Are You Brushing the Right Way?
Brush for at least two minutes
Two minutes is considered the minimum amount of time it takes to be effective when brushing. This means brushing the sides of the teeth toward the cheek, the sides of the teeth toward the tongue or palate, and the biting surfaces of the teeth. When brushing the cheek and tongue sides, angle the brush slightly “into” the gum area. Imagine that each of your teeth is sitting in its own little turtleneck sweater, and your job is to clean out the turtleneck. Don’t use a “sawing” motion on the cheek or tongue sides. This can actually contribute to gum recession and erosion of tooth root surfaces!
Use a soft bristle brush
While it may seem that a hard or medium bristle brush would do a better job of cleaning the teeth, the opposite is true. Hard bristles may be ok on the biting surfaces, but they can damage the gum tissues and root surfaces, while leaving plaque behind. Soft bristles can be used safely around and under the “gum turtleneck” surrounding each tooth.
Change your brush every two months
The bristles on a toothbrush get a lot of wear. It is definitely time for a change when they look frayed or flat. However, even before they are looking worn, the bristles may not be sufficiently sturdy to do a good job of cleaning. Also, change your toothbrush after you have been ill. Cold and flu germs can live on the bristles, and re-infect you after you get well! Never share a toothbrush with anyone.
“Power” brushes can help
A powered toothbrush typically provides rapid brush strokes that can help a person be more effective when cleaning their teeth. If you think you need some help in the brushing department, a power brush might be good for you.
Use dental floss
There is no better way to get between the teeth than dental floss. Floss can clean out the “turtleneck” of gum tissue that a brush can’t reach. If you don’t use floss you are missing 40% of the surfaces of your teeth! Cavities and gum disease thrive in the crevices between the teeth. Keep these areas clean to keep the teeth healthy.
Brushing is important
Every day we see television commercials for toothpastes and mouthwashes. One would think that by simply using a certain brand of toothpaste or a “special” commercial mouthwash, we could eliminate tooth decay and gingivitis.
While it is true that fluoride toothpastes may be helpful in controlling tooth decay, they can’t do the job by themselves. As for mouthwashes; rinsing after eating can remove food particles, but can’t take the place of a thorough brushing.
We offer prescription toothpastes and mouthwashes here for persons who need them. However, there is much you can do on your own to keep your teeth and mouth healthy.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is caused by an inflammation of the gum tissues. This inflammation can be caused by a bacterial infection or some other type of irritation. It is known that there are at least 11 different strains of bacteria that can cause gum and bone disease. These bacteria thrive in dark, moist areas, such as the gum tissues around the teeth. Our immune systems recognize that there is a problem and send out cells to get rid of the bacteria. Blood to the infected area is also increased to help flush away the invaders. However, if the invaders don’t go, our tissues become engorged with blood and our gums can bleed when we brush.
Bleeding is sometimes the “first alert” to more damaging problems arising. Because gum and bone disease can exist in the absence of other noticeable symptoms, bleeding may be the only sign a person notices until some destruction of bone has already occurred.
Brushing with a soft bristle brush or a soft bristle “power” brush and using dental floss can reduce plaque, which is a soft, sticky substance that forms on our teeth. Plaque is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Prescription products, such as medicinal mouth rinses and pastes can help. These provide ingredients known to reduce bacteria.
Professional cleaning or prophylaxis, where the dentist or hygienist removes plaque, calculus (also known as tartar-a hard deposit), and stains, also reduces bacteria.
If bleeding continues, or if you have “pockets” that are 4mm or deeper around any of your teeth, root planing may be needed. Root planing is not the same as a professional cleaning. It is a more extensive procedure to rid the teeth of germs and deposits.
Since bleeding gums may be the first sign of a mouth infection, and since infections in the mouth are related to many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, a mouth infection is nothing to ignore.
Bleeding Gums Indicate Disease
There are sometimes other serious reasons for gums that bleed. These include blood disorders, clotting disorders, liver problems, kidney disorders, artery or capillary diseases, and diabetes and heart problems. Bleeding gums can also be the result of vitamin C and K deficiencies. Fungal infections are implicated with bleeding tissues, as well as certain medications such as aspirin and blood thinners.
Are bleeding gums OK?
The short answer is "No, healthy gums do not bleed with brushing or flossing." In fact, bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum and bone (periodontal) disease.
If you watch TV, you have heard of gingivitis. A multimillion-dollar industry surrounds various types of products that are purported to eliminate gingivitis. The problem is, most of the products don’t really work. They can make your mouth “feel” clean, but the source of the gingivitis remains.
Signs of gum disease
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Recession of gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Bad breath
If you have any of these symptoms, your dentist and hygienist can help. Despite the fact that many people think that gums that bleed are normal, we know that they are not. If you notice these signs, please contact us
Does Your Tongue Look "Funny"?
Tongues indicate health. Our tongues are an essential part of our oral apparatus. The tongue enables us to enjoy our food, being the site of little bumps also known as papillae, which contain our taste buds. In addition, the tongue is what enables us to speak and swallow, and helps with keeping the mouth lubricated.
The tongue can also be an important indicator of a person’s general health and we pay attention to it here at our office. There are some conditions of the tongue that are harmful. However, there are a few that can make it look “funny” and cause people to needlessly worry. We see these conditions in our office from time to time and want you to know about them.
Some people have patterns on their tongues. They have smooth, shiny patches intermixed with bumpy red sections. Even more surprising, these patches can move! Sometimes they are in one part of the tongue, other times in another part. The technical name for this condition is Benign Migratory Glossitis. The common term is geographic tongue. Geographic tongue is a harmless (benign) condition that causes the atrophy or reduction in size of the filiform papillae, the little bumps on the tongue that contain the taste buds. It is not related to any type of infection or cancer. The condition is usually painless, but sometimes can cause discomfort or increased sensitivity to certain substances or foods. For example, some people report soreness or burning sensation that can worsen with spicy or acidic foods. It is not known why the tongue loses papillae on some parts of the tongue, but the condition does tend to run in families, so heredity is likely involved. Geographic tongue can occur in persons of all ages and has been reported to only affect about 2% of the population. However, recent research supports a much larger, up to 25%, rate. Women also appear to be affected more than men. Usually geographic tongue goes through stages of appearance and then remission without any treatment. If a person is experiencing some pain, over-the-counter remedies such as ibuprofen, and perhaps a topical anesthetic mouth rinse can help. If you notice that your tongue is sore after eating certain foods, or using certain toothpaste, simply avoid these. The good news is that geographic tongue may look funny, but it is not harmful.
Fissured tongue is another tongue condition that may appear worrisome. As the name implies, the tongue appears to have deep lines or fissures on the top surface and may look rough or “bumpy”. This is a normal, thought to be hereditary, condition that is also not harmful.
Black, Hairy Tongue
Black, hairy tongue is a temporary, harmless condition that gives the tongue a dark, furry appearance, resembling hair growing on the center and back portions of the tongue. It is usually the result of an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. Again, the condition may look alarming, but it is not associated with serious infection or cancer. It is, however, associated with bacteria, so controlling oral bacteria is important. The tongue often looks black, but can also appear to be deep yellow or brown and rough or furry. Some persons report that they have an altered taste or metallic taste in the mouth and sometimes, bad breath. Black, hairy tongue is believed to be caused from the filiform papillae (the bumps that contain your taste buds) growing longer, making them collectors of bacteria. What causes the overgrowth in a particular person may not ever be determined, however it has been associated with changes in normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth following a course of antibiotics, poor oral hygiene, medications containing bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol) and regular use of peroxide or menthol mouthwashes. It is also related to heavy tobacco use.
Black, hairy tongue usually doesn’t require medical treatment, but eliminating the possible sources of the condition may help, such as discontinuing the use of a bismuth medicine. Also regular and complete home care is vital. Brushing the teeth, brushing the top of the tongue with a toothbrush, using a tongue scraper to remove debris and bacteria, and flossing can take care of the condition.
Why Does My Dentist Use X-Rays?
How often should I have dental X-rays?
Dental radiographs are prescribed based on what you need as an individual. There are guidelines available from the ADA; however, we will determine what you require after factoring in your general health history, including any conditions making you more prone to dental problems; your dental history, including frequency of decay and cavities; any periodontal concerns, such as gingivitis and gum and bone disease; and any other issues that might impact your oral health. For example, a person who has had many cavities in the past will need X-rays taken more frequently than a person who has had little decay.
How much radiation is in dental X-rays?
We use digital sensors to take your radiographs. These use a fraction of the radiation required for most medical x-rays. For example, a chest x-ray uses 0.080 mSv (mSv is a millisievert, which is a unit of measurement for radiation) while four decay-detecting radiographs use only 0.038. Another way of looking at it is four dental X-rays expose a person to less radiation than a person receives simply living in Denver, Colorado. Even though the amount of radiation is small, we will cover you with a lead shield so that only your teeth and mouth area are receiving any X-rays.
Can you use the X-rays from my previous dentist?
We can use them if they are recent and have good, clear images on them. Let us know if you have had radiographs taken during the past few months and we will help you get them to us.
Will my insurance cover my X-rays?
Many dental plans cover X-rays; however, your particular plan will specify how many dental X-rays it will consider paying a portion of each year. Some plans limit the number of radiographs and other services such as professional teeth cleaning and gum treatments it will pay because these are the types of procedures many people need to have frequently. Since they are needed often, the insurance plan limits how many they will pay toward.
Can you take care of my dental needs without X-rays?
The simple answer to this is “no”. Dental X-rays are essential to correctly diagnose a person’s dental problems. Even if a patient wants to sign a “waiver” stating that he has refused X-rays according to his personal wishes; any dentist who treats that person knows better. Doctors cannot provide care for patients based on an incomplete diagnosis. From a legal standpoint, a patient cannot give consent for a dentist to be negligent. Radiographs are necessary and essential to the care of dental needs.
Do I need X-rays?
Dental X-rays are an important tool; a dentist uses, to determine what is going on in your mouth. Without these pictures, a dentist is limited to just what he can see visually. It is impossible to see between the teeth or under the gums and bone without dental radiographs. It would be like taking your car to your mechanic and asking him to figure out what is wrong with the engine without opening the hood