Posts for category: Oral Health
Nothing is more devilishly delicious than hearing someone dish on some celebrity gossip—especially if the "disher" is intimately involved with the "dishee." Consider this juicy morsel: Singer Katy Perry revealed on the British radio show Heart Breakfast that her fiancé, popular actor Orlando Bloom—hope you're sitting down—leaves used dental floss "everywhere."
Although Perry is thrilled with her beau's commitment to oral hygiene ("He has brilliant teeth"), she's not as equally thrilled with floss left "beside the bed, in the car and on the kitchen table."
Okay, maybe not. Although this might absolutely gross some people out, it's pretty ho-hum as salacious celebrity dirt goes. What's keen to note, though, is that at least Mr. Bloom flosses—putting him in a distinct minority of adults (about one-third) who actually floss regularly. That's far fewer than those who brush, a task that takes about the same amount of time.
So, why are so many "meh" about flossing? Simply put, many people find traditional flossing to be cumbersome and messy. And when they're done, they're left holding a wet, slippery piece of floss covered in "eww."
It doesn't have to be that way. Here are 4 tips to help make flossing easier and more pleasant.
Improve your technique. We're not born to floss—it's a learned skill, which, like others, we can improve over time. In that regard, your dentist provider can serve as your "personal trainer," giving you valuable tips in how to work with floss. And if you truly want to get to "floss town," practice, practice, practice every day.
Floss after you brush. Dental professionals actually debate over which is best to do first, brushing or flossing. One of the advantages for the former first is that brushing can get the majority of plaque out of the way, so there's less to deal with during flossing. If you tend to draw out a lot of sticky plaque while flossing, try brushing first.
Use floss picks. If the thread-around-the-fingers method isn't your cup of tea, try floss picks. These are disposable plastic handles with a sharp pick on one end and what resembles a bow at the other, with a tiny piece of floss strung between the bow. Some people find this device much easier to maneuver between teeth than plain floss.
Switch to a water flosser. A water flosser is another option that might be even easier than a floss pick. It consists of a small motorized pump that supplies a pressurized water spray through a handheld wand, which you use to direct the spray between your teeth. Studies have shown it to be as effective as floss thread, especially for braces wearers or people with limited hand dexterity.
Children love to be active, and need to be to grow up healthy. But participating in sports and similar physical activities does harbor a risk for injury—especially involving the mouth.
Many oral injuries can be prevented, though, by wearing an athletic mouthguard during sports or other physical activities. Available in retail stores or custom-made by a dentist, mouthguards help cushion the mouth against hard contact.
But although a mouthguard minimizes oral injury risk, it can't eliminate the risk altogether. There's still a chance for oral trauma during physical activity. Here are some common injuries that could happen, and what you can do to lessen their impact.
Chipped teeth. A hard knock could cause a piece of tooth to chip off. If this happens, try to retrieve any chipped pieces and carry them with the child to a dentist as soon as possible. Teeth should be examined immediately after this kind of trauma and the dentist may be able to re-bond the broken pieces.
Displaced tooth. A severe blow could move one or more teeth out of place, loosening them or pushing them deeper into the jaw. Teeth with these kinds of injuries are in serious danger, so you should contact your dentist immediately. If after office hours, they may tell you to visit an ER for prompt attention.
Soft tissue injuries. The lips and other soft areas of the mouth can also become cut or bruised from a hit. Clean the area as well as possible, making sure there are no imbedded bits of dirt or tooth. Apply gentle, continuous pressure to stop any bleeding and cold compresses for swelling. If it's a deep cut, go immediately to an emergency room.
Knocked-out tooth. Although a serious injury, a tooth knocked completely out of its socket might still be saved through prompt action. First, find the tooth; handling it only by the crown end, clean off any dirt or debris with clean water. Gently place the tooth back into its socket and have the child bite down on gauze or a clean cloth to hold it in place. You should then go to a dentist or ER immediately.
If you would like more information on children's dental needs and care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Children's Dental Concerns & Injuries: Would You Know What to Do?”
In the last few years, energy drinks have begun to offer strong competition to traditional "pick-me-up" drinks like tea or coffee. But while the proponents of energy drinks say they're not harmful, the jury's still out on their long-term health effects.
With that said, however, we may be closer to a definitive answer regarding oral health—and it's not good. The evidence from some recent studies doesn't favor a good relationship between energy drinks and your teeth.
For one, many energy drinks contain added sugar, which is a primary food source for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Increased bacteria also increase your chances of dental disease.
Most energy drinks also contain high levels of acid, which can damage the enamel and open the door to advanced tooth decay. The danger is especially high when the mouth's overall pH falls below 5.5. Energy drinks and their close cousins, sports drinks, typically have a pH of 3.05 and 2.91, respectively, which is well within the danger zone for enamel.
A research group recently put the acidity of both types of beverages to the test. The researchers submerged samples of enamel into different brands of beverages four times a day for five days, to simulate a person consuming four drinks a day. Afterward, they examined the samples and found that those subjected to energy drinks lost an average 3.1 % of their volume, with sports drinks faring only a little better at 1.5%.
Although more research needs to be done, these preliminary results support a more restrained use of energy drinks. If you do consume these beverages, observing the following guidelines could help limit any damage to your teeth.
- Limit drinking to mealtimes—eating food stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acid;
- After drinking, rinse out your mouth with water—because of its neutral pH, water can help dilute concentrated acid in the mouth;
- Wait an hour to brush to give saliva a chance to remineralize enamel—brushing before then could cause microscopic bits of softened enamel to slough off.
There's one other alternative—abstain from energy drinks altogether. In the long run, that may turn out to be the best choice for protecting your oral health.
If you would like more information on the effects of sports or energy drinks on teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Think Before You Drink.”
The odds are extremely low that you'll read or hear about an infection outbreak in a dental clinic anytime soon. That's no happy accident. The more than 170,000 dentists practicing in the U.S. work diligently to protect their patients and staff from infectious disease during dental care.
Spurred on by both high professional standards and governmental oversight, American dentists adhere to strict infection control measures. The primary purpose of these measures is to protect patients from bloodborne infections like Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS.
The term bloodborne refers to the transmission of a virus from person to person via contact with blood. This can occur when blood from an infected person enters the body of another person through a wound or incision.
This is of special concern with any procedure that can cause disruptions to skin or other soft tissues. Oral surgery, of course, falls into this category. But it could also apply to procedures in general dentistry like tooth extraction or even teeth cleaning, both of which can cause tissue trauma.
Each individual dentist or clinic formulates a formal infection control plan designed to prevent person to person blood contact. These plans are a set of protocols based on guidelines developed by on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Barrier protection is an important part of such plans. Dentists and their staff routinely wear gloves, gowns, masks, or other coverings during procedures to block contact between them and their patients.
Additionally, staff members also disinfect work surfaces and sterilize reusable instruments after each treatment session. They isolate disposable items used during treatment from common trash and dispose of them separately. On a personal level, dental staff also thoroughly wash their hands before and after each patient visit.
Because of these practices and the importance placed on controlling potential infection spread, you have nothing to fear in regard to disease while visiting the dentist. If you have any questions or concerns, though, let your dentist know—your safety is just as important to them as your dental care.
If you would like more information on infection control in the dentist's office, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Infection Control in the Dental Office.”
If your child suddenly begins complaining about a toothache, your average day can immediately turn into something else. It can become even more worrisome as you try to decide what to do.
It doesn't have to. There are definite things you can do to calmly and methodically deal with the situation at hand. Here, then, are action steps you can take when your child has tooth pain.
Find out where and when. To get the big picture, first ask the child where in the mouth it hurts and if they remember when it started. A rough estimate of the latter is usually sufficient to establishing how long it's been going on, which could help determine how soon you should call the dentist.
Take a look inside. You'll want to then look in their mouth for any observable signs of what might be the cause of the pain. Look for spots or small holes (cavities) in the affected tooth, an indication of decay. Also check the gums for swelling, a sign they may be abscessed.
Remove trapped food debris. While checking in the mouth, look for pieces of food like popcorn hulls or candy that might be wedged between the teeth. This could be the cause of the pain, so attempt to remove it by gently flossing between the teeth. If it was the source, their pain should subside soon after.
Ease their discomfort. You can help take the edge off their pain by giving them an appropriate dose for their age of either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Don't, however, rub aspirin or other pain relievers around the affected tooth or gums—these medications can be acidic, which could severely irritate interior mouth tissues.
Call your dentist. It's always good for a dentist to check your child's mouth after a toothache. The question is when: If your child has responded well to pain medication and has no swelling or fever, you can wait to call the next day. If not, call as soon as possible for an appointment.
A toothache is rarely an emergency, but it can still be disconcerting for you and your child. Knowing what steps to take can help resolve the situation without a lot of discomfort for them and stress for you.
If you would like more information on dealing with a child's tooth pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child's Toothache.”