Upper Jaw Expansion: Understanding This Orthodontic Procedure

A lesser-known but highly useful children’s orthodontic procedure, upper jaw expansion sounds much more intimidating than it actually is. It is used to widen the palate and increase the dental arch length, making room for teeth to grow in. Here is a brief overview of upper jaw expansion.

upper jaw expansion

Reasons for Upper Jaw Expansion

Upper jaw expansion is typically performed for one of three reasons:

Dental Overcrowding: If the jaw is too narrow, the teeth do not have room to properly emerge. Upper jaw expansion in childhood can reduce the risk of expensive and frustrating corrective procedures as an adult.

Crossbite: The upper teeth should gently close around the lower teeth. If the upper jaw is too narrow, though, the upper teeth may close inside the lower teeth instead, leading to chewing problems and facial asymmetry.

Breathing Issues: A particularly narrow upper jaw could make breathing through the nose difficult. Constantly breathing through the mouth can cause bad breath and dry mouth, and may make the child more susceptible to pollution and airborne bacteria.

Age Guidelines

Upper jaw expansion should be performed between the ages of 5 and 15, preferably at the lower end of that range. Older teens and adults who require more than slight upper jaw expansion generally need surgery.

Treatment Techniques

There are three basic ways to expand the upper jaw, depending on the patient’s unique needs:

Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE): A fixed appliance that is bonded to the upper molars, a rapid palatal expander puts even pressure on both sides of the jaw. A screw at the center of the expander is turned at designated times with a special key, gradually increasing the pressure. This allows extra bone to grow into the space, slowly expanding the jaw.

Removable Palatal Expander: Used most often in teens and adults who need only slight jaw widening, a removable palatal expander resembles an all-chrome partial denture. The expander must be handled with care.

Surgically Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion (SARPE): When a great deal of expansion is needed, or an adult or older teen needs significant jaw expansion, SARPE is generally recommended. First, a custom fitted appliance is created. Then surgery is performed to separate the upper jaw into segments. The appliance gently spreads the jaw segments apart, creating space for bone to grow.

If your child’s permanent teeth have not yet fully grown in, an orthodontic retainer will likely be used after upper jaw expansion to keep the space open until the teeth are in place.

Upper jaw expansion is not exactly comfortable, but it should not cause outright pain. It can save a great deal of time, discomfort, and money later in life. Make sure your child thoroughly cleans the palate expander when brushing and flossing. If a removable expander is selected, monitor your child to be sure it is being properly used. The effort you and your child put in now will pay off in the long run.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Baby Pacifiers: Fears vs. Facts

Baby pacifiers inspire a great deal of debate among parents. Some argue that their kids will not fall asleep without using one, while others claim that even brief pacifier use can destroy a baby’s developing teeth. In reality, pacifiers are neither as dangerous as some believe or as safe as others claim. Here’s a look at the fears versus the facts.

baby pacifiers

Child Age

Infants have a strong sucking reflex, and find pacifiers to be soothing. Sucking on a pacifier can regulate how deeply a baby sleeps, reducing the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Pacifiers have not been shown to cause any harm to the oral health or development of babies under 2 years of age, and the benefits are significant, so pacifier use IS recommended for this age group.

For children aged 2 and above, though, things are different. Those who still use pacifiers or suck their thumbs should be discouraged. These behaviors could interfere with oral development, misalign the baby teeth, and put children at risk for ear infections.

Pacifier Design

Pacifier design is another vital consideration. For example, latex nipples should be avoided, as they can lead to a latex allergy and are at risk for babies biting through them. A silicone nipple is highly preferred.

Plastic shields are nearly ubiquitous on pacifiers, and there is no significant difference between colors and shapes. However, the shield must have holes to prevent choking.

It’s easier for a baby to grasp a button on the back of the pacifier, but a ring back is easier for parents to retrieve when dropped. Likewise, a glow in the dark back makes late-night retrieval simpler. A nice, but not required, feature is an automatic cover that will protect the nipple when the pacifier is dropped.

Pacifier Safety

Like any object, a pacifier may be made more or less safe depending on the precautions that are taken. For example, any attachment cord should be no longer than 6 inches to minimize choking risks. Glued on novelty parts are generally not safe, as they may come off and form a choking hazard. Although it is generally safe for a baby to fall asleep sucking a pacifier, it should never be inserted into the mouth of a baby that is already sleeping. The pacifier should be washed daily with a mild soap solution and thoroughly rinsed.

In addition, be careful not to use the pacifier as your default solution for a fussy baby. Babies cry for reasons ranging from hunger to a full diaper. Make sure your baby is clean and fed, and that plenty of cuddles are given, before offering the pacifier. Ideally, the pacifier should be a tool for bedtime and unusually fussy periods rather than a simple go-to.

Weaning Your Baby Off a Pacifier

Since your baby should not use a pacifier past the age of 2, it is best to start the process of weaning around the first birthday. This provides plenty of time to make the transition without worrying about your child’s oral health.

Start with some simple restrictions on pacifier use, and gradually increase those restrictions. For example, you might allow use of the pacifier only at home, and then only at naptime and bedtime. Insist that your child remove the pacifier when talking. Minimize overstimulation and be sure that the child is getting plenty of sleep and does not get too hungry, as she is more likely to crave the pacifier when not feeling her best. Offer plenty of love and support instead of the pacifier.

When you and your child are ready, quit the pacifier cold turkey. It is easiest to do this when connected to an event, such as a family vacation, but you can just choose a date. Expect some crying and anger. Remain calm, offer comfort, and remind the child in a matter of fact way that the pacifier is no longer an option. It can be tough, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for both you and your child.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

What You Should Know About Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

If you have sensitive teeth, you are probably used to making a lot of sacrifices. Refusing ice cream, ordering iced tea without ice, and drinking lukewarm coffee are just a few of the common adaptations people make. Fortunately, there is help. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth, either alone or in tandem with other treatments, can be a big part of the solution. Here’s how and why.

toothpaste sensitive teeth

Dentin Hypersensitivity

The medical name for sensitive teeth is dentin hypersensitivity. Dentin is the soft material inside your teeth, which is packed with nerve endings. It is normally protected by the hard outer layer, known as enamel. When enamel is missing, though, everything you eat or drink can touch the dentin, irritating the nerves and causing intense but short-lived pain. Dentin hypersensitivity is the tendency to frequently experience this irritation.

Common Causes

The most likely causes of dentin hypersensitivity are advanced tooth decay, gum disease, leaking fillings, or a cracked tooth, so it is important to have a dental checkup if dentin hypersensitivity lasts for more than a few days. It can also be brought on by certain dental procedures, so switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and avoid extreme food and beverage temperatures for a few days. Let your dentist know if it persists.

In many cases, though, the cause of dentin hypersensitivity is not clear. Brushing with whitening toothpaste, eating a highly acidic diet, and brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush have all been implicated in some cases. For many people, though, their teeth are just sensitive, similar to how many people have sensitive skin. Your dentist can help you manage the problem through a combination of specially-formulated toothpaste, mouth rinses, and other solutions.

Choosing a Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

For mild to moderate sensitivity, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth can be enough to manage the symptoms. This type of toothpaste is formulated with ingredients that block the exposed nerve endings. This reduces or eliminates dentin hypersensitivity regardless of the underlying cause. For best results, use the toothpaste for at least one month. Some people use this type of toothpaste for a lifetime. Be sure to choose a toothpaste that is high in fluoride, as this will strengthen and protect your teeth, further reducing sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth are a surprisingly widespread problem. Many cases are due to an underlying dental problem that can be successfully treated, but quite a few cases have no specific identifiable cause. Fortunately, toothpaste for sensitive teeth can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating dentin hypersensitivity. If yours persists, your dentist can prescribe further treatments to help you manage your condition. With proper care, there is no reason for you to be doomed to a life of tepid soup and melted frozen desserts.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Choosing Dental Insurance: What You Need to Know

Like health insurance, dental insurance pays a portion of your dental care expenses. Unlike health insurance, though, dental insurance is not covered by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That means that dental insurance is not required to provide any particular list of essential benefits, nor are there any limitations on annual caps or waiting periods.

dental insurance

Good dental insurance is hard to find, and many families try multiple plans before settling on one that meets their needs. Still, decent plans do exist. Here is what you need to know to choose a dental insurance plan.

How to Purchase Dental Insurance

Some employers offer dental insurance as part of a benefits package, and some health insurers offer add-on dental insurance plans. However, independent dental insurance is not much more expensive than an employer-sponsored or add-on plan. It is worth shopping around the individual market rather than immediately accepting the first plan you are offered.

Kinds of Dental Insurance

Modeled after health insurance, there are three basic kinds of dental insurance, along with a non-insurance option. Which kind you need depends on your unique circumstances, from your family’s current dental health to your travel habits.

Dental HMO: A dental HMO (health maintenance organization) is typically the least expensive solution, but it is also the most restrictive. All of your dental work must be performed by providers that are in your network, and you will most likely need a referral to see a specialist. Emergency care may or may not be covered out of network, so check the fine print for details. If you travel frequently or want to choose your own specialists, or if your preferred dentist is not in the network, an HMO is probably too restrictive to meet your needs.

Dental PPO: A dental PPO (preferred provider organization) can be thought of as a less-restrictive HMO. The insurance company will pay a higher percentage when you visit an in-network provider, and somewhat less outside the network. Most PPOs do not require a referral for a specialist.

This mid-priced solution fits how the “typical’ patient receives dental work. You can visit an in-network provider for routine care, but have the flexibility choose someone else when you are traveling, or when you need additional services.

Dental Indemnity: The costliest but most flexible option, dental indemnity works well for those who frequently travel, as well as those whose chosen dentist is not part of a network. You can visit any dentist you choose, as long as that dentist agrees to accept the insurance plan. Dental indemnity plans are typically limited to the United States, but some also cover border towns in Canada and Mexico.

Dental Discount Plan: A dental discount plan is not insurance, but can be a great cost-saving measure. If you choose a dentist who accepts the plan, you will receive all of your care at negotiated discount rates. You can even combine a discount plan with insurance for further savings.

Types of Services

For insurance purposes, dental services are divided into three types: preventive, basic, and major. Preventive care is heavily emphasized, and is usually covered at a far higher percentage than other services. Many insurers also have loyalty incentives, covering each type of service at a higher percentage in the second year and beyond.

Preventive care stops dental issues before they can start. It includes such services as exams, cleanings, and X-rays. Preventive care is generally covered right away at 80 to 100 percent of the cost, and is almost always 100 percent covered by year two.

Basic care is designed to save a tooth. Procedures include root canals and fillings. Some insurers cover basic care right away, while others have a 6 to 12 month waiting period. Basic care may be covered at 50 to 80 percent depending on the plan specifics and loyalty incentives.

Major care is designed to restore a tooth, and includes such services as bridges, dentures, and crowns. A handful of insurers cover major care at 25 percent right away, but most plans have a waiting period of 12 to 18 months. After the first year (or waiting period, if longer), it is typically covered at 50 percent.

The Fine Print

Every insurance plan is quite different, and it is important to read the fine print to learn the exclusions and limitations. Most insurance plans have very low annual maximums, in the neighborhood of $1000 to $1500 per year. Any work above that cost is at your own expense. A few companies have annual caps as high as $3500, with correspondingly higher premiums.

There are also annual and lifetime limits on specific services. For example, your insurer might cover only two cleanings per year, even if your dentist recommends that you receive four. You might only be eligible for replacement dentures every 10 years, or a replacement crown every five years.

Braces and dental implants are handled quite differently from company to company. Some cover them as major services. Some do not cover them at all, or cover them only for children under 18. Some have separate co-pays, deductibles, and annual and lifetime caps on them. Read the plan very carefully if you or a family member are likely to need these services.

Direct Pay vs. Reimbursement

The majority of HMO and PPO dentists, though not all, charge the patient for his or her expected portion of the costs and bill the rest to the insurance company. Some HMO and PPO dentists, and virtually all those who accept dental indemnity insurance, require you to pay the entire bill out of pocket and then wait for insurance reimbursement. Neither is right or wrong, but whether you are able to float the full expense could be a factor in selecting a plan and a dentist.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How to Save a Knocked Out Tooth

If you or child knock out a tooth, you might start to panic. After all, a tooth that was once living peacefully in your mouth is now lying on the ground. However, it is important to stop and take a deep breath. Roughly 5 million teeth are knocked out in the United States every year, and approximately 90 percent of them can be saved. It is crucial, though, to follow these steps to maximize your chances of saving the tooth.

hockey player How to Save a Knocked Out Tooth

Be Careful

How you handle the tooth can make the difference on whether it can be reattached, and it is vital to protect the tiny roots and nerves. Gently pick up the tooth by the chewing surfaces, avoiding the root end.

Rinse or Wipe the Tooth

If you have access to water, gently rinse away loose dirt. If not, use your hands to carefully wipe away obvious debris from the chewing surfaces, but do not touch the root. Do not use any tools such as a rag or a toothbrush, and do not apply any cleanser including soap or toothpaste.

Transport the Tooth in the Mouth

Your or your child’s own saliva is the best way to protect the tooth. If possible, carefully push it back into its socket. Otherwise, place it between the cheek and the gum tissue. Do not drink or eat anything, as you could damage or even swallow the tooth.

Milk Makes a Good Substitute

If there is severe oral trauma, the tooth belongs to a very small child, or there is some other reason not to transport the tooth in the mouth, gently submerge it in a glass of milk. Specialized dental solution is also available, but procuring it immediately is generally impossible. It is usually used by dentists to prolong the lifespan of knocked out teeth once they reach the office.

Do not submerge the tooth in water. This will likely cause severe trauma to the root, killing the tooth and making it impossible to reattach. Rinsing is acceptable, but prolonged exposure to water is never okay.

See the Dentist ASAP

A knocked out tooth is an extreme dental emergency, as most successful reattachments occur within 15 to 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out. It is worth trying to save a tooth that has been knocked out for even an hour or more, especially if it has been kept in the mouth, but the chances of success drop dramatically after the first 30 minutes. If your regular dentist’s office is closed, go to the nearest emergency dentist. Emergency dentists are available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Although a knocked out tooth can be scary, it is actually quite common, and there is an excellent chance for the tooth to be saved. If you or your child knock out a tooth, take a deep breath and remain calm. Follow the tips above, see a dentist immediately, and follow up with your regular dentist within a few days.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Tooth Discoloration: Common Culprits

Scrupulous oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, as well as two professional cleanings per year, are the best way to keep your teeth white. You can also have them professionally whitened in our office or with a take-home bleaching system. To make sure your teeth stay as white as possible, though, it is important to pay attention to your diet. Here are some of the most notorious tooth discoloring foods and beverages.

Tooth Discoloration: Common Culprits

Dark Berries

Dark berries are excellent for your health, but carry a risk of staining your teeth. Among the worst stain inducers are raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to cut dark berries out of your diet. Instead, drink plenty of plain water right after consuming them or drinking their juice, and follow up with a dairy product to neutralize their acids.

Tomatoes and Citrus Fruits

Brightly colored tomatoes and citrus fruits are a beautiful and healthy addition to any meal, but they are high in acids that can erode your tooth enamel, exposing the yellow-tinged dentin. Dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach contain natural tooth protectors, so dig into a salad before consuming these items when possible. Otherwise, be sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth with plain water after enjoying a glass of orange juice or a hearty tomato sauce.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are highly satisfying, and entire cultures have developed around their preparation and consumption. However, they contain high levels of tannins, which can stain your teeth. Dairy is a natural tooth cleanser, so try adding a bit of milk to your coffee or tea. When practical, try drinking from a cup with a lid, which can keep your teeth from becoming coated. After you finish your tea or coffee, drink some plain water to rinse your mouth.

Wine

Most people are aware of the staining power of red wine, which contains tannins like coffee and tea. However, you might be unaware that white wine erodes tooth enamel like citrus foods. Alternate a glass of plain water after each glass of wine.

Curry

Curry is an incredibly popular spice in Indian cuisine, but it can gradually cause your teeth to yellow. Fortunately, many curry dishes contain natural tooth cleansers such as celery, carrots, apples, or cauliflower. Drinking milk or water with your curry dish can further help to protect your teeth.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has an intense flavor that makes it a natural choice for vinaigrette dressings, but its dark, sticky nature can contribute to tooth staining. Thankfully, crunchy vegetables will help clean the balsamic vinegar from your teeth. Avoid totally saturating your salad, and include a wide variety of vegetables rather than just iceberg lettuce. Drink a glass of water afterwards to finish rinsing your mouth.

You don’t need to give up your favorite foods and drinks to protect your teeth from staining. Instead, practice moderation, pair products that stain with natural tooth cleansers, and drink plenty of plain water. In tandem with scrupulous oral hygiene, these simple steps can help keep your teeth looking their best.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

What You Should Know About Sports Mouthguards

Sports can be a wonderful way for kids (and adults!) to stay active and healthy, learn new skills, and develop friendships to last a lifetime. Yet like anything else in life, sports do carry certain risks. While it is impossible to prevent all injuries, protective gear can go a long way, and a mouthguard is a key part of keeping athletes safe. Yet not all mouthguards are the same. Here’s what you should know.

sports mouthguards

Sports That Require Mouthguards

As you may already know, mouthguards are required equipment for sports that are considered “contact sports,” such as:

Football
Rugby
Boxing
Hockey
Lacrosse

While mouthguards are not typically required to participate in “non-contact sports,” the American Dental Association expands its recommendations on who should wear mouthguards to those participating in a wide range of sports where impacts or collisions might occur. These include, but are not limited to:

Basketball
Soccer
Racquetball
Skateboarding
Gymnastics

Types of Mouthguards

Mouthguards come in three different types. Whichever you choose, make sure that it fits comfortably but securely, and does not interfere with breathing or speaking.

Stock Mouthguards: A stock mouthguard is purchased off-the-shelf, and is ready to wear. They are typically the least costly, but are not formed to the wearer’s mouth. This could result in a poor fit and uncomfortable sensation.

Boil and Bite Mouthguards: A boil and bite mouthguard can be purchased from almost any drugstore. As the name implies, you will need to soften the mouthguard in boiling water, let it cool just to a tolerable temperature, and then have the athlete bite down on it. This allows the mouthguard to form to the mouth, creating a reasonably comfortable, secure fit.

Custom Mouthguards: A custom mouthguard is specifically designed by a dentist to precisely fit the athlete’s mouth anatomy. These are the most comfortable and best fitted mouthguards available. However, they can be costly. If a boil and bite mouthguard is comfortable, it may not be necessary to spend the additional money.

Caring for a Mouthguard

Mouthguards are easy to care for, and proper care is absolutely essential. Rinse the mouthguard before and after using it, and wash it frequently with soapy water. Carefully inspect it after each washing for any signs of damage. Children need new mouthguards regularly, as their mouth anatomy changes as they grow, so their mouthguards must be frequently checked for fit. Your dentist can check the fit if you are unsure whether it is correct.

Dental trauma is a surprisingly common but frequently avoidable sports injury. A properly fitted, well cared for mouthguard can make a tremendous difference in lowering this risk. Kids should learn to take care of their mouthguards along with the rest of their sports equipment, and to let parents or coaches know right away if they have any mouthguard issues.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How to Conserve Water When Brushing Your Teeth

Although the Earth is covered in water, only about one percent is clean enough for human consumption. That means that even a small reduction in the amount of water you use can be a significant contribution to global water conservation. It can also significantly decrease your water bill over time. Yet many people don’t know how to reduce their water usage during daily oral hygiene. Here are some easy ways to conserve.

conserve water

Turn Off the Faucet

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that leaving the water running while brushing your teeth wastes an average of four gallons. In a four-person household, where each person brushes twice each day, that’s 32 gallons of water just running down the drain every day, or more than 11,000 gallons per year! Since you don’t use any water between dampening your toothbrush and rinsing your mouth, what’s the point?

Use a Cup

Although rinsing with water from your hands is convenient, you lose a lot of water down the drain. Instead, turn on the tap, capture a little water in the cup, and turn the tap off. If you would like to conserve trees as well as water, choose a reusable cup instead of a stack of paper cups.

Recycle Water

Many people like to run the water for a few moments before brushing, to ensure that it is the right temperature. There’s nothing wrong with the initial water, it’s just not ideal for tooth brushing. So why not recycle it by letting it run into a bowl instead of down the drain. Use it for your pet’s water dish, your plants, or even later drinking?

Fix Leaks

You are a captive audience for the two minutes you spend brushing your teeth, so why not multi-task by checking for leaks. Make sure no water is escaping around the faucet or pipe connections. Even a tiny leak could waste hundreds of gallons in a year, so if you notice any small drips, have them repaired as soon as you can.

Change the Hardware

New water-conserving faucet heads use about 50% of the water per minute that older faucets use. Yet you will scarcely notice the difference. Making the switch is a win-win, as it will lower your water bill while helping with global water conservation.

Teach Your Kids to Conserve

It’s never too early to teach your kids to be responsible citizens of the Earth. Let them see you using good conservation habits, and watch over them as they learn to brush their teeth. With a bit of consistency, your kids will start to save water without thinking twice about it.

With only about one percent of the Earth’s water available for drinking, we should all do our part to help conserve it. Following these simple tips when brushing your teeth can save thousands of gallons of water throughout the year, helping the planet and lowering your water bill.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How Often to Brush, Floss, and See the Dentist

Keeping your teeth clean is the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dentist visits help to ensure that any emerging issues are caught early, before they have the chance to spread or worsen. Yet many people don’t know what schedule to follow. Here’s how often you should brush, floss, and see the dentist.

brush floss

Brushing

If possible, brush your teeth after every meal. If this is not practical, make sure you brush at least twice per day. Choose a soft-bristled brush that is comfortable for your mouth and hand, and spend a full 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. People’s ability to gauge time is notoriously inaccurate, so consider setting an alarm or using an electric toothbrush with a timer.

Rinse your mouth following each meal and snack. Plain water is best, but unsweetened coffee or tea will do. You can also suck on hard candy or chew unsweetened gum to stimulate saliva production and clear out food debris.

Flossing

Floss your teeth once a day, whether with dental floss, a Waterpik, or an interdental cleaner. Work the floss gently between each pair of teeth and along the gum line. Be careful not to make sudden, sharp movements that could cause cuts. Your dentist will be happy to give a demonstration if you are unsure exactly how to floss.

Seeing the Dentist

Most healthy people will need to see the dentist twice per year. Your teeth will be professionally cleaned, removing tartar and plaque that are difficult to fully brush away, and your dentist will evaluate your oral health.

However, you may need to see the dentist more frequently. If you are at high risk for dental disease, your dentist may request that you come in more often. If you are undergoing any dental treatment, from braces to dental reconstruction, you will be scheduled for more frequent appointments until your treatment is complete. Always follow your dentist’s instructions.

Keeping your mouth clean and healthy is an ongoing process that requires an active commitment. Ask your dentist about anything that you find unclear, and always follow his or her recommendations. For most people, though, flossing once per day, brushing twice per day, and seeing the dentist twice per year will help to ensure a lifetime of oral health.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Flossing Teeth: Why and How to Do It Right

If you’re typical, you probably brush your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before you go to bed.) You probably know you should be flossing your teeth regularly, too … but if you’re honest you’ll probably admit you don’t do it nearly as often as you should. In fact, statistics indicate that almost 80 percent of people fail to floss.

Flossing takes time. It can also be uncomfortable or even painful (which actually means you should be doing it more often.) If you understand exactly why dentists recommend flossing your teeth once a day and how to floss the right way, you’ll be more likely to fit this important step into your daily routine.

“flossing

Why Dentists Recommend You Floss Your Teeth Daily

Flossing is the term dentists use to refer to the act of cleaning between the surfaces of the teeth using dental floss. Dentists recommend that people floss their teeth regularly (in addition to brushing their teeth regularly) because flossing has repeatedly been shown to improve oral health and prevent cavities and gum disease. Brushing your teeth removes plaque and decay-causing material from the tooth surfaces the toothbrush bristles can reach.

Flossing removes plaque and decay-causing materials from the crevasses between the teeth that toothbrush bristles can’t reach. If these materials are not removed, they degrade and turn into microbes that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Compelling Research Proves the Benefits of Flossing

For a study published in a 2008 issue of the Journal Periodontal, researchers at New York University studied 51 pairs of twins between the ages of 12 and 21 to assess the effects of flossing on oral health. Half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing and tooth brushing. The other half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing, tooth brushing, and flossing. Researchers collected samples from participants to assess how prevalent 26 plaque-causing microbe species were in the mouths of each participant before the study began and after the study ended.

The results were conclusive: the group that did not floss as part of its oral-hygiene regimen had “overabundant” amounts of cavity- and periodontal-disease causing microbes in their mouths. Researchers concluded that twins who flossed for 2 weeks reduced the amount of microbes associated with oral disease.

How to Floss Properly

Dentists agree and research backs up the fact that flossing is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Why do so many people forego this step? One reason is that they’re flossing incorrectly, thus causing themselves pain and discomfort that leads them to eventually skip this important step altogether.

Choose the right type of dental floss. If your gums are sensitive, choose a waxed or single-filament floss that will slide easily between the teeth without shredding.

Choose the right amount of dental floss. Ideally, cut an 18-inch or so length of floss for each flossing session.

Employ proper flossing technique. Wind most of the dental floss around the middle fingers of each hand (divided equally between the left and the right hand). You should have about an inch or two left to work between your teeth.

Firmly grip the inch or two of floss between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently and slowly work it between teeth in a vertical motion. Curve the dental floss around the bottom of each tooth, gently slipping it beneath the gumline to lift out debris. As you move from one tooth to the next, release more floss from your middle fingers so each tooth segment uses a clean section of floss.

After you have gently and thoroughly flossed between all teeth, discard the dental floss. Gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm water, swish, and spit. This will remove any residual food particles and microbes from your mouth.

If you can’t floss, use a floss alternative. Life is unpredictable and busy, and there will definitely be times when it’s not convenient or possible to perform a “textbook floss.” In these situations, you can improvise.

  • • Flossing picks or sticks are not as effective as dental floss but are acceptable in a pinch.
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  • • Sugar-free gum chewed for 20 minutes after a meal will help dislodge decay and encourage saliva production.
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  • • Last but not least, swish water forcibly between your teeth to clear away food particles, then spit out the water.
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We’re all born with one set of permanent teeth. When they’re gone, they’re gone! Flossing regularly is one of the most effective ways to ensure the health of your teeth and gums, and ensure your natural pearly whites will last and serve you well as long as possible.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.