[caption id="attachment_1911" align="aligncenter" width="584"] image via Unsplash[/caption] There's nothing like jamming a waxed piece of string between your tightest molars and sliding it back and forth. And who doesn't do that once a day, just as the dentist prescribes? Well, a lot of us. Twenty-seven percent of adults lie to their dentists about how often they floss their teeth, a survey released Tuesday found. Not only that, but more than a third of people surveyed would rather be doing unpleasant chores than flossing their teeth daily. Fourteen percent would rather clean the toilet. Nine percent would rather sit in gridlock traffic for an hour. And 7 percent would rather listen to small children crying on a plane. Actually, that 27 percent sounds awfully low. When we called up Dr. Joan Otomo-Corgel, a periodontist and president of the American Academy of Periodontology, which conducted the survey, she said: "Is that all?"
There's nothing like jamming a waxed piece of string between your tightest molars and sliding it back and forth. And who doesn't do that once a day, just as the dentist prescribes?
She's not the only oral health professional who thinks many patients are fibbing when they say they're flossing. "I am shocked," says Dr. Sally Cram, a periodontist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, via email. "Given my experience with patients in my practice I thought it would be higher!" Indeed, a similar survey by the dentists' association found that only 4 in 10 Americans floss every day; 20 percent never do. Some people find it so repulsive that they'd rather be doing nearly anything else. "Cleaning the toilet?" Otomo-Corgel laughs. "I don't think so. Maybe ironing." So what makes us hate flossing so much? "It's a lot of work," Otomo-Corgel admits. Though the ADA says it should only take an extra couple of minutes a day, it can seem like an eternity. The floss is hard to get between your teeth. It makes your gums bleed. It's slimy. Tiny particles of food are flung onto your bathroom mirror. And there's no immediate payoff, like the fresh-breath feeling you get from brushing your teeth. The benefits of flossing may be intangible, but they're real. Flossing helps by removing plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and saliva. This goop collects below your gum line and can eventually harden into tartar. If the bacteria cause inflammation, well, that's periodontal disease. Untreated it can lead to receding gums, tooth decay and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is extremely common; one in two people have it, Otomo-Corgel says. But it's preventable with proper oral hygiene. Which means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and seeing a dentist or periodontist regularly. Flossing correctly, Otomo-Corgel stresses. Bleeding is normal, because it means you're cleaning out infection; pain means you're doing it wrong. The ADA has a step-by-step guide, and even a video on how to floss right. What about alternatives to flossing, for those of us who would rather be in gridlock traffic? Proxabrushes are skinny brushes that fit between teeth. Stim-U-Dent picks or even regular toothpicks may work to remove plaque. But, Otomo-Corgel warns, if your teeth are close together, you'll need to use dental floss. "Flossing is simple once you've learned how," she says. And it's the best way to prevent gum disease, along with regular visits to the dentist. Who, by the way, can tell if you're lying. via NPR
Though the link between dental health and heart health is not completely clear, experts say it’s important to take care of both. Claiming around 610,000 lives each year, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.1 Did you know that research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums? Having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%, according to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.2 “Although the findings indicate a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, it’s still unclear whether one actually causes the other,” says the American Heart Association. The two conditions have some of the same risk factors, including smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes. Researchers believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the connection.3

Prevention is the best medicine

Regular healthy habits can lower your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. And, if you already have one or both of these conditions, these strategies can help reduce their impact:
  • Brush and floss regularly. To remove plaque-forming bacteria, brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, and don’t skip the floss.
  • Choose a healthy diet, rich in essential nutrients (especially vitamins A and C). Reduce or eliminate sugar and starches.
  • Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These habits can destroy your gums and increase your chance of heart disease.
    • 1CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015.
    • 2Rydén L, Buhlin K, Ekstrand E, et al. Periodontitis increases the risk of a first myocardial infarction: A report from the PAROKRANK study. 2016.
    • 3Jeffcoat et al. Impact of periodontal therapy on general health: evidence from insurance data for five systemic conditions. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014;47(2):166-74.
    • 4Gum Disease and Heart Disease. American Academy of Periodontology. Dec. 2016. http://www.perio.org/consumer/heart_disease
    via Delta Dental
[caption id="attachment_1597" align="aligncenter" width="900"]istockphoto.com istockphoto.com[/caption] It’s the most wonderful time of the year… holiday parties, social occasions galore and, of course, mistletoe! Whether you’re holiday plans are filled with company parties or gatherings with old friends, the last thing you want to do is make an unpleasant impression with bad breathe, teeth stains, or spinach and artichoke dip stuck in your teeth. How can you keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh during your holiday parties and get togethers without going to the bathroom every 5 minutes to check in the mirror or brush your teeth? Here are 3 simple tips: Drink to your health (and your breath). If you want to keep your smile bright, you should avoid drinking soda, black tea, coffee and red wine, which can stain your teeth. If you do drink these, the best way to avoid stains is to rinse your mouth with water immediately after consuming these beverages. Water helps keep bad breath under control because it washes away food particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. It also helps you avoid “dry mouth,” another cause of bad breath, by staying well-hydrated. Take advantage of the healthy holiday snacks. While the spread at many holiday parties consists of lots of sweets and libations, there are some healthy holiday snacks that can keep your teeth clean and your breathe fresh. Parsley and peppermint are two staples during the holiday season and can be extremely helpful when you’re in desperate need. Parsley is a breath-saver because it contains chlorophyll, a known breath deodorizer. You can also splash a drop of peppermint oil into your sparkling water and you are good to go for hours. We wouldn’t recommend it in your beer though. Keep quick cleaning basics close by. It might be impossible for you to brush your teeth each time you eat or between parties. Portable oral care basics like floss, Whisps, and mouthwash are great ways for a quick freshen up. They can also help remove the bacteria from hidden spaces that can’t be flushed out just by drinking water. Whatever your plans are this holiday, we hope that your days (and your teeth) will be merry and white. Happy Holidays from our entire staff!
Oral-B unveils the world's first 'smart brush'Leading dental manufacturer Oral B has unveiled a state of the art smart brush that uses sensors to follow the path of the brush.
Named Genius, the new brush works alongside an app, so you can use your phone to track your brushing progress and highlight potential areas of weakness. Research used to develop the product suggests that 80 percent of people aren’t brushing their teeth for long enough or paying enough attention to each quadrant of the mouth. 60 percent of people miss the molars at the back of the mouth completely or devote less time to them than other teeth. Most patients aren’t brushing their teeth properly and this is contributing to an increased risk of oral disease. Even the most conscientious individual may be missing out key areas or spending less time on one part of the mouth than others. This new system detects brushing problems and encourages you to correct them and learn how to get the best out of your toothbrush. Sensors in the brush track the movement of the head, while the smart phone camera utilizes video recognition to follow the brush around the mouth. Oral B revealed the exciting new product at the MWC 2016 in Barcelona. It is expected to be available in the summer. Learn more about the new smart brush
Are energy drinks bad for your teeth? Downtown Dental I Nashville, TNEnergy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, boosting the risk of cavities, according to an American Journal of Dentistry study. The big misconception is that energy drinks and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health, but studies disproves that, because they erode or thin out the enamel of the teeth, leaving them more susceptible to decay and sensitivity.

The drinks are especially popular among teens and young adults. Up to half of U.S. teens and young adults drink energy drinks, and more than half have at least one sports drink a day, according to the researchers.

Researcher Poonam Jain, BDS, MPH, associate professor and director of community dentistry at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and her team tested 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks for acidity. They tested six drinks for their effects on tooth enamel and found both types caused damage. Energy drinks, however, were twice as bad. Remember:damaged tooth enamel cannot be fixed.

Jain's team immersed enamel samples from extracted human teeth into three sports drinks and three energy drinks.

They tested the acidity levels of all 22 drinks. They found the levels of acidity in the drinks vary between brands and between flavors of the same brands.

Sports drinks, energy drinks, and teeth: study details

Up to half of U.S. teens and young adults drink energy drinks, and more than half have at least one sports drink a day, according to the researchers. Other study results included:

Gatorade Blue had the highest acidity among sports drinks. Next was Hydr8.

Among the energy drinks with the highest acidity:

  • Red Bull Sugar=free
  • Monster Assault
  • 5-hour Energy
  • Von Dutch
  • Rockstar

MDX had the lowest acidity of the energy drinks.

The sports drinks tested were:

  • Gatorade Rain
  • Powerade Option
  • Propel Grape

The energy drinks tested were:

  • Monster Assault
  • Red Bull
  • 5-hour Energy

The enamel samples were immersed in the drinks for 15 minutes. The researchers transferred the enamel to artificial saliva for two hours.

This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days. The beverages were replaced with fresh ones every day.

The cycle was meant to simulate real life, Jain says, as some teens and young adults drink the beverages every few hours.

Enamel loss was evident after five days of exposure, Jain says.

The average enamel lost with sports drinks was about 1.5%, while the average loss with energy drinks was more than 3%. Jain says she cannot pinpoint what percent of enamel loss would cause problems.

Advice for sports drink lovers

Even one drink a day is potentially harmful, Jain says.

"If the consumer is absolutely unable to give them up, the best advice is to minimize [their use] and rinse with water afterwards," she says.

"Dilute them," she says. Do not brush immediately after drinking them, she says, as this could spread around the acid. "The mouth takes about 30 minutes to bring the pH back to normal. Wait an hour after drinking the sports or energy drink, to be safe, then brush."

It is very important to read labels on any drink you choose to prevent the cavities and gum disease that these drinks can cause. Also, be aware that the cream and sugar you put in your in the morning has the same effect as other high sugar drinks.

The best drink of choice for the health of your teeth and gums is plain water. We're realistic though, and understand this can be difficult for anyone to regularly practice. If you’re going to have a soda or sweetened drink, be careful to drink them all in one sitting rather than sipping for a long time, and try to have a drink of water when you’re finished.

[caption id="attachment_1265" align="aligncenter" width="736"]via WorldDental.org via WorldDental.org[/caption]
IMG_4643With summer in full swing, you might start craving some of your favorite hot weather treats. What could be better than a fun family barbecue, a trip to the fair, or a refreshing popsicle by the pool? Read on to learn more about how your favorite summer treats can affect your dental health and what you can do to maintain your smile.

Healthy Snack Options

Summer offers a bounty of food options that can improve your overall well-being and enhance your dental health. These include:
  • Corn: This plant is at its prime sweetness during the hottest months of the year. It can be delicious when grilled, barbequed, or steamed, either on the cob or off of it. Corn is rich in important compounds that benefit dental health, including phosphorous, magnesium, thiamin, fiber, and vitamin C. Just make sure to floss after enjoying your corn so that it doesn’t remain stuck between your teeth for the rest of the day.
  • Salads: crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and vibrant carrots make up a healthy summer salad. In addition to providing important nutrients and fiber, raw vegetables can naturally scrub debris from your teeth to keep them shiny and clean.
  • Fish: Many people enjoy lighter meals during the summer, and fish is an excellent protein option for this purpose. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help fight gum disease and benefit your general health.
  • Berries: One of the best parts of summer is enjoying sweet, luscious, delectable berries. 1-800-Dentist points out that “ripe, juicy, red strawberries are the perfect snack for self proclaimed ‘sugar addicts’ as the perfect berry will taste better than any candy out there, minus the risks and with vitamins and minerals essential for fueling the human body.” Berries often contain vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and even cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Less Than Ideal Summertime Treats

Unfortunately, while they’re tasty, some of our favorite summer foods aren’t the best for our teeth. The barbeque sauce that gives a special zing to your ribs and steaks on the grill can be spicy or acidic, wearing down your enamel. Many people also enjoy sipping on sweet cocktails on vacation or out by the pool, but these sugary beverages can feed decay-causing bacteria. Cold treats like frozen popsicles and ice creams can also coat your mouth in sticky syrup, contributing to dental plaque on your teeth and even beneath your gums. Munching on potato chips or other starchy snacks can also contribute to plaque formation. While they are delectable, we recommend limiting your consumption of these types of summertime treats and remaining especially conscientious about your oral hygiene if you do.

Summer Smile Suggestions

In addition to enjoying healthy summer foods and limiting your consumption of potentially damaging treats, you can take simple, proactive steps to improve your oral hygiene this summer. These include:
  • Drinking plenty of water. Especially in summer heat, staying hydrated is very important. Dr. Flanagan and our team recommend swishing your mouth with water after eating to wash away debris and improve your saliva flow.
  • Chewing xylitol gum. This artificial sweetener tastes great and can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Setting aside specific snacking times. Munching on sugary, starchy treats throughout the day constantly exposes your teeth to them, raising your risk for decay and other dental issues. Limiting your summer food fun to specific times can help you relish your treats while preserving your smile.
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth. You should brush at least twice per day and floss at least once.
  • Coming in to our practice for regular cleanings and examinations. Dr. Clark recommends that patients come in at least twice a year for a check-up. Attending these routine visits allows us to catch and treat any oral health conditions before they worsen.

Enjoy Summer Refreshments and a Dazzling Grin

By taking advantage of wholesome summer treats, avoiding certain snacks, and keeping up your oral hygiene regimen, you can appreciate everything the season has to offer while maintaining your smile.