A Brief History Of Dental Floss

TODAY, FLOSSING IS A staple of oral hygiene and health. But have you ever wondered when we started flossing? You might be surprised by the answer. 

Flossing Is An Older Concept Than You Might Think

While we don’t know the exact beginnings of flossing, it looks like as long as food has been getting stuck in our teeth, we’ve used some type of interdental cleaner. Discoveries have been made that suggest cleaning between teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period!

Did you know that even some species of monkeys practice flossing? This has been most prominently observed in Thailand. Long-tailed macaque monkeys have been known to pull out hair from their human visitors and use it as floss! They have also been observed flossing with coconut fibers or twigs. Mothers even take the time to teach their young how to floss properly!

The First Dentist To Recommend Flossing

Floss as we know it today was developed around 200 years ago. In 1815, an American dentist named Levi Spear Parmly introduced the idea of using waxen silk thread as floss. In his book called “A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth,” he stated that the silk thread should be run “through the interstices of the teeth… to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove and which is the real source of disease.”

Unfortunately, flossing didn’t catch on right away. Victorian’s were more interested in toothpicks than putting their hands in their mouths to pull thread through their teeth. Charles Dickens–along with many other wealthy gentlemen of the time–owned a retractable toothpick engraved with his initials and ornamented with ivory. Fancy!

Over Time, Flossing Slowly Gained Popularity

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that flossing became more widespread. During World War II, Dr. Charles C. Bass, known as “The Father of Preventive Dentistry,” developed nylon floss, noting that it was more elastic and durable than silk. After the war, flossing became much more mainstream.

Keep Up The Good Work And Floss On!

For the most part, floss today is still made of nylon. But now, there are a lot more options than there used to be such as dental tape, waxed floss or woven floss. There are pre-threaded floss picks and floss threaders for orthodontic patients; there are even devices that claim to floss your teeth with water or air!  Although be aware that although these air and water type devices are good adjuncts to flossing, they do not replace good old-fashioned flossing!

All in all, it doesn’t much matter what type of  floss you use (although some are more effective than others), what matters is that you do! Correct daily flossing can make all the difference in your oral health and is one of the simplest ways to prevent tooth decay. So, since human beings have been cleaning between their teeth for centuries, all we have to say is keep up the good work, and floss on!

Thank you for choosing our practice!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Photo Credit:  Top image by Flickr user Photos by S.Harrison/UofL used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Diabetes And Your Oral Health

DIABETES IS ONE OF THE MOST prevalent chronic diseases today. In fact, 29.1 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and millions more living with the condition don’t even know they have it.

You may know that diabetes can result in other health complications such as vision loss, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. But many are surprised to learn of the impact diabetes can have on your mouth.

Diabetes Is Linked To Oral Infection And Disease

Periodontal, or gum, disease affects 22 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes. What’s more, one in five cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes. These statistics can be distressing, but a proper understanding of the association between these two diseases is the first step in preventing complications.

So, first and foremost, why does diabetes affect oral health?

We have billions of bacteria living in our mouths. If that bacteria is allowed to build up, it can lead to gum disease–swollen, bleeding gums as well as bone and tooth loss. Because people with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight off harmful bacteria, they are more susceptible to gum disease. Poor blood glucose control also increases the likelihood of gum problems.

The relationship between diabetes and gum disease, however, is two-way. Because infected gums are an easy access point for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, bacteria from the mouth can cause blood sugar spike and fluctuate, making diabetes harder to manage.

Beyond gum disease, there are other oral infections and problems associated with diabetes including thrush, dry mouth, cavities and ulcers.

Keep Your Dentist Involved

Keeping us involved is the most important thing you can do to prevent gum disease and other oral complications linked to diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or if there are changes in your condition, let us know. Keep us informed of your medications and your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Come in to see us regularly–every six months or more if deemed necessary.

Other things you can do to manage your oral health and diabetes include:

  • Develop good oral hygiene habits
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your blood sugar

Your Health Matters To Us

Every aspect of your health is important to us, not just your the health of your mouth. If you have questions about how your dentist can help you manage your diabetes, contact us. We are your partners in ensuring both your oral and overall health.

Thank you for being our valued patients and friends!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Photo Op: Types Of Dental X-Rays

EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN TO THE DENTIST is familiar with X-rays. You put on the lead apron, you’re given a rectangular contraption and told “put this between your teeth and bite down,” and then you hear that tinny beep. Have you ever wondered what the different types of dental X-rays are and what they’re for? Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common ones.

The Big Picture: Panoramic X-Rays

Has an X-ray technician ever had you stand on a circular platform and stand still for several seconds while the machine spun around your head? Then you’ve had a panoramic X-ray, which is the most common type of extraoral dental X-ray.

With these, we can see your entire mouth in one image, because the camera travels all the way around your head while taking the picture. These X-rays show incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, including any that are impacted, which is how we determine if there’s enough room for these teeth to come in and if they’ll come in on their own.   They are not the most diagnostic however, when it comes to detecting cavities or tooth infection.  Panoramic X-rays also make it much easier to detect things like tumors, cysts, and abscesses, as well as viewing your joints.

Glamor Shots: Bitewing X-Rays

As you might have guessed from the name, bitewing X-rays (aka “check-up xrays”) are the ones where the patient has to bite down on a piece of dental film before the image is taken. Because the dental film is inside your mouth, bitewing X-rays are a type of intraoral X-ray that are the most diagnostic to determine bone loss and cavities between back teeth.   Since the back teeth are the hardest to clean for most people, they tend to be most prone to cavities and gum infection, hence why bitewing xrays are typically taken about once a year.

Bitewing X-rays are taken to give us a clear view of the crevices between your teeth, which are difficult to see with the naked eye. With these images, we can easily check for tooth decay and cavities in those areas.

It’s Time For Your Close-Up: Periapical X-Rays

This intraoral X-ray is the close-up of the dental world. If a specific tooth or area in your mouth is bothering you, we’ll probably take a periapical X-ray to get a clear idea of what’s going on there, but they can also be taken alongside bitewing X-rays even if you aren’t aware of an obvious tooth problem.

For more information on dental X-rays and why they’re so important, watch the video below:

When You Need A Little Extra:  Cone-beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

All the previously described dental x-rays are two-dimensional xrays, which for typical general dentistry, is plenty diagnostic and more than sufficient.  But there are occasions when having that 3rd dimension is paramount for proper diagnosis (i.e. implants, wisdom teeth, retreating root canals), and therefore proper treatment and treatment planning, and would require the CBCT.   The good news is that it’s easy and painless to take (much like panoramic xrays).  The downside is that there is a bit more exposure than other xrays (which is why taking them regularly for routine dentistry would be overtreatment) and often carry a higher price tag, as they are often not a covered procedure by insurance companies. That being said however, CBCTs are becoming more the standard of care.  The key is choosing a dental practitioner that knows when they are necessary.

Early Warnings For Healthier Smiles

All types of X-rays are simple, low-risk tools that help us catch dental problems early on, maybe before you’ve even noticed anything! However, in order for us to do that, it’s crucial that you come in for your regular cleanings and dental exams. Is your smile ready for its next close-up?

We’re so happy to have you as part of our practice family!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Photo credit:  Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Filling In The Gaps: Dental Implant Basics

DENTAL IMPLANTS ARE permanent false teeth designed to look just like your other teeth. They’re a popular alternative to dentures or bridges, and the American Dental Association considers them to be “one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.”

How Do They Work?

Unlike dentures and bridges, which don’t feel or look entirely real and must be removed and cleaned outside of your mouth daily, dental implants are surgically affixed to your jaw. In place of the roots your native teeth have, the new tooth is held in place by a surgical screw. The crown is carefully selected to match the shape and color of the surrounding teeth, so it blends right in.

There are two basic types of implantendosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are surgically attached directly to the jaw bone with a titanium post, and the entire implant structure (apart from the crown itself) is hidden under the gums and looks and feels just like any other tooth. Subperiosteal implants consist of a metal frame that fits onto the jaw bone rather than screwing into it, and these are a good option if you lack the bone structure necessary for endosteal implants.

Watch the video below to see how titanium implants are made:

Who Are They For?

If you’ve lost teeth due to injury or disease, dental implants could restore your smile more effectively than other options. However, not everyone with missing teeth is a candidate. Just as with real teeth, oral health is crucial to successful implants. Before you get an implant, you need good, strong bone and healthy gums to support it, and once it’s in, you have to keep it clean by brushing and flossing.

But What About Braces?

If you don’t already have your implants but need orthodontics to straighten your teeth, it’s usually best to do braces first. Because implants are screwed into your jaw bone, they will not move, which can make them excellent anchors to help move your other teeth where they need to go—but only if they’re in the right place to begin with. If not, your existing implants may need to be removed and then reattached after you’ve finished with your braces.

Still Have Questions? We Have Answers!

If you’re thinking about getting dental implants or know someone who is, we can answer any questions you may have about them. We’re here to help you achieve the smile of your dreams!

We love our patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Oral Health & Weight Loss Go Hand In Hand

A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE is the best prevention for illness and chronic disease. It can also be just as effective as any medicine a doctor could prescribe. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or simply live more healthily, the good choices you’re making not only do wonders for your body and overall health, but they also have a beneficial impact on your smile!

Congratulations On Making Better Food Choices

Oral health depends on more than how many times a day you brush your teeth, it also depends on your diet! As you choose healthier foods for your body, you are also choosing better foods for your teeth.

If you’re trading chips and fruit snacks in for healthier snacks like cheese, veggies and nuts, you’ve made the right choice! A diet low in sugar and processed foods can help you trim your waistline, fend off illness and prevent cavities.

Check out the video below to learn more about where added sugar could be hiding in your diet!

We See You’re Drinking More Water… Great Job!

Perhaps before you made your goal to live a more healthy lifestyle, you would reach for your favorite soda rather than water at mealtime. Did you know that one in four Americans get at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda? Not only can frequent soda consumption lead to weight gain, it also contributes to tooth decay!

Eliminating soda from your diet, or at least consuming it in moderation, is a good way to cut back on calories and cavities. And now that you’re starting to drink more water, you’re probably realizing how good it makes you feel, especially since it is calorie-free!

Keep Up The Good Work With Regular Exercise

By maintaining a healthy weight, you are protecting yourself from health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to name a few. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, these diseases often go hand in hand with periodontal, or gum disease. In fact, 91 percent of patients with heart disease and 22 percent of those with diabetes have gum disease.

So keep up the good work! Regular exercise does wonders for your body’s health and your smile reaps the benefits too!

One Last Tip For Our Wonderful Patients

It is widely known that almost nothing tastes good after you brush your teeth. So we recommend that you let good oral hygiene help you stem cravings!

If you’re experiencing a craving and want to avoid it, brush your teeth! Or even pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth. Not only will this help your craving pass, but you’ll be less inclined to eat after making your mouth minty fresh! Added bonus? Your pearly whites stay squeaky clean. Oh and did we mention that two minutes of brushing burns around 5 calories? It’s not much, but it’s something!

Do you have any other questions about your dental health or a topic you’d like us to write about? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for being such wonderful patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Want To Get Rid Of Bad Breath?

WE ALL KNOW THAT FEELING… you wake up in the morning to sun shining, birds chirping and happily lean over to your significant other to say hello! Instead you are greeted by the horrible smell of morning breath. Or maybe you run into friends after work and suddenly become conscious of that bad taste in your mouth.We’ve all been there! Unfortunately, bouts of halitosis, or bad breath, are pretty much inevitable. Today we’re going to explain why that is, what causes that nasty smell and what you can do to keep bad breath at bay!

It All Starts With Bacteria

We’re not the only ones who need to eat to stay alive, so do the bacteria living in our mouths. When they snack on whatever’s left behind from our last meal, they release foul-smelling odors as a by-product, causing bad breath.

What you can do: Clean your teeth after every meal! Brush, floss and pop in a piece of sugar-free gum for good measure. This will eliminate food debris and bacteria from your mouth and prevent bad breath. A clean mouth, is a fresh mouth!


Choose Breath-Friendly Foods And Beverages

Keep in mind that certain foods and beverages can make bad breath more likely, such as sugary foods and drinks, garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol.

What you can do: Choose breath-friendly foods and beverages! Water washes away food debris and increases saliva flow in your mouth, protecting your teeth and mouth from bacteria. Healthy food choices such as carrots, celery and apples are high in water content and actually work as a natural toothbrush, scrubbing plaque bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth.

Good Oral Hygiene Can Reduce Morning Breath

Morning breath seems to be an especially pungent offender. Why is this? It’s mainly because of dry mouth. During the day, saliva works to wash away food debris and keep bacteria in check. When we sleep at night, however, our saliva production goes down, causing our mouths to become dry and allowing bacteria to proliferate. If you sleep with your mouth open, it can be even worse.

What you can do: To make your morning breath less offensive, follow a good oral hygiene regimen. By brushing and flossing your teeth before bed, you’re giving bacteria less food to munch on, which will help your breath be better in the morning.

In addition, we highly recommend cleaning your tongue by either brushing it or using a tongue scraper, since this is where most bad breath-causing bacteria are found. Another tip is to keep water by your bedside. When you wake up at night, take a drink! Keeping your mouth moist will combat the spread of those smelly bacteria.

We’re Here For You

For the most part, bad breath is manageable. If you feel like your halitosis is severe however, especially if you follow the steps above, it can be a sign of something more serious such as gum disease, diabetes, sinus problems, gastric reflux or liver or kidney disease. If this is the case, come in to see us so we can address the issue and find the proper solution. We are here to serve you!

Our patients’ smiles make it all worthwhile!

 

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

 

Photo credit:

The Battle Inside Our Mouths

EVERY DAY INSIDE YOUR MOUTH, there is an epic battle of good versus evil being waged over the ultimate prize: your teeth! And guess what… only YOU can protect them from the destructive forces that seek to harm them.

The Good Guys And The Bad Guys

Because tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (it is made up of mostly minerals), we automatically think of it as a tough shield that nothing can get through. In reality, tooth enamel is porous!

When tooth enamel loses minerals, teeth are weakened and more susceptible to decay–we call this demineralization. If tooth enamel is demineralized enough, a cavity will form. But here’s the good news! The enamel can also be strengthened by receiving nutrients and minerals in a process we call remineralization. This constant dynamic of tooth enamel losing and gaining minerals is the battle that goes on inside your mouth every day!

So, who are the bad guys? Although there are a lot of good bacteria in our mouths, there’s also the cavity-causing bacteria found in plaque. They feed on sugar and other carbohydrates and produce harmful acids in the process. These acid attacks demineralize, or break down tooth enamel, and if left unchecked, can lead to tooth decay.

Check out the video below to learn a little more about plaque:

But all is not lost! You have a secret weapon in your ammunition… and that’s saliva! Not only does saliva wash out food debris and neutralize harmful acids, but minerals in saliva like fluoride, calcium and phosphate can be deposited back into tooth enamel, strengthening and defending it against bad bacteria. That’s why we call saliva the unsung hero of oral health–it works around the clock to protect our smiles and keep our teeth healthy and strong!

Whose Side Are You On?

This “battle” isn’t something that just goes on in your mouth without you having any say in it. You can promote tooth enamel remineralization and help your saliva fight off harmful bacteria by practicing mouth-healthy habits. In the end, you are the ultimate protector of your teeth!

The first thing you can do to defend your teeth from cavity-causing bacteria is eat a nutritious diet. Sugary drinks and treats, crackers, bread and processed foods are just what these bad bacteria love and eating these types of foods can lead to tooth enamel demineralization. On the other hand, foods like cheese, eggs, apples, celery, carrots, dark leafy greens and wild-caught fish promote enamel remineralization. So the next time you open up the fridge or pantry, make the mouth-healthy choice!

Another way to prevent demineralization is to brush with fluoride toothpaste! Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up. This cavity-fighting mineral protects teeth from bacteria by remineralizing tooth enamel and reducing plaque bacteria’s ability to even produce acid in the first place!

And since plaque is the enemy, constantly disrupting and removing the plaque is something that will prevent demineralization as well.  So don’t forget to brush AND floss.  Plaque develops the teeth and unless you have huge spaces between your teeth, the only way to reach that area is with floss.

You Are Responsible For Your Oral Health

The battle to keep teeth strong and healthy depends on you! By eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can have a lifetime of healthy smiles. Keep up the good work, soldier. You’re doing great!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Common Misconceptions About Gum Disease

WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!

Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal

This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.

Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth

While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!

We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!

Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible

What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.

To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!

Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease

Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.

Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease

If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent cleanings can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.

Gum Disease Myths… Busted!

Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

As always, thank you for supporting our practice!  Keep smiling!

 

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.