What’s the Deal With Tongue Scraping? Should I Be Doing it?

What’s the Deal With Tongue Scraping? Should I Be Doing it?

Tongue scraping is a dental hygiene technique that’s gaining popularity across social media channels. It claims extreme benefits such as defeating bad breath, eliminating bacterial buildup, preventing cavities and improving dental health. If you’ve heard mentions of it you might be wondering — what is tongue scraping exactly and is it worth the hype? We’ll discuss what tongue scraping is and what studies actually prove about the practice, whether you should stick to traditional routines or add something new to your brushing regiment.

What is tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping is a hygiene practice that involves using a rounded plastic or metal tool to remove extra food particles, dead cells, and bacteria from the surface of the tongue. It is intended to remove the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and bad breath. 

Many people have added tongue scraping as an extra step in their dental hygiene routine, others do it after meals instead of brushing, and still others say it improves the appearance of their tongue — but is it actually working? And could it be a replacement for other forms of cleaning?

What Dentists Say About Tongue Scraping

Dentists say that while tongue scraping probably won’t have adverse effects on your health, most studies show inconclusive or insignificant results of regular tongue scraping for reducing odor or bacteria. There isn’t a clear trend that demonstrates incorporating daily tongue scraping will lower your chance of getting a cavity or that it removes particles responsible for bad breath.

Dentists agree that a greater focus on cleaning all areas of the mouth is beneficial for your health and that taking good care of your tongue is important. For tongue scraping to really remove enough particles it would have to be performed many times per day, but should never replace regular brushing and flossing. 

Still, since there are few side effects, dentists don’t discourage patients from trying it out and seeing if it works for them. If you do experiment with tongue scraping, take care to sanitize the scraper before and after use and make sure there are no sharp points that could cut or abrase the tongue. Of course, remember to keep up with your regular dental hygiene routine.

What You Need to Defeat Bad Breath

While some claim tongue scraping to be an excellent way to get rid of odorous or unwanted particles, there are more effective methods for keeping your mouth clean and healthy. 

Twice Daily Brushing

Regular and thorough brushing of all teeth is the first defense against bacteria and tooth decay. You should brush at least twice per day for a minimum of two minutes. Use a toothbrush that allows you to reach all areas of the teeth, carefully around the gums, and even over the surface of your tongue.  

Regular Flossing

Flossing is a great way to get at particles that hide between teeth. You should floss daily, but it’s easier to make it a second step to brushing in the morning and evening. Flossing removes dangerous plaque before it turns into tartar and can help keep your teeth cavity-free. If you don’t want to use floss, there are alternative methods like using a water flosser which can be gentler on sensitive gums while also easier to navigate around permanent retainers or braces. 

Drinking Water

Drinking recommended amounts of water throughout the day can also relieve bad breath. Regular intake of fluids is not only good for the rest of your body but is also excellent for dental hygiene. Drinking water pushes food particles out of the mouth and cleanses the tongue’s surface. It works to maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the mouth while driving out the bad.

Dental Cleanings

Of course, the best way to make sure your mouth is as healthy as it can be is by visiting your dentist regularly. Your dentist can remove dangerous plaque buildup and tartar before it threatens your teeth and gums with cavities or disease. Cleanings and annual fluoride treatments defeat lingering bacteria that brushing and flossing didn’t remove. If you’re concerned that an underlying issue might be causing a persistent problem with bad breath, your dentist will be able to help investigate and provide solutions.

While tongue scraping won’t necessarily give you better breath, a regular dental checkup will! Give us a call at (616) 842-0822 or schedule your next appointment online with Creason, Weber & Mountford today to make sure your dental health is in check.

6 Of Your Most Common Dental Hygiene Questions Answered

6 Of Your Most Common Dental Hygiene Questions Answered

As dental professionals, we get asked a lot of questions. There are a lot of answers out there, but also a lot of contradicting opinions, misinformation, and new technology that has changed the way we understand dental hygiene. We’ve collected the most common dental hygiene questions we receive and answered a few of them here. If your question isn’t listed below, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love your questions, and more than that, we love talking about dental hygiene!

 

How often should I really floss?

The American Dental Association recommends flossing once per day. Flossing gets after extra bacteria that hide between your teeth that brushing can’t reach. If this bacteria is left for too long, it becomes plaque and then can harden into tartar which can only be removed by your dentist. Flossing every day will also prevent sensitivity at your next cleaning appointment. Your gums will strengthen over time so flossing won’t be painful or cause bleeding.

A good way to incorporate flossing into your daily routine is to pick a time each day you can stick to. Some people prefer to floss right before bed so they can sleep with a completely clean mouth. 

If you don’t like using dental floss, there are dentist-recommended alternatives that work just as well. A Waterpik, for example, uses a thin stream of pressurized water to clean in between teeth. It’s especially useful for people with braces or permanent retainers, as it can be difficult to thread dental floss around the wires.

 

How can I avoid long-term tooth stains?

Stains can form from the repeated consumption of certain foods and beverages. Coffee, wine, black tea, chocolate, and berries are common offenders. If you can, eat or drink these things in moderation. Otherwise, consider brushing your teeth after consuming them. Dentists also recommend drinking with a reusable straw whenever possible if you’re concerned about staining your teeth.

Most stains on teeth only affect the enamel, or the surface of your teeth. This type is stain is called an extrinsic stain. Extrinsic stains can be corrected with whitening procedures in your dentist’s office or at home through the use of whitening toothpastes or strips. If you’re concerned about a stain you can’t get rid of, talk to your dentist.

 

How do I convince my kids to brush their teeth?

The best way to convince your child to brush their teeth is to make it part of your routine together — and to make it fun. Come up with a song to sing with your toothbrushes in your mouths that lasts a few minutes while you thoroughly clean your teeth. Use a fun toothbrush or flavored toothpaste to make your child look forward to using it. 

Most importantly, make sure that brushing your teeth is a part of your routine. If it seems important to you, it will be important to them. Try to set an example early in your child’s life that dental hygiene is a priority. We recommend having your child visit a dentist for the first time at least 6 months after they get their first tooth, or before their first birthday. 

If you need more ideas for making brushing fun, talk with your child’s dentist! More than likely, they’ve had to talk a kid or two into a dental cleaning they were less-than-excited about. They’ve definitely learned a few tricks for making dental hygiene exciting.

 

Which is better: manual vs. electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes are consistent and easy to use. Some dentists say that electric brushes are more effective at cleaning because they are gentle on teeth and have features like built-in timers that make sure people are brushing for a sufficient time. Electric brushes are more expensive, however, and not as convenient if you’re traveling. 

Manual toothbrushes can be found at almost any drugstore for a low cost. If you have a good brushing technique, manual toothbrushes are just as effective as electric ones. Your dentist may warn against overbrushing, as it’s easy to brush too roughly with a manual brush. Ultimately, as long as you’re brushing thoroughly every day, either is fine.

 

How can I prevent cavities?

Another common dental hygiene question is about avoiding the dreaded cavity. Cavities form when plaque is left to its own devices and eats away at the protective enamel on your teeth. If not removed by regular brushing or a dentist’s tools, the bacteria will eat its way through your tooth until it causes severe damage, pain, and possibly infection or tooth loss. 

The best way to prevent cavities is regular, twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing. Brush your teeth for two or three minutes, being careful to clean around every tooth — even the ones in the very back. Limit the amount of sugary foods or drinks you consume, or at least limit when you have them — i.e. once per day. After having sugary foods, brush your teeth as soon as you can to prevent plaque from forming. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly each year to remove plaque and tartar. 

If you do get a cavity, it’s okay. Cavities are one of the most common health problems in the world and they happen to a lot of people. The most important thing you can do is address it right away. Call your dentist’s attention to any tooth pain you might be experiencing before it gets worse.

 

Why do I need to visit my dentist regularly?

Rather than waiting until you have a toothache or pain in your mouth, visiting your dentist is preventative care. By taking care of your teeth and mouth now, you can prevent decay, tooth problems and pain down the road. Dentists recommend at least two cleaning visits per year, and x-rays to be taken at one of those visits as well as the annual application of fluoride. 

If you’re unsure if you’re due for your next dental appointment, give your dentist a call! It’s better to take care of your teeth now, than wait and be sorry!

Now that you’ve got the scoop on some of our most common dental hygiene questions, make sure your next cleaning is on the calendar! There’s no better way to avoid cavities and keep your teeth healthy than by scheduling biannual dental cleanings.

Permanent vs Plastic Retainers: What to Know

Permanent vs Plastic Retainers: What to Know

If you’ve spent months or even years working to align your teeth through orthodonture, you know how important it is to maintain your straightened smile. It’s likely your dentist has recommended the use of a permanent or plastic retainer to help keep your teeth in their proper place. Which should you choose? Let’s talk about the advantages of both, as well as some of their drawbacks.

 

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and are a great idea if you don’t want to have to think about your retainer again. If you are one of those people who have a hard time remembering to do certain daily tasks like take vitamins or find your keys, remembering to put your retainer in every day might prove a challenge. 

Advantages of Permanent Retainers

The biggest advantage of permanent retainers is that you’ll never forget to put it in your mouth because it’s already there. Permanent retainers give better long term results for this reason. It’s always working behind the scenes to keep your teeth from roaming around. You might even forget it’s there. 

 

Drawbacks of Permanent Retainers

The main drawback with a permanent retainer from a dentist’s perspective is that they are more difficult for the patient to clean around when brushing at home. This can lead to plaque buildup and long term consequences if you aren’t diligent about flossing and attending regularly scheduled dental cleanings. 

If you have a permanent retainer, your dentist might recommend flossing “threads” that help you get the floss to those easily neglected areas, or that you start using a Waterpik — a machine that shoots a small, lightly pressurized stream of water around teeth to reach areas flossing can’t. 

If you decide a permanent retainer is the right choice for you, discuss with your dentist some cleaning options that will help you keep your teeth healthy as well as straight.

 

Plastic Retainers

If you’re not ready to commit to a permanent retainer, it’s possible that a plastic and removable retainer would be a better option. Plastic retainers are shaped to fit over your teeth or against the roof of your mouth with wires that hold the retainer and your teeth in place. It might be uncomfortable at first, but with regular use you can build the habit of wearing it. 

 

Advantages of Plastic Retainers

Plastic retainers usually don’t have to be worn all the time. Some just have to be worn overnight or during the day except when eating or exercising. Retainers that are clear are very subtle and practically unnoticeable when worn. Eventually, the plastic will wear out and can age and discolor, so plastic retainers need to be replaced every so often. 

 

Drawbacks of Plastic Retainers

The biggest problem with removable retainers is that patients will forget to use them frequently, or misplace them altogether. If you don’t establish a regular habit of putting in your retainer, your teeth may start to move. If they move enough your retainer may no longer fit comfortably and you will have to be fitted for a new one by your dentist. 

Fortunately, if lost or ill-fitting, they can be replaced. Unlike permanent retainers, plastic ones don’t prohibit brushing and flossing so it’s easier to keep teeth clean. Retainers can also be freshened with a thorough soak and scrub. 

 

Permanent vs. Plastic Retainers

The choice between permanent or plastic depends on you. Will you remember to wear your retainer on a regular basis? Or would it be easier to have it attached and not worry about it? Are you committed to keeping your teeth clean and flossing around a wire or would you rather be able to remove a retainer to brush your teeth? 

Some dentists may recommend a combination of a plastic and a permanent retainer. Permanent retainers are often attached behind the bottom front teeth because they are the most likely to move. At the same time, an upper removable retainer might be used overnight, to help make sure teeth stay in alignment.

Whichever option you and your dentist choose, you will likely need to change some habits to keep your smile clean and healthy. After you worked so hard to achieve a beautiful smile, you need to protect it. 

If you have concerns that your retainer isn’t working for you, stop into Creason, Weber & Mountford to make sure your teeth get the proper care you need, and to ask the dentists if it’s time to update or replace your retainer. Request an appointment or call 616-842-0822 today.

How to Pick a New Dentist

How to Pick a New Dentist

If you just moved, got new insurance, or had a baby, you might need to find a new dentist to better meet your needs or your family’s. Here are some things to consider when choosing a new dentist:

 

Specialties and Services

Your situation and needs determine the specialties and services you’ll want from a dentist. If you have kids, a dental practice with a pediatric or family dentistry specialty will ensure that your kids get treatment from people experienced in working with kids and their dental issues and needs. If you want to straighten crooked teeth, you may want to choose a dentist’s office that has an orthodontist on staff. If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, make sure the dentist you choose has cosmetic dentistry capabilities.

 

Insurance

This is the biggest factor for most of us, since paying for all dental services out of pocket can be pricey, and you pay for insurance for a reason. If your dentist of choice doesn’t take your insurance, you’re more likely to skip necessary dental checkups. When choosing a new dentist, make sure that they take your dental insurance and that there are no hiccups or hangups.

 

Comfort

If you don’t like your dentist, you shouldn’t go to them. It’s important that you find a dentist you’re comfortable with so that you can trust them to listen to and address your concerns, to provide you with the best possible care, and to bill you fairly and work with your insurance company.

 

Convenience

Convenience is a consideration for anything we do, because we lead full and busy lives. If it’s not convenient for you to see the dentist, you might dread your visits even more and put off going, which can lead to oral health problems. 

Convenience doesn’t only apply to location (though a good location near work, home, or the kids’ school is always a bonus!). It can also apply to scheduling and appointment availability. For those who work, that means appointments that are available during lunch or before or after work; for families with children, this could mean having enough staff to get all the kids’ appointments in at the same time, so you don’t have to visit separately with each kid.

 

Are you looking for a new dentist? Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry is here to meet your dental needs!

How Often Do I Really Need To Go To The Dentist?

How Often Do I Really Need To Go To The Dentist?

We get it: going to the dentist is a pain. You have to take time off work to get your teeth cleaned and your gums poked, and to sit in a chair with your mouth open while someone works over it with tools that are metal or sound like a power drill. Many people dislike going to the dentist. If you’re one of them, you’ve probably asked yourself “How often do I really need to go to the dentist?”

So, how often should you see a dentist?

It depends on a variety of factors, including oral hygiene habits, health, conditions like pregnancy, or even genetic factors. 

It’s likely that you’ve heard that you should have a dental checkup every six months. While this is a good recommendation for average, healthy people, it’s just a starting point. According to an article reviewed by the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, health and dental organizations set the standard twice-yearly visit schedule as a “best guess” for preventing and catching tooth decay and gum disease.

Tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease are all preventable conditions with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. If as a healthy person with no extenuating conditions you have a dental checkup every six months, your dentist will be able to diagnose and address any emerging gum or tooth issues before they become a large or systemic problem. Your dentist may also be able to identify other health conditions that present with oral symptoms, like diabetes and certain cancers.

However, people with certain conditions or risk factors may need to see a dentist more often than twice per year. These factors include

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Weakened immune system due to bacterial infection
  • Gum disease
  • Persistent tooth or mouth pain
  • TMJ disorders
  • Greater than normal propensity to build up plaque

 

These conditions can put you at greater risk for oral infections, gingivitis, cavities, and gum disease, and your dentist will want to monitor your oral health more closely than the twice-yearly recommendation allows. 

Additionally, even if you have been to the dentist in the last six months, if you experience an emergent dental issue like a broken tooth or troublesome conditions like persistent bad breath, you should make an appointment with your dentist. Check out Six Signs it Might be Time to See Your Dentist for a few issues you shouldn’t put off until your next semiannual checkup.

Has it been more than six months since you saw a dentist? Schedule an appointment with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.