Robert E. Jepko, DDS, PA

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

BACK IN THE GOOD old days before the 1930s, toothbrush bristles were made of animal hair. (EEKK!)

We’re pretty happy to live in the era of nylon bristles, but how can we tell which toothbrush will be best for our teeth and gums? How hard should the bristles be? Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?

Soft Versus Hard Bristles

It’s true that hard bristles make it a little bit easier to scrub away the plaque from your teeth than soft bristles. It isn’t worth it in the end, though, because those hard bristles can also scrape away enamel and even agitate your gums to the point of putting you at greater risk for gum recession, which could be permanent.

In the case of hard bristles versus soft, the costs of hard bristles clearly outweigh the benefits, which is why dentists always give out and recommend soft-bristle brushes.

Powered Versus Manual Brushes

In the past, there wasn’t a significant difference between the effectiveness of electric toothbrushes and manual ones. However, the technology has come a long way, and modern electric toothbrushes are better at getting plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.

Electric toothbrushes reduce plaque by up to 21 percent more than manual toothbrushes and reduce the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent more. Using an electric toothbrush also makes it easier to brush for the full two minutes and less likely that you will apply too much pressure.

That still leaves a lot of different electric toothbrushes to choose from. Luckily, whether you choose an oscillating brush (spinning tops) or a sonic brush (bristles vibrate from side to side), you’ll still see better results than with a manual brush. If you aren’t sure which brush would be best for you, feel free to ask us about it at your next appointment!

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

Once you’ve found the ideal toothbrush, it’s important to store it properly so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. Store it upright somewhere it can dry out, preferably as far from a toilet as possible. Finally, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly because even the best bristles fray and lose their effectiveness over time.

Watch this video for a few more tips about brushing your teeth!

Having the right toothbrush and taking proper care of it are essential to good dental health, but there’s no replacement for regular professional dental cleanings. Make sure you’re scheduling appointments twice a year!

Good habits and the right tools make all the difference for your teeth!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Managing That Halloween Sweet Tooth…

 HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?
 

Ranking Candy On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others, or present different kinds of problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there’s a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it isn’t safe either because that means holding a source of sugar in our mouths for an extended period.
  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health, because not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic, so they can harm our enamel directly!
  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad for teeth because it remains stuck there, feeding the bacteria for a long time and giving them a larger opportunity to attack the enamel.
  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing The Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do that is by simply eating less candy. As parents, we can help our children out with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. We could let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. We just have to make sure to discuss the plan with them in advance.

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. You can drink more waterto rinse out the sugar, limit the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and wait thirty minutes after eating candy to brush your teeth. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Check out this video for more! 

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you’re always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits!

Have a spooky Halloween!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Cooking For A Happy, Healthy Sweet Tooth

MOST OF US find ourselves craving something sweet every once in a while—or perhaps more often than that! Unfortunately, as good as sweet treats taste, they can have a big impact on our dental health.

Sugar And Your Teeth

There are many ways that sugar is bad for our overall health, but it’s also specifically bad for our teeth. Our mouths are diverse microbiomes containing dozens of species of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, that can reproduce multiple times per day. Sugar may taste good to us, but harmful bacteria love it. They eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth and excrete acid that dissolves tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is usually enough to keep the bacteria populations under control, but your teeth will thank your for avoiding excess sugar. So how can we satisfy a sweet tooth craving without also satisfying the cravings of millions of harmful bacteria? By cooking sugar-free desserts, of course!

Healthier Sweet Options

There are a few ways you can cut down on sugar without cutting down on sweets when you’re cooking. Some of them can be pricey, so your budget might play a role in determining which one you use.

Rebaudioside A

Rebaudioside A is a polyol or sugar alcohol produced by Stevia, a leafy South American plant. The FDA has approved rebaudioside A as a safe food additive, which means we can cook with it. But what makes it better for our teeth than sugar? Well, all those hungry bacteria in our mouths can’t digest sugar alcohols. We get to enjoy the sweet taste, but they don’t! The only downside is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. Since you only need one teaspoon to match the sweetness of a whole cup of sugar, it’s easy to overdo it.

Xylitol and Erythritol

Xylitol and erythritol are two more sugar alcohols that serve as excellent sweeteners. You may be familiar with xylitol, because that’s what sweetens sugar-free gum. While it’s even better for your teeth than other sugar alcohols–which is why dentists recommend it–it might not be the best to cook with, as it can cause digestive discomfort if you eat too much of it. Erythritol doesn’t have that drawback, but it can be pretty expensive.

Fruit

Fruit is another great sugar substitute. If you’d rather work with ingredients you already know, unsweetened applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs are four great replacements for table sugar that you can use in many recipes. You’ll end up with desserts that are still sweet and moist, but which contain far less sugar, which your teeth will appreciate. Fruits are sweet because they contain fructose, a type of sugar, but you’ll use less sugar overall by using pureed fruit instead of table sugar.

Need some extra inspiration for a sugar-free treat? Check out this sugar-free cheesecake recipe!

Keep Up With Your Oral Health Basics

Even if you completely cut out all foods that are bad for your teeth out of your diet, it’s still crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and go see your general dentist for a cleaning appointment every six months! 

 

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Swimmer’s Ear? More Like Swimmer’s Tooth!

HAVE YOUR TEETH ever felt extra sensitive after a swim at the pool? That’s no coincidence, although it can take quite a lot of swimming before the effects become noticeable. So, what is it about the water in swimming pools that damages teeth?
 

Chlorine: Good For Sanitation, Bad For Teeth

That’s right: the same chemical that kills many of the germs that love swimming in fresh water as much as we do can also be pretty hard on our teeth if the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated. The proper pH for pool water is 7.2-7.8, but it can easily become acidic because of the chlorine.

Swimmer’s Calculus: A Risk For Serious Swimmers

Swimmer’s Calculus isn’t the name of an underwater math class; it’s what happens to tooth enamel after prolonged exposure to acidic chlorine ions. The pH of saliva in a healthy mouth is very close to neutral. It’s the perfect pH to keep your teeth strong (as long as we’re also brushing and flossing).

Acid, like the diluted hydrochloric acid that forms in pools with chlorine, will erode more tooth enamel the longer we swim. This can lead to “swimmer’s calculus,” or yellow and brown stains on our teeth. It can also make our teeth extra sensitive after swimming, because erosion of the enamel exposes the more vulnerable dentin underneath.

Other Underwater Tooth Problems

Maybe you’re not a huge fan of the public pool, but you love snorkeling and diving in natural bodies of water. While you probably won’t have to worry about swimmer’s calculus, those activities come with their own set of tooth-threatening problems.

Scuba Diving And Tooth Squeeze

Diving in the deep end of a pool is enough to make us feel the water pressure in our ears, but did you know that when you dive deep enough, you might feel it in your teeth? Barodontalgia, or tooth squeeze, is what happens when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This can cause significant tooth pain and it can even fracture teeth. The best way to prevent it is to visit the dentist before diving season begins.

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Most divers know the inconvenience of the mouthpiece design, but you might not know all the specific ways it’s bad for your teeth. The shape has been described as “one size fits none” because it’s too small and doesn’t really fit most divers’ teeth. Despite the less-than-ideal size and shape, we still have to grip it between our teeth the entire time we dive.

Clenching our jaws for so long, especially when the pressure is mostly on the front teeth, can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. A good solution, particularly for a frequent diver, is to get a custom-fitted molded mouthpiece.

To learn more about TMJ and the treatment options available, watch the video below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTvDdtTd0jg

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Photo Op: Types Of Dental X-Rays

EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN TO THE DENTIST is familiar with X-rays. You put on the lead apron, you’re given a rectangular contraption and told “put this between your teeth and bite down,” and then you hear that tinny beep. Have you ever wondered what the different types of dental X-rays are and what they’re for? Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones.

The Big Picture: Panoramic X-Rays
Has an X-ray technician ever had you stand on a circular platform and stand still for several seconds while the machine spun around your head? Then you’ve had a panoramic X-ray, which is the most common type of extra-oral dental X-ray.
With these, we can see your entire mouth in one image, because the camera travels all the way around your head while taking the picture. These X-rays show incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, including any that are impacted, which is how we determine if there’s enough room for these teeth to come in and if they’ll come in on their own. Panoramic X-rays also make it much easier to detect things like tumors, cysts, and abscesses.

3D Imaging:
Our office has implemented the newest radiology- 3D imaging! It’s like the panoramic image as detailed above, but in 3D! Check out this link for more info!

Glamor Shots: Bitewing X-Rays
As you might have guessed from the name, bitewing X-rays are the ones where the patient has to bite down on a piece of dental film before the image is taken. Because the dental film is inside your mouth, bitewing X-rays are a type of intraoral X-ray. Usually, there will be one X-ray taken for each of the four quadrants of your mouth.
Bitewing X-rays are taken to give us a clear view of the crevices between your teeth, which are difficult to see with the naked eye. With these images, we can easily check for tooth decay and cavities in those areas.

It’s Time For Your Close-Up: Periapical X-Rays
This intraoral X-ray is the close-up of the dental world. This is our main method of imaging if a specific tooth or area in your mouth is bothering you, for us to get a clear idea of what’s going on.

For more information on dental X-rays and why they’re so important, watch this 1 minute video!

 

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Overcoming Dental Anxiety

 

 

Many of us, even though we know that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of life, don’t find it particularly fun to lie on our backs while someone invades our personal space. For some, though, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.

 

 

Dental Anxiety Stats
Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection, which will land you here in our office for a root canal or having the tooth extracted. It’s always better to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.

Your Friendly Dentist… and Endodontist
If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before WWII made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least, but the field has come a long way since then. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.

Advice For Overcoming Dental Anxiety
Remember- YOU are in control during your appointment. We are here for you!
Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and are in need of root canal treatment, re-treatment or endodontic surgery, we would love to help you and can answer any questions you may have.

Check out this one minute video by the American Dental Association for more tips!

 

 

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Top image by Flickr user Lachlan Hardy used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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