Archive for June, 2012

Is it Time to Replace My Toothbrush?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Brushing your teeth is obviously one of the most important ways to keep those pearly whites healthy and looking good. But that smile won’t last if you don’t take care of your toothbrush and change it frequently. Many Americans switch toothbrushes only a couple of times per year, but that’s not nearly enough!

When should I change my toothbrush?
• Replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months.
• Get a new one if the bristles show signs of wearing out, such as becoming frayed or out of shape.
• Change your toothbrush after an illness such as a cold or flu.
• If you use an electric toothbrush, replace the heads just as often as you would a disposable toothbrush.
• Children and people with braces should replace their toothbrushes even more often because of increased bristle wear and uneven strokes.

Why should I get a new one?
Toothbrushes can harbor millions of bacteria, so it makes sense to replace it with a fresh one to ensure good dental hygiene. Also the bristles wear out, making it much less effective at removing plaque than an old toothbrush. Worn toothbrushes can even damage gum tissue.

How should I care for my toothbrush?
• Store it upright instead of lying down.
• Don’t store it near a toilet, where flushing can spray bacteria into the air.
• Rinse it thoroughly with water after each use.
• Let it dry between brushings and avoid toothbrush covers and drawer storage, because a moist environment breeds bacteria growth.
• Don’t share your toothbrush with anyone else, and don’t even store them side-by-side. This will prevent cross-contamination.

What about sanitizing it myself?
There is no proof that toothbrush sanitizers have a substantial effect on oral health. Other cleaning methods like putting your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave oven could damage the brush. The best way to limit bacteria is to get a new toothbrush!

What You Should Know about Dental Fillings

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Even with good brushing and flossing, people still develop cavities. At some point, you will probably need a filling. Your dentist will remove the decay, resurface the tooth area, and place a dental filling to repair the damage. In the past, the most common option was a metal, or amalgam, filling. Now, most dentists use tooth-colored restorations to renew their patients’ smiles.

Facts about Fillings

Fact: Amalgams are considered safe.
Although old-fashioned fillings contain amalgam, a metal with traces of mercury, the FDA has ruled that these restorations are not dangerous because there isn’t enough of the heavy metal to be harmful. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under age six should not have metal fillings placed in their mouths.

Fact: Metal fillings can change shape over time.
One problem with amalgam fillings is that they can expand and contract with temperature changes. As a result, you can develop tooth factures, which can lead to issues such as infection, more decay, and pain.

Fact: Tooth-colored fillings produce solid, attractive restorations.
Composite fillings are currently considered the gold standard for filling cavities. These repairs bond with the tooth, allowing for less removal of healthy tissue. Because they blend in with your smile, you won’t have to worry about color changes or gray fillings that mar your appearance.

Fact: Your dentist can replace old metal fillings for you.
During checkups, your dentist will check old restorations to make sure they are in condition and replace any fillings that are compromised. Some people choose to have all their amalgam fillings taken out for aesthetic or other reasons.

How to Deal with Bad Breath

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Approximately one in four Americans deals with halitosis, or chronic bad breath. Though this problem isn’t fatal, bad breath can make you feel unattractive, embarrassed, and self-conscious around others. Most people experience bouts of bad breath, usually caused by eating too much garlic or drainage from a head cold. If you tend to have frequent episodes of bad breath, talk with your dentist about how to address this issue.

Other tips to curb halitosis include:

Keep up with home care
When you neglect your oral hygiene routine, like brushing and flossing, food stays trapped between teeth. As a result, you may develop halitosis, and your risk for issues like cavities and gum disease also rises.

Remember your tongue
While brushing and flossing are critical for fresh breath, don’t forget to clean your tongue as well. This organ attracts bacteria and can become a breeding ground for foul odors.

Drink plenty of water
Hydrating your mouth keeps it moist and lessens the chances of dry mouth, another culprit that produces halitosis. Drinking water also helps rinses your mouth of food debris and bacteria.

Clean dental appliances
Dentures, retainers, and other oral appliances can harbor bacteria, which may contribute to bad breath. When you take out your device, make sure to wash and clean it thoroughly to remove food particles and bacteria.

Cut out tobacco use
Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco increase your risk for oral cancer, but these habits also dry out your mouth and leave a bad smell behind.

The Ins and Outs of a Smile Makeover

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Have you seen the stunning smiles on models and movie stars and wished that you could enjoy that same beauty? Often, their radiance is the result of cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening, veneers, and Invisalign clear braces can turn your image from blah to brilliant. With a custom smile makeover, your dentist can refresh your smile and boost your confidence.

What is a smile makeover?
Customized to fit your specific goals, a smile makeover is a combination of cosmetic dental procedures that will correct chipped, crooked, or stained teeth to transform your appearance.

Am I a good candidate for a smile makeover?
In general, anyone who is unhappy about their smile should consider a smile makeover. The only caveat, though, is you need to have healthy gums first, which means any periodontal therapy would need to happen before your dentist begins cosmetic dental work.

What procedures are involved?
Usually, a smile makeover involves several different treatments like veneers, teeth whitening, dental implants, and porcelain crowns. These procedures enable your dentist to address any issues and enhance your smile.

How long does it take?
The answer to this question depends on your specific case, but generally, a smile makeover takes one to three visits. If you only want bonding and teeth whitening, the process will take less time than if you need veneers and dental crowns.

Will my results last?
Advances in dental techniques and materials allow dentists to create attractive, durable restorations. With proper care, which includes brushing, flossing, and routine checkups, your smile makeover should provide years of beauty. At some point, you may need touch-ups to whitening or replacements for chipped veneers.

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