Halloween, Candy, And Your Braces

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WE ALL LOVE EATING our favorite candy from time to time, especially around Halloween. But those treats can get tricky for orthodontic patients, because many of the standard goodies are harmful to braces. So how can you safely enjoy your spooky night of fun and sweets? Just follow our guidelines of what to aim for and what to avoid in the trick-or-treat bowls around your neighborhood.
 

Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

The good news is that chocolate is safe! Any type of soft chocolate, from a bar to a peanut butter cup, is perfectly fine to eat with braces. But soft is the keyword there. Hard or large pieces of chocolate could still pose a danger to orthodontic equipment, and you should avoid chocolate with hard pieces of toffee embedded in it.

Cookies and brownies are another safe option for braces-wearers, so make sure you pay a visit to the house that always hands out baked goods this year! Again, softness is key. If someone gives you a hard cookie, give it a good long soak in cold milk before biting into it.

While whole caramel apples are firmly on the banned list, you can take that caramel apple home and chop it into slices. After that, it won’t pose a threat to your braces. Even better, apples are much healthier for your teeth than all that candy, so you can enjoy something both delicious and good for you!

Hard candies are okay, but there’s a catch: no chewing allowed. If you have the patience to be able to suck on it until it dissolves, a hard candy is safe. However, just because they’re safe for braces doesn’t make them great for your teeth, so we still recommend sticking to the other options.

Treats To Trade To Your No-Braces Friends

No matter how much you love them, there are some treats and candies that are definitely off-limits if you have braces. Anything hard, gummy, chewy, or sticky can put brackets and wires at risk. That means no taffy, gummies, caramels, toffee, popcorn, jelly beans, Tootsie Rolls, or Starbursts, and absolutely no gum. Any of these can pop or pull a bracket right off a tooth. It’s also important to avoid candies like M&Ms or Skittles, because their small size makes it easy for them to get into the wrong place and pop a bracket loose.

Check out this video for a reminder about banned foods and why to avoid them:

If you do end up with a bag full of banned treats, just trade those away to a friend or sibling without braces until your Halloween haul is all orthodontist-approved!

Don’t Forget To Clean Your Teeth!

The most important thing to remember after your night of fun and tasty treats is to take care of your teeth and your braces, because many of the treats that are safe to eat can still lead to tooth decay without proper attention to dental hygiene. So make sure to brush and floss away all traces of that sugary deliciousness. We’ll be checking the next time we see you that you’ve been keeping up with your braces cleaning routine!

Keep making wise choices to keep your braces safe!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

In Case Of Dental Emergency

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WHEN WE THINK OF an emergency, we probably don’t imagine it could have something to do with our teeth. However, any chip, crack, or toothache should be treated as a priority, because even if they seem like minor issues, they can lead to much worse (and more expensive) problems down the line.
 

Know Where To Go

Before an emergency happens, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family. The first is to find a dental practice that is right for you. This way, you’ll know where to turn when something goes wrong unexpectedly, and you won’t have to waste precious time looking up dental practices. You want a dentist who is within easy driving distance, has a good reputation, is within your price range, and who makes you and your family feel comfortable.

Common Dental Emergencies

In addition to knowing where to turn when an emergency happens, you can also prepare for dental emergencies by becoming educated on what you can do on the way to the dentist. Here are the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations for three common dental emergencies:

1. A Knocked Out Baby Tooth

If a baby tooth is knocked out, contact your dentist immediately. Most likely, even if the tooth was not loose, they will not replant it because it could compromise the developing permanent tooth underneath.

2. Fracture Of A Tooth

If a tooth is cracked, chipped, or broken, contact your dentist right away because this will need treatment as soon as possible. Rinse out your mouth with water and find any broken fragments of tooth, then place them in cold milk to preserve them and bring them with you to the dentist. Do not ignore a crack or chip! If the dental pulp is exposed, it is in danger of infection unless treated quickly!

Watch this video to learn about bonding, one way a dentist may repair a chipped tooth:

3. A Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, head straight to the dentist. In most cases, a knocked out tooth can be saved if the dentist sees you within an hour of the accident. Before you get there, you can help preserve the tooth by replacing it in the socket and holding it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth. If it won’t go back in, store it in cold milk.

A few things you should NOT do if a permanent tooth gets knocked out are letting it dry out, handling it by the root, scrubbing it clean, or using soap, alcohol, or peroxide on it. Doing any of these things will damage the root of the tooth, reducing the chances the dentist will be able to successfully replant it.

Your Dentist Is Ready To Help!

Even if your tooth shows no external damage, a toothache is a sign that something could be wrong on the inside, and that should be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. Now, hopefully you will never have to put any of this preparation to the test, but if you do, you now know where to go! If you have any questions about what else you can do to prepare for a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to ask us.

Your dental health is our top priority!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

DIY Whitening After Braces? Maybe Not…

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A GOOD-LOOKING SMILE with white, even teeth is a major confidence booster and really helps make a good first impression, whether you’re going on a date or sitting down for a job interview. The widespread desire for whiter teeth in today’s society, combined with internet culture, has given rise to a number of popular do-it-yourself teeth whitening methods. While these might seem like great life-hacks to try after your braces come off, many of them can actually do serious damage to your teeth.
 

Common DIY Whitening Trends

Over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about some of these trendy teeth whitening approaches, such as activated charcoal, lemon juice, and oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient folk remedy, but there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims about its health benefits. Lemon juice is absolutely a bad idea, because you’re essentially applying a strong acid directly to your teeth. Tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to acid, and enamel loss is permanent.

Activated charcoal might be able to absorb stains and toxins, but those benefits are debatable when it comes to teeth, because charcoal is also abrasive, so it could be scraping away enamel even as it removes stains. Hold off on buying that tube of charcoal toothpaste until you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and definitely don’t mix up your own.

What About Peroxide And Baking Soda?

Another recent DIY whitening trend is using the baking soda in the pantry and the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet to bleach teeth. The reasoning behind this idea is that hydrogen peroxide is used in professional whitening and baking soda is present in many ADA approved whitening toothpastes, and both proven to be effective at removing stains.

While it is true that peroxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are used in professional and approved whitening products, that doesn’t mean these are safe chemicals to apply to our teeth however we want. There is a delicate balance between using too little, which won’t produce much of a whitening effect, and using too much, which can damage the enamel and the soft tissues of the mouth. Only dental professionals have the knowledge, training, and materials needed to strike that balance.

Go To The Right Place For Whitening

Your teeth will thank you if you put your trust in dental professionals for your whitening needs rather than trying something risky at home, so make sure you ask your dentist about the best approach to whiten your teeth. Most importantly, whatever whitening route you choose, even if it’s just a tube of ADA approved whitening toothpaste, make sure you wait until after your braces come off! You don’t want to end up with different colored patches where the brackets used to be!

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Side-Effects: Medications And Oral Health

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MEDICAL PROBLEMS ARE things none of us ask for but many of us have, and with medical problems come medications. Unfortunately, along with medications come side-effects, and these often have a negative impact on oral health.
 

The Delicate Balance Of Our Mouths

Our oral health does best when our mouths can stay close to a neutral pH — neither acidic nor basic. The food and drink we consume tends to temporarily disrupt this pH balance, and so does medicine. When children eat chewable vitamins or drink syrupy medicine that contains sugar, it feeds their oral bacteria, which excrete acid onto their teeth. This acid wears away at their tooth enamel.

Another common problem with children’s medication comes from asthma inhalers, which can lead to the development of oral thrush (white fungus patches in the mouth). The easiest way to avoid any of these issues is to encourage our children to rinse with water after eating vitamins, using their inhalers, or drinking cough syrup.

Oral Side-Effects Of Medications

Even if the medication doesn’t do any damage while you’re ingesting it, it can still be harmful to your mouth over time, so let’s look at some of the side-effects that might show up after starting a new medication.

  • Dry Mouth. This is the most common oral side-effect of over-the-counter and prescribed medications. Our saliva is our first line of defense against bad oral bacteria, and when it dries up, it leaves us vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Abnormal bleeding. Some medications contain blood thinning components, and this makes it easier for us to bleed. If you start noticing more bleeding from your gums after brushing, it could be because of the medication.

  • Inflamed gums. Gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of gum tissue) is a side-effect of several medications, and it increases the risk of gum disease.

  • Change in taste. Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can leave a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth or interfere with your sense of taste in general. While unpleasant, this side-effect isn’t necessarily serious.

  • Bone loss. In rare cases, drugs used to treat osteoporosis can cause a loss of bone tissue in the jaw, putting patients at risk of tooth loss and gum recession.

Your Dentist Can Help!

No matter what medication you take on a regular basis, whether prescription or over-the-counter, it’s critical that your dentist knows about them. Sometimes, the oral health side-effects can be minimized or stopped, but only if the dentist knows! So if you’re taking medications, especially if you’ve noticed any of the above problems, make sure to mention them during your next dental appointment!

Remember to speak up about your medications!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Tips For Keeping Your Braces Clean

CLEANING OUR TEETH IS a critical task that we should all be doing twice a day. For people with braces, good oral hygiene is even more important, but it can also be more complicated because of all those extra crevices and places where food particles, bacteria, and plaque can hide. Slacking off on brushing and flossing can result in tooth decay and unsightly stains when the braces come off. But don’t fret, because we’re here to give you some tips on keeping your teeth clean while those braces are on!
 

3 Teeth Cleaning Tips

Here are three important things to remember for your oral hygiene routine while your braces are on:

  • Brush after every meal. Food gets stuck between brackets very easily, and it’s important to clean it out so that oral bacteria don’t have a chance to enjoy your leftovers. If a normal toothbrush doesn’t do the job, you can use interdental brushes to reach those tight spots.

  • Floss daily. Flossing is definitely more complicated when you have braces, but don’t let that stop you! You can make the process easier with floss threaders, or you could even use a water flosser. These are more expensive than floss, but they are much easier to use, even for people without braces!

  • Avoid whitening products. We all want our smiles to be shiny and white, but using whitening products while the braces are on can lead to discolored patches where the brackets were after the braces are removed. Make sure to only buy toothpaste and mouthwash without whitening chemicals in them until your treatment is over!

Check out this video to see how a pro orthodontic patient does it!

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone

If you have any questions about how to keep your braces clean, just ask us the next time you come in! We want to make sure you have the smile of your dreams when your braces are removed, and good oral hygiene is just as important as getting those teeth properly aligned. And when you get your braces off, if you keep up your good brushing and flossing habits, you’ll be able to enjoy that healthy, straight smile for life!

Keep sharing that smile with everyone around you!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user John Lustig used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What Is An Initial Orthodontic Consultation?

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DO YOU THINK you or someone you love might be in need of orthodontic treatment? Are you dealing with a lot of teeth crowding or a bad bite? Well, the first thing to do is schedule an initial orthodontic consultation! This crucial appointment will set the stage for any future treatment, but what exactly is it and what should you do to prepare?

What To Expect At Your Consultation

Initial consultation appointments play a very important role in orthodontic treatment. At your initial consultation we will take a series of photos and two x-rays. These photos and x-rays play a very important role in the planning of your treatment. Dr. Brandon will do a full oral exam and go through each photo and x-ray with you. If there is a treatment plan for you, Dr. Brandon and our treatment coordinator will talk to you about your different treatment options and will answer any questions you may have. Once you leave, we will email you a copy of your photos and x-rays for your own personal record.

Before Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, please visit the "New Patients" tab on our website - or follow this link: http://www.snovalleyortho.com/forms/. From there you will be able to print and fill out a Health History and Hippa form. If you do not have a printer, we will provide the forms to you at your first appointment. Please arrive to your appointment 10 minutes early to allow for ample time to fill out these forms if you have not completed them ahead of time.

Schedule Your Consultation Today!

If you still have questions about what an initial consultation is like, just call us and ask! We can’t wait to see you and begin getting your smile on track to the healthy, straight smile you deserve!

We love helping all of our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Are Invisible Aligners Right For You?

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THE TIME WHEN getting braces meant spending years with a mouth full of metal that hooked to bulky headgear is long past. These days, traditional wire braces are more streamlined and discreet, but the option that has become increasingly popular for orthodontic treatment is the invisible aligner. How can you know if this option is right for you? Here are a few questions you can ask to find out.
 

1. What Orthodontic Problems Do Invisible Aligners Correct?

Invisible aligners are great for correcting issues with dental crowding. However, because they are removable and not anchored to any of your teeth, they can’t do much for problems with the bite or with jaw alignment. For those, you’ll still need traditional braces.

2. How Long Will Invisible Aligner Treatment Take?

Treatment time with invisible aligners tends to be about the same as with traditional braces. How long it takes depends much more on what kind of issue is being corrected than what type of orthodontic treatment you’re using. Some problems simply take more time to correct, but no matter what, it’s worth it in the end!

3. Do Invisible Aligners Work For Adults?

Invisible aligners are a great option for adults seeking to straighten their smiles. Traditional wire braces aren’t a very appealing prospect for many adults, because culturally we tend to associate them with teenagers. However, invisible aligners are barely noticeable. They also don’t have the same teenage connotation, so adults can wear them without any worries!

4. What Should I Expect With My Treatment?

Invisible aligners work in stages. You’ll receive a series of custom designed aligners that each move your teeth closer towards the final goal. Similar to how traditional braces patients come in on a regular basis to have their progress assessed and their braces adjusted, invisible aligner patients will receive their next set of aligner trays each time until they’re done. For either type of treatment, it’s important not to miss those appointments!

Still Have Questions? Just Ask Us!

Anyone who is seriously considering getting orthodontic treatment — invisible aligners or traditional wire braces — surely has more than these four questions to ask, but that’s what we’re here for! Simply schedule an initial consultation appointment with us and together we’ll be able to find out which type of treatment is perfect for you!

We can’t wait to help you get the smile of your dreams!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Mac Vincente used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Good Tooth Brushing Technique

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BRUSHING OUR TEETH is something we can get so used to doing that we don’t really think about it, but are we doing it the right way? It can be easy to get into some bad tooth-brushing habits, and the result can be that your teeth aren’t getting cleaned properly and you could be doing damage to your gums. So let’s take a moment to go over good brushing technique.
 

What To Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

A few of the things we should avoid when we brush our teeth are brushing too hard, only brushing up and down or side-to-side, and always starting in the same place. Brushing too hard can damage our enamel and our gum tissue, which is why we should also avoid hard-bristled brushes.

When we only brush up and down or side-to-side, we tend to miss the spaces between teeth, which allows plaque to build up and leads to tooth decay. Because brushing our teeth is such a routine thing to do, it can be very easy to do it the same way every time, but when we always start brushing in the same place, we tend to pay unequal attention to the first teeth we brush compared to the last. Try mixing things up so that your whole mouth can get the same level of attention!

Brushing Your Teeth The Right Way

The first rule of good brushing is one you’ve likely heard all your life: brush twice a day every day for at least two minutes. Do whatever you need to do to make brushing your teeth an unskippable part of your morning and evening routines. You could even play music so you know how long to keep brushing!

However, brushing isn’t just about quantity; it’s also about quality. For the best cleaning action, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and focus on the gum line. Use gentle circular motions to brush the outsides, insides, and chewing surfaces of every tooth. And don’t forget to brush or scrape your tongue before you’re done! Like daily flossing, tongue-scraping is another crucial step for getting rid of harmful bacteria (and it will help keep your breath fresh!).

Timing is also important. Our teeth often feel unpleasant after a meal, but as much as you want to clean them, make sure you wait at least half an hour after eating before you brush. The acids in our food and produced by oral bacteria soften our enamel right after we eat, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to restore a neutral pH. If we brush too soon, we can actually brush away some of our enamel!

Your Dentist Is Your Greatest Resource

If you’d like more tips on tooth brushing techniques, just ask us! We can make sure your oral health routine is on track for keeping your teeth healthy for life. And don’t forget that an essential component of having healthy teeth is scheduling regular dental appointments!

Now set that timer and get brushing!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Gloria used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Cleaning Your Retainers

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BRACES REMOVAL DAY is the most exciting day of any orthodontic patient’s treatment, but it’s not where the story ends. Next come the retainers, to make sure that smile stays properly aligned. But how do we keep our retainers in good condition, and why are they so important?
 

Why Do We Need Retainers?

It would be nice if our teeth stayed exactly where our braces left them: perfectly straight for the rest of our lives. Sadly, this isn’t how teeth work. They are held in place by periodontal ligaments, and these ligaments take time to adjust to their new position. Neglecting your retainer allows those ligaments to tug those teeth back to where they were before you had braces! This is why it’s crucial not only to wear your retainer as directed, but to take good care of it.

Cleaning Removable Retainers

Removable retainers come in two basic varieties: Hawley (the classic retainer made of wire fixed to a fitted acrylic plate) and Essix (clear plastic retainers). The different types require slightly different approaches when it comes to cleaning. Make sure to follow these steps so that your retainer doesn’t become smelly and full of tartar deposits.

Hawley Retainer

A cheap and easy way to clean your Hawley retainer is by soaking it in baking soda water. Doing this every day would damage the soldered metal pieces, so it’s important to only do this once in a while. Baking soda is a safer solution than effervescent tablets, especially if you have allergies. You should also avoid using mouthwash, which can dry the acrylic out to the point of damaging it.

Essix Retainer

It’s important to brush your Essix retainer as often as you brush your teeth — but hold the toothpaste, because it could scratch the plastic. Also make sure that the water you use to rinse it is lukewarm. Hot water will warp the retainer’s shape. Soaking in baking soda water is a great way to deep-clean an Essix retainer too, and there isn’t any metal solder to worry about, so you can do this as often as you like.

Looking for more uses for that baking soda? Check out this video:

Cleaning A Permanent Retainer

These are great tips for cleaning removable retainers, but what if you have a permanent retainer — the kind cemented to the backs of your teeth? Easy! Just clean these the same way you kept your braces clean: diligent brushing and flossing.

It can be tricky to floss around a permanent retainer, but it’s crucial for keeping tartar from building up around it and the backs of your teeth. Threaders and special floss designed for retainers can make this process easier, and you might even consider getting a water flosser if you don’t already have one.

If You Need More Tips On Retainer Care, Just Ask!

Whatever kind of retainer you use, you can always bring yours to our office or to your dentist for cleaning and inspection. We want to help you make sure that retainer lasts!

We’re so excited for you to move on from braces to retainers! Great job!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Swimming And Oral Health

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HERE’S NOTHING BETTER than a swim in the pool to cool down during the hot summer months. Before we dive in, we should be aware of how our time in the pool can impact our oral health. That’s right: the chlorine in swimming pools doesn’t just cause dry skin and eye irritation, it can also have an effect on our teeth.

Chlorine Versus Our Teeth

The reason swimming pools contain chlorine is that it helps to decontaminate the water from microbes and other unpleasant things that could pose health and sanitation risks to swimmers. However, when chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid, and unless the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated, that acid can lead to a condition called swimmer’s calculus.

Swimmer’s calculus is yellow and brown stains that can develop on teeth enamel after too much exposure to chlorine. It’s also what can make our teeth feel more sensitive after swimming, because enamel erosion leaves the dentin underneath more vulnerable. When we have good oral health, our saliva works to keep our mouths as close to a neutral pH as possible, thus protecting our enamel from erosion, but acid exposure can harm enamel before the saliva can do its job.

This isn’t usually a problem for casual swimmers, but anyone who is a serious swimmer or participates in water sports should be aware of the possibility of developing swimmer’s calculus. The best ways to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth are to maintain a good oral health routine with daily brushing and flossing, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out the chlorine residue, and keep your mouth closed while swimming!

Check out this video to learn about other ways our teeth are exposed to acids:

Dental Concerns Of Scuba Diving

If swimming pools aren’t your thing but you love snorkeling and diving, your teeth will be safe from the effects of chlorine, but they may still face other problems. Barodontalgia, commonly called tooth squeeze, is when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This pressure change can result in significant tooth pain and can even fracture teeth, and a good preventative measure is a dental appointment before diving season begins!

Most divers are familiar with how uncomfortable those “one size fits none” mouthpieces can be, but do you know they can be bad for your teeth? Divers with poorly-fitting mouthpieces have to clench to keep them in place, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain and headaches and makes it uncomfortable to chew. If you’re a frequent diver, you might want to invest in a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

We want all of our patients to have a wonderful summer enjoying their favorite water sports and activities without fear for the effects on their teeth. Schedule a dental appointment so that we can make sure your teeth are healthy and answer any of your questions about underwater tooth problems and how to avoid them!

Take time to cool off this summer! You deserve it!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What To Do About White Spots

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HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED white spots on your own or someone else’s teeth? When we think of stains, we usually think of dark colors, but stains on teeth can just as easily be whiter than the surrounding area. These white spots can happen for a few different reasons, and there are a few different ways to remove them.
 

Causes Of White Spots

Stains can affect the outside of the tooth and the inside. White spots are surface stains affecting the enamel, and they can occur on an otherwise healthy tooth. These spots are most commonly caused by fluorosis and demineralization.

Fluorosis occurs when the adult teeth are exposed to too much fluoride while still developing beneath the gums. This doesn’t damage the teeth, it just unevenly bleaches them. The best way to avoid fluorosis is to make sure your child doesn’t use too much toothpaste before their adult teeth start coming in. Just a pea-sized dab is enough for a young child, and no more than a smear the size of a grain of rice should be used for babies and toddlers.

Demineralization is far more harmful than fluorosis, as it involves the leaching of minerals out of the enamel through exposure to acids. This happens when plaque isn’t cleaned away effectively. Good brushing habits and regular dental cleanings are crucial for preventing this problem. Demineralization is a particular risk for people with braces, so make extra sure to clean around those brackets!

Another cause of white spots is enamel hypoplasia, meaning enamel is thinner than usual, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to stains and decay. This condition can be caused in a child’s teeth when the mother smokes while pregnant, and it can also be caused by malnutrition and premature birth.

Treatment Options For White Spots

The best thing to do is always to prevent the white spots from developing in the first place, but when they do form, there are a few different ways they can be treated. With the microabrasionroute, a thin layer of enamel is carefully removed to give the teeth a more uniform appearance. This can be paired with whitening treatments.

Another way of giving your teeth more balanced color is bleaching. Over-the-counter bleaching kits do help, but we recommend professional whitening in the dentist’s office or dentist-approved take-home kits for best results.
In cases of particularly severe staining that can’t be corrected with bleaching, veneers are an excellent option. The dentist attaches thin porcelain to the teeth, which gives them a natural, white appearance.

If you’re more worried about yellowing teeth than white spots, check out this video:

Let’s See Those Pearly Whites!

If you have white spots on your teeth, come see us so that we can figure out the best way to get you the bright, beautiful smile you deserve. We’re committed to our patients’ dental health and happiness!

Keep taking care of your beautiful smile between visits!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.
 

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Chad Miller used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Avoiding Post-Braces Stains

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OUTSIDE OF ANTIQUE FURNITURE and modern art, stains are pretty much always bad news. Worst of all is when the stains are on our teeth. If we aren’t careful during orthodontic treatment, we can end up with white spots on our teeth around where the brackets used to be when the braces come off. But why does this happen and how can we avoid it?
 

Why Teeth Develop Stains

The first thing you should know when it comes to post-braces stains is that they are not inevitable. It also isn’t the braces themselves that stain teeth. However, they do make it easier for plaque to build up, because the wires and brackets provide numerous nooks and crannies where bacteria and food particles can hide, making cleaning more difficult.

When plaque forms around brackets, it leaves decalcified patches. Then, when the braces come off, the spots where the brackets were are the same color as before, while the rest of the tooth has a bleached appearance. The buildup of plaque also increases the risk of decay and gum disease while the braces are on.

How To Keep Your Teeth Stain-Free

Your best defense against white spots and other stains is a good oral hygiene routine. Make sure to brush thoroughly at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and stay on schedule with your regular dental cleanings. Your dentist can get to any plaque or tartar you might have missed.

Another way to avoid stains is to stay away from foods and drinks that are known to leave stains, such as coffee, dark teas, highly acidic drinks (like soda), sugary foods like candy and cookies, and even chips! All of these foods and drinks can either directly stain the teeth or they can easily get stuck between brackets and lead to plaque buildup.

Other things to avoid are tobacco and alcohol. These are big causes of stains on their own, and braces only make it worse because you’ll still have those normal-colored patches when the brackets come off. Your teeth will thank you if you steer clear.

Are The Stains Permanent?

If you do have stains or white spots when your orthodontic treatment ends, there are ways of fixing them. Some stains become less intense over time simply by being exposed to your saliva, which is why we might not recommend any whitening treatments right away. After a few months, if the stains are still visible, you can use over-the-counter whitening products or have your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist for a more uniform result.

Still Worried About Stains?

If you want to learn more about white spots and how to avoid them, just ask us! We want to help you get the smile you deserve, and that means having teeth that are stain-three as well as properly aligned.

Our patients are the best!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user ladybell273 used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Grinding Bruxism To A Halt

GRINDING OR CLENCHING YOUR teeth is a pretty normal thing to do when you’re annoyed or stressed, and that’s nothing to worry about. However, if you grind your teeth on a more regular basis, whether asleep or awake, it can become a serious problem. This kind of chronic teeth-grinding is known as bruxism.

Why Does Bruxism Happen?

Sleep bruxism, also called nocturnal bruxism, is sometimes the side-effect of sleep apnea or snoring, while awake bruxism (diurnal bruxism) can be a side-effect of stress. However, not everyone with bruxism is dealing with a sleep disorder or stress, and everyone with a sleep disorder or a lot of stress in their lives will have bruxism. Improperly aligned teeth can also cause bruxism.

Bruxism Symptoms

Treatment for bruxism can sometimes be tricky because there isn’t a single clear cause, so the focus tends to be on reducing symptoms and minimizing the damage. You might not be consciously aware of a teeth-grinding habit, but if you experience at least some of the following symptoms, it could be because of bruxism:

  • Sore jaw (with sleep bruxism, your jaw will be most sore in the morning, whereas with awake bruxism, it’ll be most sore in the evening)
  • Frequent headaches from the constant strain
  • Overdeveloped jaw muscles (because you’re giving them a major workout!)
  • Shifting teeth
  • Flattened chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed dentin and increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, cracked, or split teeth
  • Tooth loss

Bruxism Treatment

There are a variety of treatments or approaches to either reduce the grinding or the damage it causes, depending on the type of bruxism you have.

Behavioral Therapy

You can become more aware of your clenching/grinding habits with behavioral therapy or habit-reversal techniques and consciously work to stop. Because it’s much harder to control what your jaw muscles do in your sleep, this option tends to work better for awake bruxism.

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, massages, warm baths, calming music, and a full night’s sleep can help you de-stress and stop grinding if your bruxism is stress-related.

Prescribed Medication

Medicine is rarely used to treat bruxism, especially if other treatments are helping, but muscle relaxant medication prescribed by your doctor might help you unclench while you sleep.

We Can Help You Stop The Grind!

Schedule an appointment with us if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. It may be due to bruxism, and we can make a plan for how to address it. You don’t want to leave it untreated until it gets to the point where it’s damaging your teeth.

Help us help you keep your teeth healthy!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Chad Miller used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What Makes Our Smiles Unique

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EVERY PERSON IS BORN with their own unique smile. Some smile with all of their teeth, some only show the top row, and some don’t show their teeth at all, and a smile can come in all shapes and sizes and still be genuine. We can also end up with smiles that look a lot like our family members’ smiles even if we have very different faces. How does this happen? What gives our smiles their shapes and makes them shine?
 

The Structure Of A Smile

Part of the way we smile is of course based on our personalities. Some people laugh easily, while others maintain an unbreakable poker face. Some people’s smiles light up their whole faces, spreading from ear to ear and changing the shape of their eyes. Others are less dramatic, even if their smiles are sincere.

Another component is our genes. We inherit facial features and even the some of the shapes of our facial muscles (which control our expressions) from our parents. We also all have unique teeth, which is why people can be identified by their dental records. Nobody else has teeth shaped and aligned exactly the way yours are!

The Role Of Oral Health

Essentially, our individual smiles are one part personality, one part genetics, and one part oral health and hygiene. The color of our teeth plays a big role in the impression our smiles make, as does the health of our gums.

When we know our teeth and gums look good, it makes it easier to unleash our full smiles because we aren’t worried about how people will react. Taking good care of your teeth and gums by maintaining good oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will ensure that your smile always looks its best!

Gummy And Toothy Smiles

In some cases, smiles are either very “gummy” or very “toothy.” This can happen because of the way our lips pull back over our teeth and gums, which is perfectly normal. However, some gummy smiles are the result of abnormal eruption of the teeth, leaving an undesirable tooth/gum ratio.

Likewise, some toothy smiles are the result of gum recession, where the jaw bone wears away and the gum tissue draws back, exposing the roots of the teeth. There are many options for patients with gummy or toothy smiles, including same-day laser treatments, surgical lip repositioning, braces, surgical sculpting of the gum tissues, and gum grafting.

Check out this video for a few tips on getting the most out of your smile:

What Can We Do For Your Smile?

If your teeth are stopping you from sharing your smile as much as you want to, come see us. Whether the problem is overgrown or receding gums, tooth decay, or misalignment, together we can make a plan to get your smile to what you’ve always wanted it to be!

Make someone’s day by sharing your smile!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Getting Wise About Wisdom Teeth

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WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL is a major rite of passage for many in their late teens and early twenties. They post images of their swollen cheeks on social media, share videos of themselves acting loopy from the anesthetics on YouTube, and enjoy an excuse to drink as many smoothies as possible. But why do we have these teeth in the first place if most of us just get them removed?
 

Vestigial Third Molars

The prevailing theory about why we have a third set of molars is that our ancient ancestors needed them to effectively grind up the foods they ate. Unlike a modern diet of softer cooked and processed foods, theirs consisted of roots, fibrous plants, and raw meat, so they actually needed their wisdom teeth.

Some theorize that it is our diets more than our genes that determine whether or not we have room in our jaws for all thirty-two teeth. Eating a prehistoric diet during the developmental years might stimulate enough growth to accommodate them, while a modern diet does not (but we don’t recommend testing this theory).

Why Wisdom Teeth Are Removed

A small (but growing) percentage of people never get wisdom teeth at all, or have fewer than four, but for most, they show up between ages 17 and 21. With enough room, they can come in with no trouble, but many people experience problems that necessitate extraction.

The main reasons for wisdom tooth extraction are impaction(meaning they are trapped beneath the gums, where they can form cysts and damage nearby teeth and bone) and insufficient room in the jaw, which causes damage, crowding, and pain. Some dental work may require wisdom teeth removal as well. If your wisdom teeth come in correctly and you are able to clean them properly, you might not need to have them removed, so enjoy your extra chewing power!

Tips To Remember Before You Get Yours Removed

If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, be sure to rest up before the big day so that you’ll be able to heal as quickly as possible. Afterward, stay well hydrated and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, and hot beverages for the first day or two, because these can all cause problems with the extraction sites. However, you can enjoy as many soft foods like ice cream, yogurt, and applesauce as you want! After a couple of days, you can add in soups, but wait a week or two before you go back to hard or chewy foods.

We’ll Take Care Of Your Smile

No two cases of wisdom teeth removal are exactly the same, which is why your dentist will approach them on a case-by-case basis. they watch their progress as they come in to determine whether extraction will be necessary. Some discomfort is normal for any teeth coming in, but if you’re experiencing what seems like an unusual amount of pain from your wisdom teeth, see your dentist right away.

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Tasty Alternatives To Banned Foods

HAVING BRACES IS OFTEN a necessity in order to get an aligned smile or a correct bite, but they do put limitations on which foods an orthodontic patient can eat. Luckily, we’re here to offer you some braces-friendly alternatives to your favorite items on the banned foods list!
 

Why Are Some Foods Banned?

Your braces are doing the important work of shifting your teeth into their proper positions so that you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve, but certain foods put too much strain on the wires and brackets, which is why they’re on the banned foods list. Foods that are hard, crunchy, or sticky such as apples, popcorn, and gum are major problems for braces. And these foods don’t just risk busted wires and brackets; they’re also make brushing and flossing a major hassle and sometimes lead to stains that remain after the braces are off.

A Few Tasty Alternatives

  1. Caramel pudding instead of caramel. Sticky foods like gum and caramel should be avoided because they can get stuck in between brackets and could pull one loose if they get too stuck, but caramel pudding gets you all the great taste with none of the risky stickiness!
  2. Puffcorn instead of popcorn. The hulls of popcorn get stuck in our teeth even without braces, but they can be a real problem for braces when they get stuck in between the wires and between teeth. Puffcorn tastes like popcorn without the hulls!
  3. Pita bread instead of tortilla chips. Like popcorn, tortilla chips and most crunchy foods easily get stuck between brackets and wires and can potentially break a bracket loose. Pita bread is a great soft alternative that still gives you a way to use your favorite dips!
  4. Cut corn and apple slices. The shape of apples and corn on the cob makes it impossible to eat them with braces, but you can get around this by cutting the kernels off the cob and slicing your apples before you eat them!
  5. Clear drinks in place of colas and coffee. Soda and coffee puts our teeth at serious risk of developing stains around the braces brackets, and their high sugar content makes the bacteria in our mouths go wild. You can avoid the staining and tooth decay risks if you opt for clear and sugar-free beverages. There’s even clear coffee now!

Damaged Brackets? Come See Us!

Sometimes, even when you steer clear of banned foods, you still end up with a broken bracket or wire. When that happens, make sure to call us and schedule an appointment to get that fixed so your braces can continue doing their job straightening your smile. In the mean time, why not try some apple slices dipped in caramel pudding?

Enjoy your braces-friendly treats!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Supernumerary Teeth

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MOST PEOPLE WILL develop a total of twenty baby teeth that are gradually replaced by a total of thirty-two adult teeth. Sometimes those teeth don’t all appear, a condition called hypodontia. In even rarer cases, all the normal teeth will be present, plus at least one extra! These extra teeth are supernumerary teeth, and the condition is called hyperdontia.
 

Why Do Extra Teeth Form?

There are two main competing theories about what causes supernumerary teeth. One possibility is that an individual tooth bud might divide abnormally and result in two teeth instead of one. Another is that extra teeth could result from hyperactivity in the dental lamina (the tissue in our jaws that forms tooth buds). Hereditymight also play a role.

Supernumerary teeth can come in various forms. They might be conical (peg-shaped), tuberculate (with multiple cusps), supplemental (duplicates of normal teeth), or odontoma (a mass of dental tissue that doesn’t quite form a tooth).

Who’s Most Likely To Have Them?

Hyperdontia affects far more men than it does women. One study done in southern China showed that only 2.7 percent of children had supernumerary teeth, with a ratio of 6.5 affected boys for every 1 affected girl. They’re also more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. Several developmental conditions increase the likelihood of having at least one extra tooth, such as cleft lip or palate and Gardner syndrome, but there’s still a lot of debate about what actually causes hyperdontia.

How Do These Teeth Affect Oral Health?

The most obvious effect of a supernumerary tooth is on the appearance of the person’s smile, but not all of the concerns are cosmetic. They often remain impacted in the gum line and can cause crowding and alignment problems for the normal series of teeth, sometimes making it harder for them to erupt. In serious cases, they can cause root resorption in the surrounding teeth.

Treatment For Hyperdontia

Sometimes, an extra tooth won’t cause any problems for the rest of the teeth, in which case it can remain where it is. If it is causing problems, however, the typical treatment is simply to extract the extra tooth or teeth so that the normal teeth will have enough room.

Let Us Take Care Of You

If you or someone you know is experiencing oral health problems because of supernumerary teeth, give us a call! We’ll be happy to take a look and determine whether or not extraction is necessary. In the meantime, keep on brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy, no matter how many you have!

Remember to smile! It’s contagious!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Weight Loss And Oral Health

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MAINTAINING GOOD ORAL HEALTH is a goal we should all be striving to achieve each and every day. Not only does this help us to feel like our best selves; having good oral health is reduces our risk of developing a variety of conditions and diseases! Brushing, flossing, tongue-cleaning, and regular dental visits are all crucial ways to keep your mouth healthy, but did you know that a healthy diet and weight management can also have a positive impact on oral health?
 

How Weight Loss And Oral Health Correlate

One way our oral health correlates to what we eat and our weight has to do with our blood glucose levels. Sugar (glucose) is the favorite food of the bacteria in our mouths, and when we eat, our blood glucose goes up, particularly when we aren’t eating healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which makes blood sugar even more difficult to regulate and puts oral health at risk.

Inflammation in the body due to being overweight can also be harmful. It can make people’s bones lose density and they can even lose teeth because of gum disease! Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is important because our teeth and gums need the proper nutrients and vitamins from the foods we eat to be strong and work properly!

Crash Dieting Versus Oral Health

While we recommend healthy diets and lifestyles for oral health, crash dieting can do more harm than good. People want to see results fast and don’t always know the best ways to do it, so they turn to things like the internet or friends’ experiences to learn of the latest diets they can try. One example of a harmful crash diet is the grapefruit diet, which is bad for oral health because it can erode the enamel on our teeth due to high acid levels. Another “easy” solution that causes problems is weight loss pills, which can lead to teeth grinding.

The Right Diets For Your Teeth And Your Health

When dieting is done right, it isn’t a problem for the teeth. Diets that encourage eating more whole foods and reducing added sugarswill properly nourish your body and help oral health rather than hinder it. Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats are all crucial to having good oral health! Eating a large amount of vegetables can help aid in healthy gums and oral tissues. Drinking whole milk will also help to provide our teeth with the calcium they need!

Continue Building Healthy Habits!

Eating and providing our bodies with the proper nutrients improves our lives in many ways, not just by improving our oral health. Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet isn’t the only way to keep your mouth healthy, so don’t forget about those other oral health habits!

Keep up the good work in living your healthiest lives!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Don’t Forget To Clean That Tongue!

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YOU HEAR ALL THE TIME about the importance of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, and you hear almost as often about the importance of daily flossing. What you probably don’t hear a lot is that, if we want to maintain good oral health and hygiene, it’s also important for us to clean our tongues.
 

Why Should We Clean Our Tongues?

The tongue is one of the most bacteria-covered spots in our bodies. A tongue doesn’t just have taste buds on it, it also has crevices, elevations, and all sorts of tiny structures that bacteria will hide between unless physically removed. Letting all this bacteria sit and multiply can cause bad breath or halitosis, as well as tooth decay on the inner surfaces of the teeth. This is why it’s so important to regularly clean our tongues — so we can get rid of all the unwanted bacterial buildup!

Another benefit to removing the bacteria from our tongues is that it clears the way for our tastebuds to do their jobs. A bacteria-free tongue can taste food much more effectively, and it makes the first stage of the digestive process more effective too, which means improving our digestive health!

The Right Tools For Tongue-Cleaning

You might think mouthwash or rinsing with water is enough to clean your tongue, but that bacteria is stubborn, and simply swishing liquid in your mouth won’t clean out all those crevices on the tongue’s surface. If you really want to clean out that biofilm of bacteria, the key is to scrape it, preferably with a tongue-scraper. You can find these at the store near the toothbrushes, and you should use one every time you brush your teeth.

A toothbrush can do a decent job of cleaning your tongue if you don’t have a special tongue-scraper, and some toothbrushes even have bumps for tongue-scrubbing built in. After you brush your teeth but before you rinse and spit, take that brush or scraper to your tongue. Start at the back and work your way forward, and make sure to get as much of the surface as you can. It’s quick and easy and will make a major difference!

Tongue Scrapers Go Way Back

How long do you think tongue scrapers have been around? A few decades? Try since ancient times! Tongue-scraping is part of the daily hygiene regimen recommended by Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Over the centuries, tongue scrapers in different cultures have been made of many different materials, including metals like copper, silver, gold, tin, or brass, as well as ivory, mother-of-pearl, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. These days, they’re most often made of plastic or stainless steel.

Need More Tips On Tongue-Cleaning?

If you have questions about cleaning your tongue or finding the right tongue-scraper, just ask! We are more than happy to help you add this important step to your dental hygiene routine. And don’t forget to keep brushing and flossing and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

Way to be the best patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.