces.

 

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If you’re looking to brighten/whiten your teeth a bit but feel asking your dentist to whiten your teeth could be too expensive, you may have considered using the teeth whitening products sold in your local drugstore, grocery store or big-box retailer.

 

But you’ve heard they don’t work.

 

Or do they?

 

Americans tend to spend about $1.4 billion each year in over-the-counter (OTC), non-prescription teeth whitening products, so asking if they actually work is a legitimate question.

The short answer is “Yes, OTC tooth whitening products do work.” The longer answer is “OTC tooth whitening products do work, but not as well as professional products used by your dentist.”

 

The main reason for this disparity is the fact that OTC whiteners have just 10 percent peroxide while the whitening products that your dentist uses can contain between 20 and 40 percent peroxide.

 

Peroxide is a bleaching agent that removes surface as well as deep stains that have formed on your teeth. In fact, peroxide actually can change the natural color of your tooth.  It therefore makes sense that the higher percentage of peroxide, the greater the whitening effect.

 

Even the “just” 10 percent peroxide OTC products can cause tooth sensitivity or pain, so it’s important to be careful and not overuse the store-bought tooth whitening products.

 

In addition, the color of the stains on your teeth can indicate bleaching’s effectiveness. The American Dental Association reports that teeth with a yellowish hue or yellow stains are more likely to react well – that is, whiten – to bleaching products than will gray-hued teeth.

 

Another way to whiten your teeth, one which doesn’t use a peroxide product, is to use an agent that works via abrasion to remove stains from your teeth.  Often found in whitening toothpastes, these agents remove only surface stains.

 

Here’s the bottom line:

 

OTC tooth whitening products generally do work, by either the way of bleach (peroxide) or an abrasive substance, but because they don’t contain as much bleach/peroxide or abrasive agents, they don’t whiten/brighten your teeth as much as the products used by your dentist.

 

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If you have, or are thinking about getting dental implants, here are a few things you should know, both the good and the bad, the pros and the cons, the ins and the outs.

Some people think dental implants go “on top” of your teeth.

They do not: they actually replace your teeth, from your roots to your pearly whites. Getting implants actually is a surgical procedure which starts with your dentist removing your entire tooth, from the root – or what’s left of it, if the root has been damaged in some way – on up.

 

He then buries the metal implant (it replaces your tooth root) flush with your jaw bone, but underneath your gums, to protect it during healing and before the second stage of the procedure, in which your dentist performs another surgery exposing the implant by removing some of the overlying gum.

It may be possible for your dentist to place an abutment, which is a connector that’s built into the implant that’s then placed on top of the implant. It connects the implant to the replacement tooth that your dentist will place on top of the implant or the abutment (if you have an abutment).

 

Once the implant and/or the abutment have healed over several weeks, and the implant has successfully osseointegrated (bone has grown securely around it), your dentist then attaches the prosthetic tooth on top of it.

 

The result is a prosthetic tooth and “tooth root” that are sturdy, look just like real teeth, and which allow you to eat pretty much anything you want.

 

Some individuals believe that dental implants are just as good as dentures or bridges. This is incorrect: dental implants are better! They look more like real teeth than dentures/bridges do. In addition, because they aren’t anchored to their neighboring teeth, implants sustain the integrity of the healthy teeth nearby. In other words, you’ll experience no more decay of teeth that are otherwise sound.

 

What’s more, dental implants will preserve the bones in your jaw and prevent the shrinkage that occurs with bone loss! This is a great benefit of getting a dental implant because even just the loss of one tooth will cause shrinkage in your jaw bone.

 

While about 90 percent of dental implant procedures are successful, some are not. If this is the case, your dentist more than likely will have to remove the implant because it can’t be forced to osseointegrate. It is possible to try again with a second implant, but you will need to let the area heal for several months before doing so. You also may have to undergo a bone augmentation procedure.

 

How can you best ensure a dental implant will be successful?

You should be in general good health.

If you smoke, your dentist may ask you to quit before the procedure because the nicotine in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of blood flowing to the soft tissues in your mouth and slows the healing process.

·        You need to have enough bone and gums in your jaw, although your dentist can rebuild both gum and jaw bone.

Dental implants are safe and an effective way to improve the appearance of your smile as well as a means to keep neighboring teeth healthy and keep the bones in your jaw from shrinking if you’ve lost one or more teeth.

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Veneer Myths

If you’ve been thinking of having veneers placed on one or more of your teeth, congratulations! Veneers are one of the absolute fastest ways to improve the look for your teeth.

But veneers aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to enjoying a bright and beautiful smile. For example, many people believe that veneers are “instant.” That is, that they can walk into a dentist’s office and an hour later walk out with veneers.

Take a look below for the truth about the “myth” described above, as well as three additional misconceptions many people have about veneers.

 

1.      Veneers are “instant.” They are not. Having one or more veneers placed on your teeth will take a minimum of two visits with your dentist. The first is to ascertain if you’re a good candidate for veneers (other than the crooked or chipped tooth, your teeth and gums need to be healthy) and to create a mold of the teeth on which the veneers – shells that go over the teeth – will be placed. It’s possible – if the dentist has a lab on-site at which the veneers are made – that on your second visit he can shave down the teeth on which the veneers will be placed (so that the veneer will fit perfectly over your teeth) and then place and bond the veneers to your teeth, but many dentists shave your teeth during the second visit (placing temporary caps on them) and then place and bond the veneers on the teeth during the third visit.

2.      Veneers can be placed over all teeth and make the perfect smile. While this is possible, veneers are very expensive and generally are not covered by insurance. Veneers cost, on average $1,000 - $3,000 per tooth, so a full mouth of veneers would end up costing close to – or far more – than $30,000. Instead, most dentists recommend that patients looking for the full pearly-white effect get veneers on a few of their front teeth, and then have the remaining teeth professionally whitened.

3.      Veneers can replace missing teeth. While veneers can fill in gaps between teeth, they can’t replace missing teeth and always are placed over an existing tooth. The existing tooth may be chipped or very crooked, but a tooth must be there. Patients with this belief about veneers probably have them confused with dental implants, in which the dentist places an artificial tooth root into your jaw and then attaches a replacement tooth or bridge to the implant. Dental implants often replace missing teeth.

4.      They will last forever. If only that were true! While veneers are very sturdy and you can eat all foods with nary a restriction, they will need replacing at some point. Veneers, when taken care of properly, will last five to 12 years. Proper care means taking care of them just as you would any tooth (because they actually do cover your teeth). Which means you’ll need to watch your sweets and starches, brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year.

Veneers are amazing. They look just like your real teeth, yet they improve the appearance and shape of your teeth immensely. They may not be the absolute perfect solution to stained, dingy, crooked, or chipped teeth, but they come very close.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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We all know the dental routine really well: brush twice a day, floss once a day and visit the dentist for a professional checkup and cleaning twice a year.

 

And you follow this routine…routinely. In fact, you’re about ready to go in for your next dental checkup. But you haven’t had any cavities or gum issues in years so you figure “I’m good, no issues. I think I’ll cancel this appointment.” 

 

We urge you to go anyway. That is, make sure you visit your dentist at least once a year. Here’s why.

Sugars and starches in the foods you eat work with the bacteria that lives in your mouth to create acid. Acid then bores into your enamel, weakening it, and eventually causing a cavity. Plaque also can form on the roots of your teeth and under your gums, eventually breaking down the bone that supports your teeth, causing tooth loss.

 

Brushing and flossing are critical to keeping this acid formation at bay. But so is getting a professional cleaning/checkup because floss, your toothbrush and your fluoride toothpaste always miss something and so the plaque has time to build up, making it ever harder for your floss/toothbrush/toothpaste to remove the built up plaque. In fact, plaque can become so hard only your dentist will be able to remove it.

 

True, it can take years for a cavity to form or your gums to deteriorate, but if you skip too many dental visits – and we’ve noticed that many people who skip “just one,” end up not visiting the dentist again for one, two, or even three or more years – that give plaque plenty of time to form a cavity. Or for you to develop gingivitis or periodontal disease and, once they do, you’re in for more dental treatments, more time spent in the dentist’s chair and more cost.

 

Instead, make sure to keep your twice-a-year dental appointments! In fact, some people at greater risk of dental disease may benefit greatly from going in for a professional cleaning three or even four times a year. Such individuals could include smokers, people with diabetes, pregnant women, people who have developed gum disease, those with a weak immune system, and folks who just tend to build up more plaque than other people do.

 

Sitting in the dentist’s chair for half an hour or so with your mouth open wide twice a year or so is a small price to pay to keep major – and potentially serious, painful and expensive – oral health problems at bay.

 

So if you have a dental checkup scheduled soon, make sure you keep it!

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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National Dessert Day is nigh: October 14 is the day when we celebrate and honor all things sweet eaten after our main meal.

 

It’s also a day that, when they hear about, dentists tend to let out a huge sigh, saying, in effect, “Ah, another day for cavities!”

 

While we couldn’t find any information regarding the origins of National Dessert Day (it definitely is an unofficial “day” however, as we found it mentioned on many different “holiday” sites), we did find a small bit of interesting information about the origins of dessert.

 

That is, we learned that cultures throughout millennia have often finished off the evening meal with nuts, natural candies (think dried apricots, for example) and/or fruit.

 

Desserts today run the gamut from cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, soufflés, puddings, gelatins, gelato, chocolate, hard candies, and on and on and on and on.

As for National Dessert Day 2015, we hope you ignore it!

 

We know you can guess why: all that sugar! And starches! And Halloween (the main day of eating too many sweets) just two weeks away. Which makes us wonder why the country “needs” a day celebrating all things dessert just a fortnight or so away from the day of small chocolate bars, bubble gum, candy apples, candy corn and pumpkins, jawbreakers, taffy, peanut brittle, and on and on and on and on.

 

But we digress.

 

Still, you know the drill: the sugars and starches found in almost everything considered to be dessert today can cause the bacteria in your teeth to work with the sugar and starches in the food to form acids  that can erode your erode your teeth and gums, potentially leading to gingivitis, perhaps even periodontal disease, cavities, and even gum disease and tooth loss.

 

When stated like that, does dessert sound all that tasty to you? We hope not.

 

Still, as much as we’d like to tell you to ignore National Dessert Day completely, we know that life is to be enjoyed and a delicious lemon mousse eaten after dinner this coming October 14 shouldn’t do too much harm….

 

…so long as you promise us that you’ll brush and floss your teeth, maybe even rinse your mouth  with fluoride mouthwash, as soon as you can after eating.

 

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

 

Image courtesy of KEKO64s/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Tips to Help You Find a Great Dentist

When it comes to finding a dentist, it could be relatively easy: simply Google, for example, “Keller dentist” and then just start going through the list that pops up, phoning each until you find one that you believe is a “good fit.”

But what is a “good fit?” Is it price? Location? Years in business? Someone who routinely takes care of children, or who knows how to treat an elderly patient with the beginning signs of dementia?

 

That’s the first step in finding a great dentist: deciding on your “must haves” before you start contacting dental firms.

Here are a few more:

  • Once you’ve decided what qualities you’re looking for (cost, scope of practice, location, etc.), it’s time to start asking around. Ask friends and family members if they know of dentists that fit your criteria. If you’re new to an area and don’t have friends or family nearby, talk to your physician, local pharmacist, hairdresser, your colleagues at work, and so on. Some of the best matches are made by talking to people who have lived in an area for several years.
  • If you didn’t move too far away from your previous home, ask your former dentist for a referral. Your former dentist knows your dental “conditions” and so could recommend someone who fits your needs very well.
  • You also could visit the American Dental Association’s (ADA) website for finding dentists, MouthHealthy.org. This site allows you to find a member of the ADA near you. You can search by dental specialty and distance from your home.
  • Sites such as Angie’s List can help you find a dentist. Please note that while rated service providers can’t pay to show up in results, they can place ads (although the fact they purchase an ad doesn’t affect their rating). Also, Angie’s List charges you a membership fee.
  • Once you’ve found one or more likely dentists, call to see if you can have a “nice to meet you” appointment. This could be very important if you or someone in your household has special oral hygiene needs, or if one of your children, for example, is very nervous around dentists (so a friendly meeting to check out the facility and meet the dentist could help alleviate that child’s anxiety).
  • Visit at least three dentists before choosing one. In addition, never be shy about going to another dentist if you feel your needs aren’t being met at the first dentist. As a courtesy, let the first dentist know why you’re leaving.
  • If you’re on a very tight budget, see if there’s a dental school nearby. Dental clinics at these schools often offer lower-cost routine dental services so that their students will have a chance to practice their skills on live patients. Have no fear: all such schools make sure each dental student always perform dental work while being overseen/supported by an experienced dentist.

 

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Many parents feel it’s tough to teach their children how to brush and floss their teeth. After all, little fingers and hands may not be dexterous enough to brush correctly, let alone be able to maneuver well in their mouth in order to floss.

The “secrets” to teaching children how to brush and floss should be kept secret: spread the word!

 

But you’d be surprised how well young children can brush and even floss when they start at an early age and when shown the proper methods.

 

Read below for tips on how to teach your children how to brush and floss their teeth.

 

  • Many parents wonder when they should start brushing their baby’s or child’s teeth. The answer is: as soon as the first tooth appears! Once your child reaches toddlerhood, parents should continue to brush and floss their child’s teeth, but make sure the child watches. It’s also best if you explain every now and then (often enough that your child starts to perhaps mimic you) about how to brush and why it’s important to do so.
  • Start flossing a baby’s/toddler’s teeth when two teeth appear next to each other.
  • Unless your dentist or pediatrician recommends against it, always use fluoride toothpaste.
  • If you’ve been brushing and flossing your child’s teeth regularly for years, don’t be surprised if your pre-schooler/kindergartner or even older toddler one day insists on doing it him- or herself. Let the child try and give pointers. Always supervise until your child is between the ages of 6-8.
  • If your child has a hard time maneuvering floss around and between his or her teeth, consider using flossing sticks. These can help children slide the floss back and forth between teeth easily, without the need to wrap long strands of floss around fingers.
  • Model good oral hygiene habits yourself. Always brush and floss your teeth. Make sure your children know you do so.
  • In fact, to truly help your children get in the habit, brush and floss with your children together. Make it a fun, family ritual before your children’s bedtime. (This has the added benefit of helping to ensure that you brush/floss yourself; if your children go to bed at 8, you can’t make the excuse that you’re “too tired” to perform this important health routine when you go to bed at 11.)

 

The primary “secret” to making sure your children practice brushing/flossing regularly, Starting early and modeling regular brushing/flossing yourself. (Ok, that’s two secrets, but who’s to quibble?) Practice these two habits yourself and you’re helping ensure that your children create a strong foundation for this important habit, making it more likely that they follow through on their own for the rest of their lives.

 

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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10 Commandments of Using Invisalign

When it comes to using Invisalign to straighten your teeth, there’s little simpler: just place the molded-to-your-mouth “aligners” into your mouth and change them up every two weeks (so that your crooked teeth slowly turn themselves un-crooked).

 

But there are some rules when it comes to properly using Invisalign. Take a look below for what we like to think of as the “Ten Commandments of Using Invisalign.”

1. Thou Shalt Be of a Responsible Age and Mindset.

People using Invisalign need to be responsible enough to swap one mouth tray for another. That’s why most users tend to be at least 18 years of age or older. This doesn’t mean older teens (16 years of age and up) can’t use Invisalign, but whoever uses this teeth-straightening method needs to understand that swapping the trays must take place on schedule.

2. Thou Shalt Not Eat with the Trays in Thy Mouth.

You must remember to remove the trays when eating anything. And remember to put them back in when finished

3. Thou Shalt Remove the Trays When Drinking Anything But Water.

 

In other words, remove the trays when eating or drinking anything. Except when drinking plain water.

4. Thou Shalt Never Eat Very Hot Foods or Drinks With Invisalign.

Of course, we understand that some people (it will never be you, of course), eat food or drink a beverage other than water while wearing the trays. But if you do, make sure the food/drink isn’t hot. Hot foods or drinks could “melt” the plastic aligner a bit, making it fit less well to your mouth and decreasing the efficacy of the tray’s work to straighten your teeth.

5. Thou Shalt Never Drink Coffee, Tea, Colas, or Wine.

 

You know you’re supposed to remove the trays when drinking any beverage but water and the reason is thus: coffee, tea, wine, and colas can stain your teeth. So they also can stain the plastic trays, leaving them less than invisible.

6. Though Shalt Wear the Invisalign Trays Whilst Sleeping.

 

The only time you should remove the trays is to brush your teeth, eat and drink. You should wear the aligners a minimum of 22 to 23 hours a day, every day.

7. Thou Shalt Not Chew Gum Whilst Using Invisalign.

 

You probably can figure out why – the gum could become stuck to the aligners.

8. Thou Shalt Not Smoke Whilst Using Invisalign.

 

Like coffee, colas, tea, and wine, tobacco can stain the aligners, rendering them visible, and possibly even damaging them from the heat of the cigarette. You also shouldn’t chew tobacco while using the aligners. If you haven’t done so already, quit smoking before starting your Invisalign regimen.

9. Thou Shalt Clean the Aligners as Instructed by Thy Dentist.

 

Your dentist will give you clear and complete instructions on how to care properly for the trays. If in a pinch – and only in a pinch – clean the aligners by brushing them and rinsing with lukewarm water.

10. Thou Shalt Visit Thy Dentist Regularly as He Recommends.

 

You will need to visit your dentist every four to six weeks. This is much more frequently than the “every six months” timetable you may be familiar with when it comes to seeing a dentist, so be prepared for this frequent dental-visit schedule.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Ways to Fix Crooked Teeth

 

If your teeth are crooked, you have – basically – four different options in regards to straightening them. All four work very well. Two take several months to deliver their magic while the other two can “straighten” your teeth almost immediately.

 

Here they are in alphabetical order.

 1. Dental Implants.

 

These are implants that act as replacements for your tooth roots. Your dentist removes your tooth and its root, implanting a strong foundation/root into your jaw, and then fixing a permanent replacement tooth upon the implant, which is made to look like and act just like your natural tooth. You can eat as well with them – it not better – as you did before.

 

Implants generally aren’t covered by insurance and they are not inexpensive. Many people, therefore, usually don’t get them in order to fix crooked teeth, but instead to replace chipped, broken or missing teeth.

 

Dental implants can be implanted into your mouth over one to three appointments.

 

Dental implants can replace extremely crooked or missing teeth.

 2. Clear and Traditional Braces.

 

Traditional braces are those metal brackets adhered to your teeth by your dentist and connected to each other by wire. Your dentist must tighten them regularly so that they gradually straighten your teeth and/or align your jaw as necessary.  Teeth straightening can take several months to a few years.

 

Metal braces are still the most common form of traditional braces, but clear braces (such as Invisalign, see below) and metal braces that have their brackets and wires adhered to the back of the teeth, rendering them “invisible” are making inroads. Ceramic  braces that are created to be the same color of your teeth (again, making them “invisible”) also are becoming increasingly popular.

 

Many dental insurance plans cover all or part of the cost of braces. Check with your insurance company.

 

 3. Invisalign

 

This tooth straightening procedure uses “aligners” that are custom-fitted for your mouth. They are trays that are made of smooth and comfy – and pretty much invisible – plastic that fit over your teeth. There are no wires or metal brackets to tighten. The aligners gently and gradually straighten your teeth and you use a new one every two weeks or so over several months until your treatment is complete.

 

You must wear the aligners almost all of the time, removing them only to eat and drink (unless you’re drinking water), and then placing them back into your mouth once the meal or snack is over.

 

Dental insurance plans may cover a good deal of Invisalign’s cost, just as they may cover traditional orthodontia treatment. Check with your dental insurance company.

 4. Porcelain Veneers

 

These are very thin shells made of ceramic that look incredibly like your natural teeth. Your dentist bonds a veneer to the front surface of a tooth, immediately transforming its color and shape. Your dentist bonds the veneer securely to the tooth, allowing you to eat and chew just about any food your natural teeth could. People noticing your teeth won’t notice that the veneer is even there.

 

One or more veneers can be placed on your teeth in one to three visits with your dentist. While they are a great way to get a beautiful smile almost instantly, they almost are never covered by dental insurance and can be very expensive, especially if you opt to have porcelain veneers placed on several teeth.

 

 Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do you brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes two or even three times a day? Do you floss your teeth every day, sometimes even twice a day? Do you see your dentist for professional cleanings religiously two or even three times a year? And do you still have tooth decay?

 

You (lucky you), may be one of many people who naturally are more susceptible to cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, etc. 

Do you floss and brush your teeth religiously and STILL get cavities?

 

It’s not your fault: blame it on your biological makeup.

 

Just about everyone on the planet (97 percent of us) gets at least one cavity (known in the dental world as dental caries) in our lifetime, according to a 2002 article in Scientific American.

 

Remember that cavities are caused by plaque that form on our teeth. Plaque basically is a sticky substance found on our teeth that’s made by the millions upon millions of individual bacteria that live in our mouths. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars contained in the sugary and starchy foods we eat and drink to create acids that then eat away at our tooth enamel.

 

Over time, these repeated assaults on our enamel cause it to break down, resulting in a hole (cavity) on the tooth’s surface.

 

Our saliva as well as brushing/flossing our teeth remove a good amount of these acids  and plaque, and regular cleanings/checkups with your dentist remove even more, but no process is perfect and so most of us get at least one cavity in our lifetime.

 

So if you’re brushing and flossing more than regularly, if you’re heading to the dentist religiously, if you’re not eating too many starchy/sugar foods and drinks, why (oh, why!?) are you getting more cavities than others?

 

In a nutshell, if you take good care of your teeth and you still get cavities, it’s probably because of one of the following reasons:

 

  • You have a different pH factor than others, one that lacks some fluoride ions that helps restore tooth enamel. This is probably hereditary (check with your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. to see if they also get more cavities than other people).
  • You could have deep grooves in your teeth (also hereditary)  that give bacteria in your mouth a nice hideaway from your toothbrush and floss, allowing them to stay in your mouth long enough to produce cavities.

 

If you feel this may be you, discuss it with your dentist. He may recommend that you come in for checkups more than twice a year (every four months or every quarter) for professional cleanings. He also may recommend that you brush/floss more frequently.

 

Image courtesy stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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