Posts for: April, 2018
If there’s one essential tool for dental health, it’s the toothbrush. But though simple in basic design, manufacturers have nonetheless created a dizzying array of choices that often muddy the decision waters for consumers.
It doesn’t need to be that way—you can choose the right toothbrush like a boss. First, though, you need to know a toothbrush’s purpose expressed as two basic tasks: removing dental plaque, the thin biofilm that causes most dental disease; and stimulating the gums to maintain good health.
So what should you look for in a toothbrush to effectively perform these tasks? Here are 3 important factors to consider when buying this essential dental care tool.
Bristle quality. First, it’s a myth that bristles should be hard and stiff to be effective—in fact harder bristles can damage the gums. Opt instead for “soft” bristles that are also rounded on the ends. And look for bristling with different levels of length—shorter length sections work better around the gum line; longer sections help clean back teeth more effectively.
A “Just right” size. Toothbrushes aren’t uniform—you’ll need to choose a size and shape that works well for you personally. You might find an angled neck or a tapered head easier for getting into your mouth’s hard to reach places. If you have problems with dexterity, look for a brush with large handles. And be sure to ask us at the dental office for recommendations on brush dimensions that are right for you.
ADA Seal of Acceptance. Just like toothpaste brands, the American Dental Association assigns its seal of approval to toothbrushes they’ve evaluated and found to meet certain standards. Although you can find high quality toothbrushes that haven’t sought this evaluation, an ADA seal means it’s been independently tested and found safe and effective for use.
Of course, no matter how high quality the toothbrush you buy, it’ll only be as effective as your brushing technique. So, be sure to use gentle circular or oval motions along all your teeth and gumline surfaces—it should take you about two minutes. We’ll be happy to show you the proper technique in more detail, so you’ll be able to get the most out of your chosen toothbrush.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.
“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”
While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)
When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.
Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.
But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.
Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”
Are your oral hygiene habits what they should be? In other words, do you protect your dental health with diligent brushing and flossing? Do you eat a tooth-friendly diet? Your Pensacola, FL dentist, Dr. Edwin Yee, teaches his patients all about preventive dentistry. It's the best way to keep your teeth and gums attractive, strong, and long-lasting.
What you should do at home
Dr. Yee and his team recommend exactly what the American Dental Association advises: brush your teeth twice a day with a quality, ADA-accepted toothpaste, and floss once a day with the product of your choice. Not only will your teeth and gums feel and look clean, they'll be free of accumulated plaque and tartar.
Plaque and tartar contain toxic microorganisms which eat away at tooth enamel and infect your gums. The American Academy of Periodontology says decay and gum disease are leading causes of adult tooth loss in the United States, but they are avoidable with good oral hygiene.
Part of oral hygiene is your diet. Eliminate as much processed sugar as possible, and increase your intake of:
- High calcium dairy products (hard cheese also buffers the acid content of your food)
- High fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads
- Water to wash teeth and gums and to increase saliva (and its beneficial enzymes)
- Low-fat proteins
Finally, completely eliminate tobacco usage--whether smokeless or cigarettes. Both contribute to oral cancer, and they set the stage for gum disease.
What happens at the office
Your Pensacola dentist asks his patients to come in for prophylactic cleanings and comprehensive examinations (including X-rays as needed) twice a year. As part of your exam, Dr. Yee:
- Checks for signs of tooth decay and gum disease
- Assesses the condition of any existing fillings, crowns, and veneers
- Looks for signs of oral cancer (this is a quick and comfortable inspection of all soft tissues)
- Checks your dental bite
Dr. Yee may recommend plastic sealants and/or topical fluoride treatments to protect your teeth from decay. These treatments are easily applied and last for years.
As part of your routine appointment, your dental hygienist will scale your teeth, removing deposits of plaque and tartar which you cannot reach with your toothbrush and floss at home. Also, using a rotary toothbrush and mildly abrasive toothpaste, she'll polish your teeth to a glossy, smooth finish.
In the long run...
When you keep good hygiene habits, your smile will thrive. So follow-through daily, and if it's time for your six-month cleaning and exam with Dr. Yee and his team, call the office in Pensacola, FL at (850) 479-3355.