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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Your Teeth Are Not Tools!

HUMAN TEETH ARE awesome. We wouldn’t have dedicated our professional lives to working with them if we didn’t think so. There are so many things they can do, from chewing food to providing support for the structure of our faces to facilitating clear speech to being part of our beautiful smiles. Unfortunately, a lot of people try to put their teeth to other uses they weren’t designed for, which can lead to serious problems. Just Use Scissors or Nail Clippers We could talk at length about how bad a nail-biting habit is, both for the teeth and the nails, but we’ll keep it short and sweet for now. Fingernails are the least sanitary parts of our hands because it’s so hard to scrub the germs out from under them, and all those germs get into our mouths when we chew our nails. Nail biting also causes a lot of wear and tear to

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Can Smiling Make You Healthier?

WE OFTEN HEAR that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. We’re not sure where that came from, but it isn’t actually true. At least ten muscles are involved in smiling, but it might require as few as six to form a frown. We propose changing the saying to “smiling burns more calories than frowning,” but let’s take a look at the other benefits we get from smiling! The Smiling/Happiness Feedback Loop To say that we smile when we’re happy might seem so obvious that there’s no point in saying it, but the relationship between smiling and happiness is a lot like the chicken and egg question. We do smile when we’re happy, but we also become happier by smiling! It turns out that the simple act of smiling (even when it’s fake) releases endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormones. So it might be a good idea when you’re

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