DID YOU KNOW that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States? It’s well known that smoking can lead to a number of lung-related diseases but in reality, the negative effects of smoking can be seen in almost every part of the body, especially the mouth.

Smoking Compromises Your Oral Health

Among other cancers, smoking puts you at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, approximately eight out of 10 patients with oral cancer are smokers. Smoking remains the biggest controllable risk factor for this deadly disease.

Tobacco use is also related to severe gum disease. Becausesmoking weakens your body’s ability to fight infection, bacteria build up more easily in your mouth in the form of plaque and tartar. Bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and cause them to pull away from your teeth, resulting in bleeding and sensitivity. This can ultimately lead to tooth and bone loss. Those who smoke are two times more likely to develop gum disease than a nonsmoker.

Other dental problems that can be caused by smoking include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Coated or black hairy tongue
  • Tooth decay
  • Dulled sense of taste and smell
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed healing after tooth extraction or other surgery
  • Lower success rate of cosmetic dental procedure

A Note About Electronic Cigarettes

Within the past couple of years, electronic cigarettes have gained popularity, especially as a “safer” alternative to smoking. Since e-cigarettes are relatively new, not much research has yet been published about their long-term health effects. What we do know is that while e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, most contain nicotine, which is known to cause damage to the mouth.

Because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, it reduces the amount of blood that can flow to your gums. This means that the gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need, causing gum recession and tooth sensitivity as well as putting you at a higher risk of cavities. The reduced blood flow to the gums caused by nicotine use can also mask the signs of gum disease, making it harder to detect and diagnose. This delays treatment and allows the disease to progress.

Until further research is done, we can’t really know how safe e-cigarettes are. As health care professionals, we advise you to avoid them until their long-term effects are known.

Count Us As A Part Of Your Support System

Our patients are more than just patients–they are friends. We care about your health and well-being and want you to count us as a part of your support system to help you quit smoking. If you aren’t quite ready to quit, continue to see us regularly as recommended so we can help you maintain your oral health as best as possible. Talk to us about quitting today and how we can help you!

Thank you for your friendship and loyalty!

WE OFTEN GET THE QUESTION from our patients, “What’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” Many people think they are the same thing. There is an important difference between the two, however, and it can help explain just why a daily oral hygiene routine is so crucial, as well as twice-yearly visits to your dentist.

What Is Plaque?

Dental plaque is that soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and under your gums throughout the day. And guess what? It contains millions of bacteria! When you eat—especially carbohydrates or sugar—you’re not the only one getting a meal, so are the bacteria on your teeth. After “eating,” these bacteria produce acids that erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

That’s why good daily oral hygiene is essential to preventing tooth decay and protecting your smile from the bacteria in plaque. To prevent plaque buildup, remember to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can also help!

What Is Tartar?

So if that’s plaque, what’s tartar? Tartar is what accumulates on your teeth when plaque is not removed. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it will harden into tartar and is much more difficult to remove. In fact, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional–you can’t get rid of it with regular brushing and flossing. Tartar removal is one of the reasons that visiting your dentist every six months is so important!

Plaque buildup that hardens into tartar can cause more than just cavities. It can cause tooth discoloration and sensitivity as well as gum recession and periodontal disease. To reduce tartar formation, make sure you get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing daily.

Orthodontic Treatment Can Help

It is harder to get into those little nooks and crannies between the teeth when they are crooked or crowded, making brushing and flossing more difficult. Overlapping teeth can even trap food particles, leading to more severe plaque buildup and a higher risk of tooth decay. Straight teeth allow for easier brushing and flossing and thus, less plaque!

You Deserve A Beautiful, Healthy Smile

No matter how great your oral hygiene is, plaque and tartar formation are inevitable. So despite your regular visits to the orthodontist, make sure to see your general dentist every six months as well. As dental professionals, it’s our job is to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile that’s plaque- and tarter-free!

Thank you for your trust and loyalty.

WHEN THE COLD AND FLU SEASON STRIKES, your teeth and braces are probably the last things you’re thinking about as you reach for another tissue! But there ARE some things related to that cold or flu that can affect your oral health.

Since tooth decay and gum disease can be especially risky during orthodontic treatment, we want you to be conscious of these three things:

Tip 1: Avoid Dry Mouth By Staying Hydrated

Dry mouth increases cavity risk. Most colds come with a giant side order of stuffy nose. We respond by breathing through our mouths! Doing so, combined with decreased saliva production during sleep, makes our mouths more vulnerable to harmful bacteria.

Tip 2: Keep The Bad Stuff Off Your Teeth

  • Are you sucking on cough drops all day? Most are loaded with sugar. Opt for sugar-free cough drops if possible. AND, be sure not to bite down on those super-hard drops.
  • Cough syrup is loaded with sugar too. If you take cough syrup, rinse your mouth out before going back to bed.
  • Stomach acid is hard on teeth. Sorry to bring this up, but if you’re throwing up, keep your teeth rinsed and clean.

Tip 3: No Matter How Tired…

We know it’s tough when you’re sick, but don’t skip your normal brushing/flossing routine just because you’re feeling really tired. Your oral health while you’re in braces is just too important to neglect.

A Few More Practical Tips For Staying Healthy

 

Stay healthy this flu season! Remember to sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands often to keep viruses from spreading. If you have any more questions about measures you should take for your orthodontic treatment during cold and flu season, let us know! We want to ensure your treatment stays on track, even if the flu pays a visit to your home this year.

If you’re sick, get feeling better soon! And thanks for your trust in our orthodontic practice.

GOOD NUTRITION IS extremely important to having a healthy smile. It also aids in orthodontic treatment!

By eating right during your treatment, you can make sure your teeth are strong enough to support braces as well as avoid any setbacks.

Avoid Hard, Chewy Foods With Braces

In reality, your diet won’t change much because of orthodontic treatment. There are, however, some foods that you should avoid. Your braces may be sturdy and strong, but they’re not invincible. Do your best to stay away from the following foods while wearing braces:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Ice
  • Hard candies
  • Chewy, sticky candy such as taffy, gummy bears, caramel, etc.
  • Hard cookies or crackers

There are also foods that you should eat with caution, such as:

  • Raw vegetables. It is better to cook vegetables such carrots and broccoli before eating them so they are softer and easier on your braces.
  • Fruit. Cut up harder fruits such as apples before eating and chew with the back molars. Be careful with the pits of some fruits as well.
  • Pizza crust and other hard, chewy breads. Bread like baguettes, bagels and pizza crusts are often hard to chew. To soften them, heat them up and cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Corn. Stay away from corn on the cob. First cut the corn off the cob and then enjoy!
  • Tough meats. Some meats are more fibrous than others and can be hard to chew. The best varieties of meat for braces are the tender cuts, meat cooked in a slow cooker, and meat cut off the bone. Chicken and seafood are good protein alternatives as well.
  • Chips. Eat chips carefully and one at a time.

It’s also important to refrain from chewing on pencils, pens and fingernails–this can also do damage to your wires and brackets.

Make Sure You Eat A Balanced Diet

A healthy diet combined with good oral hygiene makes for faster and more effective orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, some braces wearers resign to a diet of soft foods with little nutritional value because of the above restrictions. Even though you have to be careful with some foods, it’s more important than ever to keep up proper nutrition. Healthy teeth respond better to orthodontic treatment!

In addition, orthodontic appliances put you at a higher risk of tooth decay. Cavities and other oral health problems such as gum disease can prolong treatment time. Maintain a balanced diet as well as a diligent oral healthcare routine to protect your smile from tooth decay and oral disease. And remember, twice-yearly visits to your dentist are just as important for the health and beauty of your smile as your visits to our office!

Have Questions? We Have Answers!

Do you have any more questions about what you can and can’t eat with braces? Call us or send us a message through social media. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Thank you for the trust you place in our practice!