Choosing and Caring for Your Toothbrush

October 25th, 2013

Your toothbrush is  the most important item in your oral health toolkit. But with such a wide variety of toothbrushes available,  how do you choose the brush that’s best for you? And once you’ve made your selection, how do you care for & clean your toothbrush? Learn how to improve your oral health care habits by properly selecting & caring for your toothbrush.

What Should I look for when choosing a toothbrush?

The best toothbrushes have a long, wide handle that facilitates a firm grip. The toothbrush head should be small enough to reach all areas of the mouth, with soft nylon bristles that won’t hurt the gums.

Should I use an electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes, which use an oscillating or rotary motion to clean the teeth, are beneficial because they can cover a larger area of the mouth faster than a manual toothbrush. They’re especially well-suited for those with braces, those who need extra motivation to brush, and those who have difficulty operating a manual toothbrush due to age, disability, or other factors. If you use an electric toothbrush, avoid pressing down too hard; instead, use light force & slow movements, letting the brush do the work for you. Those using an electric toothbrush for the first time may experience slight bleeding from  the gums ,which will subside over time. Children age 10 & younger should be supervised while using an electric toothbrush.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

Old toothbrushes with worn & frayed bristles will not clean your teeth effectively, and they also may harbor harmful bacteria. You should change your toothbrush~or brush head, in the case of an electric toothbrush~every three to four months. However, if you get sick with a cold or the flu, you will need to change your toothbrush as soon as the illness begins and again once the illness has subsided. This will help to get rid of any germs & bacteria on your toothbrush.

How can I clean my toothbrush clean?

Wash your hands both before & after brushing to avoid transferring bacteria & food  particles to your toothbrush. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly to  remove excess toothpaste & other debris, and soak the brush in antiseptic mouth rinse to eliminate any lingering bacteria, Remember:  NEVER share toothbrushes, as this habit can lead to the transmission of colds and/or bacteria.

How should I store my toothbrush?

Store your toothbrush upright & let it air dry before using it again. Microorganisms are more likely to grow in a moist environment, so don’t cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. Because bacteria can travel easily from brush to brush, don’t store your toothbrush  in the same container as someone else’s. Finally, keep your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible to avoid contamination from the airborne bacteria that are released with each flush.

Call our office today @ 608-873-7277;  if you have questions about choosing or caring for your toothbrush. No matter which kind of toothbrush you have,  make sure to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day & visit the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health.

Don’t Forget to Floss!

October 25th, 2013

Flossing is an integral part of your oral health regimen; however, many people don’t spend enough time flossing their teeth, or they don’t floss at all. By flossing just once a day, you can decrease your risk of gum disease & increase your chances of maintaining good oral health throughout your lifetime.

Why should I floss?

Brushing cleans the tops & sides of your teeth, but flossing cleans between them where your toothbrush can’t reach. Dental floss removes plaque & debris that adhere to teeth & gums; it also helps to polish tooth surfaces & control bad breath.

How often should I floss?

You should floss your teeth for 2 or 3 minutes at least once a day. The best time to floss is right before bed, but you can incorporate it into any part of your daily routine that’s convenient.

Which kind of floss should I use?

There are a variety of flosses available, and all of them do a similar job of removing plaque. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be beneficial for those with a lot of bridge work or a lot of space between their teeth, while waxed floss may be easier to fit between tight teeth or restorations. Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know when your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but it does more then waxed floss. Another option is pre-threaded flossers or floss holders. These are useful for those with limited dexterity, those just learning to floss, or caretakers who are flossing someone else’s teeth. If you have children you should start flossing their teeth that touch each other.

Should I use a waterpick?

A waterpick, or irrigation device, should not be used as a substitute for brushing & flossing because it does not remove plaque. However, waterpicks can be used to remove food from the area around braces where a toothbrush can’t reach. Dentist also may recommend that patients with gum disease us a waterpick with an antibacterial agent in the reservoir.

If you have questions about what type of floss to use or the best method for flossing your teeth, be sure to call our office @ 608-873-7277.

HAPPY FLOSSING!

Why Swimming Pool Rules Protect Pearly Whites

August 7th, 2013

Following rules and remembering dental first aid steps can help save your teeth the next time you dive into a swimming pool.

During the summer, swimming pools accidents are the number-one cause of dental emergencies at the office of E. “Mac” Edington, DDS & past president of the AGD. “Swimming underwater and quickly coming to the surface causes some children to hit the hard ledge, loosening the front tooth.” Says Dr. Edington.

Also, running on slippery, slick cement & ceramic pool surfaces sends many children head first into the ground, often causing chipped or displaced teeth. “Diving into shallow waters &  hitting the bottom pushes the teeth up & can fracture the whole bone,” says Dr. Edington.

Follow these simple first aid steps for a tooth that has been  knocked loose or knocked out:

If a tooth is knocked loose, gently push  the tooth back into its original position, bite down so the tooth does not move and call your dentist or visit the emergency room.

For an avulsed ( knocked out) tooth, pick up the tooth by the crown, not by the root, handling the root ( the part of the tooth below the gum) may damage the cells necessary for bone reattachment.  If the tooth cannot be replaced in its socket on site, do not let the tooth dry out.  Place it in a container with a lid and use milk or saliva. Visit your dentist as soon as possible, the longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the less likely the tooth will be able to be saved.

What is Oral Cancer?

June 7th, 2013

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with roughly 35,000 new cases reported in the US.  The vast majority of oral cancers occur in people older than 50 years, with men being twice as likely as women to develop the disease.  The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor  of the mouth & soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips & gums.  If not diagnosed & treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial & oral disfigurement following surgery and even death.  Your dentist can perform a through screening for oral cancer.

Scientists aren’t sure of the exact cause of oral cancer.  However, the carcinogens in tobacco product and alcohol, as well as excessive exposure to the sun, have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Warning Signs:

Oral cancer represented by red, white, or discolored lesions, patches or lumps in or around the mouth is typically painless in its early stages.  As the malignant cancer spreads & destroys healthy oral tissue, the lesions or lumps become more painful.  However, oral cancer is sometimes difficult to self-diagnose, so routine dental exams are recommended.  See your dentist immediately if you observe: any sore that persists longer than two weeks; a swelling growth or lump anywhere in or about the mouth or neck; white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips; repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat; difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.

How a Dentist Screens for Cancer:

Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine checkups. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks & oral cavity & thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues.

How Oral Cancer is Treated:

If your dentist suspects oral cancer, a biopsy of the lesion is required to confirm the diagnosis.  Surgery is required to confirm the diagnosis to remove the tumors, which may cause the disfiguration.  Radiation therapy & chemotherapy may be used as part of the treatment.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer:

You can prevent oral cancer by not smoking, using spit tobacco or drinking excessive alcohol .  The risk of oral cancer is 15 times higher in those who both smoke & drink compared to non-users of tobacco & alcohol products.  Research suggests that eating plenty of fruits & vegetables may safeguard against oral cancer.  Because successful treatment & rehabilitation are dependent on early detection , it is extremely important to regularly check your mouth for changes in appearance & see your dentist for an oral cancer screening & regular checkup @ least every 6 months.  Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered & treated.  During your next dental visit, ask your dentist to do an oral cancer screening.

Dentist’s Advice to Stop Smoking:

Your dentist can recommend a step-by step program tailored to your needs or prescribe a nicotine patch in combination with a cessation program.  Talk to your dentist about options suited to your dependency.  Your dentist will work with you & your physician & have a consultation to determine your needs.

 

What is a Dental Implant?

June 6th, 2013

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support & they are permanent & stable. Implants are a good solution to tooth loss because they look & feel like natural teeth.

Implant material is made from different types of metallic & bone-like ceramic materials that are compatible with body tissue.  There are different types of dental implants: the first is placed directly into the jaw bone, like natural tooth roots; the second is used when the jaw structure is limited, therefore, a custom -made metal framework fits directly on the existing bone.

How Do they Work?

Strategically placed, implants can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture.  The cost tends to be greater, but the implants & bridges more closely resemble teeth.

Can Anyone Receive Dental Implants?

Talk with your dentist about whether you are an implant candidate.  You must be in good health & have the proper bone structure & healthy gums for the implant to stay in place.  People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates.  If you suffer from chronic problems, such a as clenching  or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases dramatically. Additionally, people who smoke or drink alcohol may  not be good candidates.

What can I expect during this procedure?

The dentist must perform surgery to anchor the “artificial root” into or on your jaw bone.  The procedure is done in the dental office with local anesthesia. The gum is then secured over the implant, which will remain covered until it fuses with the bone.  The dentist then uncovers the implant & attaches an extension, or post to the implant.  With some implants, the implant & post are a single unit placed in the mouth during the initial surgery.  Finally, the dentist makes an artificial tooth, or crown, that is attached to the implant post.

How long does the process take?

The process can take up to nine months to complete.  Each patient heals differently, so times will vary.  After the implant & posts are placed surgically, the healing process can take up to 6 months & the fitting of replacement teeth  no more than two months.  Sometimes, if a patient has a good bone quality, posts can be placed & replacement  teeth fitted in one appointment.

What is the success rate of implants?

The success rate for implants depends on the tooth’s purpose &  location in the mouth, as well as a patient’s overall health.

How do I care for implants?

Poor oral hygiene is a big reason why some implants fail.  It is important to floss & brush around the fixtures at last twice a day.  Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to care for your new implants. Additional cleanings of up to four times per year may be necessary to ensure that you retain healthy gums.

What is the cost of implants?

Since implants involve surgery & are more involved, they cost more than traditional bridgework.  However, some dental procedures & portions of the restoration may be covered by dental & medical insurance policies.  Your dentist can help you with this process.

To learn more about implants, call our office today to schedule a complimentary consult @ 608-873-7277

Lyme Disease Have You Ticked?

June 5th, 2013

Lyme disease,which is  initiated by the bite of a deer tick, is difficult to diagnose, but your dentist may be able to detect this mysterious disease ,( reports the AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.  Patients with Lyme disease report pain in their teeth, chewing muscles & jaw joint, which drives them to the dentist.

“Unfortunately, most patients are not diagnosed properly until their Lyme disease is at a later stage, when it is more difficult to treat” , says AGD spokesperson Manuel Cordero, DDS. “Diagnosing this disease is very tricky because it can hide itself behind many dental problems, including toothaches & jaw pain.”

A study of 120 patients with Lyme disease revealed that about 75 % of patients reported pain in the chewing muscles, and 72% reported temporomandibular joint pain.  Burning mouth was reported by 25% of these patients, and 70% reported a sore throat.  About 47% of the patients visited up to 10 doctors before being properly diagnosed.

“Your dentists may suspect Lyme disease if you have a mysterious toothache that can’t be attributed to cavities” , says Dr. Cordero.

In the study, about 70% of patients with Lyme disease reported dental pain in the absence of dental disease, and the dental pain tended to move from tooth to tooth.  Of these patients, 36% had multiple dental treatments, including root canals & tooth extraction unnecessarily.

“Early diagnosis is critical because in its late stages, Lyme disease can lead to neurological symptoms and arthritis and can involve the heart & other organs”, says Dr. Cordero. ” Filling out a proper medical history will  help the dentist detect this mysterious disease.”

The majority of Lyme disease patients are found in the Northeast, but the disease has also been reported in the North Central & Pacific Coast regions.  Up to 25,000 people in the US contact Lyme disease each year.

Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease are headache, flu-like illness with achy joints, muscle pain, stiff neck & significant fatigue.  Many patients also have a characteristic bull’s-eye shaped rash with a clear center seen at the site of a bite.

Call our office today if you suspect you may have Lyme disease @ 608-873-7277!

 

Headaches? Can’t Sleep? Check Your Bite

June 5th, 2013

The average person swallows 2,000 times per day, causing the upper & lower teeth to come together & push against the skull.  People who have a poorly aligned bite or missing teeth can have related health problems, such as frequent headaches or sleep disorders, because their jaw muscles must work harder to bring the teeth together, straining the surrounding jaw muscles.

This strain, known as orofacial pain, is defined as any pain in or around the face.  Some people may experience pain in the ears, eyes, sinuses,  cheeks or side of the head, while other experience clicking when moving the jaw.

Orofacial pain, can also be caused by temporomandibular disorder ( TMD), stress, nerve disorders or muscle spasms.  Serious causes of orofacial pain are tumors in the jaw bone area, oral cancer or referred pain from cardiac disease.

“At the first sign of discomfort, see your dentist” says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Peter G. Bastian, DDS.  “He or she knows your mouth best  how to handle day-to-day stress.”

Sometimes orofacial pain may be difficult to diagnose if its origin is not localized in one area.

“Your dentist will try to diagnose the pain source by conducting tests to rule out a cracked tooth, the need for root canal, gum disease, clenching or tooth grinding” says Dr. Bastian.  These factors can cause discomfort in the facial region but can be easily addressed.”

Orofacial pain that lasts longer than 10 days to two week or is not related to a specific stressful event. such as a car accident, may signal a more serious problem requiring additional tests.

Symptoms of Orofacial Pain:

~Pain behind the eyes

~Sore jaw muscles

~Teeth grinding

~Clicking or popping of joints

~Head/scalp painful to the touch

~Earaches or ringing

~Neck, shoulder or back pain

~Dizziness

To learn more call our office today to schedule a complimentary consult  @ 608-873-7277.

Why Should I Floss?

May 30th, 2013

Plaque is a sticky layer or material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth, including places where toothbrushes can’t reach. This can lead to gum disease.  The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush & floss your teeth carefully every day. A toothbrush cleans the tops & sides of your teeth.  Dental floss cleans between them.  Some people use waterpicks, but floss is the best choice.

Floss removes plaque & debris that adhere to teeth & gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces & controls bad breath.  By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime & decrease your chance of having periodontal (gum) disease & tooth decay.

Flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush.  Many people just don[t spend enough time flossing & many have never been taught to floss properly.  When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown if your aren’t sure how.

Which Type of Floss Should I Use?

Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed & unwaxed, flavored & unflavored, wide & regular.  Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridge work.  Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between the teeth are wide.  They all clean & remove plaque about the same.  Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations.  However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean.  Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss but does tear more than waxed floss.


Ask your dentist or hygienist about the correct flossing technique at your next dental visit. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Choice of Mouthwash Could Have Negative Side Effects

May 29th, 2013

Brush, floss, rinse with mouthwash.  From an early age, people are taught to follow this procedure to maximize the benefits of proper oral hygiene, but could mouth rinse really cause more problems than good? According to the April issue of AGD Impact, the monthly news-magazine of the AGD, the improper selection of a mouth rinse may cause side effects worse than the condition being treated.

“It all depends on each individual’s oral health concerns” explains Barbara Rich, DDS, AGD spokesperson. ” If someone has a lot of inflammation which is causing bleeding gums, then the side effect of staining caused by some prescription mouthwashes may be worth it to improve their health. Staining can be polished off @ the regular semiannual visit to the dentist”. Dr. Rich further explains, however, that if minty-fresh taste is the only reason for a person using the mouth rinses, but they have dry mouth or get ulcers from strong alcohol content in the mouthwash, it may not be worth using it.

There are two categories of mouth rinses: cosmetic ( over the counter) and prescription. Both products are meant to help remove oral debris before or after brushing. These products provide a pleasant taste in the mouth and temporary relief from bad breath while diminishing bacteria in the mouth. Therapeutic rinses are prescribed by a dentist & contain active ingredients that protect against some oral diseases.

What are the pros & cons of using mouthwashes?  “The pros are improved health of gums, germ killing effects, fresh taste, and cavity prevention” says Dr. Rich.  “The cons include altered taste, tooth staining, dying of oral tissues in the mouth, burning sensation, and ulcers”.

When selecting mouth rinse, Dr. Rich advises patients to choose one that is based on their individual needs. “If they have a dry mouth, but want a nice taste, they should look for a non-alcohol mouthwash so their tissues stay moist”, she says.  “If they often have cavities, they should use a fluoride rinse.” It’s best to consult with  your dentist about the best mouth rinse to meet the needs of your mouth.

Please call  our office if you have questions about the  mouth wash you are using  at: 608-873-7277!

Preventing Tooth Erosion

May 21st, 2013

Tooth erosion, or tooth wear, is the loss of the surrounding tooth structure.  This loss occurs when the hard part of your teeth~which is called the enamel~is worn away by acid.  Over time, this erosion can leave your teeth sensitive, cracked, and discolored.

What causes tooth erosion?

Acid is the main cause of tooth erosion. So, drinking carbonated beverages, energy & sports drinks, & pure fruit juice, which all contain high levels of acid, can cause tooth erosion, especially when consumed in large amounts.  Certain medical conditions, including acid reflux & bulimia, also can cause tooth erosion because they cause increased levels of stomach acids in the mouth.

What are the signs & symptoms of tooth erosion?

Tooth erosion can present in a variety of ways, below are some common signs & symptoms:

*Sensitivity~since protective enamel is wearing away, you may feel a twinge of pain when you consume hot, cold, or sweet foods & drinks.  As more enamel wears away, teeth become increasingly sensitive.

*Discoloration~Teeth can become yellow as the dentin, the second layer of the tooth is exposed.

*Rounded teeth~Your teeth may have a rounded or “sand blasted” look.

*Transparency~Your front teeth may appear slightly transparent near the biting edges.

*Cracks~Small cracks & rough areas may appear at the edges of your teeth.

*Cupping~Small dents may appear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, & fillings might appear to be rising up out of the teeth.

What can I do to prevent tooth erosion?

You can help prevent tooth erosion from occurring by taking these simple steps:

1. Cut down on your consumption of carbonated beverages, sports & energy drinks & pure fruit juices.

2. Drink acidic drinks quickly & with a straw.  This helps prevent acid from coming in contact with your teeth.  Also, don’t swish these liquids around or hold them in your mouth for long periods of time.

3. After consuming acidic drinks, rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acids & wait @ least one hour before brushing your teeth.

4. Chew sugar-free gum, which helps your mouth produce more saliva to remineralize your teeth.

5. Brush with a soft toothbrush & be sure your toothpaste contains a high amount of fluoride.

6. Don’t let your child consume highly acidic drinks or fruit juices in his/her sippy cup or bottle.

How can I deal with the sensitivity caused by tooth erosion?

You can reduce sensitivity by using specially formulated toothpaste or over-the-counter enamel-building products.  However, always be sure to check with your dentist before you try any new products.

Tooth erosion impacts everyone in different ways.  Make sure you speak with your dentist about oral hygiene & find out what else you can to to protect yourself from tooth erosion.