Clever Uses for Your Old Toothbrush

Most dentists recommend that patients replace their toothbrushes every three to four months. About this time, the bristles start to wear out or become frayed, which makes the tool less effective. You should also replace your toothbrush right away if you have been sick so that you don’t re-infect yourself.

Once you are done with the toothbrush, you don’t have to immediately toss it in the trash. These creative opportunities will allow you to put that old toothbrush to good use.

Dust the keyboard
The precision of the bristles makes it a cinch to get between the keys.

Eliminate stains
If you get spots on your carpet or upholstery, an old toothbrush will enable you to really scrub the soiled area and remove the stain.

Touch up your roots
For those who dye their own hair, an old toothbrush is the perfect tool for applying color to specific areas.

Dislodge dirt from under your nails
Gardening will help your plants grow, but will also make your manicure look less than appealing. With an old toothbrush, you can say good-bye to grimy nails.

Polish jewelry
To make your favorite pieces sparkle, use an old toothbrush and a tab of toothpaste to restore their beauty.

Clean bike chains
If you don’t want to look like a mechanic after taking grease off the chains, you can grab an old toothbrush and easily finish the job.

Remove silk strings off ears of corn
Before boiling corn, wipe the ears with an old toothbrush to eliminate the corn silk and keep it out of your teeth.

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Test Your Dental Knowledge

How much do you really know about your mouth? Most people understand basic brushing and flossing, but they may not realize the myriad of factors that influence dental health. Knowing how your lifestyle impacts your teeth and gums can help you make the best choices to protect your smile.

True or False: You don’t need to floss every day.
Answer: False. Brushing alone won’t protect your mouth from decay or gum disease. Floss gets hard-to-reach areas, cleaning out the plaque and bacteria that wreak havoc on your oral health.

True or False: Taking care of your tongue is important, so you should brush it regularly.
Answer: True. The tiny bumps on your tongue called papillae trap food and bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Brushing twice a day will keep your breath smelling great.

True or False: Soft drinks and sports drinks don’t damage teeth.
Answer: False. These beverages, as well as red wine and fruit juices, can lead to enamel erosion. It’s best to stick with water, but if you consume these drinks, rinse your mouth when you finish.

True or False: It’s okay to put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice or milk.
Answer: False. When you let your baby or toddler fall asleep with anything but water, you increase the risk of baby bottle tooth decay. This condition occurs because of prolonged bottle feeding, usually during sleep. Young children don’t have good plaque removal, so these beverages provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

True or False: Fluoride reduces decay 20 to 40 percent.
Answer: True. Drinking water with fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria in your mouth produce. Since fluoride was added to the drinking water supplies across the country, childhood cavity rates have dramatically dropped.

 

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Dealing with Cold Sores and Fever Blisters

Fun in the summer sun can cause unpleasant side effects such as cold sores and fever blisters. Brought on by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), cold sores and fever blisters are transmitted from person to person by saliva or by skin contact. With cold sores, you generally develop clusters of tiny blisters on the lip. Most people are exposed to HSV-1 before age 10. After the first infection, the virus remains inactive until stress, illness, or sun exposure causes a new outbreak.

During the first exposure, you may have headache, nausea, fever, and/or vomiting. Patients may also have painful swelling and open mouth sores. Most of the time, cold sores or fever blisters appear on the edges of your lips. Usually, these outbreaks start with tingling or burning followed by swelling or redness. One or more blisters will typically appear within 24 to 48 hours.

Initial symptoms can last for 7 to 14 days. When the cold sores or blisters reappear, they generally crust over in about four days and then heal within 10 days. You may want to visit your doctor or dentist the first time you develop cold sores or fever blisters, but after that, you shouldn’t need medical attention. Keep the area clean and apply topical medication to lessen symptoms as well as promote healing.

Preventing a first infection for loved ones involves making sure that no one with an active fever blister kisses your kids or other family members. Sunscreen can help protect your lips from cold sores brought on by too much time in the sun.

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How Does Chewing Gum Affect my Teeth?

Gone are the days when chewing gum is considered poor etiquette. In today’s society, you can find people chewing gum in business meetings, church, and just about every other situation. With gum chewing so prevalent, you may have wondered what it’s doing to people’s teeth. You may be surprised to learn that research shows that chewing sugarless gum has a number of dental benefits. Let’s see how it can actually be a helpful addition to your oral care routine.

Saliva flow
Chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva in your mouth, which rinses away food particles. Saliva also neutralizes acids that result from bacteria in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. Known to carry with it calcium and phosphate, increased saliva flow also helps strengthen your tooth enamel.

ADA acceptance
Choose gum with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal, indicating it as met the required safety and effectiveness criteria. This approval means that you can trust the gum’s packaging and labeling to be true.

Sugarless
The only gums carrying the ADA Seal are sugarless. They contain sweeteners that don’t cause cavities, like aspartame, mannitol, sorbitol, or xylitol. Chewing gum with xylitol is especially recommended, because it has been shown to combat tooth decay and cavities.

Dental hygiene
Even though chewing gum can be beneficial, remember that brushing and flossing are still the best ways to care for your teeth. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss every day to remove plaque and debris between your teeth. Between these dental hygiene tasks, however, it is acceptable to chew sugarless gum to continue caring for your mouth during the day.

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General Dentistry and You

The fact is that the health care provider most people should see the most is their general dentist. Because this branch of healthcare is uniquely targeted at preventing disease and promoting good hygiene, general dentistry can help you avoid oral concerns and maintain a healthy and attractive smile.

General dentists are the most common providers for dental treatment for patients of all ages. Routine dental visits involve examinations, sometimes diagnostic tests, professional cleanings, and discussions about concerns. If your checkup reveals issues that require further treatment, most general dentists perform required procedures. However, your general dentist may refer you to a specialist for complex treatments.

What does a general dentist do? Differing from specialists who focus on a certain area of oral care, general dentists offer a wide variety of services.

  • Preventive services – The goal of preventive dentistry is to stop disease before it has a chance to progress. Regular exams, diagnostic images, and professional cleanings are part of prevention. Proper oral hygiene techniques will also be discussed.
  • Restorative services – Procedures for dental problems falls into this category, including fillings, crowns, gum disease remedies, dentures and more. Some general dentists also offer specialized treatments like root canal therapy and dental implants.
  • Overall oral health services – Some dental problems are reflected in overall health concerns. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications and other problems may arise. General dentists can identify issues like these and offer treatment or direct you to the right specialist.
  • Cosmetic services – Many general dentists offer cosmetic treatments such as dental veneers, teeth whitening, bonding, orthodontics and more.

When should you visit your general dentist? Experts recommend getting checkups every six months, or more often if you have an issue that should be addressed like a toothache or gum bleeding. Cosmetic appointments can be made at any time. The main thing is seeing your general dentist regularly so you can benefit from preventive care.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Crowns and Bridges

What is a dental crown?

  • A dental crown encases a damaged tooth completely within a custom-fit cap, or crown, fitting perfectly over the affected tooth. A dental crown is designed specifically for you and your tooth’s particular design, fit and function. It is a restorative therapy that can restore function to a tooth that may have had excessive decay, has been cracked or has recently undergone root canal treatment.

How do dental crowns work?

  • A dental crown covers a damaged tooth entirely and can be used to improve not only the tooth’s appearance, but also its shape or alignment.

What is a dental bridge?

  • A dental bridge makes a literal bridge between two anchor teeth, filling a gap left by a missing tooth that has either fallen out naturally or is the result of acute decay or facial trauma. Dental crowns cover the bordering anchor teeth, allowing the bridge to fit securely and to function as your natural tooth.

What materials are used for dental crowns?

  • Dental crowns can be porcelain (ceramic), porcelain-fused-to-metal, or gold or other metal alloy. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be designed to closely match the color and translucency of your natural teeth. Metal alloys are usually stronger, and are a better choice for back teeth.

Is a dental cap a crown? 

  • Yes! A dental cap is another name for a dental crown.

Am I a candidate for a dental bridge?

  • If you are missing a tooth and you have adjacent teeth that are stable, dental bridges are for you. Even if you are missing a front tooth or a tooth that has only one border, there are types of dental bridges that could meet your needs.

Are there alternatives to a dental bridge?

  • Dental implants are rising in popularity as technology has improved. A dental implant can restore a single tooth or can restore several, and are the standard of care for the replacement of a missing tooth today. Because a dental implant continues to stimulate the jawbone, it doesn’t lead to bone loss over time.

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