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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.”
How a Healthy Mouth Affects Your Overall Health
A lot of people deal with cavities and other dental problems. In fact, some studies show that more than 92% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. For the most part, these problems are easily corrected. Unfortunately, just over 25% of those people have yet to seek treatment for even the smaller dental problems.
It’s easy to put off a dental appointment. Some studies even suggest that 12% of adults in that same 20 – 60 demographic have not been to the dentist in the last five years.
And this can lead to problems that go beyond a few cavities.
We normally look at taking care of your teeth and gums in the context of being able to keep your teeth and gums or, and least, to keep your smile nice and beautiful. The truth of the matter is that the health of your mouth could actually impact the health of the rest of your body.
How Can Bacteria in the Mouth Cause Problems for Your Overall Health?
A number of studies have determined that certain dental problems could actually lead to more serious concerns throughout the rest of your body.
How does this happen? Is it really even possible?
Most of the current research suggests problems in the mouth can lead to overall health problems because of the bacteria that reside naturally in your mouth. There’s over 500 species in there right now. How does that make you feel?
These are the bacteria responsible for causing plaque/tartar buildup, and, most of the time, that’s the only real problem. However, research is speculating that problems develop when the bacteria finds a way to get into your blood stream.
If you’re suffering from periodontitis or other mouth problems, even a regular teeth brushing could open an entry point for bacteria to escape into your body. This is providing a direct path for unwanted visitors to reach beyond your teeth to other parts of the body.
Common Conditions Connected to Poor Dental Hygiene
- Diabetes – The inflammations that start in the mouth can impact the body’s ability to control blood sugar and use insulin. This leads to problems with diabetes.
- Heart problems – Cardiovascular disease is the problem most people talk about in relation to tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth, if it gets in the blood stream, can clog arteries, contributing to heart disease and strokes.
- Premature births – Low birth weights and premature births have been linked to periodontitis. It has been suggested that this is because infections may interfere with fetus development.
- Respiratory issues – If you’re breathing in the bacteria, they can set up shop in your lungs, increasing the risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.
Your Dental Condition Provides Warning Signs
There are a lot of warning signs that appear in your mouth to indicate other serious medical conditions that may require attention.
Can you really assess your state of health by looking in a person’s mouth? Well, studies show that people with gum disease are 40% more likely to have some other chronic condition, so it’s easy to say that there is some kind of connection there.
It’s important to realize that the entire body is a connected organism, so when something happens in one part of the body, it really should come as a surprise that it affects another.
If you are getting your regular checkups and cleanings, it will give us the best chance to spot these warning signs early and recommend the proper course of action.
Prevention is The Goal
Regular checkups, strict at-home routines, and careful attention to the warning signs will help keep your mouth healthy and, by extension, contribute to your overall health. Staying on top of your dental health will help prevent these potential illnesses in the future.
“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.