Thursday, September 6, 2018
This is one of our most frequently asked questions! Our answer? It’s not the brush that matters, it’s who’s doing the brushing. Let’s break that down.
The goal of tooth brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth on a consistent (daily!) basis, so that we prevent the buildup of tartar which leads to tooth decay. A manual toothbrush is a great and inexpensive tool that helps us do just that. Make sure to brush two minutes per day, twice a day. Gently brush ALL surfaces and make sure to reach those back molars.
For some people, it can be difficult to brush properly with a manual toothbrush. Those with some form of motor disability or arthritis may find it easier using an electric toothbrush. An electric brush can also be helpful for kids or patients with braces. Anyone can benefit from an electric toothbrush and many of our patients prefer to use one, they say their teeth just feel cleaner after brushing with an electric toothbrush.
The same tooth brushing rules apply – two times per day, two minutes at a time. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that some have a built-in timer. If you’re one of those people who has a hard time making it to two minutes, consider using a timed electric brush. At your next dental visit, ask us whether we think you would do better with a manual or electric brush! And, as always, don’t forget to floss!
P.S. We have the Oral B Professional electric toothbrush in our office available for purchase. If you're interested, ask us to give you a demo next time you are in for an appointment, or call us anytime at 541-343-8527.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Mouth open or mouth closed? After lunch or after dinner? Flat or at an angle? We brush our teeth every day (hopefully!), but who knew it was this complicated. Just grab a brush a get to work, right? Not so fast, my friend! There are actually some best practices to be mindful of when brushing those pearly whites. The trick is cutting through the fat and finding out exactly what works. We live in a world of alternate facts, truthiness, and lists of “7 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Clean Without Picking Up a Toothbrush.” What’s even correct these days?! Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with this handy FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide. We’ll keep it simple with some easy dos and don’ts of brushing. Let’s get to it!
Proper Brushing Habits
Don’t: Keep your brush flat
Do: Use a 45-degree angle when brushing
Don’t: Use looooooooong strokes. No need to cover your whole mouth in one stroke!
Do: Use short, side to side strokes
Don’t: Brush with the force of a giant. This isn’t a strongman contest!
Do: Gently cover all areas. A gentle touch helps prevent wear and tear on your enamel
Don’t: Go one and done
Do: Brush at least twice a day, especially after eating or drinking something acidic (like citrus or soda)
Don’t: Be sentimental and use the same toothbrush for life
Do: Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. A trick to remember: switch out on the first day of each season
Don’t: Be average – the average person brushes their teeth for 45 seconds
Do: Brush for a full 2 minutes. A helpful trick: say the alphabet while brushing a certain section, move to the next section after you hit Z. Fun Fact: most electric toothbrushes have a built in timer so you will always know when you have used the proper brushing time!
Don’t: Keep your toothbrush in a closed container
Do: Put your toothbrush out to air dry
Don’t: Store your toothbrush on the sink counter where bathroom particles can get on it
Do: Store your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet
Don’t: Wield a tough-bristled brush
Do: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which is much better for your tooth enamel
And there we have it! Some easy practices to keep that perfect smile. Remember: Brushing is only 4 minutes out of the day, so why not make it the best 4 minutes of the day!
Thursday, May 31, 2018
While the current percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes is the lowest it’s been in decades, those who continue the habit remain at risk for heart and lung disease. Additionally, while we know smoking is also bad for our oral health, most don’t understand just how bad it is…
More Than Just Stained Teeth
From its seemingly mild side effects (bad breath, tooth discoloration, buildup of plaque and tartar), to the more sinister (increased risk of oral cancer, loss of bone within the jaw, gum disease and any number of resulting complications) – tobacco is indeed an oral health risk. Tobacco can cause serious health issues by breaking down the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. Because of this breakdown, the use of tobacco makes smokers much more susceptible to infection and diseases. In fact, 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth, throat, or gums admit to using tobacco in some form. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes aren’t the only culprits; smokeless tobacco can be just as detrimental to oral health, if not worse. In fact, there are twenty-eight chemicals found in chewing tobacco alone that are proven to increase the risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Chewing tobacco and snuff contain higher levels of nicotine than those found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, making it exposes the roots, and ultimately makes teeth more susceptible to decay.
Help is Just Next Door
The only way to help eliminate these risks is to never start using tobacco products, or to quit if you do. In fact, simply reducing tobacco use is proven to help lower your risks. If you feel that it is time to reduce your risk of cancer, gum disease, infection and other oral complications, your dentist or doctor can help you create a plan to help you quit using tobacco, along with prescribing certain medicines or programs to help you kick the habit. Remember, it is never too late to quit. If you’re interested in getting help to quit, let us know the next time you’re in for an appointment.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
If there were a quick and painless way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the mouth of someone you loved, would you want them to try it? What if that person were you? The truth is, as uncomfortable as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus detecting it early, is key. That’s why, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit, because while the oral exam that accompanies your cleaning may not be noticeable to you, it’s often your earliest line of defense in the detection of oral cancer. Lets take a quick look at a few of the risk factors and symptoms, and consider a few options you may have to help reduce risk. Keep in mind that no list is exhaustive, and to always share with each of your health care providers your concerns and strategies regarding your oral health.
Those at Risk for Oral Cancer
Passing certain age thresholds and engaging in certain lifestyle habits can place you at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, men tend to have higher rates of oral cancers than women. Here is the short list:
- Patients age 40 and older (95% of all oral cancer cases)
- Patients age 18-39 who use tobacco, are heavy drinkers, or may have a previously diagnosed oral HPV infection.
If you experience any of the below symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Also, keep in mind that aside from an obviously sore throat, the below symptoms can present themselves in the absence of pain. Look out for changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue.
- Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
- Chronic sore throator hoarseness
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
If you do not visit the dentist regularly, you could be missing out on the benefits of early cancer detection. Currently, just over half of all those diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years – a statistic driven by late diagnosis – so please visit your dentist and get an oral exam at least once a year. If you are considered “high risk,” (see list above) you should be receiving an oral exam at least every six months, if not more frequently.
- Below is a short list of healthy habits you can start doing now, which may reduce your risk
- Avoid all tobacco products
- Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
- Consume more fruits and vegetables (good for everything, of course)
- Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
- Avoid exposure to environmental hazards (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
- Conduct a self-exam monthly so you can catch any of the symptoms listed above. Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue
- Consider coffee. While the jury is still out, some research suggests coffee may help protect the mouth from oral cancer.
Oral cancer is serious business. Yet, it can be managed when caught early. So, do the right thing and visit your dentist regularly. Dr. Stephenson will complete an oral cancer screening with each exam. Call us today at 541-343-8527 to schedule.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And, that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and even the local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring.
Stage One: White Spots
In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended? As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. When you come in for an exam, Dr. Stephenson will be able to pick these spots up in areas of the mouth a patient can’t see on their own.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and the patient will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If a cavity were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.
Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, your tooth will certainly let you know there is a big problem now. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction. Fortunately, root canals are easier than most people think and usually the preferred treatment in order to save the tooth.
Stage Five: Abscess Formation
In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be very serious (and sometimes life threatening) if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage.
As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of decay, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at regular intervals. You can keep yourself and your children far from stage five by scheduling regular exams in our office. Call us today at 541-343-8527 if you are due for a dental exam!
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Imagine it’s still winter … you’re standing at the door, ready to brave the cold. You’re layered-up with three shirts and a sweatshirt, your heavy winter coat, and two layers of socks underneath your waterproof winter boots. Then you’ve got those awesome jeans with the flannel on the inside, your comfy hat, scarf, and gloves. You’re set! But wait. As you step toward the door, you suddenly realize you have an itch … and it’s deep down … buried beneath all those layers. And, try as you may, every attempt to reach that bugger-of-an-itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief you’re ever gonna’ get is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!
WHAT is a tongue scraper?
WHY use a tongue scraper?
HOW does one use a tongue scraper?
Thursday, August 4, 2016
When they say “age is all in your head,” they’re probably right. But then, your teeth ARE in your head -- so you likely can’t escape having to pay a little more attention to them after the age of 50. Although some oral health concerns are seen as common as we age, if you adopt a proactive mindset and educate yourself, these concerns do not have to be common for you. Anticipating and recognizing changes in your mouth can help you be on top of your health in this area -- so let’s take a look at the main ones you have to watch out for.
- Dry Mouth: The most common oral health concern you’re likely to experience as you age is dry mouth. In the medical world, dry mouth goes by the name xerostomia, and can be brought on by a number of contributing factors, including the over-consumption of drying beverages like coffee and alcohol, as well as the frequent consumption of salty foods. Another big offender is the medication we take over a lifetime to treat various illness. And the list isn’t a short one – there are at least 400 medications that can contribute to xerostomia, including medications for high blood pressure and depression.
- Ill-fitting Dentures: First off, it’s important to note that the need for dentures is not a must as we age. Today, healthier living and better access to dental care has reduced the percentage of seniors wearing dentures to 27% from nearly 50% just a few decades ago. That said, should dentures be a part of your life, or that of a loved one, wearing properly-fitting dentures is critical. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a denture reline.Give us a call at 541-343-8527 to see if we can help. Dentures that cause pain or shift in the mouth tend to alter a person’s eating habits, which can lead to nutrition deficits if healthy, but hard-to-chew, foods are avoided. Ill-fitting dentures can also cause thrush.
- Physical Obstacles to Good Oral Care: As we age, we sometimes find ourselves having to contend with physical ailments that limit our desire to maintain good oral care. Arthritis, vision loss, or injuries are a few of the most common. To combat these concerns, using a floss pick to get between teeth can be helpful, and the regular use of oral rinses can assist in dislodging difficult-to-remove food debris, while adding to the overall health of one’s mouth and gum tissue. Here’s how to choose the best mouth rinse for your needs!
- Naturally Receding Gums: The old expression “long in the tooth” isn’t just a quaint idiom about how one accumulates wisdom with age – it also refers to how our teeth appear to “lengthen” as we age. In other words, it’s a fancy way of saying our gums are receding. While some degree of gum recession is indeed natural as we get up in years, this predisposes us to cavities along the root structure of the tooth where enamel doesn’t exist. So, as one ages, flossing, brushing and rinses are more important than ever.
- Gum Disease: Natural gum recession is one thing, and a part of “growing up,” if you will. Gum disease, however, is preventable. So, if it's been longer than six months since you've seen us, please give us a call at 541-343-8527. Each of the above items in this list can contribute to gum disease, and good oral care can prevent it. Failing to do so can lead to a need for dentures at its most extreme, and pain and swollen gums at its least. We’d prefer you experience neither concern!
- Tooth Loss: If a tooth is lost due to trauma or decay, and not replaced with an implant or other prosthetic, it can have serious complications for the health of the jawbone. Teeth can shift out of place and fall out, and bone tissue can be resorbed back into the body. Not a good thing.
- Loss of Insurance Coverage: Retirees without dental coverage can sometimes cover the expense of dental care on their own; sometimes they cannot. But a lack of funds to take care of one’s teeth can be devastating to the health of our mouths, and our overall health. So we need to plan for two things: a care routine that allows us to take care of our teeth as much as humanly possible and some sort of financial backup plan for when problems do arise. If you are interested in financing, our office offers Care Credit for payment plans. Please contact us at 541-343-8527 if you would like further information.