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Bad Habits Teeth

5 Habits That Are Bad for Your Teeth And Why You Should Break Them

From nail biting to chewing ice, we all have different habits that we do on a daily basis – however, you may not be aware of or the impact they have on your oral health. So, even though you brush and floss regularly, you could still be damaging your teeth without even knowing it. Take a look at these five habits that are bad for your teeth – then start making a plan to kick them to the curb.

1). Chewing Ice

Although it seems like an innocent habit, chewing ice can actually lead to cracked or chipped teeth, problems with existing dental work (like fillings or crowns), gum injuries and tooth enamel damage. You may recall our post on chewing ice before. Need a refresher? Check it out here.

2). Nail Biting

Nail biting may seem harmless, but believe it or not, nail biting can actually impact your jaw because of the extended period of time its placed in a protruding position. It can also wear down the front teeth, leading to cracks or chips.

 3). Using Teeth to Open Things

Teeth aren’t made to be tools. Using your teeth to open things or hold things, can be a destructive habit that can ruin more than your smile. In fact, when putting excessive pressure on your teeth, you will increase your chance of cracking your teeth or even suffering a jaw injury.

4). Teeth Grinding

When you grind your teeth, it can cause significant damage and increase risk of development temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As bruxism weakens your tooth structures it can lead to loose, painful or fractured teeth and also damage fillings and crowns. Check out our full post about teeth grinding here.

5). Eating A Lot of Sugar

Too much snacking, especially foods that are high in sugar will increase your chance of cavities and tooth decay. Excessive sugar increases production of plaque that will break down tooth enamel. So when bacteria come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced that attacks the teeth. Then, this will eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities. Read more on creating a balanced diet for healthy teeth here.

If you need help with breaking any of these habits, making an appointment with your dentist is a great place to start. They can help establish a healthy oral care plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Still need to find a Dental Select dentist near you? Click here.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom Teeth: To Remove or Not to Remove?

Removing your wisdom teeth is an important decision. And whether they are impacted or not, wisdom teeth should always be closely monitored to make sure they won’t cause future problems. We know it can get confusing, so to help understand your options, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers. As always, your dentist is the best resource to answer questions about your oral health and we encourage you to schedule an appointment with them for the most detailed information.

 What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third last molars to erupt. Generally, there are one on each side of the upper and lower jaws and are the furthest teeth from the front of the mouth.

What age do wisdom teeth come in?
Usually between the ages of 17-21, but this can vary between patients.

Do wisdom teeth always need to be removed?
Not necessarily, as long as the wisdom teeth erupt fully into the mouth and function correctly. Also, not everyone gets wisdom teeth. While some people have all four wisdom teeth, others may only get one, two or three or none at all. If a wisdom tooth remains fully buried, it can sometimes be left alone if it does not cause problems. Your dentist will continue to monitor these teeth because the potential for developing problems later do still exist.

In what instances would wisdom teeth need to removed?

Wisdom teeth can partially emerge, come in crooked or lead to overcrowding and disease. Consequently, diseased or potentially problematic wisdom teeth should almost always be removed. Your dentist can help examine your wisdom teeth as they erupt and help you make an informed decision; however, instances for removal usually include: 

  • Incorrect position, or not coming in properly
  • Not enough room
  • Infection
  • Tooth decay
  • Cyst or tumor formation
  • Gum disease
  • Pain

 What age should wisdom teeth be removed?

The ADA recommends that people between 16 – 19 should have their wisdom teeth evaluated. Generally, wisdom teeth that are removed before age 20 have less complications.

Need to find a dentist to discuss your wisdom teeth treatment plan? Click here to find one near you.

Fillings

Dental Fillings: What’s the difference?

If you’ve had a cavity before, chances are your dentist treated the decayed area of your tooth with a filling. Fillings are a common procedure that helps restore teeth back to normal functionality and shape.

Nowadays, there are many choices when it comes to types of dental fillings. Two very familiar types are amalgam and resin composite. Although dental amalgam has been trusted for more than a century, recent advancements in the industry have made resin composite more appealing. But there can be limitations with both.

So what’s the difference between the two and which one should you get? We’ll cover some basics to help you get familiar with these two popular types of fillings. Before your next appointment, we recommend discussing treatment options with your dentist first.

Amalgam
Also known as silver fillings, dental amalgam is made from mercury, silver, tin and copper. Dentists sometimes prefer this type of filling because it’s considered stronger than other types, more affordable, and easier to manipulate when filling cavities. Amalgam has been around for 150+ years and is still a top choice for hard to reach areas or cavities below the gum-line. Amalgam’s low maintenance and durability are appealing to both dentists and patients. It’s important to note that the American Dental Association (ADA) deems amalgam to be a safe, durable material that has been studied extensively.

Resin
Resin composite appears as a more natural, tooth colored material and is made of plastic and ceramic compounds. Even though it’s been around for years, it hasn’t been strong enough to withstand pressure and chewing on back teeth until the last decade. The lifespan of resin is still somewhat unknown, but is expected to last at least 8 to 10 years. Resin can be a bit tricky to place, as it requires a dry environment. Consequently, there are times resin won’t work to fill certain cavities. Resin also costs more, so sometimes it’s helpful to verify your benefit eligibility prior to receiving this service.

In summary, you and your dentist should discuss treatment options available, which may vary based on the size, location and cost. Ask your dentist to cover your choices to help you make the right decision.

Chewing Ice

Have a Habit of Chewing Ice? It’s Time to Chill Out

Imagine sitting outside on a hot summer day. Hoping to cool off, you reach for cup full of ice cubes to chew on. Sounds refreshingly innocent, right? Well, not really. It turns out, chewing ice is not so great for your teeth, which is why the ADA recommends avoiding persistent ice chewing; specifically, to avoid tooth injuries and other oral problems.

It’s true, chewing ice comes with risks and often leads to an increase of dental patients during summer months. Some of these dangers include: cracked or chipped teeth, problems with existing dental work (like fillings or crowns), gum injuries and tooth enamel damage. It’s also common to find that your teeth become more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures after chewing ice excessively. If you are experiencing any of these issues, please book an appointment with your dentist immediately.

So what’s an ice chewer to do? Instead, try letting ice dissolve in your mouth rather than chewing. Once and a while, a slushy drink or semi-melted ice slivers (instead of cubes) can also suffice. You could also try eating cold carrots or apples if you are looking for a similar type of crunchy refreshment.

Another noteworthy point is for anyone who thinks they may have an ice chewing habit. If you feel this is something you cannot stop on your own, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Sometimes, this can be associated with iron deficiency anemia.

Want to learn more about ice chewing and other foods that can damage your teeth? Check out this article by the ADA to start protecting your teeth.

teeth grinding

What You Need to Know About Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, occurs most often in your sleep. It’s important to be aware that grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw regularly can wreak havoc on your oral health. Without addressing the problem early on, it can damage your teeth and increase risk of development temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As bruxism weakens your tooth structures it can lead to loose, painful or fractured teeth and also damage fillings and crowns. Not to mention, if you grind your teeth, you are also more prone to have headaches and jaw soreness.

So what can you do about it? First, it’s important to find the cause of your problem; visiting your dentist is a good place to start. Schedule your appointment right away to ask your dentist about potential causes and solutions. Teeth grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and abnormal bites. Research also shows a connection between using alcohol and tobacco and bruxism. If stress is the issue, you may need to work your health provider to find a way to relax. Meditation and counseling are great ways to reduce anxiety and may be worth a try as well.

In the meantime, your dentist can fit you for a mouth guard that you will wear at night. This plastic, oral appliance is a simple solution that will help protect your teeth while you sleep. Again, it’s critical to take care of bruxism in early stages to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. A little damage control now can go a long way.

Sparkling Water

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth?

Is the satisfying fizz of your favorite sparkling water putting you at risk for tooth decay? Any drink with carbonation—including sparkling water—has a higher acid level. Some reports have questioned whether sipping sparkling water will weaken your tooth enamel (the hard outer shell of your teeth where cavities first form).

So, Is Sparkling Water Affecting My Teeth?

According to available research, sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth and here’s why – in a study using teeth that were removed as a part of treatment and donated for research, researchers tested to see whether sparkling water would attack tooth enamel more aggressively than regular lab water. The result? The two forms of water were about the same in their effects on tooth enamel. This finding suggests that, even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic than ordinary water, it’s all just water to your teeth.

Tips for Enjoying Sparkling Water and Protecting Your Teeth

  • Sparkling water is far better for your teeth than sugary drinks. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of regular, fluoridated water, too—it’s the best beverage for your teeth. Water with fluoride naturally helps fight cavities, washes away the leftover food cavity-causing bacteria feast on and keeps your mouth from becoming dry (which can put you at a higher risk of cavities).
  • Be mindful of what’s in your sparkling water. Citrus-flavored waters often have higher acid levels that does increase the risk of damage to your enamel. Plan to enjoy these in one sitting or with meals. This way, you aren’t sipping it throughout the day and exposing your teeth over and over again to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.
  • Sparkling water brands with added sugar can no longer be considered just sparkling water. They are a sugar-sweetened beverage, which can contribute to your risk of developing cavities. So remember—sparkling or not—plain water is always the best choice.
Special Needs

Planning Ahead for Patients with Special Needs

When it comes to dental exams and procedures, patients with special needs may require a little extra care and planning. Although most dentists can accommodate for special needs, there are things you can both consider to help plan ahead for your patient’s appointment. To help you get started, we’ve put together a checklist of things to keep in mind. Before you schedule, we encourage you to discuss these items with your dentist’s office, to ensure the comfort, well-being and safety of your patient.

Here are some things you may want to consider:

Parking – Where is the best entrance to the building for your patient?

Accommodations – Can the hallways and exam rooms accommodate your patient’s means of movement? Will someone from the office be available to help with access?

Comfort – Is there something that you or the dental team could do with lighting, distractions or sounds that could help your patient relax?

Time – Consider scheduling during a time of day that is best suited for the patient (when they are least tired, not hungry, etc.).

Needs – Be sure to let the dentist know about your patient’s emotional needs ahead of time. This can help with communication, comfort and trust.

Medical History – Have your patient’s medical information available. This includes any medications, allergies, surgeries and the patient’s primary care physician’s contact information.

If you have additional concerns or questions, be sure to bring them up to your dentist before your procedure or exam. And if you are looking for a dentist or specialist near you, you can search for one here to get started.

Flossing tips

5 Tips for Better Flossing

We’ve already established that despite controversial news, flossing should still be incorporated into your daily oral care routine. But we know that sometimes, flossing can be tricky. That’s why we are sharing our five favorite tips to help your flossing become easier and more effective:

1). Use a good amount of floss so that you can hold it correctly. Don’t skimp – you’ll need at least 18 inches of floss.

2). Tighten the floss by holding it between your thumb and index fingers and use an up and down motion to guide it between your teeth.

3). As you hold firmly against the tooth, curve around the base making a “C” shape to go gently below the gum-line. Don’t force it, as you may accidently bruise or cut your gums.

4). For cleanliness, use fresh sections of floss as you go.

5). If it’s difficult, use a tool like floss picks or interdental brushes. These can be especially helpful for older or younger people who have a hard time flossing correctly.

Have questions about your flossing routine? Schedule an appointment with your dentist. Find a dentist near you here.

Mouthwash

Should You Be Using Mouthwash?

Q: Should I Be Using Mouthwash?

A: Mouthwash, also called mouthrinse, can be a great addition to your oral care routine. Traditionally, mouthwashes have been used to help reduce bad breath. However, only some types of mouthwash can help reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease. Whichever type you choose, mouthwash should not replace daily brushing and flossing. If you are unsure, schedule an appointment with your dentist to find out their recommendation.

 

Q: What type of mouthwash should I buy?

A: There are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic. Therapeutic mouthwash is available over the counter and by prescription. This type has active ingredients that can help control plaque, gum disease and tooth decay. Cosmetic mouthwash can help mask bad breath (halitosis) temporarily, but will not reduce risk of gum disease or tooth decay. Typically, flavoring agents will only last for a few hours.

 

Q: Can children use mouthwash?

A: Children under the age of six, should not use mouthwash. Swallowing mouth wash should be avoided as it can cause vomiting and intoxication.

 

Q: What are the benefits to using therapeutic vs cosmetic mouthwash?

A: Using the right type of therapeutic mouthwash can reduce plaque and gingivitis, prevent tooth decay and freshen breath as cosmetic mouthwash will only have temporary results to reduce bad breath.

 

Schedule an appointment with your dentist to see if you need a mouthwash and what type to use. Still need to look for a dentist in your area? Search for one here.

New Year, New You

Need help picking a healthy New Year’s resolution? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that you’ll definitely want to steal.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables will not only keep you healthy, but will decrease your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.

2. Start exercising. Don’t feel like exercise has to be all or nothing. It’s good to start in small doses. Try working out a few times a week for 20-30 minute sessions. Once that’s easy, you can build up duration and frequency from there. Remember, exercising can be as simple as walking through the park.

3. Quit smoking. There is no time like the present to kick that tobacco habit. You already know of the dangers smoking has on your teeth and overall health, so what better way to ring in 2018 than to be completely smoke free.

4. Get cooking. Make it a goal to cut back on fast food and cook more meals in your kitchen. By doing so, you’ll have more control over the nutritional value in every meal.

5. Power down devices. Decrease your stress levels and increase quality time with your family by putting away your devices. Set aside a time each day where you and your family turn off phones, computers and tablets. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time – try 20 minutes or maybe while you eat dinner.

6. Do a little Spring cleaning. That’s right, get out your mop and broom a little early this year. With cold and flu season upon us, now is a perfect time to tidy-up, disinfect and get rid of the things you don’t need. After all, a clean, germ-free house will keep illnesses at bay and brighten anyone’s day.

7. Make a dentist appointment. Overdue for an exam? Make an effort to see your dentist at least twice this year. Exams and cleanings are recommended every 6 months.

8. Floss more. Set a goal to floss once a day. Keep floss in multiple places like your car or desk, to give you less chance of forgetting.

9. Sleep more. Staying up too late? Get back on a better sleeping schedule by hitting the sack earlier. Try getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night so you can start your day refreshed and rested.

10. Drink more water. Opt for drinking water when you can as juice and soda will leave unwanted sugar on your teeth. Water cleans your mouth by washing away residue, helps with dry mouth and will keep you hydrated throughout the day.