What’s Your Dental Emergency Plan?

A LITTLE BIT OF PREP work makes a huge difference when an emergency happens, including a dental emergency such as an oral injury. What exactly can we do to prepare for something like an unexpected injury? It depends on the specific situation. Broken Tooth If an injury results in a broken, chipped, or cracked tooth, the best thing to do is head straight to the dentist. If you can find the broken pieces, bring them along in a glass of cold milk to protect them. It’s also okay to rinse your mouth with water. Even if a crack or chip seems minor, don’t ignore it! If the damage reaches the pulp chamber, it puts the tooth in serious danger of infection. Even if it doesn’t, it can work like a cavity and give bacteria a space to grow until it does reach the pulp chamber. That’s how dental infections start, leading to pulp

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Minimizing the Risks of Gum Recession

PEOPLE USED TO THINK that gum recession was an inevitability of getting older, but that’s not necessarily true. What is gum recession? It’s when the edge of the gum tissue recedes from around the crown of the tooth, exposing more and more of the root. We often think of it as age-related because it’s typically such a gradual problem that it takes years or even decades to become noticeable, but gum recession can start as early as childhood. In many cases, it can also be prevented. A Factor We Can’t Control: Genetics For an unlucky few, gum recession is caused by genetics. They may have more fragile gum tissue than average or weaker jaw bones that can’t support enough gingiva to keep the roots of the teeth fully covered. However, there isn’t a gene for automatic gum recession, so even people with genetic risk factors can do a lot to keep their

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Swimming, Diving, and Dental Health

IF YOU’RE AN AVID swimmer, maybe you’ve noticed that your teeth feel a little more sensitive after you get out of the pool. It’ll take more than one swim to do it, but this is a real thing called “swimmer’s calculus,” and it’s just one way swimming can affect our teeth. What Is Swimmer’s Calculus? Swimmer’s calculus is the result of prolonged exposure to the acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Chlorine is very good at keeping the water sanitary for people to swim in, but it also changes the pH of the water if the levels aren’t closely monitored. Our teeth are highly vulnerable to acid erosion. Casual swimmers don’t have much cause to worry, but swim teams, water polo players, and anyone whose preferred workout is swimming laps could be at a greater risk of developing yellow and brown stains on their teeth. Dental Health Concerns of Scuba Divers If all

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Get the Most out of Your Toothbrush

AN IMPORTANT PART of keeping your teeth and gums healthy is your toothbrush. That might seem so obvious that it’s not worth saying, but you’d be surprised how many basic mistakes people make when it comes to their toothbrushes. We want to make sure our patients will get the most out of their best teeth-cleaning tools! 1. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly Look at your toothbrush. Are the bristles frayed or bent? Are some missing? You might be well overdue for a replacement toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends that we replace our toothbrushes at least three times a year, because old, worn-out bristles can’t do a very effective job of cleaning teeth. 2. Take Your Time When You Brush As often as dentists everywhere remind patients to brush for two full minutes, the average is only about 45 seconds. This simply isn’t long enough to get the full cleaning effect. The repeated motions are

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How Medicine and Oral Health Intersect

WE ALL KNOW that medications can have side effects. If you tried, you could probably hear the voice in pharmaceutical commercials rattling off some of the most common ones in your head. We bring it up because those side effects often include oral health problems. Medicine and the Chemistry of the Mouth Some of the medications and even vitamins we take can be directly harmful to teeth. This is more of a problem for children, since adult medicine mostly comes in the form of pills to be swallowed. Medicine for children, on the other hand, often takes the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins. That sugar feeds oral bacteria and can contribute to tooth decay. Adults and children alike may experience oral side effects from inhalers — particularly oral thrush, or white patches of fungus on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and inside the cheeks, which can be irritating or

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Habits We Don’t Realize Hurt Our Teeth

TOOTH ENAMEL RANKS between steel and titanium on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That makes it harder than any other substance in the human body, and it also makes it harder than iron! However, it’s still fairly brittle and very vulnerable to acid erosion, and there are plenty of daily habits we might have that can put it at risk. This One’s a Nail-Biter (But You Shouldn’t Be) If you ask most people what the harms of a nail-biting habit are, they’ll probably start with ragged, damaged fingernails, but the effects on teeth and overall oral health can be just as serious, if not more so. Tooth enamel might be harder than keratin (what fingernails are made of), which means enamel is going to win the battle, but over time, keratin will win the war. Habitual nail-biting can erode, crack, and chip teeth. It can shift them out of proper alignment, resulting in gaps

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White Spots and Other Dental Stains

WE ALL WANT white, straight, beautiful teeth so that we can dazzle everyone with our smiles. Unfortunately, sometimes stains can get in the way of this goal, and they come in several different types. Let’s take a look at a few of the main types of tooth stains and how they happen. Fluorosis Sometimes white spots can appear on the surface of perfectly healthy teeth. This phenomenon is called fluorosis, and it occurs when developing adult teeth get exposed to too much fluoride. They aren’t damaged by it, but they do become unevenly bleached. To prevent fluorosis, make sure to limit the amount of fluoride toothpaste you use when brushing your child’s teeth. No more than a tiny smear for babies and toddlers is enough, and keep it to a pea-sized dab for young children. Demineralization Not all white spots are as harmless as the ones caused by fluorosis. They can also come

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What Causes Halitosis?

FEW THINGS ARE WORSE at a first date or a job interview than the sudden awareness that bad breath might have ruined your first impression. No matter what else goes right, if the date or potential employer has a nose full of funky smells, it probably isn’t going to end well. So how can we stop bad breath from ruining those big moments? What causes bad breath anyway? The Simple Answer: Oral Hygiene The most common cause of bad breath is the chemical breakdown of leftover food particles stuck between our teeth. Oral bacteria eat these particles and then excrete very smelly compounds like hydrogen sulfide (which smells like rotten eggs), turning our breath sour. Fortunately, the solution is also simple: brush twice a day, floss daily, use a tongue-scraper to get extra bacteria off your tongue, and chew sugar-free gum after lunch if necessary. Sometimes Halitosis Is More Complicated Unfortunately, not everyone

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Get the Most out of Your Toothbrush

AN IMPORTANT PART of keeping your teeth and gums healthy is your toothbrush. That might seem so obvious that it’s not worth saying, but you’d be surprised how many basic mistakes people make when it comes to their toothbrushes. We want to make sure our patients will get the most out of their best teeth-cleaning tools! 1. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly Look at your toothbrush. Are the bristles frayed or bent? Are some missing? You might be well overdue for a replacement toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends that we replace our toothbrushes at least three times a year, because old, worn-out bristles can’t do a very effective job of cleaning teeth. 2. Take Your Time When You Brush As often as dentists everywhere remind patients to brush for two full minutes, the average is only about 45 seconds. This simply isn’t long enough to get the full cleaning effect. The repeated motions are

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Defeat Bad Breath with a Tongue Scraper

ONE OF THE MAIN things people overlook about a daily oral hygiene routine is cleaning their tongues. That’s right, it doesn’t stop with brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing daily. The rough surface of the tongue makes it the perfect place for all kinds of bacteria to hide and build up. Among other things, that bacteria doesn’t help with keeping your breath smelling minty fresh. Effects of Bacterial Buildup on the Tongue Bacteria has an easier time building up on our tongues than just about anywhere else on our bodies. (Another germ hotspot is fingernails, which is just one reason we don’t recommend chewing them.) If we aren’t actively cleaning our tongues, harmful bacteria will stay there and multiply, resulting in bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay on the inner surfaces of our teeth. Having a lot of bacteria on your tongue can

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