Sure, everybody knows dental floss when they see it (we hope), and if you're in a periodontal program, you may be using miles of it. But do you recognize this gizmo? It's for "interdental" hygiene, especially useful for people with substantial spaces between their teeth at the gum line. Some studies show that interdental brushing, in combination with regular brushing and flossing, does a real number on plaque. Go gently, though. Any extreme pressure between the teeth, particularly in the presence of gum problems, can disturb the tissue.
Especially for Braces Wearers Do you absent-mindedly commit Tooth Abuse? These are habits definitely off limits for the health of your teeth: Don't chomp on a toothpick—it can wear teeth down and get caught in your braces. Stop chewing your nails, pens and pencils—it's hard on teeth and gums. Leave the ice in your drink? Chewing ice can crack teeth and fillings, and pop wires in braces. Don't consume something very hot just after something very cold. The rapid expansion and contraction can crack dental enamel. Treat your teeth right!
Traditionally, doctors and dentists have depended on the tongue to help them diagnose various diseases. And tongues do have a lot to say. For example, scarlet fever is accompanied by a spotted "strawberry" tongue. Burning tongue, a very painful condition, affects primarily post-menopausal women and can reflect systemic problems. Hairy leukoplakia is a common AIDS-related oral lesion. And candidiasis, a fungus infection which coats the tongue white, also says something is wrong. Now you know why, when you're asked to stick out your tongue and say...Ahhhhh...
If you're like the rest of us, now that belt-tightening is the "new normal," you may already be eating more meals at home, dropping subscriptions, vacationing closer to home. You may also be tempted to cut back on your dental care. But think it over. If a problem has surfaced with your oral health, nipping it in the bud is a big money saver. Letting it go can mean big, costly—and sometimes painful—treatment down the line. You're smarter than that. During your appointment, we'll check for tooth decay, of course, but also for periodontal disease, not only to protect your teeth and gums but to keep you alive and healthy. Yes, there's a direct link between gum disease and your [...]
Risk-taking is a normal part of teenage development—and often a growth opportunity for parents, too! Heads up to handling some common dental risks of adolescence so you both stay smiling. Wisdom Comes With Age The wisdom teeth, the third molars, are the last to emerge. They appear in the teen years sometimes two, sometimes three or four, or sometimes none at all. In a too-small jaw, the risk is they'll not be able to erupt, and cause pain and swelling from impaction. Or they'll push their way in anyhow, crowding and squeezing neighboring teeth out of alignment. Routine X-rays, starting at around age 12, can head off trouble by determining if there's adequate room in the mouth for any wisdom [...]
If your goal is healthy teeth for life, then you need fluoride. It ensures newly formed teeth are strong; prevents plaque, cavities, and gum disease; and protects roots that get exposed as gums recede over time. This essential mineral is present in what we eat and drink, but a healthy diet doesn't supply enough for a gleaming smile. Instead, it's important to apply it topically and drink fluoride-rich water. In toothpaste, it boosts the cavity resistance of existing teeth. Systemic fluoride, in water, creates healthy tooth structure and supplies fluoride for the saliva. Are You Sure There's Fluoride In Your Water? Bottled water intake is skyrocketing. That'd be great news health-wise, except most bottled water falls far short of the [...]
Self Examinations can Spot Signs of Trouble Through the day, you check the mirror—your hair, your collar, your hem. Ever open your mouth to see what's inside? You should, and not just when you feel pain or find blood on your toothbrush. You should routinely examine your oral orifice for any changes. Watch for red or white spots or other discolorations and small sores or swellings. Most of these oral lesions, as we call them, are harmless and easily explained. A tortilla chip or crust of French bread bruised your mouth, for example. But if you use alcohol or tobacco, or if you're being treated for any number of systemic diseases—such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders—these little irritations could signal [...]
An Old Habit Seems New Here's an idea that may be new to you. Did you ever think of brushing your tongue? Actually, tongue-brushing is an ancient practice. Our ancestors considered it part of their daily hygiene. Yet many people today aren't aware that their tongue needs brushing as much as their teeth do. In fact, it may be the dirtiest part of the mouth! Thousands of bacteria breed on the many tiny papillae (small bulges) of the tongue. And if they aren't brushed or scraped off daily, they can cause bad breath and re-infect your teeth with germs. So when you brush your teeth, brush your tongue, too—for a head start on a fresh breath.
Against Acidity If you eat a lot of citrus fruits, drink carbonated soft drinks, suffer the eating disorder of bulimia, or experience the decline of saliva that often accompanies advancing age, you may be at risk of tooth erosion. What can cause your teeth to erode so badly you wind up having to see a dentist: Nightly tooth grinding? Too many soft drinks? Aggressive brushing? Dry mouth? The scraping of a hygienist's probe at a routine tooth cleaning? Well, you can rule out the last one. But as for the rest, they can work, and do work together, to gradually wear away at your tooth's enamel until something must be done. A big part of reducing tooth erosion is keeping [...]
When you have a cold, we all know to cover your mouth before you sneeze and not to drink out of the same glass. We do this because we know that a cold is contagious. Now we know that chances are, so is tooth decay. Recent research suggests that the germs responsible for cavities may be "catchy." Likewise, scientists suspect that bacteria associated with gum disease may be transferable from husband to wife, or mother to child. Infants get the bacteria that come to inhabit the mouth and digestive tract soon after birth. These germs are usually transferred in the course of handling by the babies' mothers or other family members, and anything involving contact with saliva—parents kissing their babies [...]