The best way to maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime is great dental health habits. Here are a few hacks to your daily routine beyond the usual brushing and flossing that can help prevent tooth decay.
Washing a great meal down with a beverage can be very satisfying, and you can give you teeth a healthy boost by ensuring the last thing to touch your lips after a meal or a snack is water. Water can help flush away sugar and debris that the bacteria in your mouth would otherwise get to feed on and turn into tooth decay-causing acids.
Both with meals and throughout the day, don’t just stick to bottled water. Many prefer bottled water due to the taste, but you could be doing your teeth a disservice by avoiding fluoride. Over 70% of Americans live in communities with fluoridated water. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can prevent and even reverse tooth decay, and is also found as an active ingredient in toothpastes and mouthwashes (though obviously in much larger concentrations than in tap water). But filtered bottled water has either no fluoride or so little that it has no measurable benefit for your teeth.
Keep a Spare Toothbrush
All of us know we’re supposed to brush twice a day, and most people brush when they get up in the morning and before bed. But you can give your oral health an extra boost by brushing after every meal, including lunch. The problem is, most of us aren’t at home for lunch, therefore we’re away from our toothbrushes and floss. That’s an easy fix! Just stash a soft bristle toothbrush, a travel size toothpaste and roll of floss at your desk, in your locker, or in your car. You’ll have no excuses to leave the remnants of lunch stuck to your teeth!
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Don’t have an extra tooth brush stashed away? Get some sugar free gum. Chewing gum after a meal can be about more than just fun flavors and having something to occupy your mouth. The American Dental Association recognizes that chewing sugar-free gum can actually help prevent cavities. That’s because the act of chewing gum stimulates your mouth to create more saliva, which can help neutralize acids from your foods and flush away debris.
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Laughing gas is the common name for an inhaled sedative, used in dental care and in medical care. Laughing gas gets its name from the feeling of well-being and giddiness that it can cause. It also causes a reduction in the sensation of pain, which can be helpful if you are in need of serious dentistry, such as a crown or the removal of a tooth.
The active ingredient in laughing gas is nitrous oxide gas (also known by it’s chemical formula: N2O). Nitrous oxide is colorless and odorless, though some dentists will add pleasant scents like vanilla or fruit to the gas to encourage inhalation, especially in children. Laughing gas is required to include at least 30% oxygen. The most common mix of gases in a dental practice is 30% oxygen and 70% nitrous oxide. Dentists can vary this mix upward if necessary to get the desired sedation effect.
The gas is given to you using a rubber mask that fits over your nose so the dentist can still access your mouth. The gas is inhaled continuously throughout the procedure, and the dentist will ease you onto it and ease you off of it by varying the concentration of nitrous oxide. Most patients report the affects of laughing gas as a feeling of well-being, almost like a “happy drunk”, though nitrous oxide has none of the affects on judgment or coordination that being drunk has. Many patients also report physical sensations, such as a warm or light vibration sensation in the body. Most also feel a reduction in pain sensations, and any pain they might feel they don’t seem to mind. If the dental procedure requires local anesthetic administered by an injection, many patients won’t even notice the needle prick. If you experience nausea or dizziness while on laughing gas, tell the dentist right away or simply remove your mask: this is a sign that the concentration of nitrous oxide is too high for you.
Laughing gas is unique compared to other dental sedation techniques (such as a sedative pill or I.V. medicines) because it starts working very quickly and wears off almost immediately once you stop inhaling it. Most patients feel the effects within 20-30 seconds of inhalation and will become very relaxed within 3-5 minutes. Once the dentist finishes treatment and gradually switches the patient back to oxygen, the effects will wear off within about 5 minutes. That means that unlike other kinds of sedation, there’s no “hangover” period of drowsiness afterward, and most patients can drive themselves home (after being evaluated by the dentist, of course).
Laughing gas lives up to its friendly name as a very safe but also very effective form of sedation. If you or a family member is in need of a dental procedure and are interested in nitrous oxide, please don’t hesitate to ask us about whether it’s right for you.
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The use of lasers in dentistry may sound a bit like science fiction, but it’s actually scientific fact! Laser technology was first applied to dentistry in the early 1960s and has been gaining popularity ever since. The best part of about dental lasers is that they don’t just have one application: lasers can be used in many aspects of dentistry, from diagnosis to treatment.
Lasers Can Help Detect Cavities
It’s possible to have a cavity growing on your tooth before it becomes easily visible to the naked eye. And the earlier a cavity is detected, the easier it is to treat. That’s why some dentists use a low-intensity laser to illuminate your tooth, making it easier to spot an incipient cavity before it gets worse.
Lasers Can Help Re-Shape Your Gums
Gum reshaping or contouring (also called a gum lift) may be recommended for either medical or cosmetic reasons. One of the biggest blessings of lasers in dentistry is that they can replace scalpels. Instead of making cuts in the gums, dentists can use highly precise lasers to dissolve gum tissue instead. Because it cauterizes instead of cuts, gum shaping and removal with lasers can be more comfortable, reduce bleeding and speed up recovery time.
Lasers Can Help Treat Gum Disease
One of the symptoms of gum disease (a.k.a. periodontitis) is the formation of deep pockets between your teeth and gums. One of the treatments for chronic gum disease is scaling and root planing, where these pockets are cleaned and the root is smoothed out so your gums can re-adhere to them. The addition of lasers to this process has been shown in studies to help gums re-attach to the tooth.
Lasers Can Replace Dental Drills
The most common type of dental lasers are those that replace dental drills. For example, if you need to have a cavity prepared for repair, a laser can be used to reshape your tooth instead of a drill. The result is a dental procedure with less vibration and noise that is much more comfortable.
This is only a few examples of how lasers are used in dentistry. There are many more uses for lasers, including disinfection, 3D mouth scans, and tooth whitening. Overall, dental lasers offer more comfort, quicker healing and added effectiveness to most dental procedures.
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