Anyone who was lucky enough to have braces during childhood or adolescence has likely enjoyed a straight and beautiful smile for years afterward. Although most orthodontists suggest prolonged or permanent use of removable retainers following braces, few people maintain the routine.
Whether you doubted your teeth would continue to move or just grew tired of wearing your retainers, it’s likely that your teeth have moved since you got your braces off. If you look closely, you might even notice the return of old gaps and even some new ones making an appearance.
But what do these gaps between teeth mean for your dental health?
Any place in your mouth that’s difficult to reach with a toothbrush proves susceptible to decay. Gaps between teeth aren’t uncommon, and braces help to close those spaces. But after braces come off, teeth sometimes move and create new gaps.
Large gaps typically aren’t cause for worry since the bristles of your toothbrush easily fit inside the bigger space. In addition, large gaps in between the incisors (or front teeth) prove easy to monitor through visual checks and flossing.
Gaps mainly become a problem when your mouth develops small gaps in hard-to-reach and hard-to-see places. Places in between your teeth that were once tight may now have opened up due to any lapse in retainer wearing. Even with religious retainer usage, some people still experience a “settling” of sorts in between their teeth.
The space in between molars shows a particular ability to trap and harbor food bits and other cavitycausing debris. As these new gaps take shape and begin to catch pieces of the meals you eat, your teeth develop a cozy space for bacteria to hide in.
When reaching these sites with your toothbrush proves difficult or impossible, it’s time to combat the issue with customized dental care.
Mind the Gap(s)
Even with regular brushing, spaces and gaps between molars require more attention than you might think. If you notice new or existing gaps in these areas, take the following steps to protect yourself from preventable tooth decay.
1. Floss Daily
Pay attention to the gaps in between your teeth. After eating, run your tongue along each gap to feel for trapped food. If your tongue cannot free the debris, use floss to clear the area. Floss each day or even after each meal to keep the area clean and free of food.
2. Use an Interdental Brush
Dentists created this floss-type brush for use in between teeth. By using this brush along with your regular daily brushing and flossing routine, you ensure that your gums and teeth remain free of cavitycausing debris.
3. Rinse Your Mouth Often
Mouth wash and other antimicrobial solutions help to clean every part of your mouth, even when regular brushing cannot. However, the simple act of rinsing your mouth with water after every meal also helps you to wash away any food pieces that might stick in your teeth otherwise.
4. Visit Your Dentist
As much as the above tips help, you should visit your dentist regularly to ensure that your teeth (and their respective gaps) receive the attention they need. If you’re concerned about cleaning newfound gaps on your own, consult a professional.
Dentists have the necessary knowledge and specified tools to deal with a variety of issues, including small, large, and hard-to-reach gaps. The spaces in between molars require careful attention, so make your dentist aware of any concerns you may have.
Some dentists may also offer permanent retainers or similar devices to correct and minimize minor gaps. Ask your dentist about such options, and use the above steps to deal with post-braces space.
Imagine that you’re sitting in a hammock in the shade, the lull of ocean waves breaking in the background. You feel warm, safe, and comfortable. The only thing you have on your mind is relaxation, and all your senses remain calm.
Now, imagine feeling that level of serenity at the dentist. Seem impossible? Don’t feel alone. Many people struggle to find inner peace when faced with the dentist’s chair.
If you experience feelings of anxiety or nervousness that prevent you from going to the dentist on a regular basis, you may, unfortunately, hurt your teeth in the long run. Read our blog for five suggestions that can help you overcome your phobia and feel relaxed at your next dental visit.
1. Bring a Friend
The normal procedures of a dental visit may make you feel isolated and helpless. The next time you schedule an appointment, bring a friend or family member into the examination room with you. Even the presence of someone you trust can help assure you that the dentist has your best interest in mind.
2. Keep Communication Open
Tell your dentist about your dental phobia beforehand. That way he or she can take extra care to communicate with you about all cleaning and examination procedures. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask questions or have your dentist explain why you need to take fluoride treatments or redo your x-rays.
If you have a particular aversion to a single procedure, like needles for example, ask your dentist for alternative methods of pain relief. A considerate dentist will explain all of your options and try to find a solution that works and makes you feel comfortable.
3. Establish Clear Signals
Some of the time during your visit to the dentist, you may not have the ability to speak. But in order to communicate when you have instruments or fluoride in your mouth, talk to your dentist to set up gestures or sign language that will streamline communication.
Not sure what signals to use? Here is one example: tell your dentist that you will raise your arm or clap your hands if you feel any pain or sensitivity. Non-verbal communications will help you feel empowered and safe during your stay, and they’ll allow your dentist to meet your needs.
4. Pay Attention to Your Senses
Some people experience anxious feelings at the dentist because the noise of the dentist’s drill triggers feelings of panic. Others have a negative reaction to the temperature of the dentist’s office.
If you realize your own sensitivity to these extraneous details, take matters into your own hands. Bring a blanket or pillow with you into the dentist’s chair to make your position comfortable. If the noise of the dentist’s office offends you, bring music and headphones-or ask your dentist to turn on the radio or TV to mask the sound. Slight adjustments to the environment can make a world of difference to your emotional state.
5. Plan Ahead to Avoid Dental Emergencies
If you’ve had an episode of fear or anxiety at the dentist before, you may feel uninclined to schedule another appointment. But when you avoid the dentist, you put your teeth and gums at risk for more serious conditions.
So if you just can’t bring yourself to pick up the phone and schedule a visit, ask the receptionist to schedule your visits for the next six months or even a year. When you put several appointments on your calendar all at once, you’ll have the financial incentive to show up, and you’ll avoid costly, painful damage to your smile.
When you replace your negative dental experiences with new positive reinforcements, you’ll learn to manage your dental anxiety. Eventually you can establish a relationship of trust with your dental professionals so they can put your fears at ease and give you the treatment you need.
For more information about how to have the best possible experience at the dentist, keep reading our blog.
You may have heard about the link between periodontal disease-an infection of the gums-and other diseases. Many people with periodontal disease have certain other diseases as well.
This link raises many questions. Does periodontal disease cause these diseases, or do these diseases cause periodontal disease? Or does something else cause both of them?
Let’s find out by examining what researchers know so far.
Some scientists believe that inflammation is the key to understanding the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. When you have periodontal disease, your immune system response causes your gums to become inflamed. This response causes other areas of your body, such as your arteries, to become inflamed as well. Inflammation of the arteries increases heart disease risk.
One scientific review points out that people with periodontal disease have certain microbes in their bodies. These microbes might invade the arteries and cause plaque to form in the arteries, which can also increase heart disease risk.
However, it’s also important to remember that several lifestyle choices can lead to both periodontal disease and heart disease. These include smoking and lack of exercise.
In one study, scientists evaluated the gum health of patients with diabetes and patients without diabetes.
They discovered that the patients with diabetes showed increased signs of periodontal disease.
Researchers believe that the connection between periodontal disease and diabetes lies with increased infection risk. People with diabetes are more likely to get infections, so they may be more likely to develop periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease may also worsen diabetes symptoms. In fact, periodontal disease can increase blood sugar.
Many people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also have periodontal disease.
The two diseases are similar in several ways. Arthritis involves inflamed joints, just as periodontal disease involves inflamed gums. Both diseases can eventually destroy bone.
Scientists believe a common genetic factor may cause people to develop both diseases.
In one survey analysis, researchers looked at the connection between poor oral health and chronic lung disease in 13,792 people. They found that people with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had greater signs of periodontal disease as well. They also found that the greater the periodontal symptoms, the worse the subjects’ lungs functioned.
The cause is uncertain. One theory is that periodontal disease causes bacteria to build up in patients’ mouths. Sometimes, people can breathe in the bacteria. When it enters the lungs, the bacteria can cause pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.
Note that smoking increases the risk of both periodontal disease and respiratory disease.
Researchers have also seen links between periodontal disease and certain types of cancer.
One study analysis found that men with periodontal disease had an increased overall cancer risk-even if they had never smoked. Not surprisingly, men who smoked and had periodontal disease were at greater risk for lung cancer.
One theory is that periodontal disease decreases immune system function, which raises cancer risk.
Periodontal Disease Prevention
So, does periodontal disease cause other diseases? There is some evidence it might. There is also some evidence that certain diseases can lead to periodontal disease.
However, many factors play a part. Genetic factors or lifestyle choices might lead to both periodontal disease and another disease.
In any case, it’s important to prevent periodontal disease by:
- Brushing and flossing daily
- Seeing a dentist twice a year
- Avoiding smoking
If you suspect you have periodontal disease, see a dentist right away. He or she can remove plaque and bacteria on the tooth root and around the gum line.
Take good care of your teeth and gums, and you may prevent other diseases as well.
With the holiday season approaching, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to eat sugary treats. How could you pass on your candy bars during Halloween, your grandmother’s famous pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or your candy cane collection during Christmas?
But you know all this sugary food might lead to cavities if you’re not careful. Watch for warning signs to identify whether you’ve developed a cavity. Then, see a dentist to restore your dental health.
How to Know if You Have a Cavity
Pay attention to your dental health during the holiday season. If you notice any of these signs, see a dentist.
- Toothache: Sometimes, cavities cause tooth pain. This pain might increase when you chew.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Cavity-related pain might increase if you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sugary. However, tooth sensitivity doesn’t necessarily indicate a cavity-see a dentist to make sure.
- Spots or Holes in Your Teeth: As the acid wears down your tooth, it leaves brown spots on the tooth’s surface. As the cavity progresses, parts of your tooth might break off, creating holes.
- Bad Breath: When food particles get stuck inside the holes caused by cavities, they can cause bad breath. Like tooth sensitivity, bad breath doesn’t always mean you have a cavity; it could point to a different dental condition as well.
However, even if you don’t experience any of these signs, you might still have a cavity. If you haven’t already seen your dentist twice this year for a checkup, try to visit him or her before the end of the year. It can be tricky to fit in a dentist visit during the holiday season, but the sooner your dentist sees an issue, the easier your dentist can take care of it.
How a Cavity Forms
If you suspect you have a cavity, you might wonder how you got it, especially if you brush and floss regularly. Here’s how a cavity forms:
- You eat something that contains sugar and don’t thoroughly clean it off your teeth in time.
- The natural bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid.
- Bacteria, food, and saliva combine in your mouth and form plaque.
- The plaque attaches to your teeth and begins to harden and turn into tartar.
- The acids in the plaque remove your tooth’s minerals and enamel. This causes holes in your teeth called cavities.
- If your cavity isn’t treated, the acid breaks down your inner tooth material and causes pain.
As you can see, eating sugary foods makes cavities more likely. But starchy foods, like your uncle’s famous mashed potatoes, are also culprits because they make plaque stickier.
Sugary drinks are popular during the holidays (including egg nog, hot chocolate, and soda) and greatly increase your risk for cavities. When you drink these beverages, you constantly wash your teeth in sugar, allowing bacteria to produce more acid.
How a Dentist Treats Your Cavity
First, your dentist will check to see whether you have a cavity. He or she uses an instrument to check for teeth softened by decay. He or she also uses an x-ray to see if a cavity formed between your teeth.
Sometimes, your dentist can reverse small cavities by applying fluoride treatments. But in most cases, your dentist needs to remove the decayed area and fill it with a protective material like gold, silver alloy, composite resin, or porcelain. Most fillings are barely noticeable, so you don’t have to worry about how you’ll look at your work Christmas party.
If your tooth is badly decayed, your dentist may place a crown, or artificial tooth cap, over the damaged area.
If the cavity has reached the root or pulp of your tooth, your dentist needs to perform a root canal. Your dentist removes the infected pulp and fills it with a protective material, then adds a crown or filling to your tooth.
You can have a piece of Grandma’s pie this holiday season. Just make sure you don’t overdo your consumption of sugar and starch. If you suspect you have a cavity, see a dentist right away.
When your child begins elementary school, she also begins losing her primary teeth. While visions of tooth fairies fill your child’s head, you wonder what you should expect.
For example, you might wonder how many teeth your child should lose and when. You might also wonder how to know if your child’s tooth loss is healthy, and when your child needs a dentist’s help.
Read on for answers to your questions.
Primary Tooth Loss: The Pattern
Like other animals, humans develop primary teeth because our jaws aren’t big enough for permanent teeth.
As we grow, we begin to lose our primary teeth and have them replaced with our permanent teeth.
Our primary teeth hold space in our mouths, allowing each permanent tooth to grow in normally. Each primary tooth falls out because the permanent tooth below it grows and pushes it out of the way.
Here’s a general guide to when your child will lose his or her teeth:
- 5 to 7 years old: Your child loses his or her middle teeth.
- 7 to 8 years old: Your child loses the teeth on either side of the middle teeth.
- 9 to 12 years old: Your child loses his or her molars (the teeth at the back of the mouth).
Common Issues With Tooth Loss
Most children will lose teeth without any problems. However, you should watch for the following situations.
- Losing teeth unexpectedly: If your child gets a tooth knocked out before it’s ready to fall out, you should take him to a dentist. Similarly, if your child loses a tooth before age 5, a dental disease or an accident may have caused the loss. Your dentist may need to place a spacer in the tooth’s place. The spacer will prevent the permanent tooth from coming in too early and crowding other teeth in your child’s mouth.
- Losing teeth too late: If your child is 8 years old and still hasn’t lost any teeth, see a dentist. Your dentist can take an x-ray to check that your child’s dental health is normal.
- Painful tooth growth: Your child most likely won’t feel pain as his or her new teeth come in. If your child does feel pain, give him or her a mild pain reliever. If the pain continues, visit a dentist.
- Loose tooth that won’t fall out: Tell your child to lightly move the tooth back and forth. However, your child should not yank the tooth out; she might damage its roots and increase infection risk. If the tooth has been loose for several weeks, see a dentist.
- Two rows of teeth: Sometimes, a child’s new teeth come in before the old ones fall out. This is nothing to worry about-the primary teeth will fall out soon.
- A primary tooth gets a cavity: Even though your child’s primary teeth will fall out, he still needs to visit a dentist for cavity treatment. If your child develops a cavity, it can cause pain and even develop into an infection. If the cavity is between teeth, it will take away space the permanent teeth need to grow.
How to Keep Your Child’s Primary Teeth Healthy
Don’t forget to teach your child healthy habits like brushing and flossing. This will remove harmful plaque that leads to cavities. It will also prevent unnatural tooth loss.
In addition, your child should also see a dentist twice a year for a regular cleaning. Even though your child’s primary teeth aren’t permanent, their health affects the permanent teeth that will grow in after them. Dentists and dental hygienists use tools to remove plaque that brushing and flossing can’t remove.
If you have other questions about primary teeth and childhood tooth loss, ask your dentist.
Most people learn dental hygiene before they learn to tie their shoes. But once you learn how to brush and floss properly, it's up to you to keep your mouth healthy. But with the many myths about dental health out there, you could overhear false information that could harm your teeth and gums.
Learn about common dental hygiene myths in our blog post, and increase your knowledge so your mouth can stay healthy.
1. Eating Lots of Sugar is Bad for Teeth
While sugar is definitely an enemy to healthy teeth and gums, it's not necessarily the amount of sugar you eat that's the problem. What matters more? The time sugar stays on your teeth.
You can eat small amounts of sugar and still experience problems if you don't brush thoroughly or often enough. Try to get in the habit of brushing your teeth after breakfast, not before. And chew on sugar-free gum after lunch to remove sugars from your teeth if you find yourself in a pinch.
2. Sugar-Free Gum Can Replace Brushing
Sugar-free gum brushes away food particles and cleans your teeth mid-day. While sugar-free gum can help you quickly remove sugar from teeth, you shouldn't use it as a replacement for brushing altogether.
Yes, gum helps produce saliva that kills bacteria and strengthens tooth enamel. But nothing can replace the effect that toothbrush bristles and toothpaste have on teeth. By all means, keep chewing the gum. Just don't forget to brush at night-no matter how tired you are!
3. The Whiter the Teeth, the Healthier the Smile
Sugar isn't the only culprit that hurts teeth. Wrong ideas about tooth whitening can cause harm too. Many people think that whitening their smiles translates into healthier teeth and gums. However, a person with the whitest teeth can have tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease lurking below.
While you may love your pearly white smile, it's important to take care of underlying dental problems as well.
4. Flossing Just Removes Stuck Food
Another common myth about teeth is that flossing only serves to remove food from between your teeth. However, flossing does much more than save you from an embarrassing post-lunch work situation. Daily flossing also removes hidden plaque from between your teeth. This plaque, if left untouched, mixes with the acids in your mouth and destroys the enamel on your teeth. The result is cavities, gingivitis and ultimately gum disease.
You can prevent gum and tooth problems by flossing daily, even if you didn't recently eat popcorn.
5. Topical Aspirin Relieves A Toothache
Have you ever seen someone place an aspirin pill on an aching tooth to relieve the pain? A small amount of pain reliever can dissolve and get into the bloodstream through the gums. However, the best way to relieve pain with aspirin is simply to ingest it. The painkillers need to enter your bloodstream to do any good.
If your toothache persists, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a long-lasting cure.
6. I Should Stop Brushing if My Gums Bleed
Many believe that bleeding gums signifies that they are brushing too hard. But a more common cause of bleeding is inflammation. What causes this inflammation? Lack of brushing leads to plaque build-up, which irritates your gums.
If you see your gums start to bleed, you're likely not simply brushing too hard. In fact, you should keep brushing to remove that plaque and treat the underlying problem of inflammation.
Talk to your dentist about any dental questions you may have. He or she can give you personalized advice and clear up any confusion about common dental myths.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? You might have your mother's eyes, your father's nose, your great-aunt's earlobes, and your grandma's hair color-all assembled on a face that's uniquely your own.
Most people think about hair or eye color when they discuss inheritance. But what about your teeth? Even if your smile doesn't look like your family members', your teeth could have more in common than you think.
In our blog below, we'll tell you just how genetics influences your smile-and what you can do to protect your dental health regardless of your family's history.
What Genes Can Influence
Much of your dental health is up to you. How many sugary drinks you consume, how frequently you brush and floss, and how often you visit your dentist all impact your teeth's health. However, your genes influence certain aspects of your body's chemical makeup, which in turn impacts your dental health. Here are some key ways genes can control your teeth.
Your Taste Buds
Have you ever met someone who just didn't like the taste of chocolate? Maybe you can't stand cilantro because it tastes like soap, or the smell of roast beef makes you gag.
To a certain extent, your environment influences your taste buds. You might also dislike certain foods for reasons other than taste. For instance, you might think tomatoes taste fine, but you can't stand their texture.
At the same time, your genes control certain aspects about your personal tastes, including how much of a sweet tooth you have, or if cilantro tastes crisp or soapy to you. If your genes predispose you to prefer sugar to greens, you'll run a higher risk of developing tooth decay simply because you'll want to consume more sweets.
Your saliva plays an important role in breaking down foods to metabolize the bone- and tooth-strengthening minerals they contain. It also coats your teeth for protection and neutralizes harmful acids, to an extent.
Problems like dehydration and dry mouth can weaken saliva's effects and encourage tooth decay. But your genetics can also determine how much saliva you produce (more is better than less) and how protective your saliva is.
Your teeth's enamel protects your pulp and nerves from decay. Unfortunately, some people's genes predispose them to softer enamel, which is much more susceptible to cavities and decay.
Your Teeth's Positioning
Genes determine how your teeth grow into your mouth. For instance, if your father had an overcrowded mouth and needed teeth extracted, you may as well. If one of your grandmother's permanent teeth never grew in, you could also lack that permanent tooth.
If you have an overcrowded smile or oddly positioned teeth, you could have a harder time brushing and flossing. Food particles also get trapped in your teeth much easier. These two factors can mean a greater chance of tooth decay.
What You Can Control
These genetic facts might sound discouraging, but you don't need to despair. No matter what genetics predisposes you towards, you can follow these tips to practice good oral hygiene and avoid cavities:
Choose fruits, vegetables, and whole grains over sugary snacks-no matter how much your taste buds prefer chocolate.
Forego sugary sodas altogether; substitute with water.
Brush and floss twice daily. If you have overcrowded or overlapping teeth, devote extra time and attention to cleaning them thoroughly.
Drink plenty of water to ensure your saliva production stays strong. If you notice symptoms of dry mouth, talk to your dentist or doctor.
Visit your dentist twice annually. A deep cleaning will keep the cavities at bay, and your dentist's exam can allow him or her to find and treat decay before it worsens.
Do what you can to strengthen your enamel. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of nutrients, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush that won't cause enamel erosion.
Your genes influence many aspects of your dental health, but healthy habits can make an even bigger impact. Implement the tips above and schedule your semi-annual dental exam to get and maintain a happy, healthy smile.
As an adult, you know that you need to care for your teeth. You brush and floss twice a day, and you never miss a dental checkup. You even avoid acidic and sugary foods to safeguard your smile. However, you may have noticed that your smile doesn't appear as bright as it did when you were younger.
You continue to inspect your smile for slight changes, and this process makes you think that you need change your oral care as you age. But what dental problems should you look out for? Below, we've listed some of the most common age-related dental issues. And to help you preserve your smile, we've given you tips to prevent these problems.
As you age, you might notice that your mouth feels drier than usual. Perhaps you have to drink more water, chew gum regularly, or have breath mints on hand to keep your mouth moist.
How This Issue Occurs
According to medical experts, around 800 different medications cause this dental issue. You likely take these various prescriptions to treat ailments. As a result, your mouth feels dry. When your mouth doesn't contain enough saliva, you have a difficult time eating, speaking, and swallowing. If left untreated, dry mouth can lead to more serious dental problems.
Steps to Take
One of the easiest ways to prevent dry mouth is to drink plenty of water each day. You should also limit or avoid the following items:
Sugary foods and candies
Consult with your dentist for more information about preventing dry mouth.
The risk for gingivitis significantly increases as you age. Depending on the severity of this issue, it may also lead to gum disease.
Even if you diligently care for your teeth, you could still develop gingivitis. Many people forget to clean their gums properly, which causes plaque to build up along the gum line. When too much plaque builds up along your gums, you'll notice symptoms including:
Swollen, red gums
Small gaps between your gums and teeth
If you notice these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist or oral hygienist immediately.
To prevent gingivitis, clean your teeth and gums to remove bacteria and plaque. You should also floss and use mouthwash as you tend to your teeth. For added protection, brush and floss after every meal, not just twice a day.
This disease spreads to your gums, tongue, throat, and lips. Reports from the Oral Cancer Foundation indicate that more than 45,000 U.S. residents will develop oral cancer during the next year. Individuals who use tobacco products are at greater risk for developing the disease than those who avoid these items.
Conditions that Generate Oral Cancer
As previously mentioned, tobacco products lead to oral cancer However, the following conditions also cause this disease:
Extreme exposure to the sun
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Excessive alcohol consumption
Family history of cancer
How to Avoid This Dental Problem
Though some conditions inadvertently cause oral cancer, you can still take steps to avoid it. Protect your lips and apply sunscreen-infused lip balm. Avoid tobacco products completely, and only drink alcohol in moderation.
And be sure to visit your dentist regularly. At each appointment, he or she examines your mouth for signs of oral cancer. If your dentist notices early symptoms of the condition, he or she can better prevent it from spreading.
Follow the preventative measures listed above to keep your smile brilliant as you age. Remember to visit your dentist every six months so that he or she can further protect your teeth from additional dental issues.
And if you notice any of these complications as you age, consult with a dental professional immediately. He or she can recommend treatment options so that you can enjoy your natural smile longer.
Most people recognize several common factors that lead to tooth damage. If you don't brush or floss, you teeth may decay and cause expensive cavities. Sports players often face injuries to the mouth that chip or knock out teeth. These examples may seem extreme, but teeth are more fragile than we realize.
How we care for our teeth now affects the health and look of our smiles later in life. Take a look the following ways you may put your teeth at risk without even knowing it.
If you chew on pencils when you feel nervous, you may not mind the faint taste of lead in your mouth. But your teeth will mind. Biting on pencils, pens, bottle caps, and other hard items can break your teeth. These habits also damage dental work already in your mouth.
The same principle applies to nail biting. When you bite your nails, you move your teeth and jaw out of proper alignment and damages your teeth.
If stress or boredom hits, try some healthy crackers, carrot sticks, or a piece of sugar-free gum to keep your jaw occupied.
Coffee & Wine
Two of the major culprits for bad teeth stains include coffee and red wine. While white wine isn't dark in color as its red counterpart, it contributes to teeth staining as well. The acid in wine also erodes enamel, making teeth more susceptible to stains from other foods and drinks.
Smoking can introduce an array of harmful side effects to your overall health. Besides increasing your risk for mouth and lung cancer, smoking causes gum disease, and the tobacco content stains teeth.
Tooth grinding (also called bruxism) often occurs when you feel stressed or even when you sleep. Some people do not realize when they grind or clench their teeth. In severe cases, bruxism wears down teeth and hurts the jaw.
If you suffer from bruxism, discuss your sleep habits with your dentist and ask if a mouth guard might help.
Though popular, mouth piercings can damage teeth and gums. Mouth piercings increase your risk of infection in the mouth. The rubbing of piercings against gums can wear down and weaken gum tissue. And a bite down onto a metal stud can break your tooth.
Lots of Soda
Soda may taste delicious and refreshing, but it is far from good for your teeth. The sugar in regular soda can sit on your teeth's surface and cause decay. And diet soda proves just as harmful: even though diet sodas boast alternative sweeteners, the acidity of any soda eats tooth enamel away. Eroded enamel leaves exposed and rough patches on teeth that are more likely to catch food and stains.
Too Much Lemon
If you enjoy eating or sucking lemons, you may want to find a less acidic fruit to enjoy. The acids in lemons break down the enamel on your teeth so your teeth are less protected from stains and decay. The erosion also roughens the surface of your teeth.
When you have a corn kernel or a chunk of meat in your teeth, your mouth itches for relief. Don't reach so fast for those wooden toothpicks, though. Hard toothpicks actually damage teeth and gums when you use them to remove trapped food.
Hard toothpicks grind away parts of your tooth enamel and damage gum tissue. As an alternative, opt for flexible soft toothpicks or floss to remove food from between your teeth.
Ice, Ice, Ice
Many people relish the refreshing satisfaction of crunching on ice. But hard ice can break your teeth with every bite. Instead, try a fruit popsicle or semi-frozen fruit chunks for a soothing, cold treat.
Opening Containers With Teeth
No scissors handy? Many people use their own teeth to open bottles or packaging and to the tear off plastic tags from purchased items. The extra pressure from ripping something open with your mouth can actually cause chips and cracks in your teeth.
Save your teeth the stress, and find scissors or another method to open things.
If you regularly do any of the above habits, you might not doom your beautiful smile. The key is to take care of your mouth. Avoid doing things that place too much strain on your teeth and gums. Choose healthy foods and drinks, and brush your teeth well after you consume sugary, acidic, or staining beverages.
If you have any questions about your at-home dental care, ask your dentist for guidance.
You haven't felt confident about your smile in a while. Thanks to age, medication, dark foods, or other factors, your teeth have become discolored. In the meantime, you see celebrities and friends with beautiful white smiles, and you feel a hint of envy. You want to bleach the discoloration away, but you feel apprehension as you think about your treatment options.
Many people feel nervous about teeth whitening. They may worry about potential side effects and think a white smile doesn't merit the pain. However, in reality, teeth whitening can safely give most people the beautiful teeth they desire.
Read on to learn the facts about teeth whitening. Once you know the truth, you can make an informed decision about whether you want this treatment or not.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
You regularly expose your teeth to a variety of foods and drinks that leave stains. Fortunately, you can use cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening to remove the stains and bleach your teeth's color.
How the Treatment Works
You have two primary ways to whiten your teeth. The first removes surface stains, while the second bleaches the color. Stainremoving whiteners include products like whitening toothpaste and mouthwash that you can purchase over the counter. Both gently polish the tooth to lift surface stains.
Bleaching whiteners refer to gels that contain carbamide peroxide, a substance that lightens your teeth's color. These gels usually produce whiter results because the chemical compounds actually penetrate the tooth to remove deep stains and change enamel color.
You can purchase some bleaching gels over the counter, but a dentist must apply most higher-concentration products. Get a dental exam to see if this type of whitening will work for you.
Common Teeth Whitening Myths
Several myths surround teeth whitening techniques. To set the record straight, we will explain the facts that debunk these common myths.
It Will Damage the Enamel
Some people believe that the peroxide in bleach whiteners can deteriorate the enamel on their teeth. However, studies
(http://www.jopdentonline.org/doi/pdf/10.2341/1559-2863-30-2-1#page=131) show that teeth whitening products that contain 10% carbamide peroxide do not significantly affect your enamel's hardness or mineral content. Most at-home teeth whiteners contain that amount or less and have approval from the American Dental Association.
When you use teeth whiteners as directed and under your dentist's supervision, your enamel will not sustain damage.
It Is Painful
Some people hesitate to get teeth whitening because they've heard it feels painful. While some people do experience sensitivity during or after the whitening process, that sensitivity is minimal and short-term in most cases.
Some factors can make you more prone to sensitivity. These factors include:
Pre-existing tooth decay
Weak enamel due to heavy brushing or acidic foods
If any of these factors apply to you, you can still whiten your teeth with minimal discomfort. Use a whitening product with a lower percentage of carbamide peroxide, and whiten your teeth for a shorter time period.
However, you should always talk to your dentist before you whiten your teeth. He or she will tell you if you are eligible for the procedure and advise you on the best product to use.
It Can Cause Oral Cancer
Some people believe tooth whitening can cause oral cancer. However, in 2010, the American Dental Association
(http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/About%20the%20ADA/Files/ada_house_of_delegates_whitening_report.ashx) said that a 20-year study found no long-term side effects from teeth whitening when the procedure occurred under a dentist's supervision.
Proven causes for oral cancer include:
Tobacco use (chewing and smoking)
A diet of red meats and highly processed and fried foods
Gastro-esophageal reflux disease
Exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, sulfuric acid and formaldehyde
Scientists have not proven a link between teeth whitening products and oral cancer, and multiple studies determined that teeth whiteners are safe for oral use.
Teeth Whitening Facts
Now that you've read about the myths surrounding teeth whitening, you should know a couple more things before you schedule an appointment for this procedure.
Whitening Isn't Permanent
Whitening your teeth is not a permanent solution. Things like coffee, black tea, red wine, and acidic foods can decrease whiteness in as little as one month. You can preserve your smile's brightness for over a year if you consume these foods and beverages sparingly and maintain good oral habits.
Whitening Is Not for Everyone
Pregnant or nursing women should not whiten their teeth. Whitening can also damage nerves and hinder tooth growth in children under the age of 16. If you you're not sure if you're good candidate for teeth whitening, talk to your dentist.
For most people, teeth whitening is safe and affordable. More importantly, it will give you a whiter, more beautiful smile. You will feel better about yourself and more confident around your peers. Talk to your local dentist about the best whitening option for you.