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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Correctly?

It’s pretty common knowledge that one of the most important ways to maintain good oral hygiene is to brush your teeth twice a day. However, many people brush their teeth incorrectly without even realizing it. This can not only allow plaque and bacteria to build up and lead to cavities, but incorrect brushing can also potentially cause damage to tooth enamel. Here are some helpful suggestions to make sure you get the most out of your brushing time.

Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Many people mistakenly think that stiffer bristles will get teeth cleaner, but the reality is that tough bristles can actually damage the tooth enamel and irritate the gums. Brushing with bristles that are sturdy enough to remove plaque but soft enough so they don’t damage the teeth is the best start to a healthy mouth.

Do Not Brush Too Hard

Pressing the bristles against your teeth too hard or brushing too vigorously can erode tooth enamel. You can get your teeth just as clean without damaging them by safely using gentle brush strokes with the right technique.

Angle Your Toothbrush Toward the Gum Line

For brushing the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth, position your toothbrush so that the bristles are at a 45-degree angle and pointed toward the gum line. This will help remove stubborn plaque from along the gum line.

Young woman brushing teeth

Use Vertical or Circular Strokes

Avoid brushing with horizontal strokes across the teeth. Vertical or circular strokes will work better to remove plaque by getting into the crevices of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush every surface of your teeth – the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces – as well as the gums.

Brush for 2 Minutes

Brushing your teeth for an entire 2 minutes with the proper technique is a great way to guarantee that your teeth get thoroughly cleaned. Dividing the mouth into quadrants and brushing each for 30 seconds will ensure that you spend an equal amount of time on each section of your mouth.

Floss Daily

While brushing your teeth correctly is very important to your oral health, brushing alone is insufficient for reaching areas between the teeth. Flossing at least once a day is essential for preventing gum disease and tooth loss because it is the only effective way to remove plaque from between the teeth.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dental health, please contact Dr. Kevin B. Sands, DDS, at his Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry office. Please feel free to call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sands.

Can Whitening Damage Teeth?

shutterstock_56198956Teeth whitening products come in a range of forms and can be administered in a variety of ways. Bleaching products remove deep stains as well as surface stains using peroxides, and non-bleaching whitening products remove only surface stains using physical and chemical reactions. There are many different bleaching and non-bleaching whitening products available for consumer purchase. These products can be administered in dental offices by professionals, sold by dentists for at-home use, and bought over-the-counter (OTC). With the increasing marketing of whitening products, many people wonder if whitening can cause damage to their teeth.

Fortunately, most whitening products do not cause any permanent damage to tooth enamel or the structures of the teeth. Studies show that products containing 10 percent carbamide peroxide as the whitening agent have little to no effect on tooth’s enamel surface and do not cause damage to existing fillings. Although people may experience tooth sensitivity from whitening treatments, this is generally not permanent.

However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that consumers go in for a dental consultation before considering whitening. In addition, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) considers teeth whitening a dental service that should be delivered by educated dental professionals to avoid potential issues that may occur. Both of these organizations highly suggest visiting a dentist prior to whitening in order to make sure that the mouth and teeth are healthy enough for bleaching treatment.

Woman getting her teeth whitened by a dental laserIn addition to ensuring that your mouth is free of diseases and conditions that bleaching products could potentially aggravate, having your dentist perform your teeth whitening has many benefits. Peroxide-based bleaching agents may cause occasional irritation in the soft tissues of the mouth, especially the gums, and your dentist can provide custom trays for your teeth to protect the rest of the mouth from contact with the product. Your dentist can also help avoid mismatched teeth colors because restorations such as fillings, crowns, bonding, veneers, and bridges do not whiten with bleaching products. Stronger whitening agents are used at the dental office than with at-home products, which means improved results can be achieved with just one treatment.

If you are interested in teeth whitening or any other dental procedure, Dr. Kevin Sands is highly experienced and provides excellent quality dentistry. Please feel free to call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Origins of the Tooth Fairy

Cute blonde fairy holding a large toothMost people can recall the excitement of losing a tooth in their childhood because it meant that they would be visited by the Tooth Fairy, a mythical being who would replace the lost tooth under their pillow with a small payment. Although this being is contemporarily depicted in the United States as a cute female fairy who flies about collecting teeth during the night, the Tooth Fairy has taken many forms throughout history and may have originated from some interesting traditions.

What to Do with Lost Teeth: Early Superstitions

What a child does with his or her baby teeth that fall out has long been a subject of interest to people all over the world. An old English tradition required a child to take a tooth that fell out and drop it into a fire so they would not have to go in search of it after their death. Others believed that teeth, along with nail and hair clippings, should be burned so that witches and other evil beings couldn’t use these items to control or harm the person they belonged to. A ritual from Japan had children throw their lost upper teeth straight down to the ground and their lost lower teeth straight up into the air in hopes that their teeth would grow in straight. Some people believed that if children fed their baby teeth to mice or rats their adult teeth would grow to be strong like those of rodents. The proper disposal of teeth was a big deal, and it has been speculated that the Tooth Fairy and similar folktales were brought to life as an answer to what children should do with their lost teeth.

The Evolution of Traditions

The concept of replacing lost baby teeth with a gift or money may have been established as a way to make up for the loss of the tooth and make it less scary for the child. This reward for starting to grow up, a sort of rite of passage, lessens the daunting experience of losing teeth by turning it into something for children to be excited about. Traditions of children being paid for losing their teeth have been recorded in documents as early as the Eddas of the thirteenth century.

Nineteenth century folktales from multiple countries around the world involve a mouse replacing baby teeth under the child’s pillow with a gift, and this custom is still passed down through the generations in many of these countries today. This tradition may have evolved from the superstition that the mouse eating their teeth would give them strong adult teeth similar to the characteristically strong teeth of rodents.

The story of the Tooth Fairy that is now commonly taught to children in North America and Australia may have developed from the tradition of the tooth mouse and evolved from this rodent into a fairy during the twentieth century. Perhaps these cultures chose a fairy as the being that sneaks into their children’s rooms at night because they believed that a fairy would be more comforting to a child. Mice are often associated with disease, and fear of mice is one of the most common specific phobias. A fairy as the fantasy figure rather than a mouse also makes the tradition more magical. The belief in magic is often associated with childhood innocence, which many parents try to preserve as the child is beginning to grow up.

After this professional tooth-collecting fairy made her debut, she grew in popularity in America and became a widespread custom by the 1950s. She helped bring attention to the importance of children’s dental hygiene and has appeared in several plays, books, cartoons, and even on pillows, blankets, and other merchandise. Since then parents have been cheerfully introducing the Tooth Fairy into their family life. Whether you picture the Tooth Fairy as a pixie, a child with wings, a flying ballerina, or a dental hygienist, this mythical being often ameliorates the distress and anxiety that can accompany a child’s loss of baby teeth while creating an American tradition that will likely carry on for generations.

If you have any questions or concerns about your or your child’s dental health, please contact Dr. Kevin B. Sands, DDS, at his Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry office. Feel free to call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form today.

What to Do if a Tooth Gets Knocked Out

shutterstock_99960629Accidental tooth loss often results from contact sports, fights, biting on hard food, and car accidents. Since tooth loss can happen to virtually anyone, it is good to know what to do in case it happens to you.

Whether or not you have your tooth, the first things you should do after a tooth is knocked out (“avulsed”) are:

1. Control bleeding with gauze and apply pressure.

2. Contact your dentist. If the tooth is badly broken, your nerve endings may be exposed, and you will need immediate attention to avoid infection and pain.

3. Apply a cold compress to the mouth and gums to help with pain.

 

How to Preserve a Knocked Out Tooth

If the knocked out tooth still has its root, it can often be reimplanted. A tooth is more likely to be saved if it can be reinserted within 30 minutes after it was displaced. After this amount of time, the likelihood that it will survive drops significantly.

You can choose one of the following options to help preserve the tooth until it can be reimplanted:

Place the tooth back in its socket so it is level with the other teeth. Bite down on gauze or a wet tea bag to keep in in place.

If the tooth needs to be cleaned first, run it under a gentle stream of water only. Do not handle the roots of the tooth.

 Place the tooth in a container of milk. Milk has a neutral pH balance and is fortified with vitamins that will help preserve it.

– Place the tooth in a container of saliva, or keep it in your mouth between the lower lip and gum or beneath the tongue.

– Use a tooth-saving storage device. These can usually be found at drugstores and can preserve the tooth for a longer amount of time.

 

Broken or Chipped Teeth

You may not need an emergency dental visit if the tooth is just broken or chipped, but you should still have the tooth fixed to avoid sharp edges that can cut the tongue. If the tooth is chipped, it can easily be restored with dental bonding.

If the tooth has been broken above the gum line, a root canal can be performed to save the tooth structure, and then it can be restored with a crown. For a tooth that is broken below the gum line, it may be best to extract the remainder of the tooth and insert a dental implant, bridge, or removable dental prosthesis. Dental implants are usually the best option for younger patients because they will protect against bone loss that may occur over time.

If you are interested in a cosmetic dental procedure in Beverly Hills, please contact Dr. Sands’ office by calling (310) 273-0111, or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Brushing and flossing your teeth are crucial to protecting the enamel and maintaining a bright, white smile. Additionally, the food we eat plays an important role in oral health. The standard rule has always been, if a food can stain a white shirt, chances are it can do the same to your teeth. There are several foods that many of us consume every day that can have either favorable or adverse effects on the overall appearance and health of our teeth.

The Best Foods for Your Teeth

Milk: It’s long been known that this dairy product provides strong bones, but the high content of calcium also keeps your teeth durable while promoting oral health.

Nuts: Not only are nuts rich in vitamins and minerals, but they also stimulate the production of saliva, which is part of the mouth’s natural cleansing system.

Onions: Although onions can make your breath smell less than great, surprisingly, they contain a combination of antibacterial components that protect the teeth from decay.

Fish: Fish contain many vitamins and healthy Omega-3 fats, but it is the phosphorus in fish that’s most important for building as well as protecting tooth enamel.

The Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Dried Fruit: Fresh fruit is most often a healthy food choice. Dried fruit, on the other hand, is usually packed with added sugar that becomes a primary cause of cavities once it gets in between teeth.

Vinegar: Since vinegar is extremely acidic, it can actually remove surface stains from the teeth and make them whiter. However, the high concentration of acid also eats away the enamel, causing tooth decay.

Saltine Crackers: These bland crackers can actually be harmful to teeth because they are almost entirely made of starch, which is byproduct of sugar. As you chew them up, they become stuck in your teeth for an extended period of time, leading to tooth decay.

Berries: Although berries are filled with vitamins and antioxidants, the acidity and dark color can erode enamel and permanently stain your teeth.

One of the best and easiest ways to keep your mouth clean throughout the day is to drink plenty of water or chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol after every meal. This not only increases saliva production in your mouth, but it keeps bacteria from forming.

Feel free to contact our Beverly Hills practice for all of your dental needs. To schedule a consultation with our board certified cosmetic dentist, please call (310) 273-0111 or fill out an online consultation form. Dr. Sands looks forward to meeting you and helping you attain the best smile possible.

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