How Does Swimming Affect Teeth?

swimming and teeth_700HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED any extra sensitivity in your teeth after a fun afternoon swimming? You aren’t imagining things, though it usually takes more than just one trip to the local pool before there are any effects. But what does swimming have to do with tooth sensitivity?

The Effects Of Chlorine On Tooth Enamel

When you hear the phrase “swimmer’s calculus,” you might think it’s advanced math for mermaids, but it’s actually the name of what gradually happens to tooth enamel with enough exposure to acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Chlorine in pools is great for keeping them sanitary for the public to swim in, but it also changes the acidity of the water.

Prolonged exposure to the diluted hydrochloric acid in pool water can wear away the tooth enamel of avid swimmers, leading to yellow and brown stains on the teeth and increasing tooth sensitivity. A few visits to the pool over the summer wouldn’t be enough to produce this result, but members of swimming or diving teams, water polo players, and anyone who swims laps multiple times a week to work out, could be susceptible.

A Deeper Dive: Scuba Diving And Teeth

Natural bodies of water won’t give you swimmer’s calculus, but they come with their own dental concerns. If you’ve ever dived into the deep end of a pool, you’ve probably felt the pressure building up in your ears on the way down. The deeper you go, the stronger the pressure becomes, and it can even happen in your teeth.

Tooth squeeze (barodontalgia) is when tiny air bubbles that get trapped in crevices, cracks, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure, which can be painful and may even cause a tooth to fracture! This is why it’s a good idea to visit the dentist before you begin diving, especially if you’ve had dental work done in the past.

Diving Mouthpieces And TMJ

A lot of divers agree that the “one size fits all” design of the mouthpieces is more like “one size fits none,” but if you want to breathe underwater, you have to grip it between your teeth for the entire dive anyway. This can be pretty hard on your jaws.

Clenching your jaws for extended periods can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), with symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. If you dive more than once or twice a year, a good solution might be to get your own custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

In addition to these issues, simple tooth injuries are more common around pools than other places. To avoid these kinds of accidents, be careful around those slippery surfaces, don’t come up out of the water too fast at the edge of the pool, and don’t dive in shallow water. If you have any questions about what you can do to protect your teeth at the pool, just give us a call!

We hope that all of our patients are having a wonderful summer!

 

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.

What Are Those White Spots On My Teeth?

THERE ARE A LOT of things that can leave stains on our teeth, and stains can come in many different colors. You could see yellow stains, brown stains, or even the temporary stain from eating brightly colored candy, but what about when the stain is white? Where do those white spots come from, and is there anything we can do about it?

White Spots From Fluorosis

Surface stains that affect the tooth enamel sometimes appear on a tooth that is otherwise healthy. One cause of this kind of stain is fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when developing adult teeth are exposed to too much fluoride. It doesn’t damage the teeth, but it does unevenly bleach them, leaving white spots on them before they even grow in.

To avoid white spots from fluorosis, make sure to limit the amount of fluoride toothpaste you use when brushing your child’s teeth. A tiny smear (no bigger than a grain of rice) is sufficient for babies and toddlers, and a pea-sized dab is the most you should use for a young child. When they begin brushing their own teeth, encourage them to continue going easy on the toothpaste.

The Effects Of Demineralization

A more harmful cause of white spots is demineralization. Demineralization is the gradual leaching of crucial minerals like calcium from the tooth enamel. Plaque buildup and acid exposure over time lead to demineralization, and people with braces are particularly susceptible to it.

Preventing demineralization is all about good brushing and flossing habits, as well as regular dental visits. We all should be brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and orthodontic patients should take extra care to clean away all the food residue and plaquearound the brackets to avoid white spots when the braces come off.

Enamel Hypoplasia

For an unlucky minority, white spots don’t come from demineralization or fluorosis, but from enamel hypoplasia, a condition that leaves the teeth with thinner enamel than usual and therefore more vulnerable to stains and decay. Causes of enamel hypoplasia in a child’s teeth include the mother smoking while pregnant, malnutrition, and premature birth.

Treating White Spots

It’s always better to prevent white spots from developing to begin with, but if they do appear, there are a few ways to treat them, such as microabrasion and bleaching. With microabrasion, a thin layer of enamel is scraped away to restore the tooth’s uniform appearance. Whitening treatments can improve the results of microabrasion even more, or it can be its own solution, as with bleaching. If you choose the bleaching route, we recommend professional whitening, whether in the dentist’s office or using a dentist-approved home whitening kit, for the best possible results.

Not all stains can be removed with these methods, and in these cases, veneers are an excellent option. The way these work is that the dentist attaches thin pieces of porcelain to the teeth, for a natural, uniform, white appearance.

Do You Have White Spots?

If white spots on your teeth have been bothering you and making you less confident in your smile, come see us so that we can determine the best solution. We want all our patients to be able to share their smiles freely!

Keep up that brushing and flossing, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

 

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.

How Braces Work

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WE ALL KNOW THAT braces shift misaligned teeth into their proper position over time, but have you ever wondered exactly how that process works? Today, we’re going to walk you through it, because it’s actually really neat.

The Pieces Of The Braces Puzzle

The different parts of your braces all contribute to the orthodontic treatment process in specific ways. You might have additional appliances tailored to your specific treatment plan, but everyone with traditional braces has brackets and archwires, tied together with o-rings (also called bands or ligatures).

Brackets

If you look carefully at braces brackets, you may notice that they aren’t all placed in a straight line. At first, the braces may even seem to emphasize the crookedness of the teeth. The way the orthodontist positions the brackets is what allows braces to shift teeth into their proper place. By the end of the treatment, the brackets — and, more importantly, the teeth — will be straight!

Archwire

The archwires run through the brackets on each row of teeth. The orthodontist chooses the thickness and material of the archwire carefully based on your treatment plan. As they try to straighten back into their original shape, archwires provide steady, gradual pressure in the right direction so that your teeth will shift towards their proper position. The colorful o-rings are what keep the archwires in place in the brackets.

Elastics

The most common addition to braces beyond the basics of brackets, archwires, and o-rings are elastics. If you have a malocclusion (bad bite) or misaligned jaw, elastics apply pressure to bring your jaws into proper alignment. In order for them to do their job, however, it is essential to exactly follow the orthodontist’s instructions. Wearing too many or too few rubber bands will interfere with your treatment and make it take longer.

The Biology Of Shifting Dental Alignment

So what’s actually happening on the cellular level during orthodontic treatment? Specialized cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts respond to the pressure around the periodontal membrane (the pocket of gum tissue connecting the tooth’s root to the jaw bone). Osteoclasts break down the bone tissue so that the tooth can move, while osteoblasts gradually form new bone tissue behind it. So it’s not just your teeth moving into position; your jaw bones are reshaping themselves too!

What About Retainers?

Your teeth still remember where they used to be for a while after the braces come off, which is why it’s so important for you to remember to wear your retainers as directed. Retainers will help your teeth get used to their new position, and they’ll prevent unrelated shifting that happens to most people naturally over the course of time.

Want To Learn More About Your Orthodontic Treatment?

If you have any questions about how your braces are working to give you that properly aligned, more functional smile you’ve always wanted, just give us a call, or ask us about it at your next appointment. We want all of our patients to have the information they need to feel confident in their treatment!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

 

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.

How Clean Is Your Tongue?

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“BRUSH YOUR TEETH for two full minutes twice a day and floss your teeth once a day.” You’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve heard that, but how often have you heard that you should be cleaning your tongue every day too?

The Difference A Clean Tongue Makes

More bacteria likes to live on our tongues than just about anywhere else on our bodies. That’s because all those tiny crevices in the tongue’s surface are prime real estate for all kinds of pathogens. If we don’t actively keep our tongues clean, the harmful bacteria will stay put and multiply, causing bad breath and contributing to tooth decay on the inner surfaces of our teeth.

Another reason to regularly get rid of all that tongue bacteria is that it can dramatically improve your sense of taste. When the tongue is covered in bacteria, the tastebuds have a hard time doing their job, but with the bacteria gone, they’re free to absorb all those delicious flavors at their full capacity. Yum!

Chemical digestion begins in our mouths, and a clean tongue makes this process more effective too. So, if you want to enjoy your favorite foods as much as possible, keep your breath clean and fresh, and improve your digestive health, clean your tongue!

Finding The Best Tools For Cleaning Your Tongue

Keeping your tongue clean takes more than swishing mouthwash or rinsing with water. The bacteria hiding in all those tiny grooves is very stubborn, and washing with liquid won’t be enough do dislodge them. To really clear off the biofilm of bacteria, you need to scrape it with a tongue-scraper.

If you don’t find these in the grocery store near the toothbrushes, you can order one online, and some toothbrushes have tongue scrapers built in on the reverse side. Between brushing and rinsing your teeth is the best time to scrape your tongue. Start at the back and work forward, and try to get as much of the surface area as you can.

For the first few days, you might be surprised by how much biofilm comes away with the tongue scraper, but the longer you stick with it, the cleaner your tongue will become, until it seems like you’re scraping away nothing but clean spit. See if you notice the difference in your breath and your sense of taste when you get to this point!

Tongue-Scraping Is Older Than You Think

If you’ve never heard of tongue-scraping before, you might think it’s a new idea, but it’s actually been around since ancient times in some cultures. It’s part of the daily hygiene routine in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Tongue-scraping tools have been made of many different materials across the centuries, including copper, silver, gold, ivory, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. Today, they’re typically plastic or stainless steel.

Have Any Questions About Tongue Cleaning?

If you have questions about tongue cleaning or would like our recommendations on the best tools for the job, just give us a call! We’re always happy to help our patients improve their daily dental hygiene regimens, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

Thank you for being such wonderful patients!