Toothbrushes 101: How to Choose and Care for Your Toothbrush

When it comes to taking care of your teeth and keeping your smile looking great, your toothbrush plays an essential role. But, how much thought do you actually give to your toothbrush when selecting one or caring for it over time? Probably not much!

Choosing the right toothbrush, caring for it, and knowing when to replace it are all essential components of great oral health. Below, we discuss each to ensure your toothbrush is helping rather than harming your smile!

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

The toothbrush aisle at any store can be overwhelming, making it difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for. It may help to know that the best toothbrushes all share a few common characteristics:

  • Head Size – For most adults, the toothbrush head should be half an inch wide and one inch long. This will help to ensure that all surfaces of the teeth can be reached.
  • Bristle Type – Soft bristles are ideal for most people; they feel best on the teeth and gums and are least likely to cause unanticipated harm. Medium or hard bristles have the potential to damage gums, enamel, and root surfaces.
  • Professional Endorsement – Often, your dentist will recommend a particular brand and/or type of toothbrush based on your oral health needs. It’s best to heed their advice or at least look for a toothbrush with a seal of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA).

Caring for Your Toothbrush

Both the ADA and Council on Scientific Affairs offer guidelines to ensure your toothbrush remains safe to use:

  • Never Share Your Toothbrush – Sharing a toothbrush also means sharing bodily fluids and/or microorganisms. This increases the risk for infections and should never be done (not even between family members).
  • Never Store Your Toothbrush Without Rinsing First – After brushing, you should rinse your toothbrush to get rid of remaining toothpaste and debris. If you have an immune disorder or systemic illness, soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing can help remove bacteria and germs. You can also run your toothbrush through the dishwasher to clean it.
  • Never Cover or Keep Toothbrushes in Closed Containers – Moist environments can promote the growth of microorganisms. Instead, store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air dry.

Replacing Your Toothbrush

Most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. However, there are instances where it may need to be replaced sooner:

  • Extensive Wear – Once bristles begin to fray, they no longer clean the teeth and gums properly. If you notice your bristles are wearing faster than 3 to 4 months, you may be brushing too hard and need to lighten up your technique.
  • After Sickness – Bacteria can remain on your toothbrush after you have recovered. To avoid getting sick again, you should replace the brush.

A Healthy Toothbrush Makes for a Healthy Smile

Most people know that it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day. But, if you aren’t using the right toothbrush, caring for it properly, or replacing it regularly, you could be causing damage instead of boosting oral health.

The information above will help you ensure that the tool you use most frequently to keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright is doing its job.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/choosing-a-toothbrush-the-pros-and-cons-of-electric-and-disposable?page=3

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-mouth-14/your-healthy-mouth/the-ugly-truth-about-your-toothbrush

http://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-positions-policies-and-statements/statement-on-toothbrush-care-cleaning-storage-and-

Teeth Grinding: Causes and Preventative Care Steps You Can Take

Whether you’re stressed or just anxious, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, comes in many shapes and forms. And while the occasional grinding doesn’t hurt and is quite common, constant grinding can wear down your health in more ways than one.

The worst part of the condition is that it can be difficult to know whether or not you’re affected. Why? Because most grinding occurs during rest, meaning that while there are symptoms of a dental issue, it is not immediately apparent what the cause is.

By understanding the causes of and preventative care for bruxism, you can find relief from the condition and ensure that both your teeth and your general health are as vibrant as possible.

What is Bruxism?

Put simply, bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth. Most often, the condition affects individuals at night in a condition specified as sleep bruxism, however it can also occur during the day.

For many, the condition goes unnoticed but when symptoms begin to surface, the issue becomes more obvious. Symptoms may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which is often loud enough to wake others
  • Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
  • Increased sensitivity of the teeth
  • Soreness or tightness in the jaw or face
  • A dull headache or earache
  • Ringing in the ears known as tinnitus

Why Does Bruxism Occur?

Bruxism is a quite mysterious. In fact, many health professionals find it incredibly difficult to identify a specific cause for the condition.

However, several psychological and physical causes have come to the forefront:

  • Emotions – Anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration, can trigger bruxism.
  • Coping or Focus Strategy – Some clench or grind teeth to alleviate pressure or help them focus. While this often occurs during the daytime, individuals may still be unaware that they’re doing it.
  • Oral Structure – Individuals with poor teeth alignment, also known as malocclusion, may develop bruxism.
  • Sleep Conditions – Individuals with sleep apnea may also experience bruxism as part of their condition.
  • Other Medical Complications – Grinding can also be caused by specific psychiatric medications, complications from other medical disorders, and even acid reflux.

There Are Three Major Treatment Options You Can Turn to for Relief

If you suffer from bruxism, there’s no need to fret. Some individuals actually grow out of the disorder, whereas others suffer such minimal disruption that no treatment is required.

But if you must seek treatment, rest assured that you have options:

  • Dental Approaches – A visit to your dentist can give you access to splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Of course, you can also consult your dentist to determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if it is, you can determine an appropriate treatment solution.
  • Therapies – For bruxism due to psychological factors, stress management, behavior therapy, and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and eliminate teeth grinding in the process.
  • Medications – Medications aren’t a common treatment for bruxism but in some extreme cases, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants or Botox injections to relax the muscles and prevent grinding.

As a disorder that manifests most commonly during sleep, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize what is causing your discomfort or dental complications.

By better understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of bruxism, you can ensure that you find the relief you need, protect your smile from damage, and rest easy knowing that grinding isn’t wearing down your health.

Source:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/basics/symptoms/con-20029395

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-grinding-bruxism

Cranberries and blueberries – why certain fruit extracts could provide the key to fighting tooth decay

By: Dental Health Org

🍒 New research shows that dark berries such as cranberries and blueberries contain nutrients that can protect our teeth and mouths from tooth decay as well as cancer and other diseases. Now, don’t forget to add these fruits to your diet! Discover their oral benefits via Dental Health Org. The Oral Surgery DC Team

A handful of dark-colored berries may lower the risk of tooth decay, a new study shows.

Scientists have found that nutrients in cranberries and blueberries can be highly effective in protecting the teeth against a strand of bacteria responsible for accelerating tooth decay.1

These natural compounds, known as polyphenols, help fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth.

The study supports previous research by suggesting these are good for oral health by preventing ‘bad bacteria’ from sticking to the teeth and gums.

This could help reduce tooth decay, plaque and gum disease.

Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes polyphenols could eventually lead to new oral care products.

Dr Carter says: “The nutrients and fibre in fruit are vital for our health and wellbeing.  They help protect us against heart disease and cancer, as well as a range of other diseases.

“Cranberries seem especially good for our oral health, as their polyphenols stick around in our saliva and will continue to help our mouth, even after we’ve swallowed them.

“What is especially exciting is that these natural extracts are completely sugar-free. This means they can be added to oral care products in several ways.

“They can dissolve in water so can be used to create healthy drinks, as well as to reformulate unhealthy drinks packed full of sugar. 

“They also have wider applications for tooth decay prevention and control.  Mouthwash could benefit from this ingredient, as could toothpastes. More testing must be done but it will be extremely interesting to see whether manufactures make more use of polyphenols in the future.”

Dark-coloured berries are among the best dietary source of antioxidants. They provide a good supply of water and fibre, as well as other nutrients.

However, along with other fruit, they may also contain high amounts of natural sugar.

The recommended daily allowance of sugar for an adult is 90 grams or 22.5 teaspoons per day. This includes 60 grams of natural sugar and 30 grams of added sugar.

One portion of cranberries contains up to four grams of natural sugar (equivalent to one teaspoon) while a serving of blueberries is nearly ten grams.

Dr. Carter adds: “It is important to remember that the whole fruit contains natural sugars. This means it can still cause a risk to teeth when consumed in high amounts and too often.

“It is best to eat fruit at mealtimes like breakfast, or straight after dinner. This will limit the number of times which our mouth is exposed to sugar and acid.”  

Source: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/cranberries-and-blueberries-why-certain-fruit-extracts-could-provide-the-key-to-fighting-tooth-decay?

Receding Gums: Are Your Teeth in Peril?

No cavities, no problem, right? Wrong! Even the straightest and whitest of teeth can fall prey to a serious case of receding gums, a common condition that can sneak up and do some damage before many individuals realize it’s even a problem.

While a surefire way to detect and treat it is with regular visits to the dentist, meticulous at-home monitoring and preventative care is also a great line of defense. Here’s what you should know to keep the threat of gum recession at bay.

Signs and Symptoms of Receding Gums

Gums don’t recede overnight, but if you pay close attention, you can spot telltale signs of the problem: a tooth that appears much longer than its neighbors, yellow stains where the tooth touches the gum line, or even a ridge you can feel on the affected tooth, indicating your gums have shifted. Tooth sensitivity is another red flag, as a declining layer of protective gum tissue can leave nerves beneath the enamel exposed.

Causes of Receding Gums

Many things can cause vital gum tissue to detach and recede, but the most common culprit is untreated gingivitis. If you have gum disease, chances are that gum recession is just around the corner.

Other possible causes include:

  • Brushing too hard, thereby resulting in unnecessary pressure and irritation
  • Smoking/tobacco use, which can impact blood supply to the gums
  • Crooked teeth that can pull on the gums, and also lead to gingivitis
  • Oral piercings that force precious tissue aside over time
  • Genetics, an inherited predisposition to gum recession
  • Diabetes, which has been linked to receding gums

Depending on the root cause, the rate of recession may vary, but being aware of all the possible factors can help you steer clear of other hazards and behaviors that will only aggravate the problem.

In-Office Treatment Options

The good news is that, if you do have a confirmed case of receding gums, all is not lost. Whether it is mild or extreme, in-office treatments are available to help halt recession — and in some instances, even restore lost tissue.

Periodontal therapy is an effective procedure your dentist may recommend to put a stop to further gum erosion. This process involves laser treatments that target and sanitize the problem area(s). With proper care and time, it is possible for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth’s surface.

For patients with severe gum recession, the dentist may ultimately advise surgery. Grafting is one common option that may be offered, in which tissue from a donor or another area of your mouth is applied to the affected area. Crown lengthening, or “pocket depth reduction”, is another alternative that involves removal of diseased tissue altogether. This treatment may be recommended only if the gums have receded to such a point that tooth loss is imminent, and it can result in tooth sensitivity.

Other Steps You Can Take

In addition to seeking professional help, preventative care is critical to combatting gum recession. Due to its gradual nature, sometimes a few proactive measures can go a long way:

  • Brush and floss more regularly to help eliminate gum disease
  • Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to apply less pressure on your teeth
  • Quit smoking/tobacco use to maintain a healthy blood supply to your teeth
  • Get teeth straightened to help prevent gingivitis, which is linked to receding gums
  • Use a mouth guard at night to keep teeth grinding from weakening the gums

No matter the source or severity of the problem, see your dentist for help. In addition to the positive impact that regular dental cleanings can have on your gum health, your dentist can craft the optimal treatment plan based on your individual situation.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/receding-gums

http://ultrablubrush.com/receding-gums-causes-symptoms-treatment

Xylitol: The Sweetener You and Your Dentist Will Love

Consider this a major score for your sweet tooth: dentists are taking back that hard and fast rule that gum and candy rot your teeth! A sweetener called Xylitol makes it possible to enjoy such treats guilt-free, while actually fighting cavities along the way.

For those who have long kept the candy aisle off limits or those who cave to their cravings despite the risk of tooth decay, products with this game-changing ingredient may offer the perfect solution.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener similar to sugar in both taste and appearance. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, but is most commonly derived from fibrous plant-based matter, such as corncobs or birch wood. It has received the World Health Organization’s safety rating when added to your diet in a moderate amount (15 grams or less), and only has a third of the amount of calories as sugar.

Dental Benefits of Xylitol

Xylitol’s appeal is not only due to its favorable calorie count, but also to it being a naturally occurring substance that cavity causing oral bacteria are unable to ferment or metabolize. Other dental benefits of products containing Xylitol include:

  • Increased saliva production, which helps keep dry mouth at bay
  • Reduced plaque buildup, due to lower bacteria and acidity levels
  • Less enamel erosion, as stimulated saliva helps restore lost calcium and phosphates

Xylitol vs. Sorbitol

Consumers familiar with other sugar-free alternatives may wonder how Xylitol stacks up against Sorbitol, a similar, less expensive substitute that has been on the market for a longer period of time. Although both compounds are technically classified as sugar alcohols, the primary difference is that cavity-causing bacteria can ferment Sorbitol. This means that, while it’s still friendlier to your teeth compared to sugar, it is not as effective as Xylitol at inhibiting oral bacteria growth.

Products That Contain Xylitol

The popularity and overall versatility of Xylitol have made it a favorite not only for food companies, but for dental care companies as well. Chewing gum is but one of many products sweetened with Xylitol. Other products include:

LollipopsMintsToothpastes/gels
CaramelsSugar CandiesMouthwash
Dark Chocolate“Table Sugar” ReplacementsFloss

With so many Xylitol products on the market, incorporating this ingredient into your diet and/or hygiene is practically effortless.

Limitations of Xylitol

As beneficial as Xylitol may be, it’s important to know there are limits. From a nutritional perspective, excess intake may actually result in side effects such as stomach discomfort and/or diarrhea. From a dental perspective, Xylitol is but one aspect of preventative care, and should not be perceived as a magic bullet.

Frequent brushing, flossing and dentist visits still play the same critical role in preserving your oral health. Consult with your dentist for an optimal approach to incorporating Xylitol into your everyday diet and routine.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-xylitol.aspx?activeingredientid=996&activeingredientname=xylitol

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-xylitol.aspx?activeingredientid=996&activeingredientname=xylitol