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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Avoid Bad Breath for Good

Avoid Bad Breath for Good
In almost every social situation, there is one thing most people are concerned about: halitosis, better known as bad breath. It can be embarrassing for you, uncomfortable to other people, and potentially a deal breaker for a job interview or date. To make it even more difficult to manage, our bodies have a great way of blocking out constant smells, making it very hard to determine if we have bad breath before it’s too late.How do I know if I have bad breath?

You can easily test how your breath smells to others with this simple test. Lick part of your arm and smell it after about 10 seconds. Now, licking your arm in public may seem weird (and have its own social consequences), this test can give you a good indication of how your breath smells. However, it may not always be accurate. The best thing you can do is be aware of what causes bad breath and prevent it before it happens to you.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Hygiene The most common cause of bad breath is straightforward; you have a dirty mouth. Bacteria live in your mouth, and when you eat, they eat. These odors are made worse by your tongue, which acts like a fleshy dish sponge, absorbing food particles and bacterial byproducts.

If you think this is your issue–and it is best place to start–the best remedy is to brush and floss daily. This will help eliminate leftovers for the bacteria to eat. To further eliminate any odor, open your mouth and look at the back of your tongue. If looks like it’s covered in a white or brown substance, this could be the main source of your bad breath. Brush as far back on your tongue as you can with your toothbrush, or use a tongue scraper, which will do the job more efficiently.

Dry Mouth Saliva keeps the mouth clean by washing away bacteria, plaque, and keeping the acidic levels in your mouth at the proper level. If your mouth is chronically dry, bacteria can take over, leading to bad breath. If you are experiencing dry mouth, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Additionally, check to see if any medication you are taking causes dry mouth. If so, talk to your doctor about solutions or a potential change in medication, if possible.

Specific Types of Food There are certain types of food that cause bad breath. No matter what you do, you won’t be able to avoid the unwelcome baggage they carry. Coffee, tuna, onion, and garlic have a tendency to stick around even after you brush your teeth. For example, as garlic is digested, sulfur compounds permeate your lungs and skin, meaning there isn’t much you can do to hide the smell. For the sake of everyone around you, don’t go to hot yoga after eating a clove of garlic.

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When Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

When Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
Keep Your Toothbrush in Fighting ShapeEverything You Need to Know About Your Toothbrush

You hear it time and time again: Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It becomes so routine that you brush your teeth while juggling a few other tasks at the same time. How much time goes by before you notice the shape your toothbrush is in? Have you ever thought to yourself, “I don’t need to clean my toothbrush, my toothbrush cleans me!” The condition of your toothbrush is often the last thing you think about in your busy life, but it plays a significant factor in your oral health.

Symptoms of an Unclean, Older Toothbrush

The most common issue with an older toothbrush is effectiveness. When the bristles are frayed, its cleaning ability is compromised — leaving your teeth more exposed to bacteria.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should monitor and replace your toothbrush more often if you or a family member have:

A systemic disease that may be transmissible by blood or salivaA compromised immune system or low resistance to infection due to disease, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, etc.How to Disinfect Your ToothbrushRinse and air dry. The simplest way to keep your toothbrush clean: After every use, rinse it and keep it upright in an open area.Soak it in hydrogen peroxide.Boil it in hot water. This is another simple option, but be sure the toothbrush is completely cooled before handling/using. No one wants scalded gums.Use an ultra-violet light toothbrush sanitizer. These sanitizers made for toothbrushes (more specifically, electric toothbrush heads) are a good option, but studies show that while they do kill bacteria, they don’t have a distinct advantage over any other method.

  The ADA warns to be wary of any product that says it will do more than sanitize or reduce bacterial contamination. If you are interested in a toothbrush sanitation product, make sure it is Food and Drug Administration approved. There isn’t an obvious answer as to which method is preferred or best, so do what works for you.

Not Recommended Toothbrush CareMicrowave: While this idea makes sense on paper, the ADA doesn’t approve. It will most likely kill bacteria on your toothbrush, but zapping it can have adverse effects on the brush itself.Dishwasher: While this is an effective way to clean your toothbrush, the ADA states that this method will also compromise the quality of your brush.How Often Should I Change My Toothbrush?

For typical usage with no special circumstances, you should change your toothbrush every three to four months. If you see that your toothbrush bristles are frayed or beginning to fray, replace it. If your toothbrush seems to fray too fast, you are mostly likely brushing too hard — go easy on those teeth!

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Protect Your Teeth: Preventive Steps Toward Better Oral Health

Protect Your Teeth: Preventive Steps Toward Better Oral Health

Taking preventive measures to protect your teeth from decay is essential for maintaining your natural smile. While prevention includes maintaining good at-home oral hygiene practices and making it to your routine dental visits, there are additional steps you can take to help keep your teeth healthy, strong, and safeguarded against the harmful bacteria that leads to decay and cavities.

Some of the following preventive measures are commonly associated with protective treatments appropriate for children, but they can be just as beneficial for adult teeth. The next time you pop in for your regular exam, take some time to ask the doctor about whether they are right for you.

Sealants

Brushing and flossing cleans most of your teeth surfaces, but getting to all of the crevices — especially those located in the back molars and premolars — is difficult. Those tiny dips and pits are perfect for trapping food and bacteria, which often results in the formation of cavities.

Dental sealants provide a protective coating that keeps these areas free from food debris. They are made from a resin material that is used to coat the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. It is painted on and seals the nooks and crannies in the teeth, so that food and other plaque-causing materials that cause cavities are kept out.

The procedure for applying sealants is simple, painless, fast, and takes only one visit. First the decay is removed from your teeth, and they are thoroughly cleaned and dried. Next the sealant material is painted on the chewing surface. It will naturally bond to the tooth on its own; however, a special light may be used to speed the process, helping the sealant to harden in just a couple of minutes.

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Am I at Risk? The Question That’s on Everyone’s Lips

Am I at Risk? The Question That’s on Everyone’s Lips

Speaking, eating, and smooching — these are all daily activities that draw attention to your lips. You most likely catch a glimpse of them every time you look in the mirror throughout the day, like when you brush your teeth during your morning routine and then again before going to bed. With their high visibility, you might guess that identifying lip cancer in its earliest stages would be common, but you might be surprised at how often early signs go unnoticed.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and according to the American Dental Association, 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. With 60% of the U.S. population visiting the dentist each year, where there mouths are closely examined and oral cancer screenings are done routinely, the dental community is the first line of defense for early detection.

What Is the Difference Between Lip and Oral Cancer?

Lip cancer is one kind of oral cancer. Simply put, cancer is the rapid and uncontrollable growth of invasive cells that damage surrounding tissue. When this occurs on or in the mouth, it is referred to as oral cancer. A notable difference between lip cancer and cancer that occurs inside the mouth and throat is the added risk factor of prolonged exposure to the sun. Lip cancer is often caused by the harmful effects of ultraviolet light, and the lower lip specifically has the greatest risk because it has more exposure to the sun.

Risk Factors

While sun exposure increases the likelihood of suffering from lip cancer, there are other factors that increase your risk for oral cancer, most of which are avoidable.

Tobacco: Tobacco use of any kind increases your chances of getting oral cancer.Alcohol: Heavy alcohol use and abuse has been found to be a risk factor.Sun exposure: Individuals who have regular, prolonged exposure to the sun are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the lips.HPV: HPV is tied to the development of cervical cancer and is also a risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancers.Dentures: Though the connection is debated, some believe that poorly fit dentures that cause long-term irritation of the mouth lining may lead to cancer. It is important that patients who wear dentures have the fit checked regularly, along with a regular oral cancer screening, to minimize their risk.Signs of Oral Cancer

Cancer of the mouth reveals itself as a growth or sore in the mouth or throat that doesn’t go away with time. Other symptoms include:

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Nine Tips for Oral Health Care That’s Earth Friendly

greenoralroutine

With spring in the air and Earth Day reminding us of how lucky we are to live on such a beautiful, lush planet, many of us are reflecting on what we can do to protect the natural beauty that surrounds us and how we can conserve. On a daily basis, we can make a difference by doing big things like planting trees and volunteering to clean up waste in our local communities. But we can also make a big difference by incorporating small changes into our daily routines.

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Understanding the Dental-Health/Whole-Health Connection

fullbodycare

When you think about visiting the dentist, you most likely think about keeping your teeth white and straight, and having an attractive smile. What you may not realize is that maintaining good oral health has value beyond the obvious aesthetic rewards of a beautiful smile. Dedication to maintaining good at-home oral hygiene practices and making regular visits to the dentist protect your overall health and can help you avoid serious health complications and disease.

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Understanding the Dental-Health/Whole-Health Connection

fullbodycare

When you think about visiting the dentist, you most likely think about keeping your teeth white and straight, and having an attractive smile. What you may not realize is that maintaining good oral health has value beyond the obvious aesthetic rewards of a beautiful smile. Dedication to maintaining good at-home oral hygiene practices and making regular visits to the dentist protect your overall health and can help you avoid serious health complications and disease.

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An Open Letter to Beer Lovers and Brew Enthusiasts

beer

With the joy and revelry of Oktoberfest fading quickly into the past and your lederhosen and suspenders freshly packed away for another year, the post-festivity blues can begin to set in. Even with an array of seasonal holidays on their way, none offer 16 days of merriment in honor of your favorite libation.

Don’t despair! The memories you made enjoying large varieties of beer while eating schweinebraten, yodeling, and dancing the polka will last — and so will your smile after you learn about the post-merriment oral health benefits you received.

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Do Whitening Toothpastes really work?

toothpaste

The effectiveness of whitening toothpastes on your teeth will depend on why they don’t look white in the first place. Whitening toothpastes chemically or mechanically help to remove stain on the tooth surface. There is no evidence they can whiten teeth from internal discoloration. The only whitening agents in toothpastes are abrasives that help rub off stains from coffee, tea, or red wine for example. If you believe your teeth are not as white as they should be, Desert Valley Dentistry in Pocatello, ID can advise you on what whitening method would work best for you. Because most toothpastes contain mild abrasives, they may not be strong enough to remove heavy external stains that need to be scaled and polishes off professionally at our office.

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