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BRUSH UP ON YOUR DAILY ORAL ROUTINE

Let’s face it. Daily oral care is easy to overlook. Life is busy, and we’re usually in a hurry. But daily oral care is one of the most important parts of your overall dental health, and it’s the part you have the most control over.

The good news is, it doesn’t take that long and the order of things isn’t as important as just doing it. Don’t get hung up on the small details. Here is what we recommend:

 

BRUSHING

  • Do it twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. Set a timer if it helps. Don’t cut this short.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush.
  • Don’t be too aggressive. Brush gently in circular motions.
  • Don’t brush too soon after eating or drinking, especially if you had something sugary. Wait an hour or so, and be sure to drink a glass of water.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.

FLOSSING

  • Preferably do this before brushing, but don’t get too hung up on that. Just be sure to do it.
  • Once a day is just fine.
  • Be gentle.

MOUTHWASH

  • It’s a supplement, not a replacement. Mouthwash can be a great addition to your daily routine, but it is, by no means, a substitute for brushing and flossing.

 

Remember, stop in and visit us if you have any dental concerns, are experiencing any discomfort or unusual conditions. Happy brushing!

What Causes a Cavity?

We all know the word “cavity” whether we’ve had one or not. No one likes them, but do we really understand why they happen and how to prevent them?

What is a cavity?
Simply put, a cavity is an area of the tooth that has eroded or broken down and decay is taking place. This creates a hole that can get bigger and bigger over time if left untreated.

Why do cavities appear?
Decaying of the tooth is caused by plaque build-up over time. Plaque is a sticky type of film that forms on top of a tooth. When left for long periods of time, the plaque can cause rotting and result in a cavity. Left untreated, a cavity can create a hole in the tooth and expose nerve endings which can cause pain. This is why cavities often get filled once they are discovered. A cavity can also lead to the need for a root canal or tooth loss if left untreated.

 

How can you prevent a cavity?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Try to get in every crevice of the mouth by brushing in circular motions
  • Don’t forget to brush your gums lightly
  • Remember to floss once a day
  • Limit the number of sugary drinks and foods you consume
  • Show up to your annual dentist appointments

What Your Tongue Can Tell You

tongueYour tongue can reveal surprising secrets about your health. Without proper dental care, your tongue can develop some conditions that can eventually lead to health problems down the line. Check out these common tongue-related health conditions to see if your mouth might hold the secret to what’s bothering you.

 

Strawberry Tongue
A glossy, bright red tongue may be a sign your body is lacking iron or B12. This can be more common for vegetarians, as B12 is found in meat.

White-Colored Tongue
If your tongue seems to have a white coating of some kind, it could mean you have a yeast infection, commonly called oral thrush, inside your mouth. Your tongue may look similar to cottage cheese. Typical in young children, thrush also affects people with autoimmune diseases, people with diabetes that isn’t well controlled, chemotherapy patients, and the elderly.

Bald Tongue
Our tongues are covered in papillae. These are small bumps are essentially your tastebuds that cover your tongue. Occasionally these can die and shed off leaving the tongue slick and smooth. The cause of this condition is usually a vitamin deficiency or possibly anemia.

“Geographic” Tongue
A very normal, common condition, “geographic tongue” refers to a tongue that looks like bumpy terrain. Typically harmless, geographic tongue affects between 1 and 14 percent of the U.S. population. Geographic tongue typically requires no treatment or checkup and the cause of this condition is unknown, but it has been associated with diabetes, anemia, atopy, and stress. If it does not go away on it’s own or becomes painful talking to your doctor is necessary.

Dark Fuzz
If dark hair of fuzz develops on your tongue it is likely caused by the overgrowth of papillae. This can be triggered by poor oral hygiene such as drinking, smoking, or lack of daily care causing bacteria to grow at an alarming rate. Although not a major health risk, it could turn into one if it’s not addressed.

Wrinkles/Cracks
If you notice more wrinkles and cracks on your tongue as you get older, that’s normal. Yes, even our tongues show signs of aging. While cracks are typically harmless, you always need to be careful to keep your tongue and mouth clean.

Persistent Red Lesions
Red lesions or patches that don’t go away could be serious and possibly a sign of tongue cancer. Get it checked immediately.

If you are concerned or notice any of these symptoms please talk with us.  We are here to help and point you in the right direction for treatment!

American Heart Health Month

heart-213747_1280-1024x947February is American Heart Health Month and is used to address the fact that heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States for both men and women.   Did you know that there is a direct correlation between heart health and gum disease?  Although, many factors can be taken into account such as getting older or having a family history of heart disease, gum disease should be evaluated because leaving it untreated can cause serious heart problems.  When gums are swollen and bleed this is a sign of gum disease and the bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and may also trigger clot formation.

Here at Nicollet Station Dental, we pay particular attention to the health of the gum tissues. Gum (periodontal) disease is generally a painless disease until its later stages, so many patients don’t know they have a problem until permanent damage has occurred. We will make sure your gums will be thoroughly examined at each cleaning and comprehensive exam appointment.

As a general rule, most patients should have a dental cleaning every six months. Regular cleanings make a huge difference in preventing gum disease and cavities.
Sometimes using an ultrasonic cleaner is a big help. For our patients who build up calculus  (tartar) more readily or who don’t care for the hand scaling, this instrument can be of great assistance. If a patient has gum disease, we can usually treat the condition right in our office!

 

General Physicians Are Putting Renewed Focus On Oral Exams

YOUR MOUTH SAYS A LOT… Even when you’re not speaking. It can tell us if you’ve been brushing and flossing. It also provides clues about your overall health.

Dentists have been aware of this for a long time. Lately, an increasing number of general practitioners are putting a renewed focus on oral evaluations during health checkups.

There Are Significant Links Between Oral Health And Systemic Diseases

Studies continue to show links between our oral health and comprehensive health. Our mouths can affect the health of the rest of our bodies. For example, periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to complications with diabetes, and pre-term labor in pregnant women. There is also a high correlation between poor oral health and Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

When Your Physician Says, “Say Ah”

A traditional evaluation at the beginning of a doctor’s appointment is termed “HEENT” (head, ears, eyes, nose, and throat). Recently, health professionals have been pushing for a modification to that standard evaluation, changing it to “HEENOT” instead (head, ears, eyes, nose, oral cavity, and throat).

During oral exams, health professionals can catch signs of potential systemic conditions. They can also evaluate oral health and send up a red flag if it’s time for that patient to see a dentist in order to improve oral health.

Don’t Skip Routine Dental Checkups

The fact that your doctor is checking your oral health is not an excuse to skip your regular dental appointments. We’re professionals in oral care, and regular maintenance from our team helps keep you healthy. Be sure that each time your physician checks your mouth, she’ll find it happy and healthy.

If you have any questions about your oral health, please contact us! We love talking with you.

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

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

Saying Goodbye To Your Old Toothbrush

THE AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION STRONGLY SUGGESTS that we replace our toothbrushes every 3–4 months for maximum effectiveness.

Know When To Say Goodbye

Take a close look at your toothbrush bristles. Are they frayed? Smashed? Discolored? Kinda gross? It’s time for a new toothbrush.

If you’re brushing correctly (gently), the signs of a less effective toothbrush may be less visible. That’s why it’s important to mark your calendar! After a few months, you may start noticing that although your brushing routine hasn’t changed, your teeth just don’t feel as clean.

When bristles become slanted and curved it prevents them from reaching where they need to—around the gum line and between teeth. Bristles also lose their elasticity, keeping them from achieving an important gentle-sweeping movement. Research also shows worn toothbrushes don’t reduce plaque as well as a new ones.

Turn Your Old Toothbrush Into A Playground!

TerraCycle® and Colgate® have partnered to create the Colgate Oral Care Brigade®, a free recycling program for oral care product packaging and a fundraising opportunity for participants.

Take Good Care Of Your New Toothbrush

  • Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use.
  • Don’t store it in a closed container. Allow it to air-dry.
  • Don’t share your toothbrush with others.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months!

Wondering About The Cool Toothbrush Image Above?

At the top of this blog post, there’s a closeup photo of a giant disco ball that was constructed to bring awareness for toothbrush recycling:

Share this blog post with your friends and coworkers!

Together, by sharing great information, we provide value and make small differences in our health and in our lives. We appreciate having you as our valued patient and friend!

Top image by Flickr user Jennifer Morrow used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original. In text image by Flickr user Jnzl used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Cosmetic Vs. Therapeutic Mouthwash

SWISH, GARGLE, SPIT – simple, right? Mouthwash is usually seen as an addition to your oral health, the cherry on top of your hygiene routine. But are you using the right kind, and are you using it correctly?

Cosmetic Mouthwashes Mask Bad Breath

Most people think all mouthwashes do the same thing, but there are key differences you need to know! Cosmetic mouthwashes only serve to mask bad breath and leave your mouth with a pleasant taste – like a mint but with fewer calories.

Therapeutic Mouthwashes Attack Plaque

Therapeutic mouthwashes serve clinical purposes, like attacking bacteria and plaque, or strengthening teeth with fluoride. When buying therapeutic mouthwash, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on the bottle. Products that feature this logo have been evaluated by experts and meet specific standards for safety and effectiveness.

Read The Instructions

As with any health product, make sure you thoroughly read the instructions – yes, even for mouthwash! Here are some important things to note:

  • Some products recommend diluting before use. (Again, check the label!)
  • Most mouthwashes are not recommended for children under seven.
  • Rinsing right after a meal helps to inhibit bacteria growth and bad breath.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after using a fluoridated mouthwash. This gives the fluoride more time to strengthen your teeth.

Mouthwash Doesn’t Replace Other Oral Health Habits!

Regular brushing and flossing are far more important than using mouthwash. Mouthwash is not a substitute for the more important dental care habits.

If you have a specific issue, like periodontal disease, chronic bad breath, or tooth sensitivity, talk to us about it! We may recommend a specific therapeutic mouthwash for you. Other times, problems we address with mouthwash can be a sign of a larger issue. If you have any questions, ask us below, or talk with us about it next time you visit.

Thank you for being our patient and friend!

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

Our Smiles Love Healthy Snacks

WE KNOW that frequent snacking on processed, sugary foods isn’t kind to the waistline. But what about its effects on your oral health?

As we eat, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths feed on sugars. This produces acid. When acids aren’t cleared away, they can erode tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay.

Two Snacking Factors Can Increase Dental Decay Risk

Two major aspects of snacking affect cavity risk. They are:

  1. Consumption frequency, and
  2. The amount of time foods are in contact with teeth

The more frequently we eat, and the longer our teeth are exposed to the sugars in our food, the more vulnerable we are to tooth decay.

Consider The Texture Of Your Snack Foods

There are clues to snacking dangers that center around the texture of foods. Soft and/or sticky foods provide a more ideal environment for bacteria to adhere to teeth and thrive over time. So, given that clue which of the following snacks would you guess is better for your teeth… A hand full of animal crackers or a square of plain chocolate? You’re right—the chocolate.

Help Your Teeth AND Your Overall Health!

4 Snacking Tips

  • Avoid added sugar and acidic beverages to maintain a neutral pH in your mouth.
  • Brush twice a day (or after every meal) and floss every night before bed.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after snacking.
  • Snack on foods like almonds, cheese, fruits and vegetables with high water and high fiber content. Carrots and apples are great!

Oral Health Is Connected To Whole Body Health

It may seem silly to state the obvious… But always remember that what goes on inside our mouths is connected to what goes on throughout our bodies. In our modern world it’s really easy to get into the habit of snacking all the time. Make good choices to keep your healthy smile looking, and feeling, its best.

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends. We appreciate the trust you place in us!

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

Know Your Gum Health Numbers!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LAID BACK in our dental chair wondering what the numbers mean that a hygienist calls out while examining your gums? They’re readings of the gum pocket depths in your mouth, and they’re an important part of monitoring your gum health.

Pocket Readings Help Us Measure Inflammation

Pocket depth refers to your gums’ attachment to your teeth.

If there’s an infection in your gums, they can become inflamed. The gums slightly pull away from teeth, making that pocket between your teeth and gums deeper. The deeper the pockets, the higher the risk of gum disease.

We use a labeled probe to see how deep the pockets go. 1–3 millimeters is a good reading. Any higher than that, and you may be in the danger zone!

Inflammation Leads To Gum Disease

Bacteria harbors in those deep pockets, and can cause more inflammation and detachment, so it’s important to counteract the first signs of encroaching gum disease right away. The early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) are reversible, with refocused care for your teeth and gums.

However, if the infection has progressed to periodontitis, it becomes a more complex condition to care for, requiring constant vigilance and possibly, more intensive treatments.

Take Your Periodontal Health Seriously

Periodontal disease is the most common cause of lost teeth in adults. Possibly 80% of adults have some level of gum disease. It’s something everyone needs to take seriously.

You can take responsibility for your own dental health. Talk to us about your gum pocket readings. You can even ask to have a mirror and watch as we measure. Ask us what you can do to reduce your risk. And if you have gum disease, take action to get control of the infection right away!

Proper Flossing Is One Of The Greatest Prevention Habits

Regular cleanings with our team can help to fight gum disease, especially when paired with your vigilant at-home care, including daily flossing. If you ever have any questions about your oral health, please ask us!

Thanks for your trust in our practice! Now go floss!

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

Use Your Smartphone To Brush Smarter

SMARTPHONE TECHNOLOGY IS AMAZING. It brings the world to our fingertips. And now, smartphone apps can help us with our daily oral hygiene routines!

Smartphone Apps For Both Adults & Children

Sometimes we all need a little extra motivation to do the right things! If you struggle with (or if your children struggle with) effective oral hygiene, consider downloading and trying these two apps from Oral-B. They’re effective and simple to use.

Make Brushing Fun For Kids!

Oral-B and Disney teamed up to make a fun dental app for children:

The app helps children brush for a full two minutes by giving them goals to work toward!

Need A Little Extra Motivation & Support?

As adults, we can use a little motivation too:

In addition, Oral-B has developed advanced, two-way communication apps that not only receive brushing data and report it back to you, but you can also program the app to communicate via Bluetooth® with your toothbrush to monitor your personalized brushing routine!

Remember, There Are Some Things Technology Can’t Replace

No matter how awesome these tools are in assisting with daily oral hygiene, they can’t replace the professional, personalized oral health care our team provides. Schedule your regular checkups and cleanings… And when you have questions or concerns about your oral health, never hesitate to visit with us.

We appreciate having you as our valued patient and friend.

Have You Used One Of These Apps?

Or, do you know of other great dental apps for your smartphone or tablet? Comment and share below! And if you decide to try out one of the Oral-B apps above, let us know how you like it!