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What is the Difference Between a Cleaning and a Preventative Care Appointment?

Sitting in the dentist’s chair and waiting for him to poke and prod at your teeth, you’re curious to hear if you have been taking care of the pearly or not-so-pearly whites occupying the inside of your mouth. While a cleaning appointment can do your teeth some good, the best option for a better smile is really what you and your teeth deserve: a preventative care appointment.

When at home, you brush and floss your teeth (or at least you should) at least twice a day. You try to reach every tooth from front to back, attempting to get every last bit of food and plaque off your teeth. When you come to your dentist for a cleaning appointment, you’re teeth are getting the exact same treatment, though they do receive a little extra attention and cleaning during an appointment than at home.

However, this is nothing you can’t do simply by yourself: just spend a few more minutes taking care of your teeth each day. Instead, to get the most for your buck at the dentist, choose a preventative care appointment. For each individual who receives this treatment, a hygienist will thoroughly examine each tooth in the mouth (that’s a lot of teeth!) as well as therapeutically remove visible plaque and tartar on the tooth’s surface. Along with a gum and jaw joints exam, this appointment consists of two screenings: one for oral cancer and the other for sleep apnea. Lucky for you, each preventative care appointment you get provides your teeth with the same checkup and treatments!

To prevent a wasted appointment and wasted money at the dentist, opt to keep the cleaning at home; when you’re in the chair, a preventative care appointment is just what you need to get a better and brighter smile.

Ideas on How to Pack Tooth-Healthy Snacks

Road trips are always eventful with kids in the car. Whether they are asking “are we there yet?” or wanting to play billboard games and I Spy, there is never a dull moment for parents. But then the dreaded words come out of one of their mouths: “I’m hungry.” No one wants to stop more than the designated amount, so snacks are always a must on any sort of road trip. The question is, what kind of snacks are good for my kids or even adults?

The biggest thing to avoid is sugar. Bacteria that eventually create plaque uses sugar as its form of energy, negatively impacting your teeth and aiding in tooth decay. With one-fourth of U.S. children ages 2-5 suffering from tooth decay, we don’t need any more problems. Obviously non-sugary snacks and drinks are hard to come by, but just be aware of what you are eating and snack in moderation.

Tooth-friendly foods are perfect for any type of travel. Cheese can help stimulate saliva glands that allow your mouth to remove bacteria and acids from previous foods. Pack some string cheese with celery and some apples and you and your teeth are good to go.

Continuous snacking increases risk of more cavities, so bag snacks for each family member can come in handy; they restrict what foods each individual eats to the contents of one bag. Pre-packed and ready to go, these bags can hold healthier options so there are no temptations.

So next time your child asks for a Sprite and a bag of cool ranch Doritos, politely offer an alternative of water and whole grain crackers and accept whatever yelling may come after.

Is Your Low-Carb Diet Giving You Dragon Breath?

The last thing anyone wants to do is chat with an individual whose breath could make an onion cry.  But when it comes to the origin of halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, the solution may seem elusive. You brush your teeth twice a day and clean your tongue; so what it causing this dreaded “dragon breath”?

What if you are trying a low-carb or no-carb diet? You’re watching your food intake, yet the dragon mouth is still present. The reasons for this are simple: bad breath from low-carb diets results from your body’s replacement of carbohydrates as its source of energy; instead, your body is breaking down stored fat and using that to produce enough energy to get you through the day.

The good news is your low-carb diet is proving beneficial in your weight loss goal; bad news is that your breath may be suffering. During your fat burning process, ketones are created in the body. Ketones have a distinct acetone-like stench, therefore causing bad breath in some low-carb dieters.

No matter what foods you eat or what diet you’re on, the best ways to avoid bad breath are some of the simplest. Increasing water intake can help remove food and bacteria from the mouth. Opt for sugar-free gum and mints to protect your teeth; gum that is high in sugar increases the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Lastly, your mom was always right when she told you to floss, as it helps effectively remove unwanted food stuck between teeth. If not removed, leftover food particles can become plaque, again increasing risk of dental hygiene problems.

Avoiding bad breath is as simple as watching what you’re eating and taking good care of your mouth.

How Long Should You Brush?

Pretty much everyone knows that oral hygiene requires you to brush your teeth at least twice a day; but do you know exactly how long you should spend brushing? Believe it or not, recent studies show that even the most oral-health conscious Americans are not giving this task an adequate amount of time. Think back to this morning – how much time did you dedicate to your oral health?

Dentists across the world agree that a proper brushing session should last, at a minimum, two minutes. Most adults, let alone children, do not even come close to this required amount of time. Brushing for a full two minutes allows your teeth to get clean enough to avoid plaque buildup, gingivitis, cavities, and other problems. Brushing for less than the allotted two minute period could lead to bacteria being left behind, which in turn can cause serious problems such as periodontitis – inflammation of the tissues surrounding your teeth. If that isn’t a large enough reason to focus on your pearly whites for the full two minutes, new studies are now suggesting that heavy plaque buildup in the mouth actually correlates with plaque buildup in the arteries.

To avoid any of these nasty complications, find ways to reach the two minute goal with every brushing. Select a song or poem to recite in your head or set a timer. For children, purchase a toothbrush with fun incentives – such as music that plays or flashing lights that operate for the require length of time. You’ll be surprised at the difference you’ll see and feel just by reaching this two minute mark every time you brush.

Why Sports Drinks Put Teeth at Risk

Did you know that part of your exercise routine can actually be harmful? After you’ve finished hitting the pavement hard or taking that cycle to the next level, turning to that faithful sports drink buried in your gym bag can actually cause damage to your pearly whites! While most of us never consider our teeth while planning our workout, perhaps it’s time to start.

Sports drinks entered the market in 1987 with the invention of Gatorade, the popular drink originally created for collegiate sports teams at the University of Florida. After the drink’s initial impressions led to mass production, sports drinks of all types began to flood the market, becoming a staple in the average American’s workout kit. Sports drinks are useful for athletes and gym attendees by replacing fluids and electrolytes that are expelled from the body during strenuous motions.

While sports drinks do help to replenish the body, there is a largely overlooked downside to the trendy product:

The acidity in the drink can actually erode tooth enamel.

When tooth enamel is affected by eroding, those sparkling whites are subject to staining, discoloration, decay, and more. Tooth enamel is a clear, protective coating, which means the damage can go unnoticed for extensive periods of time. And it’s not just sports drinks posing a threat to your enamel – coffees, teas, sodas, and juices all contain traces of acids that can break down that precious coating.  Visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can help in various ways to prevent or treat any damage. Don’t let those pearly whites turn sour – schedule your visit today.