Keep Your Gums Clean and Stay Healthy

Gingivitis might make you want to play the blues too.  After all Puffy, red, inflamed, bleeding gums are not attractive sight.  These are generally symptoms of the gum disease gingivitis.  Gingivitis is an infection of the gums that causes them to become inflamed.  If not treated it can progress to periodontitis which is a destructive form of gum disease.  Gum disease today is less common than in the past, however, it still affects roughly one in ten American adults.  Keeping your gums in good shape is an important part of your oral health.  They hold your teeth in place, keep your mouth in working order and ensure your smile keeps looking great.  For all of these reasons it is important to take care of your gums.

Gums and Your Overall Health

There are many studies that suggest your gum health affects your overall health.  For example, moderate to severe gum disease has been shown to increase inflammation levels throughout your body.  Several studies show that inflammation from severe gum disease may be linked to strokes as well as heart disease.  Research shows that gum health may also have an effect on the health of your lungs and respiratory tract.  Keeping your gums clean can help prevent respiratory tract infections that result from inhaling bacteria that have accumulated in your mouth.  Your gums are what keep your teeth securely in place.  Severe gum disease can weaken your gums grip and possibly cause you to lose teeth.  When you lose your teeth it may become harder for you to eat.  Chewing problems can lead to poor nutrition, which can cause other problems such as exhaustion and dizziness.  Your emotional health may be linked to your gums as well.  Your smile is your calling card to the world.  In the United States, dentists pull millions of teeth a year and one of the most common reactions to noticeable tooth loss is embarrassment.

Tips For Keeping Your Gums Healthy

The basics to keeping your gums healthy begins with brushing your teeth.  Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste.  Pay special attention to your gum line, ensuring that you remove any plaque buildup.  Keep an eye on your toothbrush and be sure to replace it once it begins to wear out.  You should be replacing your toothbrush about every three to four months.  Floss after you brush.  You should be flossing at least twice a day to keep bacteria from building up between your teeth.  Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash.  These mouthwashes are a good way to ensure that you wipe out any bacteria left over after you finish brushing and flossing.  Schedule regular checkups and cleanings with your dentists.  As a rule of thumb you should be seeing your dentist at least twice a year to have your teeth professionally cleaned.  Keep your dentist up to date on your overall health.  Changes in other areas of your body may put you at a higher risk of developing severe gum disease.  Think about cutting back on sugary snacks and drinks.  Soda is terrible for your teeth and gums, and candy bars aren’t helping matters either.  If you are a smoker, quit.  Gum disease is one of the many harmful side-effects of smoking tobacco.

When I was younger I did not take great care of my teeth.  Looking back on it now, that was one of the terrible decisions of my youth.  Thankfully my teeth and gums never got seriously infected or damaged.  However, I do know what it is like to live with gingivitis.  It can be a terribly embarrassing disease.  You will steer clear of some of your favorite foods out of the fear that they may make your gums bleed.  Even soft foods will sometimes cause enough irritation to draw blood.  Looking in the mirror every morning and seeing those puffy red gums in my mouth was a daily reminder of my failure to keep my mouth clean.  When I finally decided to turn things around I found out that it really was not that hard.  Thankfully, the cure for gingivitis is merely brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash twice a day everyday.  After about two weeks my gums had stared to clear up and I instantly felt better about myself.  I stopped worrying about eating certain foods or the way my gums looked when I smiled, and my breath didn’t stink anymore.  Having healthy gums is not that difficult.  You just have to apply yourself to making sure you brush, floss, use mouthwash twice a day and see your dentist biannually for professional cleanings.  Having healthy gums is an important part of your oral health.  So buck up and take it seriously.

Teeth Whitening: Restore Your Smile

One of the hottest new trends in the field of dentistry is teeth whitening.  As people become more and more focused on their looks, they try to find ways to improve any defects they see in themselves.  Among the most popular keywords used in searches on Google is the term ”teeth whitening,” so getting whiter teeth is indeed quite high on the priority list of a lot of people.

A simple and easy way to improve your looks is to restore your teeth to a pearly white shine.  Teeth whitening has become a common and popular dental procedure.  People with healthy teeth and gums are the best candidates for whitening.  People whose teeth are slightly yellowed can expect the best results.  In certain cases the discoloration is found on the inside of the tooth and cannot be remedied by simple at-home whitening kits.  However, those home kits do work wonders for the majority of people looking for a whiter smile.  If your teeth are discolored there are many different whitening options for you to investigate.  Consult with your dentist and decide which method will give you back the bright white smile you deserve.

Teeth Whitening Methods

One simple method to whiten your teeth is to purchase a whitening toothpaste.  All toothpastes help remove stains from teeth because they all contain mild abrasives.  However, some toothpastes are specially formulated to actually help whiten your teeth.  They contain gentle polishing or other chemical agents that help with stain removal.  Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach.  Whitening toothpastes can lighten your teethes’ color by about one shade.

Another way to whiten your teeth is to buy over the counter whitening strips and gels.  Whitening gels are clear, peroxide based, gels applied with a small brush directly to the surface of your teeth.  You are generally instructed to do this twice per day for two weeks.  Initial results may be seen as soon as several days after you begin the treatment and will last about four months.  Whitening strips are thin, almost invisible, strips coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel.  The strips are generally supposed to be applied for thirty minuets twice a day, for about two weeks.  Results are similar to those of the whitening gels.

Among the newest teeth whitening products are whitening rinses.  Like most normal mouth rinses they freshen breath and kill bacteria.  But these whitening rinses also include ingredients that whiten teeth.  According to manufacturers, it takes twelve weeks to  see results.  The reason it takes so long to see results is that the mouthwash is only in contact with your teeth for sixty seconds as you swish it around in your mouth.  Because it has such little contact with your teeth, many experts do not believe these rinses are as effective as gels or strips.

Tray based whitening systems can be bought either over the counter or from your dentist.  These systems involve filling a mouth-guard like tray with a gel whitening solution.  Users then wear the tray for a certain period of time, generally several hours a day, or during the night.  They are supposed to do this for at least for weeks and sometimes longer depending on the extent of the discoloration.

The quickest, safest, and most surefire way to whiten your teeth is to set up an in office appointment with your dentist to undergo a professional in office whitening procedure.  During an in office treatment, the whitening solution is applied directly to the teeth.  These products are generally used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser.  Results will be seen after one thirty to sixty minuet treatment, but, to see dramatic improvements, several treatments are usually necessary.  While this type of treatment is the most effective, it is also the most expensive.

Risk Associated With Teeth Whitening

There are two side effects that most commonly accompany whitening treatments.  First is an increase in tooth sensitivity.  Tooth sensitivity usually occurs during the early stages of the treatment.  The second side effect most commonly seen with tooth whitening is mild irritation of the soft tissue, especially the gums.  This irritation generally results from ill-fitting mouthpiece trays rather than from the solution itself.  Both of these conditions usually disappear one to three days after stopping the treatment.

 

I have some experience with the teeth whitening process.  When I lost my baby teeth my four front teeth came in terribly stained.  It was awfully embarrassing as I started to hit puberty.  I hated to smile, and rarely showed my teeth to anyone.  After consulting my dentist, my parents picked up just about every over the counter whitening product on the market.  None of them worked for me.  We scheduled an appointment with my dentist and underwent a professional treatment in his office.  Nada.  Nothing.  I was kind of depressed.  It seemed that nothing would work for me.  We eventually learned that my discoloration was deep inside of my teeth and the only cure would be veneers.  Veneers are extremely expensive but they were the only option that worked for me.  Today I am happy and sporting a beautiful smile.  Most people who want to whiten their teeth are not as unlucky as me.  Chances are that over the counter methods will work for you.  They are cheap and readily accessible.  If those do not work talk to your dentist and schedule an appointment to have them professionally whitened.  There will be a method that works for you.  Everyone deserves to have a smile they are proud of.  There are plenty of products on the market today to help you polish your pearly whites.

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Remaining in the Home

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The Toothbrush Conundrum

If you watch T.V. like millions of other Americans everyday, you have likely been bombarded by advertisements trying to sell you a toothbrush.  Now, all these ads are basically the same.  They begin by showing you some gorgeous woman or handsome man with a perfect smile and end with a phrase telling you that this is the toothbrush most dentists recommend.  Now I doubt any of you has chosen a toothbrush based on these adds.  If you’re anything like me, you wander into a pharmacy and grab the coolest looking cheap toothbrush you find.  However, there are so many different kinds of toothbrushes out there I have always wondered, am selling my mouth short?  What do these fancy toothbrushes have to offer? How should one really go about choosing the toothbrush that is right for him or her?  Toothbrushes are, after all, a vital part of your oral health and daily routine.  As such its time to stop being cheap, do some research, and pick out the toothbrush that is right for you.

Toothbrushes in their modern form have been in existence since the 1930s.  But way back then consumers did not have much choice about what  kind of toothbrush to buy.  In the past eighty-two years, however, things have changed.  The toothbrush market today is saturated with different brands and different models all jousting for position as the consumers favorite.  The proliferation of electric toothbrushes only added to the fray.  All of these options can lead to consumer confusion about which toothbrush is best suited to their needs.

Tips for Choosing a Toothbrush

Regardless of whether your toothbrush is manual or electric there are certain characteristics you should always look for.  Begin with the size of the toothbrush.  The best toothbrush should give you easy access to all surfaces of your teeth.  For the average adult, a toothbrush head that is a half-inch wide and one-inch tall will offer the easiest and most effective brushing.  Be wary of larger toothbrush heads as they may prove to be hard to maneuver making it impossible to get at those hard to reach areas.  Be sure that the toothbrush has a long enough handle that you can comfortably hold it in your hand.

Another important toothbrush characteristic is the bristle variety.  There are generally three varieties of nylon bristles to chose from: soft, medium or hard.  For the overwhelming majority of people a soft bristle brush will offer the most comfort and be the safest choice.  If you brush vigorously or the strength of your teeth is weak, medium and hard bristle brushes may actually damage your gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel.  For even more protection when you brush, be sure the bristles of your toothbrush have rounded tips.

It is always helpful to get an expert recommendation when shopping for a toothbrush. After that go to your dentist and ask him what he thinks is the best toothbrush for you.  When you are perusing the toothbrush aisle, look for toothbrushes that have earned the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval.  For disposable toothbrushes, the seal means that the bristles will have safe tips, they will not fall out of the toothbrush under typical brushing conditions, the handle will withstand normal use, and the toothbrush will reduce plaque and gum disease in their early stages.

The most important factor when choosing a toothbrush is likability.  Do not chose a toothbrush that you’re not fond of because you and this toothbrush are going to be getting up close and personal at least twice a day for a long time.  If you like your toothbrush, you’re more likely to use it.

 

The last time I decided to buy a new toothbrush I decided to buy an electric one.  After using it for several years I can honestly say I have no idea how I functioned with the old disposable toothbrushes for so long.  Not that I have anything against them personally, its just my opinion that electric toothbrushes offer much more style, convenience, and functionality.  Electric toothbrushes cut down on movement and eliminate scrubbing.  They basically do all the work for you.  My personal model has a built in timer so I can be sure I brush the recommended two minuets.  While I decided to fall in love with an electric toothbrush, maybe that’s not for you.  If you like the old manual ones don’t be shy, just be smart.  Research the best brands.  Ask your dentist for a recommendation and find the toothbrush that is right for you.

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Get Lost Halitosis!

Bad breath is a bad time.  If you have ever walked into a room and been terrified about what you breath smells like you know what a helpless feeling it is to suffer from the dreaded disease, halitosis.  Bad breath can ruin relationships, kill business transactions, and keep friends at a distance.  Many people struggle with the social anxiety caused by the unholy stench emanating from their mouths.  There are a variety of different causes of bad breath and, luckily, they are all reasonably easy to cure.  So if you have been suffering from social anxiety as a result of your lingering morning breath, relax and breathe easy.  A simple trip to your dentist can cure your dirty mouth and let you get on with your busy life.

What Causes Bad Breath?

There can be several causes of bad breath.  The most common cause is a buildup of bacteria in your mouth, which give off noxious odors.  Studies have shown that eighty percent of bad breath is caused by an oral source.  That source may be a cavity, gum disease, food particles stuck in your teeth, cracked fillings or less than clean dentures.  There are also internal conditions that can cause bad breath, or can cause your existing bad breath to worsen.  These conditions include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis.  You will also want to rule out diseases such as acid reflux, postnasal drip and any other causes of chronic dry mouth.

How to Cure Bad Breath

So you have bad breath.  Here’s how to get rid to rid of it and keep it away.  The best way to ensure your bad breath hits the road for good is to see your dentist.  You should schedule regular cleanings at least twice a year.  Having your teeth professionally cleaned will ensure that any oral causes of your bad breath are taken care of.  You should also brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.  Although regular toothbrushes work just fine, many dentists recommend investing in an electric toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes are better for two reasons. First, most electric toothbrushes have a timer in them that ensures their users brush for the right amount of time.  Second, electric toothbrushes distribute uniform motion, which helps remove plaque buildup from the surface of the teeth.  Mouthwashes and mouth rinses also offer some help in your fight against bad breath.  If you buy a mouth rinse, ensure that it is an antiseptic or antibacterial rinse, which kills bacteria, instead of a cosmetic rinse that simply focuses on freshening your breath.

What you eat may also affect how your breath smells.  Eat a healthy, well balanced, diet and regular meals.  Certain diets, such as extreme fasting or low carbohydrates, can give you rancid smelling breath.  You should snack on raw carrots, celery, apple slices or other watery fruits or vegetables.  It should go without saying, but avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and a variety of other spicy foods.

Be sure to stay hydrated.  Drinking a lot of water helps keep food debris from getting stuck in your teeth.  Do not drink too much coffee.  Coffee is a difficult smell to get rid of.  You may end up carrying that cup of joe you had in the morning around with you for the rest of the day.  Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products.  Smoking gives people terrible breath and the smell is almost impossible to get rid of.

Bad breath is a terrible problem to deal with.  When I was in high school and college I used to worry constantly about how my breath smelled.  I was always chewing gum and using breath mints.  Finally, it occurred to me that the best option was to be obsessive about brushing and flossing my teeth, and using a mouthwash twice a day.  Sure enough I never again had a problem with bad breath and even landed myself a beautiful girl.  If your bad breath refuses to go away the best thing to do is go to the dentist.  A professional cleaning is usually enough to get rid of the stench.  If it lingers, do not be shy about consulting your dentist about other methods.  They are knowledgeable in the causes and cures for bad breath and will almost always be able to find a solution.  So breathe easy my friends, bad breath is not here to stay.

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Dental Lasers

Not long ago, lasers were thought to be futuristic, dangerous, machines that would be developed into weapons by future generations.  Now here we are in 2012 and lasers are everywhere.  They are used for almost every conceivable possibility.  In medical fields, lasers have become increasingly useful as surgical tools because they provide better than pinpoint accuracy and cutting power.  In dentistry, the use of lasers is a relatively new phenomenon.  Beginning in the early 1990s the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved lasers for use on gums and several years later, in 1996, approved them for use on teeth and hard tissue.  Since their introduction in the 1990s, lasers have become a more routine part of dental practice.  They are now used to treat tooth decay, gum disease, biopsy or remove lesions, and whiten teeth.  One major reason that lasers have not become even more popular is because they are very cost prohibitive.  Even with that high cost, lasers are no longer some futuristic pipe dream, like hovercrafts or flying cars. They are an integral, everyday, part of dental practice and will continue to grow as research reduces their cost.

How Do Dental Lasers Work

Lasers work by delivering energy as a concentrated beam of light.  When used for dental procedures, the laser acts as a cutting instrument by vaporizing tissue that it comes into contact with.  When used for “curing” a filling, the laser strengthens the bond between the filling and the tooth. When used in teeth whitening procedures, the laser acts as a heat source to enhance the effect that tooth bleaching agents have.

Dental Uses for Lasers

Lasers currently have several uses in the dental industry.  They can be used to help treat tooth decay.  They are used to remove the decay from inside the tooth and to prepare the enamel for the filling.  Lasers can also be used to “cure”, or harden, a filling.  Lasers have not gained wide usage for fillings because they are far more expensive than a pneumatic drill.  Lasers are used to reshape gums and to remove bacteria during root canal procedures.  Biopsy and lesion removal are more common uses for lasers.  Laser can be used to biopsy small amount of tissue so they can be tested for diseases such as cancer.  They can also be used to treat lesions such as canker sores.  Lasers are used to speed up the in-office teeth whitening procedures. A peroxide bleaching solution, applied to the tooth surface, is “activated” by laser energy, which speeds up of the whitening process.

Pros and Cons of Laser Use

Lasers provide several improvements over the use of pneumatic drills and other, older, dental technology.  In most cases, lasers cause less pain and discomfort than older dental technology.  This can reduce or completely remove the need for local anesthetic.  They may also reduce the anxiety a instilled in a patient by a large, noisy, drill.  When used for soft tissue treatments, they reduce and swelling and bleeding.  They are also much better at preserving healthy tooth during the removal of cavities.

Although there are numerous advantages to laser usage, they are not without their setbacks.  Price is the biggest setback.  They are simply too expensive for many dentists to afford.  For example, lasers can cost between $39,000 and $45,000 compared to about $600 for a standard drill.  They also cannot be used on teeth which already have fillings in place, which for some patients renders them useless.  Traditional drills also may be needed to shape and polish the filling or adjust the bite, tasks that lasers simply cannot perform.

The future is now. Lasers are no longer tools of the distant future.  They are used in the here and now.  I have been to the dentist and had dental work done with a laser and, I must say, it is wonderful!  The pain and anxiety caused by those awful drills is eliminated.  The laser is silent, quick, and quite cool.  When lasers fully replace drills as the preferred method of dental repair, the days of being terrified of the dentist will be gone.  Kids will be excited to go to the dentist and have their teeth blasted by lasers like they are storm troopers in Star Wars.  Hopefully one day soon, lasers will completely replace pneumatic drills as the preferred method of fixing teeth.

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