Am I Flossing Right?

girl holding floss by her teeth in chandler

Knowing how and how often to floss properly is essential for keeping good oral hygiene. Flossing removes plaque that can develop between your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by cleaning the tight spaces in between teeth that your toothbrush can’t seem to reach. Take the time to learn how to floss properly to ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Floss Once a Day

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing your teeth once a day. If you get into the habit of flossing before you go to bed at night, you won’t need to worry about flossing more than that. Excessive flossing is ineffective and can actually cause damage and irritation to sensitive gum tissue.

Use a Gentle Touch

It’s important to be gentle when flossing. Many people apply a lot of pressure or use a vigorous sawing motion, thinking this will get their teeth clean. But this kind of forceful flossing can lead to bleeding gums. Instead, floss lightly. Do not force or snap the floss against the gums. Try to use the side of the tooth to slide the floss gently into place.

Standard Floss: Waxed vs. Unwaxed

What is the difference between waxed and unwaxed floss, even if it’s just a preference? Nylon floss comes in both varieties, and there are some pros and cons to each. Waxed floss glides more easily between teeth, snaps less often and is softer against your gumline. Unwaxed floss can be more effective in parsing out fine debris particles and for reaching between crowded teeth, but it can snap and snare on teeth. Shredded floss can occur when you have rough surfaces in your mouth, such as uneven teeth, old fillings or braces. Likewise, constant snaring may injure gums and cause discomfort or bleeding.

close up of floss and teeth male

Unfortunately, many people disregard this wisdom, with statistics published in U.S. News and World Report showing that only about one-third of the U.S. population flosses daily. But common or uncommon, it’s integral to preventing tooth loss and gum disease.

How often should I floss?

You should floss at least once a day, and do so by moving the floss in a push-pull and up-and-down motion between your teeth. To get the best results, particularly if you have braces or other oral considerations, it’s always best to seek your dentist’s instruction on the best way to floss your teeth.

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No one likes to hear it, but it’s worse not to know it: You have bad breath.

We all know the usual culprits of bad breath, garlic and onion take the typical top spots on the list. However, you can’t fully blame them because there are some non obvious foods that can spoil your freshness even further. We’ll even show you how to manage them so they don’t ruin your day around co-workers or friends.

1. Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Having that second beer at the bar or energy drink for a little pick me up, might not be in your best interests. Like coffee, alcohol and caffeine from energy drinks can be dehydrating on the body. When your body starts to dehydrate, your mouth dries out, which causes bacteria to build up. According to Lisa Harper Mallonee, B.S.D.H., M.P.H., R.D., L.D., associate professor at Texas A&M University, “the drying of the mouth fosters some foul smells,” she says. “Using mouthwash containing alcohol on your already dry mouth can temporarily take away odor, but it leaves your mouth even drier later.”

There is no magic fix to take away bad breath from energy drinks or alcohol. However, if you’re breath reeks, it’s important to hydrate by drinking electrolytes or coconut water. Try drinking a glass of water per every pint of beer you drink. This will also help you the next morning if you had too much to drink.

butter on block sliced
yogurt with blackberries in cup

2. Dairy

This one might be hard for some to avoid, but we all know the risk of stinky cheeses and milk. “Dairy does linger in the mouth,” says Mallonee. Some people that are lactose intolerant don’t have sufficient enzymes to break down the dairy.

A way to get rid of the bad breath from dairy is to actually eat more dairy. Sound counteractive, right? Mallonee goes on to explain that you can swap out cheese and milk for yogurt, which contains live probiotics that will assist your body in processing the food.

3. Candy

Candy doesn’t just rot your teeth, it also leaves your breath with a stinky scent. The sugar mixed with the bacteria in your mouth isn’t the most pleasant combination which releases smelly sulfur compounds, says Mallonee. Since candy is hard to remove from your teeth, it increases the time bacteria and sugar can react, leaving you with bad breath for longer.

A quick fix is to brush your teeth and your tongue. Your tongue harbors a lot of bacteria from the foods we eat, so brushing it can help eliminate some odors. Flossing is also a good way to remove any extra particles of food that get stuck in-between your teeth.

random sugar candy piled up
stead dinner with vegetables on plate

4. Red Meat

Enjoying a fine steak at dinner might be a great way to celebrate success. And, although, protein is a vital nutrient in our diet, remnants in your oral cavity can product some awful smells. Choosing other meats such as chicken or fish, won’t leave you with the same problem.

The best way to freshen up is with a stick of gum. The rubbing and chewing motion can remove food particles and buildup. Our bodies need red meet, so it’s not smart to avoid red meats in general. Believe it or not, chewing gum produces more saliva, which helps flush out food particles. An ingredient in gum known as xylitol, has been proven to be a bacteria killer, says Mallonee. She recommends purchasing Spry Xylitol Gum, which contains 100% xylitol, like Trident.

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boy and girl brushing their teeth

Brushing your teeth might not be your favorite thing, but it has to be done to so we don’t develop gingivitis, cavities or other dental diseases. Yet, it seems almost impossible to get kids excited about their dental health. Here are our 6 tricks that can work wonders for you and your children.

1. Do it together

Brushing along with your child, makes it easy to ensure they’re doing it and it can also make it a fun activity for them. When they see a role model or adult doing it, they think it’s a good thing to do, which it is! When you are a working parent, kids look forward to planned “together time.” It doesn’t’ matter if its reading a book together or brushing your teeth. Also, if they see you are committed to it, it will encourage them to start feeling the same way

Manual toothbrush colors

2. Let them choose

There’s a reason why grocery stores offer various types of toothbrushes for adults and hundreds of variations for kids. Kids don’t always make a lot of decisions in their life, but they might feel empowered when they can choose the look of their toothbrush. It’s like having a favorite stuffed animal or doll they play with. It’s the same for a toothbrush.

3. Make it a game

We know kids get distracted easily. If brushing your teeth together doesn’t work, it might be time to find a way to make it a game. Come up with some simple challenges or games to keep them brushing. Even playing a song while brushing can encourage good health. Furthermore, you could try making bubbles with the toothpaste or create fun analogies to their favorite activities to keep them brushing longer.

4. Set up a reward system

Some children are motivated by rewards, no matter how small they might be. By setting up a reward system, you can encourage consistent tooth cleaning. For example, if they remember to brush, you can get them their favorite snack or cook them their favorite breakfast. Or create a star chart like they have in school. After a week of consistent brushing, give them a weekend reward.

5. Use books and videos

Kids are easily attracted and influenced by books and videos. Luckily when your kids gets bored of brushing with you, you can turn to books and resources out there that offer fun lessons on how and why to brush. You can probably find hundreds of cartoon videos on YouTube of children having fun while brushing, which shows to your child that they can have fun, too.

6. Invest in an electric toothbrush

Sometimes a manual toothbrush isn’t enough to have fun. Electric toothbrushes can be expensive for working parents and they may tend to pass on buying one for a kid that is just going to grow out of it. Nonetheless, the small investment can really go a long way. Especially if your child is already having trouble getting excited about brushing. Electric toothbrushes are actually better at cleaning your teeth and can be more like a toy for your kid as it tickles and makes funny noises. Just make sure you teeth them how to properly use it beforehand.

All in all, most kids won’t become consistent brushers just because you tell them to. Encouraging your child to brush using fun and creative ways can make it an enjoyable experience for them. This will create better dental habits for them.

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gum disease dental checkup

Our gums are the most overworked and often under appreciated part of the body. We always hear how important it is to brush our teeth, but what about our gums? They’re sole job is to hold our teeth in place and keep our mouth healthy. Our body’s overall health depends on healthy gums.

What is Gum Disease?

You’ve heard the term used many times, but what actually is gum disease? It is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t brush or floss properly, bacteria builds up around the gums. This buildup causes inflammation and irritation called gingivitis which is a mild form of gum disease. This is the bodies response to fighting the bacteria. Left untreated, the bacteria gets deeper in-between the gums and teeth. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, where the bacteria and body’s continual response can actually tear down the connection between the gums and teeth.

It’s been reported by the CDC that more than 47% of adults living in the United States have some form of gum disease. That’s nearly half of all adults live-in the the U.S. and you wonder why your dentist always reminds you to brush after every meal?

Gum disease has many evident symptoms that you can check for. Here are some of them:

  • – Bad breath that you can’t get rid of
  • – Painful gums that are red to the touch
  • – Sensitive teeth
  • – Loose teeth
  • – Bleeding gums
  • – Receding gums or loss of gums

How Does Gum Disease Affect Other Body Parts?

You can obviously lose your teeth due to severe gum disease, but it doesn’t stop there. Once your teeth rot, other body systems may be directly affected. Gum disease has been tied to other serious health concerns and can make existing conditions much worse.

Lung and respiratory System

Since your immune system is already fighting the infection in your mouth due to gum disease, the body becomes weaker. This makes it easier to contract respiratory illnesses not limited to pneumonia and bronchitis. This is especially fatal to patients that are elderly or young and should be monitored very closely.

doctor checkup for respiratory infection

Fertility and Pregnancy

There has been several identified factors common with gum disease that could effect a mother and her unborn baby. On average, it takes a mother with gum disease two to three months longer to conceive than women who don’t have any signs of gum disease.

Women who are pregnant are actually at a higher chance of developing gum disease believe it or not. Nearly 40% off all women who are pregnant will get gum disease at some point during their pregnancy. In many cases the gum disease will go away on its own but those who do not take proper care of their teeth and gums could be at a higher risk of having premature babies with a low birth weight.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Gum disease has been proven in many cases to be associated with heart disease and risk of stroke. More commonly, people with gum disease are also linked to smokers, genetics, have a presence of diabetes and more. Continued research is being done to show how bacteria and inflammation collected in the mouth might be connected with bacteria in the arteries which can cause certain types of heart disease.

How to Prevent Gum Disease in 3 Steps

If nearly half of all adults have some form of gum disease, should we just give up and expect to live with it?  Absolutely not!  Gum disease is treatable and most of the time can be fully cured.  Your dentist can often detect the presence of gum disease or the signs it may be developing before you notice symptoms, so the best defense is a great offense.

  1. Brush your teeth every day to remove this bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, and to help avoid cavities.
  2. Floss each day in order to remove the bacteria from between your teeth and around the gum line. Mouth wash is also recommend and can keep bad breath under control.
  3. Regular checkups and professional cleanings by a dentist or hygienist will help to remove any plaque, build-up (calculus) and bacteria that we aren’t able to reach during your regular oral hygiene routine at home.
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