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The Five Most Important Tools to Have in Your Medicine Cabinet to Ensure a Healthy Smile

It’s no secret that taking good care of your teeth is essential to keeping them healthy and maintaining an attractive smile. However, poor oral hygiene and inconsistent dental care can result in many more severe health problems beyond the deterioration of your teeth. 

 

Since digestion begins with chewing your food and thereby reducing it to smaller bits and pieces, if your teeth become decayed or weakened from improper maintenance, chewing becomes more difficult, placing a far more significant burden on your stomach to break down the food you eat. With your stomach having double the digestive workload, it will struggle and eventually fail to adequately convert the food you eat into the nutrients and other compounds essential to getting the vitamins, minerals, and other resources your body needs. 

 

The result is a cascading effect and, if not rectified, could lead to more serious health problems like an infection that can spread to the jaw, head, and neck, and even turn into sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

 

While it is crucial to keep your teeth healthy and see your dentist on a regular basis, there is a lot you can do at home to maintain good oral hygiene. Here are the top five most important tools to have in your medicine cabinet to safeguard your smile’s health.

 

  1. Your Toothbrush

 

While it might seem obvious, brushing your teeth is essential and should be done first thing when you awake, as a multitude of cavity- and plaque-producing bacteria have been growing in your mouth since your saliva hasn’t been active while you’ve been sleeping.

 

How long should you brush? The standard recommendation is to brush for two minutes twice a day, ideally when you awake and again before bed, to minimize bacteria growth while you sleep. However, it would be best if you brushed your teeth after every meal, too, and especially after drinking red wine, since it stains teeth more than nearly any other beverage. 

 

Of course, using the right toothbrush is also critical to achieving the most satisfactory results. It would be best to use a toothbrush with scientifically-designed contours that aren’t too big for your mouth, which will enable you to brush most effectively, allowing you to get into all of the tight areas inside your mouth. Electric toothbrushes are great as well; just make sure to use a slow setting so you won’t damage your tooth enamel. Also, selecting a toothbrush with softer bristles will let you brush your gums comfortably, which significantly helps to prevent gum disease. 

 

It is important as well to consider how you brush your teeth. Place your toothbrush at approximately a 45° angle in relation to your gums, then gently move your toothbrush in short strokes back and forth, up and down, and in small circles, making sure to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth. 

 

  1. Your Toothpaste

 

There are many different kinds of toothpaste on the market, and some are better than others. Many include mint flavoring added as a breath freshener; however, be sure to avoid any that contain sugar, artificial colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. 

 

Generally, it’s best to look for a toothpaste with fluoride, as it can help remineralize your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Baking soda-based toothpaste is also good because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and there are a wide variety of specialized toothpaste options for those with sensitive teeth, too. If you drink coffee, tea, or red wine, you might consider a toothpaste with added teeth whitening features, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

 

  1. Your Floss 

 

Brushing your teeth with the right toothpaste is great for removing stains, bacteria, plaque, and other unwanted elements from the surface of your teeth, but brushing the front, back, and crown of your teeth does little to reach the other 40% of your total tooth surfaces — the spaces in between your teeth. 

 

Food particles, plaque, and bacteria left to rot in your interdental spaces can eventually cause tooth decay. The way to clean that bothersome 40% is by using dental floss to clean in between your teeth at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, but ideally also in the morning after breakfast. 

 

The best floss to use is waxed or Teflon, which allows you to get into all of those tight spaces and lowers the risk of your floss shredding and tearing while you’re using it. 

If you have trouble using traditional string floss, you can use a dental harp or flossette to clean between tooth surfaces quickly and easily. 

 

  1. Your Tongue Cleaner

 

Since your tongue tends to host an abundance of oral bacteria, keeping it clean won’t just improve your overall oral health, but help your breath stay nice and fresh as well. One way to disinfect your tongue is to brush it with your toothbrush once you’ve finished brushing your teeth. Another way is by using a tongue scraper, which is a dental tool specifically designed to help you clear away the bacteria that collects on your tongue. 

 

  1. Your Mouthwash

 

The foregoing are fantastic ways to keep your teeth, tongue, and breath fresh, clean, and healthy, but there is one more thing to consider: mouthwash. While it’s not an acceptable substitute for daily brushing and flossing, the use of a minty mouthwash is an excellent final step to add to your daily oral self-care. 

 

The two primary types of mouthwash are over-the-counter and prescription. Each significantly helps to reduce plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, and bad breath. The prescription version is generally more aggressive, while the over-the-counter brands, flavors, and types include everything from being alcohol-free, less-stinging, and extra-minty. Some even offer teeth whitening and longer-lasting freshness. The choice is yours to make. 

 

Unless directed by a dentist, children younger than 6 years old shouldn’t use over-the-counter mouthwash, as they may be tempted to swallow it. 

 

Using a mouthwash:

  • kills bacteria in your mouth, 
  • rinses away any little leftover bits of food that may remain on your teeth or gums, and,
  • leaves your mouth and breath feeling and smelling fresh.

 

With these five items in your medicine cabinet, you are well on the way to attaining and maintaining a healthy smile! To learn more about how to get the most out of your home-care oral hygiene, and to discuss any issue with your oral health, contact Oral Surgery DC for a consultation today (https://oralsurgerydc.com/contact/).

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

Want a Bright and Healthy Smile? Follow These Top Tips

A bright and healthy smile starts at home. Seeing your dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup is a big step in the right direction when it comes to your oral hygiene, but the path to your best smile begins with a consistent, everyday dental care routine. Here are some tips to help you achieve your most beautiful smile. 

  1. Choose Good-for-Your-Smile Foods 

It’s no secret that what you eat impacts your physical health, and your smile is no exception. A balanced diet will ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to grow and maintain healthy teeth, but what you eat impacts your smile in other ways too.

 

For instance, crunchy fruits and veggies cause you to produce more saliva, which naturally washes your mouth in between brushing and flossing. Meanwhile, foods that are high in sugar should only be enjoyed on occasion because sugar can feed the bad bacteria in your mouth and contribute to tooth decay. 

 

While we’re on the topic, it’s well known that red wine, coffee, and soda will stain your teeth. In fact, any highly-acidic food or drink is bad for your smile as it can wear down enamel and discolor it over time. Instead, drink lots of water to gently rinse your mouth throughout the day and promote saliva production.

  1. Kick-Start Your Oral Hygiene With the Right Toothpaste and Brush

There are countless toothpaste types on the market, but did you know that whitening toothpaste actually contains abrasives that can wear down enamel over time? Enamel is the protective outer layer on your teeth — and when it gets thin, the naturally yellow center of your tooth is able to show through.

 

If you want the healthiest smile possible, choose a toothpaste with fluoride, which will help strengthen enamel over time. Fluoride can also help reverse early-stage tooth decay, which means fewer fillings. To max out your oral hygiene, pair that toothpaste with a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid unnecessary abrasion, and make sure you brush at least twice a day.

  1. Keep Your Tongue Clean

You may have heard that your tongue is the primary source of bad breath-causing bacteria, and that’s not a myth. A host of bacteria live on your tongue, both good and bad, and it’s important that you scrub your tongue every time you brush. Forgetting to clean your tongue is like wiping clean dishes with a dirty towel!

 

Choose a toothbrush with a tongue scrubber on the reverse side, or pick up a tongue scraper that’s designed to make quick work of cleaning your tongue. You don’t necessarily need to use toothpaste on your tongue — you just need some gentle abrasion to clean off the bacteria. Once you’re done, continue your oral hygiene routine with a fluoride mouthwash to rinse your tongue and pearly whites. 

  1. Never Skip Flossing Again

After you brush, always use floss. Flossing helps remove excess plaque and clean in between your teeth where your brush can’t reach. If that plaque isn’t removed, it will build up over time and put you at an increased risk of gum disease and other problems.

 

The type of floss you use doesn’t matter, as long as you’re using it correctly. String floss is affordable and easy to take with you anywhere, but disposable pre-strung floss comes on a little handle for easy use. Avoid nicking your gums with the floss, and use a couple of new pieces as you move around your mouth. 

 

If you floss every day, you’ll notice the color of your gums improving and any tenderness you’ve been experiencing may start to disappear. However, when you first start flossing, you might experience some discomfort and bleeding. Your dentist can show you how to floss properly and assess your gum health to let you know whether any discomfort or bleeding might be an early warning sign of issues like gum disease.

  1. Ask an Oral Surgeon About Gum Disease

Periodontitis, often called gum disease, is an infection in the gums that will degrade your jawbone over time and lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene, which is good news since it’s a risk factor for heart and lung diseases and puts a serious damper on your healthy smile.

 

Bleeding when you floss could be an early sign of gum disease, and it’s one of the most obvious. Oftentimes, other symptoms go unnoticed — things like puffy, discolored, or tender gums and bad breath. Gum disease is incredibly common, especially if you don’t brush and floss regularly. That’s why you should talk to your oral surgeon about the health of your gums and discuss what they can do if you have any stage of gum disease. 

 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog for more information on why gum disease is so dangerous and how your oral surgeon can help you prevent and recover from gum disease and the decay or tooth loss that can result from it. In the meantime, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information on getting and maintaining a healthy smile.

A Patient’s Guide to Preventing Tooth Loss

A Patient’s Guide to Preventing Tooth Loss

Mastering your own oral healthcare can be hard work. Without taking the right steps regularly, it can be easy to end up with an unhealthy mouth: cavities, staining, gum disease, and, eventually, tooth loss. Tooth loss can wreak havoc on your overall health and well-being. However, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed about the prospect of keeping your teeth, gums, tongue, and palette clean and healthy over time — or worried about your potential inability to properly care for your mouth, despite your best efforts. In reality, all it takes is learning a few oral care best practices in order to prevent tooth loss.

Dental care is a multi-part process. Your dentist is in charge of doing regular professional cleanings and work. It is your job to both visit the dentist regularly and maintain a regular schedule of routine oral maintenance. If you want to ensure tooth loss prevention, even as you age, learn the basics of dental care, what tooth loss treatment looks like if you think you might be at risk of losing a tooth (or teeth), and how to manage oral health challenges as they arise. Then, put what you learned into action — so you’ll have a smile you feel proud of for years to come.

The Dangers of Tooth Loss

Losing a tooth may be an aesthetically unappealing idea to you. However, adult tooth loss poses far more risks than simply putting a hole in your smile. First, when there are spaces between your teeth, they tend to shift. Losing a tooth may cause all of your teeth to shift, causing crookedness or crowding. Next, your gums may begin to recede if you’ve lost a tooth. This can not only make the teeth around the receded gum vulnerable to plaque and bacteria (and generally weaker), but can also lead to potential gum disease, which can spread throughout your gums (and not just in the spot where you lost the tooth). A tooth lost as an adult can also cause your jawbone to shrink.

How to Prevent Tooth Loss

  1. Stay on top of dental hygiene. Dental hygiene includes many steps, like brushing and flossing your teeth daily, going to the dentist regularly, and even asking your dentist to show you how to floss properly. If you make dental hygiene a focus in your life and part of your daily routine, you can greatly decrease the chances you’ll lose a tooth as an adult.
  2. Avoid tobacco. Don’t just stay away from cigarettes because they cause cancer. Avoid them (and all other forms of tobacco) because they are terrible for your teeth. Studies show that smokers lose twice as many teeth as non-smokers.
  3. Choose foods and drinks carefully. Some foods and drinks are simply terrible for your dental health. These things include dark-colored soft drinks, sugary candy, and alcoholic beverages. Eat a tooth-friendly diet for tooth loss prevention. This doesn’t only mean avoiding certain foods; it also means incorporating foods good for your teeth, like crunchy vegetables, which stimulate gums and get rid of debris stuck on your teeth.
  4. Take care of your body and focus on wellness. While some accidents and injuries can’t be avoided, you can do your part to ensure you protect your body (and teeth) in your daily life. For example, make sure you wear a mouthguard when you play sports, don’t open “stuck” lids using your teeth, and lower your stress levels so you decrease the chances you grind your teeth at night. Some people may lose a tooth in an accident or injury, but you can do your best to minimize the chances of that happening to you.
  5. Pay attention to dry mouth. Dry mouth isn’t only annoying. It can also be dangerous for your teeth since a lack of saliva can lead to a buildup of bacteria on your teeth and gums, gum disease, and, ultimately, tooth loss. Dry mouth can be the sign of a more serious health condition or a side effect of a medication, but there are medications and treatments for chronic dry mouth, and it is worth addressing if you experience it regularly.

Worried About Tooth Loss? Seek Out Dental Care

If you are worried that you may be experiencing tooth loss, or if you have already lost a tooth, the best thing you can do is seek out professional care. Oral Surgery DC has excellent oral surgeons who specialize in helping people with issues surrounding tooth loss. The team at Oral Surgery DC can help you take care of your dental health for improved well-being and quality of life. So, reach out to us today. We have solutions that can ensure your teeth don’t shift, you don’t get gum disease or lose more teeth, and that you stay confident about your smile.

Prepare

Five Steps You Can Take to Prepare Successfully for Your Oral Surgery Procedure

Dental care is an important component of positive health.

Although the bulk of dental procedures are diagnostic and preventative, approximately 10% are restorative (≈ 7%) and surgical (≈ 3%), according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. A 2007 study reported that five million Americans get their wisdom teeth removed each year, not to mention procedures such as dental implants and bone grafting. Each procedure offers its own unique benefits — especially when you follow all preoperative and postoperative instructions.

If you require oral surgery, you can take steps to ensure the most optimal outcome. The key is to take proactive action so that your recovery is as straightforward as possible. Surgery preparation will reduce your risk of complications, increasing the rate of recovery. These five steps may help you as you approach your upcoming oral surgery.

 

Step One: Start with a Consult Appointment

A consult appointment is a chance to our surgeon who examine your mouth and x-rays and go over your medical history to reach a diagnosis and offer a proposed treatment plan with the dental codes. You will also be advised to other treatment approaches that would meet an accepted standard of care.

Depending on procedure, it is sometimes possible to combine the consult appointment with treatment at the same time, such as for a single tooth extraction, however for complicated cases it helps to have a time-out between consult and procedure to ensure everyone understands the case and is comfortable with the approach.

Tip 1: Discuss any aspects of the surgery that give you anxiety. This will allow you to talk through your concerns so that you are much more comfortable on the day of your surgery. It’s also important to discuss any medications you are taking. The more your dental surgeon knows, the better for avoiding complications, such as drug interactions.

Tip 2: Many people are anxious about the cost of surgery and have a difficult time figuring out how much they will owe. If you have dental insurance, the treatment plan will provide dental codes for your care. You can call your insurance plan and check on coverage for each code. Our office will usually request a pre-authorization from your insurance plan, which will detail what is covered and your estimated co-pay will be. There is no charge for this service.

 

Step Two: Organize Postoperative Needs

Before your surgery date, ask a friend or family member to accompany you. After your surgery is complete, you will need a drive home. Regardless of the complexity of your surgery, even local anesthesia can impair your reflexes. If you opt for a ride service, make sure you do not order a car until you are told it is safe for you to leave.

Meal prep is also important. Be sure to follow a diet that will support you through your recovery, stocking up on soft, nutrient-dense foods. For example, cool or room-temperature liquids and soft solids may be best for the first day or two. Smoothies, applesauce, and yogurt are all ideal. You may then transition to warmer foods, such as broths, soups, and mashed potatoes. Prep any meals the day before you go into surgery so that you do not need to cook.

Tip: If you are undergoing a more complex operation, it’s important to plan ahead. If you live alone, ask someone to stay with you or at least check in. If you have children, arrange for child care. When you are preparing your meal plan, consider the addition of a vitamin C supplement. A 2018 study, published in Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research, reported that vitamin C supplementation helps improve postoperative healing following dental surgery.

 

Step Three: Know the “Rules” for a Successful Recovery

There will be preoperative guidelines associated with your oral surgery. It is very important that you follow them. Again, it’s important to prepare yourself for any alterations to your routine, particularly in terms of eating, drinking, and smoking habits. For example, most times you cannot eat or drink anything prior to your surgery (6-8 hours before). In other cases, when all you require is a local anesthetic, you may be able to have a light meal a couple of hours before you arrive. It is also very important that you do not smoke for at least 12 hours before surgery and a minimum of 24 hours after.

Tip: Work with your oral surgeon to create a post-op recovery plan that works for you. Besides a meal plan, discuss what you will need for icing, pain medication, oral hygiene, etc. What will help you heal and what might interfere with your recovery? Knowing the “do’s and don’ts” will allow you to make the right decisions within the first 24 hours, as well as within the days and weeks to come. For example, many people do not realize the potential dangers of using a straw to drink. The suction created in your mouth can loosen the clot that keeps your wound closed and delay healing.

 

Step Four: Dress Appropriately for Surgery

When you are heading into surgery, you will want to wear comfortable clothing — for obvious reasons. However, it’s also important that you wear a short-sleeved shirt to accommodate your IV drip. This will also be necessary for monitoring your vital signs and blood pressure. Do not wear any jewelry and, out of courtesy, avoid wearing any colognes or perfume.

Tip: Wear something to your surgery that is easy to remove when you get home. Have a change of loose-fitting clothing ready for when you arrive, opting for an outfit that is comfortable enough to sleep in.

 

Step Five: Sleep Well and Arrive Early

The night before, prepare for oral surgery just as you would any other surgery. That means getting a good night’s rest. This will help you feel your best and better prepare the morning of. It’s important to not feel rushed before your surgery. Unless your surgeon says otherwise, arrive at your appointment 15-20 minutes early. This will allow you to ask any last-minute questions or fill out any necessary paperwork.

Tip: If you’re anxious the day before your surgery, take steps to ensure the best sleep possible. Recommendations include not consuming caffeine or alcohol, avoiding blue light from electronics, taking a warm bath, journaling to express your thoughts, and creating an optimal sleep environment.

If you think you may need oral surgery or have questions about what a certain procedure entails, Woodview Oral Surgery is here for you. Contact us for more information.

 

Image credits: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.