A Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Teeth Brushing

Photo of family brushing their teeth together

Are you brushing your teeth the right way? You might think so, but you might actually be missing a few key pointers to ensure you thoroughly clean every surface of every tooth as best as possible.

Brushing the correct way is important, so it’s always wise to refine your technique. After all, the better you can brush your teeth at home, the more impressed your dental hygienist will be—and the less work she’ll have to do when you go for a cleaning!

Ready to start brushing your teeth like a pro? Follow our easy step-by-step guide below to take your oral hygiene routine to the next level.

Just Remember: It’s All About the Angle

Positioning your toothbrush just right can make a world of difference. Experts recommend getting your toothbrush to be at a 45° angle to your gums. Then, once it’s at the correct angle, you can gently move the brush in short, circular strokes that are about the width of each tooth.

When it’s time to brush the inner surfaces of the front teeth, you can change things up a bit by moving the brush so that it is in a vertical position. Then, you can brush up and down those surfaces to clean them.

Note: There’s no need to brush aggressively. Using too much pressure can do more harm than good, as it can lead to enamel erosion and gum damage. Instead, focus on using the right angle and strokes to get the job done.

Step 1: Brush the Outer Surfaces of the Teeth

Start by brushing the outer surfaces of all of your teeth.

You might decide to start in the front of your mouth, or you could start in the back of your mouth and then make your way around to the other side.

You can either start with your top teeth or your bottom teeth first. Just make sure that you go all the way around so you don’t miss any spots.

Note: After using the brush at the 45° angle mentioned above, you can gently roll the bristles away from the gums to ensure you remove debris from the entire tooth surface.

Step 2: Brush the Inner Surfaces of the Teeth

Once you’ve brushed the outer surface of your upper and lower tooth, from the back to the front, it’s time to repeat the process with the inner surfaces of all of those teeth.

Yet again, you can start in the back on one side of your mouth, either the upper or lower teeth, and work your way around, following the directions regarding the correct angle to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums. Don’t forget to change the angle when you get to the inside of the front teeth.

Step 3: Brush the Chewing Surfaces of the Teeth

Next, it’s time to get the chewing surface of every tooth clean.

As you did for the other surfaces of your teeth, you can begin with the back molars on one side of the mouth and make your way around. If you start with your upper teeth, get them completely clean before moving on to the lower teeth, or vice versa.

For the chewing surface, which is uneven rather than smooth, you can use a back and forth motion to clean it out.

Step 4: Brush Your Tongue

You can use a special tongue cleaner or your toothbrush to clean your tongue. This can help combat bacteria and bad breath.

When brushing your tongue, don’t press too hard. Be gentle, and use circular motions to clean the surface and freshen up your mouth.

Step 5: Rinse

Finally, you can rinse off your toothbrush, and rinse out your mouth with some water.

For extra refreshment, you can even finish up by rinsing with some mouthwash.

That’s it! You’re all done until your next brushing session.

It Only Takes Two Minutes, Twice a Day

Brush your teeth using the technique discussed above for about two minutes per brushing session. And brush once in the morning and once before bed, at a minimum. Follow your dentist’s instructions if you need to brush your teeth more often than that.

Tip - Some electric toothbrushes come with convenient features, like timers and apps, that can help guide you through the brushing process.

You’ve Heard This Before: Don’t Forget to Floss!

Although we’ve covered the proper teeth brushing technique, it’s important to mention that flossing at least once a day is a vital component to a smart at-home oral hygiene routine.

Your toothbrush can’t get all the way in between your teeth, but your floss can, so you don’t want to miss out on using this tool to really freshen up and clean your mouth.

Do You Need to Upgrade Your Toothbrush?

As with anything else, when you have the right tools, the job of cleaning your teeth can become a lot easier. These days, you have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a toothbrush, as there are loads of manual and electric brushes that can help you thoroughly and efficiently clean your chompers.

  • Stick with a toothbrush that’s comfortable to use and has soft bristles (toothbrushes with flexible heads might be more comfortable for some people)
  • The toothbrush should be able to get into hard-to-reach places, including all the way to the back of the mouth and your wisdom teeth
  • When is it time to replace a toothbrush? Well, if the bristles start to look frayed or damaged in any way, that’s a surefire sign it’s time for a replacement. Otherwise, you can stick with the basic rule of replacing the brush every three to four months.

Are You Doing a Good Job? Your Dentist Can Tell!

The best way to be certain that you’re doing a superb job of brushing your teeth at home is by seeing your dentist for regular checkups. He or she can take a look at your teeth and let you know whether or not you need to make some changes to your technique. And with great dental insurance, you can rest assured that a professional cleaning will take care of anything that you missed.

Now that you know all about the proper teeth brushing technique, you can take yet another smart step towards maintaining your oral health, avoiding problems like gum disease and cavities, and keeping your smile bright and beautiful!

 

Sources:

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/how-to-brush-your-teeth-five-steps-for-a-healthy-smile-0913

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/~/media/MouthHealthy/Files/Kids_Section/ADAHowToBrush_Eng.pdf?la=en

https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-brush-your-teeth-1058985

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Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Young man holding jaw in pain from impacted tooth

Wisdom teeth, the last ones to grow in when you’re an adult, are notorious for causing problems. Many people end up with impacted wisdom teeth that require treatment or removal to avoid oral health complications.

How can you know if you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth? Check out this list of some of the main symptoms to learn more about the issues that these teeth might cause.

Different Types of Impactions

First off, it’s important to cover the fact that there are different types of wisdom tooth impactions , and the type of impaction that you have may affect the symptoms that you experience.

  • If a wisdom tooth is lying completely on its side, at a 90° angle, it’s called a horizontal impaction.
  • If a wisdom tooth is facing the front of your mouth or angled forward, it’s called a mesioangular impaction.
  • If a wisdom tooth is facing the back of your mouth or angled away from the rest of your teeth, it’s called a distoangular impaction.
  • If a wisdom tooth hasn’t erupted completely through the gums, despite being on the correct angle, it’s called a vertical impaction.

Note: A big problem with wisdom teeth is that they can be harder to keep clean, especially when they are impacted. They’re way in the back of your mouth after all! So, if you aren’t really diligent about your oral hygiene routine and dental checkups, those teeth might be at a greater risk of decay and gum disease .

What Are the Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

An impacted wisdom tooth could cause a host of problems. For example, it might end up damaging nearby teeth, or it might become infected.

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, let your dentist know, as they might indicate that you have an impacted tooth:

  • Gums that are red, tender, bleeding, or swollen
  • Swelling, tenderness, stiffness, or pain in the jaw
  • Jaw ache or headache
  • Pain or difficulty when opening the mouth
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth, particularly when eating
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes within your neck

Or, you might not experience any symptoms! That’s why it’s wise to see your dentist on a regular basis. The x-rays that are taken during checkups will help your dentist get a good look at your wisdom teeth. And an oral examination can also alert him or her to any other indications that your wisdom teeth are doing more harm than good.

The Severity of the Symptoms Might Serve as a Clue

If there is pain, swelling, or an infection that’s being caused by an impacted wisdom tooth, it is likely going to be pretty intense. For example, you might experience throbbing pain that radiates from the back of your mouth in the area of an impacted wisdom tooth. And the pain might become increasingly more severe as other teeth become affected. Ouch!

Note: In more serious, and rare, cases, a cyst or a (usually benign) tumor might form around an impacted wisdom tooth. These can cause damage to other teeth, as well as the jaw and nerves. Scary for sure!

Don’t Hesitate to See Your Dentist

Just remember, seeing your dentist regularly is important, not only for keeping your gums strong and your teeth cavity-free but also for getting x-rays to keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Plus, your dentist might figure out that something is wrong before you even start having symptoms!

Getting the problem of impacted wisdom teeth treated sooner rather than later is the way to go, as doing so may help reduce the risk of other problems developing. We know it can be stressful to think that you might need to have a wisdom tooth extracted. But it will be worth it if it means you eliminate unpleasant symptoms and the complications that would occur if the tooth were left alone to get worse.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wisdom-teeth/symptoms-causes/syc-20373808

https://crest.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/wisdom-teeth/impacted-wisdom-teeth-symptoms-types-removal

https://www.dentalvibe.com/blog/warning-signs-impacted-wisdom-teeth/

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/wisdom-teeth/the-symptoms-of-impacted-wisdom-teeth-0113

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You Have Gingivitis. Now What?

Lady dentist looking at x-ray of teeth

Let’s say your dentist has diagnosed you with gingivitis. Uh-oh! What do you do now? Well, the good news is that this condition is treatable and reversible, so there are some steps that you can take to get your gum health back on track and prevent further damage.

What Causes Gingivitis in the First Place?

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease , so it sounds scary, no doubt about it. Luckily, though, this is the mild and early stage of gum disease. Remember, it is reversible, so all hope is not lost! However, it is imperative that you tackle this problem now before it progresses and starts to put your teeth at risk.

When it comes to what causes gingivitis, it all boils down to one thing: plaque. It’s that simple. The nasty, sticky film that ends up on your teeth after eating and drinking will harbor nasty bacteria, as well as create toxins.

As plaque sits on your teeth and along your gum line, your poor gums will become irritated, red, tender, and swollen, especially as it hardens into tartar. Before long, your gums will even bleed surprisingly easily, such as when you brush and floss.

You probably already guessed that attacking plaque and getting rid of it is the key to eliminating, as well as preventing, gingivitis, but catching it in its earliest stages is the best way to make the process easier. That’s why seeing your dentist regularly can come in extremely handy.

Other Factors That Might Contribute to Gingivitis

Here are a few of the risk factors that might put you at a greater risk of developing gum ailments:

  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Certain medications
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medical conditions, such as those that impact your immune system, as well as fungal infections and viral infections
  • Poorly fitting dental restorations
  • Misaligned teeth

Your Dentist Will Get You on the Road to Healthy Gums

Having gingivitis is a bummer. Thankfully, it can be treated relatively easily. Your dentist might start by recommending a professional cleaning.

A dental hygienist can work on removing all of the plaque that has accumulated on your teeth, and that you wouldn’t be able to get rid of on your own. And the hygienist can also use scaling to remove tartar from the teeth and gums, as well as root planing to further help with healing the gums.

Pro tip: Get yourself one of the affordable Spirit Dental plans available, as they cover not one, not two, but three professional cleanings per year. Score!

You Can Do Things at Home Too!

If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis, your dentist might tell you that you need to step up your oral hygiene routine at home.

Here are some of the things that your dentist will likely recommend that you do, broken down into a simple three-step process:

  1. Improve your brushing routine by brushing twice a day, for a total of two minutes each time. Brush your teeth thoroughly, but also make sure you get that gum line nice and clean too. Don’t be too rough, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush so that you avoid irritating the gums. You might even consider using an electric toothbrush that comes with a built-in timer and a brush head that is designed to help clean along the gum line.
  2. Flossing between your teeth, all the way to the gum line is another smart way to alleviate gingivitis. Because you’ll be able to effectively remove all of those food particles that feed plaque, flossing is definitely an important step
  3. Finally, you can also try an antibacterial mouthwash that will attack bacteria. Swishing it around your mouth for a bit can help you target areas of your mouth that are hard to reach with a brush and floss.

Be consistent in your efforts. Although a professional cleaning is the foundation that gets you started on the road towards clean, strong gums, the rest is up to you. By following a strict oral hygiene routine at home after a cleaning, your gums should be able to heal, often after just a few days or weeks.

A Quick Final Note: Even What You Eat Might Have an Impact!

Watching what you eat might help you keep your chompers and gums healthy. For example, incorporating more fruits and veggies, while eliminating high-sugar foods and beverages from your diet, are a couple of ways that you can do good things every day for your mouth. A balanced diet will provide your body with important nutrients, like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C, which support teeth and gums.

Keep an Eye on Your Oral Health by Seeing Your Dentist

The simple act of seeing your dentist regularly throughout the year is a wise way to prevent, as well as treat, gingivitis. Your dentist will be able to carefully examine your mouth and look for the earliest hints that gum issues are developing. Then, he or she will be able to give you advice on what you should do next, whether you need to change the way you do things at home, or you need a good professional cleaning to set you on the right track first. On the other hand, if you avoid seeing your dentist and getting your cleanings when you should, you run the risk of developing gingivitis and not realizing until it’s already quite advanced.

Gingivitis is something that you should take seriously, as it could lead to serious dental problems in the long run. But if you’re diligent about your oral care routine and you catch it in time, there are methods that you can use to help your gums heal, so it isn’t all bad news after all.

 

Sources:

https://crest.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gums/gingivitis-home-treatment

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/what-to-do-if-you-spot-gingivitis-symptoms-0714

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/how-to-fight-gingivitis-in-three-easy-steps-0914

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gingivitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354453

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gingivitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354459

https://oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gums/gingivitis-symptoms-causes-treatments

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/scaling-and-root-planing

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Love Sour Candy? It Could Be Wreaking Havoc on Your Teeth

Photo of sour orange peel sour candy

Sometimes, it’s that combo of sour and sweet that we all crave. And what better place to get it than some yummy sour candy? Unfortunately, though, while you might delight in this treat, it could be wreaking havoc on your teeth.

That’s right: in terms of what foods are good for your teeth and which ones aren’t, sour candy falls into the “bad for your pearly whites” category. But why are these candies so damaging? We’ve got you covered with the answer below.

Your Enamel Hates Sour Candy’s Acidity

Enamel. It’s so important to take great care of it because it’s the tough outer layer of your chompers.

With enamel intact, your teeth may be less prone to decay, and they might also be less prone to sensitivity. Plus, your enamel can help keep your teeth looking white and bright. Put simply, if your enamel is strong, your teeth will also be strong.

The harsh truth, however, is that a lot of foods and beverages that you enjoy every day (like those sour candies you don’t think twice about when you need a little pick-me-up) contain acids that could attack your precious enamel, causing it to become softer and thinner than it should be.

Over time, your teeth might start to feel more sensitive to hot and cold, they might start to look yellow, and they might develop cavities. You may even find yourself considering getting veneers to restore the look of your teeth!

Fun fact - Want to know the pH of sour candy, to really put things in perspective? Well, it depends on the specific candy, of course, but it generally ranges from around 1.6 to 3 (that’s on a scale of 1 being the most acidic, to 7 being neutral). And here’s another interesting tidbit: a pH of 4 would damage your enamel, so you can see just how bad those sour candies really are!

Candy Is Bad Enough, but Sour Candies Could Really Do Damage

Okay, so you already know that candy is bad for your teeth, right? In fact, all types of candy, including hard, sticky, and sour, are considered some of the worst for your pearly whites. This is a real bummer if you consider yourself a candy lover, but it’s important to know the facts so that you can protect your teeth.

Here’s why eating too much candy is a big no-no when it comes to maintaining oral health:

  • Candy contains a lot of sugar. Harmful bacteria in your mouth feed on that sugar, resulting in damaging acid that attacks the enamel of your teeth. And, again, when the enamel is compromised, it increases your risk of decay, sensitivity, and stains. Not good.
  • Sour candy has more acid. These candies might contain acids like malic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, and fumaric acid. All of that acid ends up eating away at your enamel, so the more sour candy you eat, the worse the effects might be.
  • Sticky candies will remain on your teeth longer. When you chew on sticky candy, whether it’s sour or sweet, it could end up staying on your chompers for a longer stretch of time. A recipe for dental damage, for sure!

Scary fact - Once your enamel is gone, there’s no way for your body to regrow it. So the best thing that you can do is take steps to prevent losing your enamel in the first place.

Smart Ways to Help Limit the Damage

Can’t give up sour candy? No worries! There are some easy ways to help reduce the damage to your enamel.

  • Rinse your mouth with water after having sour candies.
  • Choosing the right candy flavors might be beneficial, as certain sour flavors might be harsher on enamel than others. If cherry, grape, and lemon are your favorites, it may be better to switch to flavors like mint and cinnamon, as they might contain less acid.
  • Even though you might assume that brushing your teeth would be a good way to protect them from the sour candy you just ate, you actually shouldn’t do it right away because your enamel will be compromised. Just wait a minimum of 30 minutes before brushing.
  • See your dentist on a regular basis to check for early signs of decay, to learn about how to protect your enamel, and to get cleanings or whitening treatments to restore the brightness of your teeth.

Think Twice Before Having Those Sour Candies!

A piece of sour candy every now and then should be fine—everything in moderation, after all. But now that you know about the harmful effects that this treat can have on your teeth, you can make smarter choices that could protect your pearly whites for the long run.



Sources:

https://crest.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/enamel/tooth-enamel-loss-erosion-repair

https://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/sour-candy-effect-on-healthy-teeth/

https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/worst-foods-for-your-teeth#1

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2017-10-27/this-is-your-body-on-candy

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/cavities/what-are-the-effects-of-sugar-on-teeth-1214

https://www.livestrong.com/article/237183-what-kinds-of-acids-does-sour-candy-have/

https://gizmodo.com/sour-candy-is-almost-as-bad-for-your-teeth-as-battery-a-5860593

https://www.tulsadentalcare.com/blog/could-sour-candy-cause-your-enamel-erosion

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/can-tooth-enamel-grow-back#1

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Grinding Teeth Symptoms to Be Aware Of

grinding teeth symptoms 2019

The fancy name for teeth grinding and clenching is bruxism. When you’re feeling particularly stressed or frazzled, you might find yourself tightening your jaw and clenching your teeth, and this might not cause any damage at first. However, if you are one of the many people who grind regularly, such as in your sleep when you aren’t even aware that it’s happening, you might end up with scary problems like loose, worn, or fractured teeth, along with jaw problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ).

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Tips for Keeping Your Retainers Clean

clean retainers 2019

Retainers are great because they help you retain your beautiful new smile after you’ve used braces. However, they can get pretty funky from sitting in your mouth for extended periods of time, so keeping them clean is imperative.

What are some of the easiest ways to ensure your retainer will always be as clean as possible? We’ve compiled a list of tips below to help you get started, but if you have any questions about the very best methods for keeping these dental products bacteria-free, consulting with your dentist or orthodontist is recommended.

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Things to Keep in Mind Before Getting Veneers

veneers 2019

These days, there are a lot of dental products and procedures available to make your smile the best that it could possibly be. One popular example is dental veneers. Put simply, when you get veneers, porcelain in the color of your teeth is applied permanently to the front of your pearly whites, giving them a perfect appearance.

Want to instantly and easily whiten your teeth? Do you have enamel that’s been damaged over the years, or perhaps some cosmetic imperfections, and you want to restore the exterior of your teeth? Veneers might be the ideal solution that you’ve been hoping for!

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How Does Smoking Affect Your Teeth?

smoking 2019

You’ve seen the various ads warning you about the adverse health effects of smoking—some of them are pretty disturbing, aren’t they? And you likely already know that smoking can do damage to your teeth and gums. But what, exactly, are smokers teeth, anyway? What will smoking do to your pearly whites and your gums if you don’t quit the addiction?

Smoking Takes a Major Toll on Your Gums

Smoking doesn’t only give you bad breath. In fact, bad breath is a small side effect compared to the serious effects of this unhealthy habit.

First off, when you smoke, your immune system is weakened. How does this affect your mouth, specifically? Well, it becomes more challenging for your body to fight infections in your gums. Your gums become increasingly more damaged every time you smoke, and they become less and less capable of healing as well.

What are some of the symptoms of gum disease? They include pain when you chew, as well as gums that are red, tender, swollen, or bleeding. You might notice that your gums are beginning to pull away from your teeth, too. And teeth typically become sensitive or loose as gum disease progresses. Yikes!

Your risk of developing gum disease only increases the more you smoke. In fact, your risk for this oral health problem doubles when you smoke. And, if you do develop it, the usual treatments that would work for other patients might not be as effective on you because of your smoking addiction. So, the sooner you quit, the better it’ll be for your gum health.

Side note: No, e-cigarettes aren’t any better arguably!

Your Teeth Suffer, Too!

Smoking stains teeth—hence, the term, “smokers teeth.” So, if you smoke, you might find yourself splurging on over-the-counter whitening treatments or asking your dentist for a professional whitening session. Basically, your chompers can become pretty unsightly, with yellow stains that may develop more quickly than you might expect. And the more you smoke, the darker the stains. Over time, your white teeth will turn into an unattractive shade of dark yellow or brown. Yuck!

As if the stains weren’t bad enough, smoking does even more to further damage your teeth: it can boost the risk of tooth decay through a rise in the buildup of plaque and tartar. And when your dentist fills your teeth, the smoking will continue to discolor your once pearly whites, as well as the fillings themselves, so even restorative treatments might leave you disappointed with the results.

Speaking of fillings—composite fillings, in particular—smoking won’t only stain them; it will also cause them to wear out before they should. So if you want your composite fillings to continue looking good, and you want them to last as long as possible, quitting smoking is the way to go.

Remember when we mentioned above that smoking reduces the strength of your immune system? This also means that, if you have to undergo oral surgery or a dental procedure like a tooth extraction, your mouth will take longer to heal. And if you need to get a dental implant to replace a lost or damaged tooth, the success rate might also be lower for you if you’re a smoker.

This Is Super Serious: Smoking Increases Your Risk of Oral Cancer!

When you smoke, you aren’t just doing harm to your teeth and gums; you’re also harming your entire mouth, increasing your risk of oral cancer. If that isn’t frightening, we don’t know what is.

To put things in perspective, and to illustrate the severity of a smoking addiction: the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips is six times higher compared to people who don’t smoke. Wow! It’s clear that the effects of smoking extend far beyond stained teeth and swollen gums.

Need Extra Advice? Have a Chat with Your Dentist!

If you’re a smoker, your dentist can point out the damage that your habit is doing to your mouth. Beyond that, however, you can also ask your dentist for advice on how to quit. Perhaps talking to a dental pro and learning about the risks to your teeth and gums will give you the motivation that you need to take your first step towards quitting this addiction for good.

Although you might immediately think of “smokers teeth” as the negative effect on the appearance of your chompers, smoking does much more damage than you might realize at first. From being one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults, to contributing to the risk of mouth cancer, there’s no denying that smoking is a nasty habit that’s worth quitting.  

Sources:

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Early Symptoms of Gum Disease

gum disease 2019

Do you know what the early signs of gum disease are?

What’s particularly scary about gum disease is that it doesn’t just affect your gums. As the disease progresses and worsens, your teeth can become loose and fall out! So it’s really important to take this seriously and to be aware of what the early signs are. With this information, you’ll be able to take action right away if symptoms do develop, and you could regain the health of your gums with the right treatment from your dentist.  

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How to Prevent “Pacifier Teeth”

pacifier teeth

You might think that your baby’s pacifier is a godsend, especially during those moments when nothing else will calm your child. Unfortunately, though, like anything else in life, pacifiers do come with their own set of drawbacks that are worth thinking about. Those drawbacks include what’s known as “pacifier teeth.”

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Do You Have Mercury Fillings? Here Are Some Things to Be Aware Of

amalgams 2019

Amalgam fillings go by other names, such as silver fillings and mercury fillings. This material has been used by dentists around the world for more than 150 years to help people keep their teeth when a cavity develops. Rather than having to yank a tooth because of decay, dentists can fill it and restore its strength.

You or someone you love might even have a mercury filling in one or more of your teeth already. Unfortunately, despite their long history and widespread use, there is quite a bit of controversy and concern surrounding the use of mercury fillings. So, what are some of the things that you should be aware of so that you can make more informed decisions when you’re at the dentist and told that you have a cavity? Check out the info below to learn more.

What Are Amalgam Fillings?

Do amalgam fillings contain mercury? The answer is yes, they do. But there’s more to it.

Beyond mercury, which makes up roughly half of the filling, other metals are used to create a durable material that will last a long time and withstand pressure from chewing. Those metals include copper, silver, and tin.

Because these fillings are visible, thanks to their silvery appearance, many people today opt for composite fillings instead because they’re tooth-colored and, therefore, not obvious when you open your mouth. But newer fillings can be more expensive, and they may not be appropriate in all cases, so amalgam is still commonly used.   

Why the Big Fuss Over Mercury Fillings?

According to the FDA, if you get an amalgam filling, the great thing about it is that there’s a lower chance of it breaking compared to other materials. Plus, it’s the most affordable of the options available. But experts do admit that there are some potential risks to consider before you and your dentist decide to go with amalgam.

So, here’s the thing: because these fillings have elemental mercury in them, a low level of mercury vapor is released. And that vapor can, indeed, be absorbed by your lungs when you inhale. Okay, that’s kind of scary, right? But it gets worse: if your body is exposed to high levels of this vapor, the kidneys and brain might also be affected. It’s no wonder that there are so many concerns about mercury fillings!

Then there’s a little something known as bioaccumulation, which is the term used for the buildup of a chemical within the body. You guessed it—mercury, even from a filling, is considered bioaccumulative. Basically, the vapor from these fillings can build up in certain tissues, including those in the brain and kidneys, even though the vapor is absorbed mostly by the lungs.  

But, Wait, You Can Rest Easy About Amalgam Fillings After All

That’s a lot of bad news about amalgam fillings, huh? But there’s something else that you should know: the FDA has stated that they’ve reviewed available evidence in an effort to figure out if a low amount of mercury vapor from a filling would really be harmful to human health.

Bottom line: experts have concluded that these fillings are safe after all. In fact, children from age 6 and above, as well as adults, of course, can get a mercury filling without having to worry about it having an adverse effect on their health.

On top of that, clinical studies in kids and adults haven’t been able to find any link between health problems and the mercury in dental fillings. Phew!

And you know how it could bioaccumulate? Well, studies haven’t been able to prove that this causes any actual damage to the body’s organs. That’s a relief, right?

Allergies to Mercury? Yep, It Can Happen

It’s worth noting that some people may be sensitive to mercury, or they might even be allergic to it. Beyond that, some individuals might not be the right candidates for an amalgam filling because they’re allergic to the other metals within it.

Symptoms of an adverse reaction to an amalgam filling include contact reactions and oral lesions. Ouch!

The best way to avoid these reactions is to let your dentist know if you’re allergic to any of the components in the fillings. Don’t worry, modern dentistry offers so many great alternatives that will help you get your teeth strong and healthy again.

Should You Bother Having Your Mercury Fillings Replaced?

With newer filling materials available, you might be thinking, “Should I just replace my old amalgam fillings?” According to experts, the short answer is, no, you don’t really have to, unless you’re sensitive or allergic to the mercury or the other metals in the amalgam.

Also, if your fillings aren’t holding up anymore, or if there is decay under a filling, you can have an old filling removed and replaced with a different material, such as a composite filling. But if your fillings are still in good shape and your teeth are fine, there’s likely no need to go through the trouble—and expense—of having them replaced.

Plus, when you have an amalgam filling removed, more vapor will be released in the process. And your dentist will have to remove more healthy tooth, too. So, as you can see, it might not be worth it. But, ultimately, this important decision will be up to you and your dentist.

Still Have Questions About Mercury in Dental Fillings?

If you’re still concerned about mercury in fillings, or if you’re pregnant and you need to have dental work done, it’s best to consult with your dentist to learn about the pros and cons of amalgam. You can even let your dentist know that you’re interested in learning about other, newer filling materials that contain less mercury or no mercury at all. No matter what, you have options, whether you choose to go with good old amalgam or an alternative filling material to restore the health of your teeth.

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Food for Healthy Teeth: How Nutrition Impacts Your Dental Health

food and healthy 2019

They say you are what you eat, but did you know about the impact that nutrition has on your pearly whites, in particular? A lot of people don’t realize that food not only promotes the health of your skin, bones, and organs, but also the health of your teeth and gums.  

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Waterpik vs. Floss: Which Is Better

waterpick vs floss

Flossing is an integral component to any great oral hygiene routine. If you are brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you’re on the right track towards maintaining healthy gums, strong teeth, and fresh breath.

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Exercises for TMJ Pain

tmj pain 2019

If you’ve been diagnosed with TMJ, you know how painful it can be. But you don’t have to live with the discomfort. In addition to working with your dentist to determine what treatment options would be right for you, there are also easy exercises for TMJ pain that you can do at home. A few of those exercises are described below to help you get started.

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Mouthguards | What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

mouthguards 2019

Participating in activities like sports and martial arts can be a lot of fun, as well as a smart way to exercise, but it could also be risky, particularly when it comes to your teeth. And that’s where a good mouthguard can come in to provide the protection that you need.

What are mouthguards, and why would you need to use one? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below.   

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Bad Breath | How To Break the News

bad breath 2019

Bad breath is unpleasant and embarrassing. No one wants it, and no one wants to smell it either. But, sometimes, the person who has it isn’t even aware of the problem. So, what can you do to break the news gently to someone who has halitosis so that you can both get relief?   

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Tooth Sensitivity | How to Handle

tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a literal pain. And even though it is temporary, arising suddenly before subsiding after a few moments, no one wants to deal with the discomfort that comes with sensitive teeth, especially while enjoying tasty foods and drinks. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to handle sensitivity in your pearly whites, so a few easy strategies and treatments are listed below to help you get relief.  

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Selecting A Toothbrush | What You Should Consider

selecting a toothbrush

Walk into a store that sells dental care products and you’ll be inundated with a range of toothbrushes, from manual to electronic, and from soft to hard bristles. Sometimes, having so many options is a good thing; other times, it only makes shopping for the right product all the more confusing.

When it comes to shopping for a toothbrush, how do you know that you’re choosing one that will really keep your teeth and gums healthy, without causing irritation? To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled a short list of things that you should consider.

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Oil Pulling | What Is It?

oil pulling 2019

If you’re the type of person who is all about doing things naturally, you have likely come across something known as oil pulling.

What is oil pulling, and how can it affect your dental health? Should you give it a try, or are you better off sticking with basic brushing and flossing to maintain clean, strong teeth and gums?

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Toothache Symptoms and Remedies

toothache symptoms

If you’ve ever experienced a toothache, which is pain that’s felt around or in your tooth, you aren’t alone. This is a common problem, but a lot of people aren’t sure about what causes a toothache and what can be done to get rid of the pain. That’s why we’ve compiled some helpful information about the symptoms of a toothache, along with tips on what you can do to feel relief.

Let’s Start with What Causes a Toothache, Shall We?

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