Cleaning the spaces between your teeth and along your gums with dental floss is as important to your oral health as cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush. Just like you brush your teeth every day, flossing should be part of your daily routine.
To better understand why flossing is so important, Richard H. Price, DMD, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA) and a former clinical instructor at Boston University Dental School, compares it to cleaning your home: “You cannot effectively vacuum a house with only one attachment,” he says. “You need other attachments to get into the nooks and crannies. That’s what floss does.”
The Benefits of Flossing to Your Oral Health
There are many benefits to regularly flossing your teeth. Dental floss can help clear food debris and plaque from the spaces between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. As a result, flossing helps prevent gum or periodontal diseases, tooth decay, and bad breath.
There are certain things to keep in mind to get the most out of flossing:
- Use dental floss or an interdental cleaner every day.
- Floss at least once
With a prestigious London postcode and situated only a stone’s throw away from the world famous music studio, Abbey Road Dental has a location and name that’s world renowned.
The clinic is small but perfectly formed and sits above a café and bar in the road made famous by the Beatles. Whilst respecting the privacy of any rock star clients – ‘we do see the occasional celebrity who uses the recording studios down the road, but our lips remain sealed’, says practice principal Diana Spencer – the bijou practice is anything but anonymous when it comes to its approach to patient care.
‘We are small, but very special,’ Diana says of the practice that opened its doors in June 2011. ‘We offer everything that could be asked for in a modern practice but, because of our size, we are a close-knit and mutually supportive group. We know all our patients by name and they are part of our family. No one is an anonymous face – neither staff nor patients – and I pretty well know all of
As humans, we tend to believe things that may not necessarily be true because they fit our view of the world. These “lies,” or innocent self-deceptions, may seem harmless, but can in fact be very costly to a professional practice in terms of time, money, and satisfaction. As advisors to dentists, we have found the following to be the most common “lies” dentists tell themselves:
1. I am a doctor, not a business owner. Success is guaranteed.
Many dentists struggle with the challenges of owning a business. Some will proudly tell you that they didn’t become a dentist to make a profit, but rather to help people by treating dental diseases. Being a financially successful dentist and being a good doctor are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in order to be there to treat your patients, you or your employer must make a profit. In today’s world you must devote time to the business side of your practice.
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2. Budgets are a waste of
There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a cold glass of ice water on a hot day – unless that first sip brings a jolt of discomfort to the mouth. The culprit? Tooth sensitivity.
“You can notice tooth sensitivity while eating hot or cold foods, drinking cold or hot beverages, or breathing cold air,” says Craig Valentine, DMD, a spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry.
What’s Behind Teeth Sensitivity
Each tooth is made up of dentin, a tissue at its core, which is covered by a protective coating of enamel. If the enamel wears away or decays and exposes the dentin, the tooth (or teeth) can experience sensations including pain.
Gum recession caused by brushing too hard or with an incorrect technique can lead to dentin exposure, as can having cracked or chipped teeth or grinding and clenching the teeth. A medical condition, like bulimia or acid reflux, can also be a cause. Even diet may play a role – acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons and beverages like sports and energy drinks can dissolve enamel.
Preventing Enamel Loss and Teeth Sensitivity
“Damage to enamel
Has a painful past experience given you a fear of the dentist? Do you fear getting bad news about your dental health? Whatever the reason, you’re not alone — many Americans are simply skipping visits to the dentist. Overall, about 65 percent of us go to the dentist, but in some states, that number is much lower, even as low as 51.9 percent in Mississippi.
This is more than unfortunate — it can be downright dangerous, because regular dental visits are a key component of overall dental health. “We use our teeth multiple times a day, every day,” says Jennifer K. Shin, DDS, a dentist in private practice in New York City. “They take on a lot of abuse, so coming in twice a year gives us an opportunity to assess any changes that can be easily addressed. If problems are caught early, the solutions are easy, quick, and inexpensive. But a cavity left undiagnosed can lead to a toothache, requiring much more extensive and costly treatments.”
Why We Fear the Dentist
Why are people avoiding dental visits? The answer includes a wide range of reasons:
- Cost. High prices are the major factor
Most kids don’t light up at the idea of going to the dentist (and that goes for many adults, too).
But regular dental care is a must for all children. According to the American Dental Association, kids should visit the dentist within six months after their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. What can you expect at your child’s firstdentist appointment?
- The dentist will examine your child’s baby teeth to look for tooth decay or other dental health issues
- He will assess your child’s risk for tooth decay
- He should teach you how to properly clean your child’s teeth
- You and your child’s dentist can talk about habits, such as thumb sucking and misuse of sippy cups, which can harm your child’s teeth
The Basics of Pediatric Dental Care
After your child’s first dentist appointment, he or she should continue to have regular check-ups at least every six months. In some cases, such as with children who are at increased risk of tooth decay, your child’s dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
Regular dentist appointments can help reduce your child’s chances of having cavities since his teeth will be cleaned to
Cavities, also called caries or tooth decay, develop when plaque damages the enamel that protects the outer surface of the teeth.
If you have cavities, it is important to have them treated by a dentist as soon as possible. Without prompt treatment, cavities can eventually progress and affect the delicate tissue and nerves deep within your teeth. When cavities are treated early, serious complications, such as nerve damage and tooth loss can be prevented.
How Are Cavities Treated?
If your dental hygienist or dentist finds a cavity, your dentist can treat the cavity by removing the decayed tissue and placing a dental filling, special material put in the tooth to protect it from further damage and decay.
Before removing your cavity, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to numb the surrounding tissue. A dental drill will then be used to remove the decayed portion of your tooth and prepare it for a filling.
Laser therapy or a procedure called air abrasion can also be used to get rid of cavities.
Dental Filling Options
Fillings have come a long way over the years, and today there are many options beyond
Like cavities and gum disease, many dental problems develop gradually after months (or years!) of dental-health neglect. But sometimes, pain or sensitivity in your teeth can come on suddenly, and you may need immediate dental care, either at the emergency room or from your dentist.
It’s not always easy to know whether a tooth, gum, or mouth problem requires emergency care — or what to do about it. In fact, most Americans are unprepared to handle a dental health emergency, according to a survey of 1,000 participants.
Think your mouth issue is a dental health 911? Here’s a handy guide to situations that are generally considered dental emergencies:
- Lip or tongue bite with excessive bleeding. If you accidentally bite your lip, tongue, or other soft tissue in your mouth, clean the area and apply a cold compress to decrease swelling. If the bleeding is severe, or will not stop, go to the emergency room.
- Broken or cracked tooth. In the case of a broken or cracked tooth, call your dentist immediately. Until you can get to your dentist’s office, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress outside the affected area.
- Damaged braces.
Depending on your oral health history and your dentist’s preferences, you will probably need to have dental X-rays taken from time to time. Dental X-rays allow your dentist to more closely monitor the health of your teeth and gums, so that changes and problems can be detected early, when treatment is most effective.
What Are Dental X-rays?
Dental X-rays are special images that allow your dentist to get a closer look at some of the structures inside your mouth, including your teeth, the roots of your teeth, your bite, and your facial bones.
The process involves placing an X-ray film in a piece of cardboard or plastic, which your dentist will ask you to bite down on to hold the film against the area he or she wants the X-ray to capture. Depending on how many angles or areas of your mouth your dentist wants to see on X-ray, this may be repeated several times. While the X-ray pictures are being captured, you will wear a protective apron to shield your body from the X-ray machine’s radiation.
Your dentist may use dental X-rays to look for:
- Tooth decay, also called cavities or
Too many Americans lack access to preventive dental care, a new study reports, and large differences exist among racial and ethnic groups.
For the study, researchers analyzed telephone survey data collected from nearly 650,000 middle-aged and older adults between 1999 and 2008. The investigators found that the number who received preventive dental care increased during that time.
However, 23 percent to 43 percent of Americans did not receive preventive dental care in 2008, depending on race or ethnicity. Rates of preventive care were 77 percent for Asian Americans, 76 percent for whites, 62 percent for Hispanics and Native Americans, and 57 percent for blacks, the results showed.
The study was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
Factors such as income, education and having health insurance explained the differences in access to preventive dental care among whites and other racial groups except blacks, according to a journal news release.
The lower rate of preventive dental care among blacks may be due to a lack of awareness about dental health and dental care services, and to an inadequate number of culturally competent dental care professionals, suggested Bei Wu, a professor
Dental cleanings and X-rays are safe for pregnant women, a U.S. obstetrician/gynecologist group says.
The group also advised ob-gyns to perform routine dental health assessments at women’s first prenatal visit and to encourage their patients to see a dentist during pregnancy.
“These new recommendations address the questions and concerns that many ob-gyns, dentists and our patients have about whether it is safe to have dental work during pregnancy,” Dr. Diana Cheng, vice chairwoman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, said in a college news release.
Dental health problems are associated with other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and respiratory infections.
“We want ob-gyns to routinely counsel all of their patients, including pregnant women, about the importance of oral health to their overall health,” Cheng said.
The college noted that 35 percent of all women say they haven’t seen a dentist in the past year and about 40 percent of pregnant women in the United States have cavities or gum disease. Physical changes caused by pregnancy can cause changes in teeth and gums. Dental problems during pregnancy are most common among black women, smokers and
Heavy consumption of diet soda can damage teeth as badly as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, a new study contends.
“You look at it side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,” said Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.
Methamphetamine, crack cocaine and soda — sweetened or not — are all highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems, Bassiouny said in a study published recently in the journal General Dentistry.
The acid in soda is in the form of citric acid and phosphoric acid, Bassiouny said. Without good dental hygiene, constant exposure can cause erosion and significant oral damage, he said.
In his study, he found that a woman in her 30s who drank 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years experienced tooth rot and decay remarkably similar to that suffered by a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old habitual crack cocaine user.
The younger man had used methamphetamine for three years, and often downed two or three cans of regular soda
Vitamin D might help prevent tooth decay, a new review of existing studies published in the journal Nutrition Reviews found.
The review includes data from 3,000 children enrolled in 24 clinical trials published from the 1920s to the 1980s. Overall, the trials showed that vitamin D supplementation led to a 50 percent drop in the incidence of tooth decay, perhaps because vitamin D helps the body absorb the tooth-building calcium it needs.
In the trials, the vitamin was delivered either via supplemental UV radiation or by diet products, such as cod liver oil, which contain it.
Philippe Hujoel, PhD, DDS, of the University of Washington, conducted the trial, saying his main goal was to summarize the existing research, so dental professionals could “take a fresh look at this vitamin D question.”
But Hujoel’s results come as no surprise to researchers who have also studied vitamin D and dental health. “The findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health,” Michael Holick, PhD, MD, professor of medicine at the Boston University Medical Center told Science Daily. He went on to say that children who are vitamin D deficient experience late
Something to think about next time you’re in the dentist’s chair: Ancient humans had healthier teeth than people do today, researchers say.
This decline in oral health over the past 7,500 years is the result of changes in oral bacteria due to human evolution and industrialization, the study authors said. These changes have led to chronic oral and other health problems, according to the report published Feb. 18 in Nature Genetics.
“The composition of oral bacteria changed markedly with the introduction of farming, and again around 150 years ago,” explained study leader Alan Cooper, a professor and director of the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, in a center news release. “With the introduction of processed sugar and flour in the Industrial Revolution, we can see a dramatically decreased diversity in our oralbacteria, allowing domination by caries [cavities]-causing strains. The modern mouth basically exists in a permanent disease state.”
The international team of researchers examined DNA that had been preserved in tartar — calcified dental plaque — found on 34 prehistoric northern European human skeletons. They used these samples to analyze how oral bacteria changed from the Stone Age to the last
For adults, losing teeth is bad enough, but tooth loss is also associated with several risk factors for heart disease, a large international study suggests.
These heart disease-related risk factors include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 16,000 people in 39 countries who provided information about their remaining number of teeth and the frequency of gum bleeds. About 40 percent of the participants had fewer than 15 teeth and 16 percent had no teeth, while 25 percent reported gum bleeds.
For every decrease in the number of teeth, there was an increase in the levels of a harmful enzyme that promotes inflammation and hardening of the arteries. The study authors also noted that along with fewer teeth came increases in other heart disease risk markers, including “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and higher blood sugar, blood pressure and waist size.
People with fewer teeth were also more likely to have diabetes, with the risk increasing 11 percent for every significant decrease in the number of teeth, the investigators found.
Being a current or former smoker was also linked to tooth loss, according to the
It’s something we all learned as kids, and we do it twice (or more) a day. So when it comes time to brush teeth, surely we’re not making any toothbrush mistakes … or are we? Actually, dental health experts say that improper brushing technique is more common than most people realize. And the result is that healthy teeth are not as common as they should be.
One of the first things you can do, says John Dodes, D.D.S., a dentist in Forest Hills, N.Y., and author of Healthy Teeth: A User’s Guide, is recognize that brushing isn’t the only requirement for having healthy teeth. “A common misconception with oral care habits is that brushing is enough, when in fact brushing alone misses more than half the germs in your mouth,” he says. “People also forget that it’s important to clean between the teeth, as well as your tongue, cheeks, and the floor of your mouth. Your mouth has more germs than [there are] people on earth, so it’s important to make sure you brush, floss, and rinse to ensure you’re cleaning every surface.”
Here are more top toothbrush mistakes people make:
- Using the wrong
Does drinking an ice cold beverage cause dental discomfort? Or do you find yourself wincing when you brush or floss? You could have what’s known as tooth sensitivity.
You don’t have to put up with the pain, however. There are things you can do to lessen tooth sensitivity and improve your oral health, says Leslie Seldin, DDS, a dentist in New York City and an associate professor of dentistry at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
Here’s why you could be experiencing this mouth malady — and steps you can take to find relief for sensitive teeth:
1. You brush with too much gusto. Sometimes tooth sensitivity comes from brushing with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Over time, you can wear down the protective layers of your teeth and expose microscopic hollow tubes or canals that lead to your dental nerves. When these tubes are exposed to extreme temperatures or acidic or sticky foods, tooth sensitivity and discomfort can result. The simplest solution is to switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles and to be gentler when brushing.
2. You eat acidic foods. If the pathways to your nerves are exposed, acidic foods such as tomato
Toothaches may be small in size — but they can cause a colossal amount of pain.
“Pain is your body’s way of telling you to go to a doctor,” says John Dodes, DDS, a dentist in Forest Hills, N.Y., and author of Healthy Teeth. If you have a severe or persistent toothache or other mouth malady, you should visit your dentist in case it’s a serious dental health issue that needs treatment.
However, some minor toothaches and pains can be treated right at home (or at least mitigated while you wait to see your dentist). Next time your mouth is troubling you, give these home remedies a shot.
Toothache Cures From Your Kitchen Cabinet
Grab some clove oil. Oil of clove is an age-old home remedy. It works thanks to the chemical eugenol contained in the oil, which has anesthetic and antibacterial properties. To use it for tooth pain, soak a cotton ball with a mixture made of two to three drops of clove oil and ¼ teaspoon of olive oil. Put the cotton ball in your mouth near the tooth that hurts and bite down to keep it in place. One caution:
What you eat affects your mouth not only by building healthier teeth and gums, but also by helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Learn how to eat the best diet for your teeth, including the foods to eat, beverages to drink, and what to avoid.
What you eat affects your mouth not only by building healthier teeth and gums, but also by helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease. While a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats will benefit your overall oral health, there are a few standout foods and nutrients that can really boost it.
Teeth and Calcium
Mom said it when you were in grade school, and she was right on this one: Drinking milk builds strong bones and teeth. Calcium is vital in childhood and through your teens, when teeth are formed, but the value of this nutrient doesn’t stop once you get your wisdom teeth. A diet with adequate calcium may prevent against tooth decay, says Dr. Leonard Anglis, DDS. When a diet is low in calcium, as a majority of Americans’ diets are, the body leeches the mineral from teeth
Anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis, alcohol-free — your pharmacy’s oral health section has dozens of mouth rinse products to choose from, all promising to protect your teeth and gums and freshen your breath.
But how can you know which claims are true? And do you really need to use a mouth rinse — or is good brushing and flossing enough?
“There are three major categories [of mouth rinses], from a consumer perspective,” says Michelle Henshaw, DDS, MPH and assistant dean for community partnerships and extramural affairs at Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. These include mouth rinse products that contain fluoride, anti-gingivitis and anti-plaque mouth rinses, and cosmetic mouth rinse products. Some of these mouth rinses are available over-the-counter; others will require a prescription.
Here’s what you should know when shopping for a mouth rinse.
Fluoride-Containing Mouth Rinses
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by helping your body strengthen enamel — the white, harder-than-bone substance that covers teeth. But most people will not require fluoride-containing mouth rinses, says Dr. Henshaw. “You pretty much get that from your fluoridated toothpaste,” she says. But, there are some exceptions.
“People with xerostomia (abnormal dryness of