Just like string floss, a water flosser cleans between your teeth.Removing little bits of gunk from your teeth is super important. When you allow food and drink particles to stew in your mouth, the resulting plaque releases acids that harm your enamel (the tough external portion of your teeth), according to the American Dental Association (ADA). These acids can eventually drill cavities into your teeth and cause gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Brushing your teeth twice a day helps you scrub away plaque so that it can’t hurt your teeth or gums. So does flossing, which can make sure you reach the little nooks and crannies a toothbrush neglects. You’re probably pretty familiar with string floss, of course, but water flossers are also an option. A water flosser is a handheld device that shoots a stream of liquid at your teeth hard enough to clean between them. You can call them powered interdental cleaners if you want to be posh about it. Some versions even allow you to use a mixture of water and mouthwash for an extra fresh experience.
A water flosser might be good for you depending on your teeth and preferences.Using a water flosser is like hosing down a deck while traditional flossing is like sweeping it. They both get the job done, albeit in slightly different ways. Use whichever one makes you less likely to pretend flossing is a concept you’ve never heard of before. Here are signs a water flosser might be good for you:
- You’re not diligent about using the correct flossing technique with string, so you could be leaving a lot of food behind. Shoving the string into each crevice, yanking it out, and moving on doesn’t cut it. You’re supposed to insert the floss, then use a C shape to scrape the string down both teeth, one after the other. You’re also supposed to floss the back sides of your last teeth, FYI. If you’d rather do your taxes than follow these steps, a water flosser might be better for you.
- You have dental or orthodontic work that makes it tricky to floss traditionally, like braces or a permanent retainer of some sort.
- Your teeth aren’t super straight. If you have trouble running floss back and forth between them, a water flosser could make your life easier.
- You hate traditional flossing. Perhaps you’re not a fan of extracting chewed up bits of food from your mouth. Maybe every time you do it, you wonder if you have 357 teeth because getting between them all takes forever.
You don’t need to use string floss and a water flosser every time you clean between your teeth.If water flossers pique your interest but you’re not sure you need one, let's chat about it at your next appointment. If there’s one area where dentists generally excel (besides, you know, keeping your mouth healthy), it’s brutal honesty. They’ll tell you if you’re doing a good enough job with standard floss, and let you know if a water flosser might be a better fit. Even if you decide to get a water flosser, don’t throw away your string floss. A water flosser may not do the job if something is really stuck between your teeth. Your future self just called after eating a poppy seed bagel and is really glad you followed this advice. Dig deeper: SELF Magazine Waterpik American Dental Association
HIGH TECH SAFETY in the “new normal”: our 3 main components to minimize germs
Dental offices are high traffic spaces: our regular, daily interactions with patients can introduce bacterial, viral, and fungal infections into the air. The indoor air within dental offices contains unhealthy and often infectious airborne pollutants, but we believe technology keeps our patients happier and healthier. Here are three major ways we use cleaning technology to ensure our patients and staff members are as protected as possible:
SURGICALLY CLEAN AIR FILTRATION: it doesn’t just filter germs, it destroys them.
Microbial air pollution is a real health issue and this is where technology makes us a better, healthier practice. Air purification systems can play a role in significantly reducing transmittable bio-aerosols Dental procedures inadvertently generate aerosols, containing organisms and debris from each patient’s oral activity, and these can be harmful to everyone present in the clinic. Air filters result in the significant reduction of viable particles in the air. World-class medical-grade air purifiers like our Surgically Clean Air system remove chemicals, toxins, germs, and odors, but most importantly, they kill airborne viruses, to help reduce the spread of illness.
By using a six-stage purification system of filters and UV lights, we ensure that the air you breathe is clean, healthy, and odor-free. Stages 1 and 2 remove large and microscopic air contaminates. Stage 3 absorbs unhealthy odors, chemicals, and gases. Stages 4 and 5 kill bacteria and viruses, while stage 6 re-energizes the clean air before circulating it back into the room.
We invested in Surgically Clean Air systems within our office because we believe that paying attention to the quality and purity of the air in our office creates a win/win situation for our patients and team members. Learn more about what Surgically Clean Air is doing for other practices HERE.
ISOLITE SYSTEMS: Mouthpieces matter
“Isolation”, in dental terms, means keeping the procedure area (your mouth) safe and contained. Proper dental isolation is important to dental procedures because it minimizes contamination. This is traditionally done with dental dams and other tools for suction, but we use Isolite systems with our patients. Isolite technology is soft and comfortable, but provides added safety measures during your dental procedure, protecting you foreign body aspiration and shielding the tongue and cheek from injury by the handpiece or other dental instruments.
VIKING PURE CLEANING SOLUTIONS: Redefining a clean environment
As an added step in our office safety, we are soon implementing a Viking Technology Cleaning System within the practice. Viking Pure’s patented e-water is a nontoxic solution that has the power to redefine our idea of a clean environment. The chemicals that our society has come to rely on are harmful to our health, our wallet and our planet. They are also ineffective at killing the bacteria, viruses and superbugs that are plaguing our homes and businesses.
Viking Pure Solutions are not only more powerful than chemicals, but our patent-protected systems have revolutionized the very process of generating natural cleaning solutions. Electrolyzed Water is the result of a process called electrolysis: salt is electrically separated into its two main ions, sodium and chloride. Those two ions are then mixed into separate streams of fresh water, producing two solutions: Hypochlorous Acid (PureSan) and Sodium Hydroxide (PureClean). These two solutions are safer, cheaper and most importantly, infinitely more powerful than the harmful chemicals most commonly used as cleaning agents today.
BOTTOM LINE: HEALTHIER AIR, HEALTHIER PATIENTS + STAFF
After a very long 2 months, we look forward to bringing our patients back into the office for treatment. Fortunately, many of the new safety precautions recommended to dentists have been in place in our office long before COVID-19. We look forward to seeing you.
There aren’t any studies that show people who get root canals have a higher risk of cancer. In fact, research on the link between cancer and endodontic procedures like root canals shows that people who have had these treatments have a lower risk of certain cancers.
The danger of these claims is that these fears can crowd out other real cancer risks or health concerns. Viewers may focus on previously completed root canals while ignoring well known risk factors for cancer or infection, including smoking, weight gain, and failing to get the right cancer screening tests on time. To be blunt, even if there is some truth to this whole idea, your old root canal is probably not harming your body nearly as much as your bleeding gums, cigarette smoking, or undiagnosed sleep disorder. Illness is cumulative, so it’s important to focus on the bigger concerns first when working towards optimal health and well-being.
HOWEVER, there is one very important thing that the documentary ROOT CAUSE gets right! There are many patients walking around with active infection in their tooth roots and bone who have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that there is any problem whatsoever. We know this is true because we have advanced 3D imaging that allows us to routinely see infections in the tooth and bone that simply cannot be seen in traditional dental X-rays and are asymptomatic.
Because of this, we have been able to help countless patients get rid of active infection in their body quickly and easily. The first step to health is accurate and actionable diagnosis!
In looking at documentaries and other health related information on the internet, it’s important to remember a phrase we often share with our patients:
“Everything on the internet is somewhat right for some people.”
BOTTOM LINE: The most important thing is that you find a provider that you trust who will help you navigate through all the conflicting information out there, and who will have an in depth understanding of your individual circumstances in order to provide you customized advice on how to get and stay healthy.
While root canals can’t save every tooth, leaving the natural tooth intact helps maintain the jawbone’s original structure. Without the original tooth, the surrounding jawbone that once supported it will eventually break down, affecting a person’s appearance and their ability to chew.
You have a choice of more than just dental floss to clean between your teeth. There are now hundreds of products on the market for interdental cleaning, ranging from wooden sticks to interdental brushes, and now even oral irrigation devices also known as water flossers (or Water Piks.)
Clinical studies of the Water Pik have found that the water flosser is 51% more effective for reducing gingivitis, twice as effective at reducing gingival bleeding, and 29% more effective at removing plaque. The Waterpik can give you healthier teeth and gums when being used for just a minute per day.
What is a Water Flosser or Water Pik?
A water flosser is an oral health appliance designed for dental care at home: consider it a 'power washer' for your gums.
Although sizes and features vary, all water flossers include:
- Motor with pump
- Water reservoir
- Special tips for specific cleaning needs
The motor and pump cause a stream of pressurized, pulsating water to flow from the reservoir through the tip and into the mouth.
The targeted stream of water removes plaque, food particles, and bacteria in a way that’s more effective, more comfortable, and easier than traditional string floss. The pulsating action also stimulates gum tissue for added health benefits.
Why Choose a Water Flosser?
If you don’t like string floss, don’t floss often, or find string floss hard to use, a water flosser can be the answer.
- Many people find water flossing easier and more pleasant than using string floss, and they may floss more often as a result.
- Gum disease prevention and treatment is another reason to use a water flosser. Waterpik®Water Flossers are clinically proven to reduce gingivitis, remove plaque, and improve gum health.
- Water flossers are especially useful for cleaning braces and other orthodontics, as well as cleaning bridges, crowns, and dental implants.
- Water flossers are helpful for people with dexterity issues, such as arthritis, who find string flossing difficult.
What About Toothbrushing?
For daily home care, we recommend:
- Brushing your teeth 2x a day for 2 minutes
- Flossing once a day to clean between your teeth
Although water flossing reaches areas that tooth brushing can’t, it is not a replacement for brushing your teeth. Rather, it is an alternative to string floss, interdental brushes, or floss threaders to remove plaque and debris that brushing leaves behind. There will also be some patients for whom we recommend using regular dental floss in addition to water flossing, but we like to see every patient using a Water Pik, if possible.
Is Water Flossing Messy?
Compared to string floss, water flossing is easier and doesn't require you to put your hands in your mouth or deal with used string floss.
The correct technique is they key. Unlike string floss, you don’t need to look in the mirror or hold your mouth open wide.
To use a water flosser, place the flosser tip in your mouth, close your lips most of the way, and lean over the sink. Then turn the power on. As you floss along the gumline and between your teeth, allow the water to empty from your mouth into the sink.
Essential takeaway: flossing is designed to prevent bacterial changes that lead to gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to heart conditions, diabetes, and infection. If regular flossing isn't getting the results you're looking for, a water flosser might be the best option for you. Let's talk about this during your next appointment.
Whether it’s the occasional night of too-little sleep or the larger, more chronic sleep debt so many people face, the brain and body are severely compromised by the effects of sleep deprivation, and we are committed to helping our patients understand and treat these challenges.
With that in mind, it feels like a good time for a check-in about ways sleep deprivation can interfere with your health, your safety, your relationships, and your performance. Here are four major areas that are affected when you don't get enough sleep.
- You gain weight.
Poor sleep isn’t the only factor in weight gain, of course—there are several, including your genetics, your diet and exercise habits, your stress, and your health conditions. But the evidence is overwhelming: when sleep goes down, weight goes up.
And it doesn’t take a long time, or a lot of sleep deprivation, to bring the weight on. A fascinating study from researchers at the University of Colorado found that one week of sleeping about 5 hours a night led participants to gain an average of 2 pounds.
Sleep deprivation changes what foods you’re most interested in eating, creating more intense cravings for fat and sugar-laden foods. Low on sleep, your brain can’t make reasoned decisions and use its best judgment about food, and you’re more likely to be impulsive and give into junk-food desires.
We also know that even after a moderate amount of sleep deprivation, you’re likely to eat more the next day. And lack of sleep makes you more likely to eat more of your overall calories at night, which can lead to weight gain.
2. You look, and feel, older.
We don’t know anyone—man or woman—who wants to look and feel older than they are. Getting plenty of sleep is one way to help prevent that. Sleep is "nature's botox", and here's why:
During sleep—particularly during deep, slow-wave sleep, the body produces more human growth hormone, or HGH, and goes to work repairing and refreshing cells throughout the body—including cells of the skin, muscles, and bone. Short on sleep, you risk losing out on this important rejuvenation—and it’s going to show in how you look and feel.
Healthy, plentiful sleep is important to maintaining muscle mass—and sleep deprivation is linked to both reduced muscle mass and muscle strength in both men and women, particularly with age. Sleep deprivation also can interfere with bone health, reducing bone density and the production of new, strong bone.
Losing strength and mass in muscles and bones can affect everything from your posture to your flexibility to your ability to exercise and be active, to how well you heal after injury. To stay looking and feeling youthful, we need our muscles and bones strong and ready to work for us—and they need sleep to do that work.
3. Your risk for accident and injury goes through the roof.
Whether you’re at home, on the job, on the sports field or behind the wheel, when sleep deprived you’re at much higher risk for accident and injury: research that shows how insomnia is a major risk factor for accidental death.
The effects on the brain from sleep deprivation are in many ways similar to the effects of drinking too much alcohol—yet drowsy driving still doesn’t get nearly the attention as drunk driving. Some of the latest research from AAA shows drivers who slept even 1 hour less than they typically do are at significantly higher risk for motor-vehicle crashes. And the more sleep deprivation piles on, the higher the crash risk goes. The study found drivers who slept less than 4 hours the night before had more than 11 times the crash rate as drivers who slept 7 or more hours a night.
The workplace becomes much less safe when you’re sleep deprived. According to the National Sleep Foundation, highly sleep-deprived workersare 70 percent more likely to be in work-related accidents than well rested workers.
Accident risks are often talked about in relation to obstructive sleep apnea—and it’s true, that the presence of OSA raises significantly your risk of accident and injury. But NOT having OSA doesn’t protect you against accidental injury, if you’re not getting enough sleep. No matter how your sleep is disrupted or cut short, you’re more vulnerable to accidents.
4. You don’t heal as quickly from illness and injury.
Your risks for coming down with an illness are greater when you’re sleep deprived, and it will take you longer to recover. There’s brand new research that suggests sleep is more important than nutrition to healing. The study is particularly interesting because the scientists set out to test how a nutritional boost might speed wound healing, even in the presence of sleep deprivation. Instead, they found it was sleep that really accelerated healing—and a lack of sleep slowed it down. This is consistent with other research showing that sleep deprivation slows the healing process.
Sleep has a powerful effect on the immune system, so it’s not just wound healing, but all forms of recovery from illness, injury, and disease that are affected by sleep.
If you’re sleep deprived, you not only weaken your immune system, but you also deprive yourself of the time when body naturally does some of its best work to heal and repair itself.
Remember, when you’re sleep deprived, you’re not just facing one of these issues: you’re more than likely grappling with all of them. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to shortchange your sleep because something else seems more important.
Are you struggling with snoring and sleeplessness? Your next visit at Downtown Dental could be the key to jump stary your healing. Snoring and sleep disturbances are often signs of obstructive sleep apnea, and your oral health could be to blame.
Most people don’t realize that mouth breathing is a complex health concern that can lead to sleep apnea, speech impediments, and improper facial growth.
If your child is mouth breathing, s/he can learn to change the habit. That’s where we come in. It’s our job to help patients learn how to change the habit and breathe properly. Learning how to breathe through the nose instead of the mouth prevents pediatric patients from a slew of serious health issues in adulthood, including sleep apnea, speech impediments, improper facial growth, and restricted oxygen flow to the brain and other tissues.
For some people, breathing through the mouth is due to nasal airway restriction, but for others an open mouth is simply a habit — their mouth rests in an open position when they’re not focused on keeping it closed. We call this either “open mouth resting posture” or "mouth breathing”
The natural position for healthy breathing is always with a closed mouth, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
Some adults are very aware of their open mouth habit, while others have never noticed it until they meet me. Most of the time, adult patients are self-conscious about their open mouth habit, and can’t understand why it’s so challenging for them to keep their lips together when they aren’t speaking or eating.
Does Mouth Breathing Actually Matter That Much?
While having an open mouth may seem like a silly thing to be concerned about, and even a simple problem to fix, it’s actually neither.
The Serious Health Effects of Mouth Breathing
Teeth and braces: If your mouth is open, it is impossible for you to have healthy tongue posture and swallowing habits. This will limit the growth potential of your palate which will create teeth problems, such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbite, overjet, a narrow arch, and a gummy smile. Due to these complications your braces will take longer and your treatment will be much more challenging for your orthodontist. Additionally, the stability of the alignment of your teeth will be compromised once your braces are removed. This means you are likely to experience orthodontic relapse and you may need braces again in the future.
Speech: When children have an open mouth, they are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. The most commonly associated speech problem is a lisp, or the inability to say “S” sounds correctly. Speech is affected because when you have an open mouth, you also have what we refer to as a “tongue thrust swallowing pattern.” This type of swallowing pattern causes the tongue to protrude, or push forward during speaking and swallowing.
Facial growth and development: It’s important to realize that growth is a very powerful force. A child with an open mouth will very likely grow into an adult with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, a smaller retruded jawline, and poor chin and neck definition. By closing the mouth and breathing through the nose, these negative growth patterns can be avoided and your child will grow to their ideal beauty and health potential.
Sleep and oxygen:When adults and children breathe through their mouths during the day, chances are very high that they also breathe through their mouths all night long as well. Mouth breathing at night, combined with an retruded jaw and smaller airway, are two symptoms directly connected to sleep apnea and altered levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the bloodstream. When less oxygen is able to reach the brain, learning and the ability to focus at school becomes a problem for many children. In adults, chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog are common symptoms related to these issues. During the day, mouth breathing results in poor origination of brain and other body tissues, higher CO2 levels in the body, and reduced oxygen intake in the lungs. Your nasal cavity is also not able to filter your air, removing viruses, bacteria, and other particles from the air you breath.
What Causes an Open Mouth or Mouth Breathing Habit?
It can be difficult to determine the root cause of an open mouth or mouth breathing habit. However, most people tend to have one or more of these three contributing factors:
They have (or had) a breathing or airway problem. Many open mouth habits can be traced back to breathing issues such as allergies, chronic colds/stuffy noses, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, asthma, a deviated nasal septum, and much more. The interesting thing to note is that once the airway problem is resolved, the habit remains. We see many children who have had their adenoids removed, but still breathe through their mouth. This is where myofunctional therapy comes in – muscle, swallowing, and breathing patterns often need to be relearned after the airway obstruction is eliminated.
They have (or had) a thumb or finger sucking habit. When the thumb is in the mouth, especially for an extended period of time, the oral and facial muscles will develop around this habit. If the thumb is in the mouth, the lips are not able to form a seal, and a tongue thrust swallowing pattern develops as well. Just because a child stops sucking his or her thumb does not mean the mouth breathing symptoms will go away. The same thing that occurs with airway issues often occurs with sucking habits – the habit is stopped, but the mouth breathing remains. Myofunctional therapy, along with orthodontic treatment, is often needed after a thumb/finger sucking habit has been eliminated.
They have (or had) a tongue-tie. A tongue-tie is serious medical condition—not just a common expression for when someone can’t get their words out. This condition may also be referred to as a restricted lingual frenum, or a tethered tongue. If a patient has this condition, they often need their tongue released through a simple surgical procedure in order to maintain a closed mouth posture. The position of the tongue plays a very important role in nasal breathing and growth and development, so if the tongue is limited by a physical restraint, it may be very difficult to stop mouth breathing. For patients who have a tongue-tie, they can be taught helpful exercises before and after their surgery, and eventually, they are able to close their mouth and breathe through their nose naturally and easily.
What Parents Can Do to Prevent Mouth Breathing
Now that you are aware of these symptoms, you can look for them in yourself or your child. You can get started by doing the following:
Monitor yourself or your child for mouth breathing and/or an open mouth resting posture. How often does it occur during the day?
Determine if you have any of the airway or breathing issues mentioned above, or if you’ve had them in the past.
Consider talking to a doctor who specializes in breathing and sleep. It may be time to have a sleep study done for you or your child. There are two types—at home, and in-clinic. Your doctor can help you determine the best option for you, and how to get started.
Have an evaluation with a myofunctional therapist/dentist. We screen our patients for all of these symptoms, as well as many others.
Bottom line: breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you are sleeping, can lead to problems. In children, mouth breathing can permanently change the child's growth trajectory causing crooked teeth, facial deformities, and limiting the child's health and lifespan. In adults, chronic mouth breathing can complicate and contribute to gum disease, bad breath, and many serious health conditions.
Sometimes cavities fly under the radar. Other times, though, cavity symptoms might make you feel like your mouth is a trainwreck.
Spoiler alert: cavities don't always hurt. In fact, many people assume they don’t have a cavity because they don’t feel anything. However, cavities don’t cause pain-at least not in the early stages. When they do start to cause pain, you have waited too long, and you will have to pay for more extensive treatments instead of quick and convenient ones. After all, you won’t feel pain until the cavity reaches the pulp in the center of your tooth. At that point, an abscess, or an infected hole could form around the tooth’s roots.Abscesses don’t just cause pain. They can also spread bacteria to neighboring teeth or even other areas throughout the body. So don’t wait for treatment if you have a cavity. It's like going to your physician for your annual examinations hoping for the reassurance that everything is fine with your body and that, overall, you are healthy. Sometimes, however, your doctor may detect an issue of concern and order further tests. Sometimes, these tests reveal an underlying condition even though you are feeling quite well and are experiencing no signs or symptoms – ones that you can detect that is! Clinically (with our eyes), we only see about a third of a person’s dental health which is why, in the absence of pain or signs and symptoms, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. 3D dental imaging at Downtown Dental provides valuable information that allows us to see areas of the tooth that is below the gum line as well as the bone that supports it. Being able to see the mouth in three dimensions allows the dentist to better and more effectively formulate an approach to treat dental conditions. Click here to learn more about laser assisted fillings at Downtown Dental.