Overbrushing: Watch Out for Too Much of a Good Thing

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Toothbrush Abrasion Leads to Sensitive Teeth and Gums

Brushing regularly is considered vital for healthy teeth and gums, but dental experts warn that you can overdo a good thing. Known as “toothbrush abrasion,” overbrushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums.

Vigorous brushing can wear down the enamel on the teeth as well as damage and push back the gums, exposing the sensitive root area. Receding gums can also lead to other dental problems such as periodontal disease and cavities on the roots of the teeth and may lead to the need for treatments such as fillings, root canals and tooth extraction. According to the Wall Street Journal, dentists estimate that between 10 to 20 percent of the population have damaged their teeth or gums as a result of overbrushing.

The people most at risk for tooth or gum damage from overbrushing are those who are particularly diligent about their oral care and those who use medium- or hard-bristled toothbrushes. Other factors, such as a genetic predisposition to receding gums, clenching or grinding your teeth or having had your teeth straightened with braces, can increase your risk for damage from overbrushing.

Brushing vigorously isn’t necessary to remove plaque. “Plaque is so soft that you could remove it with a rag if you could reach all the surfaces where it hides,” says Dr. Kevin Sheu, managing dental consultant for Delta Dental. “Thoroughness is what is required for plaque removal, not aggressive brushing. You’re not going to achieve any extra benefit by brushing hard.”

Changing brushing habits can usually stop the problem from getting worse. In cases of severe toothbrush abrasion, dentists can fill in the grooves with bonding material.

Proper brushing technique

What’s important when brushing your teeth is not how hard you scrub, but that you use the proper technique and that you do a thorough job. And that takes time. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two to three minutes to get the most thorough cleaning. The following are some other tips for brushing your teeth correctly:

·        Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the soft tooth dentin (the less mineralized layer of tooth found just under the enamel) and in the root area. If you are accustomed to a hard-bristled toothbrush, even using a toothbrush that is softer than you are accustomed to will help.

·        Place the head of your toothbrush with the tips of the bristles at a 45-degree-angle to the gumline when brushing.

·        Move the toothbrush with short strokes and a scrubbing motion, several times in each spot – don’t saw back and forth across the teeth with your toothbrush.

·        Apply just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. If you are squashing the bristles, you're brushing too hard.

 

Worn Brush Bristles

The smoothness of your toothbrush’s bristles (which are rounded in the factory when they are made) also gets worn away back to its original jaggedness via brushing, which is why you may have heard that dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush often. The key is to throw away your toothbrush before the bristles splay, because by that point, it’s too late. Splayed bristles mean you’ve been using a worn toothbrush that is too abrasive and has been wearing away your tooth structure. Replace your toothbrush every four weeks for people who brush twice a day

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com, AskTheDentist.com

 

Is Your Thanksgiving Meal Good for Your Teeth?

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Family, fellowship and food are just a few of the reasons why we love Thanksgiving. While the food may be flowing at the Turkey Day table, the smiles are too! Believe it or not, your teeth love Thanksgiving just as much as you. Below are some of the good – and not so good – dishes you’ll see at a typical Thanksgiving dinner feast when it comes to their impact on your teeth. Plus how they rate from a “Healthy Mouth” perspective.

Turkey

The Good: This main course is packed with protein. Turkey is unarguably the main attraction of the Thanksgiving table. Turkey is loaded with protein, making it a fan favorite for both your body and smile. Protein has phosphorus in it, and when phosphorus mixes with calcium and vitamin D, it creates strong bones and teeth. So even though eating a Thanksgiving feast can make you sleepy, you can rest assured that turkey is a healthy option for a great smile.
The Bad: It often gets stuck between your teeth – so flossing is often required before you take a nap.
Healthy Mouth: It's the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!

 Stuffing

The Good: What would a turkey be without stuffing? And depending on what you put in your stuffing, it could have ingredients that are very good for your teeth. Celery is great for your teeth because of its water content (your mouth loves water) and onions have strong bacteria-fighting properties (and bacteria lead to plaque).

The Bad: If your stuffing is sticky, be sure to floss.

Healthy Mouth: It’s a tradition in most homes – enjoy (and floss).

Cranberry Sauce

The Good: It's a tasty Thanksgiving tradition.
The Bad: Cranberries are naturally tart, so sugar or sugar substitutes are often added to products, including sauce. This side dish can be sticky, acidic and may temporarily stain your teeth. 
Healthy Mouth: If eaten alone the sugar content, stickiness, tendency for the little berries to get stuck between your teeth and acidity make it one of those foods that needs to be eaten with a meal.

Yams

The Good: Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help keep your gums healthy. They can also be prepared in many ways.
The Bad: Candied yam recipes call for marshmallows. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food.
Healthy Mouth: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any food particles on your teeth.

Green Bean Casserole

The Good: Green beans are healthy, mushrooms are healthy, and onions are healthy. 
The Bad: It can be sticky and little beans may get stuck in your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy.

Macaroni and Cheese

The Good: Say cheese! Many recipes call for cheese and milk. The calcium from these ingredients helps strengthen teeth.
The Bad: Good cheese can be gooey, and white pastas are also starchy and can leave sugar behind on your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

The Good: Potatoes are an important dietary source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium. 
The Bad: Potatoes are starchy, and cavity-causing bacteria loves the sugar that makes up starch.
Healthy Mouth: If covered with gravy, the health benefits of the overall dish are diminished to some extent, but this is a holiday and only comes once a year.

Pumpkin Pie

The Good: Pumpkins are decorative and delicious, but did you know they’re good for your teeth too? Pumpkin pulp is filled with filled enamel-building Vitamin A, fiber and potassium. Your chompers love all parts of the pumpkin – including their seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that can strengthen teeth. Pumpkins aren’t just for eating - they make fabulous decorations for your Turkey Day table. Make a pumpkin party cooler, custom centerpiece or place card holders. The pumpkin possibilities are endless!
The Bad: There’s the added sugar in the pie itself and whatever whipped topping you put on top.
Healthy Mouth: This is usually a once-a-year treat, but dish it out after dinner. Eating sweets shortly after meals helps keep saliva flowing to wash away leftover food.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com

 

 

 

What Can You Do if You Suffer From Dry Mouth?

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Dry mouth, also called xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh), results from an inadequate flow of saliva. For people who suffer from this irritating and often destructive condition, there are two approaches that will address the condition – artificial saliva and saliva stimulators. We recommend you review this article and then discuss your options with your dentist. If you take proactive action, your dry mouth problem may have a solution.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh), results from an inadequate flow of saliva. Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Severe dry mouth can promote the growth of harmful organisms. Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate saliva flow, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease become much more common. Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth also causes full dentures to become less comfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues.

Why would someone use artificial saliva?

Saliva coats and lubricates tissues in the mouth. It helps cleanse the mouth and begins the digestive process as we chew. When the saliva glands do not produce enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry. Although artificial saliva is not a perfect substitute for natural saliva (which is very complex physically and chemically), it does—when used regularly—help moisten the oral tissues, relieving the discomfort caused by dry mouth. Speaking, chewing and swallowing are made easier when the mouth is moist. You may need to ask your pharmacist for the product. Artificial saliva does not require a prescription, but it can be difficult to find on store shelves.

How is artificial saliva different from real saliva?

Although more than 99 percent of saliva is water, saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes and minerals that keep teeth strong and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment in the mouth. Artificial salivas normally contain a mixture of buffering agents, cellulose derivatives (to increase stickiness and moistening ability) and flavoring agents (such as sorbitol). However, they do not contain the digestive and antibacterial enzymes and other proteins or minerals present in real saliva. Research is underway to try and develop artificial salivas that more closely mimic natural saliva.

How often is artificial saliva used?

It can be used as often as needed, and generally comes in lozenges or a spray. Saliva substitutes are quickly swallowed and, therefore, the moistening and lubricating action has limited duration and repeat applications may be needed. Although saliva substitutes will not cure dry mouth, they can provide temporary relief of some symptoms.

What are saliva stimulators?

A saliva stimulant increases the natural production of saliva. The most efficient way to stimulate salivary flow is chewing, according to the American Dental Association, because it causes muscles to compress the salivary glands and release saliva; that's why chewing your food well is so important. Chewing gum may help increase saliva production, but note that the ADA recommends sugarless brands. There are also several prescription drugs available that will stimulate saliva production. Talk to your dentist about your options.

 

 

Source: American Dental Association (ada.org)

 

 

12 Significant And Quirky Facts That Make Flossing Essential!

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How important is flossing in the health of your teeth? According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. In fact, it can be even more important than brushing (and takes less time!) when it comes to preventing tooth loss, cavities, and periodontal gum disease.

Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chance of keeping them for a lifetime and decrease the chance of getting gum disease.

Most people cite lack of time as a reason for not flossing. However, the AGD says flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits and is far better than not flossing at all.

So let’s get right down to it! Here are 12 significant facts that make flossing essential!

·        Flossing removes plaque between our teeth that our toothbrushes miss. This is something we all know, but did you know that when you don’t floss, food that sits between your teeth is actually rotting and can be a main cause for bad breath? Gross!

·        It has been thought that flossing before brushing can help the fluoride from our toothpaste better reach between our teeth.

·        In order to floss efficiently, you need to use a piece of floss that is 18 to 20 inches long.

·        Improper and irregular flossing leads to bleeding gums.

·        You should use a clean section of your floss to clean around each tooth. This will avoid transferring food and bacteria from one tooth to another.

·        There are two main types of floss: monofilament (plastic/rubber type) and multifilament (nylon/silk floss).

·        Both types of floss mentioned above come in flavors (and unflavored) such as mint, cinnamon, bubblegum and even bacon. Yes, I said bacon-flavored floss.…

·        Flossing saves you money. It plays an essential role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. An unhealthy mouth can lead to a number of ailments and diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

·        Seventy-three percent of Americans would rather go grocery shopping than floss!

·        Americans spend $2 billion a year on dental products—toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss.

·        Men floss less than women do.

·        Brushing your teeth without flossing is like only washing 70 percent of your body.

Teeth Are Always in Style!

Flossing takes up very little time in your day, but the impact of not flossing is greater to not only your teeth, but your overall health as well! Americans are living longer and keeping their own teeth, too. Yes, it is possible: with a good oral health routine and regular dental checkups, you can have your own teeth for as long as you live!

 

Sources: ModernDent.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

 

Fight Kid’s Cavity Fright This Halloween

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Tricky Treats to Avoid and Good Oral Health Habits to Prevent Plaque

As the Halloween candy is being devoured, sugar and dental plaque can linger in the crevices in and between your child's teeth and cause cavities. Monitoring your child's sugar intake and ensuring regular brushing habits to remove plaque will help prevent tooth decay this Halloween and make your child's next visit to the dentist cavity-free.

Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing microorganisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.

Guidelines for Your Trick or Treaters

Here are a few guidelines to safeguard your little pirate's teeth against decay this Halloween:

Don't buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.

When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.

Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.

Encourage your child to eat a small amount in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy from after school until dinner time as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.

Beware of Hard or Sticky Candy

One of the worst types of candy in terms of your child’s oral health is hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, popcorn balls or lollipops. They are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Plus, they can crack or chip a child’s tooth.

On the other hand, sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth

To help parents at Halloween, we offer a list of the most harmful to the safest treats your kids should be choosing from their trick-or-treat bag:

Sour Power – Sour candies are the absolute worst in that studies have revealed that the acids in sour candies are so destructive because they dissolve enamel on contact!

Hardly Harmless – Hard candy needs to be sucked on for an extended period of time and very chewy candies are harmful in that they get stuck between the teeth. Both hard and chewy candy allow bacteria to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth for a much longer period of time.

Resist Raisins – Don’t be fooled by their natural derivative. Raisins easily damage dental work because they are very sticky and do not mix well with fillings, braces or retainers.

Candy Bars Get Four Stars – While we can’t say candy bars are good for your oral health, they are less harmful because they are eaten quickly allowing less time for the sugar to damage with acid.

Dissolve Your Worry – Powder candy is fairly safe as the sugar dissolves quickly and makes little contact with the teeth.

Eat Two or Three if They’re Sugar Free – As obvious as it seems, sugar-free candy is the most highly recommended Halloween treat for your children’s teeth. You can even prevent cavities by chewing sugar free gum! Sugar free gum promotes increased saliva which neutralizes harmful bacteria.

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com

 

 

Solutions to the Top 12 Tooth Problems

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From Toothaches to Too Many Teeth - A List of Common Dental Issues Encountered

The dentists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can help you with the 12 oral health problems on this list. Make an appointment that will help your smile.

1. Toothache

You've made a dentist appointment, and it can't come soon enough. Meanwhile, it can help to rinse your mouth with warm water, floss to remove food caught between teeth, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you notice swelling or pus around the tooth, or if you have a fever, that could be a sign that you have an abscess, a more serious problem. See your dentist as soon as possible. You may need antibiotics and possibly a root canal.

2. Stained Teeth

Your teeth are like your laundry: The right approach will remove many stains. Foods, medications, tobacco, and trauma are some of the things that can discolor your teeth.  You have three options for whitening them. Your dentist can use a whitening agent and a special light. Or you can bleach them at home with a plastic tray and gel from your dentist or a store. The simplest choice, whitening toothpaste and whitening rinses, only remove surface stains.

3. Cavities

These little holes in your teeth are bad news. You get them when a sticky bacteria, called plaque, builds up on your teeth, slowly destroying the hard outer shell, called enamel. Adults can also have problems with tooth decay at the gum line and around the edges of earlier fillings. To prevent it, brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, limit snacks, floss daily, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, and keep up with your dental appointments. Ask your dentist if you could benefit from a sealant.

4. Chipped Tooth

It's the No. 1 type of dental injury. An accident can cause a chip. So can something much less dramatic, like chomping popcorn. Your dentist may recommend a crown if the chip is large or bonding with a strong resin material to replace the area that chipped. If the pulp is at risk, you may need a root canal followed by a veneer or crown.

5. Impacted Teeth

An adult tooth that doesn't come in properly is "impacted." It usually happens when a tooth is stuck against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue. If it isn't bothering you, a dentist may recommend leaving it alone.  But if it hurts or may cause problems later on, an oral surgeon can remove it.

6. Cracked Tooth

You were playing football without a mouth guard, or chewing, or maybe you don’t know how it happened, but now you’ve got a cracked molar. Can your dentist save the tooth? It depends. Most dentist recommend crowns for cracked teeth to prevent the crack from worsening. If the tooth is sensitive to hot and cold, the problem is more complex. Try to chew on the other side until you see your dentist. If the crack is above the gum line, you may need a root canal and a crown. A deeper crack means the tooth must be pulled, though. Fillings can increase the chance of a crack.

7. Sensitive to Cold

Ice cream should taste good, not make you wince when the cold hits your teeth. The first step is to find the cause. It could be cavities, worn tooth enamel or fillings, gum disease, fractured teeth, or exposed roots. Once your dentist figures out the problem, you might need a filling, a root canal, or treatment of your gums to replace tissue lost at the root. Or you might just need a desensitizing toothpaste or strip, or a fluoride gel.

8. Too Many Teeth: Hyperdontia

How many teeth are in your mouth? If you’re like most people, you had 20 primary, or “baby,” teeth, and you now have 32 adult teeth.  It's rare, but some people have extra teeth, which is called hyperdontia. People who have it usually also have another condition, such as a cleft palate or Gardner’s Syndrome (which forms tumors that aren't cancer). The treatment is to get the extra teeth removed and use orthodontics to correct the bite.

9. Crooked Teeth

The fix - orthodontia - isn’t just for kids. And straightening crooked teeth and aligning your bite doesn’t just make for a prettier smile. It can be a key part of improving overall dental health, relieving symptoms like jaw pain.  Orthodontists may use braces (metal or trays), aligners, and retainers.

10. Gap Between Teeth

You may not consider a gap between the front teeth a problem at all. Famous people who sport the look include singer Madonna, actress Anna Paquin, model Lauren Hutton, and football player turned TV co-host Michael Strahan. If you want to correct it, though, your options include orthodontics to move teeth closer together and cosmetic solutions like veneers or bonding. 

11. Gum Problems

Do your gums bleed easily? Are they tender? Do you notice them pulling away from your teeth? You might be in the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) or in the more advanced stage (periodontitis). A buildup of plaque, a sticky bacteria, below the gum line causes it. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause bone loss, and your teeth might shift or become loose. That can make it harder to chew and even speak. To avoid gum disease, brush, floss, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily, and see your dentist for regular cleanings.

12. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth is called bruxism. Stress is one of the causes. Misaligned teeth or sleep issues can also be culprits among adults. (Among kids, causes can include allergies.) Bruxism can give you headaches, a sore jaw, and cracked or loose teeth. If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist to fit you with a mouth guard. If it’s a daytime problem, try meditation, exercise, or other ways to curb stress.

 

Source: WebMD.com

 

Vitamin Supplements – Can They Help or Hurt Your Teeth?

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Some Forms of Supplements Can Actually Harm Your Oral Health

Nutrition experts encourage daily supplementation of vitamin C for everyone. It protects against everything from sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S) to scurvy, heart disease, and in some cases, cancer. Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, recommended a whopping 3 grams of vitamin C every day for the average healthy male, and 6 grams for those at risk of heart disease. There are many methods of vitamin C supplementation, in the form of capsules, powders and syrups. For decades, parents have been providing their children with chewable vitamin C pills.

Chewable Pills and Citrus Toothpaste

Vitamin C is destructive to tooth enamel, so chewable pills may lead to increased cavities, particularly in those who are lacking minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin C should never be taken in a manner which leaves residues of it on the teeth for an extended time. Some well-intentioned toothpaste manufacturers have misguidedly added vitamin C or "citrus" to their formulas, without realizing the dental problems that this presents. Similarly, some alternative medicine sites on the Internet recommend cleaning the teeth with lemon-based solutions. Citrus acids have the tendency to make the teeth feel clean. This occurs partly because the acid strips the teeth of everything, including the minerals bonding with them. It can cause long-term enamel damage; especially when it is combined with abrasives or stiff bristle brushes.

Vitamin C when taken internally actually strengthens teeth, and the rest of the body. However, it should never be kept in direct contact with the teeth. It is strongly recommended for those who are brushing their teeth with citrus formulas to discontinue immediately. Toothpastes which contain calcium carbonate are ideal for long-term dental health and for tooth whiteness. Toothpastes containing phosphorus (phosphates) are even better.

Fizzy Vitamin Supplements

We know that sugar-filled juices and canned drinks such as cola and lemonade can cause tooth decay - yet few of us would think fizzy vitamin preparations can have similar effects. However, a study at the University of Helsinki on eight types of effervescent vitamins found they could all have corrosive effects on teeth. 

Leaching out the minerals contained in teeth, they left them weaker, more porous and prone to decay.

In the research, teeth were soaked in the vitamin drinks for 100 hours. All of them - including those drinks that contained calcium - caused demineralization. The effects were worst in the Vitamin C products, where teeth were corroded so severely that dentine, the sensitive layer beneath the enamel was exposed.

“When you drink fizzy vitamins, you wouldn't expose your teeth for anything near this length of time,” says Dr. Mervyn Druian, spokesperson for the British Dental Association. “However, if you drink one of these dissolved tablets each day, it is likely that they would weaken your teeth.”

Citric acid, the primary ingredient of many fizzy vitamin drinks, has been found by researchers at the University of Baltimore Dental School to cause dental erosion. While this erosion is less than in drinks that also contain sugar, it is still significant.

“Dental erosion is caused by acidic solutions which come into contact with the teeth,” says Dr. Adam Thorne, dental surgeon at the Harley Street Dental Studio. “Because the critical pH of dental enamel is 5.5, any solution with a lower pH value may cause erosion, particularly over a long period or if it is taken regularly.”

The danger of these soluble vitamins is that they are marketed for daily use and consumers tend to take them with breakfast and brush their teeth shortly after. “For an hour after you have an acidic drink such as a fizzy vitamin, cola or apple juice, your tooth enamel will remain softened,” says Dr. Thorne. “During this period, teeth become more vulnerable to corrosion, sensitivity and decay. Vitally, if you brush your teeth during this time, you are likely to brush away a layer of tooth enamel.”

How Can You Protect Your Teeth from the Effect of Chewable or Fizzy Supplements?

The strength of teeth changes continually over the course of a day, with minerals being taken out and replaced according to the foods you eat and drink. “Whenever we have an acidic drink, minerals are leached out of the teeth to help neutralize the acid. Saliva is slightly alkaline, so it also has a neutralizing effect,” says Dr. Druian.

“After a few hours, the neutralizing action of saliva takes over, and calcium and other minerals are gradually put back in the teeth.”

Dairy products such as cheese and milk have an alkaline pH that help neutralize acids. They also contain minerals. Eating these after an acid drink will help reduce acid levels and re-mineralize teeth at a faster rate. 

“Don't brush your teeth for at least an hour and don't swish the fizzy vitamin drink around your mouth,” states Dr. Durian. “You can also chew some sugar-free gum to increase the flow of saliva. Ultimately, if you are worried about the effects of these vitamins on your mouth, drink them through a straw or switch to a vitamin pill.”

Sources: KnowYourTeeth.com, HealthWyze.org, DailyMail.co.uk

 

 

 

Beating Bad Breath

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Are You Among the More Than 80 Million People Who Suffer?

Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Some people don't realize their breath could peel paint because others are afraid to tell them. You don’t have to distance the people around you with smelly mouth odor.

Do You Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur -- or worse.

Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.

Not sure if your breath is bad? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your significant other, "'Does my breath smell?” Because it's really hard to tell on your own. There's also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.

If your toothbrush or floss smells bad, then there are foul odors in your mouth.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.

Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You'll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).

If you’ve eliminated medical causes for your bad breath, hit the kitchen for some bad breath battlers.

 

Try these Bites for Better Breath

Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.

Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth- freshening burst of flavor. (Wash the rind thoroughly first.) The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands—and fight bad breath.

Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.

Rinse with a 30-second mouthwash that is alcohol-free (unike many off-the-shelf products). Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (which changes the pH level and fights odor in the mouth) and a few drops of antimicrobial peppermint essential oil. Don’t swallow it! (Yields several rinses.)

Moisten your mouth. You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don't make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.

 

Crunch Your Way to Better Breath

Try this recipe from The Remedy Chicks (Linda B. White MD, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell-Grogan) from EveryDayHealth.com.

Raw crunchy foods clean the teeth. Apples contain pectin, which helps control food odors and promotes saliva production. Cinnamon is antimicrobial. Active cultures in yogurt help reduce odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.

1 cup apple chunks
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed walnuts
3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
Ground cinnamon

PREPARATION AND USE: Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)

 

Avoid Foods That Sour Your Breath.

Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn't help.

“The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out,” says Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.

The best way to stop the problem? Don't eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.

 

Take Care of Your Mouth

Keep your teeth and gums healthy with regular oral care. Gum disease and tooth decay causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.

Brush your teeth twice a day.

Floss daily.

Brush or scrape your tongue.

Visit your dentist.

The best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. If you have chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.

 

 

Sources: ADA, Web MD, Delta Dental, EveryDayHealth.com

 

 

The History of Gum Gives You a Lot to Chew On

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Need help whitening your teeth? Want to quit smoking? Trying to lose weight? There’s a chewing gum for all of that and more. New types of chewing gum are introduced all the time, but did you ever wonder how it managed to gain such a grip on consumers? Believe it or not, people have had a love affair with gum for thousands of years. From humble beginnings to hundreds of varieties, here’s a look at how chewing gum rose to become the powerhouse product it is today.

How It Originated

Long before William Wrigley Jr. made a name for chewing gum, ancient civilizations were tapping into trees and other sources of resin and chewing on soft, rubbery substances both for enjoyment and medicinal purposes. Evidence indicates prehistoric Europeans would chew on birch bark tar quite possibly to help relieve toothaches, while Aztecs and Mayans would turn to gum from the chicle tree to appease their thirst or hunger. In North America, Native Americans favored spruce tree resin, and it became commercialized and sold in sticks by a colonist named John Bacon Curtis in 1848.

Eventually, scientist Thomas Adams succeeded in enhancing chicle with flavor, and his work would set off various trials to improve the ability to retain flavor – with peppermint found to be particularly effective. Adams helped bring attention to chewing gum by introducing it to vending machines and selling it in the subways of New York in 1888, but chewing gum really took off when a soap industrialist named William Wrigley Jr. promoted it as an add-on to his products. From “Juicy Fruit” to “Doublemint” gum, Wrigley created one of the most successful chewing gum companies that ever existed, and many of his products remain popular today.

Gum Gets a Modern Makeover

After the turn of the century, chewing gum innovations accelerated due to deeper research and newfound discoveries. Bubble gum and other sweet flavors became a mainstay, and production further proliferated in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when synthetic rubbers made mass production easier than ever. Perhaps one of the biggest advancements came in the 1950’s, when sugarless chewing gum was first created by a dentist, Dr. Petrulis, and sold to William Wrigley Jr. The nation was becoming more health-conscious, and chewing gum products followed suit.

Today, chewing gum comes in countless varieties, and has grown even more popular due to its ability to:

Freshen breath: almost all types of gum come flavored to help mask odors

Keep teeth white: both chewing and active ingredients can fight tooth staining

Fight plaque: sugar free, xylitol-based gum inhibits the growth of oral bacteria

Aid in weight loss: many turn to gum as a low calorie treat instead of snacking

Help quit smoking: nicotine gum is an effective substitute for cigarettes

Supplement your diet: certain gums are fortified with vitamins and minerals

Several sugarless brands also come with a seal of approval from the American Dental Association, and are recommended by dentists to help fight tooth decay.

Choosing the Right Gum

Chewing gum is often purchased on impulse, but putting a little thought into the type of gum you choose can make a big difference to your oral health. Read the labels closely to ensure you have selected a sugarless variety that won’t harm your teeth, and then narrow down the field based on additional preferences – from flavor to active ingredients and beyond. If you need help in choosing the right gum, or are unsure about the effectiveness of a particular brand you have chosen, simply call your dentist for guidance. Just like most things, chewing gum should be done in moderation – chewing gum too frequently may lead to jaw muscle fatigue or more serious issues such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ).

Source: Chew On This – The History of Gum

 

 

Dental Discoloration: Causes and Best Solutions

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Making a Few Lifestyle Changes May Prevent Tooth Discoloration

There are plenty of factors that can cause temporary or permanent tooth discolorations. First, there is the extrinsic discoloration, which means that your teeth get discolored because of external factors.

For example, if you consume caffeinated beverages, red wine, cola or you are smoking - these can all cause temporary discoloration and staining of your teeth. Dentists highly advise patients who consume such beverages to rinse their mouth with water every time after the consumption of a glass of wine or a cola. This way, you will not allow the harmful particles to stick to your teeth and cause staining.

Teeth can also get discolored because of intrinsic causes. This means that the staining is caused by an internal factor. The internal structure of your tooth called the dentin will get discolored (yellowish), and this type of staining is much more difficult to deal with. Some of the main causes on intrinsic staining include:

Taking prescription pills, especially minocycline antibiotics.

If the patient has been exposed to large amounts of fluoride during childhood, the dentin can also get discolored years later because of this exposure.

A health condition known as dentinogenesis imperfect. This health condition causes your teeth to get that gray and purple discoloration.

As a result of the natural aging process, our teeth cannot maintain that beautiful and shiny ivory/white color for all our life. As we age, our entire body suffers transformations.

 

How to Avoid/Prevent Staining

In order to avoid the staining of the dentin and of course the thinning of it, you should keep in mind the following:

Rinse your mouth with pure water every time you get the occasion.

Use toothpaste which has in its composition whitening agents, and also use an antibacterial/whitening mouthwash regularly.

Using proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques.

Avoid the foods and beverages that cause stains.

Consider bondings or veneers.

Use in-home whitening agents purchased from your dentist.

 

In Office Dental Whitening/Bleaching

The two main methods of professional whitening are tray whitening and in-office whitening. In tray whitening, an impression is taken by your dentist and a custom tray is made for the patient. Then, a supply of whitening gel is given to the patient and he/she wears the tray for a few hours each day (techniques differ) for a period of time until an acceptable result is achieved. Sensitivity of the teeth is a normal side-effect of this whitening method and is almost always transitional.

On the other hand, in-office whitening is the most efficient means of whitening. There are a number of different types used, but the process is very similar for these methods; you can have your teeth whitened in one session and achieve significant results. Your dentist can give you more detailed information and help you decide which method is more suitable for you and your teeth.

Professional dental whitening has the power to remove even intrinsic stains, thanks to the maximum strength of the peroxide gel to penetrate the tooth. Just talk to your dentist about the suitable whitening options if you struggle with stained teeth.

 

Source:  Worldental.org, WebMD.com