4/25/2018 9:41:13 PM

YOU HEAR ALL THE TIME about the importance of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, and you hear almost as often about the importance of daily flossing. What you probably don’t hear a lot is that, if we want to maintain good oral health and hygiene, it’s also important for us to clean our tongues.

Why Should We Clean Our Tongues?

The tongue is one of the most bacteria-covered spots in our bodies. A tongue doesn’t just have taste buds on it, it also has crevices, elevations, and all sorts of tiny structures that bacteria will hide between unless physically removed. Letting all this bacteria sit and multiply can cause bad breath or halitosis, as well as tooth decay on the inner surfaces of the teeth. This is why it’s so important to regularly clean our tongues — so we can get rid of all the unwanted bacterial buildup!

Another benefit to removing the bacteria from our tongues is that it clears the way for our tastebuds to do their jobs. A bacteria-free tongue can taste food much more effectively, and it makes the first stage of the digestive process more effective too, which means improving our digestive health!

The Right Tools For Tongue-Cleaning

You might think mouthwash or rinsing with water is enough to clean your tongue, but that bacteria is stubborn, and simply swishing liquid in your mouth won’t clean out all those crevices on the tongue’s surface. If you really want to clean out that biofilm of bacteria, the key is to scrape it, preferably with a tongue-scraper. You can find these at the store near the toothbrushes, and you should use one every time you brush your teeth.

A toothbrush can do a decent job of cleaning your tongue if you don’t have a special tongue-scraper, and some toothbrushes even have bumps for tongue-scrubbing built in. After you brush your teeth but before you rinse and spit, take that brush or scraper to your tongue. Start at the back and work your way forward, and make sure to get as much of the surface as you can. It’s quick and easy and will make a major difference!

Tongue Scrapers Go Way Back

How long do you think tongue scrapers have been around? A few decades? Try since ancient times! Tongue-scraping is part of the daily hygiene regimen recommended by Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Over the centuries, tongue scrapers in different cultures have been made of many different materials, including metals like copper, silver, gold, tin, or brass, as well as ivory, mother-of-pearl, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. These days, they’re most often made of plastic or stainless steel.

Need More Tips On Tongue-Cleaning?

If you have questions about cleaning your tongue or finding the right tongue-scraper, just ask! We are more than happy to help you add this important step to your dental hygiene routine. And don’t forget to keep brushing and flossing and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

Way to be the best patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



4/18/2018 4:59:55 PM

IT’S NEVER A GREAT feeling when the dentist tells you that you have a cavity, especially when you’ve been diligently brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy. The next step after a cavity is discovered is typically a dental filling. Fillings come in several different materials that have their own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look!

1. The Classic: Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are what you might think of as “silver” dental fillings, though they’re actually composed of a mixture of tin, copper, silver, and mercury. They have been used for over 150 years! The reason dentists have been using them for so long is that they are strong and long-lasting, and they are also the least expensive option. However, they’re very noticeable and tend to darken over time, so if you want something that blends in, amalgam fillings probably aren’t the ones you want.

2. Low Profile: Composite Fillings

Composite dental fillings are made of acrylic resin and powdered glass. Unlike amalgam fillings, they can be colored to match your teeth, which is part of what makes them so popular. They do wear out faster, though, and aren’t always the best choice for teeth that take the greatest chewing pressure.

3. Putting On The Ritz: Gold Fillings

Gold fillings aren’t made of pure gold, just like amalgam fillings aren’t made of pure silver, but they are some of the most durable fillings available, capable of lasting more than two decades. They can’t corrode like amalgam fillings, and they’re very strong. Unfortunately, they are also very expensive, costing between six and ten times more than amalgam fillings.

4. Delicate Yet Realistic: Ceramic Fillings

Ceramic fillings are mostly made of porcelain. This makes them another low-profile option, and not only are they tooth-colored, they’re also stain-resistant! The drawbacks of ceramic fillings are that they are more brittle than composite fillings, and they are also nearly as expensive as gold.

5. Down To The Roots: Glass Ionomer Fillings

The final type of filling is resin or glass ionomer fillings. These are made of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a component of glass. They are typically used as cement for inlay fillings, for fillings in the front teeth, and for fillings when the decay extends into the root of the tooth. They are also used on baby teeth. Weaker than composite resin, glass ionomer fillings might only last around five years, and they don’t match the color of teeth as closely.

No matter what filling you get, your tooth will still need plenty of love and care!

Bring Your Questions To The Experts!

Still have questions about the different types of fillings? Just ask us! You should also come see us if you’ve noticed any problems with existing fillings, such as damage or a separation between the filling and the tooth. A loose or damaged filling could lead to worse complications for the tooth, so don’t wait to schedule your appointment!

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user jshj used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



4/11/2018 10:13:52 PM

HAVE YOU EVER woken up with a sore jaw, tooth pain, or a headache? These are common symptoms of sleep bruxism, or teeth-grinding. The American Dental Association estimates that 10-15 percent of adults struggle with sleep bruxism, and children can experience it too. Because it happens during sleep, it can be difficult to control or stop. One way to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of grinding is to wear a night guard.

What Night Guards Are

Night guards come in hard, medium, and soft varieties, with the soft ones resembling mouth guards for sports and hard ones resembling clear plastic retainers, though they’re much sturdier and you usually only need one for the upper teeth. Wearing a night guard provides a cushioning effect so that the upper and lower teeth can’t wear away at each other. It will protect your teeth from external damage caused by grinding, such as chipping and erosion, but as long as the grinding still happens, other symptoms like jaw pain may not change.

What Night Guards Are Not

While hard night guards might look like retainersthey are not necessarily interchangeable. You should never use a normal retainer as a night guard, because it doesn’t have the necessary thickness to withstand the pressure. You should also be careful about using night guards as retainers. If you have a hard night guard that is properly fitted to your teeth, it can serve as a retainer, but a soft night guard won’t prevent your teeth from shifting.

Where To Get Yours

You can either buy your night guard over-the-counter or get a custom night guard from the dentist. A typical over-the-counter night guard requires you to shape it to your teeth by boiling it, allowing it a moment to cool, and then gently biting into it. If you obtain your night guard through your dentist, the added comfort and quality will be worth the greater price. These night guards are made in a laboratory from an impression of your teeth taken by dental professionals.

Cleaning And Storing Your Night Guard

If you don’t want to end up with a night guard that is smelly and gross, it’s important to clean and store it correctly. Always rinse your night guard after you take it out, then brush it with your toothbrush (but no toothpaste). In order to prevent bacterial growth, a night guard should never be stored wet, so give it time to air dry before placing it in its case, and it might be better to leave it on the nightstand instead of in the bathroom.

Ask Us About Your Night Guard

If you think you might have bruxism, don’t wait; come talk to us about it. We can get you your perfect night guard, and we can also help you with other methods of reducing the symptoms, such as discussing ways to reduce stress levels and recommending an orthodontist if misaligned teeth are contributing to the grinding.

Thank you for trusting us to take care of your dental needs!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



4/4/2018 9:16:55 PM

ORAL CANCER IS A SUBJECT we’d all prefer not to have to think about, but it’s critical to have a basic understanding of risk factors and symptoms. More than 50,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with oral cancer last year, and that number is expected to rise. That’s why, in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’re dedicating a blog post to giving our patients the tools they need for early detection.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing oral cancer. Some of them are out of our control, such as age and sex. Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer, and it is far more common in people over 45. But there are plenty of risk factors that we can control, the biggest of which is tobacco. A whopping 85 percent of oral cancer cases are linked to some kind of tobacco use (even e-cigarettes). The next biggest avoidable risk factor is frequent, heavy alcohol consumption.

A few of the less-obvious risk factors include getting too much sun (which can cause lip cancer), HPV, and neglecting your oral hygiene, particularly if you also smoke. You can eliminate this risk factor by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental appointments!

Symptoms To Watch Out For

Unfortunately, even people with none of these risk factors will sometimes develop oral cancer anyway, which is why it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms, which include:

  • A sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Unusual lump on lip, mouth, neck, or throat, or strange thickness in the cheek
  • Persistent sensation of having something stuck in the throat
  • Numbness of mouth or tongue
  • Difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic bad breath

If you do have one or more of the risk factors for oral cancer, getting regular general health screenings can catch it before you even notice any symptoms. The earlier oral cancer is caught, the easier it is to beat it.

Where Does The Dentist Fit In?

Another way oral cancer is caught early is at regular dental exams! In addition to checking your teeth for cavities and your gums for signs of gum disease, we can spot many of those early symptoms of oral cancer while we’re looking at your mouth, which is just one more reason why it’s so important to keep scheduling your dental appointments!

Even if you don’t have oral cancer or any of the risk factors, you can still help the people who are fighting this disease. Ask us how you can get involved!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



3/28/2018 9:50:43 PM

YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED that your teeth aren’t all the same shape, but do you know the reason? Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles!

Types Of Teeth And What They Do

The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors. The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors. Incisors are built for slicing. When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they aren’t the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths. This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat. Unlike incisors, we only have four canines. Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the shape. Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth. That might seem weird, but it’s because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars. You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars. They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up. We don’t have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars. Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces. We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth. Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing, because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it’s ready to be swallowed.

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we’re omnivores. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth. Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small, if they have them at all. Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common? They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep bringing those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to see us every six months so that we can make sure they’re all staying healthy. In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

We look forward to seeing you again!

Top image by Flickr user _zhang used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



3/21/2018 6:35:27 PM

SPRING IS IN THE AIR…and that means so are allergies. Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?

Why Do We Get Seasonal Allergies?

While there are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. This can mean long months of congestion, an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrive in response to these allergens.

Allergies Versus Oral Health

While allergies can result in tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay.

Prevention And Treatment

Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house.

If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.

Fighting Back Against Allergies Together!

If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to come see us! Your oral health is our top priority, and together we can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!

Thank you for putting your trust in our practice!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.