5 Fall Superfoods for Better Oral Health

dental superfoodsThere’s a chill in the air and the autumn harvest is plentiful. And many of the fruits and vegetables currently in season actually benefit your oral health. To keep your mouth in good health during this season, check out these five fall superfoods that are just ripe for the taking.

Apples
Often referred to as “nature’s toothbrush, “apples have a fibrous texture that helps cleanse and brighten your teeth. Chewing an apple also stimulates your gums, which increases saliva flow to help decrease acidity in your mouth that causes tooth decay. What’s more, by providing gum stimulation, apples help reduce bacteria that cause cavities.

Brussel Sprouts
This green leafy vegetable contains vitamins and minerals that are crucial in maintaining good oral health. Brussel sprouts are rich in vitamin C, and they also contain phosphorous, a mineral stored in your teeth and bones which helps your body absorb magnesium and calcium.

Pomegranates
This superfruit is a heavy hitter when it comes to fighting dental plaque. Bacteria-causing plaque can lead to gum disease. The juice in pomegranates contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that effectively removes and fights plaque buildup.

Turnips
The dark green leaves found at the top of the turnip vegetable are incredibly nutritious. Rick in vitamin C and vitamin K, turnip greens are good for your vision and for calcium absorption, making them essential for promoting strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Pumpkin
Last but certainly not least, pumpkin is chock full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Pumpkin contains zinc, which helps keep bones and teeth strong while protecting against bleeding gums. It also includes iron to keep your tongue healthy and magnesium to take care of your tooth enamel. The vitamin A found in pumpkin helps protect against cavities and contains healing properties, and vitamin C strengthens your immune system and helps prevent infections and inflammation in your mouth.

To learn more about keeping your mouth healthy during the fall season and beyond, schedule an appointment by completing our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

5 Easy Tips for Plaque Prevention

aesthetic dentistryPlaque build-up is no laughing matter. When plaque accumulates, your teeth feel like they have a slimy coating, and if this is left on too long, it can wear away tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. What’s more, bacteria found in plaque can make your teeth turn yellow and give you bad breath. To learn more about the best ways to combat plaque, check out these five helpful guidelines.

  • Brush Daily. Brushing twice a day is one of the best ways to care for your teeth and gums. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and choose toothpaste with fluoride. And don’t neglect your tongue, gums and the insides of your cheeks where plaque also forms.
  • Floss Regularly. This isn’t the easiest habit to get into, and it may seem tedious and time consuming, but flossing is essential for fighting plaque. It helps remove food particles between your teeth that your toothbrush is unable to reach. While twice a day is great, just flossing once a day can make a big difference.
  • Rinse Your Mouth. Using an antiseptic mouthwash along with brushing and flossing is the ultimate triple threat for stopping plaque in its tracks. Gargling for just 30 seconds each day can go a long way to warding off bacteria found in plaque.
  • Watch Your Diet. Sticky, sugary candies are major culprits for plaque buildup. That’s because they linger on your teeth longer than other foods. Other foods that cause plaque include cereal, bread, potatoes and corn. After eating these types of foods, try to make it a point to brush as soon as possible.
  • Get Regular Cleanings. A professional cleaning by your dentist will keep your teeth healthy and plaque free, just as long as you continue to care for your teeth diligently in between visits.

To learn more about plaque prevention, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Dry Socket Prevention after Wisdom Teeth Removal

The majority of people who have their wisdom teeth removed experience only minor swelling and discomfort. But a small percentage will develop a dry socket after the procedure. When you have your wisdom teeth removed, a blood clot forms in the hole in the bone where your tooth was, which helps protect the bone and nerves. When it becomes dislodged, it creates a dry socket that can then be home to food and bacteria. This causes pain and discomfort, and greatly impedes the healing process.

If you experience any of the following symptoms following wisdom teeth removal, it could be a sign of a dry socket:

  • Dull and throbbing pain that develops 24 to 48 hours after wisdom teeth extraction.
  • Emptiness in the socket where a blood clot should be
  • Foul odor or taste coming from the extraction site

While dry sockets are extremely painful, there are ways to prevent them from happening:

  • Take it easy. You’ll need to get plenty of rest following surgery, so abstain from doing any normal activities for the first week.
  • Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol, carbonated or hot drinks for the first day. And avoid using a straw, which can dislodge the blood clot and lead to a dry socket.
  • East soft foods. Applesauce, soup, mashed potatoes and yogurt are good options. Stay away from crunchy or chewy foods which may lodge in the socket.
  • Avoid smoking. Using tobacco products can interfere with proper healing after wisdom teeth removal. If you smoke, abstain for the 24 hours following surgery.
  • Rinse your mouth. For the first day after surgery, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours to remove excess bacteria. And when you brush your teeth, do so carefully and avoid the extraction area.

If you do develop a dry socket, the best thing to do is visit your dentist immediately.

To learn more about dry socket prevention after wisdom teeth removal, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273.

Flossing 101

flossingIf you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, good for you! You’re doing just what the American Dental Association recommends. But don’t forget to floss. In fact, the ADA suggests you floss at least once daily, more often when possible. It’s one of the best things you can do to maintain your oral health and prevent bigger problems from developing later on. And the best way to make sure your pearly whites are as healthy as they can be is to know proper flossing technique.

Flossing the Right Way
These helpful tips will ensure you’re using your flossing time wisely:

  1. Start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long, or about the length from the tip of your index finger to your elbow. Wind the floss around each of your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches of floss between your hands.
  2. Pull the floss so it’s taut and gently slide it up-and-down, making sure to reach just under the gum line, then wrap the floss around the base of each tooth and wipe each tooth two to three times.
  3. Be sure to use a new section of clean floss as you work on each tooth, and be sure to floss both sides of your teeth.
  4. Once you’ve finished flossing, brush your teeth. Flossing together with regular brushing is the best way to protect against gum disease and tooth decay.

The Best Type of Floss
Floss comes in many varieties – waxed, unwaxed, thick or thinner. Regardless of the type of floss you use, the fact that you’re flossing at all means you’re effectively removing more plaque from your teeth than you would from brushing alone. The bottom line: the best floss is the floss that gets used.
Your dentist can help determine the best type of floss to achieve optimal oral health. Dental products that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval are deemed safe and effective.

To learn more about proper flossing technique, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall: or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Don’t Sip Your Way to Tooth Decay

An ice cold, fizzy beverage can be a real treat. It’s refreshing, tasty and oh-so-satisfying. It’s also one of the leading culprits of tooth decay. You guessed it: soda. And besides wreaking havoc on your tooth enamel, soft drinks consumed regularly can lead to health complications including diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.

dental healthSoda is loaded with sugar, and when this sugar meets with bacteria in your mouth, it forms acid that attacks your teeth. Over time, this tooth-attacking acid can weaken tooth enamel, especially in children, whose teeth have not developed fully. What’s more, the sugar and caffeine found in soft drinks can actually accelerate dehydration. And your body actually needs water to fight fatigue, so when you begin to feel sleepy in the afternoon, choose water over a soft drink. It’s better for not only your teeth, but for your overall health.

Of course, brushing twice a day and flossing regularly is also critical to good oral health, as is visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent or reduce tooth decay:

  • Try to eat at least two servings of dairy foods per day
  • Reduce your juice intake to no more than six ounces daily
  • Indulge in a sugary soft drink only occasionally rather than regularly
  • Wait at least an hour after drinking soda to brush your teeth, which allows your saliva to begin the repair process
  • Replace your soda intake with water
  • When you do have a soda, use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth
  • Wash your mouth out with water when you’re finished to flush out tooth-decaying acid
  • Drink fluoridated water and use toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Watching your sugar intake
  • Chew sugarless gum

To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is It Time For a New Toothbrush?

You use it every day, often quickly and without much thought, yet it’s one of the most important tools for good oral health. It’s your toothbrush, and when it receives enough wear and tear, it needs to be replaced. So how do you know it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new?

According to the American Dental Association, it’s best to get a new toothbrush every three to four months, but exactly when really depends on how vigorously you brush. If you have a heavier hand, the bristles on your toothbrush will wear out sooner. When the bristles start to stray in different directions, it’s time for a new brush.

Types of Toothbrushes
toothbrushToothbrushes come in two styles – manual and electric. A manual toothbrush is more portable, making it easier to brush on the go. An electric brush needs to be charged so it may not be best when traveling. Regardless of the brush you choose (both are effective), the most important thing to remember is to keep it clean. Just one toothbrush can contain nearly 10 million germs and bacteria. Thankfully, these bacteria aren’t a major threat to your teeth, and it helps that toothpaste has an anti-germ element built into it. What’s more, bacteria needs moisture to survive, so after you brush, be sure to rinse your toothbrush under water to wash away leftover toothpaste and saliva, and then store your toothbrush upright so the bristles can air dry.

Remembering When to Replace Your Toothbrush
In our busy lives, it can be easy to forget when it’s time for a new brush. But there are some ways you can help yourself get into the habit of regular replacement. Consider changing out your toothbrush when you have your semi-annual check-up. Your dentist will give you a new brush at that time, so remembering to toss the old one should be easy. It’s also best to make a note on your calendar to remember to get a new brush midway before your next check-up.

To learn more about maintaining good oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

 

Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

When you’re expecting, it’s important to give your teeth and gums special attention. That’s because pregnancy causes changes in your hormones that increase the risk of developing gum disease, which can ultimately affect the health of your baby. To help you maintain good oral health during pregnancy, check out the following tips:

dental health for pregnant

  1. Talk to your dentist. Regular dental visits are safe for most pregnant women. At your next dental appointment, be sure to let your dentist know that you’re pregnant and the stage of pregnancy you’re in. It’s also important to advise your dentist about any medications your doctor may have prescribed for you before you became pregnant, as well as during pregnancy.
  2. Identify any changes in your mouth. Some women experience red, tender and sore gums during pregnancy. This may be caused by a mild form of gum disease called gingivitis, which can become more serious if left untreated. The good news is gingivitis can be controlled with regular teeth brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentist.
  3. Watch what you eat. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. As your baby continues to develop, you’ll have a hearty appetite which will likely include increased snacking. When you do snack, you may be making yourself more prone to tooth decay. That said, it’s best to choose foods that are nutritious like fruits, vegetables, yogurt and cheese. The best food to eat during pregnancy should contain vitamins A, C and D, as well as protein, calcium and phosphorous.
  4. Co-exist with morning sickness. Pregnancy and feeling queasy often go hand in hand. If you experience morning sickness and vomit often, rinse your mouth out with water after vomiting. It may also help to rinse with a mixture of water and one teaspoon of baking soda to prevent stomach acid from affecting your teeth. Another option is choosing a bland-tasting toothpaste to help prevent the reflex that triggers vomiting.

To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile during pregnancy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

The Best and Worst Foods for Oral Health

Brushing and flossing are the order of the day when it comes to caring for good oral health. But did you know the food you eat also has a big impact? To follow is a compilation of the best and worst foods for oral health. While eating (or avoiding) these foods won’t necessarily lead to a perfect mouth, following these guidelines can provide you with the tools you need to have the best possible smile. We’ll start with the biggest offenders first.

The Worst

oral health

  1. Citrus
    While citrus is a good source of vitamin C, it’s also highly acidic, especially in grapefruit and lemon juice. These acids can erode enamel of your teeth. Orange juice is less acidic and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D, so it may be best to opt for this variety over other juices. Just be sure to brush and floss accordingly.
  2. Candies and Sweets
    This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given the sugar content of these confections, which can cause tooth decay over time. Another drawback is the physical damage candy can do to your mouth. Hard candy, for example, can chip your teeth, and chewy candy can stick to teeth for a long time, allowing bacteria to build up.
  3. Soda & Sports Drinks
    Besides the sugar content found in soda, the acids in carbonated drinks are also extremely harmful to your teeth. What’s more, carbonation wears away and thins the enamel on your teeth. Sports drinks may seem like a good alternative to soda, but these so-called health drinks are also acidic and full of sugar.
  4. Wine
    Red wine, in particular, contains substances that can discolor your teeth, and the tannins in red wine can make your moth dry and teeth sticky, which worsens stains. White wine is also a culprit for tooth damage, as it (along with red wine) contains acid that can erode the teeth and allow stains from other foods to penetrate more deeply.

The Best

  1. Sugar-free Gum
    When you chew sugar-less gum your mouth produces saliva, which helps rinse harmful acids from your teeth and preserve tooth enamel.
  2. Water
    This is a no-brainer. Water is essential when it comes to oral health, as it helps wash sugars and acid off teeth. It’s also the main component in saliva.
  3. Dairy
    Because your teeth are mostly made of calcium, you need it in your diet to prevent the development of tooth decay. Dairy products like milk and especially cheese are rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth.
  4. Fiber-rich Foods
    High-fiber foods act as a natural scrubber for your teeth. By eating leafy vegetables like spinach or beans, you’re stimulating saliva, which neutralizes tooth-damaging acids. What’s more, while the food itself acts like a detergent in your mouth by scrubbing your teeth with the little food pieces.

To learn more about maintaining good oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

Say “Bye, Bye” to Bad Breath

It’s something nobody wants to hear: “You have bad breath.” Knowing you have bad breath can be extremely embarrassing for you and tough for those around you. Fear not – bad breath is a common condition that can be curbed by taking simple steps in your everyday life to help with this sensitive problem, hopefully for good.

dental flossingBrush and Floss Daily
This one is a no-brainer. If you aren’t already doing so, it’s important (and recommended) that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Flossing once daily is also important. This combined daily regimen releases trapped food from between your teeth and reduces plaque, a sticky build-up that collects bacteria that causes bad breath.

Brush or Scrape Your Tongue
Surprisingly, your tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to sour breath. In addition to brushing your teeth, you should also gently brush your tongue to not only get rid of bacteria, but food residue and dead cells.

Watch Your Diet
Garlic, onions and other spicy foods can ramp up bad breath in a big way. What you eat is absorbed into your bloodstream, then travels through your lungs where you breathe the odors out. Conversely, fasting or partaking in a low-carb diet can also cause bad breath. Eating a balanced diet and regular meals is a good line of defense.

Quit Tobacco
Cigarettes, snuff and pipes are proponents for bad breath. Besides causing cancer, smoking can stain teeth and damage your gums. Consider kicking the habit for optimal oral and physical health.

Chew Gum
Reach for sugarless gum instead of a dinner mint. Gum stimulates saliva which protects against bacteria-causing plaque and curbs bad breath. After-dinner mints, on the other hand, only mask the smell of mouth odor and do not protect against bacteria.

If you still experience bad breath despite your efforts, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor, as it’s possible your problem is linked to a medical condition. To learn more about maintaining good oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

Woman Brushing

Brushing Basics

Woman BrushingYou should be brushing your teeth every day, but as with many things you do so frequently, you ay not give brushing your teeth much thought. Find out more about brushing your teeth and check your habits to make sure you’re keeping your smile as healthy as possible.

How often should you brush your teeth?

You should brush your teeth after each meal. Keep a toothbrush handy at work so you can clean your mouth after lunch each day.

 

In most cases, you can brush right after the meal, but if you’ve consumed something acidic, it may be best to wait about a half an hour to brush so that your saliva can rinse the acid off your teeth. If you brush your teeth while there is still acid in your mouth, you could harm the enamel.

How long do you need to brush?

Many people brush their teeth right before rushing out the door in the morning or flopping into bed at night—which means they don’t always brush for as long as they should.

 

Remember to brush for at least two minutes. If you need help remembering how long to brush, play a song or watch a YouTube video that is about two minutes long while you brush your teeth.

What kind of toothbrush should you use?

Unless your dentist recommends something different, you should use a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles since bristles that are too hard can damage your enamel. In most cases the choice between a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush is about personal preference, but consult your dentist if you want a specific recommendation.

Why is toothpaste important?

Toothpaste makes your mouth smell clean and minty fresh, but it also serves other important functions. Toothpaste includes non-soluble abrasives to dislodge particles, fluoride to strengthen the teeth, and detergents to spread the toothpaste around the mouth and create foam.

What technique should you use?

When you brush your teeth you should move the toothbrush in small circles like the wheels of a train rather than moving the brush back and forth. This motion will dislodge more particles and keep your enamel healthy. Although brushing is important, it is important to remember not to brush too hard since that could harm your enamel.

What else should you be doing?

Brushing your teeth is important, but it doesn’t do much good without flossing, eating healthy, and going to your dentist for regular checkups. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy.