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Flossing is Just as Important as Brushing

Just brushing your teeth isn’t enough to keep your mouth clean and prevent disease. The tissue between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach is more prone to infection. That is why flossing regularly is just as essential to your overall oral health care as brushing. The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests flossing at least once a day to promote total oral health.

Why should you floss?

Flossing removes plaque from the areas of your teeth that your toothbrush just can’t reach. If you don’t remove this plaque, it can harden into calculus or tartar which can cause infection or disease. Two common issues associated with not flossing include gingivitis (gum infection) and periodontitis (gum disease), both of which can lead to the loss of a once-healthy tooth.

When should you floss?

In the end, it does not matter if you floss during the day or the night, as long as you floss regularly. The best way to make sure that you’re flossing on a regular basis is to make it a part of your daily routine. If you feel too tired at night, try flossing in the mornings. If your mornings feel too rushed, make flossing a regular part of your nightly ritual.

Here are some helpful flossing tips from the ADA:

  • Flossing is necessary for children who have at least two teeth that touch. If your child is not yet able to floss effectively by themselves, help them floss and make it a regular part of their teeth-brushing routine.
  • Try different flossing methods and find one that works best for you. Those who have difficulty flossing may like using a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, or even just a different type of floss.
  • If you experience pain when you first start flossing, this pain should ease within a week or two of regular flossing and brushing. If you still experience discomfort after you have been flossing regularly, consult your dentist.

No matter when you floss or what type of floss you use, make sure that you floss on a regular basis. If you find it difficult or you are not sure if you’re flossing effectively, consult a member of our team. Though flossing may add just one more step to your daily routine, it’s just as important to achieving a healthy smile as brushing.

Pregnancy & Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by loud snoring and brief, involuntary breathing pauses during sleep. We’ve known that sleep apnea can cause complications during pregnancy. However, a new study has come out that reveals exactly how sleep apnea affects a woman’s health during pregnancy.

Researchers found that having sleep apnea increases pregnant women’s chances of developing associated medical problems. The chances of developing preeclampsia and eclampsia, two conditions involving hypertension associated with pregnancy, increased by a factor of 2.5 and 5.4 respectively. The chance of developing cardiomyopathy, a significant and dangerous weakness of the heart muscle, was 9 times more likely in pregnant women with sleep apnea. Finally, pregnant women with sleep apnea were 5 times as likely to die while hospitalized for their pregnancy. In all cases, obesity made matters worse, and may have contributed to the rise in sleep apnea.

If you are having trouble sleeping, staying asleep, or feeling overly fatigued or tired during the day while pregnant, talk to your doctor about obstructive sleep apnea. Even if you did not have any sleep problems before pregnancy, the disorder can develop at any time.

A simple solution to this problem is a customized oral appliance, which is a small device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. This appliance can be an alternative to CPAP machines and, in some cases, be the first choice for treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Don’t suffer from sleep apnea and put you and your baby at risk. Call our office today if you need help finding a sleep physician that can diagnose your sleep apnea (804) 749-2669.

Enjoying the Holidays with Braces

The holidays are a busy time, and sometimes good oral hygiene can get neglected. It is especially important for people with braces to keep up with brushing, flossing, and using the waterpik. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and floss and waterpik at least once a day. Use a mouthwash daily to kill germs.

There is a whole variety of holiday foods that can increase your risk for tooth decay and damage your braces. Limit sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks and fruit drinks, to avoid having sugar on your teeth. You’ll also need to avoid certain foods because they are too gummy, hard, or likely to get stuck in or damage your braces. It is also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to the braces, such as:

  • Hard candies, like candy canes
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Certain raw vegetables, like carrots
  • Sticky sweets, like peanut brittle and pecan pie

But don’t worry! There are a lot of holiday foods that you can eat:

  • Turkey & Ham
  • Soup
  • Pasta, like macaroni & cheese
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Pudding
  • Ice cream
  • Pudding based desserts & pies, like pumpkin pie
  • Soft cookies, brownies, and cakes

If you experience any damage to your braces, schedule an appointment with us as soon as you can. If a wire comes loose, simply place some orthodontic wax on the end of the wire to avoid it poking the inside of your mouth until you can get to our office.

Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. It is essential that you put some extra attention into preventing tooth decay while wearing your braces. When your braces are finally removed, you want a beautiful, white smile, not decayed or stained teeth. Here are a few tips to help you keep your teeth healthy while wearing your braces:

Learn Proper Brushing Techniques
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole tooth, and brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth. Use a softer toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste for best results. Using an oral rinse every day will help, too. Rinsing with mouthwash is important regardless, but especially important when you have braces, as you need to disinfect the entire mouth, including those spots under the braces where your brush can’t always reach.

Brush after Every Meal
Since braces block food from naturally escaping your teeth after eating, it’s important that you take the time to brush and floss after every meal. The less time food has to sit on your teeth, the less likely it is to cause decay. This may seem like an inconvenience, but when you get your braces off, you will be very glad you brushed after every meal.

Eat Braces-Safe Foods
When you have braces, there are certain foods that you must avoid. For starters, sticky foods such as caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and are difficult to remove during brushing. Avoid hard foods, too, such as nuts and candy. Those goodies can bend wires or even break a bracket. And while you may love apples, carrots, or corn on the cob, they’re too firm or hard to bite into and can damage your braces. Crunchy treats can also harm your orthodontic appliances. It’s best to stay away from chips and popcorn, which can damage your braces. So just what can you eat? We recommend soft foods that are low in enamel-busting acids, such as bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta.

Get Regular Checkups
It’s important to keep your routine appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning twice a year or as directed. The exact frequency of these visits will be up to your dentist, as some types of braces are more demanding of a regular cleaning than others.

As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth healthy while you wear braces.

Mouth Guards and Braces

School is just around the corner, and the beginning of the school year means sports are starting up again. A lot of our patients play sports, and now is a great time to remind all of you to take care of both your mouth and appliances while participating in sports – especially contact sports such as soccer, football, and basketball.

One of the most important pieces of sports equipment you can wear on the field is a mouth guard. A well-fitted mouth guard allows you to breathe and speak more clearly, in addition to protecting your mouth and appliances. Only by using a mouth guard can athletes avoid serious mouth and jaw injuries. The next time you’re in for an adjustment appointment, we encourage you to let us know if you’re playing or planning to play any sports. We will provide a mouth guard that will help protect your mouth, teeth, and appliances.

Here are another five quick tips for keeping yourself safe during sports activities:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Stretch before and after a game or practice
  • Wear protective eyewear
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin
  • Be observant, even as a spectator

We hope this helps! You can always contact us if you have any questions!