Archive for December, 2012

A Sticky Situation: Chewing Gum

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Gum chewing is believed to be the world’s most common habit, with about 100,000 tons of it chewed each year. Some people find it annoying to listen to smacking or find it stuck on shoes, but there are also some benefits. Perhaps surprisingly, chewing gum is actually helpful to your dental health. Let’s find out why.

Increases saliva
Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash away acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. Acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for tooth decay. Basically, the increased saliva caused by chewing gum helps keep your mouth clean.

Removes food particles
Gum is sticky and leftover food particles cling to it, removing it from areas of your mouth where the particles could attract bacteria. It also helps remove sugar that has built onto the surface of your teeth.

Freshens your breath
Gum comes in a variety of flavors, and the mint flavors especially help freshen your breath at least for a little while.

Sugar-free vs. sugared gum
Gum containing sugar is not a good choice for your dental health, because the sugar clings to your teeth and causes plaque. However, gum made without sugar provides the benefits of gum chewing without the risks. It’s important to make sure you’re choosing sugarless brands; some are even labeled that they are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Xylitol
Chewing gum that contains the natural sweetener xylitol has been shown to fight cavities and tooth decay. It is a natural enemy of bacteria, as the bacteria has a difficult time sticking to teeth and creating plaque. Many sugar-free gums are sweetened with xylitol, so look for that on the label for an added dental benefit of chewing gum.

Treating bad breath

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Bad breath is a frustrating and embarrassing problem, and getting rid of it can be a challenge. Gum disease can be the underlying cause of most cases of bad breath, and getting dental treatment is the most effective way of resolving this issue. After you’ve ruled out any major underlying health concerns, it’s time to focus on tips to freshen your breath.

•    Brush and floss regularly. This helps remove plaque and food particles from your mouth, so that there will be less chance for bacteria to develop.
•    Don’t forget to clean your tongue. Using a toothbrush or tongue cleaner will scrape away bacteria and debris from your tongue.
•    Avoid a dry mouth, which can quickly lead to bad breath. The key is to stimulate saliva by drinking water, sucking on mints, or chewing gum.
•    Mints aren’t the solution though. It may work for a short time, but it won’t kill the bacteria causing bad breath.
•    Watch what you eat. Some foods affect your breath, such as garlic or onions. Also watch out for foods that tend to get stuck between teeth and lure bacteria, such as meats. On the other hand, you can also eat sweet-smelling foods high in Vitamin C like citrus fruits, melons, and berries. Other good choices are raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables.
•    Rinse your mouth after eating and drinking. Swishing water will wash away leftover food particles, but even rinsing after drinking helps because it balances the acidity levels in your mouth.
•    Rely on nature to help. The antibacterial components of green tea freshens your breath, and cinnamon contains oils that fight odor. Chewing on herbs like mint, cilantro, dill, basil, and parsley can hide odors through the release of scented oils.
•    Avoid smoking, which releases odor-causing chemicals into the mouth. Tobacco use also promotes oral health problems like plaque buildup, dry mouth, and infections.

Fact or Fiction: Dentistry through the Ages

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

While modern dental technology has allowed us to enjoy stronger, brighter smiles, these advances wouldn’t have occurred without the discoveries and progress made in the past. Over time, various individual have made important contributions to the field of dentistry. See if you can answer any of the following questions correctly.

Fact or Fiction: Horace Wells created the first toothbrush.
Fiction. Actually, that honor goes to William Addis, who tied horsehair into tufts and glued them to a small animal bone while he was sitting in jail.

Fact or Fiction: Charles Cassidy Bass is known as the father of preventive dentistry.
Fact. After studying saliva to see how plaque forms, Bass recommended regular cleaning of teeth and gums to protect against tooth loss. He also developed nylon floss so that people could clean between their teeth.

Fact or Fiction: Braces were used as far back as ancient times.
Fact. Archaeologists discovered mummified remains with metal and wires on their teeth that are considered an attempt at straightening teeth.

Fact or Fiction: George Washington’s dentures were made of wood
Fiction. The creator of these false teeth, John Greenwood, constructed the dentures out of the ivory tusks from hippopotamus. Gold, lead, human, and animal teeth were also part of the dentures.

Fact or Fiction: Pierre Fauchard wrote the first comprehensive work on dentistry.
Fact. Fauchard’s book, The Surgeon Dentist, included information about basic oral anatomy and function, decay removal techniques, restorative procedures, orthodontics, periodontal disease, and teeth replacement. Most people regard him as the “father of modern dentistry.”

Tips for Periodontal Maintenance

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Gum disease is a serious oral health concern that impacts approximately 80 percent of American adults. If you or a loved one has completed periodontal therapy, or treatment for gum disease, you need to continue to take good care of your gums at home. Without the right dental care regiment, gum disease can continue to progress, resulting in more oral tissue damage and additional expenses.

Follow these suggestions to maintain optimal oral health:

Be diligent about brushing and flossing
Most people understand the importance of brushing, but they don’t realize how critical it is to floss as well. Because your toothbrush can’t get between teeth, these areas are especially vulnerable to plaque and tartar, the main culprits in gum disease.

Keep scheduled appointments
After treatment, your dentist or hygienist may suggest more frequent visits to monitor your gums and give you the best chance for renewed oral health. Put these appointments on the calendar and make them a priority.

Make smart choices
When you look for toothpastes or toothbrushes, choose items with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal because these products meet strict guidelines for effectiveness and safety.

Talk with your dentist
Some patients experience tooth sensitivity after periodontal therapy, which can make you reluctant to brush and floss. Usually this sensation is temporary, but your dentist may be able to recommend specific products to combat this discomfort. Continuing to brush and floss will promote healing, so don’t stop your oral care routine.

Live a healthy lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet, curbing alcohol use, and cutting out tobacco products can help you enjoy a lifetime of fabulous smiles.

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