Dental Care In St. Petersburg

Baby Teeth

Why treat baby teeth? Can’t my dentist just pull them? Since they never had my baby teeth treated, my parents think I’m crazy because I want to get my child’s baby teeth treated. Why is my child the only one in her class who hasn’t lost…

Why treat baby teeth? Can’t my dentist just pull them?
It’s important to keep baby teeth as long as possible. Besides providing chewing ability during childhood, baby teeth help a child learn to speak. They also guide the permanent teeth into their correct positions. Remember, too, that kids are often embarrassed by how they look after their teeth are pulled.

Since they never had my baby teeth treated, my parents think I’m crazy because I want to get my child’s baby teeth treated.
Well, you’re not crazy! Early treatment of baby teeth helps prevent many more (and bigger) problems such as cavities, abscesses, and loss of space between teeth.

Why is my child the only one in her class who hasn’t lost a tooth?
While there really is very little need for concern (what is considered the “normal” period for losing teeth varies with each child), you should ask your dentist to look at your daughter’s baby teeth to make sure that they are not blocking the growth of permanent teeth and that all of her permanent teeth are developing normally.

My child’s teeth are very crowded. Can’t we just pull some baby teeth to make room for the permanent ones?
Removing baby teeth isn’t always the answer, although crowding may occasionally be relieved by extracting permanent teeth. Crowding can occur because the permanent teeth, not the baby teeth, are too big for the available space in the jawbone. Extracting baby teeth can create problems that are more difficult to correct later. Talk to your dentist about other options. See the earlier question, “Why treat baby teeth? Can’t my dentist just pull them?”

My child’s new tooth is coming in behind her baby tooth. Is this normal?
Yes, this is fairly normal. To make sure that there isn’t any abnormal crowding, which can sometimes be corrected by extracting the baby tooth, have your child’s dentist evaluate the situation.

We can’t afford pulpotomies (removal of the upper part of the pulp) on baby teeth. Can’t they just be pulled?
Extraction may be a smart and less expensive choice if your child’s new permanent teeth will be coming in very soon. A space maintainer can keep the remaining teeth straight until a permanent tooth appears. However, a pulpotomy leaves the tooth in the child’s mouth to help them chew, maintains their appearance and also helps keep the remaining teeth straight.

Make sure you explore all of your options with your dentist. To address your concerns about the cost of treatment, most dentists will gladly discuss payment plans for dental services. Also, note that many cities have clinics that provide low-cost dental services. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a city with a dental school, contact the school to learn about having your child treated by professionally-monitored dental students.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, lack of saliva (xerostomia), certain foods and drinks, tobacco, medications or illness…

Treatment
Schedule a dental appointment to find out if your bad breath is being caused by tooth decay, gum disease, or a medical condition that should be treated by a physician. If you have a dental problem, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment to stop any infection, clean and restore your teeth, and improve the health of your gums. Your dentist may also recommend that you take a hard look at your daily dental hygiene. Remember, you should be brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once daily. If your bad breath is not a dental problem, your dentist may suggest changes to your eating and drinking habits or refer you to a physician.

Bad breath can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, lack of saliva (xerostomia), certain foods and drinks, tobacco, medications or illness…

Bridges and Crowns

Will I be in pain after I get my bridge? After I get my bridge, how long will the numbness last?How long will I have to wear a temporary bridge? How soon can I eat after I get a crown? My temporary crown came off. What should I do? Will I have to get a root…

Will I be in pain after I get my bridge?

Your gums may feel sore and you may find that your teeth feel more sensitive to changes in pressure and temperature. These feelings usually disappear after a few days.

After I get my bridge fitted, how long will the numbness last?

Anesthesia on the upper jaw lasts 2 to 3 hours; for the lower jaw, allow about 3 to 4 hours for it to wear off.

How long will I have to wear a temporary bridge?

Most patients wear a temporary bridge for about 3 weeks. If your treatment includes extractions, you may need to wear them for up to 3 months. Periodontal surgery could extend to this period 6 or more months.

How soon can I eat after I get a crown?

You can eat 30 minutes after the anesthesia wears off. If you eat sooner, you risk biting your cheek or tongue.

My temporary crown came off. What should I do?

Call your dentist and schedule an appointment to have it re-cemented. Acting quickly will help keep teeth next to the missing crown from shifting.

Will I have to get a root canal before I get a crown?

You won’t need a root canal unless decay has gotten into the nerve of the tooth, or if the nerve has to be contacted in order to prepare the tooth for restoration.

My dentist says I need a post. Why?

Posts are thin metal rods that secure the core of your tooth prior to having a crown placed. The core is the part of your tooth which was built up to support the crown.

Brushing

I can’t get my children to brush their teeth. What can I do? Let your kids see you regularly brushing your teeth…

I can’t get my children to brush their teeth. What can I do?
Let your kids see you regularly brushing your teeth. That’s the best way to get them to start their own daily brushing routine. Once a daily routine is established, a child is more likely to maintain the habit throughout his life.

Caring for Your Braces at Home

When you have braces, it’s tougher to keep your teeth plaque-free and avoid cavities…

Use a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride, and be sure to brush after every meal. Brush every surface of every tooth and pay extra attention to the areas where the brackets and bands meet the tooth and where the tooth meets the gum line. Brush in small circular motions, brushing two to three teeth at a time.

You must also floss your teeth; toothbrush bristles can’t remove the plaque between your teeth. Thread floss into a floss threader and slide up under your archwire. Then pull the floss between your teeth, pull into a C shape, and move around your mouth flossing both sides of every tooth. After you’re done, check carefully to see if you’ve missed any areas and then rinse thoroughly with a lot of water.

Cutting down on sweets will help prevent cavities, so avoid sticky, sugary foods. Beware of hard foods such as Cornnuts and ice; they can damage your braces. Eating softer foods and cutting harder foods into smaller bites is your best bet. Watching your eating habits and paying careful attention to your daily homecare will keep your mouth healthy and your teeth looking good!

Caring for Your Bridge

A dental bridge depends on the health of the adjacent teeth and gums for support. To care for your bridge, brush and floss normally after each meal…

Superfloss and floss threaders are effective tools for keeping the area under your bridge plaque-free.

Superfloss has a stiff end that helps in threading it through tight areas and a fuzzy tufted segment that can remove plaque as you floss. Insert the superfloss under the bridge and use it to floss the sides of the teeth and under the bridge. Floss threaders also aid in removing plaque. Pull out about 18 inches of floss, insert it through the floss threader, and then use the threader to insert the floss under your bridge. Floss to remove food particles and plaque from the sides of the teeth and under the bridge.

Use the same procedure to care for your temporary bridge, being careful not to dislodge it as you brush and floss. If it does come loose, gently re-attach it; call your dentist if your temporary bridge frequently comes loose. Depending on the situation, your dentist may give you additional tools and recommend techniques to help keep all the areas around your bridge free from plaque buildup.

Caring for Your Dentures

Dentures, like natural teeth, must be kept free of plaque and tartar. This prevents permanent staining and bad breath. Use a denture brush and one of the many commercial cleaning products to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your dentures at least once a day…

Tough stains and tartar can be removed by soaking your dentures in white vinegar for several hours. If there are no metal parts in your dentures, you can also soak them in a diluted chlorine bleach solution.

Whenever your denture is out of your mouth, it should be stored in water.
To remove plaque from your remaining teeth, brush them, as well as your tongue, palate and gums, with a soft bristle brush each day. This keeps your teeth and tissues healthy, stimulates circulation and freshens your breath.

A healthy mouth and increased self-confidence will come with proper denture care.

Change Your Toothbrush and Stay Healthier!

It’s not a pleasant thought. Your toothbrush—an item that you put in your mouth at least a couple of times a day—is like a convention center for thousands of microorganisms. Over 300 types of microbes thrive in your mouth, and consequently,..

n your toothbrush. Luckily, most of them are harmless—the sort that exist in a normal mouth. But many harmful bacteria can make the brush and handle of your toothbrush their home, including:

  • cold and flu bacteria
  • the herpes virus that causes painful cold sores
  • staphylococcus bacteria, responsible for many ear, nose and throat infections
  • candida, a parasitic fungus that causes thrush, an ulcerous condition on the mouth membrane
  • bacteria than can cause periodontal (gum) infections, the leading cause of tooth loss among adults What’s to
    be learned from this? You can avoid infecting yourself with bacteria, and prevent a lot of illnesses, with one
    simple act—changing your toothbrush at least every three months.

Most of us have heard this before. But a survey conducted by Colgate-Palmolive showed that only 8.6 percent of us actually do it.

“A toothbrush is less expensive than a Big Mac, but some of us are so cheap that we just can’t find the money to buy a new brush,” said Tom Glass, D.D.S., Ph.D., University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry and Medicine oral pathology department chair person.

Glass recommends replacing your toothbrush even more frequently than every three months. “Healthy people should buy a new toothbrush every two weeks. People with gum problems, other oral disease, or weakened immune systems should change brushes more often,” he said.

Toothbrush bristles wear down relatively quickly. Once they’re frayed and bent, they can’t slide under the tissues to clean under the gum line, so they don’t clean your teeth as well as they should.

Besides being inefficient tooth-cleaners, old, frayed bristles hide more bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms.

A new toothbrush costs about two dollars—less if you watch for sales and use manufacturer’s coupons. If taking time to buy a new one is where you’re having a problem, then buy several the next time you’re at the store or buy them in bulk at a warehouse shopping club. And start changing your toothbrush at the first sign of wear. It’s a low-effort, low-cost way to increase your overall health.

Sources: Chicago Dental Society American Dental Association

Chicken Soup for Yet Another Soul

“Once you’ve read Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul, you’ll never think of the dental office—and the professionals who work there—in the same way again. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you view every member of your own dental team in a new light of admiration and respect.”

I caught up with Don Dible, the author of Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul, between book signings at the ADA’s 140th Annual Session in Honolulu. He said the primary aim of the book is to overcome the “marathon man syndrome,” which Dible describes as “an often unfounded fear of dentistry as a whole among the general public.”

“Dentists and other dental professionals are not seen as humans by many patients,” Dible said. “They see the dentist-patient relationship as a ‘them-against-us’ thing, with dentists being the bad guys.”

“We are hoping that this book will deepen the understanding between patients and dental professionals, and as a result, improve the relationship,” he said.

The book provides “heartwarming, funny and inspiring stories for patients, dentists, hygienists and the entire dental team.” It was created primarily as a premium for dentists to give to their patients, and is available only by mail order (call 1-800-247-6553).

About 1200 stories were submitted by dental professionals throughout the United States as candidates for the book, and of those, 61 were chosen to be included. The stories are about kids, “memorable patients,” philanthropic dentists, and dental phobics. Dible said every reader would find at least one story he can relate to.

“One reader said she was a total dental-phobic before she read the book. Afterwards, she had a 180-degree turnaround. She gained an understanding of dentistry that allowed her to overcome her fears,” Dible said. “We set out to do three things with this book,” he said.

“We wanted to motivate each and every reader to take better care of their teeth. We wanted to increase public awareness of the dental profession. And we wanted to give dental professionals a much-deserved pat on the back for all the good they’ve done.”

“I think we’ll achieve all this, and more,” he said.

Clean Teeth

Why should I floss every day? How often should I have my teeth cleaned? Which is the best toothbrush? Does tartar-control toothpaste really work?…

Why should I floss every day?
Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by bacteria that stick to your teeth. Flossing your teeth correctly helps to remove these bacteria before they can cause cavities and gum disease. However, if you wait longer than 24 hours to floss again, bacteria will re-attach to your teeth, so daily flossing is a must. To floss correctly, guide the floss around the edges of your teeth and between your teeth and gums.

How often should I have my teeth cleaned?
If you have healthy teeth and gums, you should have them cleaned every six months. If you have gum problems, have your teeth cleaned every three to four months.

Which toothbrush is the best?
A toothbrush should have soft, rounded bristles; medium, firm and hard bristles damage your gums. The head should be the correct size for your mouth, and the handle should feel comfortable in your hand. While some manufacturers would have you believe that power toothbrushes can perform tooth-cleaning miracles, research by Consumer Reports magazine showed that nothing at home cleans better than a plain, manual toothbrush and dental floss. Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months.

Do tartar-control toothpastes really work?
These toothpastes can slow the formation of tartar, a hard, decay-producing film on your teeth. However, some people say that these toothpastes cause a burning sensation and/or make their teeth feel more sensitive. If this is true for you, change brands or stop using this kind of toothpaste. As with other toothpastes, don’t use too much. A pea-sized dab is all you really need.

Does Your Denture Adhesive Make Your Dentures Difficult to Remove? Try These Tips!

The early weeks of denture wearing can present some challenges as you adjust to them. One problem that often arises, and that may not be apparent to the uninitiated denture-wearer, is the difficulty some experience in getting their dentures out at night because of the adhesive…

Seattle dentist Ethan Janson offers these tips to make it easier to remove new dentures:

  • Try varying the amount or brand of adhesive you use.
  • Use different finger positions to dislodge your denture. For example, try pulling only on the left or right side of your denture to remove it.
  • Place a finger inside each of your cheeks and pull them out laterally (so you look like a chipmunk, or a
    child making a face!). This stretches your cheek muscles and usually breaks the seal created by the denture adhesive.

“In no time, new denture-wearers are usually able to remove their denture without even thinking about it!” Janson said.

Don't Ignore Sensitive Teeth!

Does it hurt when you bite into a Popsicle or ice cream? If so, you’re not alone. Over 40 million Americans suffer from dentin hypersensitivity, also known as sensitive teeth. And the sensitivity isn’t limited to cold; heat, sweet or sour tastes, air, or plaque can also cause you to feel discomfort—or even pain—when you have this condition….

What causes sensitive teeth?
Dentin is the layer of your tooth just beneath the enamel, on the portion of your teeth that is above your gums. Cementum is the hard outer layer of the lower portion of your teeth that exists beneath your gums. Teeth become sensitive when the enamel thins and exposes the dentin and cementum, allowing the nerves and cells within the tooth to feel uncomfortable sensations when irritants come in contact with the tooth’s surface. Enamel thinning is caused by many things, including:

  • aging
  • brushing too vigorously near the gum line
  • tooth grinding (called bruxism)
  • tooth decay
  • gum recession or periodontal (gum)disease
  • periodontal surgery
  • enamel corrosion caused by chemicals or digestive acids

When does tooth sensitivity become a serious problem?
If tooth sensitivity is causing you to avoid the sensitive areas when you brush or floss, or you are not eating properly because of the sensitivity, you need treatment. Failing to properly clean your teeth can lead to decay and gum disease, and plaque buildup will make your teeth even more sensitive.The good news? Treatment is available.

Fortunately, there are treatments available for sensitive teeth. We will determine what is causing your sensitivity, and then we can discuss with you which treatment will best suit your situation. Among the choices are:

  • Using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. These are called “desensitizing toothpastes.” They work by blocking the transmission of the uncomfortable sensations to the nerve from the tooth’s surface. The downside to these products is that they don’t take effect until they’ve been used for several days, so they don’t offer immediate relief.
  • Applying fluoride can help to remineralize the damaged enamel portion of your tooth, binding to it and strengthening it so discomfort is lessened. Fluoride can be applied as an in-office procedure or with a prescription for use at home.
  • Having your dentist apply a sealant or a resin coating to cover the exposed surfaces and minimize discomfort.

Sensitive teeth are easy and inexpensive to treat, but that’s not true for the consequences you can suffer if you ignore this condition. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, be sure to see us for an evaluation.

Don't Overlook Your Baby's Teeth

Dental hygiene isn’t just for people with teeth. You can start your child on his way to a great smile for a lifetime by cleaning his mouth when he’s an infant. Begin by gently wiping his gums with a clean, wet washcloth or gauze after he has a feeding…

nfants are very focused on their mouths, so he should enjoy this touching. As he starts to sprout teeth, the feeling of the wet washcloth on his itchy, irritated gums will be very soothing. Wiping his gums will help eliminate decay-causing bacteria and will help him get used to having his teeth brushed later on.

Once he has a tooth, between 6 and 12 months, you can introduce an infant toothbrush. Make sure it has soft, rounded bristles so it won’t scratch his gums. Brushing with just water is fine, but if your dentist recommends toothpaste, use a very small amount, about the size of a pea. Babies usually enjoy the flavor of toothpaste and often swallow it, and ingestion of fluoride can cause problems over time.

Brush his teeth after every feeding, and again at bedtime. By now he should enjoy the feeling of having his gums massaged and his teeth cleaned!

Keeping your baby’s teeth clean is more important than you may realize. Baby teeth have thinner enamel than adult teeth and are more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause decay. Decay in a baby’s tooth is swift and destructive; it quickly penetrates the enamel, then the dentin, and then infects the nerve.

Baby teeth eventually fall out, so why should it matter if they are lost early? Most dentists believe that baby teeth should remain in the mouth as long as possible, to serve as placeholders for the adult tooth that will follow. When baby teeth are lost early, the surrounding teeth often tilt and move toward the empty space. This can cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked.

Your child’s first trip to the dentist

Just as it’s important to start early with good hygiene habits, it’s also important to get your child to a dentist for checkups at an early age, preferably by his first birthday, but not later than his second. At this age, children may have problems resulting from thumb-sucking, teething, or baby bottle decay syndrome.

It’s a good idea if your child knows what to expect before going to the dentist for the first time. A picture book is a good way to introduce the experience. An excellent one to read to your child is Going to the Dentist by Fred Rogers.

Another good way to familiarize your child with the dentist’s office is to let him join either you or one of his siblings on a dental visit or two. That way, once it’s his turn to be examined, the procedure will be predictable. And for young children, predictability means comfort!

The first visit should primarily be a fun “getting-to-know-you” session with the dentist. She should be calm, friendly and upbeat with your child, and should thoroughly examine his mouth, gums and teeth. She or her hygienist may also gently clean your child’s teeth, and, in a child-friendly way, demonstrate the proper way to brush.

Be sure to bring your child’s health records to this first visit. And be prepared to sit in the exam chair with your child on your lap, so he feels at ease. Dental visits should be a positive experience from the very beginning!

Source: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Do Your Dental Habits Mirror Your Partner's?

A recent study says it’s likely they do. It’s been said that people who live together for a long time start to resemble one another. Now, according to a study by the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry and the University of North Carolina, it’s been shown that long-term couples also have similar oral hygiene habits…

The study revealed that individuals who neglect their teeth are 32 times more likely to live with someone who also has poor dental habits. Those who take good care of their teeth are 5.4 times more likely to share these positive dental habits with their partner.

Also, those who choose to ignore the fact that their oral health is in trouble are 1.5 times more likely to have a partner who is also in denial. And those who fuss and worry about their teeth and gums, even though they’re in great shape, are 3.6 times more likely to have a partner with similar, unfounded concerns.

What does this tell us?

  • Social and environmental issues can influence oral hygiene habits.
  • People select partners with similar values related to dental care in St. Petersburg.
  • Or, partners over time adopt the each other’s oral care habits. How can you use this information? If you live with someone with poor oral hygiene habits, take a look at your own. Do you floss each day? Do you brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and definitely before bedtime? Do you see a dentist twice a year for an exam and a professional cleaning?
  • If you don’t, you should know that, because your oral health affects your overall health, it’s well worth the small amount of effort to consciously improve your oral hygiene habits. And in doing so, you could also help improve the oral health of your partner.
Eight Ways to Make Your Home Dental Hygiene More Effective

The two most important aspects of an effective at-home dental hygiene program are frequency and technique. In other words, it’s important that you brush at least twice a day, floss once a day—and do both correctly…

Below are eight tips to make the most of the time you spend brushing and flossing. After all, you’re doing it anyway, so you might as well do it right!

  • First, floss each and every day, preferably at night, to remove food and bacteria from the vulnerable areas between your teeth. Any floss can do the job; choose one that you like.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. They are just as effective at cleaning teeth as their hard-bristled counterparts, yet they’re much gentler on gums and tooth enamel.
  • To brush properly, hold the head of the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, use firm but gentle pressure, and move the bristles around all surfaces of each tooth using small, circular movements. Overlap as you move from one tooth to the next.
  • Use the tip of the toothbrush to clean the backsides of your upper and lower front teeth.
    Develop a brushing pattern that works for you and stick to it. This will ensure that you clean every surface of every tooth each time you brush.
  • After you’ve brushed your teeth, gently brush your tongue, from back to front. Rinse your brush and then carefully brush the roof of your mouth. This will remove a good deal of bacteria and will help to keep your breath fresh.
  • A mouth rinse can be a good addition to your home dental hygiene program. Just make sure the mouth rinse doesn’t contain alcohol, which can dry your mouth and result in a new set of problems. Also, rinsing should never replace flossing or brushing, unless it’s impossible for you to brush or floss at that time.

Finally, here’s a little-known fact: you should avoid brushing immediately after ingesting acidic foods or beverages, like orange juice, soda or grapefruit juice. Research has shown that when you brush after an acidic food or beverage, a small amount of the tooth enamel is worn away by the toothbrush rubbing the acids against the teeth. In this case, it’s better to rinse your mouth, then wait an hour or two before brushing. This allows time for the saliva in your mouth to work to remineralize your teeth.

Flossing

Most cavities and periodontal disease begin between the teeth. While brushing is important, the bristles of your brush simply don’t reach between teeth. To keep your gums and teeth healthy, you must remove the plaque between your teeth at least once a day…

That’s why your dentist recommends dental floss. Don’t worry about the type of floss. They all work pretty much the same. Wind about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving about 5 inches between your hands. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers and leave about one inch in between to work with.

Gently guide the floss down between the teeth using a side-to-side motion. If your teeth are too tight to floss, or if it catches or tears, let your dentist know about it. These are problems that need to be fixed.

Pull the floss tightly in a C shape around the side of the tooth and slide it under the gum line. Clean the side of the tooth by using an up-and-down motion, not side-to-side. When all the plaque has been removed the floss will squeak as it rubs against your tooth. Then pull the floss around the next tooth and repeat the process. Wind the floss to a fresh section and gradually work your way around your mouth cleaning both sides of every tooth. If you have problems reaching some areas you may want to use a floss fork.

If your gums are infected, they’ll bleed when you floss. That’s to be expected if you are just beginning to floss. After a week or so of regular flossing the bleeding should go away. See your dentist if it doesn’t.

Now you know why brushing your teeth is only half the battle. Most cavities and periodontal disease start between the teeth where your toothbrush just can’t reach.

Flossing—One of the Easiest Things You Can Do to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

It’s no secret that you’re supposed to floss every day. But sadly, two-thirds of American adults choose not to floss, despite the fact that their dental hygienists have been actively encouraging the flossing habit for over 80 years…

Here’s the bottom line: When you don’t floss, it can be compared to having a shower but not washing 30 percent of your body, or vacuuming your car, but ignoring the corners and crevices. And you wouldn’t do either of these things, would you? If you consider yourself to be an “anti-flosser,” check this out:

  • Michael Roizen, M.D., author of Real Age: Are You As Young As You Could Be? says that daily flossing is “one of the twelve easiest things a person can do to live longer and younger.” He adds that adding an age-reducing behavior to your life—and he counts flossing among these behaviors—can make you look and feel up to 6.4 years younger than your actual age.
  • Flossing daily can help you keep your heart healthy by helping you avoid periodontal disease. People with periodontal disease are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack, and 3 times as likely to suffer a stroke.
  • Diabetics who also have severe periodontal disease have trouble maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels.
  • Harmful bacteria from periodontal infections can enter your bloodstream from the open sores on your gums associated with periodontal disease. These bacteria have been linked to ulcers, pneumonia, premature births, and the often-deadly infective endocarditis.
  • Flossing and brushing can help you lose weight by giving your mouth a clean, fresh feeling that you don’t want to spoil by eating.
  • And…regular flossing can help to keep your breath smelling fresh. Who doesn’t want that?

Avoiding periodontal disease, even if it didn’t put you at risk for a host of other ailments, is reason enough to get into the flossing habit. Periodontal disease causes red, swollen gums. It makes your gums bleed and eventually pull away from your teeth, producing an unattractive, uneven gum line. It gives you a persistent bad taste in your mouth, and foul-smelling breath. It causes your body to produce enzymes that break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place (this damage is irreversible). And eventually, if it’s allowed to progress, periodontal disease will cause you to lose your teeth.

Now…where did you leave that roll of floss?

Fresh Breath—How to Get It, How to Keep It!

No one wants bad breath, but everyone gets it—or at least worries about it—at one time or another. Here are some things you can do to keep bad breath to a minimum:…

    • Eliminate the bacteria and food particles that can cause bad breath. Floss, then brush your teeth, gums and tongue after each meal. Make this easier by keeping floss, toothpaste and a toothbrush in your desk, your purse and your car.
    • If you can’t brush and floss, rinse your mouth with water after eating to dislodge food and moisten your mouth.
    • Have your teeth cleaned and examined by a dental professional twice a year.
    • If you are certain you have bad breath, seek out a dentist who offers specialized treatment in that area.
    • Learn the proper way to brush and practice what you learn.
    • Drink lots of liquids, preferably water, to keep your mouth moist.
    • If your mouth feels dry, chew sugarless gum to stimulate production of saliva.
    • You can also chew on raw parsley—it’s a natural breath freshener.
    • Baking soda is an effective odor eliminator; if you can handle the taste, try brushing with a mixture of baking soda and water. Or try a toothpaste that contains baking soda.
    • Try rinsing your mouth for one minute with a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water to kill odor-causing bacteria.
    • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol; read the label! Instead, try a mouthwash that contains chlorine dioxide. This compound doesn’t just mask odor, it actually eliminates it at the source by attacking the odor-causing volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs).
    • Snack on raw vegetables such as carrots, celery and red peppers. This stimulates production of saliva, and some dentists believe it can help to remove plaque from your teeth.
    • To avoid stress-related dry mouth, practice “conscious relaxation” in stressful situations: breathe deeply, visualize peaceful settings, recognize parts of your body that feel tense and consciously relax them. If you can’t get past the stress, chew sugarless gum or mints to keep the salivary glands going.
    • Use an oral irrigation device such as a Waterpik to remove particles of food wedged between your teeth; portable models are available.
    • If you wear dentures or a retainer, clean them frequently, and periodically soak them in an antiseptic solution.

Bad breath that’s resistant to these remedies, or that continues for an extended period of time, should be evaluated by your dentist.

You don’t have to live with bad breath. Recognize it, treat it, then kiss it goodbye!

Sources – The Academy of General Dentistry The American Dental Association

Great Beginnings for Young Teeth

Your child’s first visit to our office will likely influence how she will feel about dentists and dental care in St. Petersburg for the rest of her life. A positive first visit can be the first step toward a lifetime of good dental habits….

A negative visit can build fear and hesitancy, and result in her delaying or avoiding the dental care in St. Petersburg she may need as an adult. We suggest you plan her first visit soon after she gets her first tooth.

Preparing for the visit
You can help make your child’s first visit a positive one by following a few easy steps. Call ahead and discuss with us what will happen during the visit. Also, tell us in advance about any history or medical condition that might affect how she reacts. This can help us meet your child’s unique needs and plan the best possible visit for her.

Here are a few more pre-visit tips:

      • Don’t wait until your child needs dental care in St. Petersburg to plan the first visit. If she’s frightened or in pain, it’s difficult for us to gain her trust.
      • Even very young children are perceptive, and can pick up and react to any anxiety you might have about the upcoming visit.
      • Arrange for a morning appointment if possible, when most children are more positive and receptive.
      • Don’t talk about specific procedures or instruments. These ideas may confuse or upset her; words like “drill,” “injection,” and “needle” are potentially very frightening to a child.
      • In addition, plan to arrive early if you possibly can. If you don’t feel rushed, you’ll feel more relaxed and less anxious yourself, and your child will feel the same way. This extra time will also let her gradually become familiar with our office and how it looks; young children often need to absorb the sights, sounds and smells of new places before they become confident about being there.

The first visit
Your child’s first visit will typically just be to introduce our office and our staff to her, take a quick look at her teeth, and, if she is old enough, give her advice on good brushing, flossing and eating habits. Don’t worry if your child is still a little nervous. Children sometimes need a little extra time to develop trust and confidence before they’ll sit in the dental chair by themselves. Remember, we are trained to help children accept their dental care in St. Petersburg with confidence; show her your faith in us, and her visit will likely be a great one!

After the visit
After you leave our office, talk to your child about her visit. Help her remember what she saw and learned. Tell her how well she behaved, too. Your confidence in her will shine through, and she’ll have more confidence herself. If your child was shown brushing and flossing techniques, practice them with her, and praise her for learning.

Home Whitening

Home whitening is an easy way to create a dazzling white smile! Let’s take a look at how it works…

Teeth darken over time as minerals penetrate the tooth’s enamel. Whitening agents work by forcing oxygen through the enamel of the tooth. Stains quickly disappear, without damaging the tooth’s structure.

How does your dentist help you whiten your teeth at home? First, impressions of your teeth are taken, and a model is created. A custom whitening tray is constructed from this model. The trays are filled with a gentle whitening solution and are inserted and worn over the teeth at night.

The process is safe and fast. You will see a change in as little as fourteen days! Cosmetic whitening is an easy and dependable way to a more beautiful smile.
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[wptabtitle]If It’s Convenient, They Will Floss[/wptabtitle]
[wptabcontent]Two out of three American adults don’t floss regularly, despite the fact that it’s the only way to prevent gum disease. If you’re the one of the trio who does, congratulations! You’re going a long way to improve not only your oral health,..

ut your overall health. But, if you are among the flossing-averse, here are a few tips to make it more convenient, more pleasant, and hopefully, more of a daily habit:

      • Buy four rolls of floss. Keep one in your purse (or in your desk), one in your bathroom, one in the room where you watch television, and one on your bed. But don’t tuck them in a drawer, at least not until flossing’s a habit. You’ll need the visual reminder.
      • Flossing after each meal is ideal, but not realistic for most people. If you can only deal with flossing once a day, do it before bed. When you sleep, less saliva is produced, allowing plaque bacteria a chance to gain a foothold.
      • Don’t postpone flossing until just before bed, though. If you’re sleepy, it’s just too easy to blow it off.
        Floss while you are watching TV, listening to music or reading the classifieds. (Can you say “multi-tasking?”)
      • Reward yourself for flossing regularly! Set a goal to floss every day for two weeks. Then, after you’ve reached that goal, go buy yourself that new gadget or piece of clothing you’ve had your eye on. After all, you’ll save way more than that in periodontal therapy bills!
Infant Tooth Care

As soon as your child gets his first tooth, you should begin cleaning his teeth and gums after feedings with a moist gauze pad or washcloth…

When your child is comfortable with a toothbrush, brush his teeth twice a day with a special, extra soft infant toothbrush. Use a small dab of toothpaste if your child likes it and if you’re sure he won’t swallow it. Otherwise it’s fine to brush without toothpaste.

Gently floss your child’s teeth each day, and pay particular attention to areas where the teeth are close together. Regularly help your child brush and floss until he’s 7 to 10 years old and able to effectively keep the plaque off his teeth by himself. After that, check his efforts occasionally.

It’s a good idea to keep some disclosing tablets on hand. The dye in these tablets will stain remaining plaque a bright red, making it easy to see and thus easy to remove.

Fluoride is an important preventive tool for infants. Your dentist sometimes prescribes fluoride tablets and always recommends fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments in the dental office after cleanings.

The most serious dental problem for young children is called “bottle-mouth syndrome.” This is tooth decay caused by the constant presence of sugars from milk, formula, or fruit juice in a child’s mouth. It happens when a child takes a bottle to bed, or has a bottle for extended periods during the day. Use pacifiers or bottles of water at these times to prevent this severe decay of baby teeth, and always clean your child’s teeth and gums immediately after each feeding.

Children learn best by imitation, so let them watch you brush and floss your teeth. Regular praise of their homecare efforts, together with a positive example from you, will get your child started down the path of excellent oral hygiene.

Pacifiers

Is a pacifier safer for my child’s teeth than thumb sucking? Both habits will often have an effect on the position of the front teeth. Pacifiers can actually have a greater effect than the thumb because it is a pliable object that will deform upon pressure…

Is a pacifier safer for my child’s teeth than thumb sucking?
Both habits will often have an effect on the position of the front teeth. Pacifiers can actually have a greater effect than the thumb because it is a pliable object that will deform upon pressure and try to return to its natural shape. As a result, it’s actually exerting an active force against the teeth so that distortion of the normal tooth position will often be greater than with a thumb habit. While there are some controversies surrounding the advisability of taking a pacifier away from a child, from a purely dental standpoint, it is clearly the appropriate thing to do.

Negotiating with the child is not an effective way to bring the habit to a close. The most successful way to end the habit is by a unilateral parental decision not to make the pacifier available. This might take the form of simply “making it disappear” or informing (not discussing with) the child that the pacifier is going away.

When should I start cleaning my infant’s teeth?
As soon as the first tooth erupts into the mouth! When infants are young, you may find that a damp washcloth, a Q-Tip and a strip of gauze are the easiest tools for tooth-cleaning. A soft-bristled infant toothbrush will also work well as your child gets older and is more tolerant of the procedure.

My child has a toothache. What can I do before I get to the dentist?
Young children who complain of a toothache in a baby tooth often have a foreign object (such as a particle of food) lodged between the teeth. Even abscessed teeth are rarely cause for pain in baby teeth. The first thing to do is to have the child identify the exact location of the pain by having her touch the tooth that is hurting with a single finger. This will focus your attention on the offending area. Next, see if flossing between the teeth in the area will dislodge any debris. Often this will provide immediate relief. If not, basic pain medications, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen or other common children’s pain relievers will be helpful. Ultimately, these situations are best evaluated and treated by your dentist.

Post-Op Instructions: After a Root Canal

Root canal therapy often takes two or more appointments to complete. A temporary filling or crown is placed to protect the tooth between appointments…

After each appointment when anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth and tongue may be numb for several hours. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.

Between appointments, it’s common (and not a problem) for a small portion of your temporary filling to wear away or break off. If the entire filling falls out, or if a temporary crown comes off, call your dentist so it can be replaced.

It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment, especially when chewing. To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone.

To further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with warm salt water; dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then rinse, swish, and spit.

To protect the tooth and help keep your temporary in place:

      • Avoid chewing sticky foods (especially gum).
      • Avoid hard foods and hard substances, such as ice, fingernails and pencils.
      • If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

It’s important to continue to brush and floss normally. Usually, the last step after root canal treatment is the placement of a crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future.

If your bite feels uneven, you have persistent pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office.

Post-Op Instructions: After a Tooth Extraction

After an extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process…

That’s why your dentist will ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 30 to 45 minutes after an extraction. If bleeding or oozing continues after you remove the gauze pad, place another gauze pad on the area and bite firmly for another 30 minutes. You may have to do this several times. After the blood clot forms, it’s important to protect it, especially for the next 24 hours. It’s important to not:

      • smoke
      • suck through a straw
      • rinse your mouth vigorously
      • clean the teeth next to the extraction site These activities could dislodge the clot and slow down healing.

Limit yourself to calm activities for the first 24 hours. This keeps your blood pressure lower, reduces bleeding, and helps the healing process.

After the tooth is extracted, you may feel some pain and have some swelling. You can use an ice bag (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) to keep this to a minimum. The swelling usually starts to go down after 48 hours.

To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended. Don’t take medication on an empty stomach or nausea may result. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone. Also:

      • Drink lots of fluids.
      • Eat only soft, nutritious foods on the day of the extraction.
      • Don’t use alcoholic beverages.
      • Avoid hot and spicy foods.

You can begin eating normally the next day, or if not by then, as soon as it’s comfortable. Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water three times a day (put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, and then gently rinse, swish, and spit). Also, rinse gently after meals. This helps keep food out of the extraction site.

It’s very important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing at least once a day. This will speed healing and help keep your breath and mouth fresh. Call your dental office right away if you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling after two or three days, or a reaction to the medication. After a few days, you’ll be feeling fine and can resume your normal activities.

Post-Op Instructions: After Cosmetic Dentistry


Congratulations on your new smile! Your investment in your smile will give you many years of enjoyment and satisfaction…
Read More

Remember that it will take time to adjust to the feel of your new bite. When the bite is altered or the position of the teeth is changed, it takes several days for the brain to adjust to the new position of your teeth or their thickness. If you continue to detect any high spots or problems with your bite, call your dentist to schedule an adjustment appointment.

It’s normal to experience some sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure. Removing tooth structure and placing new materials may require an adjustment period. Your gums may also be sore for several days. Rinse three times a day with warm salt water; dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, and then rinse, swish, and spit to reduce pain and swelling.

Mild pain medication should ease your discomfort during the adjustment period. Don’t be concerned if your speech is affected for the first few days; you’ll quickly adapt and be speaking normally.

Your brain may respond to the new size and shape of your teeth by increasing salivary flow. This should subside to normal within a week or so.

Daily plaque removal is critical for the long-term success of your dental work. Maintain a regular oral hygiene routine. Daily brushing and flossing is a must. Regular cleaning appointments in your dental office are also extremely important. The staff will use the appropriate cleaning abrasives and techniques for your specific cosmetic work.

It’s important to change habits if necessary to protect your new teeth. Any food that could chip, crack, or damage your natural teeth can do the same to your new cosmetic restorations.

      • Avoid sticky candies.
      • Don’t chew any unusually hard foods or substances (such as peanut brittle, fingernails, pencils or ice).
      • Avoid or minimize your use of foods that stain, such as tea, coffee, red wine, and berries.
      • Smoking will quickly yellow your teeth.
      • Let your dentist know if you grind your teeth at night or engage in sports; a custom mouthguard can be created for you.
Post-Op Instructions: After Gum Surgery

After your periodontal surgery appointment, your lips, teeth and tongue may be numb for several hours. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. Don’t eat anything for two hours following surgery…

It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after surgery. To control discomfort, take pain medication as recommended. Don’t take medication on an empty stomach, or you may feel nauseated.

Apply an ice pack—20 minutes on, 20 minutes off—for 6 hours following surgery to decrease pain and swelling.

After 24 hours, to further reduce pain and swelling, rinse three times a day with warm salt water; put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, and then gently rinse, swish, and spit. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone.

Some slight bleeding is normal for a day or so following the surgery. If bleeding persists, apply firm pressure with a gauze pad or bite on a tea bag for 20 minutes and elevate your head with pillows. Call your dentist if this doesn’t control bleeding, or if bleeding increases.

For the first 48 hours, restrict your diet to soft foods such as yogurt, ice cream, soft soups and cottage cheese.

Relax as much as possible and avoid all strenuous activities for the first 24 hours following surgery. In the other areas of your mouth, continue your normal homecare routine. You may gently rinse around the treated area with warm water or mouthwash, but frequent or vigorous rinsing must be avoided until the area is fully healed.

Call your dentist if pain or swelling persists, or if you have any questions or concerns.

Post-Op Instructions: After Receiving a Crown or Bridge

Crowns and bridges usually take two or three appointments to complete. On the first appointment, the teeth are prepared. Temporary crowns or bridges are placed to protect the teeth while the custom restorations are being made…

After each appointment when anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth and tongue may be numb for several hours. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.

On rare occasions, temporary crowns come off. Call your dentist if this happens, and keep the temporary so it can be re-cemented. It’s very important for the proper fit of your final restoration that temporaries stay in place. It’s normal to experience some sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure after each appointment.

Your gums may be sore for several days. Rinse three times a day with warm salt water to reduce pain and swelling. Use medication only as directed.

To help keep your temporary in place, avoid eating sticky foods (especially gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

It’s important to continue to brush normally, but floss very carefully and pull the floss out from the side to prevent pulling out the temporary crown. If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call your dentist’s office.

Post-Op Instructions: After Receiving a Filling

When anesthetic has been used, your lips, teeth and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. Avoid any chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. It’s normal to experience some sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure after your appointment…

Your gums may be sore for several days.

Rinse three times a day with warm salt water; put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, and then gently rinse, swish, and spit.

Don’t chew hard foods or chew directly on new silver fillings for 24 hours. If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

You may chew right away on white fillings since they set completely on the day of the appointment. If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or you have any other questions or concerns, please call your dental office.

Power Toothbrushes Zap Plaque!

Two minutes. It’s really not that long, but when you’re brushing your teeth, it can seem like an eternity. So what do you do? You finish up brushing before the two minutes are up, and you don’t clean your teeth as thoroughly as you should…

In fact, in a survey conducted in 1998, most dentists reported that the majority of their patients weren’t brushing properly, and they weren’t brushing long enough. This means that plaque—a combination of destructive bacteria, food residue and saliva—is left on your teeth, increasing the chance that you’ll develop gum disease.

Power toothbrushes can help to solve this problem. Technology has produced new ergonomic designs and bristle motions that rotate, oscillate and emit sonic vibrations. They’re also lots more fun to use than a plain old manual toothbrush, so it’s more likely that you’ll brush as often and as long as you should.

Fun aside, power brushes provide more effective plaque removal, which lowers your risk for developing gum disease and tooth decay. They also provide more gentle brushing, as users tend not to press a power toothbrush as firmly against the gums; gentler brushing means less wear and tear on the gums and tooth enamel. A study comparing the Braun Oral-B oscillating/rotating power toothbrush to a manual toothbrush found that the group using the power toothbrush experienced significantly less bleeding of their gums, probably due to a reduced brushing force and the rounded shape of the power toothbrush’s bristles.

Power brushes are also easier to use because the brush head is typically smaller than that of a manual brush, so it’s easier to maneuver it around your mouth. Since they move over your teeth with precise, repetitive motion, more plaque is removed with a power toothbrush than with a manual toothbrush. And because it’s more fun to use—for both adults and children—it’s more likely that you’ll brush regularly and for a long enough period of time!

Another bonus of a power toothbrush: they’re a gadget. They make noise. They are, in essence, power tools. And if they help to keep your mouth cleaner and healthier, everyone wins!

Proper Brushing Technique

Proper tooth brushing involves four things:…

      • a soft toothbrush
      • toothpaste with fluoride
      • the correct brushing angle
      • brushing in a pattern

It’s important to brush at least twice a day using a soft toothbrush. A soft toothbrush also makes it much easier to remove the plaque below the gum line, where periodontal disease starts.

Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride hardens the outer enamel layer of the teeth. It might stop a cavity in its tracks and give you more resistance to future cavities. Tilt the brush and use the tip to brush the backs of the front teeth. It’s fine to brush in any regular pattern you choose, but since the insides of the teeth tend to get less attention, you might start with the insides of the upper teeth, then go to the insides of the lower teeth.

Switch to the outsides of the upper teeth and then the outsides of the lower teeth. Brush the chewing surfaces of the upper teeth, then the lower teeth, and end by gently brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth. This removes germs and keeps your breath fresh.

Seniors—Don't Wait until It Hurts!

Maybe you have financial constraints. Or transportation can be a problem. Or maybe it’s just not as easy to get around as it used to be. But it’s very likely that you just don’t get to the dentist as often as you should. And that can cause problems with your oral health that could cost you much more time and money later on…

Check out the symptoms below. If you experience even one of them, see a dentist as soon as you can and tell him about the problems you’re having.

      • lumps or sores inside your mouth
      • tooth or mouth pain
      • difficulty eating
      • changing the foods you eat to avoid discomfort
      • dry mouth
          Regular visits to your dentist can prevent decay and resultant tooth loss, jawbone loss, infections and even oral cancer.

Good oral health helps to keep your entire body healthier. So remember to see your dentist twice a year, if you can. You’re worth it!

Stocking Your Dental First-Aid Kit

We’ve all come to expect bumps, bruises and cuts when we’re out and about, especially when kids are part of the deal. Consequently, many people tote along bandages, ice packs and antiseptics. Some even carry bee sting kits and accidental poisoning remedie…

But what happens if your crown or filling falls out? Or if your child knocks out a permanent tooth or breaks her braces? And what would you do if you got a toothache out in the middle of nowhere? Dr. Richard Price, spokesman for the American Dental Association, recommends packing along a small dental first-aid kit, which should include:

          • clove oil, a natural pain reliever
          • tweezers
          • a dental mirror (ask your dentist where to pick one up)
          • small cotton pellets kept in a zipper-style bag (again, ask your dentist where to get these)
            petroleum jelly
          • dental floss
          • soft dental wax, carried by drugstores or available from your orthodontist
            your dentist’s phone number
          • your insurance information
          • instructions (below) for temporary dental first aid

If you lose a filling
Pain is the issue here. If you aren’t in any pain, simply keep the area clean and see your dentist as soon as you can. If it hurts, take clean tweezers and grab one of the cotton pellets. Dip it in a little bit of clove oil and place it in the tooth. Don’t just dab it; put the whole cotton pellet in the tooth and leave it there. This should minimize the pain until you can get to a dentist. Caution: NEVER put an aspirin on your tooth or gum. Aspirin is an acid and can burn the tissue.

If a cap or a crown falls off
Coat the inside of the cap or crown with petroleum jelly and gently place it back on the tooth. See your dentist as soon as you can.

If wires on braces break
There are a few things you can do to minimize the discomfort of orthodontic wire protruding from your teeth. Ideally, cover the sharp end with a small piece of dental wax; orthodontists will provide this material for you. If you don’t have any wax, you can use a little chunk of pre-chewed sugarless gum. It’s not pretty, but it does the job.

If you knock out a tooth
If it’s a baby tooth, don’t worry about it. However, if it’s a permanent tooth, you should keep the tooth in the mouth, between the cheek and gum, to keep it moist. But if that’s not possible, submerge the tooth in a glass of milk.

And no matter where you hold the tooth, get to a dentist as quickly as possible. It’s likely the tooth can be saved IF you get to the dentist within 30 minutes of losing the tooth.

If a tooth becomes dislodged or loose
Get to a dentist immediately. Many dentists will make room in their schedule to tend to dental emergencies.

Source – The American Dental Association

Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Preschoolers!

Start with a visit to your dentist. A dental professional will teach your child the proper way to brush, using kid-friendly words. Let your child pick out her own toothbrush and toothpaste. There are many colorful child-sized toothbrushes on the market,..

          • Start with a visit to your dentist. A dental professional will teach your child the proper way to brush, using kid-friendly words.
          • Let your child pick out her own toothbrush and toothpaste. There are many colorful child-sized toothbrushes on the market, as well as toothpastes in flavors that appeal to kids. Just make sure that the toothbrush has soft, or very soft, rounded bristles so they don’t damage your child’s gums or tooth enamel.
          • Be sure your child uses only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on her brush. If your child doesn’t like toothpaste, don’t sweat it! Kids tend to swallow toothpaste anyway, and it’s important that they not get too much fluoride. You don’t want dental hygiene sessions to turn into a battle.
          • If you have more than one bathroom, keep a toothbrush and toothpaste for her in each one to make brushing more convenient.
          • Using stickers or some other artwork, make little signs to put on your child’s plate at mealtime, or on her pillow before bed, reminding her to brush.
          • Brush your pet’s teeth, and let your child help or at least watch. Not only does this reinforce the idea that clean teeth are important, it’s also good for your pet.
          • Praise their brushing efforts and the results they’re producing. Try saying “Your teeth are so sparkly!” or “Your breath smells so good!” They’ll be delighted that you noticed, and the positive effects of brushing will be reinforced.
          • Try sharing some books about dental hygiene with your child. Some good ones are Dragon Teeth and Parrot Beaks – Even Creatures Brush Their Teeth by Almute Grohmann and Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer.
          • You and your child can make up silly toothbrushing songs set to familiar melodies like “The ABC Song,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
          • And finally, because children learn by example, be sure your child sees you brushing and flossing your own teeth every single day. It’s good for them and good for you!
The Proper Flossing Technique

Most cavities and periodontal disease begin between the teeth. While brushing is important, the bristles of your brush simply can’t reach between the teeth…

To keep your gums and teeth healthy, you must remove the plaque between your teeth at least once a day. That’s why your dentist recommends dental floss. Don’t worry about the type of floss; they all work pretty much the same. Wind about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving about 5 inches between your hands. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers and leave about one inch in between to work with. Gently guide the floss down between the teeth, using a side-to-side motion.

If your teeth are too tight to floss, or if the floss catches or tears, let your dentist know about it. These are problems that need to be fixed.

Pull the floss tightly into a C shape around the side of the tooth and slide it under the gum line. Clean the surface of the tooth by using an up-and-down motion, not side-to-side, until the surface is clean.

When all the plaque has been removed, the floss will squeak as it rubs against your teeth. Pull the floss around the next tooth and repeat the process. Wind the floss to a fresh section and gradually work your way around your mouth, cleaning both sides of every tooth.

If you have problems reaching some areas, you might want to use a floss fork. If your gums are infected, they’ll bleed when you floss. That’s to be expected if you are just beginning to floss. After a week or so of regular flossing the bleeding should go away.

Now you know why brushing your teeth is only half the battle. Most cavities and periodontal disease start between the teeth where your toothbrush just can’t reach.

The Secret Element

When Susan called to say she needed help with a broken tooth, I was confused since she managed the office of another dentist. She told me that her boss, Dr. Benjamin Karp, had been ill and was in the hospital…

While I repaired Susan’s broken tooth, I realized I simply was not qualified to fix what was really broken. Ben was dying of cancer. Susan told me how wonderful it had been to work with him over a period of many years; and I shared with her my own experience that Ben had always managed to find time to give advice to a young practitioner like me.

Susan realized she could refer Ben’s emergency patients to my practice and expressed confidence that we would treat them well. Soon our office team was overwhelmed. We agreed that our goal was to deal with current problems of these new patients and then return them to Ben. We provided the necessary care for their emergency needs and recommended they resume visits with Dr. Karp when he returned to the office. But it was not meant to be.

After a few weeks, I began to notice a pattern. Ben’s patients all loved him. “He was more than my dentist; he was my friend,” I heard repeated several times a day. Their comments reinforced my own understanding of the “secret” element in successful dentistry.

One morning, I awoke with a start at four o’ clock. My heart pounded as I felt driven to express what I was feeling. I sat down at the desk in my study and took pen in hand. Magically, without contemplation or rewrite, the words flowed onto the page. I thanked Ben for the opportunity to continue for his patients his lifetime of providing quality dental care in St. Petersburg. I wrote that his patients valued him not only for his technical skill and caring manner but for that very special connection he was able to develop with people. He deeply understood the satisfaction we dentists get from meeting people, helping them, and becoming part of their lives. I quoted his patient’s belief that he was their friend.

On my way to work that Friday morning, something told me I needed to deliver the letter right away; so I dropped it off at his home. I did not realize the importance of the timing of my action. Early the following Monday, I received a call from Mrs. Karp. She said that while visiting with Ben at the hospital Friday evening, she had read my letter to him. With a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, he squeezed her hand and whispered, “I guess I really did make a difference.” Dr. Benjamin Karp died later that night.

Having told me of Ben’s reaction to my letter, Mrs. Karp said she was also calling to ask that I read it at Ben’s funeral. A few days later, as I walked to the front of the assembled mourners and looked at them from the podium, wave after wave of emotion engulfed me. Hundreds had gathered to pay homage to the memory of this wonderful man, a man whom so many had called their friend.

Today, I still treat many of Ben’s former patients. They serve as a constant reminder never to postpone telling others words that can make them feel whole. As dentists, my colleagues and I understand that the mechanical aspect of our job is only one small part of what we can do for people.

Now and then, I reflect on the passing of Dr. Benjamin Karp and the occasion of my writing that letter. I ask myself what Force awakened me before sunrise on that day. What Power created those words that helped bring peace to a dying man and solace to his mourning widow? Had I waited another day to drop off the letter, my words would have fallen on newly-deafened ears, Clearly, there is never a wrong time to tell people how much we care about them. If we don’t act, those chances slip from our grasp and are lost forever.

Thumb-Sucking

My daughter continually sucks her thumb. Is this going to cause a problem? It all depends on the age of your child. If she is still under the age of four and her teeth are still straight and not crowded, her thumb-sucking may not create a dental problem…

My daughter continually sucks her thumb. Is this going to cause a problem?
It all depends on the age of your child. If she is still under the age of four and her teeth are still straight and not crowded, her thumb-sucking may not create a dental problem. But it’s important that she stop sucking her thumb before her permanent teeth appear. If she continues her habit beyond this point, her new teeth and the contours of her jawbones may be affected. Bone contours are difficult to correct.

Is a pacifier safer for my child’s teeth than thumb-sucking?
It’s actually less safe. Because a pacifier is designed to be tough and return to its original shape, it can cause more tooth misalignment than a child’s thumb. Both habits should be ended as quickly as possible.

Tips to a Tidy Toothbrush

Okay, so you know you’re supposed to change your toothbrush at the first sign of wear. What can you do to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible between fresh ones? …

          • First, pay attention to where you store your toothbrush. Your bathroom’s medicine cabinet is about the worst place to keep it; it’s moist, warm, and dark, creating an ideal breeding environment for all kinds of undesirable microorganisms. Keep it out in the open, standing up in its own cup. And if possible, get it out of the bathroom and into a dryer environment, like a bedroom.
          • Don’t store your toothbrush with anyone else’s; you could cross-contaminate your entire family, as bacteria can migrate from one toothbrush to the next.
          • Sanitize the container your toothbrush sits in on a regular basis. Run it (but not your toothbrush) through the dishwasher every few days, or rinse it with a mild bleach solution (one teaspoon of bleach in one-half cup water).
          • Wash your hands before and after brushing your teeth.
          • inse your toothbrush well after brushing to remove any food particles that might be stuck in the bristles.
          • Have two brushes that you use alternately. This allows the bristles to dry out between brushings.
          • Kill germs by soaking your toothbrush in a mouth rinse that contains an antibacterial agent or alcohol.
          • Try using a sanitizing agent to kill bacteria and other microbes on your toothbrush. Some use ultraviolet light to sterilize; others use chemicals. Neither method has garnered the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval, however, but they can’t hurt.
          • When you travel, be sure to clean the containers that hold your toothbrush and toothpaste (wash in hot, soapy water and allow them to dry thoroughly).
          • Change your toothbrush, even if it was a new one, after you’ve been sick to avoid re-infecting yourself or others in your family.

And here are a few things not to do:

          • Don’t put your toothbrush in the microwave to kill germs. Toothbrush bristles are normally attached with small metal staples; metal disrupts the microwave process and can damage your microwave.
          • Don’t put your toothbrush through the dishwasher. This will kill germs, but it will also damage the bristles and shorten your toothbrush’s already short life. And, for the same reason, don’t rinse your toothbrush with hot water.
          • Finally, don’t stretch your toothbrush beyond its three-month maximum life span. A fresh new toothbrush will go a long way towards keeping you healthier.
TLC for Your TMJ

If you suffer from symtoms of TMD—limited jaw movement, radiating pain in the face, neck or shoulders, a painful grinding or clicking sound in your jaw joint when you chew or open and close your mouth,…

or a significant, sudden change in the way your teeth fit together—you know how uncomfortable they can be. The University of California, San Francisco Center for TMD and Orofacial Pain offers these self-care tips to protect the jaw joint and relieve painful symptoms when they occur.

What Every Dentist Would Like You to Know about Your Infant's Teeth

Bottle syndrome is a “dental disaster” for babies, said pediatric dentist Greg Psaltis. The condition is caused by repeated, prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids that contain sugars…

What most parents don’t realize is that all liquids other than water contain various forms of sugar; this includes milk, formula and breast milk. When these sugar-laden liquids are allowed to pool around an infant’s teeth, they cause bacteria to thrive and produce acids which literally eat away at the protective enamel that covers the teeth, causing decay. Left untreated, this decay can lead to painful abscesses and loss of teeth.

Psaltis and his partner, Kerry Tramontanas, DDS, offer the following tips for keeping your infant’s teeth (or teeth-to-be!) healthy and free from harmful decay:

            • Dilute, minimize or eliminate juices in your child’s bottle. Prolonged contact with juices will promote cavities due to their high sugar contact and acidity.
            • Limit bedtime bottles to water only. Better yet, don’t allow the bedtime-bottle habit to begin at all. When your child falls asleep with a bottle (or breast), the liquid pools around the base of her gums and can cause decay (as explained above). Water is the only liquid that won’t put your child’s teeth at risk.
            • Avoid giving your child sugar-enhanced liquid (Gatorade and other “sports drinks,” Kool-aid, fruit drinks, soda). The sugars can react with small amounts of plaque that has built up on your child’s teeth. This reaction creates an acidic solution that can lead to cavities.
            • Use a product called “The Tender Terrycloth” to gently wipe the baby’s teeth and gums after each feeding. It slips over your index finger and enables you to easily wipe your child’s gums clean. A soft, damp terrycloth will also do the job, but it’s not quite as easy to use as the Tender Terrycloth.
            • As your infant’s teeth begin erupting, begin using an infant-sized toothbrush in addition to the terry cloth wipe. (make sure the bristles are very soft!)
            • Breastfeeding your child to sleep can have the same ill effect as a bottle, as breast milk will also pool around the base of your child’s gums. Wipe her gums after each breastfeeding.
            • Bring your child to the dentist after her first tooth has grown in – usually at about six months of age. This visit will allow you to ask any questions you may have about your baby’s dental hygiene, and it will enable you to receive expert assistance on proper brushing techniques and dietary influences on oral health.
Which Toothpaste Should You Buy

Buying toothpaste should be one of the least stressful things you do in your daily life. But the choices nowadays can make this simple task overwhelming, like you need a degree in biochemistry to make a good choice…

tartar-control or whitening? Gingivitis-fighting or enamel-protecting? With baking soda and peroxide, or without? With “natural” ingredients, or with the newest antibacterial agent? And do you really need fluoride?

Do you want blue, green, white, red or striped? Peppermint, spearamint, coolmint, freshmint, cinnamint? Gel, paste, liquid, cream or powder?

It’s enough to confuse even dentists. “I walk into the toothpaste aisle and I’m overwhelmed, and I know about the ingredients,” said Dr. Linda Niessen, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, in Consumer Reports magazine. How much of the “new” tooth-cleaning technology is just marketing hype?

In their August, 1998 issue, Consumer Reports shared their evaluation of 39 toothpastes. Dental researchers and the ADA also provided input. From this, we’ve garnered practical information that will help you find the best toothpaste for you. We’ll also give you CR’s top-rated toothpastes.

Toothpaste, a job description
A toothpaste’s main function is to clean your teeth, without being too rough or “abrasive.” It should also fight plaque, that sticky film of bacteria and saliva that settles and wreaks havoc on your teeth and gums in the form of decay and gum disease. If it’s allowed to hang out on your teeth, plaque will harden into a tough, yellowish, bacteria-laden coating called tartar. Once on your teeth, the only way to get rid of tartar is to have it professionally removed.

Note: some people, because of their body chemistry, poor dental hygiene, or a combination of the two, accumulate tartar more rapidly than others. If you think you fall into this category, try a tartar-control toothpaste.

Cavity Combat
As it cleans, toothpaste should also battle cavities, and the only thing that will do that, at least for now – is fluoride. Fluoride is actually somewhat of a miracle worker; when plaque is pummeling your teeth with decay-causing bacteria, fluoride combines with minerals in your saliva to re-enter your tooth and shore up any damage.

The ADA recommends that you start with a moderately abrasive toothpaste, since these clean teeth better than low and very low abrasives. Among the top-rated moderately-abrasive toothpastes were:

            • Colgate Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening with Tartar Control ($0.75 a month)
            • Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening ($.46 a month, and rated a “CR Best Buy)
            • Colgate Platinum Whitening ($3.16 a month)
            • Crest Extra Whitening with Tartar Protection ($.97 a month) – the only whitening toothpaste to date that has received the ADA Seal of Approval

All were rated “excellent” for both cleaning and quick fluoride release.

Need less “oomph?”
Even the best of the “low abrasive” toothpastes were only rated “very good” in cleaning. When should you choose a low-abrasion toothpaste instead of a more efficient, moderately abrasive one? If your gums have receded. In that case, more of the sensitive dentin is exposed. Here are CR’s top picks in the low-abrasion category:

            • Colgate Tartar Control Baking Soda & Peroxide ($.74 a month)
            • Listerine Cool Mint Tartar Control ($.96 a month)
            • Aquafresh Tartar Control ($.65 a month)
            • Colgate Cavity Protection Gel ($.70 a month)
            • Crest Cavity Protection Regular ($.72 a month)
            • Aquafresh Whitening ($1.71 a month)
            • Mentadent Fresh Mint ($1.46 a month)
            • Viadent Wintermint ($1.57 a month)

To maximize the effectiveness of your favorite toothpaste, it’s important that you brush correctly for at least two minutes. And if a toothpaste causes any irritation or sensitivity in your mouth, stop using it and give your dentist a call.

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