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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Do’s and Don’ts of Brushing Your Teeth

The time you spend cleaning your teeth is minimal compared to all your other daily tasks, but it is no less important. Remember these daily do’s and don’ts, and your smile will remain healthy and radiant for years to come.

Time

Don’t: Rush When You Brush

The average person brushes their teeth for only one minute, which is about half the time it should take to thoroughly clean your teeth. Some brush their teeth for this short amount of time multiple times per day, but cleaning your teeth for a longer period of time per session is likely to remove more bacteria than several sessions of hurried brushing.

Do: Brush to the Beat

If you have trouble brushing your teeth for the entire 120 seconds, I advise turning on the radio and brushing for the length of one song. This will give you plenty of time to clean all the hard-to-reach places in your mouth – that is, if you brush your teeth correctly.

Technique

Don’t: Brush Back-and-Forth

A back-and-forth motion can cause the gum surface to recede, and you risk wearing down the gum line. You could also expose the root surface or make the root surface tender.

Do: Use Circular Motions

A circular or elliptical motion will help gently remove plaque. Tilt the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush the outside and inside of the teeth, the chewing surfaces, and your tongue. Brushing your tongue can minimize bacteria and give you longer-lasting fresh breath.

Thoroughness

Don’t: Brush too Hard

How do you get something really clean? You scrub it as hard as you can, right? This may be true for your kitchen sink, but not for your teeth. Brushing your teeth too aggressively or with too much pressure can actually do more harm than good.

Do: Brush Lightly

Use light force when brushing your teeth. If you are using an electric toothbrush, use slow movements as the brush will do most of the scrubbing for you.

Tenacity

Don’t: Skip Brushing

Plaque builds up on your teeth each day, and when it is not removed by brushing it combines with your saliva and becomes hardened tartar. The less often you brush your teeth, the higher the risk for infection and the development of gum disease.

Do: Brush Often

Aim to brush your teeth twice a day or after each meal. A survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry shows that you are 65 percent more likely to brush your teeth at work if you keep a toothbrush available. Brushing immediately after meals can prevent sugars from turning into damaging acids. If you brush each morning at night, just rinsing your mouth with water after lunch or brushing without toothpaste can help prevent bacteria from settling in.

Knowing how to properly brush your teeth will prevent future oral health problems and give you the radiant, healthy smile you deserve. Be sure to keep up with your regular checkup appointments and cleanings to maintain optimal oral health.

Can Dental Implants Get Stains Like Real Teeth?

Dental implants are an excellent solution to treating teeth that are cracked, deteriorated, and unhealthy. They can effectively help an individual achieve a healthier, beautiful smile! Dental implants can also help to prevent future issues and will never decay like your natural teeth. However, there are still some concerns patients have regarding dental implants, with one of the primary concerns being: Do dental implants stain like real teeth?

As discussed in an earlier article called “How to Care For Your Dental Implants,” I touched on the topic of staining:

“Although there are whitening agents that can safely be used on dental implants, they are like natural teeth in that they can also become stained. So be sure to watch your coffee and tea intake, and be sure to brush well after you drink either of these. Smoking can also stain dental implants.”

Because the porcelain implant crown may pick up staining, frequent cleaning and polishing is needed; and when it comes to brushing, please keep in mind that in order to protect your teeth, you should avoid regularly using abrasive treatments and rinsing with acidic fluoride washes. These substances will break down the protective materials on the implant, which will leave the tooth vulnerable to staining.

If you already have concerns about the color of your implants, I suggest visiting your dentist to learn about your brightening options. Bonding materials and professional polishes are other options for your implant discoloration.

Please call (310) 273-0111 to schedule a consultation at my Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry practice. I look forward to addressing your concerns.

Spring Cleaning is Not Just for Your House

Ah, spring is in the air. A time for flowers to bloom and vacuums to hum. Folks everywhere are trudging through the loathsome tasks of cleaning filters, dusting cobwebs, and organizing shelves. The longer the cleaning takes, the more resolve they feel to keep up with the cleaning in the months ahead so they’re not so swamped this time next year.

Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Dr. Sands says that much like your house, your mouth can be a host to unwanted debris that gets collected throughout the year. Daily habits like not brushing long enough, not flossing, or simply neglecting what needs to be done for your general oral upkeep can snowball into an overwhelming bacteria-filled mess. This mess can lead to infection, which can lead to gingivitis, which is linked to tooth decay and all sorts of other health problems. What better time than spring to clean all those hard-to-reach places and resolve to kick those bad habits for good?

The first thing you can do for your oral health is visit your dental hygienist. They can scrape off built-up plaque that is nearly impossible to reach with a toothbrush alone. A thorough routine checkup will give your mouth the perfect start to a fresh set of daily cleaning habits. But first, you will need the right cleaning supplies.

The Right Spring Cleaning Tools for Oral Health

  • You should get a new toothbrush every three to four months, and if you keep your regular dental appointments every six months, they can serve as helpful reminders in case your worn toothbrush bristles don’t remind you first. Opt for a fancy electric toothbrush that does a lot of the work for you, or get a regular toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles that extend at the end to reach those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Either type works well to get the job done.
  • You can also buy some new toothpaste at this time. Make sure to get a regular anti-plaque paste that contains chlorhexidine to help prevent dental plaque and tartar buildup. If you have tooth-sensitivity or would like a toothpaste with a whitening agent, ask your dentist for suggestions. Sometimes toothpaste with whitening chemicals can be abrasive to the enamel, which may not be best for you depending on the health of your teeth.
  • The third tool in the spring cleaning trifecta is floss. It doesn’t matter which kind you get as long as you’re sure to use it every day. Floss will remove plaque beneath the gum line – the area where gingivitis develops and where the toothbrush usually misses.

Once you have the right cleaning tools, you can start your new oral care regimen of brushing twice daily and flossing daily. It’s also great to develop consciousness of what you eat and the effect it has on your oral health. Starchy, sugary foods cause tartar buildup and can make any infections worse. Eat these foods in moderation. Better yet, substitute them for some healthy fruits and vegetables. As you chew, your mouth will produce extra saliva which will reduce bacteria buildup.

Establishing these daily habits after a good oral “house cleaning” will make your next oral spring cleaning session – as well as your next routine dental checkup – a very simple task. Your Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist will thank you!

How to Treat ‘Dry Mouth’

Never getting proper credit for being a lifesaver, saliva is one of the most important elements in the body. We all need spit to keep our mouths moistened and cleansed, as well as to help digest our food. Our saliva also assists in preventing mouth infections and washes away harmful bacteria and fungus in the mouth. Sometimes, however, our mouths can stop producing enough saliva to keep our mouths moistened.

“Dry mouth” can be the result of certain medications’ side effects, diseases, infections, medical treatments, nerve damage, dehydration, smoking, and/or chewing tobacco. This often includes medications for depression, acne, epilepsy, psychotic disorders, and Parkinson’s disease. Serious medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and anemia, can also cause dryness of the mouth.

Some things you can do to relieve dry mouth is:

  1. Limit your caffeine intake and stay hydrated with water
  2. Make sure your mouthwash does not contain alcohol
  3. Practice breathing through your nose more than out your mouth
  4. Consider sleeping with a humidifier to increase moisture in the air

If you follow these tips and still feel like dry mouth is an issue, make sure to visit both your general doctor and dentist. Your doctor can evaluate your health and situate any necessary medication, and your dentist can help protect your oral health to avoid the potential issues dry mouth can have on your teeth.

Please call my Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry practice to make an appointment. We look forward to your visit! Please call (310) 273-0111 to get started.

Easter Egg Hunt Alternatives: Maintaining a Healthy Smile during Easter

Easter EggsWith all the chocolate bunnies and sugary treats associated with Easter, you may be surprised to know that your Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist, Dr. Sands, doesn’t shun the Easter Bunny.

It’s true that foods high in sugar are likely to make infection-causing plaque build up in the mouth, but teaching kids how to properly brush teeth and eat sweets in moderation can help prevent it. Here are a few other sweet alternatives that will help your kids – and you – maintain a beautiful smile during the sugar-filled Easter season.

Easter Eggs Filled with Toys

Moderation is key. The more sweets they overload on, the more plaque that will develop. Monitor your child’s candy-eating habits by giving them toys instead of candy and by filling their plastic eggs with coins or small prizes. If a candy-filled egg is all that motivates them for the hunt, be sure to hide just a few eggs and make the candy inside an extra special treat. You can also nix the traditional egg hunt and replace it with a scavenger hunt. Fill each egg with a clue that will lead to the hiding place of the next egg, ultimately leading to one big prize at the end.

Creative, Healthy Treats

Instead of a giant chocolate bunny for a treat, make healthy food fun by constructing an Easter Bunny fruit salad. You could use a pineapple for the head, bananas for the ears and toothpicks for the whiskers. Basically anything that can be made visually interesting or that can be turned into a game can become a much more healthy tradition the kids will enjoy.

Sugarless Candy

Another way to beat sugar is to use sugarless gum or sugar-free candies for treats. This option is better for kids who enjoy the excitement of the hunt more than the candy, as I’m sure we can all agree that real sugar is the tastier option.

A Lesson in Oral Care

You can perpetuate the cause for clean teeth even further by adding a new toothbrush and some toothpaste to their Easter gift basket and, of course, by encouraging them to thoroughly brush their teeth after they enjoy their candy. Brushing teeth soon after the hunt can prevent kids from over-indulging since they will have a fresh, clean mouth.

Last but not least, remember to visit your Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist regularly. Dr. Sands can help detect any problems sugary candy may cause you or your little ones.

From the dental office of Dr. Sands, we hope these tips give you a happy and fun-filled Easter celebration, filled with bright and healthy smiles!

Bulimia Affects Oral Health

Many types of health problems can negatively affect a person’s oral health. One of the most common disorders that can damage the appearance and quality of your teeth is bulimia.

Every time a person vomits, or “throws up,” stomach acid comes up with their food, which is naturally harmful to the teeth. Therefore, when you vomit frequently, the acid eats at the enamel and could eventually expose the nerve endings. Vomiting usually thins the teeth, causing them to also appear worn, chipped, ragged, and discolored. Because bulimics suffer from nutritional deficiencies, it is common for them to also develop cavities.

Over time, should deterioration occur, most people will have to go through a full mouth restoration process. This may include having to get all of their teeth crowned, which can get very expensive.

Taking care of your teeth when you have bulimia is a difficult thing to do. Many bulimics brush their teeth immediately after vomiting to take away the taste and smell. However, it is crucial that you do not brush right after throwing up because this can cause further damage to your teeth, such as harming the surface crystals on the enamel layer. That said, it is recommended that instead of brushing, you wash your mouth out thoroughly with water. After a few hours, you can brush your teeth but avoid eating or drinking anything acidic. When you brush your teeth, your enamel layers are removed, making it easier for acids to attack the healthy parts of your teeth. Eating cheese and dairy products can reduce acidic effects as well.

In addition to visiting a bulimic specialist and treating the disorder, it is important that you also visit a qualified dentist. Although you may be self-conscious, an experienced dentist will be understanding and knowledgeable of your condition. He or she will inform you of the best ways to take care of your teeth, and how to avoid serious complications in the future.

Please feel free to contact my Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry practice. You can do so by calling (310) 273-0111. I look forward to meeting with you for a consultation!

Happy National Dentist Day

National Dentist Day is March 6. It’s a day to celebrate and thank your dentist for keeping your mouth in tip-top shape.

Being a dentist is a rewarding job, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. While some loyal patients just come in for their routine check-ups, others come to the dentist as a one-time last resort, especially when their dentist specializes in that particular area. When a patient is in pain, they need help and relief, and they need it now. Dealing with patients who are in pain can be difficult, but it’s worth the work when they walk away with a pain-free smile.

Many think dentists are in this profession because it is lucrative. What they don’t realize is that we dentists make most of our money when a patient needs serious work, yet we spend our time encouraging them to avoid it by keeping up with their oral hygiene and regular check-ups. You can imagine our disbelief when patients ignore our prods to floss and brush!

I’m sure other dentists would agree that the best part of our job is giving patients quality care and helping them with any pain, discomfort or aesthetic problem they may have.

In celebration of National Dentist Day, you can do a few things to show your appreciation:

Pay a visit to your dentist! A regular check-up will ensure that you’re on the right track toward maintaining a healthy mouth.
Commit to oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing regularly
Send your dentist a thoughtful thank you card, or just say “thank you!”

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