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If there’s one essential tool for protecting your dental health, it’s the humble toothbrush. The basic manual brush with a long, slender handle and short-bristled head is still effective when used skillfully. The market, though, is full of choices, all of them touting their brand as the best.
So how do you choose? You can cut through any marketing hype with a few simple guidelines.
First, understand what you’re trying to accomplish with brushing: removing dental plaque, that thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces that’s the main cause of dental disease. Brushing also stimulates gum tissue and helps reduce inflammation.
With that in mind, you’ll first want to consider the texture of a toothbrush’s bristles, whether they’re stiff (hard) or more pliable (soft). You might think the firmer the better for removing plaque, but actually a soft-bristled brush is just as effective in this regard. Stiffer bristles could also damage the gums over the long term.
Speaking of bristles, look for those that have rounded tips. In a 2016 study, less rounded tips increased gum recession in the study’s participants by 30%. You should also look for toothbrushes with different bristle heights: longer bristles at the end can be more effective cleaning back teeth.
As far as size and shape, choose a brush that seems right and comfortable for you when you hold it. For children or people with dexterity problems, a handle with a large grip area can make the toothbrush easier to hold and use.
And look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, something you may have seen on some toothpaste brands. It means the toothbrush in question has undergone independent testing and meets the ADA’s standards for effectiveness. That doesn’t mean a particular brush without the seal is sub-standard—when in doubt ask your dentist on their recommendation.
Even a quality toothbrush is only as effective as your skill in using it. Your dental provider can help, giving you tips and training for getting the most out of your brush. With practice, you and your toothbrush can effectively remove disease-causing plaque and help keep your smile beautiful and healthy.
If you would like more information on what to look for in a toothbrush, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sizing up Toothbrushes.”
At the first-ever Players Weekend in August 2017, Major League Baseball players wore jerseys with their nicknames on the back. One player — Cleveland Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor — picked the perfect moniker to express his cheerful, fun-loving nature: “Mr. Smile.” And Lindor gave fans plenty to smile about when he belted a 2-run homer into the stands while wearing his new jersey!
Lindor has explained that he believes smiling is an important part of connecting with fans and teammates alike: “I’ve never been a fan of the guy that makes a great play and then acts like he’s done it 10,000 times — smile, man! We’ve got to enjoy the game.”
We think Lindor is right: Smiling is a great way to generate good will. And it feels great too… as long as you have a smile that’s healthy, and that looks as good as you want it to. But what if you don’t? Here are some things we can do at the dental office to help you enjoy smiling again:
Routine Professional Cleanings & Exams. This is a great place to start on the road toward a healthy, beautiful smile. Even if you are conscientious about brushing and flossing at home, you won’t be able to remove all of the disease-causing dental plaque that can hide beneath the gum line, especially if it has hardened into tartar, but we can do it easily in the office. Then, after a thorough dental exam, we can identify any problems that may be affecting your ability to smile freely, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or cosmetic dental issues.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments. If your oral health is good but your smile is not as bright as you’d like it to be, we can discuss a number of cosmetic dental treatments that can help. These range from conservative procedures such as professional teeth whitening and bonding to more dramatic procedures like porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Replacement. Many people hide their smiles because they are embarrassed by a gap from a missing tooth. That’s a shame, because there are several excellent tooth-replacement options in a variety of price ranges. These include partial and full dentures, bridgework, and dental implants. So don’t let a missing tooth stop you from being Mr. (or Ms.) Smile!
If you’d like more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
5 Reasons Flossing is More Important Than You Believe
Chances are that when you visit us for a checkup you are sure to hear the question: “Have you been flossing regularly?” For some patients the answer is an easy yes. Brushing your teeth twice a day, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA), is a good start, but many don’t follow recommendation to floss at least once a day.
Flossing plays an important role in dental health. Floss is an interdental cleaner, which means it is designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth. A toothbrush is designed to clean the outer surfaces of the teeth and gums. If you are simply only brushing your teeth those nooks and crannies are left uncleaned.
There is increasing evidence that suggest that proper dental care can help prevent serious diseases, some of which can be life threatening. So the important step of flossing can do much more than keep your smile happy and healthy. Still not convinced?
Here are 5 reasons why you should add flossing to your dental routine today:
1- Flossing and brushing are more effective than brushing alone
Often people think that just because they are avid brushers that it’s enough to maintain good oral health, but adding flossing to your routine will give you optimal results that brushing alone cannot achieve. The ADA suggests that flossing before you brush will make brushing your teeth more effective. When there is less plaque between your teeth the fluoride in toothpaste can get to more parts of your teeth.
2- Flossing protects your gums
You can avoid the dreading scraping your teeth receive during a dental visit with good flossing habits. Floss plays a major role in the places where the teeth and gums meet. When food particles get trapped there it leads to plaque, and overtime plaque will harden and form tartar, a thick deposit that can only be professionally removed with a scraper. When left untreated it can lead to gum disease and eventually tooth and bone loss.
3- Flossing can save you money
Cha-ching! Health costs continue to rise and insurance benefits continue to diminish. This means more out of pocket payments for visits to health professionals. With preventative actions, such as making flossing a habit, you are less likely to find yourself in need of costly treatments.
4- Flossing helps prevent other diseases
Research has shown that bacteria that lives inside an unhealthy mouth can be harmful to the rest of the body, which can lead to heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, so if periodontal disease (disease of the teeth, gums, and mouth) are a contributing factor, flossing once a day is a simple step to help with your long-term health.
5- Brighter whiter teeth
Simply flossing your teeth can make them look brighter by removing plaque and excess food particles that you may not see in the mirror or in areas that your toothbrush doesn’t reach. So if you are thinking of using a tooth whitening agent, try re-committing to daily flossing and twice-daily brushing with some whitening toothpaste. This will often improve the appearance of stained teeth.
Hopefully this list has convinced you reconnect with the abandoned floss in your bathroom closet. Set it on the bathroom sink to help remind you to floss until it become a no-brainer habit. Happy flossing!
“Why are my Gums Bleeding?” and Other Questions to Ask Us
As a general dentist to Scarsdale, Westchest, East Chester, and all the surrounding area, we get a lot of people coming through our office. Many patients come through with similar questions and we love educating people on their oral health. Here are some great questions we hear along with their answers.
Q: Why are my Gums Bleeding?
A: Bleeding gums is one of the early signs of gum disease. Nearly 60 % of people in the United States have experienced bleeding gums and 1 in 3 think it’s normal. This is a bad sign that you are headed on a path to Gingivitis. There are three things you can do to prevent or stop bleeding gums:
- Brush at least twice a day and make sure you are brushing your gums as part of the process.
- Floss every day. Make sure you do it properly.
- Come in twice a year for cleanings. Our hygienist will scrape off the plaque and tartar along your gum line to help limit bleeding and sensitive areas.
Q: What are sealants and who should get them?
A: Sealants are a thin coating made from plastic that we apply to the molars on children. This is an extra layer of protection on the teeth that are so prone to decay. During dental check-ups, we make sure they are still in place and not damaged. Adults can benefit from sealants too if they don’t have any fillings or decay in their molars.
Q: Is all sugar bad for my teeth?
A: Sugar is found in many of our favorite foods, including milk, fruit, and pasta sauce. When most people ask about eating sugary food though, they are referring to candy and sweets. Too much sugar weakens the enamel on your teeth, which is how it creates cavities. By brushing and flossing your teeth multiple times a day, you keep your teeth clean. It is still a good idea to limit the number of sugary snacks you eat and drink.
Q: Are electric toothbrushes better than manual?
A: Electric toothbrushes are great for getting teeth clean easier. If you are brushing and flossing your teeth properly and for a long enough amount of time, you are just fine to use your manual brush. Spin brushes are effective for people who don’t want to put a lot of effort into their routine.
Q: Why doesn’t my cavity hurt?
A: Most cavities don’t hurt until there is a large amount of decay. Waiting to come in for an exam or delaying a filling until it is painful is a bad idea. Not only is it less invasive to get a smaller cavity fixed, but it is also less expensive.
Q: What should I do in an emergency?
A: Dental emergencies happen all the time. Some of the most common injuries are
- Getting a tooth knocked out
- Experiencing a large amount of pain
- Cracked or fractured teeth
- Lost filling or crown
- Swollen face or jaw
We offer emergency services to our patients. Call the office and explain the problem. We will get you in as soon as we can, even the same day if necessary.
We value our patients and want them to feel comfortable in our care. It is important to us that you feel comfortable asking any question with hygiene, treatments, or anything else we can help with while you are under our care.
What to Expect From Your Child's First Dental Visit
Most children have all of their baby teeth by the age of three, which makes toddlerhood the time when you should be teaching your child good dental habits to help prevent unhealthy oral hygiene. Regular dental visits should be a big part of their routine, but taking your child to their first dentist appointment can seem like a challenging task. It doesn’t have to be that way though, with the right preparation.
Here are a few tips to help you and your child know what to expect from your first visit with us:
1 - Meet & Greet
Formally introducing your child will help them feel more comfortable with our dental staff. Let your child know that we will explain each step of the visit and show them that the tools we will be using really aren’t that scary.
2 - Teaching the Facts
Although teaching your kids about good oral hygiene starts at home, we will help teach them the facts about cavities and the harmful things that can cause them, such as sugar-packed snacks, sodas, and juices.
3 - Learning About the Equipment
For a toddler, the sucking sound from the spitting cup can be a little frightening, but we will show your child how to spit properly to assure them there is nothing to be afraid of. Next, we will count your child’s teeth, and we show him or her how we use a mirror to see them all. We might even use our own teeth,, or yous, beforehand to help put them at ease and show them that they don’t need to be afraid of the dental tools.
4 - Cleaning & Polishing
This, like the spitting cup, makes a sound that may be new and a bit scary to a small child. We’ll show them how the rotary toothbrush is used for cleaning and polishing before placing it in their mouth.
5 - Final Touches
We will remove any extra toothpaste or saliva with a sucking straw. The last step to your child’s first visit is to apply a coat of topical fluoride to help prevent decay. These come in yummy flavors that kids love such as, bubblegum, grape, banana, and strawberry. We’ll then explain why they should not eat of drink for 30 minutes after the treatment.
6 - The Best Part - Prizes for a Job Well Done
Giving kid-friendly toothbrushes, stickers, crayons, and even mystery grab bags can be a common practice and can be a good opportunity for positive reinforcement after the appointment. This keeps it fun and helps make them excited to come back.
After your child comes to see us for their first visit it is important to keep up with good dental habits at home. Make sure they brush at least twice a day using a soft, kid-sized brush. Kids will mimic your habits, so it is always good for them to see you brushing your own teeth as part of your daily routine. With regular visits and great habits at home, your child will be on their way to a lifetime of excellent oral health.