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hygiene

Recommended Dental Home Care Products

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Recommended Dental Home Care Products

On a daily basis we are making recommendations to patients regarding products to improve their oral health care routine at home. We decided to consolidate our list for patients' easy access. Have any additional questions? Drop us a line!

Toothpaste

Winner: Tom's of Maine
Amazon Link: With Fluoride or Without Fluoride  or Children's

We like the fluoride version to help prevent cavities, but they offer non-flouridated version too. In general, our hygienist, Jordon, recommends looking for the ADA seal when deciding on a toothpaste. She says, "It means the product is scientifically supported. It has met the safety criteria and is proven to be effective." 

Toothbrush

Winner: Phillips Sonicare (Any model! You don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles)
Amazon Link

We love Sonicare toothbrushes! We don't even go on vacation without them. They are great for getting below the gum line which lowers plaque levels. They are also great for people with a loss of dexterity due to age or health conditions, as the toothbrush does most of the work for you through its unique sonic technology.

Go with a soft bristle head. Contrary to popular belief, hard bristles are not more effective and can cause damage to gums.  Remember to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if using Sonicare) every 3 months or sooner if bristles look worn. 

Electric Dental Flosser

Winner: Sonicare AirFloss
Amazon Link

This product is great for flushing out debris. It is a fantastic options for patients with deep periodontal pockets (periodontal disease), complex restorative work, food traps or braces. Just remember that it is not meant to take the place of regular flossing. Another popular option is the brand Waterpik - we like these too, we just happen to prefer AirFloss. 

Mouthwash + Rinse

Winner: Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol
Amazon Link 

Adding a mouth rinse to your hygiene routine is a great idea. We suggest rinsing after you floss to help remove any debris that was dislodged. Our favorite is the Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol. It contains fluoride to help fight cavities and getting one that does not contain alcohol takes the harsh alcohol "sting" out of the process which can dissuade a lot of patients from using it regularly. 

Floss

Winner: POH No Wax Floss (great reviews online)
Amazon Link

The bottom line with floss is that any type of floss is better than none! Our recommendations are light in this category as it is mostly up to personal preference. Some tips from Jordon:

  • If reaching the back teeth is difficult, try floss with a handle
  • If shredding around crowns or fillings, try Glide floss
  • Superfloss is great for under bridges, implants and braces
  • A floss threader-aid can help get floss under bridges or braces as well. 

Interproximal Brushes

Winner: Interprox Plus
Amazon Link 

Interproximal brushes are great for larger spaces where floss is too thin. Also great for complex restorative areas. 

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Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

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Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it's likely that you or someone close to you is pregnant. Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, including changes related to your oral health. These are primarily due to a surge in hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These same hormones which are integral to your growing baby can exaggerate the way your gums react to plaque. 

If plaque is not properly removed, it can cause gingivitis - marked by swollen, red gums which are more likely to bleed. You may notice an increase of bleeding from brushing or flossing. There’s a condition referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis” which affects most pregnant women and can begin as early as the second month. If you have gingivitis prior to becoming pregnant, your condition is likely to worsen. If left untreated, this can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease and, because it is incurable, it will continue to affect you long after pregnancy. 

Occasionally, women also develop inflammatory, non-cancerous growths when their gums become irritated while pregnant. These growths, called “pregnancy tumors”, are usually harmless and can be left alone. They will generally reduce in size, until they disappear completely, after birth. If you have a tumor that is uncomfortable or interferes with your hygiene routine or chewing, let us know. Dr. Kivel may decide to remove it.  

Preventing Problems

Of course, we recommend excellent oral hygiene at all stages of life. But we understand that pregnancy creates additional risks and additional motivation for staying healthy. During this time, you’ll want to keep your teeth very clean, especially near the gumline. Brush at least twice a day, and after every meal if possible. For some women, brushing can contribute to feelings of morning sickness. If this happens to you, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque mouthwashes and brush when you can. Floss thoroughly each day. 

Feel free to book more frequent than normal cleanings with Soulsmile at this time to supplement your own efforts. 

“Can gingivitis affect my baby?”

Unfortunately, there is research that suggests a link between gum disease and preterm, low-birthweight babies. In recent years we’ve come to realize that bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums and is linked to many serious issues, including heart disease. So it is not surprising to find that this can affect your pregnancy as well. The current theory proposes that when the bacteria travels to the uterus it triggers the production of prostaglandins, which are suspected to contribute to premature labor. The best prevention for this is excellent hygiene! 

“When should I visit Soulsmile?”

If you are pregnant or suspect you are, we’d encourage a visit right away! A checkup in your first trimester allows Dr. Kivel to assess your oral health and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy. A second trimester cleaning will let us monitor any changes and make sure the gums are being properly cleaned. 

“Are there dental procedures I should avoid?”

Routine care can generally be performed throughout pregnancy, but the best time for treatment is the fourth through sixth month. Your obstetrician may be consulted for dental emergencies that require anesthesia or if medication needs to be prescribed. Elective procedures should generally be delayed until after birth. 

Congratulations again! Please contact us if you’d like to schedule a visit or if you have any questions about related to your own pregnancy. 

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Q&A Spotlight: Periodontal Maintenance vs. Prophylaxis

Often times, we get asked by patients, “What’s the difference between a normal cleaning a periodontal maintenance, and why does it cost more?” This is a great question and the answer has a few parts to it. 

First, let's establish that a “normal” cleaning (prophylaxis) is for a healthy mouths. This includes procedures that address plaque, calculus and stains on the coronal portion of the tooth. “Coronal” means relating to the crown of the tooth, above the gumline. The typical patient who should receive prophylaxis comes to routine (every 6 months) hygiene appointments, exhibits excellent home care habits and has healthy tissues with no bleeding when probed or flossed. When they have a periodontal evaluation and charting session, probings are measured at 4mm or less. 

Next, let’s cover periodontal maintenance and scaling. This is an ongoing therapeutic procedure to treat periodontitis, which is a chronic and incurable (but controllable) bacterial infection. The primary objective is below the gumline - removal of dentin that is rough and/or permeated by calculus and contaminated with toxins and microorganisms. Some soft tissue removal also occurs. This type of procedure requires more skill and expertise than a prophylaxis. 

Periodontal disease overwhelms a patient’s defenses and spurs the immune system to initiate a breakdown of supporting tooth structures (bone loss). It is also episodic. These type of destructive episodes can be triggered by stress, disease or other problems unbeknownst to the patient. The three-month interval recommendation for perio maintenance is not arbitrary. It is based on the behavior of the bacteria. After periodontal maintenance therapy, periodontal pathogens aggregate on the biofilm and become the predominant species of bacteria again in three to 12 weeks. This means that by the 12th week, or 3 months, the periodontal “bugs” are flourishing again. That’s when we should reduce their numbers again. After discovery of periodontal disease, it is important to stay vigilant in controlling and monitoring through periodontal therapy. 

To value a periodontal maintenance it is necessary to understand that it is different from a regular cleaning because you are controlling disease with therapy versus simply cleaning teeth. 

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Toothbrush Selection

There are so many toothbrushes on the market – how do you choose? Angled heads, electric brushes, ergonomic handles, biodegradable, etc. All these choices can make it tough to decide which brush is right for you. In this article, we’ll decode some of these options and help steer you in the right direction.  

What’s the Difference Between Hard and Soft?

When we talk about “hard” or “soft” toothbrushes, we are referring to the stiffness of bristles on a toothbrush. In theory, stiffer bristles are designed to better remove plaque, food bits and staining. However, our recommendation is to always go for a softer brush. This simple fact is that most people actually brush too hard! Brushing too vigorously is compounded when using a hard-bristled brush and can cause damage to sensitive gum tissue - especially near the gum line.

So next time you come across a hard toothbrush, save it for cleaning the kitchen grout instead!

Natural or Synthetic Bristles?

Most toothbrushes are made from a synthetic material. However, recent advances have been made to promote the production and usage of natural material toothbrushes – for both bristles and handles. Popular materials for these types of brushes are plant or wood fiber. In our opinion, either is fine for your pearly whites, but we love the idea of toothbrushes which are better for the environment! Try a natural toothbrush out when you have the opportunity.

Heads and Handles

There are almost infinite possibilities in brush and head styles. Rather than take too much time describing them all, we’ll get down to business. Here’s what you need to know: It doesn’t matter much. Instead of getting weighed down by the choices, just choose one that’s comfortable to use and inspires excellent hygiene (cheetah print anyone?).

Electric or Manual?

This is where we’ll make our strongest recommendation. We are huge fans of electric toothbrushes! They are powerful and easy to apply the right pressure with. Another great benefit is that many models come with a timer, encouraging people to brush for a full two minutes more often than they normally would. A study by the American Dental Association found that most people brush for only a minute and half.

In addition, the sonic waves emitted by the vibrating brush are proven to be more effective at loosening food and plaque. We had a patient in Invisalign treatment compare brushing her aligners with a manual toothbrush after forgetting her electric brush on a two week vacation. After the experiment, she claimed she would never use a manual toothbrush again! She said the difference, when she could actually see what she was brushing (opposed to the teeth in your own mouth), was an obvious one.

Finding “The One”

Still wondering which toothbrush is best? Don’t worry about it too much. Consistency in your dental hygiene makes a bigger impact on your dental health than any style of toothbrush. Brush two times a day, floss daily and keep your regular hygiene appointments.

If you still have questions about choosing a toothbrush or any other dental care topics, feel free to drop us a line. 

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You Can See What We See: Digital Dental Intraoral Cameras

We have a special post this week, written by our fantastic hygienist, Pam. Over to her ...

You’ll love our intra-oral camera!  You will now get to see up close and in detail, the state of your teeth. Our intra-oral camera is a small pen-like device that connects to our computer and a large monitor so that you can see what we see as we check out your teeth.

Benefits to you –

The intra-oral camera makes going to the dentist easier, provides patients with a greater understanding of their dental health and allows patients to be more interactive.

Early Detection of Dental Health Problems

The intra-oral camera enlarges your teeth to almost 40 times their actual size on a color screen display. By zooming in on problems we are able to see more than we could with the human eye alone. Often we can find the beginnings of dental disease (like decay and periodontal disease) that may have otherwise gone undetected.

Positive Patient Interaction

The intra-oral camera isn’t just a diagnostic instrument, but a great educational one as well. Most people cannot see into their own mouths, but with the camera we can point out areas of concern and the patient can see exactly what we see. This allows for a better understanding of oral conditions and creates an opportunity to ask questions and become part of the discovery process.

Great Record Keeping

The intra-oral camera helps make record keeping simple. The camera can take pictures of decay or the beginning of an oral condition and save images to a patient’s file. We can accurately track the progress of treatment or problems for years. In addition, we can print and send images to specialists and insurance companies.

The Intra-Oral Camera 

Because it is so small, the camera can reveal images of your teeth and tissues from angles previously unseen. Using the intra-oral camera is completely sanitary, as we use a different disposable camera cover for each patient every time. All images can be digitally stored, printed or discarded following an exam.

- Pamela Philips, RDH

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October is National Dental Hygiene Month

This October marks the sixth straight year that the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) is presenting National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM), with the Association and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program (WOHP) working collaboratively to increase public awareness about the importance of maintaining good oral health.

This year's focus is on the four components of good oral care maintenance: brushing teeth twice a day, flossing every single day, rinsing with antimicrobial mouthrinse and chewing sugar-free gum (optional). We'd like to take this opportunity to remind our wonderful patients to "do the daily 4". During your next visit with Pam, let's start a conversation about how to integrate good oral health habits into your own daily routine. This practices will not only lead to a healthy mouth, but also contribute to improved overall health. 

“Each and every day, dental hygienists educate patients of all ages and walks of life on the value and importance of good oral health habits. The Daily 4 regimen is a great habit to implement, and talking to patients about brushing, flossing, rinsing and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production in between brushings is a great way to open a conversation before discussing patient-specific oral care needs,” said ADHA President Jill Rethman, RDH, BA. “The Daily 4 is simple and effective and can help patients have a bright smile, fresh breath and healthy gums. The ADHA is grateful to the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program for their commitment to help dental hygienists have this conversation with patients — a conversation that can have a huge impact on their oral and overall health. ”

If you want to check out some of the festivities going on this month, use the hashtag #NDHM2015 online to find pictures and stories. 

 

 

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