Why floss is important

When it comes to home dental supplies, floss tends to get a bad rap. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash are all where it’s at, apparently.

Unfortunately, floss may actually be the most important dental supply in your arsenal against tooth decay and gum disease. Here’s why:

Toothbrushes and “swishing” can’t really get at what’s between teeth. Only floss can – as well as proper flossing technique. Make sure to make a semi-circle around the teeth near the gum line and floss upward to really get at troublesome plaque.

Don’t forget about gum health. Flossing isn’t just for teeth; it’s for gums, too. Considering how harmful gum disease is – it’s one of the easiest ways to lose teeth, actually – flossing could be considered the dental supply you use for your gums.

Plaque that is able to reach under the gumline can inflame the gums and cause them to recede, exposing vulnerable aspects of your teeth. This is why it’s important to remove plaque from the gum line before this can even occur.

Trapped food particles can cause bad breath. After enjoying a delicious beef-and-broccoli dish from your favorite Asian fusion restaurant, don’t be surprised to see bits of green and brown stuff among your molars. Left in there too long, and your breath is sure to get worse and worse. Also, don’t be the type of flosser that removes particles a week or more after they got there in the first place.

So, to protect the spaces between your teeth, your gums and your breath, be sure to floss at least once a day (or more if directed so by your dentist).

If you really want to keep your smile healthy, though, please visit our website at healthysmile.com and set up an appointment for you and your family! Also check out our blog for more tips on self-dental care at home.

Is it time to refresh your dental supplies?

Like trusty razor that begins to dull over time, many dental supplies have a natural “expiration date” as well.

In fact, dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every few months or sooner to make sure that you’re getting maximum brushing power each time you step up to the sink.

What else should you consider when taking stock of your dental supplies?

Wash – or get rid of – rinsing cups

If you keep a small teacup at your sink for swishing after brushing, take a close look at the inside of it. Notice anything off? Is it supposed to be that color?

If you let your rinsing cup sit next to the sink for weeks or months without letting it get a rinse of its own, it could start growing bacteria and quickly become less helpful than the purpose for which you started using it in the first place.

Your teacup isn’t the only offender, however – if you’ve been slowly draining the same bottle of mouthwash since the previous calendar year, maybe it’s time to ditch the cap (or just get new mouthwash for a change).

Dental picks

These are meant to last a while, but nothing is permanent. If you use your dental pick regularly, it’s likely that the acids in your mouth will begin to wear down the metal in the pick. This decreases its effectiveness and your ability to chip away at harmful plaque.

When to ditch the toothbrush

At a minimum, you should switch to a new toothbrush or electric brush head every few months. But if the manufacturer recommends you switch sooner, you should go with their instructions as well – especially when it comes to electric brush heads.

Many brush heads include a color stripe that wears down the longer the head is used. Use this as a handy guide on when to hit the drugstore for a new brush.

More assistance

If you need more advice about what types of dental equipment you should get – and for hands-on demonstrations of some of the more confusing ones – come visit us! You can always make an appointment at HealthySmile.com or call us at (708) 460-3040.

The five worst foods or drinks for teeth

Not all foods are created equal – especially when it comes to our teeth.

Food and drinks come in a variety of textures, temperatures, and degrees of softness. Some foods that are particular tasty may not be the best items to be placing into our mouths. Even some foods that may seem harmless or even particularly healthy may not be what the doctor (or in this case, dentist) ordered when it comes to your oral health.

Here are just five of the foods that you should consume sparingly or not at all if you have tooth or gum issues. Or, if do eat them frequently, don’t expect to get a guaranteed good grade at the dentist’s office your next visit.

5. Black tea

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, many of your friends may recommend you cut down on your caffeine intake. If you scoff, the next recommendation is typically to switch to tea. It has a similar effect but with less caffeine, after all.

However, black tea is highly acidic – and one of the worst teeth stainers. Also, compared with coffee, you’re much less likely to find black teas offered with cream, which can deter against the assault on your poor enamel.

4. Dried apricot

Dried fruit is delicious, portable, and last longer than fresh fruit. Plus, all those vitamins make it a popular trail mix addition and desk drawer mainstay.

Unfortunately, drying out a sugary fruit such as apricot can have damaging effects on your teeth when you try and eat it. The chewiness can loosen teeth and rip out crowns, leaving a sugary residue that will be sure to hurt your teeth and gums.

3. Soft drinks

As if being partly blamed for the obesity epidemic weren’t hard enough, soft drinks are also linked to cavities and other tooth maladies. The acidity of the carbonation combined with the sugary syrups make soft drinks a dangerous combination on your teeth.

2. Hard candy

Crunch! Despite our intention to suck on hard candy until it disappears, many of us ultimately bite into hard candy – with our teeth left to suffer the consequences. When you also account for all the sugars in hard candy, it becomes that much less of an appetizing snack for your teeth.

1. Sugared gum

Think about it: There is a food out there are is smothered with sugars and chemicals that forces you to chew on it. Endlessly. And there are a dozen or more to a pack. Simply put, sugared gum wears down your teeth and leaves a harmful layer of sugar to go with it.

These are just five of the worst foods for teeth – there are many more. If you’re a regular eater of any of them, make an appointment at HealthySmile.com or call us at (708) 460-3040 and get a cleaning and check-up soon!

What causes sensitive teeth?

A lot of people have sensitive teeth, and not typically to the same types of foods or drinks. One person may have trouble with piping hot tomato soup (hot) but have no issue with vanilla ice cream (cold). Or, another person my cringe every time they’re exposed to lemon juice but have no issues drinking an iced coffee.

If you’re teeth are really sensitive, lemon-flavored Italian ice must be really painful to eat!

Whatever the type of sensitivity, there tends to be a “root” cause – the root of your tooth, that is.

It’s about the nerves

Our teeth and gums aren’t just for appearance – they cover up the nerves in the root of the tooth that help our teeth to be healthy and strong. If you were to touch that nerve directly, you would have excruciating pain – ask anyone with a crown that’s fallen off, leaving the root of the tooth exposed to open air.

If you have sensitive teeth, it means that something is allowing the liquid or food to reach the nerve.

Pathways in your mouth

One of the easiest ways for hot, sweet, cold or sour food to affect your tooth’s nerve is through a gap in your gum line. If you have gum disease or another type of gum disorder that has caused your gums to pull back from your teeth, that means that the very root of your tooth is now exposed to the outside world.

But another common reason is in your tooth itself. You may have tiny, microscopic pathways in your teeth that allow food particles, or heat or cold, to touch the nerve. These can form if you don’t brush or floss regularly, if you have tooth damage from an injury or if you grind your teeth at night.

What to do about tooth sensitivities

The best thing you can do if you have sensitive teeth is to visit us for an examination. This can help take the guesswork out of what’s causing your teeth to have troubles. Also, there could be something seriously wrong with your teeth or gums – and sensitive teeth are just a symptom or warning sign. Make an appointment at HealthySmile.com or call us at (708) 460-3040 and get the reassurance – and help – that your mouth deserves.

Breaking down Mouthwashes to Break up Tartar

Anyone who is looking to boost their daily dental cleaning regimen should consider adding mouthwashes to their medicine cabinet. Mouthwashes can provide advanced cleaning in between your teeth and can help restore the acidity balance in the mouth.

However, there are many different types of mouthwashes out there. How do you choose the one that’s best for your teeth and mouth?

Different colors

Some mouthwashes are green, some are blue, some are purple, and some even come in doctor’s-office-white containers. Choosing the right mouthwash can be difficult for anyone, let alone a dental cleaning pro.

Luckily, most of the different colors of mouthwashes are merely cosmetic – or are just reflective of the type of packaging they come in. You may also find patterns in the color with the flavor they are. It’s pretty typical that a green colored mouthwash will have a “minty” taste, just like the color of the herb that makes them that way.

Mouthwashes by benefit and use

Outside of color, the main difference you’ll see with modern mouthwashes is their advertised benefit. Here are some of them and what they mean for you.

  • Help reduce cold sores. These mouthwashes have powerful anti-bacterial and germ-fighting elements that can help reduce and close up mouth sores.
  • Improve dry mouth symptoms. Some mouthwashes can restore a balanced acidity in your mouth, which will make your mouth wetter and more effective at fighting plaque and gum disease.
  • Ease and heal sore throat symptoms. Gargle these mouthwashes – some of which may have baking soda in them. They can kill off bacteria that are causing the sore throats as well as sooth the pain from them.
  • Enamel protection. These newer and very powerful mouthwashes can help restore missing minerals on the surfaces of teeth that have been lost by acid and general wear and tear.

What’s even better than mouthwash?

There’s something even more powerful than mouthwash – a professional cleaning from one of our dental hygienists! They have advanced tool such as dental picks, tooth polishers and fluoride that can make your teeth even cleaner than you could make them at home – and keep them that way longer.

Make an appointment at HealthySmile.com, or call us at (708) 460-3040!

Protect Your Teeth from Stains

Nothing hurts a great smile quite like stains on your teeth! Some of the top staining culprits are pasta sauces, wines, coffees, teas, juices and sodas. If any one of those items happens to be a favorite of yours, then it’s likely you have one or more stains on some of your teeth.

What can you do to help restore your smile to its natural, pearly white state? Here are a few steps you can take to fight off teeth stains.

Prevention

Clearly, the easiest way to fight off stains is to prevent getting them in the first place. Here are some ways you can accomplish this:

  • Drink and eat staining drinks and foods in moderation
  • Swish around water in your mouth after eating or drinking a particularly staining food item
  • Brush your teeth after every meal, not just in the mornings and evenings
  • Use toothpicks after meals at restaurants to remove food debris from your teeth, especially if you ate tomato-based sauce
  • Reduce the acidity in staining drinks by adding water, such as combining a fourth of a cup of water with every three-fourths of cups of orange juice

Stain removal

If you have some stains built up over time, there are some things you can start doing now to cover them or get rid of the surface of the stains.

First, invest in a high-quality toothbrush, either manual or electric or sonic. The harder the bristles, the more stain-lifting action you’ll have with each brush.

Second, get toothpaste that has whitening and tartar removal properties. Tartar is the sticky material on your teeth that is made up of bacteria and food debris. It also tends to have a yellow/brownish color to it, which is only heightened by staining food and fluid agents. Getting rid of tartar is a great first-step in unveiling the white teeth beneath.

Last, consider getting whitening strips or mouthwash. They can help cover up the stains by changing their very color as well as the color of the very outer layer of your teeth’s enamel.

Getting advanced help

Sometimes, the best way to treat stained teeth – or any dental or oral ailment, really – is to get professional help. If you come and visit us, we can perform some advanced whitening and stain lifting techniques to restore your teeth to their natural state.

Make an appointment at HealthySmile.com, or call us at (708) 460-3040!

Protect Your Enamel to Protect Your Teeth

Having strong enamel – the translucent coating of your teeth – is like having a strong exterior on your car. Without a strong exterior, your car will fall apart in a crash or during everyday use. The same applies to enamel as well: It protects the structure of your teeth when you chew, drink and grind down food for digestion.

Also like cars, which you can wax to protect the look and feel of the exterior, there are products that can help protect the enamel and make it look clean.

Sensitivity and Enamel Protection Toothpaste

You can find enamel-protecting toothpaste at most pharmacies and retail stores that carry dental products. They typically combine ingredients that help reduce pain from tooth sensitive with those that coat your teeth with an enamel-protecting substance.

Fluoride Floss

It’s easier to clean the fronts and back of teeth than the spaces between them. That’s where floss comes in – it can help remove food particles and clean out plaque hiding between teeth. While you’re in there, you should consider investing in floss that has fluoride that add a protective effect to your enamel.

Iso-Active Foaming Gel

If you’re having a difficult time getting the spaces between your teeth clean, you can invest in iso-active foaming gel that will expand into your teeth’s gaps as you brush. Some forms of this type of tooth gel also have enamel rebuilding properties.

Fluoride and Enamel Mouthwash

After brushing and flossing, there are new mouthwashes that can help rebuild eroded enamel and protect your enamel from further damage.

Professional Dental Care

The best way to take care of your enamel is to get regular check-ups from your dentist. They can check to see if you have any serious enamel erosion and intervene to help prevent further damage. Make an appointment with us at our website at HealthySmile.com, or call us at (708) 460-3040 to set up an appointment!