Monday, January 28, 2013

New Year, New Smile: Toothbrushing Mistakes

Toothbrushing is such an ingrained habit, few people think twice about it. But as with any habit, you can get sloppy, and that can lead to cavities and gum disease.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 1: Not Using the Right Toothbrush

Consider the size of your mouth when picking a toothbrush, says Richard H. Price, DMD, the consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. "If you are straining to open wide enough to let the brush in, the brush is probably too big," he says.
''The handle has to be comfortable," he says. It should feel as comfortable as holding a fork when you eat.
"The more comfortable it is in your mouth and your hand, then the more likely you will use it and use it properly," he says.
Which is the better toothbrush: Electric or manual?
"It's an individual preference," says Michael Sesemann, DDS, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and an Omaha dentist.  "A person who brushes well with a manual will do as well as a person who brushes well with an electric."
Price agrees. "It's not the toothbrush, it's the brusher."

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 2: Not Picking the Right Bristles

Some toothbrushes have angled bristles, others straight. So is one type better? Dentists say no.
''It's more related to technique than the way the bristles come out," says Sesemann.
What is important when buying a toothbrush? Bristles that are too stiff can aggravate the gums. The ADA recommends a soft-bristled brush.
''Bristles should be sturdy enough to remove plaque but not hard enough to damage [the teeth] when used properly," says Price. He doesn't recommend "natural" bristles such as those made from animal hair or boar bristle. 

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 3: Not Brushing Often Enough or Long Enough

Softly brushing your teeth at least twice a day is recommended. ''Three times a day is best," says Sesemann.
With too much time between brushings, he says, bacterial plaque will build up, boosting the risk of gum inflammation and other problems.
Brushing should last at least two minutes, says Sesemann. Three minutes is even better, says Price.
Most people fall short of both time lines, says Sesemann. "It's an arbitrary number, but it's just so people take the time to clean all the surfaces." He often recommends people divide the mouth into quadrants and spend 30 seconds a quadrant. Some electric toothbrushes include built-in timers.  
To make the two minutes go faster, Sesemann says he ''multitasks,'' fitting in a little TV viewing as he brushes.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 4: Brushing Too Often or Too Hard

While brushing your teeth three times a day is ideal, more may not be, says Sesemann. "More than four toothbrushings a day would begin to seem compulsive."
Excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth to irritation, and that could in turn irritate the gums. Brushing vigorously can also erode tooth enamel. The trick is to brush very gently for two to three minutes.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 5: Not Brushing Correctly

''Long horizontal strokes along the gumline can lead to abrasions," says Sesemann. "Aim your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle and do short strokes or vibrations." Softly brush up and down your teeth, not across your teeth. The strokes should be vertical or circular, not horizontal.
Be sure to brush outer and inner tooth surfaces, the chewing surfaces, and your tongue.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 6: Starting in the Same Place Each Time

Many people start brushing the same part of their mouth over and over, dentists find.
"Start in a different place so that you don't get lazy in the same area of your mouth," says Price. He reasons that by the time you get to the last quadrant of your mouth, you're bored with brushing.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 7: Skipping Inner Tooth Surfaces

Most people forget to brush the inner surfaces of teeth -- the surface that your tongue presses against.
"The plaque you can't see is just as important to remove as the plaque you can see," says Price.  
The most commonly skipped area, dentists say, is the inner surface of the lower front teeth.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 8: Not Following Up With a Rinse

Bacteria can grow on an un-rinsed toothbrush. Then, the next time you brush your teeth, you may actually put old bacteria back in your mouth, says Laurence Rifkin, DDS, a dentist in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Rinsing the toothbrush after you brush will help remove any leftover toothpaste, too.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 9: Not Letting the Toothbrush Dry

"If you have a toothbrush that's perpetually moist, it will cultivate more bacteria," says Sesemann.
"If the bristles stay soggy, you can misshape them as you use the brush," Price says. "Or it might be a breeding ground for bacteria."
It's a good idea to shake out the moisture, then recap it with a cap that allows air in, he says.

Toothbrushing Mistake No. 10: Not Changing the Toothbrush Often Enough

The American Dental Association recommends getting a new brush every three or four months, or even sooner if the bristles look frayed.
But rather than go by a strict timeline, Price says a visual inspection of the bristles is better. "Once the bristles lose their normal flexibility and start to break apart, change your toothbrush," he says.
"Look more at the state of the bristles than the time period," he says.
Some brushes have colored indicators that alert you when they need replacing, says Price.

If you live in the Niles area and are looking for a dentist, please visit our website for more information:

Our office is located at 9101 Greenwood Avenue, Suite 302, Niles, IL.  60714
Call us at  847-296-4030.

Follow us on twitter:  @hbdentistry

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Smile: Flossing!

Do you floss? Or, like many people, do you always seem to find a reason not to?

A 2008 survey found that only 49% of Americans floss daily, and 10% never floss. That’s most unfortunate, dentists say, because flossing is even more important than brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss. 
"If you were stuck on a desert island and a boat could bring only one thing, you’d want it to bring floss,” says Samuel B. Low, DDS, professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “But I’m convinced that the only time some of my patients floss is an hour before showing up in my office.”
Dentists say they hear all sorts of excuses for not flossing. Yet they insist that simple workarounds exist for just about all:
Excuse #1: Food doesn’t get caught between my teeth, so I don’t need to floss.
Flossing isn’t so much about removing food debris as it is about removing dental plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease, and eventually tooth loss. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.

Excuse #2: I don’t know how to floss.
Flossing isn’t easy.  Low calls it “the most difficult personal grooming activity there is.” But practice makes perfect.
Here’s how the American Dental Association describes the process:
  • Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
  • Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and use a gentle shoeshine motion to guide it between teeth.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
  • Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
  • Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth, “unspooling” fresh sections of floss as you go along.
Don’t forget to floss the backs of your last molars. “By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth,” Low says.
Excuse #3: I’m not coordinated enough to floss.
Many tooth-cleaning options exist for people whose manual dexterity is compromised by poor coordination, hand pain, paralysis, and amputations -- or simply by fingers that are too big to fit inside the mouth.
One option is to use floss holders. These disposable plastic Y-shaped devices (some equipped with a spool of floss) hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use.
Another option is to forgo floss and clean between teeth using disposable toothpick-like dental stimulators (Stim-U-Dents, Soft-Picks, and so on); narrow spiral brushes (interproximal brushes); or the conical rubber nubs (tip stimulators) found at the end of many toothbrushes or mounted on their own handles. 
Excuse #4: I don’t have time to floss.
Effective flossing does take a while -- once a day for a “good three to five minutes” according to Low. But even 60 seconds of flossing is of enormous benefit. As with exercise, bathing, and other daily activities, the key is to make flossing a habit.
“If you make time for your personal hygiene, you can find time to make for flossing,” says Maria Lopez Howell, DDS, a dentist in private practice in San Antonio.
She recommends keeping floss in plain view, alongside your toothbrush and toothpaste. If you’re too tired to floss before bed, floss in the morning or afternoon. Or keep floss on hand and use it when you find the time.
Mark S. Wolff, DDS, PhD, chairman of the department of cardiology and preventive medicine at New York University School of Dentistry in New York City, keeps a stash of dental stimulators in his car. “I use them when I am stuck in traffic,” he says.
Excuse #5: It hurts when I floss.
If flossing causes gum pain or bleeding, odds are you have gingivitis or gum disease -- precisely the conditions for which flossing is beneficial.
“Flossing should not be a painful experience,” Wolff says. “But stopping flossing because of bleeding [or pain] is just the opposite of what you should be doing.” The good news? With daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing, gum pain and bleeding should stop within a week or two. If either persists, see a dentist.
Excuse #6: My teeth are spaced too close together to floss.  
If unwaxed floss doesn’t work for your teeth, you might try waxed floss or floss made of super-slippery polytetrafluoroethylene.
If the spacing between your teeth varies (or if you have significant gum recession), yarn-like “superfloss” may be a good bet. It stretches thin for narrow spaces and fluffs out to clean between teeth that are more widely spaced.
If you’re having trouble finding a workable floss or interdental cleaner on your own, your dentist should be able to offer guidance -- and may even offer free samples.
Excuse #7: The floss keeps shredding.
In many cases, broken or fraying floss is caused by a cavity or a problem with dental work -- often a broken or poorly fabricated filling or crown. Consult your dentist.
Excuse #8: I have dental work that makes flossing impossible.
Try floss threaders. These monofilament loops make it easy to position floss around dental work.
Article Source:

If you live in the Niles area and are looking for a dentist, please visit our website for more information:

Our office is located at 9101 Greenwood Avenue, Suite 302, Niles, IL.  60714
Call us at  847-296-4030.

Follow us on twitter:  @hbdentistry

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year, New Smile -- Part 2: Every Day Habits That Damage Your Teeth

You plan meals, grab drinks, and play sports without giving much thought to your teeth. But you might not realize how food, beverages, and activities can wreck the health of your pearly whites. Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults over age 65 have lost all their teeth - here's how you can protect your own.

Sugar and Teeth

Sugar is the No. 1 enemy of your teeth, and the longer it stays in your mouth, the worse it is. Sugar is consumed by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. The acids eat away at tooth enamel. Avoid foods like jelly candies, which stick in your teeth longer than other foods and bathe them in sugar. Dried fruit such as raisins are no better. Reach for fresh fruit instead. 

Beverages and Teeth

Soda is just plain bad for teeth, sugar-free or not. "You're bathing teeth in an acid environment," says Robert Sorin, DDS, clinical instructor in the department of dentistry and oral surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Club soda is harmful, too, because of its acidity, and so are juices with added sugar.
Alcohol, even just a glass of wine, is also acidic and can erode the teeth. In addition, alcohol dries out your mouth, reducing saliva production. "Saliva bathes the teeth and helps remove plaque and bacterial accumulations from the teeth's surface. Less plaque equals less risk for bacterial acids to cause decay," Sorin says. Rinse your mouth with water between drinks.

Other Risks to Teeth

If you use your teeth to snap off bottle caps, remove clothing tags, or open plastic bags, stop immediately. Smokers should also consider how the habit affects oral health. Nicotine yellows teeth and can also cause oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is even worse because the tobacco and associated carcinogens come into direct contact with the gums and soft tissues and stay there for a long time.
Also, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medicines might cause dry mouth. According to the American Dental Association, more than 500 medications -- from pain relievers to antihistamines -- can do so. Dry mouth inhibits saliva production and increases your risk of cavities.
If you play contact sports, pick up a mouth guard at a sports store or have your dentist make you a custom one for maximum protection and comfort.
You don't even have to be awake to damage your teeth. Sorin says as many as 8% of Americans grind or clench their teeth, especially at night. If this is you, make an appointment with your dentist right away.
Article Source:

If you live in the Niles area and are looking for a dentist, please visit our website for more information:

Our office is located at 9101 Greenwood Avenue, Suite 302, Niles, IL.  60714
Call us at  847-296-4030.

Follow us on twitter:  @hbdentistry

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Smile

To start off 2013, we're focusing our blog posts in the month of January on ways you can improve your oral health. To kick off this month long dedication to improved oral care, we found this great article about improving bad breath, if you have it. From WebMD:

1. Brush and floss more frequently.

One of the prime causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbors bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem. All of us should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you're worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often.  But don't overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

2. Scrape your tongue.

The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Some people find that toothbrushes are too big to comfortably reach the back of the tongue. In that case, try a tongue scraper. "Tongue scrapers are an essential tool in a proper oral health care routine," says Pamela L. Quinones, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. "They're designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t remove."  

3. Avoid foods that sour your breath.

Onions and garlic are the prime offenders. "Unfortunately, brushing after you eat onions or garlic doesn't help," says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. "The volatile substances they contain make their way into your blood stream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out." The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you're concerned about your breath.

4. Kick the habit.

Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke. If you need a little help, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about prescription medications or smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.

5. Rinse your mouth out.

In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.

6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.

Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum. "Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids which cause tooth decay and bad breath," Quinones tells WebMD.  

Article Source: 

If you live in the Niles area and are looking for a dentist, please visit our website for more information:

Our office is located at 9101 Greenwood Avenue, Suite 302, Niles, IL.  60714
Call us at  847-296-4030.

Follow us on twitter:  @hbdentistry