All posts by Flawless Dental

Dentistry Adaptation & Autism

Autism affects 1 in every 68 children in America. Often, children with autism struggle with anxiety in new situations, including during trips to the dentist.

Researchers from USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles decided to look into how dental environments could be adapted for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They strived to create a more comfortable environment for autistic children who often feel overwhelmed in dental offices. For example, the overstimulation of lights, sounds, and equipment are common elements that may induce fear and anxiety.

Therefore, the researchers adapted the dental environment to be a better sensory fit for autistic children. They turned off overhead lights and headlamps, played soothing music and projected slow-moving visual effects on the ceiling to help calm and distract the kids. They even altered the chair, which, instead of using straps, used butterfly shaped arms that acted like a deep-pressure hug.

The study found that children who had appointments in the sensory adapted dental office had decreased anxiety and reported lower pain and sensory discomfort.

If you have an autistic child, discuss adaption options with your dentist so that your child can have an enjoyable dental experience with the least amount of anxiety!

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The Benefits of Tongue Scraping

When you think of your bathroom counter, a few items probably come to mind; your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and maybe some paper cups for rinsing. What’s missing from this picture? The tongue scraper. This oft-ignored tool has some surprisingly big benefits. From improving bad breath to making your food more delicious, here are some benefits you can expect when you add tongue scraping to your everyday oral health routine.

Better breath
Unsurprisingly, when you scrape all of the gunk off of your tongue, the result is much fresher breath! The soft, squishy surface of your tongue is a perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria, so it’s important to give it a good cleaning as part of your oral health routine. Brushing your tongue is a good start, but using a scraper is the best way to get it squeaky clean.

Improved sense of taste
Our taste buds are sensitive. If they’re covered up by a film of plaque on your tongue, you won’t be able to taste all the delicate flavors in your food. Sort of makes that fancy meal you paid for last weekend seem a little pointless, right? Giving your tongue a good cleaning can expose your tastebuds once again and help you enjoy every last bite.

Decreased plaque
Did you know that bacteria and soft plaque from your tongue can actually cause hard plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth? By keeping the tongue clean and plaque free, you’re saving yourself some time in the dental chair at your next cleaning.

Overall health
Health experts have proven time and time again that good oral health promotes good overall health. So that extra couple of minutes at the bathroom sink could be majorly beneficial for the rest of your body!

Your dentist can help you plan out the best oral health practices for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have in the meantime. Happy scraping!

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Coffee Stains Got You Down? Perk up!

Sipping on a fresh cup of coffee to perk up in the morning is an activity cherished by many. The buzz of caffeine and the familiar taste of your favorite blend is a great way to start your day.

However, consistent coffee intake can leave those pearly whites more than a little lackluster. If you want to keep drinking coffee, but you’re worried about the staining effect it can have on your teeth, here are some tips to keep your pearly whites clean:

Keep good oral health practices

This may seem like common sense, but staining, as well as other oral health issues, can be mitigated by good oral health practices. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and regular dental checkups will go a long way in keeping your teeth healthy and stain-free.

Be wary of brushing your teeth immediately after drinking coffee, however. Coffee is acidic, and acidic drinks soften the tooth enamel. Brushing with soft tooth enamel can actually increase erosion of the enamel as well as your chances of staining. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking coffee, or any other acidic beverage, to brush your teeth.

Additionally, make sure to see your local dentist at least twice a year for professional teeth cleaning. Professional teeth cleaning can reach stain-inducing bacteria that regular home brushing cannot.

Drink water after your cup of coffee

Rinsing your mouth with water is a great way to remove any excess coffee that is sitting in your mouth and on your teeth. Water will help remove staining liquids before they have the chance to set in and cause real damage.

As an added bonus, drinking water throughout the day will keep you hydrated and improve your overall health.

Don’t drink your coffee too slowly

This one is admittedly a little harder to follow. Slowly sipping on a cup of coffee throughout the morning brings a certain pleasure to many avid coffee drinkers. However, be wary that drinking coffee slowly can expose your teeth to a higher risk of staining.

Exposing your teeth to staining liquids for longer periods of time increases the chances of these liquids setting in. Additionally, since coffee is acidic, it will have a greater chance of eroding your teeth enamel and causing staining.

If you do like to sip on your coffee slowly, consider keeping a glass of water with you to drink between occasional coffee sips.

Use a straw for iced coffee and a lid for hot coffee

Straws and lids help reduce the amount of liquid that comes into direct contact with your teeth. The less coffee that touches your teeth, the smaller the chance of staining.

Using mugs and open-top cups are the worst ways to consume coffee and other beverages that are prone to stain teeth.

Chew gum

Chewing gum helps generate saliva, which in turn can wash away staining acids and bacteria-harboring plaque.

It’s not a bad idea to pop in a piece of gum after finishing your morning cup; just make sure it’s sugarless!

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Lessons Learned From Neanderthal Dental Plaque

Dentists, for good reason, care a lot about plaque. Brushing and flossing regularly is essential to reducing plaque and keeping your teeth and gums free from bacteria. However, plaque can harbor plenty of information about an individual, as it is one of the most DNA rich areas of the human body. Sticky plaque catches all kind of food remains, fibers, bacteria, and more.

Fossilized plaque has been one of the best resources that researchers have used in their quest to learn more about Neanderthals, the closest relative to the modern Homo sapiens. For example, plaque has proved that Neanderthals had incredibly diverse diets. Some subsisted almost entirely on meat, while others were vegetarians. The image of the meat eating, club wielding “Caveman” isn’t so historically accurate. Furthermore, plaque has shown that Neanderthal’s were using plants to medicate. Specifically, one Neanderthal found in Spain was using the mold that produces penicillin and a bark that produces a painkiller similar to aspirin.

Plaque can provide even more information about Neanderthals and ancient culture. Plaque DNA uncovered the first direct link to milk consumption in ancient cultures, and also showed that humans in the medieval era actually had very similar oral microorganisms to modern humans, despite vast changes in diet and lifestyle.

While plaque can certainly provide an interesting look at the lives of our ancestors, it’s still recommended that you brush and floss daily.

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The Magic of Salt Water Rinses

Saltwater rinses are commonly recommended for people with a sore throat, gum sores, or people who recently underwent a dental procedure. If you have never used a saltwater rinse before, read on to learn about the multiple health benefits.

Salt Reduces Dental Bacteria – Salt inhibits dental bacteria by increasing the pH balance of your mouth. It creates an alkaline environment that the bacteria can barely survive in. Bacteria prefer an acidic environment, which lets them grow and attack the enamel on teeth. By creating an environment that they don’t like, they cannot thrive.

Healing Properties of Saltwater – Salt promotes healing. It is usually recommended after a minor dental procedure to use a saltwater rinse. This is because it contains the same salts and minerals in our bodies, which means it does not irritate mucous membranes. It serves as a gentle form of mouthwash that will not burn or cause pain in your healing mouth.

Making a Saltwater Rinse – It is very quick and easy to make your own salt water rinse. All you have to do is add ½ teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Rinse your mouth with this solution every two to three hours for the first few days after surgery. It will help your mouth heal and it won’t cause you any pain.

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Alligators and Dental Science?

Did you know alligators can replace each of their teeth up to 50 times in their life? Humans are unique among vertebrates for being able to replace our teeth only once. But new insights into how alligators replace their teeth may help stimulate the same process in ours.

Professor Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D., has discovered novel molecular and cellular mechanisms in alligators that promote tooth renewal. Researchers have found that alligator teeth are made up of three parts: a functional tooth, a replacement tooth, and the dental lamina. This lamina contains stem cells that grow into new teeth.

As for next steps, the team hopes to isolate cells from the alligator lamina to see if they can develop teeth in-lab. They will also look into the molecular mechanisms of repeated renewal and apply these concepts to regenerative medicine in the future.

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A New Solution To Enamel Loss?

Researchers at the University of Southern California have made a major breakthrough in the investigation of tooth enamel regrowth procedures.

Tooth enamel is a nonliving tissue; unlike bone, enamel does not regrow naturally in the human body. Lack of tooth enamel can cause sensitivity and even pain in the mouth, making the tooth much more susceptible to breakages, decay, and other issues. This fact has been the bane of dentists and patients alike; previously, once enamel eroded, it was gone forever.

However, the team of researchers at USC have discovered that an enzyme found only in the teeth—metalloproteinase-20, or MMP-20—is a key component in biomineraliztion and the initial creation of enamel on the tooth. What makes this enzyme special is that it “chops up amelogenin proteins, which facilitate organized enamel crystal formation”.

What does this mean? It means that researchers are hard at work to determine whether or not MMP-20 can work with other enzymes to allow “enamel-making cells in the body to add more mineral and make enamel.”

The team tested a hydrogel recipe on a set of human molars prepped with artificially created decay and saliva. The gel, known to be able to “repair early tooth decay by growing an enamel-like layer”, showed “big improvement over other methods” of remineralization, which produced disorganized structures of crystals.

To take it to the next level, the team plans to alter this gel recipe by adding MMP-20 in hopes of creating a stronger, enamel-like seal.

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BPA Exposure Affects Young Teeth

From the moment they erupt in our mouths as children, our teeth plays a major part of our lives. As such, it’s essential to care for them well during childhood and continuing into adulthood. In a recent study done with lab rats, it was found that when teeth were exposed to BPA, “there were multiple characteristics in common with a tooth enamel pathology known as MIH (Molar Incisor Hypomineralisation) that selectively affects first molars and permanent incisors.” Although this certain type of enamel is generally found in only 18% of kids aged 6 to 8, it means that the children are more susceptible to cavities, pain, and decay.

Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a chemical that has been used largely in recent years in plastics and resins. Lately, however, there have been more and more studies that show that BPA has negative affects on the human body, specifically affecting metabolism, reproduction, and development. With this study, we may soon add children’s teeth to that list.

When studied, the teeth of the lab rats were found to have white marks on them, and now the researches will compare that to the actual human teeth to see if its effects remain the same. The “brittleness” of the enamel when examined leads to the notion that there is significant “mineral depletion” making the teeth very susceptible to decay.

BPA could have a direct affect on our teeth, and when discussing children, they are even more sensitive to BPA during their first years of life. Overall, we should take from this study the idea that we need to ensure that young children are not exposed to BPA so that they will not suffer from the effects of MIH.

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Want an A-list Smile? With Veneers, It’s Possible!

In today’s society, first impressions are everything. People instinctually form judgments within milliseconds of seeing a new face for the first time. From clothing choices to our pearly whites, every aspect of our appearance helps strangers form opinions of us instantaneously.

It’s no surprise, then, that our smiles play an incredibly important role in portraying a favorable image. The appearance of our teeth can greatly influence our self-esteem level—positively or negatively. If teeth are misshapen, dull, or discolored, it can affect your confidence and make you much less likely to greet people with a smile. Unfortunately, this can come off as unfriendly. However, if your teeth are pearly white and perfect at every angle—like a Hollywood celebrity—you’ll be proud to flash your dazzling smile and will make a much better impression. Luckily, unlike pricey designer gowns and million-dollar diamonds, the ability to smile like a star is available to everyone through dental veneers!

If obtaining straight, white, flawless teeth is something that is important to you, talk to your dentist about veneers. Veneers were invented in the 1930s by Dr. Charles Pincus to improve the smiles of Hollywood’s motion picture stars. Subsequently, over the past 80+ years, almost all red-carpet A-Listers in the entertainment industry have been getting them.

So how exactly so veneers work? Veneers are razor-thin slices of porcelain bonded to the front and sides of your teeth so they look perfect in shape and color. What’s more, they can fix dental problems such as discoloration, teeth that are worn down, chipped or broke teeth, misaligned teeth, or teeth with gaps in between them. If you are experiencing any of these issues yourself, or you just want that award-winning white smile like your favorite celeb, set up a consultation with your dentist to discuss the best option for you and your pearly whites.

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The Teething Myth You Have to Stop Believing

Many parents have the misconception that teething causes diarrhea. What’s the correlation, you may ask? It is believed that the excess saliva that comes with teething can affect the gastrointestinal system.

However, although there is no evidence of a causal relationship, this idea may not be completely baseless, as teething babies put a variety of different items in their mouths during teething. This can result in them introducing a host of new bacteria into their system which can then results in diarrhea.

If your baby has diarrhea while teething, don’t write it off as a symptom of teething itself. Monitor what your baby puts in his or her mouth, and if the diarrhea persists, he or she should be examined by a doctor to avoid further issues.

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