Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sports Drinks: Here’s the Catch

Reports indicate that 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consume energy drinks, and that 62 percent consume at least one sports drink a day. While the drinks hydrate and offer energy and minerals, there’s a side of them that most don’t talk about.

Sports drinks are full of acid and sugar used to enhance the flavor. In addition to adding flavor, however, these ingredients are also responsible for eroding the enamel of the athletes that drink them.

To make matters worse, breathing through the mouth while exercising leads to a dry mouth that, in addition to the acid in the drink, can lead to enamel erosion and cavities. In addition, researchers have found that signs of enamel erosion appeared only 5 days after treating the tested teeth to a condition where the teeth are immersed in sports drinks and then saliva.

Given all this, it’s best to stick to water for hydration, or, if sports drinks are consumed, to chew sugar free gum afterwards and avoid brushing teeth for at least an hour after drinking the sports drinks.

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Straighter Teeth in a Snap

Turns out you can have straighter teeth by mail! Well, at least that is what a few by-mail-only orthodontia companies believe. In an effort to help patients save money, some orthodontic companies are having patients send their impressions to them by mail instead of going in for a dentist’s consultation. While this approach may save patients money, it could cause harm to their teeth.

The way that companies like SmileCareClub and CrystalBraces work is that for a small fee they send you putty and trays that look like mouth guards for you to use to take impressions with. After the patient takes an impression with their teeth they then send them back to the company. The impressions are looked over by a dental professional and then sets of plastic dental trays are sent back to the patient to wear daily to help straighten teeth.

While these trays work similarly to the Invisalign dental straightening system, they are missing one key component, a dentist’s stamp of approval. Many orthodontists and dentists warn that if you try to get teeth straightening trays without first seeing a dental professional then you can face serious oral health risks. One of the major issues that orthodontists have with this no-visit system is that patients cannot be checked for oral health issues and barriers to straightening.

One doctor argued that you couldn’t check for gum disease without an in-person visit. Gum disease typically needs to be treated before any type of orthodontic work is started. Other specialists argued that for some patients will not benefit from teeth aligners and that they are wasting money by getting these aligners that will not work.

While buying straightening trays online may seem like a great opportunity to get the smile you want while saving money, it can harm your oral health. Visit your dentist or orthodontist to discuss what teeth straightening method could be right for you.

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Mona Lisa Smile: Can you tell the difference between a real and a fake…smile?

Real Smiles vs. Fake Smiles

Everyone does it… and everyone fakes it. A smile is a natural expression of how we are feeling, as well as a facade for how we want others to view us. Since a smile can be both disarming and deceiving, how can we learn to trust one?

Smiling is an impulse not just reserved for expressing delight. The corners of the mouth can turn up when feeling frustrated or in certain instances of pain, for example. However, paying attention to more than the shape of the mouth can reveal how a person is really feeling.

Types of Smiles

A smile in the midst of frustration will leave quickly, and a pasted-on, “Say cheese” smile will look unnatural on the face. A genuine smile builds up gradually and are accompanied by the contraction of an involuntary muscle at the corners of both eyes. This full expression cannot be forced, as the muscle moving the outside corners of the eyes is only initiated when experiencing delight.

Vice Versa

So real happiness triggers a real smile, but real smiles may also do the same job in reverse. In a study comparing grins (and non-grins) in old yearbook pictures with levels of happiness years later, those captured with a genuine smile had the highest levels of satisfaction with life.

So stop forcing the smile and focus on whatever motivates a real smile, and we’ll learn to trust others and ourselves in the process.

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Natural Mouthwash

Whether you’re trying to keep anything unnatural out of your mouth and body, reduce your carbon footprint a little, or simply are in a pinch because you ran out, there are plenty of reasons you may want to try making your own mouthwash. Luckily, there are a few different ways to go about it, all of which will result in fresh, pleasant breath!

Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil is awesome for clearing up blemishes on your face, but did you know it also makes for a great mouthwash? You can find essential oils at most natural food stores relatively easily. To make this natural rinse, combine a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup of warm water, stir to combine, and swish! 
Tip: This recipe can also be made with Lemongrass oil, if you prefer.

Sage
You probably already have some iteration of this common herb in your house already! If it isn’t growing in your garden, check your spice cabinet. Then, boil some water and add either two tablespoons of fresh sage (probably around six leaves or so), or one tablespoon of dried sage to the pot. Simmer the mixture for ten minutes, and then take it off the heat and allow to cool until it’s tolerable to rinse with.

Aloe Vera Juice
You may have a more difficult time finding pure Aloe Vera juice than the ingredients for the other mouthwashes, but if you can find it (again, try the natural food store), it works as a natural mouthwash! 

With all of these natural recipes, you’ll want to store them in a cool, dark place to keep them fresh, and dispose of them after about a month. Of course, no matter how much mouthwash you use, natural or otherwise, it’s no substitute for two annual dental cleanings! Schedule yours by contacting us today.

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Tooth-Mounted Sensors to Track Your Mouth

A breakthrough in the field of mouth sensors, scientists and engineers at Tufts University School of Engineering have created a wearable mouth sensor that’s small and unobtrusive. Previous devices had bulky wiring or required wearing a mouth guard, so this device is a game changer.

The tooth-mounted device contains bioresponsive materials that can sense chemicals like salt, alcohol, and glucose intake. As the sensor detects these chemicals, they are then transmitted wirelessly to a mobile device.

There are many applications for such a device. For example, a person may be able to monitor the pH levels of their mouths and notice if their mouth is to acidic, a risk for dental carries (cavities). People may also be able to use it to monitor nutrients in their food and be able to see if they are eating too much salt.

As innovations like these keep cropping up, dentists and dental patients will find themselves having an easier time monitoring oral health and caring for it.

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Blueberries to the Rescue

In addition to being delicious, there may be more benefits to eating blueberries than you’d think!

Gum inflammation (also known as gingivitis) is a common affliction, one that can be a precursor to more serious dental issues. The build-up of bacteria-laden plaque on teeth can result in gum/periodontal disease. While we all know the standard preventative measures–brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly–a new weapon has been found in the fight against gum disease.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been looking into various natural antibacterial compounds to combat gum disease. Preliminary lab tests have shown that a compound found in blueberries, called polyphenol, is able to stop bacterial growth and prevent the formation of biofilms, a precursor to plaque.

Blueberry-enhanced products could soon appear on shelves as a supportive treatment for the prevention of plaque buildup and overall good oral hygiene.

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5 Tricks to Help Your Child Love the Dentist

What is one of the most common phobias? You guessed it—the fear of going to the dentist! People of all ages get a bit cagey at the idea of getting in that examination chair. However, for a young mind, the dentist is obviously much more confusing and difficult to process and understand.

Luckily, there are some simple tricks, and if you make sure to choose the right dentist, you can help your child to not fear the dentist and make sure they grow up with the right attitude towards good dental hygiene!

Start them young

Find a dentist that you plan on taking your child to for the foreseeable future, and make sure to introduce them to their dentist early on. This introduction ideally takes place before any actual appointment takes place. This humanizes the dentist and allows them/you to explain to the child the concepts of oral health and why it is crucial.

Choose your words carefully

Make sure to maintain a positive tone with your word choice. Make sure to help your child understand that their friend (the dentist) is going to clean their teeth with a “special toothbrush”. Avoid negative words like “pain” or “hurt”, and focus on the positive.

Practice at home

Before their first cleaning/checkup, stage a “pretend” dentist visit with your child. Explain to them what the dentist will do and why, and be sure to make it fun! This will help them develop a positive attitude towards the experience, and give them a better understanding of why they have to go to the dentist.

Avoid bribery

Although it may be tempting to coax your child through the stress of the dentist with the promise of reward, it’s best to avoid this technique. Offering a bribe immediately enforces the idea that the dentist visit is an unpleasant experience that needs to be compensated for. Instead, constantly commend your child on his/her bravery, maturity, and good attitude throughout the visit!

Emphasize the importance

Make sure to convey the importance of regular dental check-ups to your child. Be sure to highlight how visits will keep their teeth strong and healthy, and prevent problems down the road.

If you need additional advice on how to ease your child into their first visit to the chair, give us a call to consult our team of dental professionals.

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Oral Health for Musicians

Playing a musical instrument has been proven to have a variety of mental benefits including enhanced cognition, focus, and problem solving. Great news, right? Well, yes… however, there are certain hazards attributed to that musical prowess as well, especially in terms of oral health.

First and foremost, it’s no secret that musical instruments—particularly the brass and woodwind varieties—collect spit, therefore collecting germs. This is no biggie if you keep your instrument squeaky clean, but for young musicians who don’t yet know how to properly clean and disinfect their instruments, the bacteria buildup can lead to illness and mouth infections.

This buildup of germs can also create a breeding ground for cold sores, or oral herpes, a highly contagious and uncomfortable infection. Even worse? Once you’ve had a cold sore, the virus remains dormant in your body. This means that it can always come back. Ick!
Brass and wind instruments—or, the ones you blow into to make sound—also pose a distinct risk of trauma to the lips and teeth. To play correctly, the musician must apply pressure to the mouthpiece of the instrument, occasionally causing teeth to grow strangely or become pushed out of place. Because mouth position (or embouchure) is so important when playing these instruments, musicians must also be very careful when receiving restorative dental procedures, such as veneers. If a dental procedure dramatically changes the shape of a patient’s front teeth or lips, it can affect embouchure negatively, resulting in difficulty playing the instrument.

So, what can be done for musicians to help them maintain good oral health? For starters, keeping instruments very clean can help prevent infections. Research the best way to clean your instrument, and then do so regularly. If you are a musician who needs a dental procedure done, be sure to talk to your dentist first, and together the two of you can determine the best way to move forward without hurting your embouchure! Play on!

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Can Chocolate Help Kill Bacteria in Your Mouth?

Food scientists have known for a while now that there are certain molecules in chocolate that give it antibacterial properties. These special molecules, called polyphenols, are also naturally occurring in tealeaves and red wine. These polyphenols, which protect plant cells from bacteria and other damage, can also be helpful in protecting our cells from bacteria. So, by consuming these products in moderation, you can be actively protecting your tooth surfaces from bacteria buildup. To reiterate: when consumed in moderation. No amounts of polyphenols justify a wine/chocolate binge in the name of your teeth!

However, scientists have recently been able to derive polyphenols from plants cheaply. The implications of this coating are very powerful in the dental field. They could be used to pre-treat implants, crowns and bridges to eliminate surface bacteria and prevent further build-up. The polyphenol molecules could also be used as an ingredient in your daily mouth rinses to prevent the formation of biofilms. Then, they could potentially surpass the field of dentistry, by being incorporated into other surgical implants, like prosthetic knees or hips.

Advances like these serve to show how much science can teach us about the everyday items around us, and what can be derived from them. Surely as the scientific community advances, we will find many more unexpected uses for the foods we see on a daily basis! 

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Brush Before or After Breakfast?

Dentists suggest that we brush twice a day, and so most of us have figured out a morning-evening rotation. Yet the timing, content, or social situation of breakfast presents us with a puzzle: Should we brush first thing in the morning? Wait until after the morning meal? Does it depend on what we eat?

After a night’s sleep, our mouths have a considerable amount of plaque and we brush to remove the build-up of bacteria. Some of us are concerned about arriving at the breakfast table with bad breath when in mixed company, while at other times, the thought of orange juice mixing with a minty mouth is terribly distasteful.

Since breakfast often includes fruit in liquid or whole form, getting into the habit of brushing before breakfast is a good idea. Brushing your teeth after they have been exposed to high acidity greatly increases the sensitivity of tooth enamel to abrasion by toothpaste and brushing.

Brushing first thing in the morning removes the plaque build-up from your teeth, which greatly reduces acid to form when food enters your mouth. Less acid leads to less erosion, and ultimately stronger teeth.

Paying attention to your oral health first thing in the morning is an excellent way to start the day!