Posts for category: Uncategorized
Imagine it’s still winter … you’re standing at the door, ready to brave the cold. You’re layered-up with three shirts and a sweatshirt, your heavy winter coat, and two layers of socks underneath your waterproof winter boots. Then you’ve got those awesome jeans with the flannel on the inside, your comfy hat, scarf, and gloves. You’re set! But wait. As you step toward the door, you suddenly realize you have an itch … and it’s deep down … buried beneath all those layers. And, try as you may, every attempt to reach that bugger-of-an-itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief you’re ever gonna’ get is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!
We’re going inside your mouth, of course, to your tongue – this is a dental article, after all! Because whether you know it or not, like you in the wintertime, your tongue is also “all covered up” – buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, let alone cause your tongue to appear various shades of yellow, white, or green! Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds, and return to its natural hue. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!
WHAT is a tongue scraper?
A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been in use since ancient times, and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.
WHY use a tongue scraper?
The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-inducing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Talk about ew! So, as you can see, there are several reasons why you’d want to get rid of this gunk in your mouth. Let’s tackle them one by one:
- Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been awhile, by calling in at (208) 745-8704.
- Make room for good bacteria: see our article here on probiotics for your mouth.
- Prevent heart disease? While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.
HOW does one use a tongue scraper?
In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center! Make sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed. And, if you’re wondering if you should scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure, that’s a good question ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re in ask Dr. Richard George for a quick tutorial!
WHERE do I buy one? Your first choice is, believe it or not, your dentist. They may even have a sample they could provide to you at no cost. Tongue scrapers are relatively inexpensive, and can also be found at any local drugstore. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!
Most of our patients know a thing or two about stress. Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or a brief stressful life circumstance, we all encounter it from time to time. Most people associate stress with heart attacks or ulcers, but do you know how stress can affect your oral health?
Stress may negatively affect your oral health in indirect ways.
For starters, stress can cause folks to reach for coping strategies that aren’t so good for your teeth (or the rest of your body).
Junk food, sweets, cigarettes, or alcohol are just a few examples. When these substances interact with your teeth, they can do a lot of damage in the way of gum disease and tooth decay.
Secondly, when we are stressed, we tend to stop making positive health behaviors a priority. Let’s say you’re in the hospital after a car accident; your brushing and flossing routine will not be forefront on your mind.
Even a minor bout of stress from a tough day can have us reaching for our cozy bed and some relieve instead of taking the time to brush first.
And of course, keeping up with routine dental visits may fall completely off our priority list while under stress. This can prevent us from finding the early signs of decay and can cause more pain and stress later on.
How does stress affect our mouths directly?
Well, lots of folks grind their teeth as a physical way to deal with stress. You may be doing it without even realizing it! Ask a partner or someone who knows you well to tell you if you have this habit.
Also, when we are stressed we have higher levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that put our body in a “flight or fight” state. This causes our blood pressure and blood sugar to increase, and our digestive and immune function to decrease. When our immune system isn’t functioning as it should, this can make periodontal disease more likely. It can also slow down the healing of other oral issues or injuries we may have.
What can you do about it?
The best thing you can do to prevent the stress of oral health issues is to maintain good dental hygiene and visit us regularly for routine visits. We want what’s best for you — and that includes a healthy mouth for a lifetime!
For more information, please contact Dr. Richard George and Dr. Boone Allen at Townesquare Dental in Rigby, ID. Call (208) 745-8704 to schedule your appointment with your dentist today!
The age-old question – should you floss before you brush or after? If you asked any one of our team members, you just might get a different answer on this one! Before you report them for not knowing their stuff, each response can be right! As long as you’re doing a thorough job, we don’t care when you floss!
The Case for Flossing Before Brushing
Theoretically, flossing first dislodges the gunk between your teeth, letting the fluoride in your toothpaste reach those crevices better.
Also, behavioral scientists say since most people don’t like to floss, it’s better to get the least-pleasant half of your dental routine out of the way first – you’ll be less likely to skip it. Once you have a minty, fresh mouth from brushing, you might be less inclined to feel the need to floss afterward.
The Case for Flossing After Brushing
Some say flossing last is better because it clears your mouth from extra food and debris that could otherwise be carried by the floss into the very spaces you’re trying to clean out. Plus, it might be more pleasant to put those flossing hands into a clean mouth versus an unbrushed one.
Floss when it works for you. But make it a habit! Choose the same time every day, floss once a
day, and floss thoroughly.
And don’t forget to use the right flossing method: for each new set of teeth, use a new section of floss, and hug each side of the tooth by dragging the floss upward in the shape of a “C.” Want us to show you how? Just ask!
People have been asserting that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” since the 19 th century. While it may not necessarily be true that those who eat apples never have to see a doctor, apples certainly have great health benefits for our bodies! Did you know they can even be good for our teeth? Let’s take a look at what the research says …
It’s widely thought that chewing a crisp, fresh apple can help brush away plaque on our teeth. We’re not too sure on this one, as some studies show a higher plaque content on teeth after eating an apple. At the same time, there is evidence to suggest some polyphenols in apples can lower the ability of cavity-causing bacteria to adhere to teeth. Further, some studies have shown that the antioxidants in apples can help prevent periodontal disease.
Apples even contain a (very) small amount of fluoride. This is worth noting, as fluoride is so important in helping prevent cavities.
Lastly, the act of chewing an apple stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food debris and bacteria. Remember, though, apples contain sugar and acid so it’s best not to go overboard with them. You can even swish with water after eating one to wash away some of the sugar left behind
As the science continues to look into how apples affect our teeth, one thing we know is true: regular dental visits, along with daily tooth brushing and flossing, is your best defense against tooth decay!
This is one of our most frequently asked questions! Our answer? It’s not the brush that matters, it’s who’s doing the brushing.
Let’s break that down. The goal of tooth brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth on a consistent (daily!) basis, so that we prevent the buildup of tartar which leads to tooth decay. A manual toothbrush is a great and inexpensive tool that helps us do just that. Make sure to brush two minutes per day, twice a day. Gently brush ALL surfaces and make sure to reach those back molars.
For some people, it can be difficult to brush properly with a manual toothbrush. Those with some form of motor disability or arthritis may benefit from using an electric toothbrush. An electric brush can also be helpful for kids or anyone with braces.
The same tooth brushing rules apply – two times per day, two minutes at a time. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that some have a built-in timer. If you’re one of those quick brushers who has a hard time making it to two minutes, consider using a timed electric brush.
At your next dental visit, ask us whether we think you would do better with a manual or electric brush! And, as always, don’t forget to floss!