Should You Keep Flossing?

Should You Keep Flossing?
Flossing: In or Out?

It’s been six months since your last teeth cleaning. You arrive at your appointment and get called to head to the back by your hygienist. As she begins cleaning your teeth, she asks the question we all dread. “How often do you floss?” If you’re like many people, you might stretch the truth, or justify telling a white lie since you DID use a toothpick after dinner a few nights back.

Maybe now—lucky you!–you won’t have to answer that question any longer. Just recently the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services stated that flossing has been not been proven to be effective, and removed it from their dietary guidelines.

Well, slow down, my friend. You’re not off the hook just yet.

While this bold statement is technically true, there are still a few things to consider. First, the guidelines don’t say that flossing is bad or ineffective; they’re just saying there isn’t enough evidence in studies to prove it does help. The difference may feel like a matter of semantics, so for your own peace of mind, ask any dentist if you should floss. But you probably already know what their answer will be.

Your teeth consist of five surfaces, and brushing your teeth will hit all but two. Flossing will take care of the two remaining surfaces (the surfaces between your teeth) and ensure that plaque does not become tartar, which eats away at your teeth and gums. While flossing can help prevent tooth decay, a study by the Central for Disease Control shows that only 30% of the U.S. population flosses daily.

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Five Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

Five Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

At one point in time, maybe even only a few years ago, sleep apnea was not well-known among the public. Now, thankfully, public awareness of sleep apnea is much higher. After all, it is a dangerous condition, and because it is a disease that affects sleep, many people who have sleep apnea aren’t even aware of it.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you will temporarily stop breathing during the night—up to hundreds of times! The health implications are quite serious, as sleep apnea is linked to many cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and heart arrhythmias. So if you have sleep apnea, it’s important to get treatment.

So what are some signs or risk factors for sleep apnea?

You’re overweight.

Body weight is linked to obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by tissues in the upper throat collapsing, constricting the flow of air to the lungs. Heavier people can have tissue built up around their neck and throat; these tissues fall back and obstruct the airway when they’re lying down.

You have high blood pressure.

When you stop breathing during an episode of sleep apnea, less oxygen gets to your brain. Since your brain needs to maintain sufficient oxygen levels at all times, this can lead to spikes in blood pressure as your body tries to compensate for low oxygen levels by pumping more blood, faster, to your brain.

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Four Foods That Can Damage Your Teeth

Four Foods That Can Damage Your Teeth

Last month, we looked at foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, but whiteness isn’t the only measure of healthy teeth. There are lots of foods that can chip your teeth or damage dental work in your mouth when you eat them. What are some of these problem foods? Your Pocatello, ID dentist can warn you about some of the biggest culprits when it comes to chipped teeth, loose fillings, and broken crowns.

Ice

On a hot summer day, it’s great to fill a tall glass with ice and pour in some soda, lemonade, or tea to help cool down. You’re right if you assume that sugary drinks are bad for your teeth (they are!), but they’re bad in an over-the-long-term kind of way. In fact, lemonade and soda are also quite acidic, which isn’t good for your tooth enamel, either. However, it’s the ice that can actually chip your teeth if you chew it. Other hard foods can damage your teeth, too, so be careful when you’re eating things like baguettes, hard pretzels, and biscotti.

Popcorn

Lots of people enjoy buttered popcorn while sitting in a cool, air-conditioned movie theater, but unpopped kernels can definitely ruin the fun. They’re hard enough to chip a tooth if you crunch down on one of them by accident or on purpose. However, popcorn actually poses a double threat. The thin shell that covers the kernel can actually get stuck between your teeth or between your tooth and gum, giving bacteria a source of food and promoting tooth decay.

Fruits with pits

What do olives, cherries, dates, and peaches all have in common? They all have pits, of course, and those pits can damage teeth. If you accidentally bite into a pit, you can definitely crack or loosen a crown—or damage regular tooth enamel.

Candy

Pretty much every type of candy can damage your teeth. Hard candies can chip teeth if you bite on them or chew them up; if you suck on them and let them dissolve slowly, you’re basically giving your teeth (and the bacteria in your mouth) a sugar bath. Chewy candies, like caramels or taffy, can stick to your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities, or stick to fillings and crowns, loosening them. But sour candies are probably the most damaging of all because they combine three dangers to your teeth all in one. They’re loaded with sugar and they stick to your teeth, but the sour flavor actually comes from acids, which eat away at tooth enamel.

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Foods and Drinks That Stain Your Teeth

Foods and Drinks That Stain Your Teeth

By this point, it’s pretty clear that people want white teeth. As a country, we spend $1.4 billion on consumer teeth whitening products, and the teeth whitening industry generates over $11 billion a year in revenue. We’re not complaining that people are willing to pay to have white teeth, but it does beg the question—what’s staining our teeth in the first place?

Foods and drinks cause staining in a couple ways. Foods that are high in acid tend to strip away enamel, which exposes the more vulnerable dentin to staining. Many foods—typically ones with natural bright or rich colors—contain chromogens, substances that adhere to tooth enamel and stain it.

Coffee and Tea: Whether you drink coffee or tea to give yourself a quick pick-up, you’re staining your teeth. The acids in these drinks can strip enamel off your teeth—and leave dark stains behind as well. Wine: Most people think of red wine as a culprit for staining, and it is. It’s acidic and contains stain-causing chromogens. However, most people don’t realize that white wine stains teeth—it’s much more acidic, so it strips tooth enamel and leaves them vulnerable to staining from anything else you’re eating at the time. Rich Sauces: Sauces that have a rich color—think tomato sauces and curries—combine both acidity and stain-causing pigments that can darken tooth dentin. Food Coloring: It’s not difficult to imagine why foods high in food coloring stain teeth. After all, they have added chemicals whose sole purpose is to turn the food a bright color! Popsicles and hard candies are big culprits here. Sugary Drinks: Sports drinks, energy drinks, and soda all contain acids and high amounts of sugar that are damaging to your teeth. They can leave your teeth vulnerable to stains from any food coloring in the drink—and cause cavities as well. Balsamic Vinegar: All vinegars are acidic, but balsamic vinegar combines the acidity with darker coloring that can stain dentin. Berries: Cranberries, blueberries, and cherries all contain lots of chromogens and can stain your teeth. In general, if a food (or drink) will leave a stain that is tough to remove from fabric, chances are it will stain your teeth as well.

We’re not recommending that you cut all these foods and drinks out of your diet. It’s just not practical. However, if you want to keep your teeth whiter for longer stretches of time, there are some tips you can use:

Avoid sugary drinks and highly processed sugary treats. They tend to cause tooth decay as well as stains.Drink through a straw. If you’re going to have a sugary or acidic drink, using a straw can largely bring the drink past your teeth, reducing the risk of stains.Brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, or even chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking these trouble foods. It helps remove the stain-causing compounds from your mouth.

You can always use consumer whitening products to reduce stains on your teeth, and in fact, we’ve blogged about them recently! However, if you really want to whiten your teeth as much as possible, we’d love to talk to you and explain the results you can achieve with professional whitening.

To learn more about how to reduce the risk of stains or to schedule an appointment, call your Pocatello, ID dentist at 208.252.7163 today!
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Leave No Tooth Behind

Leave No Tooth Behind
Have you ever watched shows like Lost or movies like Cast Away and wonder how the teeth of these people must feel like after an extended stay on a remote island? Fortunately, there are a few things they (or you, if you go camping or get stranded) can do to help maintain a healthy smile when you don’t have access to a dentist or minty toothpaste.

When you don’t have a toothbrush and floss, the concept of oral hygiene remains the same. Keep food debris from sticking around inside your mouth, and agitate the bacteria so plaque and tartar don’t develop.

In a bind, you can use a clean cloth or part of your t-shirt. Put the cloth on your finger and rub your teeth and gums as you would with a toothbrush. This method is good for minor stays in the wilderness, but won’t provide optimal care in the long run.

Use What’s Around You In the unfortunate situation you are without proper care for an indeterminate amount of time, you can find or adapt natural tools from your surroundings to clean your teeth. Chewing stick. Find a tree that has fibrous branches. Break off a toothbrush sized twig. Chew on one end to fray that part of the twig, which can now be used in lieu of an actual toothbrush. As strange as this may sound, a lot of cultures around the world still use chewing sticks for their dental hygiene. Due to the chemical composition of some trees (apple, fig, bamboo, and many more), they can help protect your teeth when chewed on. Small bones. If you are hunting for food, save some of the smaller bones. They can be used as toothpicks, removing food debris from between your teeth. Hair. This may seem gross, but if you didn’t bat an eye at small bones, you may as well try this trick too. If you have hair is long enough, you can use it as a substitute for floss. Water. Rinse with water (sterilized, if possible) to keep your mouth clean after brushing. Avoid problem foods. Without access to proper dental care, it’s best to avoid foods that can damage your teeth. Try not to eat fruits with a high acidity level, or foods that easily get stuck in your teeth.

Now you know how Tom Hanks kept his smile going stuck on an island for three years. (And you thought it was Hollywood make up artists?) While these options may sound less than appealing, they could be the difference between having healthy or damaged teeth while out in the wilderness. That and no one likes the feeling of fuzzy teeth.

If you’ve just returned from the wild, or if you’d just like to stay up to date on your dental visits, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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