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The History of Braces

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Dental braces would seem to be the kind of invention that was developed in the Victorian era and refined during the 20th century, as so many of our modern items seem to be. Given the necessary finesse in constructing and attaching braces, combined with the needed understanding of orthodontics, this hypothesis stands up to reason – but not the facts. Remarkable though it may be, braces have a far longer history than is commonly assumed.

Classical Braces

Dental braces go back not one or two centuries, but over two and a half millennia. The Greeks discussed ways to straighten teeth, for example, and archeologists have found remains with metal bands and catgut attached to the teeth such that the most reasonable conclusion to draw is these were early efforts at dental braces. The Etruscans, meanwhile, seem to have applied dental braces to their deceased, apparently in an effort to maintain the shape of the teeth for the afterlife. The Romans also provide examples of dental braces as well as occasional discussion on how it might be improved.

Unfortunately for the people of the era, the fall of Rome and the ensuing chaos of the Middle Ages halted development for a long, long time. Not until the 17th century would new developments be made in the field.

The Renaissance

As new ideas about science and learning spread, a great wave of new development swept across Europe. During the 17th century this led to new advances in medicine, including in dental matters, and by the 18th century it was yielding radically more effective new ideas. The Frenchman Pierre Fauchard, often called the Father of Modern Dentistry, published a book entitled The Surgeon Dentist in 1728, and with it revolutionized the field. Among the tools he used was a “bandeau”, an iron device intended to assist in correcting the dental arch, much as modern orthodontics does with more advanced devices today.

Soon Fauchard’s work would spread and be built on by many other learned people, including another Frenchman, Louis Bourdet, who was personal dentist to the King. Bourdet would go on to refine and improve the bandeau as well as making other developments in what would come to be called orthodontics.

The Victorian Era

With the advent of many new scientific theories and technological advancements, the Victorian era is when orthodontics truly came into its own. As the 19th century progressed, new advancements significantly improved the state of dental healthcare and allowed for far more effective (and more comfortable) orthodontic work. Inventions like the wire crib and gum elastics helped radically improve the efficacy of the field, whilst other dentists would work on describing the mouth and jaw, and developing theories about how dental corrections could be improved.

20th Century Changes

The ‘father’ of modern American orthodontics is Edward Angle, a dentist who came to specialize in orthodontics and would work on several great advances to help dentists understand what they faced and how to perform orthodontic work. By the 20th century he had begun to found orthodontic schools as well as the American Association of Orthodontists that promulgated his ideas, and today’s dentists still use Angle’s system of classification to describe teeth for the purposes of orthodontics.
Thanks to developments stretching back at least 2,500 years, people today enjoy refined and effective orthodontics which are much less intrusive than that of previous eras. It remains to be seen where the next big developments will come from, but the field will surely continue to advance.

March 19, 2015 |

Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Dental Hygiene

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When it comes to teaching kids about dental hygiene, the most innovative methods are the most effective. Considering kids have shorter attention spans, the content should be interesting, engaging, and most of all, fun. To help you along the way, the following information explains a few fun and creative ways to teach kids about dental hygiene.

Dental Trivial Pursuit

Since most children are competitive, you can create various games designed to reward them for their knowledge of dental hygiene. One great format to use is the Trivial Pursuit format. You can even use the trivia questions found on the ADA website. As a result, your child will be engaged, entertained, and learn about dental history at the same time.

Write a Smile

Another great way to make learning about dental hygiene fun is to create an essay or poetry contest. You can pitch themes such as, “The brighter my smile,…..” or “I love my smile because….” Using creative prompts will get the kid’s minds jogging and allow them to come up with creative ways to express the importance of dental hygiene.

Dental Cook Off 

To really get kids involved in dental hygiene, you can create a cooking class. In the class, you can help your children come up with recipes designed to help promote a healthy smile. On the other hand, you can create a class for making simple dishes that are not loaded with sugar. For example, a simple fruit salad can demonstrate how easy and delicious it is to take care of your teeth.

Trip to the Dentist

Since all kids love going on trips, a dental visit can be an excellent way to educate your kids about the importance of dental hygiene. Simply put, it is vital for kids to learn the importance of dental visits. At the same time, it’s important for them to not be scared of the dentist. If you coordinate a trip to the dentist office, your children can witness a dental check up and see there is no reason to be afraid of the dentist. On the trip, you can schedule for your children to sit in the dentist chair, create fun posters, and even have the dentist create molds of their teeth.

Make Music

When you teach children through music, they are much more likely to remember the information. You can make up a funny song about flossing or brushing their teeth. By doing so, you can create a song the child will remember and sing to themselves as they remember to brush their teeth. More importantly, in the song, you can include the proper steps.


Conducting simple experiments are excellent ways to teach kids about dental hygiene. One great experiment can be done with an egg. If you let the egg soak in a cup of fluoride solution or toothpaste for five minutes, you can show kids the power of toothpaste. Afterwards, you should rinse the egg and put it in vinegar. Then put a second that hasn’t been treated in a cup of vinegar. The children will be able to witness how the egg without toothpaste will fall apart over time and demonstrate the importance of toothpaste.

February 23, 2015 |

Gingivitis Symptoms and Treatment

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There are three main symptoms of gingivitis.  The first one of these symptoms is going to be trench mouth.  Most of the time, this is going to mean that your gums are bleeding or starting to swell. You might also have some very bad breath and pain in your gums.  This means that your gums are going to appear to have a gray color to them.  The pointed part of your gums that is in between the teeth will become flat, which is going to accommodate more to the dead tissue inside of the gums.

 The second one of these symptoms of gingivitis is the recession of the gums or loosing teeth.  The longer that you have gingivitis, the more that your gums are going to recede.  Therefore, they are no longer going to be able to support the bone structure that you are going to need for your teeth to stay in your mouth.  This means that you might end up having to get dentures but they might need to be fitted several times for your mouth.  This could also change the way that your teeth are going to fit together when you are biting or chewing your food.

The third one of these symptoms of gingivitis is abscesses.  Basically, this is going to be a deepening between the periodontal pockets inside of your gums.  Most of the time, this is going to happen because tartar or food particles are going to block the bone, which is going to kill your white blood cells.  These white blood cells are what is going to help you to fight an infection inside of your body.  Therefore, when you get a pus in your gums, you are going to have abscess.  They can destroy your teeth and the tissues in your gums.

There are a few different remedies that you could do at home to treat gingivitis.  The first treatment is to make sure that your brush your teeth at least twice a day.  You are going to need to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste with fluoride.  The best times to do this is in the morning when you wake up and right before you go to bed.  You will need to replace your toothbrush every three months because an old toothbrush is not going to clean your teeth properly.

The second treatment for gingivitis is that you make sure that you are flossing every day.  Therefore, you are going to need to do it more than just when you have something in your teeth.  Flossing is going to help to remove any buildup of plaque that your toothbrush was not able to get.  You could also use an interdental cleaner if you do not like to floss but it is very important to ask your dentist how to use them so there is no damage to your gums.

The third treatment for gingivitis is to make sure that you are visiting your dentist every 6 months for an oral exam and cleaning.  This is so that if you have any tartar on your teeth, the dentist can remove it immediately.  But you will need to talk to your dentist to see if you need to visit him more often.

The fourth treatment for gingivitis is to rinse your mouth out with an antimicrobial rinse.  This could reduce the severity of your gingivitis.  It is also help to decrease the amount of bad breath that you have along with any plaque on your teeth.  Therefore, you will need to look for a rinse with a ADA seal.

January 22, 2015 |

Is it Possible to Reverse Tooth Decay?

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Tooth decay is the number one cause of dental visits. Tooth decay is a major issue because, for many people, there are no signs until a cavity appears in one or more teeth. While a cavity must be filled, and it can not be reversed, there are ways to reverse tooth decay, or prevent the problem from becoming worse and causing more cavities. We’ve collected five tips that will help you reverse tooth decay.

1. Change What You Drink 

Drinking coffee, sodas, and other sugar-laden beverages are bad for the teeth. The acid in coffee can breakdown the protective coating on teeth, and sugar-based drinks combine with plaque to create a film over the tooth that will wear away at the enamel and cause cavities. Dentists suggest sticking to water for beverages. When you aren’t drinking water, consider using a straw. A straw will help the liquid bypass the surface of the teeth, where it does the most damage.

2. Check with Your Primary Care Doctor

Speaking to your primary care doctor about any problems you are experiencing may help to reduce tooth decay. For example, if you have acid reflux disease that is untreated, the acid may rise into the mouth and can erode the teeth quickly. Getting acid reflux under control, whether by way of medication or over-the-counter antacids can he helpful in reversing tooth decay.

3. Brush Often and Correctly

Brushing is the easiest way to prevent and reverse tooth decay. By brushing two to three times a day, for two to three minutes at a time, you’ll keep your teeth clean and remove the plaque that currently resides on your teeth. To do this properly, ask your dentist how you should be brushing, and remember to change out your tooth brush every six weeks to three months, or when it becomes worn.

4. Don’t Forget Professional Cleaning

See your doctor every six months for a professional, deep cleaning. Professional tooth cleaning utilizes special tools and techniques to remove the plaque that causes tooth decay. This is plaque that your ordinary toothbrush may miss, so having a professional cleaning can make a huge difference in tooth decay. Neglecting regular cleanings and checkups is one way that tooth decay can evolve into significant tooth problems, so be mindful and keep your appointments.

5. Keep Hydrated and Chew Sugarless Gum

Staying hydrated, and chewing sugarless gum can help reverse tooth decay, by creating more saliva. Saliva is a natural wash for the mouth. When you have more saliva, it keeps the acid at bay in your mouth, it can also help to wash away any food particles that are on your teeth between brushes. Sugarless gum also has a natural sweetener that may help to breakdown plaque. Chew on sugarless gum after meals were brushing isn’t a possibility, such as a lunch, and remember to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Both can help to reverse tooth decay.

Before attempting to deal with a dental issue on your own, remember, it is important to see your dentists to discuss your oral health. A dental professionals can help you figure out how severe the problem is, what needs to be done, and the time scale for which it should be done. Most importantly, only a dental professional can tell you the level of tooth decay that is apparent, which will alter the treatment and course of action you should take at home.

December 2, 2014 |

How Lighting Affects a Person’s Mood

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Lighting has more of an effect on your mood than you might initially think. It’s actually been shown in study after study that brighter lighting improves your mood while dimmer lighting (or lack of light altogether) results in a drop-off in mood or even depression.

Mood Lighting: It’s All in Your Head 

The intensity of light has such a powerful effect on our moods since light alters our hormones and limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions.

Brain chemicals like melatonin and serotonin are affected by dim lighting. Your brain is essentially gauging the amount of light in the environment minute-to-minute and deciding whether its nearing bedtime – as your brain detects less light, melatonin shoots up and your circadian rhythm gets your body ready for bed by making you tired.

This whole process can definitely be a problem if you’re in a dimly-lit environment during the morning, or a brightly-lit environment during nighttime. Although you’re more alert and perky when around brighter lights, staring at a laptop or being around bright lights at night can actually alter your circadian rhythm and worsen your mood long term.

Sometimes just the presence of bright lights in the morning can restore peoples’ moods and circadian rhythms. This is because your brain is churning out more serotonin and improving your mood when you’re exposed to bright lights.

The flip side is that low lighting, shorter days and wintertime have been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder and higher rates of depression.

The trick is to understand that bright lights are associated with more alertness and improved mood while “mood lighting” or dimmer lighting is associated with relaxation. Just knowing that could help you make informed choices about when to use indoor LED lights with warmer color temperatures versus brighter lights to illuminate your home.

Color Temperature and Mood 

Dimmer LED lights or LED lights with a lower color temperature are recommended for use in the evening or whenever you’re looking to relax. Why? These kinds of LED lights are telling your brain that it’s about time to go to sleep and take it easy; your brain responds by increasing the amount of melatonin and getting your circadian rhythm moving towards sleep.

Essentially, during the evenings you want to exposure yourself to LED lights with warmer color temperatures and dimmer lighting. LED lights with a color temperature of around 3000 kelvin are perfect for slowing down your mind, grabbing a pillow, and letting go of the day’s worries.

It’s important not to use too many electronic devices near bedtime since these are equally bright or brighter than natural light and could trick your brain into releasing more serotonin and giving your more alertness than you need before bed.

Outdoor daylight is around 5500 kelvin, and color temperatures that bright would not be ideal for getting ready for bed.

Ideal Lighting for Mood Improvement 

Cooler color temperatures on the higher end of the color-temperature spectrum might be more suited for early in the day. LED lights around 5000 kelvin are good facsimiles for natural lighting and can cause your brain to release more serotonin and literally (pardon the upcoming pun) brighten your day.

If you’ve ever considered the term “mood lighting” and felt its effects, then you can probably appreciate how warmer color temperatures and dimmer lighting has a calming effect on your mood.

These warmer color temperatures are conditioning your brain to relax and wind down as opposed to cooler color temperatures and brighter lighting that revs up your brain for the challenges in the day ahead.

November 5, 2014 |

Caring for Your Teeth When Wearing Braces

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Braces are an awkward part of life for many kids, but in the long run, braces help to make your teeth straighter and stronger. Braces, along with wires and rubber bands, attract food and plaque buildup. This can cause staining of the teeth if not properly brushed away after each meal. If you do in fact brush after every meal, you can ensure adequate removal of any food which may have gotten caught in your braces while eating. Using mouthwash and floss after brushing will help to ensure an even better cleaning.

Flossing & Brushing Tips For Teeth With Braces

Flossing may seem a little more difficult while wearing braces, but it is actually quite easy. Begin by feeding the short end of the floss in between the upper portion of your tooth and the main arch wire of the brace space. Once you wriggle it in there, use a gentle back and forth “sawing” motion on each side of the tooth, being careful not to pull too hard around the arch wire.

When brushing, you will want to use a softer bristled toothbrush. Brush down on each tooth from the top and then come up from the bottom for each tooth with braces. Using a “Christmas tree” motion comes in handy for cleaning between the braces. You will want to use several strokes in each direction for one space before moving on to the next space, repeating this process until all of your teeth have been cleaned.

Foods To Avoid While Wearing Braces

Most foods can still be eaten while wearing braces. Some may need to be cut down into smaller pieces for easier chewing, but you don’t need to cut out a lot from your diet. Certain types of food, however, can loosen or even break your braces and you should avoid these at all costs. They include:

• Apples, carrots, pears, and other tough to bite down on foods
• Corn on the cob (it’s easy to cut it off the cob!)
• Bubble gum, caramels, taffy, or other sticky chewy foods
• Ice cubes
• Bagels, nuts, and even popcorn can harm your braces

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Just because you have braces doesn’t mean you need to cut out all athletic activities in your life. Participating in sports is absolutely fine, as long as you take certain measures to protect your braces. There are specially designed mouth guards for people with braces that are made of durable plastic and fit comfortably over your braces.

Having braces doesn’t mean you can’t still do what you enjoy. You will just need to take extra precautions when it comes to doing certain things that you like to participate in. Protecting your teeth and braces now, will ensure a much healthier mouth for years to come. And if they could, your teeth would thank you.

Want more advice about general oral health? Talk to RegurlarLink members Smile Matters!

November 3, 2014 |

5 Worst Foods for Your Teeth

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If prevention is the best medicine, then why not do your best in attempting to prevent cavities, plaque, and tooth enamel loss? Well, if you really want to continue eating sugary or acidic foods, then you certainly can brush your teeth 2-3 times per day with that special enamel strengthening toothpaste that is out now. Or you can even use Oral B electronic toothbrushes such as Vitality, Black, or Deep Sweep.

Maybe you already do all of the above anyhow, along with not eating sugary and acidic foods that destroy your teeth from the inside out. Either way, if you want great teeth, it’s vital that you floss everyday, use mouthwash, and brush with the right kind of toothpaste according to your particular needs at the moment.

If you really want white teeth because you are conducting some extra grooming on yourself this month, use whitening toothpaste and mouthwash.

If you are attempting to get rid of extra plaque, then you may decide to floss twice a day instead of just once.

And, if you really want a healthy mouth for the long run, then you won’t eat the following foods ever again:

  1. Fruit in Heavy Syrup – The heavy syrup that is added into canned fruit is packed with sugar and calories. There is absolutely no point in adding so much sugar to fruit when it already contains plenty of natural sugar! Eating canned fruit with light syrup, or even trying the new frozen fruit are both great alternative options!
  2. Sweet Tea – Tea is good for you if you don’t add sugar to it. It may taste great and be a fabulous thirst quencher during the summer, but once you add all the sugar it quickly becomes un-fabulous.
  3. Pickles – If you didn’t know it, pickles are coated and soaked in vinegar. Vinegar is great to balance out pH levels – but only if using it mixed with water. The acid in the vinegar will cause your tooth enamel to self-destruct.
  4. Hard Candy – This is no surprise. Bacteria is easily created by the sugary acid that leaks from the candy as it dissolves in your mouth.
  5. Bread and Crackers – When you chew either of these foods, they get stuck between your teeth, and if you cannot floss right away, will create a direct path for bacteria to make cavities.

It’s not easy avoiding carbohydrates, but it has been done successfully by many a health nut. Always remember to take good care of your teeth and you will prevent a lot of painful problems down the road. Maybe you could stop eating altogether, but that’s not healthy either.

Want more dental advice? Keep watching our blog, or call on Fremont Dentist Smile Matters.

October 16, 2014 |

Everything You Need to Know About Strokes in the Elderly

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Strokes can be frightening; the mere mention can make elderly people apprehensive about how they might be cared for if they suffer one, or even if the stroke will be so severe that they won’t be able to recover enough from it to regain their independence.  Although not the sole preserve of the over 60s, the risk of having a stroke does double with every decade over the age of 55.  However strokes don’t need to be the end of the world.  A combination of prevention, knowing how to spot the signs, and tips for recovery will all serve to arm you with the knowledge you need to cope with the condition.

Strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, which occurs when the arteries are blocked.  Just as smoking and a diet high in saturated fat can cause heart attacks, that same narrowing and clogging of the arteries elsewhere can cause a stroke.  Moderate exercise and a balanced diet will help keep you healthy and reduce the risk, and in combination with keeping your brain active, will help to give you the confidence to make a full recovery if you do suffer illness.

If you suffer a moderate to severe stroke, you will have problems with movement, speech, memory, and will need extensive medical and physiotherapy to make a full recovery.  Some strokes are so mild that the victim is unaware that they’ve happened.  These transient ischemic attacks or TIA’s, can manifest as temporary vagueness or loss of sensation, and shouldn’t be ignored as they can be an indicator of a bigger stroke to come.  Most strokes are of the ischemic variety, and vary in severity, although strokes can also take the form of a blood vessel rupturing, known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

The most important factor in recovery is the speed with which medical treatment can be administered.  It’s quite likely that the person having the stroke will not realize anything is wrong, since their ability to recognize that something is wrong will have been compromised by the effects, so the more education about the signs of stroke that can be given, the better.  Look out for trouble walking, trouble speaking, and muscle weakness, and don’t hesitate to call for medical help at once.  There’s a relatively small window in which drug treatment can be effective after the stroke has happened, and since proper hospital assessment is necessary to determine which course of action to take, the patient should be at hospital within an hour of the attack to benefit from drug treatment to disperse any blood clots.

Once the immediate danger is passed, the patient will be assessed for physiotherapy for any movement loss, and memory and speech therapy to help with regaining language.  The road to recovery is a long one, and any exercises given will be hard, tiring, and often continue long after the stroke patient has been discharged from hospital, and even back to relatively independent living.  However, with diligent therapy, a good recovery is possible even for relatively severe stroke in the elderly.  It’s worth noting that as with any major health event, emotional recovery can take longer than that for any physical symptoms.  Counseling can help, as can joining a stroke survivors group, so that you can be reassured that your experiences are quite normal, and that you’re not alone.

Need more information? Speak with the team at HomeAide Home Care in Hayward, CA.

September 15, 2014 |

Getting Your Elderly Loved One to Bathe

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When helping to care for an elderly loved one you want to maintain the person’s dignity, privacy, and independence while promoting safe and sanitary habits. Many elderly people are reluctant to bathe or shower for a variety of reasons and caretakers should approach this situation carefully. How do you encourage your loved one to bathe or shower more regularly without sounding disrespectful? What is the best method to encourage showering or bathing? What equipment may we need to make showering and bathing safe? Every elderly individual is different and there are a variety of reasons many struggle with regular showering and bathing.

We suggest that caretakers:

Provide as much privacy as is safely possible. Many elderly people are reluctant to shower because of a lack of privacy.

Keep supplies stocked. An elderly loved one may be hesitant to shower or bathe if supplies are running low or are out. Make sure there are plenty of towels, washcloths, soap, and shampoo on hand at all times.

If possible, have your loved one shower in a tub bath. This is safer than a shower stall and is more easily modified to fit an individual’s needs.

Protect against falls. Place no-slip grippers in the bottom of the tub, keep the bathroom floor dry, and provide plenty of rubber-bottomed floor mats to walk on.

Invest in additional equipment. Installing a shower seat, a hand held shower head, or balance rails may make your loved one feel more comfortable and secure in the shower.

Create a routine. Form a collaborative plan with your loved one to make a bathing or showering routine. Plan for this time within a daily schedule and set the expectation that bathing or showering happens on a regular basis.

Take a professional’s advice. Seek counsel from an occupational therapist or a home care professional. This expert can suggest additional equipment you may need and can help you create a safe and comfortable space for your loved one to bathe.

Listen to your loved one. Take the time to have a conversation about bathing and showering and listen to your loved one. You may discover that the lack of showering and bathing is for reasons you never considered. Figuring out the true reason behind it can help get solutions in place much quicker.

Helping to care for an elderly loved one can be difficult at times. You want to foster independence without sacrificing safety. Understanding the individual needs of your loved one and creating a trusting relationship that allows for dignity and respect are imperative to ongoing health and happiness.

Need help at home? Speak to Back Home Senior Care, a home care agency in Alameda, Ca.

September 15, 2014 |

How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?

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Brushing your teeth is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent plaque buildup, cavities and gum problems. While some people are more prone to tooth problems than others, everyone must brush regularly to avoid tooth decay, and costly dental procedures. While everyone seems fully aware that tooth brushing is a necessary part of the daily routine, the number of people who are unaware of how often to brush, how much to brush, and exactly how to effectively brush teeth is staggering. We’ve collected some information that should help to clear up the ever important question of “how often should I brush my teeth?”

How Often Should You Brush?

Most dentists agree that teeth should be brushed at least twice a day. Morning, after you’ve had breakfast, and evening after your dinner, is generally considered acceptable. While twice a day is a general recommendation, most dental professionals agree that you should brush your teeth three times a day if possible, or after each meal. Brushing after each meal helps to clean the teeth of any food debris, which can help bacteria grow and can lead to tooth decay.

The Best Way to Brush

The best way to brush your teeth is gentle, suggest dental professionals. People who brush too hard can potentially erode the tooth and irritate the gums. Most agree that gentle brushing for two to three minutes is ideal. You should angle the brush at a forty-five degree angle and brush against the gum line gentle, on both sides of the tooth. This helps to remove debris from the gum line. When brushing the surface of the teeth, most dentists agree that the brush should be laid flat on the tooth and brushed back and forth. It is important to get to every tooth, including the ones further back in the mouth. In fact, the teeth at the back of the mouth are the ones most responsible for chewing, and special attention should be paid to them.

Brushing Tips and Tricks

Many people use the wrong toothbrush for their mouth. Dentists suggest picking a toothbrush that fits comfortable in your mouth. If you are fighting to get the brush to the back teeth, it means the brush is too big and isn’t doing an adequate job in the back of the mouth. The less comfortable brushing is, the less likely you are to brush the necessary times of day, so be careful when picking a toothbrush.

Many people do not change their toothbrush often enough. Dentists and experts suggest you change your toothbrush at least every three months. If you have gum disease, the brush should be changed once a month or once every six weeks. Brushes wear out over time and can keep bacteria locked into the bristles, which means your teeth aren’t getting as clean as they could, so remember to swap out the brush.

You can also use your toothbrush to brush your tongue. This can help remove excess bacteria, and it will freshen your breath. To do this, simply swipe your tongue gently with the brush. Be more gentle on your tongue than you are on your teeth, as the surface is soft and delicate. Some toothbrushes come with a scraper on the reverse side of the brush, if you have one, use it.

Looking for a local dentist? Try member Smile Matters in Fremont, CA.

September 11, 2014 |
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