10 common oral hygiene mistakes, according to dentists

By: Wendy Rose Gould, NBC News

📊 According to the CDC, more than 80% of people develop at least one cavity by age 34. Genetics play a factor in tooth decay as well as the most common oral hygiene mistakes listed in this article via NBC News. The Oral Surgery DC Team

It’s been ingrained in your mind since you were old enough to wield a toothbrush: spend two minutes brushing your teeth three times a day. You still might even hum a familiar tune every time you step in front of the sink or go through the exact same “up and down, round and round” motions you did at age five.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 80 percent of people develop at least one cavity by age 34, so something’s not quite adding up. While genetics plays a factor in your likelihood to experience tooth decay, it’s not the only variable. To uncover some of the most common oral hygiene mistakes that may be contributing to the problem, we asked dentists to weigh in.

Problem #1: Only brushing in the morning

Many are naturally compelled to brush in the morning in order to curb bad breath, but it’s all too easy to neglect nighttime brushing as we climb into bed exhausted.

“By the end of your day, you have the most amount of food debris stuck on and in between your teeth. Additionally, when you sleep, your mouth is the least active for saliva production, which functions to help bathe the teeth clean,” explains celebrity dentist Dr. Jon Marashi. “As a result, the bacteria in your mouth now have a festive food supply in which they consume. The by-product is an acid secretion that leads to tooth decay. Brushing your teeth at night is non-negotiable.”

Problem #2: Brushing your teeth too hard

There’s a misconception that says the harder we scrub, the better we clean. This is false.

“Aggressive scrubbing over time can cause enamel abrasion and gum recession, ultimately leading to sensitivity issues and tooth structure loss,” warns New York City-based dentist, Dr. Inna Chern. “Ideally, you should use a soft-headed toothbrush, or an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved electric brush, which comes standard with soft heads.”

Signs that you’re scrubbing too hard include a frazzled brush head in as little as one to two months, increased sensitivity, and a receding gum line. If you can’t break the habit, Dr. Chern recommends using an electric brush with a pressure indicator.

Problem #3: Not spending enough time brushing

Even if you’ve committed to brushing your teeth throughout the day, the effort is for naught if you aren’t allocating enough time to the task. Dr. Marashi says, “If you don’t spend adequate time brushing your teeth, it is likely that the tartar and biofilms will not have a proper removal from the tooth surface, leading to plaque deposits, gum inflammation, bad breath, and even cavities.”

Also, he adds, brushing in a hurry often translates to missing teeth in the back, which is where many cavities form. He suggests using a sonic toothbrush with a built-in timer, or you can set a timer on your phone for two minutes.

Problem #4: Replacing flossing with mouth wash

“Although mouthwash is a great add-on for any oral hygiene regimen, it does not take the place of the mechanical cleaning of those hard-to-reach spots in between and around the teeth,” notes Chern. “After we eat, food debris gets broken down in the mouth into a compound called material alba. We have an eight to 12-hour window to remove the debris before it hardens into plaque and tartar, which require professional cleaning by your healthcare provider.”

Mouthwash disinfects the oral cavity, but it doesn’t effectively remove oral debris. Take the extra few minutes to floss with either traditional floss or a water flosser. In addition to getting a better clean, Chern says that people who floss see a marked improvement in gum health between dental visits.

Problem #5: Only using floss picks

While using floss picks is better than not flossing at all, they’re not as effective as traditional string floss or water flossers. “Most people don’t even use the picks to their fullest potential [and instead] ‘pop’ them through the contacts and move on to the next space,” says Dr. Irina Sinensky, a dentist for NYC’s Dental House. In addition to not being thorough enough, “this can also spread bacteria from one location to another. It’s the up and down cleaning motion of each root surface that is recommended,” she says.

Problem #6: Not flossing because you see blood

“Patients tell me all the time that they don’t floss because their gums bleed when they do. I tell them to floss more instead,” says Dr. Sinensky. “Unhealthy gums — usually caused by bad oral hygiene — will bleed easily when they are touched. It’s like having a splinter under your skin that you never remove. The body will try to rectify the situation by bringing blood to the area and try to get rid of the infection.”

The more you floss, the less you’ll bleed and the better your oral health will be. Sinensky says to try a one-week challenge of flossing daily. You’ll see a significant improvement.

Problem #7: Drinking a sugary beverage at lunch

Gulping a sugary energy drink or soda may keep you mentally powered throughout the day, but it’s wreaking havoc on your oral health.

“A 16-ounce can, can have upwards of almost 30 grams of sugar,” says Marashi. “Sugars are carbohydrates that oral bacteria like to consume, and sugars are also acidic which can cause chemical erosion of your teeth.”

If you need a caffeine fix, swap out your sugary drinks for black or green tea, which are better for your oral health (and your overall health) since they don’t contain nearly as many sugars. You can also opt for coffee. To avoid staining, sip through a straw.

Problem #8: Buying whatever toothpaste is on sale

All toothpaste is not created equal. The better deal might not serve you well.

“It is important to look for the American Dental Association (ADA) stamp on products because the ADA ensures that proper testing has been done on a given toothpaste and that it contains the minimum amount of therapeutic ingredients to maintain a healthy, cavity-free mouth,” says Chern, who adds that this is also important when it comes to buying “all-natural” products. “Ask your dental healthcare provider for their opinion of the best toothpaste to suit your individual needs. For example, if you have cavity issues it is important to use a toothpaste with fluoride and if gingivitis is an issue, there are a slew of toothpaste that can help with minimizing inflammation,” says Chern.

Problem #9: Using non-ADA approved whitening products

Similarly, not all whitening products are created equal. Chern says to only use products that have earned ADA stamps, which indicates the product’s been rigorously tested for formulation and efficacy. “The other products on the market may be a dice roll and cause issues such as sensitivity and damage, or not work at all,” she warns. “When in doubt, talk to your healthcare provider so they can educate you on the various over-the-counter products on the market.”

Problem #10: Only seeing the dentist when you’re in pain

Leaving work early to get to the dentist is, well, a pain — but it will save you real pain in the long run. Seeing a dentist regularly ensures your teeth and mouth are healthy. If you wait until you feel the pain to see the dentist, there’s a strong likelihood you’re dealing with a serious issue versus one that could have been addressed effectively — and less expensively — much earlier.

“Many believe that if their mouth doesn’t hurt then there are no problems, and therefore they do not see their dentist regularly. However, a more intense and expensive treatment will be required if patients neglect to see their dentists at regular intervals and treat the small issues that may arise,” says Sinensky.

You should see your dentist for a regular checkup every six months. How long has it been for you? Time to get an appointment on the calendar.

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/10-common-oral-hygiene-mistakes-according-dentists-ncna1030551

What You Can Do About Bad Breath

By: Peter Jaret, WebMD

Don’t be afraid to get a little close this National Fresh Breath Day! Check out the 8 natural ways to freshen your breath. 😁 The Oral Surgery DC Team

It’s easy to improve your breath and keep your teeth and gums healthy at the same time. Try these simple steps to make your mouth feel fresh and clean.

1. Brush and floss more often.

Plaque, the sticky buildup on your teeth, collects bacteria that cause bad breath. Trapped food also adds to the problem.

Brush your teeth at least two times each day, and floss at least once. If you’re concerned about your breath, do both a little more often.

Don’t overdo things, though. If you brush too hard you can wear down your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay.

2. Rinse your mouth out.

Besides freshening your breath, a mouthwash adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria. A fresh minty taste can make you feel good. But be sure the mouthwash you choose kills the germs that cause bad breath. Don’t just cover up the smell. Rinse daily with a good mouthwash and stop bad breathat its source.

You can also help your breath if you swish your mouth with plain water after you eat. It can get rid of food particles that get stuck in your teeth.

3. Scrape your tongue.

The coating that normally forms on your tongue can be a host for smelly bacteria. To get rid of them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush.

If your brush is too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a scraper. “They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t take care of,” says hygienist Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

4. 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 dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson 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.

5. Kick the tobacco habit.

Besides causing cancersmoking can damage your gums, stain your teeth, and give you bad breath.

Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge. If you need a little help, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about quit-smoking programs or prescription medications that can help you give up tobacco for good.

6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.

The bacteria in your mouth love sugar. They use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chew sugarless gum instead.

“Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids, which cause tooth decay and bad breath,” Quinones says.

7. Keep your gums healthy.

Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.

If you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist, who specializes in treating it.

8. 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.

Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy. Also, try a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your house.

9. See your doctor.

If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, make an appointment with your doctor. He’ll check to see if your problems are related to a medical condition.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/get-rid-bad-breath#2


A Visibly Straighter Smile with Invisible Orthodontics

😷 The invisible orthodontics is one of the leading alternatives for both teenagers and adults. While the primary reason many choose this option is that they don’t like the appearance of metal braces, there are several other measurable benefits that make this a superior choice. The Oral Surgery DC Team

Traditional orthodontics isn’t for everyone. The thought of years of painful adjustments and inconvenient appointments could keep some from pursuing the dream of a straight smile. But, there’s another option.

What is Invisible Orthodontics?

Invisible orthodontics uses BPA-free, plastic “aligners” to straighten teeth. Aligners can be removed to eat and clean your teeth, which makes it easy to go about your schedule without having to worry about restricting your diet due to wires or cleaning around brackets.

Typically, a set of aligners is worn from two to six weeks and then you visit your dentist for your next set. This process is repeated until your teeth are straight. With invisible orthodontics, it’s important to remember that the success of the treatment is completely dependent on compliance. Once you have completed the treatment, you will be given retainers that will help keep your teeth straight for years to come.

There two main companies for invisible orthodontics – ClearCorrect and Invisalign.

Understanding ClearCorrect

ClearCorrect has been an option for almost a decade, offering serious benefits to users who want an invisible, removable solution to straighten their teeth.

After being evaluated by your dentist, your aligners will be made and you will start wearing them. With this system, you’ll wear your aligners for 22 hours each day and will visit your dentist for new sets of aligners every four to six weeks.

Understanding Invisalign

Invisalign also provides an invisible, comfortable, convenient way to straighten teeth. Your dentist will create a customized treatment plan and will make aligners that you will change yourself every few weeks to slowly move your teeth. For most patients, checkups are only required every six weeks to monitor your progress. Invisalign aligners should be worn for 20 to 22 hours each day for maximum effectiveness.

Once treatment is complete, you may want to opt for Vivera retainers from Invisalign. These retainers help lock in your smile to make sure it looks just as great in 10 years as it does the day you finish treatment.

Minimal Interruptions for Maximum Results

Whether you’re a teenager worried about how braces will affect your social life or an adult who isn’t willing to suffer through years of metal braces for a straight smile, invisible braces are a great alternative.

Regardless of which company you choose, you can expect your smile to transform into the straight, radiant smile you’ve always envisioned with minimal disruption to your life.

Now that’s something to really smile about!

Sources:

Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://www.invisalign.com

Retrieved June 5, 2015, from https://clearcorrect.com


In Defense of Root Canals: The Unsung Hero of Dental Care

🦷 Think you might need a root canal? It’s not the end of the world, nor is it as torturous as you might think! Even though a root canal is usually the last resort for decayed teeth, when compared with other alternatives, it’s quite practical and cost-effective.

Put your fears to rest by discovering the truth about this much-maligned treatment, and find out why it’s considered by many dentists to be the unsung hero of dental care. The Oral Surgery DC Team

When and Why Root Canals Are Necessary

Left untreated, tooth decay can eventually result in bacteria infiltrating the very core of the tooth, infecting its sensitive nerve tissue (otherwise referred to as “root” or “pulp”). Once the pulp has been infected, a pocket of pus known as an abscess can form and wreak havoc beyond the problem tooth itself. From swelling of the mouth, jaw and face, to bone loss and even the spread of infection into the skin, the cost of delaying treatment can compound rather quickly.

If the problem is caught in time, a root canal may be possible, allowing the dentist to clear the infected pulp without having to sacrifice the whole tooth. Keeping your natural tooth not only helps maintain proper chewing and speech but also it requires less time and money compared to tooth removal and implant.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

If you experience any of these symptoms, you might need a root canal:

  • Acute, shooting pain when pressure is applied to a tooth
  • Noticeable darkening or discoloration of the tooth compared to neighboring teeth
  • Lingering tooth sensitivity, particularly to extremely hot or cold foods
  • A pimple on the gums that never seems to go away
  • Swelling of the gums near the problem tooth
  • Continuous pain or throbbing even when not chewing or using the tooth

See your dentist to know for sure, and let him or her know about your situation when scheduling an appointment to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. Like most dental problems, it’s best to be proactive. The sooner the dentist is able to diagnose and treat the infected area the better — and it could decrease the amount of post-procedure discomfort.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

The length of time for treatment can vary widely depending on the complexity of each patient’s situation, but it’s safe to say that multiple visits are required to complete a root canal. Anesthesia may be applied, but it is not always necessary since the nerve is already dead. The first phase of a root canal involves thoroughly ridding the tooth of any infection and decayed matter — usually by drilling an access hole, flushing out the pulp, and applying medication to the tooth and surrounding gums. The dentist will then seal off the area completely, or in extreme cases, wait several days for the infection to clear before sealing off the tooth.

The second phase of treatment focuses on filling the tooth. To do this, a dentist normally uses sealer paste or a rubber-like compound to fill the empty nerve canal and interior of the tooth. After the tooth has been filled, a metal post is inserted into the tooth to further strengthen it.

Restoration, in which a crown is created to cap off the tooth, is the final step of treatment. Once the custom crown arrives, the dentist covers the tooth and shapes the crown to function as optimally as possible.

Post Treatment Care

As with any lengthy dental procedure, temporary tooth and gum sensitivity are to be expected but should go away within a day or two. If the permanent crown has been applied, you can return back to your normal routine immediately.

Root canals have a very high success rate, but it’s important to remember that there is always a possibility for the filling to become infected. To avoid complications and additional root canals down the road, make oral hygiene a top priority and schedule regular visits to your dentist.

Sources:

Dental Health and Root Canals. (2015, January 26). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-root-canals

Johnstone, G. (n.d.). The Latest on Root Canals. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/root-canals/

What is Root Canal Treatment and Why Would You Want It? (2010). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/root-canal/

Thrush — the White Stuff Growing in Your Mouth (and How to Get Rid of it)

By: Cleveland Clinic

👅 What’s that white stuff on your tongue? And why does your mouth feel “funny” — maybe a little bit like sandpaper? Well, you may have a case of thrush.

Learn the symptoms, treatments, and steps to prevent the growth of thrush in your tongue via Cleveland Clinic. The Oral Surgery DC Team

Thrush can strike anyone, but some people are far more vulnerable: “We usually see thrush in children whose immune systems are developing, or older adults, whose immune systems are starting to fail,” says otolaryngologist Tony Reisman, MD. “People who have conditions that affect the immune system are also more susceptible.”

Do I have thrush?

It can be challenging to know if your mouth woes are related to the Candida fungus that causes thrush. Common signs include:

  • A white, cottage cheese-like coating.
  • Redness, burning or soreness.
  • A change in the ability to taste.
  • Cracking of the tongue or corners of the lips.
  • A dry, cotton- or sandpaper-like feeling.

Is thrush treatment necessary?

“You may not even need a diagnosis because thrush often goes away on its own once you stop whatever caused the problem,” says Dr. Reisman. “For example, if antibiotics led to thrush, just waiting a few weeks may give the body time to return to a natural yeast balance.”

Dr. Reisman recommends using good oral hygiene for three to four weeks to see if thrush resolves on its own.

When oral thrush just won’t go away

Well, it’s been a few weeks. You’ve been dutifully rinsing your mouth twice a day. But the white stuff is still there. It’s time to call your primary care provider.

Your provider will want to look at your mouth to rule out other causes, including:

  • Burning mouth syndrome (a burning sensation in the mouth that has no obvious cause).
  • Geographic tongue (harmless patches on the top and sides of the tongue with no known cause).
  • Precancerous or cancerous lesions.

If it is thrush, your provider will likely order an antifungal rinse. You’ll swish, swish, swish for 10 to 14 days, which will help the body regain the natural yeast balance.

But if your symptoms still don’t improve, or you have recurrent episodes of thrush, visit an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) to discuss the diagnosis and treatment.

Prevent thrush from creating chaos in your mouth

People who are prone to thrush — whether from dentures, immune system-suppressing drugs or a condition such as HIV — can take steps to avoid it (because you can’t be on an antifungal medication forever).

Dr. Reisman recommends these behaviors to prevent thrush:

  • See the dentist: Practice good oral hygiene, including professional dental cleaning twice a year.
  • Rinse: If you need steroid inhalers, make sure to rinse your mouth after using them.
  • Drink water: Keep yourself hydrated so your mouth doesn’t get dry.
  • Watch your sugar: Limit the sugary foods yeast feeds on, and maintain good blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes.
  • Quit smoking: No explanation needed!

Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/thrush-the-white-stuff-growing-in-your-mouth-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/