Understanding Fluoride Treatment for Kids

Understanding Pediatric Fluoride Treatment

It’s undeniable that fluoride has played a major role in the decline of dental cavities in the United States. However, what isn’t so clear to many parents is whether or not fluoride treatments are safe and/or beneficial for children.

After all, children receive fluoride on a regular basis from many different types of foods and even water. Through these sources alone, minerals lost due to plaque, bacteria, and sugars are remineralized on teeth.

So, is an additional fluoride treatment at the dentist necessary and if so, at what age are the treatments most beneficial? Read on to find out.

Why You Should Consider Fluoride Treatments for Your Child

While it’s true that fluoride found in foods and water can replace lost minerals, it sometimes isn’t enough to strengthen teeth and protect against cavities. In fact, if you don’t consume enough natural fluoride, demineralization will occur much more quickly than remineralization, leaving enamel at risk and causing tooth decay.

Fluoride treatments speed up the natural remineralization process, providing prolonged protection against demineralization and related tooth decay. They are particularly effective in children because they can reverse early decay while protecting permanent teeth as they develop.

Scheduling Your Child’s Fluoride Treatments

Children should start fluoride treatments at around 6 months of age and continue at least until they turn 16 (and ideally, beyond this age as well). Treatments vary based on age and also on whether they are done at home or at the dentist’s office:

    • Drops, Chewables, Tablets, or Lozenges – These treatments are typically used at home for children 6 months and older who don’t receive enough fluoride in their water.
    • Fluoride Toothpaste – After the age of two, children’s teeth should be brushed using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
    • Fluoride Varnish – Once baby teeth have appeared, children should have a fluoride varnish applied to protect against tooth decay. Typically, varnishes are applied by a dentist twice per year for children two and older.
    • Gels and Foams – As children get older, a dentist commonly applies gel or foam fluoride treatments using a mouth guard. This typically takes about five minutes.
  • Mouth Rinses – A fluoride mouth rinse may be prescribed for children over 6 years of age who are at risk for tooth decay due to genetics or other factors. A mouth rinse is typically used in combination with other fluoride treatments.

Protecting Your Child from Too Much Fluoride

The most common concern about fluoride treatments is that large amounts can be toxic to the brain, bones, kidney, and thyroid. However, products intended for home use have extremely low levels of fluoride, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry.

Still, there are precautions you can take to ensure you’re not only keeping potentially dangerous products away from children, but also using fluoride properly:

  • Store any fluoride supplements or products out of reach of young children.
  • Use limited amounts of fluoridated toothpaste on a child’s toothbrush.
  • Don’t allow children to use fluoridated toothpaste without supervision until the age of 6.

Fluoride Treatments Play a Vital Part in Your Child’s Smile

Although some parents view fluoride skeptically, professional treatments are integral to your child’s smile starting at 2 years of age.

By doing your part at home and scheduling regular appointments, you can help prevent cavities and give children the strong teeth they need both now and in the future.


Sources:

Dental Health and Fluoride Treatment. (2014, October 9). Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/fluoride-treatment

Guideline on Fluoride Therapy. (2014). Retrieved June 3, 2015 from http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_fluoridetherapy.pdf

Reinberg. S. (2014, May 6). Docs Should Give Toddlers Fluoride Treatments: Panel. Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140506/doctors-should-give-toddlers-fluoride-treatments-us-task-force

How To Brush To Really Impress Your Dentist

Back to Basics: Brushing Tips to Impress Your Dentist

You’ve been brushing for as long as you can remember, but could it be you’ve been doing it incorrectly all along? From the type of bristles you choose to the level of pressure you should place on your teeth, this step-by-step guide to better brushing is chock full of tips to help you get the most out of your dental routine.

Step 1: Pick the right products.

Just as everyone’s dental situation is different, so are the tools necessary to meet your unique health needs. For example, those with tooth sensitivity should stay away from whitening toothpastes and opt for a gentler, enamel — fortifying brand instead. Choosing a brush with softer bristles can also help combat enamel erosion. If gingivitis is a problem, it may benefit you to try a paste or gel designed for tartar control, and pick a brush with varied bristles for help with hard-to-reach areas.

Step 2: Watch the clock.

Timing is everything when it comes to proper hygiene. Most people know that it is important to carve our time in the morning and night to care for teeth, but many don’t realize that the duration of brushing is critically important. Done right, brushing teeth should take approximately two minutes. Any shorter, and you’ve likely skipped a few areas that could develop into problems down the road. To keep you on track, set a timer and watch your pace to make sure every area of your mouth gets enough attention or you can opt for an electronic toothbrush with a timer.

Step 3: Start with hard to reach areas first.

Mapping out a brushing game plan can make a big difference, especially when you find yourself in a rush and/or multi-tasking. Your front teeth may be the easiest to access, but the back molars can be a haven for food particles and starting there can help ensure you clean out the tough spots in case something disrupts your efforts (or, let’s face it, you start to lose focus on the job at hand).

Step 4: Brush up on the proper technique.

You’ve got the time, the tools, and a plan of attack in place — but don’t forget about your technique! Going too hard and too fast not only runs the risk of missing key problem areas, but also it can do some serious damage to your gums and enamel. For a safe and thorough cleaning, hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, and gently brush back and forth. The front of your teeth are hard to miss, but to clear each tooth of plaque buildup, be sure to brush along the gumline and the inside and back surfaces as well.

Step 5: Clean your tongue.

Often overlooked, your tongue houses a ton of oral bacteria responsible for bad breath. Despite its name, your toothbrush works well on tongues too! After you’ve finished brushing your teeth, give your tongue a good cleaning with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Your breath will smell better and your palate will feel refreshed.

Step 6: Finish up with floss.

No dental care routine is complete without flossing. Even the best brushing technique can’t get between the tighter spaces of your teeth. To reach every nook and cranny in your mouth, grab some floss and string it gently between and around each tooth. If you find flossing difficult, try one of the many alternatives now available at your local grocery or drugstore: dental pics, interproximal brushes, or water flossers.

Step 7: Choose foods that act as natural scrubbers.

Believe it or not, you can help keep your teeth clean by chewing certain foods. It’s nowhere near a substitute for brushing and flossing, but chomping on crunchy fruits and vegetables can have a brushing effect that minimizes buildup. Another simple way to help prohibit the growth of oral bacteria is to chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol.

Share the News with Your Dentist

Last, but not least, let your dentist in on your new brushing skills. Keeping him or her appraised on your efforts and products that work (or don’t work) for you may in turn affect your treatment plan, and/or result in prescribed dental products and additional guidance to help you achieve your oral health goals.


Sources:

Grant, L. (2014, July 22). The Truth About Healthy Teeth: At-Home Dental Care. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-14/brushing-teeth-mistakes

How to Brush. (2006, June 12). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/HomePage.cvsp

Your Child’s Sippy Cup….Could there be Problems?

Your Child’s Sippy Cup: Is it a Friend or Foe?

Shaped like your child’s favorite action heroes and in every vibrant color imaginable, sippy cups seem like an innocent way to prevent spills. But with increased cavities and speech issues abound, pediatric dentists have recent research suggesting that what was once a friend is now a foe.

Of course, sippy cups can play an integral role in your child’s development. But in light of these recent developments, it’s important to know how to properly use them and to be aware of potential problems that can occur due to misuse.

How are Sippy Cups Supposed to be Used?

Sippy cups are a parent’s dream. After all, they allow children to take care of themselves and transition to adult cups easier than they would otherwise be able to. However, sippy cups weren’t developed or intended for prolonged use, no matter the level of convenience they offer.

In fact, sippy cups should be used as a transitional tool to wean children off of bottles until they’re able to use an adult cup. Most often, this means that sippy cup usage should stop between the ages of one and two, depending upon a child’s motor development.

Common Health Concerns Associated With Sippy Cups

Many parents understand that sippy cups can be problematic when used improperly, but not as many recognize the primary health concerns that can surface due to improper use:

    • Tooth Decay – Sugary substances in your child’s sippy cup will feed the oral bacteria in his/her mouth, thereby weakening the enamel and causing decay.
  • Speech Difficulties – Sippy cups can cause speech issues. This can happen when a child drinks from a cup as if it were a bottle, misplacing the tongue and pushing out the teeth, which can result in a lisp or other articulation complications.

Turning a Common Foe Back Into a Friend

A quick online search will turn up dozens of articles telling you that sippy cups are an absolute foe, but it isn’t that simple. While it’s true that sippy cups can cause problems, proper usage makes them a friend and asset as you transition your child into adult cups.

So, how can you turn this foe into a friend once again? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Choose the Right Sippy Cup – Not all sippy cups are created equal. Try to purchase ones that have a spout and two handles to promote motor development. As your child ages, you may even want to purchase a sippy cup with a straw rather than a spout. Also, if you’re using a sippy cup for juice, it’s beneficial to avoid “no-spill valves” as valves can concentrate sugary fluid on your child’s teeth over a longer period of time.
    • Limit Time With the Sippy Cup – Some kids will run around all day with their cups if you let them! Instead, take the cup away when your child is finished.
    • Offer Juice Only at Mealtimes – If you want to offer juice to your child, do so at mealtimes only. Increased saliva production will help break down the sugars and rinse them away to prevent tooth decay.
  • Minimize Sugary Liquids – Instead of juice, opt for water during the day and at bedtime.

Friend or Foe: You Decide

A sippy cup can be your best friend or worst enemy: it all depends on how you use it.

By keeping the tips above in mind, your little one can enjoy his/her favorite sippy cups and you can rest assured that his/her teeth and development won’t be derailed in the process.


Sources:

Davis, J. (2002, May 22). Sippy Cups Causing Too Many Cavities. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20020322/sippy-cups-causing-too-many-cavities

Mann, D. (2008, February 11). So Long Sippy Cups, Hello Straws. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20080212/so-long-sippy-cups-hello-straws

Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble

Let’s Clear The Air: Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble!

/Chew it, dip it, suck it or “snuff” it–there’s no smoke involved with many forms of tobacco, but no matter how you use it, you’re still playing with fire! While cigarettes catch a lot of heat for causing lung cancer, many don’t realize that other types of nicotine use can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Before reaching for the stuff, get a closer glimpse at what you’re really being sold and why it might be more harmful than you think.

Types of Smokeless Tobacco

Cigarettes have long dominated the market, but tobacco comes in countless shapes and sizes. Their novelty may tempt your curiosity, but just one try can put you on the path to addiction and some serious throat and mouth problems. Here are just a few examples of common smokeless tobacco products you’d be wise to avoid:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (often in pouch form) for placement inside the cheeks
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Snus: a pasteurized form of snuff that doesn’t require spitting
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Other variations include plugs, twists and bricks, but risks are the same regardless of their appearance. It’s also worth noting that regulations may differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean that the product is any less toxic.

Oral Health Risks

Virtually every aspect of your oral health is affected by tobacco use, and it doesn’t take much for nicotine to do its damage. Telltale signs you may notice immediately include:

  • Stained teeth, from frequent contact with tobacco juice
  • Periodontitis, as prolonged exposure to tobacco can irritate the gums
  • Bad breath, when tobacco particles mix with your saliva and other food particles
  • New cavities, due to the sugar often used to sweeten tobacco products

Tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion and a decrease in your sense of taste and smell are other possible side effects. As costly as these dental complications may be, it pales in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Given that smokeless tobacco contains well over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its use can result in cancer of the mouth, lip, tongue and throat (in addition to many other cancers of the body). Clear warning signs of oral cancer include white or red lesions inside the mouth (typically referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia”) that fail to heal over time, but not all symptoms are easily detected without the professional help of your dentist.

Tackling Your Tobacco Problem

Seeking professional help is your best bet both to kick your nicotine habit to the curb, as well as to prevent lasting and potentially irreversible damage to your health. Quitting tobacco use likely won’t happen overnight, but your dentist can most certainly offer guidance and point you to effective treatments and/or alternatives. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, being open about the problem with your dentist and seeing him or her frequently is critical to minimizing the risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.


Sources:

It may be smokeless, but it’s still tobacco. (2011 May). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/smokelesstobacco.html

Katz, Harold. (2011, March 5). Chewing Tobacco Can Cause Bad Breath, and Worse. Retrieved July 14, 2015,from http://www.therabreath.com/articles/news/oral-care-industry-news/chewing-tobacco-can-cause-bad-breath-and-worse-3329.asp

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, November 15). Chewing Tobacco: Not Safer than Cigarettes. Retrieved July 16, 2015,from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/chewing-tobacco/art-20047428?pg=1

High Tech Toothbrushes. Are they worth it?

High-Tech Toothbrushes: Is It Worth Going Electric?

The verdict is in: electric toothbrushes are here to stay, and they mean business for your teeth! By now, you’ve probably seen them on the shelves, on TV or in magazines. Dentists endorse them, and most are ADA-approved — but if you still swear by your manual toothbrush, these benefits just might convince you otherwise.

The Pros Of Using An Electric Toothbrush

Making the switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush doesn’t change the amount of time it takes to thoroughly brush your teeth (approximately 2 minutes), nor should it alter your brushing technique, but this is where the similarities end. Some of the biggest advantages of electric toothbrushes over traditional toothbrushes are:

1. Effortless brushing.
Because a motor oscillates and rotates the bristles for you, it requires less energy to brush your teeth. Many even find the rounded handle of electric toothbrushes to be easier to hold, and with less force required, brushing can still be done thoroughly without using a tight grip. For the elderly, those with chronic arthritis, and children and adults with dexterity challenges, this alone can make electric toothbrushes the better choice for oral health maintenance.

2. Better cleaning ability.
Thoughtful bristle design coupled with the automatic power of electric toothbrushes makes it easy to remove plaque from hard to reach areas. The constant rotating and even pressure can also result in a more consistent cleaning than you might achieve with a standard toothbrush. Often, electric toothbrushes come with a variety of heads that you can experiment with until you find one that cleans your teeth the best.

3. Other hygiene-helping features.
Thanks to technology, electric toothbrushes come with many other bells and whistles that can help ensure proper hygiene. From timers that notify you once you’ve brushed long enough, to sensors that alert you if too much pressure is being applied or if the head needs to be replaced, electric toothbrushes can help you stay on track to meet multiple oral health goals.

4. Less plastic to be thrown away.
Unlike manual toothbrushes, you don’t need to toss out the whole brush once the bristles are worn. Only the head of an electric toothbrush needs to be replaced, which means a lot less plastic that is thrown out in the long run. From an environmental standpoint, electric toothbrushes are also a better choice than battery-operated toothbrushes because they can be recharged.

Other Factors To Consider

Just as there are pros to using an electric toothbrush, there are a few cons to be aware of before making a final decision.

  • Price: Electric toothbrushes are significantly more expensive than manual toothbrushes; the price difference may cause some initial sticker shock. However, to keep costs down you can always purchase one electronic toothbrush and multiple detachable heads – for each member of the household.
  • Convenience: Those who are frequently on the go may find it slightly cumbersome to have to pack a charger.

If you’re interested in an electric toothbrush, however, don’t cross it off your list without trying a battery-operated toothbrush first. It’s similar in concept and feel, but much more affordable, and it can help you determine whether electric toothbrushes are worth the investment.

Comfort Matters Most

A toothbrush loaded with features won’t do you any good unless you’re comfortable with it. For the sake of your oral health, it’s worth considering all the toothbrush options available, but choose the one you believe will best help you maintain good hygiene…whether it be manual or powered. If you’re still unsure and need additional guidance, ask your dentist for help; he or she may recommend a particular brand based on your unique dental needs.


Sources:

McManus, M. (n.d.). 5 Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/products/5-benefits-of-electric-toothbrushes.htm

Power Toothbrush or Manual Toothbrush. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.oralb.com/topics/power-toothbrush-or-manual-toothbrush.aspx

Being Pregnant and Going to the Dentist

Keeping up with your dental checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Not only should you take care of cleanings and other procedures during your pregnancy, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental issues you might be experiencing.

The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to get dental care while pregnant. “During this crucial period of time in a woman’s life, maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health.” and, Oral health is now considered so important to a healthy pregnancy that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends an oral exam be included in the first prenatal visit and that caregivers advise expectant moms to see their dentist. 

  >> Click for More Information About Being Pregnant and Dentistry

Major Health Clues Your Mouth Provides

Dentist or Detective?
Major Health Clues Your Mouth Provides

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Chew on this for a minute: just by glancing inside your mouth, your dentist can tell you a number of things that may be news to you and your doctor! Surprising as it may sound, your oral health can speak volumes about the rest of your body, and something as simple as a routine dental checkup can benefit your health and wallet big time. From harmful habits to life-threatening diseases, find out what clues your mouth can provide about your wellbeing.

The Presence of Disease

Many connections between your mouth and larger health issues have to do with bacteria. Studies have shown that heart disease and endocarditis (an inflammation of the lining of your heart), in particular, are linked to gum disease – a bacterial infection of the mouth. Inflamed gums can also signal a vulnerable immune system, which can be due to diabetes or disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome. Furthermore, patients who are pregnant and are diagnosed with periodontitis may be at a heightened risk for birth-related issues, as studies have shown a connection between gum disease and both premature birth and low birth weight.

In addition to gum problems, other oral matters are also telling. Tooth loss, for instance, has commonly been linked with both osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. And lesions of the throat occur often in individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS. Last but not least, a dental exam can detect both oral and throat cancer, which typically present themselves via sores or patches that don’t go away. Suffice it to say, dental checkups can prove themselves invaluable when it comes to early detection of life-threatening health conditions.

Incompatibility With Certain Medications

While you may already be aware of and treating a health condition, a dentist can help identify whether or not the medicine you are taking is causing other complications. Dry mouth, a condition that causes oral issues such as halitosis, fungal infection, and tooth decay, is a known side effect of hundreds of commonly prescribed medications including:

  • Painkillers
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Asthma Inhalers
  • Diuretics
  • Sedatives
  • Corticosteroids
  • Statins

If you’re currently undergoing medical treatment and/or using prescription drugs, be sure to have your dentist examine your mouth for any harmful side effects.

Harmful Habits

It may not necessarily mean life or death, but some habits can cause a world of trouble–and costly mouth problems are proof of that. How you sleep, for example, has a direct impact on the health of your mouth. Constantly breathing with your mouth open can cause dry mouth, and grinding your teeth overnight is a leading cause of enamel damage.

Smoking, chewing and other forms of tobacco use pose serious threats, not just to your lungs, but also to the look and health of your teeth and gums. Red flags that alert your dentist that smoking is starting to do dental damage (and possibly much worse) are the telltale yellowing of teeth, white patches along the inside lining of the mouth, persistent bad breath, and lumps that can signal oral cancer.

Finally, your mouth can offer clues about the safety and healthfulness of your diet. Severe tooth erosion and swelling of the throat and salivary glands are typical problems seen in patients with eating disorders, due to constant vomiting. Tooth decay and sensitivity can also come with excessive acid in your diet, and many times, signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD” or simply, “acid reflux”) become apparent to your dentist even before your doctor. Even your breath can be telling of certain food choices, such as garlic or onions, which have long been known to cause halitosis.

Get Peace of Mind

Given everything a brief dental exam can uncover, there’s no denying the benefits of a routine checkup. More often than not, tooth, gum and other oral problems may simply be due to poor hygiene, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remain diligent about seeing your dentist regularly, and don’t hesitate to schedule a checkup in between your typical visits if you notice anything amiss.


Sources:

Your Mouth, Your Health. (2015, July 23). Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/ss/slideshow-teeth-gums

What conditions may be linked to oral health? (2013, May 11). Retrieved July 14, 2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475?pg=2

Newer Lighter Filling Options

Ditch Discolored Fillings for These Newer, Lighter Options

Still flashing a bit of silver when you smile? Cavities can happen to anyone, but the whole world doesn’t have to know about them! If you’ve been living with old, discolored fillings, there’s never been a better time to have them replaced.

Find out how new fillings can benefit more than your looks, and about all the options that are now available.

Why Replace Fillings

The cosmetic reasons for replacing amalgam (often referred to as “silver”) fillings may be obvious — your smile looks better without the telltale dark spots and any associated feeling of self-consciousness goes away.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that there are also health reasons for getting new fillings. While it can be easy to forget about cavities once they’re filled, the truth is that oral health threats can re-emerge as fillings weaken over time. Constant grinding and chewing will wear down any filling, and it often only takes one particularly hard or sticky food to dislodge or crack it.

Once the protective barrier to a cavity has been lost or broken, harmful bacteria can easily seep in and continue to eat away at the tooth. In many cases — especially those where the seal has been damaged but has not completely fallen out — tooth decay under or around the filling may easily escape notice until it reaches the point where a root canal or an extraction is necessary. Being diligent about dental visits and proactive about replacing fillings can help you avoid the unnecessary pain and expense of a tooth infection.

Replacement Options

The good news about getting rid of old fillings is that amalgam is no longer your only choice. As hardy and durable as this traditional mixture of silver, mercury and other metal alloys is, it has become virtually obsolete due to more discrete options such as:

  • Composite Fillings: tooth-colored bondings primarily used for the front teeth
  • Veneers: thin, porcelain, non-staining shells affixed to the front surface of teeth
  • Crowns: complete covering for damaged teeth that a filling alone cannot repair
  • Inlays or Onlays: custom composite used to replace larger fillings in molars

Your dentist may recommend one particular treatment or a varied approach, depending on the number and type of fillings needed. Rest assured, however, that the choices at your disposal lend themselves to a more natural look than that of an amalgam filling.

Caring for Teeth with Fillings

Regardless of which replacement option you choose, a little extra care and attention can go a long way in protecting your investment. To extend the life of a newly restored tooth, consider making these changes to your everyday routine:

  • Brush and floss regularly to keep the tooth’s surface clear of tough buildup
  • Use a mouth guard at night to avoid unnecessary pressure if tooth grinding is a habit
  • Steer clear of overly hard or sticky foods that can damage the restored tooth
  • See a dentist if you notice a bad taste or dull pain that can indicate a defect or decay

Regular dentist visits can further minimize the risk of damaged filings — and help prevent the need for new ones. For questions about replacing and/or maintaining fillings, schedule an appointment with your dentist.


Sources:

Carr, A. (2014, February 8). Cavaties/Tooth Decay. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/expert-answers/dental-fillings/faq-20058381

Slaying Dragon Breath (Halitosis) for Good

The Dirt on “Dragon Breath” And How to Slay It for Good

There’s a reason people commonly refer to halitosis as “dragon breath”: it’s a beast of an oral health problem that can put off anyone within close range! Mints and mouthwashes can mask the issue, but in order to truly defeat it, you’ll need to treat the underlying cause.

If you’ve dealt with morning breath, or struggle with bad breath throughout the day, here are some likely reasons behind it and ways to banish it once and for all.

Causes of Bad Breath

The freshness of your breath can be influenced by a number of factors, which is probably what makes it so hard to keep halitosis at bay. Perhaps the easiest way to determine the root cause (and the appropriate solution) is to ask yourself these three simple questions:

1. What have I been eating?
Not surprisingly, your food choices can have a big impact on your breath. Foods comprised of sulfur compounds in particular — such as garlic or onions — can leave a lingering odor to your breath as they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Coffee is another common culprit tied to bad breath, as it can dry out the mouth and promote the growth of oral bacteria.

2. Are certain habits to blame?
If your condition seems more chronic in nature, and you’ve ruled out your diet as a possibility, chances are poor hygiene or habits could be causing your breath to smell bad. Regardless of what you eat, bad breath is sure to follow if you fail to brush and floss regularly. Food particles stuck in hard-to-reach areas will naturally give off an odor as they decompose, as can excess oral bacteria. Smoking is also linked to halitosis, leaving a stale stench on your breath from the smoke particles you inhale and the combustion of chemical compounds.

3. Could it be a side effect of another health condition?
Sometimes, bad breath is a side effect of another health issue you may be facing — whether you know about it or not. Acid reflux, bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes and certain liver and kidney problems are just a few conditions associated with halitosis. Sleeping disorders and/or medications that contribute to dry mouth can also inhibit saliva production essential for a healthy breath.

Overcoming Bad Breath

Identifying what’s behind your bad breath situation can help you correct and/or reverse the problem, whether it be through a diet change, habit modification or doctor-prescribed treatment plan. With so many potential causes of bad breath, however, it’s easy for halitosis to re-emerge.

For long-term prevention of bad breath, here are some suggestions:

  • Quit smoking and/or the use of other tobacco products
  • Make note of medications and consult your doctor or dentist if bad breath results
  • Steer clear of problem foods that make you self-conscious of your breath
  • Promote saliva production by drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum regularly
  • Remember to brush and floss twice a day or as directed by your dentist

Seek Help from Your Dentist

Ultimately, the most important step you can take to combat bad breath is to see your dentist on a regular basis. Frequent exams can help prevent halitosis before it starts, and if you do develop bad breath despite your best efforts to avoid it, he or she can help determine the underlying cause. Be sure to ask your dentist for more information about treating and/or preventing halitosis during your next checkup, or schedule a consultation if you have any pressing questions or concerns.


Sources:

Dental Health and Bad Breath. (2014, June 23). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/bad-breath

Dove, L. (n.d.). 10 Tips to Cure Bad Breath. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/hygiene-tips/6-tips-to-cure-bad-breath.htm

Lift Your Smile with Tooth Reshaping

Tooth Reshaping: The Easy, Inexpensive Way to Lift Your Smile

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Straightening and whitening your teeth can transform your smile, but sometimes, it takes one final step to get those pearly whites looking perfect. It’s called tooth reshaping (or dental contouring), and the good news is, it’s a quick, painless and cost-effective cosmetic procedure. If a chipped, pointed, overlapping or uneven tooth stands between you and the smile you’ve always wanted, find out why tooth reshaping may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

What Is Tooth Reshaping?

Tooth reshaping is an in-office dental procedure that typically involves the removal of enamel to even out the surface of a tooth. Using a headpiece, the dentist sculpts and/or polishes off rough or pointed edges, and can even trim down the length of a tooth if it appears larger than its neighbors. Usually, anesthesia is not required, unless work is close to the root of the tooth.

If the problem is a chipped tooth, or a tooth that appears smaller than its counterparts, reshaping involves the addition of an enamel-like resin in a similarly straightforward procedure called “bonding”. Holes and gaps are sealed by polishing the substance onto the surface of the tooth, or in some cases, the resin may be shaped to match the size of neighboring teeth in advance, and then applied to the problem tooth. Your dentist may recommend wearing a night guard to protect your teeth and prevent future recurrent damage.

Why Get Tooth Reshaping

The cosmetic reason for tooth reshaping may be obvious, but contouring your teeth could also provide additional oral health benefits, such as:

  • Improved bite: Evening out the teeth can help aid chewing and speech
  • Less risk of future damage: Cracks, holes and gaps are fixed before they grow worse
  • Lowered risk for tooth decay and gum disease: Even surfaces are easier to clean
  • Less irritation: Pointed teeth can aggravate the inner lining of the mouth

In certain cases, tooth reshaping may even save patients the cost of orthodontic treatment, if misalignment is due to something minor such as overlapping teeth.

Potential Drawbacks

While tooth reshaping is a simple, straightforward process, it is not for everybody. Here are some important things to know if you’re considering this cosmetic procedure:

  • There is a risk for damage and tooth sensitivity, if too much enamel is removed
  • It may not be recommended for those with root canals, tooth decay or gum disease
  • The results are subtle, and more work may be advised to improve your smile

Getting teeth contoured and/or bonded does not preclude additional cosmetic procedures or restorative dental work, but it’s best to consult with your dentist about all of your dental goals beforehand to help ensure an efficient treatment plan.

More Ways Your Dentist Can Help

In addition to determining whether it is tooth reshaping, other cosmetic work, or a combination of treatments that will really help your smile, your dentist may be able to suggest ways to prevent future problems by addressing potential pitfalls that may have caused issues in the first place. More often than not, frequent dental visits and better hygiene can help you avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the teeth. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to go over both preventative and corrective courses of action to achieve your dental goals.

Sources:

Jaret, Peter. (2012). Make thee Most of Your Mouth. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-mouth-14/beautiful-smile/enamel-shaping-facts

Sellers, Jennifer. (2011, Oct. 16). Can big teeth be shaved down? Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/procedures/can-big-teeth-be-shaved-down1.htm

Sheehan, Jan. (2009, August 19). Tooth Reshaping and Dental Contouring. Retrieved July 21, 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/cosmetic-dentistry/tooth-reshaping.aspx