Tags Posts tagged with "flossing"

flossing

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How Your Dentist Knows You're Not Flossing
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A recent survey by the American Dental Association found that just under half of all Americans floss their teeth daily.

What about the other half?

My guess is that they’re the ones who floss twice a year — right before their dental checkups.  They think they can pull a fast one on us, but here’s a little secret: dentists can tell when you’ve been  flossing and when you haven’t.

How Dentists Can Tell When You’re Not Flossing

Woman Flossing Before Dental ExamThe way we can tell if you’re not flossing is if your gums are bleeding.  Although there are other, less common conditions that can make your gums bleed, gingivitis is the main cause.  Gingivitis is when the gums are inflamed due to all of the bacteria in your mouth collecting right between the gums and the teeth.

The problem is that it takes about a week of daily flossing for gingivitis to go away and make it so your gums don’t bleed when they are cleaned.

The most authoritative book on the gums — that’s 1,328 pages dedicated to your gums! — states the following:

The presence of plaque for only 2 days can initiate gingival bleeding on probing, whereas once established, it may take 7 days or more after continued plaque control and treatment to eliminate gingival bleeding.

So, if you end up brushing and flossing really well right before your dental cleaning and exam, your teeth will be clean, but your gums will still show the main sign of inflammation: bleeding.

If you really want to trick your dentist into thinking you’re brushing and flossing regularly, you’ll have to do it for at least seven days before your visit. And if you’re gonna do that, why not simply brush and floss every day?

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Flossing in Public - Is it OK?
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Did you know that about two months ago at a minor league baseball game in Lowell, Massachusetts an obscure dental world record was set?

Over 3,000 baseball fans simultaneously flossed.  Together.  In public.  In fact, you can see the happy faces of these world flossing record holders here.

Reading this story reminded me of an incident that happened a few months ago.  I was on a subway train riding home from dental school.  I couldn’t help but notice that the woman across from me was busy flossing her teeth.  Perhaps she had read this article on flossing mistakes and was trying to show the world what a good flosser she was, but I doubt it.

Flossing In PublicAs a budding dental professional and a slight germophobe, I was torn.  On one hand, this woman seemed serious about taking care of her teeth and gums.  On the other hand, she was most likely flicking all kinds of bacteria and perhaps tiny pieces of her lunch on those around her and the inside of the subway car.

Flossing In Public: Is It OK?

I can appreciate both sides of the debate regarding flossing in public.  Here’s a quick summary:

Why Flossing In Public is Not OK

In a recent letter to the American Dental Association, a dentist, Dr. Sigurds O. Krolls, said the following in regards to the world flossing record that was set at that Massachusetts baseball game mentioned above:

I looked in amazement at the photograph of the enthusiastic crowd in the Red Sox’s Single-A affiliate ballpark flossing their teeth. Just imagine all the viruses, bacteria, saliva released in the air! As for the food particles: spit out, removed from the floss with one’s fingers or, at best, swallowed.

And I would not be surprised that in their euphoric state, the flossing was followed by high-fives, handshakes or slaps on the back. No “saniwipes” noticed, but it would have been too late.

Dr. Krolls makes the point that we do have a lot of very small junk stuck in our teeth and it’s best not to remove it when you’re surrounded by other people.

Why Flossing In Public Is OK

There are also people who see no problem with flossing in public.  Some arguments that can be made in the public flossers’ favor are:

  • It’s freedom of expression.
  • A sneeze, like public flossing, also spreads lots of bacteria around.  Should we say that it’s not OK to sneeze in public?
  • Some people may be very careful when flossing in public and don’t let anything leave their mouth.  Should they be penalized for the bad behavior of the food-flinging flossers?

What Are Your Thoughts on Flossing in Public?

Most of the people I’ve talked to think that flossing is something that should be done in the privacy of your own home, or in a public bathroom if it needs to be done in public.

I tend to agree that flossing should be done outside of the public sphere since flossing in public can make those around you uncomfortable or even sick.

What do you think: Is flossing in public OK?

0
Five Ways to Get Better Teeth
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Many people think they’re taking great care of their teeth. They brush and floss, but they still end up having problems.

I wrote this post with those people in mind: the ones that want to have better, healthier teeth, but don’t know quite where to start. Even if you know that you’ll end up needing crowns or veneers on your teeth, it’s important to have excellent oral hygiene so that your future dental work will last a long time.

Here’s five simple things you can do to get better teeth.

How to Get Better Teeth: 5 Things You Can Do Today

How to Get Better Teeth1 – Floss

Many people don’t want to floss because they think it’s too hard. Before I talk any more about flossing, go ahead and read the following quote from Kevin McCallister in Home Alone:

I took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including inbetween my toes and in my belly button, which I never did before but sort of enjoyed.

Neglecting to floss is like simply taking a shower without cleaning all of your major crevices!

Learn more about the right way to floss by reading these 10 flossing mistakes.

2 – Brush for At Least Two Minutes

How long do you spend brushing your teeth every day? A lot of people only brush for 30 seconds or so.  By brushing for two minutes, you will allow the fluoride in your toothpaste to spend more time providing your teeth with its many benefits.

When you brush, do you remember to brush all sides of your teeth?

3 – Only Eat Sugar with Your Meals

Every time you eat, the pH in your mouth drops to a level where it can hurt your teeth. You can see a graph of this process in the article What Happens in Your Mouth Every Time You Eat or Drink.

The more times you eat in a day, the more times your teeth get hurt.  By eating your sugary snacks with a meal rather than on their own, you will be reducing the number of times that your teeth come under attack.

You can try substituting fruit or vegetables for a sugary snack or simply have a great-tasting chewing gum.

4 – Don’t Sweeten Your Coffee & Tea With Sugar

Try sweetening your drinks with xylitol or an artificial sweetener.  The bacteria in your mouth would love to get their hands on some sugar so they can hurt your teeth.  If you starve them, you’ll have better teeth!

Learn more about what xylitol is and how it protects your teeth.

5 – Don’t Drink Soda Pop In Between Meals

The main theme of the last three items on this list is that sugar is an enemy to your teeth.  Soda pop combines sugar and acid to wreak havoc on your teeth.

If you’re thirsty between meals, water and milk are good choices, and I’m not the only one saying that: the textbook Dental Caries by Fejerskov agrees with me.  It says, “Water and milk are safe drinks between meals.”

Ideally, you would cut soda pop out of your diet, but who wants to do that?!  If you absolutely must have your sugary, carbonated fix, check out these guidelines on how to drink soda pop and keep your teeth happy.

Conclusion

Hopefully you can try at least one of these five suggestions so that you can be on your way to having better teeth.

Do you have any questions or comments about how to get great teeth?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

19
More Likely to Get Cavities
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Many people come into the dental school and tell us things like, “I just have bad teeth” and “My parents and grandparents all had soft teeth – and my teeth are soft too, so I get lots of cavities.”

Cavity In a ToothWhile it may be true that some people do have teeth that are more susceptible to cavities, there is usually another reason that these people have cavities.

As dentists, we can remove the tooth decay and make your tooth look shiny and new again, but we can’t prevent you from getting cavities in the future – that’s up to you.

The tooth pictured probably doesn’t look too glamorous.  Since most people don’t see what their dentist sees, I thought I’d put this picture up so you can see what an extensive cavity looks like.

If you’ve had a lot of cavities and want to know why, the following list just might give you some answers!

25 Risk Factors for Getting Cavities

1 – Cavities

I listed cavities first because if you’ve had cavities in the past, that’s usually one of the best predictors of whether or not you’ll get cavities in the future.  It makes sense that if you already have lots of cavities, that you’re more likely to keep getting cavities until you make some changes.

Also, if you have white spots on some of your teeth that have recently appeared, that could be the sign of a beginning cavity, which also puts you at risk for getting a cavity.

2 – Having Lots of Cavity-Causing Bacteria

There are millions of little bacteria in your mouth that eat your food every time you eat.  They make acid and smear it on your teeth.  The acid eats away at your tooth until a cavity develops.

Needless to say, if you have an abundant amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth, you’re at a high risk for getting a cavity.

3 – Eating Sugar Frequently

If you eat sugar a lot, you give the bacteria exactly what it wants to eat: fermentable carbohydrates.  The more often you feed them, the more cavity-causing acid that they will produce.

Learn more about What Happens In Your Mouth Every Time You Eat or Drink.

4 – Bad Crowns and/or Fillings

If you have a poor quality filling or crown in your mouth, it may actually cause you to get a cavity by allowing plaque to hang out where you can’t reach it with routine brushing and flossing.

5 – Bad Oral Hygiene

If you don’t brush away the bacteria often, you will allow them to grow and destroy your teeth.

6 – High Acidic Foods Intake

Eating or drinking acidic foods can eat away at the hard, outer layer of your teeth known as the enamel.  Since the enamel is the layer of your teeth that is most resistant to cavities, if you wear it down, you will be putting yourself at risk for cavities.

Learn more about acidic drinks in the article,  Nine Drinks that Can Dissolve Your Teeth.

Another source of acid in your mouth is gastric reflux or even vomiting intentionally, which occurs in those with bulimia.

7 – Not Getting Enough Fluoride

Fluoride makes the enamel of your teeth stronger.  You can get it by brushing your teeth longer or using a fluoride mouthwash.

Curious about how fluoride works?  Learn about the three ways fluoride protects your teeth.

8 – Nursing Too Long (Bottle and Breast)

If you weren’t weaned from the breast or bottle until you were a toddler, this could have put you at a higher risk for getting cavities.  Most research points to the bottle, but I have heard conflicting reports regarding prolonged breastfeeding.

9 – Cavities Under Fillings

Getting a cavity under a filling means that there was a problem with the filling (age, done incorrectly, fractured, etc.) or that you weren’t taking very good care of the filling.  Either way, if you get a cavity under a filling, it puts  you at high risk for getting cavities in other teeth.

10 – Bad Family Dental Health

If your family has bad dental health, chances are that you will as well.  This could be related to lack of oral hygiene being taught in the home, genetic abnormalities in the teeth, or high numbers of the bad bacteria in your mouth.

11 – Exposed Root Surfaces

Receding gums will expose the root of the tooth, which does not have a protective enamel covering.  Consequently, the dentin that makes up the roots of your teeth dissolves at a higher pH than the enamel.  That means that weak acids that wouldn’t affect your enamel can eat away at the roots of your teeth and cause a cavity.

12 – Defect In Your Enamel

If you have a defect in your enamel, it could make you more susceptible to cavities.  Some examples might be enamel that didn’t form correctly, congenital defects like amelogenesis imperfecta, or a defect in enamel formation that can happen to a permanent tooth when its corresponding baby tooth gets knocked out.

13 – Having a Disability

If you have a disability, it can be more difficult for you to take care of your teeth.  Also, many caregivers may not pay very much attention to the oral hygiene of those under their care.

14 – Dry Mouth

When you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, it is known as dry mouth or xerostomia.  Saliva helps your teeth in several ways.  If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may be able to help by prescribing you medication to help increase your salivary flow.

Are you taking one of these 348 medications that cause dry mouth?

15 – Genetic Abnormality of Your Teeth

The anatomy of a tooth can vary greatly.  Some people have deeper grooves in their biting surface that are hard to clean.  Some people’s enamel may not completely cover the whole tooth.  This can create pockets where bacteria can hide out and cause cavities.

There are many other genetic abnormalities that can affect the teeth, such as localized microdontia, which can make some teeth smaller than others and possibly make them harder to clean.

16 – Having Lots of Large Fillings

Many large fillings can put you at risk for developing cavities.  Having lots of large fillings increases the amount of tooth:filling interfaces that are present in your mouth.  If bacteria get in between the filling and the tooth, they can be nearly impossible to clean out and can cause cavities.

17 – Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment

Having chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the head and neck area can reduce salivary flow and cause other oral problems which increase the risk of getting a cavity.

18 – Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can increase the risk of a cavity in a couple of ways.  Those with eating disorders tend to not have a very balanced diet, which may contribute to cavities.  Also, bulimics bathe their teeth in acid each time they purge.  This wears away the tough enamel surface of the tooth which makes the tooth mores susceptible to cavities.

19 – Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse

Those that abuse drugs and/or alcohol put themselves at a greater risk for developing cavities.

Take a look at what drug abuse can do to your teeth.

20 – Irregular Dental Care

By not going to the dentist regularly, you avoid learning about the condition of your mouth.  The dentist can point out small problems before they turn into cavities.  By avoiding your checkups, you lose out on the opportunity to take care of small problems before they become big.

21 – Not Knowing What Plaque Is

Many people don’t know what plaque is.  If you don’t know what’s happening inside of your mouth, you probably won’t do anything about it.

Avoid this risk factor by reading: What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque and How Plaque Disclosing Tablets Can Help You Brush Better.

22 – Not Knowing How to Remove Plaque

Even if you know what plaque is, if you’re not removing it then you will probably end up getting some cavities.

Learn about these 12 Weapons of Plaque Destruction.

23 – Being Poor

People with a lower socioeconomic status tend to get more tooth decay.  There are exceptions to this rule, but this is one of the main reasons that so many states provide free dental care to low-income children.  Unfortunately, these programs haven’t eliminated the gap in dental health between the rich and the poor, and many poor parents simply don’t find the time to take their kids to the dentist.

Interestingly, our computer software at my dental school tells us to ask each patient if they have a “low socioeconomic status.”  It can be an awkward question, and almost everyone skips over it.

24 – Dental Anxiety

If you have a dental phobia, chances are that you will neglect getting dental work done.  If you want to try to understand your dental phobia, take a look at these 15 common reasons people are scared of the dentist.

25 – Braces

Although braces can straighten your teeth and make them look great, they do increase the risk of getting cavities.  Braces make it harder to brush your teeth and make it nearly impossible to floss.  In order to floss with braces, you have to use a floss threader to get under the wire – I know I didn’t do that when I was a teenager!

I hope you enjoyed the list and it helped you pinpoint the cause(s) of your cavities.  I compiled the above list from my own experience as well as information from the following textbooks:

Do You Have a Lot of Cavities?

Did anything on this list ring a bell for you?  Although I tried to include everything I could think of that would cause cavities, I may have missed something.  I’d love to hear about what you think is causing your cavities whether it’s on the list or not.  Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?
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One night, shortly after my wife and I got married, we were getting ready for bed and she noticed that I brush my teeth after I floss.  She had always brushed before flossing. We probably would’ve discussed this fascinating subject in more detail if we hadn’t been so tired…

Do You Floss Before or After Brushing?Interestingly, we had both been brushing and flossing in a different order for twenty-some years of our lives before we met each other and we both had pretty good results to show for it.

My thought process goes like this: it wouldn’t make sense to wash your hands, and then pick out all of the stuff under your nails because that would just get the dirt all over your freshly-washed hands.  So why would anyone in their right mind floss after brushing?

Well, here’s why: Those who advocate flossing after brushing state that when you floss first, you don’t brush the plaque away, you simply push it back into the spaces between your teeth where it can grow and cause cavities.

So who’s right?  Should you floss before brushing your teeth?  Or should you brush your teeth before flossing?

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

After plowing through several dental hygiene-related textbooks, I couldn’t find any information on whether you should brush or floss first.

After reading online, I noticed that there are people who are very passionate about this subject — as this forum post demonstrates!

I think the reason that there’s not really any concrete recommendations about whether you should brush or floss first is because it really doesn’t matter whether you brush or floss first.

The main reason we need to brush and floss is because every time we eat or drink fermentable carbohydrates, the little bugs that live in our mouth grow, reproduce, and build homes on our teeth.  Their waste products are what harm our teeth.

Learn more about plaque by reading What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque.

The best way to combat plaque is to disrupt it, or destroy the intricate colony that it has built on your teeth.  When the bugs are floating around in your mouth, they don’t harm your teeth.  They only harm your teeth when they have attached to your teeth and grown into a layer on top of your teeth.  By brushing and flossing, you remove the bugs from your teeth temporarily.  They will re-attach, but then you can simply brush and floss again to disrupt their little home once again and put them in their place.

As long as you are disrupting the bacteria that live between your teeth regularly, they won’t be able to cause cavities. When you floss, you scrape them away from their home and it will take them a some time to regroup, get organized, and start growing again between your teeth.

Does It Matter If You Brush or Floss First?

It really doesn’t matter!  In fact, you don’t even need to brush and floss at the same time.  As long as you’re eating good foods, brushing twice a day, flossing once per day, and avoiding these ten common flossing mistakes, you should be fine.

Want more tips on how to combat the plaque in your mouth?  Read about these Top 12 Weapons of Plaque Destruction!

Do you have any questions, comments, or thoughts on whether you should brush or floss first?  In what order do you brush and floss?  Feel free to leave your opinions below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

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Weapons of Plaque Destruction
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About five years ago, I was sitting in the first lecture of an Introduction to Dentistry class.  The professor, a local dentist, was talking about how plaque forms on our teeth and how it causes our teeth to decay.  Something clicked inside of me that day, and that lecture helped solidify my desire to become a dentist.

Weapons of Plaque DestructionI summarized that lecture in my first post ever on Oral Answers back in January 2010 entitled What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque. If you haven’t read it and you’re curious about how tooth decay begins, you might want to take a look at it.

Because plaque can eventually cause you to lose your teeth, it is important to remove it and try to minimize its formation.  Here are 12 easy ways you can do that: The Top 12 Weapons of Plaque Destruction.

Top 12 Weapons of Plaque Destruction

Weapon #1 – Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth not only removes plaque, but some toothpastes also contain antimicrobials, such as Triclosan in Colgate Total. Toothpaste also contains abrasives which can help mechanically remove plaque from your teeth.

To find out what else is in toothpaste, read The 10 Main Ingredients In Your Toothpaste.

Weapon #2 – Flossing

Flossing helps remove plaque that is stuck between your teeth.  Cavities between teeth are so common that the two fillings required by the most popular dental board exam both have to include a cavity that is between two teeth.

Think you could use some tips on flossing?  Start by reviewing these 10 common flossing mistakes.

Weapon #3 – Fluoride

Fluoride has three different ways that it makes our teeth stronger and more resistant to the bad effects of plaque.  Fluoride is the only active ingredient in most toothpastes sold in the United States.  Fluoride is also added to many municipal water systems.  There is a strong, ongoing debate about whether or not it’s okay to add fluoride to everyone’s water.

Weapon #4 – Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that somehow helps fight plaque.  Xylitol is found in many chewing gums and you can also buy it in solid form from many health food stores or from Amazon.  Then you can use it to sweeten drinks like tea and coffee.

To learn more about this valuable plaque-fighting sugar alcohol read the article, Xylitol: What It Is and How It Protects Your Teeth.

Weapon #5 – Anti-Plaque Mouthwash

Many plaque-fighting mouthwashes contain ingredients such as cetylpyridinum chloride (CPC) which can kill the bacteria responsible for causing cavities.

Weapon #6 – Water

Drinking water or rinsing your mouth out with water after eating sugary foods can help wash away food that sticks around in your mouth. Since the bacteria live off the food you eat, you will be starving them by rinsing out your mouth.

Weapon #7 – Saliva

Saliva helps protect the teeth in many ways.  You can read about the six main ways that your spit protects your teeth in the post, How Saliva Protects Your Teeth.

If you suffer from dry mouth, you may be losing the war against plaque in your mouth.  Learn about six causes of dry mouth and 348 medications that can cause dry mouth.

Weapon #8 – Plaque Disclosing Tablets

If you don’t know where the plaque is, it’s hard to destroy it.  Plaque disclosing tablets work by coloring the plaque on your teeth so that you can make sure you’re removing it all when you brush and floss.

To learn more about plaque disclosing tablets, including the best places to buy them, read How Plaque Disclosing Tablets Can Help You Brush Better.

Weapon #9 – Chewing Gum

Chewing stimulates your salivary glands.  Some types of chewing gum are better than others.  Make sure you’re chewing the right type of gum for your oral health by reading about which of the three types of chewing gum is best for your teeth.

Weapon #10 – Your Tongue

Your tongue is a big weapon of plaque destruction.  Your tongue (with the help of your saliva – see weapon #7) can help clean sugary food off of your teeth so that you swallow it rather than letting it sit on your teeth and feed the plaque.

Weapon #11 – Certain Foods

Certain foods can actually help your teeth repair themselves after you eat a sugary snack.  Cheese contains phosphates and calcium that your saliva can utilize to help remineralize your teeth after they get “attacked” by the acid from plaque.  To appreciate this effect, you might want to read about what happens in your mouth every time you eat or drink.

Not sure what to eat for healthy teeth?  Learn about 16 delicious foods that you and your teeth will enjoy.

Weapon #12 – Sealants

Sealants are mainly used on children’s permanent molars.  Sealants are a strong plastic material that dentists can flow into the small grooves on the biting surfaces of your children’s teeth.  By covering up these grooves, you remove a nice, hard to brush place where plaque loves to hide.  Sealants are very effective at preventing tooth decay on the biting surface of molar teeth.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article gave you some good ideas about how you can help win the war against plaque in your mouth and help your teeth to live a long life.

Do you have any questions or anything you’d like to say about oral health or hygiene?  I’d love to hear your comments below, and I’ll try to personally respond to each one.  Thanks for reading!

2
Products with American Dental Association Seal
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Not many people are aware that the American Dental Association keeps an updated list on their website of all of the dental products that have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

You can view and print the entire list of ADA Accepted dental products here in PDF format.

When people think of the ADA Seal, the first product category to come to mind is usually toothpastes.  However, the toothpaste category came in second place.  There are more than twice as many mouth rinses than toothpastes that carry the ADA Seal.

Below you can find a list of all the categories and how many products in each category have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

The 15  Categories of Dental Products that carry the ADA Seal

ADA Seal of Acceptance1 – Mouth Rinses.  143 different brands of mouthwash qualified for the ADA Seal.

2 – Toothpastes.  65 toothpastes currently carry the ADA Seal.

3 – Fluoride Mouth Rinses.  44 brands of fluoride mouthwashes qualified for the ADA Seal.

4 – Toothbrushes.  34 different toothbrushes received the ADA Seal.

5 – Floss.  30 different brands of floss qualified for the ADA Seal.

Even if you’re using ADA approved floss, you can still make these 10 mistakes when you floss.

6 – Chewing Gum.  5 different brands of chewing gums qualified for the ADA Seal.

7 – Fluoride Gels.  4 brands of fluoride gel qualified for the ADA Seal.

8 – Denture Adhesives.  3 denture adhesives qualified for the ADA Seal.

9 – Water Filters.  2 water filters carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  I wondered why a water filter would get the ADA Seal.  It turns out that the PUR water filters reduce levels of contaminants in water while not reducing the level of tooth-protecting fluoride.

10 – Canker Sore Pain Relief Ointments.  2 canker sore pain relief ointments qualified for the ADA Seal.

11 – Plaque Disclosing Mouth Rinses.  Only 1 plaque disclosing mouth rinse, Listerine Agent Cool Blue Tinting Rinse, qualified for the ADA Seal.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it was deserved as Listerine Agent Cool Blue does not disclose plaque; it simply tints all of the teeth blue.

To see what my teeth looked like after rinsing with Listerine Agent Cool Blue, read the article Listerine Agent Cool Blue Doesn’t Disclose Plaque.  If you want to find plaque disclosing solutions that actually show you where the plaque is on your teeth, read the article How Plaque Disclosing Tablets Can Help You Brush Better.

12 – Denture Pain Relief Ointment.  Only 1 denture pain relief ointment, Benzodent Analgesic Denture Ointment, qualified for the ADA Seal.

13 – Emergency Tooth Preservation Products.  Only one product got the ADA Seal in this category, Save-A-Tooth.

To learn more about how to use the Save-A-Tooth System, read the article What to Do When Your Permanent Tooth Gets Knocked Out.

14 – Interdental Cleaners.  Only one brand of interdental cleaners, Stim-U-Dent Plaque Removers, qualified for the ADA Seal.

15 – Dentist-Dispensed Teeth Whitening Gels.  Only 1 brand of teeth whitening gel, Opalescence Whitening Gel 10%, qualified for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Does the ADA Seal Mean Everything?

As I stated above, there are many great plaque disclosing tablets/solutions that don’t have the ADA Seal while the one that does only tints your teeth without showing you where the plaque is!

Usually the ADA Seal indicates that a product actually does what it is supposed to do (is effective) and is safe.  You can read more about the ADA Seal in this previous article: The ADA Seal of Acceptance: Everything You Need to Know.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the ADA Seal or products that have received it?  I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

52
Cavities In Baby Teeth: Do They Need Fillings?
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A lot of parents wonder if it’s really necessary to have their children get fillings in their baby teeth.  Since baby teeth just end up falling out, why not let the cavity fall out with the baby tooth rather than paying to have a dentist remove the cavity?

Many people assume that baby teeth aren’t that important since they quickly get replaced by permanent adult teeth as a child grows.

Fillings Baby TeethEven though they do end up falling out, baby teeth are important!  When they’re healthy, they can help children eat healthy foods.  When baby teeth get infected, they can damage the permanent teeth developing under them and in severe cases they can cause brain infections.  If you missed my earlier article, you can read it to learn five reasons why baby teeth are important.

Now that you understand why baby teeth are important, let’s talk about whether or not baby teeth need fillings.

Should You Get Cavities in Baby Teeth Filled?

When thinking about getting cavities in baby teeth filled, there are a couple of main things to think about: How much use your child will get out of the filling and how big the cavity is.

First, let’s talk about how much use your child will get out of the filling.  The book Pediatric Dentistry by Pinkham says, “A carious primary molar in a 6-year-old is a problem; a loose carious mandibular incisor may not be if it is about to exfoliate.”

If a tooth is about to fall out (or exfoliate if you want to speak in fancy dental terms), then your child probably wouldn’t get much use out of a filling in that tooth.

The other main factor to look at is how big the cavity is.  Although dentists recommend treating cavities when they are small, sometimes a cavity can be so small that it can repair itself under the right circumstances!

In the book Paediatric Dentistry, the authors discuss the question of whether or not to treat baby teeth.  One of their points supporting not getting fillings in baby teeth says, “Remineralization can arrest and repair enamel caries. It has long been known that early, smooth surface lesions are reversible. In addition, it is now accepted that the chief mechanism whereby fluoride reduces caries is by encouraging remineralization, and that the remineralized early lesion is more resistant to caries than intact enamel.”

If the cavity is small and has just started, there is a chance that it can repair itself through the process of remineralization.

Keep in mind that this repair will probably NOT occur unless your child’s diet and oral hygiene dramatically improve!  There’s a reason that your child started to get a cavity and if nothing is done to change the habits that started the cavity, then the cavity will probably get worse.

If you don’t think you will alter your child’s diet or oral hygiene, then it’s probably a good idea to have the dentist put a filling in the baby tooth while the cavity is small so that the cavity doesn’t get bigger.

On the other hand, if the cavity is small and you are willing to work really hard at improving your child’s diet and oral hygiene, then the cavity can remineralize.  In this case, there there’s no need to get a filling in your child’s baby tooth.

Conclusion

When considering a filling in your child’s baby tooth, it is important to think about how much longer the tooth will be in the mouth and the size of the cavity.  If the tooth will be falling out soon, it may not be necessary to get a filling.  If the tooth won’t fall out for a couple of years, then it’s probably a good idea to get a filling in your child’s baby tooth.

Most dentists will be able to give you a good idea as to whether or not your child would benefit from a filling in a baby tooth or if it’s really not necessary.

Do you have any questions or comments about fillings in baby teeth?  I’d love to hear them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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Flossing Mistakes
©Prod-Akszyn/Shutterstock.com

It seems so simple to just slide some string between your teeth to clean those hard-to-reach areas.  While the idea is simple, there are a few techniques that you need to master in order to maximize the return on the time you spend flossing.

Here are ten common mistakes that people make when they floss:

10 Common Flossing Mistakes

1 – Not Flossing the Sides of Both Teeth

Flossing MistakesIf you just slide the floss down, and then pull it up, you are only getting 50% of the job done.  When you move the floss up between two teeth, you need to make sure that you are cleaning the side of both teeth.  One of the favorite places for plaque to hide is between teeth. If you’re only removing plaque from the side of one of the teeth, you could easily get a cavity on the tooth that you’re not flossing.

Find out about six common places where you are most likely to get cavities.

2 – Using the Same Section of Floss Between All of Your Teeth

When you floss you are removing bacteria from between your teeth and below the gum-line.  If you use the same section of floss for all of the teeth in your mouth, you are spreading around a lot of bacteria.  Of course you still are loosening the plaque, which has its benefits, but if you use a new section of floss each time you floss between two teeth, you will be loosening the plaque without putting plaque that you’ve already removed back in between your teeth.

3 – Snapping the Floss Down Hard Between Your Teeth

To get the floss to go between a tight contact between two adjacent teeth, try working the floss back and forth applying a firm but controlled downward pressure.

Snapping the floss down between the teeth can not only injure your gums in the short-term, but the trauma can cause your gums to recede.  Do it enough, and you’ll cause gum disease.

4 – Not Flossing Behind the Very Back Teeth

Even though there isn’t a tooth next to it, it is still important to clean behind the four teeth that are all the way in the back of your mouth (two teeth on each side in the upper and lower jaws.)  This can help remove bacteria that has made its way  between your tooth and gums.

5 – Flossing Aimlessly Without a Plan

When you floss, you need to have a road-map of what order you are going to floss your teeth in, or you can quickly become confused and miss some teeth or even a quadrant of your mouth.  It may be easiest to start in the upper right and go to the upper left, then come down to the lower teeth in the bottom left and move across to the bottom right.

However, as long as you have a plan, it really doesn’t matter which teeth you floss first.  Personally, I start right in the middle of my upper teeth and work my way back on one side and then on the other.  Then I do the same thing on the lower teeth.  Just find a “floss order” that works for you and stick to it so that you don’t forget to floss any teeth.

Dental Floss

6 – Not Flossing Around Dental Appliances

Many people don’t know that if they have fixed dental appliances in their mouth, they need to floss around them.  For example, if you have a bridge, it is necessary to use a floss threader, or get something similar to Oral-B Superfloss.

I had braces on my lower teeth when I was a teenager.  After I had them removed, the orthodontist cemented a wire that connects to each of my six lower front teeth.  This stabilizes them, but also makes it impossible to use conventional floss due to the wire.  Because of this, I have to use Superfloss or floss threaders to get under the wire so I can floss and maintain my gum health.

7 – Quitting When Your Gums Bleed

Blood may scare some people when they floss because they think that they are hurting their gums if they bleed.  You are not hurting them as long as you’re not flossing too hard (see mistake #3.)

Most likely, the reason they bleed is because they haven’t been flossed in a while and the gum tissue has become red and inflamed.  This is a condition known as gingivitis and it occurs because the body is sending more blood to the gum.  This is to help the tissue fight all of the plaque that is accumulating.  When you floss, you are removing that plaque, and since the tissue is inflamed and engorged with blood, you are causing some of the blood to leak out.  After a few days, your gums should return to health and you can floss normally without any bleeding.

8 – Not Spending Enough Time With Your Floss

Most people have 28 teeth if they’ve had their wisdom teeth extracted.  When you floss, you need to get both sides of the teeth (even the most posterior teeth – see mistake #4.)  That means that there are 56 sides that you need to get.  You should be spending a couple of seconds with each side, scraping up and down against the tooth a few times before moving onto the next surface.  That means that it will probably take you around two minutes to floss your entire mouth if you have a full set of teeth.

9 – Not Applying Pressure to the Tooth Surface

When you floss, you want to be careful to avoid using too much downward pressure so you don’t damage your gums.  However, when you are flossing against the side of a tooth, you want to make sure that you are pushing the floss against the tooth surface enough to be able to remove the plaque.

10 – Only Using Floss to Remove Food

Unfortunately, lots of people think that the only reason for flossing is to remove food that has gotten wedged between their teeth. I think many people end up doing this because they can see the food between their teeth — they can’t see the plaque.  An easy solution to this problem is to use a plaque disclosing tablet/solution to visualize the plaque on your teeth.

When you floss, your primary goal should be to scrape against each tooth to remove as much plaque as you can.  As long as you are doing this, you should be getting rid of the food between your teeth without even thinking about it.

Floss Correctly and Keep Your Teeth For Your Whole Life

By avoiding these ten common mistakes, you will be able floss more efficiently which will lead to greater oral health.  Since many cavities start out between two teeth, you will be able to prevent many cavities by regularly flossing and avoiding these ten flossing mistakes.

Do you have any questions or comments about flossing?  I’d love to hear them!  Just leave them below in the comments section.

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New Year's Resolutions for Oral Health
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Dental New Years ResolutionsYou’ve probably made a lot of New Year’s resolutions in your life — but I’m willing to bet that you’ve never made a New Year’s resolution for your teeth!  Here are a few goals that will improve your oral health, as well as your overall health:

1 – Eat Healthier

I’ve written about food and drink more than 20 times on this blog.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally not harmful to your teeth whereas sugary, processed foods will probably cause you problems with your teeth if eaten frequently.  A healthy, well-balanced diet will not only help your teeth and gums, it will also improve your overall health by providing your body with vital nutrients and keeping your weight in a healthy range.

2 – Floss Every Day

As people age, the main reason that they lose their teeth isn’t because of cavities, it’s due to periodontal disease.  Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth that you simply can’t remove by brushing your teeth alone.  One of the most common reasons that my patients tell me they don’t floss is because it’s difficult.  Fortunately, there are many simple devices that can make flossing easier.  Here are a few products that have 5-star reviews on Amazon:

3 – Lose Weight

If you have some extra pounds to lose, you’re in good company — according to a recent poll, about 63% of American adults are either overweight or obese.  Unfortunately, being overweight puts you at risk for many diseases, including type II diabetes.  Type II diabetes has been shown to increase the risk of getting periodontal disease.

You can learn more about the link between diabetes and oral health at this oral health portal from the American Diabetes Association.

4 – Go to the Dentist

There are many reasons that people avoid going to the dentist.  The key is to figure out the reason that you’re not going.  Once you know why, it is easier to make a plan to get in for your dental checkup.

If you’re already going to the dentist every six months, then you are not only having regular cleanings and getting existing problems taken care of — your dentist will also be able to tell you if new problems are starting so you can prevent them.  Many people are unaware that they have dental problems until they become painful.  By that time, there if often little the dentist can do other than removing or filling the problem tooth.  By going in for regular checkups, you will be able to have these problems diagnosed early and treated.

What Do You Think?

Can you think of any other new years resolutions that will benefit your teeth?  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

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Dental Plaque Disclosing Tablets Solution
©Rob Byron/Shutterstock.com

Would you vacuum your carpet if it didn’t look dirty?  Probably not. Unfortunately, many people look in the mirror and don’t see anything on their teeth so they assume that their teeth are clean.  If only they knew the truth! There are millions of bacteria that live in our mouths and cling to our teeth.  You can read more about dental plaque here.

Plaque Disclosing TabletsThe problem is that plaque is very hard to see for the untrained eye. Luckily, there are products such as plaque disclosing tablets and plaque disclosing solutions.  This is a type of dye that adheres to plaque in your mouth allowing you to easily visualize it – and remove it. If you see plaque on your teeth, you will want to remove it!  Once you have used plaque disclosing tablets and/or solution a few times, you will figure out where the plaque tends to hide in your mouth, thus increasing your brushing efficiency.

Our Plaque Disclosing Experiment

A few days ago, my wife and I didn’t brush all day.  At the end of the day, we took pictures of our teeth, and then chewed a plaque disclosing tablet and took another set of pictures.  Here’s a photo montage  showing how our teeth looked:

Seeing the Dental Plaque on Our Teeth

My wife didn’t rinse out as well as me, so only the very dark pink areas are plaque on her teeth.  Also, we don’t usually smile like this…we were trying to show more of our teeth for the picture 🙂

Where Most Plaque Lives On Teeth

Pink Dental Plaque on a Single ToothAs you can probably tell, most plaque accumulates between our teeth.  The area between our teeth is an area where plaque are less likely to be swept away by our tongue when chewing or by our toothbrush when we brush.  The best way to remove the plaque between our teeth is by flossing. To the right is a close-up of one of my upper pre-molars, clearly showing all of the plaque living between my teeth.  Pretty gross, right?

Where to Get Plaque Disclosing Tablets

Do you want to find out where the plaque is on your teeth?  Or do you need help motivating your toddler to brush?  Try showing him or her where the “bugs” are living on their teeth. Actually seeing the plaque will motivate children and adults alike. Young Dental Plaque Disclosing SolutionYou can find plaque disclosing tablets at most local pharmacies. If you’re into buying things online, here are a few options from Amazon: 1 – Butler GUM Red-cote Dental Disclosing Tablets Pack of 250 tablets – Name brand chewable tablets. 2 – Young Dental 2 Tone Disclosing Tablets Pack of 40 – Great chewable tablets. 3 – Young Dental 2 Tone Disclosing Tablets Pack of 250 – Large pack of chewable tablets. 4 – Young Dental 2 Tone Disclosing Solution 2 Fl Oz [Pictured] – This is the same liquid that most dentists and hygienists use. You can easily swab it onto your (or your child’s) teeth with a q-tip to find out where the plaque is lurking. Do you have any questions or comments about plaque disclosing tablets or solution? Feel free to leave them below in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

4
Tips to Get Rid of Gingivitis
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If you’ve noticed that your gums are red and puffy, or that they bleed whenever you brush your teeth, you may have gingivitis.

Toothbrush with ToothpasteGingivitis is defined as an inflammation of the gums without any loss of the attachment to the tooth.  When the gums start to recede from the tooth, gingivitis has advanced to a disease known as periodontitis.  Please note that in this article, I am referring to gingivitis caused by plaque build-up.  There are many other causes of gum enlargement you can read about here.

Luckily, gingivitis is completely curable.  It is important to remember that gingivitis doesn’t just spontaneously occur, it is usually associated with poor oral hygiene.  The secret to curing gingivitis lies in improving oral hygiene.

Four Tips to Cure Gingivitis

1. Brush Your Teeth. Brushing helps remove plaque.  Since most gingivitis is caused by plaque, you can reduce the gingivitis by removing the cause — plaque.  It is a good idea to try to brush twice daily.  If you brush too much, you can end up irritating your gums.

2. Floss Daily. Flossing can remove a lot of the plaque that gets stuck under the gum line.  If you let the plaque grow under the gums, it can really irritate your gums and cause gingivitis.  By removing this sub-gingival plaque, the swelling in your gums will go down.

3. Using an irrigation device such as a WaterPik will drastically reduce gingivitis by flushing the bacteria out of your mouth.  Irrigation devices can reach under the gums and dislodge plaque that might otherwise be inaccessible.  This hard-to-remove plaque is one of the main causes of gingivitis and removing it will greatly improve gingival health.  Many devices provide a pulsating stream of water, which has been shown to be ideal.

Once your gums return to a nice coral-pink color, it is not necessary to use a WaterPik or other irrigation device unless your gingivitis returns.  The main benefit of these irrigation devices is in reducing gingivitis, not maintaining gum health.

4. Use a Mouth Rinse. The book Primary Preventive Dentistry by Norman O. Harris recommends using “over-the-counter products with essential oils, such as Listerine, or dentist prescribed chlorhexidine mouthrinses.”

Many mouth rinses have antibacterial properties that will help your gums return to health.  The best rinse to help fight gingivitis is chlorhexidine (marketed in the USA under the brand name Peridex.)  However, it can sometimes be expensive.  If you are open to trying new things, there have been some studies to suggest that oil pulling may be a cheaper alternative to chlorhexidine in fighting gingivitis.

Good Luck

It is fortunate that gingivitis can be cured.  Unfortunately, after about a month of not brushing, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis which can cause you to lose your teeth.

If you follow the tips above, you should get your gums back to good health in a week or two.

If you have any questions or comments about gingivitis, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.