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October 20, 2017
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Mouth open or mouth closed?

After lunch or after dinner?

Flat or at an angle?

We brush our teeth every day (hopefully!), but who knew it was this complicated. Just grab a brush a get to work, right?

Not so fast, my friend! There are actually some best practices to be mindful of when brushing those pearly whites.

The trick is cutting through the fat and finding out exactly what works. We live in a world of alternate facts, truthiness, and lists of “7 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Clean Without Picking Up a Toothbrush.” What’s even correct these days?!

Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with this handy FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide. We’ll keep it simple with some easy dos and don’ts of brushing. Let’s get to it!

Proper Brushing Habits
Don’t: Keep your brush flat
Do: Use a 45-degree angle when brushing

Don’t: Use looooooooong strokes. No need to cover your whole mouth in one stroke!
Do: Use short, side to side strokes

Don’t: Brush with the force of a giant. This isn’t a strongman contest!
Do: Gently cover all areas. A gentle touch helps prevent wear and tear on your enamel

Don’t: Go one and done
Do: Brush at least twice a day, especially after eating or drinking something acidic (like citrus or soda)

Don’t: Be sentimental and use the same toothbrush for life
Do: Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. A trick to remember: switch out on the first day of each season

Don’t: Be average – the average person brushes their teeth for 45 seconds
Do: Brush for a full 2 minutes. A helpful trick: say the alphabet while brushing a certain section, move to the next section after you hit Z.

Don’t: Keep your toothbrush in a closed container
Do: All your toothbrush to air dry

Don’t: Store your toothbrush on the sink counter where bathroom particles can get on it
Do: Store your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet

Don’t: Wield a tough-bristled brush
Do: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which is much better for your tooth enamel

And there we have it! Some easy practices to keep that perfect smile.

Remember: Brushing is only 4 minutes out of the day, so why not make it the best 4 minutes of the day!

Imagine it’s still winter … you’re standing at the door, ready to brave the cold. You’re layered-up with three shirts and a sweatshirt, your heavy winter coat, and two layers of socks underneath your waterproof winter boots. Then you’ve got those awesome jeans with the flannel on the inside, your comfy hat, scarf, and gloves. You’re set! But wait. As you step toward the door, you suddenly realize you have an itch … and it’s deep down … buried beneath all those layers. And, try as you may, every attempt to reach that bugger-of-an-itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief you’re ever gonna’ get is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!

The Tongue
We’re going inside your mouth, of course, to your tongue – this is a dental article, after all! Because whether you know it or not, like you in the wintertime, your tongue is also “all covered up” – buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, let alone cause your tongue to appear various shades of yellow, white, or green! Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds, and return to its natural hue. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!

WHAT is a tongue scraper?
A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been in use since ancient times, and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.

WHY use a tongue scraper?
The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-inducing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Talk about ew! So, as you can see, there are several reasons why you’d want to get rid of this gunk in your mouth. Let’s tackle them one by one:

Reduce bad breath: ‘nuff said!

Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been awhile, by calling in at 660-665-1901.

Make room for good bacteria: see our article here on probiotics for your mouth.

Prevent heart disease? While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.

HOW does one use a tongue scraper?
In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center! Make sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed. And, if you’re wondering if you should scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure, that’s a good question … ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re in ask one of our hygienist for a quick tutorial!

WHERE do I buy one?
Your first choice is, believe it or not, us! Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and can also be found at any local drugstore. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!

 


Most of us are used to the idea of just popping into the local grocery store or pharmacy to replenish our usual brand of toothpaste, mouthwash and floss when we know we’re running low on supplies. But what if re-stocking that old familiar brand isn’t really helping you as much as when you were younger? As we grow older and our teeth and gums age along with us, sometimes those old familiar products are worth switching out – often with a prescription from your dentist. But how do you know when you should opt for something new? Let’s take a look.

 
  • Do you Have Sensitive Teeth or Gum Disease? If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity due to a receding gum line, you might benefit from prescription fluoride toothpaste. Such toothpastes have higher levels of fluoride and can help lessen sensitivity and protect exposed tooth structure no longer protected by enamel or gum tissue. Typically your dentist would recommend prescription toothpaste for you if you have significant recession, or if you have recently been in for scaling and root planing.
     
  • Do You Get a Lot of Cavities, or Drink from An Unfluoridated Water Supply? If you get your drinking water from a well, or any other unfluoridated source, prescription toothpastes can be helpful. They’re also worth considering simply if you’re prone to decay. Excessive cavities can be a drain on your wallet, and the overall health of your mouth. Ask if there are ways (other than frequent visits to the office for repair) you can proactively fight your battle with cavity-prone teeth.
     
  • Do You Suffer from Dry Mouth? Most over the counter (OTC) remedies for dry mouth are effective for the majority of people. However, if you’ve been using an OTC solution for some time, and are experiencing limited relief, you might want to ask your dentist if there are other options. You should also ask your family doctor help you get to the root of the problem – which could be indicative of any number of benign or more serious concerns. 
     
  • Are Frequent Mouth Sores a Problem? Elderly patients and those undergoing treatment for some diseases, such as cancer, can develop mouth sores. It’s not necessary to endure this pain for days and weeks on end, so ask your dentist or physician for a prescription mouth gel like Gelclair®. Such gels work by forming a barrier that protects the nerve endings and shields them from overstimulation that can result in pain.
     
  • Do You Suffer From Persistent Halitosis? Many people don’t know this, but there are prescription mouthwashes that can be used to help combat persistent halitosis. As with dry mouth, however, it’s important to understand why you have bad breath. If you do not have gum disease and feel otherwise healthy, there could be more serious reasons for your halitosis.
 

For the overwhelming majority of us, over-the-counter toothpastes, mouth washes and other dental hygiene products will do the trick just fine. Just know that your options don’t stop there and speak with Dr. Gooch, Dr. Kice-Briggs, or Dr. Harden if you have any concerns.

 

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Get to know Whitney! She first joined the team as a Dental Assistant in February 2012, then went to Dental Hygiene school at Concorde Career College in Kansas City, MO and is now one of our Registered Dental Hygienist

Here are 5 things you should know about Whitney

1) What's one thing you couldn't live without? My nephews, chapstick, and St. Louis Cardinals 

2) Favorite movie: The Notebook       Favorite Television show: Friends

3) What "lesson from mom" do you still live by today? "Treat others how you would want to be treated" and "Life is too short to be anything but happy."  

4) What is your favorite thing to do?  Make people laugh..either with me or at me and of course hug whoever will let me!

5) What do you love about your job: I love interacting with patients. I love being able to deliver quality dental care to my patients while getting to know them and their families.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for your 6 month check-up and cleaning, make sure to call our office at 660-665-1901! 

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