Keeping Your Smile Healthy for Dental Hygiene Month

Every year in October we celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month! This is the time of the year when we recognize the work dental hygienists do, and help raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. As your partner in oral health, your dental hygienist helps to keep your teeth clean and educate on and treat all forms of gum disease. Here are a few tips from our hygienists on ways you can keep your smile healthy.

Stick to a routine.

It’s much easier to remember to brush when you make it part of your daily schedule. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends keeping a regular routine of brushing two times a day. If you are due for a cleaning or dental work, be sure to schedule and keep your appointment.

Brush to your favorite song.

It is important to brush for two minutes. An easy way to time yourself is to brush for the length of your favorite song. As well, make sure you are using soft bristles to avoid damaging your gums. Focus on the gumline and scrub every surface of each tooth. While both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective when used correctly, some of the benefits of electric toothbrushes include built-in timers, light indicators that indicate if you are brushing too hard, and notifications that let you know when to replace the brush head.  

Use a toothpaste with fluoride.

Choose a toothpaste that has fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent cavities. Also, make sure the toothpaste has the ADA seal of approval, which means it is safe and effective.   

Choose an effective oral rinse.

Choose an oral rinse that will kill bacteria in your mouth. If you have dry mouth, it’s best to use an alcohol-free rinse.

Drink lots of water.

The ADA explains that water, particularly water with fluoride, can strengthen teeth and help to prevent tooth decay. Be sure to drink a lot of water to help rinse acids and food particles away. This is especially important when eating dried fruits like raisins and cranberries, which tend to stick to your teeth. 

Don’t forget to floss.

While flossing may not be your favorite thing to do, it is beneficial to clean between your teeth to reduce bacteria. Any floss will do, though you may want to choose a waxed floss if you have tight contacts. If you know you will not floss, make sure to get another tool to clean between your teeth, such as a water flosser, interproximal brushes, and toothpicks.  

Achieving optimal oral health requires a partnership between you and your hygiene team. If you’d like to discuss your oral health or are ready to make an appointment, contact us today. We’d love to see your smile!

Schedule an appointment today!

Should you consider getting dental implants?

September is National Dental Implant Awareness Month! A time to spread awareness about the benefits of dental implants and how they can benefit a patient’s life.

Dental implants are a great solution for missing teeth. They are suitable for patients of varying ages who have lost teeth due to injury, illness or gum disease. Dental implants are metal posts, usually made from titanium, that are surgically placed into your jawbone beneath your gums. 

On top of each post, your dentist places an abutment that connects the implant to a replacement tooth — usually a crown, bridge or denture. If you are missing one or more teeth, here are a few benefits to getting dental implants.

They are a long-term solution to missing teeth.

Unlike dentures and bridges, dental implants are a long-term replacement that you can brush and floss just as you would natural teeth. They fit comfortably in place and won’t slip out!

They help you eat and speak more comfortably.

Many patients with missing teeth report difficulties with chewing foods and/or speaking. Dental implants provide a foundation for replacement teeth that look, feel and function just like natural teeth, allowing you to speak and eat with ease.

They prevent bone loss.

Dental implants help to prevent the bone deterioration that occurs when teeth are missing, preserving your jawbone and facial structure. 

They help you smile more confidently.

Many patients with missing teeth often feel self-conscious about their smile. Dental implants match the color and appearance of natural teeth, helping to improve confidence levels.

They don’t get cavities!

The material a dental implant is made of cannot decay. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about a cavity. 

They prevent misalignment.

A missing tooth leaves a gap that can cause other teeth to shift around. Dental implants fill in the space to keep your teeth straight. 

Do you think you might be a candidate for dental implants? Contact us to make an appointment and learn more!

I have a toothache, what does it mean?

Having a toothache is no fun, especially when you’re not sure what’s causing it. The pain can begin to affect your quality of life and even limit your ability to eat, depending on how severe it is. It’s important to see your dentist and find the root of the problem — pun intended! — so you can get it fixed as soon as possible. 

Potential Causes

There are a lot of factors that could be contributing to your toothache:

  • Tooth sensitivity.
  • Tooth fracture.
  • A damaged filling.
  • Repetitive motions.
  • Eruption or removal of a tooth. 

These are all minor causes that your dentist can help treat, but sometimes your toothache might be from a more severe underlying issue:

  • Cavities — tooth decay can begin causing pain in your tooth the more severe it gets.
  • TMJ — a type of temporomandibular disorder which can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. This disorder can cause toothaches in the affected areas.
  • Infected gums.
  • Abscessed tooth — a bacterial infection inside the center of the tooth.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain that won’t go away, or is worsening, call your dentist right away and make an appointment to have it checked out. 

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

May is National Mental Health Month — a time to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Many people struggle with anxiety every day to the point where it can roll over into basic tasks such as going to the dentist.

Having dental anxiety can prevent you from getting the care you need to keep your smile healthy. Whether you’ve had a bad experience or have just always felt nervous about going to the dentist, it can be hard to work up the courage to schedule those annual checkups. Overcoming these fears can help ensure that you don’t miss out on any dental problems you might have. 

Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist:

  • Find the right dentist. There are a lot of dentists who are specially trained to help with those who have a fear of the dentist. Reach out to dentists in your area and find the best option for you.
  • Don’t go alone. For your first visit back to the dentist, bring a buddy! Whether that be a friend or family member, having someone there to offer support can help immensely.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Things like meditation and deep breathing exercises before a dental appointment can help calm your nerves and put your mind at ease. Take a deep breath in, hold for four seconds and then slowly let it out. Repeat!
  • Distract yourself. Bring some earbuds or headphones to your appointment and listen to music while the dentist cleans your teeth. If there is a TV in the room, ask your dentist if you can put something on to watch.
  • Ask questions. Always ask your dentist any questions you may have about what to expect at your appointment, the treatment they recommend, or about the dentist’s background or qualifications. Getting as much information as possible can help prepare you for what will happen and ease your nerves. 

When in doubt, talk to your dentist! Communicate your fears and concerns, and they will be able to help you overcome your anxiety. 

 Why Oral Health Is So Important for Your Overall Health

While you might not think your oral health has any connection to your overall health, they often go hand in hand. Your mouth is full of bacteria, both good and bad, which can sometimes spiral into certain diseases or infections. 

What conditions are linked to oral health?

As Mayo Clinic explains, there are many conditions linked to oral health, and it’s important to be aware of them:

  • Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves typically occurs when bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Inhaling certain bacteria from your mouth, including bacteria from infected teeth or gums, can be pulled into your lungs and cause pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.
  • Arthritis. Tooth loss due to gum disease increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Dementia. Bacteria due to gum disease can enter your brain through nerve channels or the bloodstream, possibly leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

How can you help prevent these from happening?

  • Proper dental care. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using mouthwash and replacing your toothbrush every three to four months are all ways to practice proper dental care. 
  • Regular checkups. It’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year to ensure that everything is healthy and treat any possible issues. 
  • Healthy eating habits. Limiting sugary food and drinks helps prevent cavities and gum disease, which can lead to other conditions if left untreated. 

Anytime you notice a new oral problem beginning to develop, contact your dentist immediately to ensure that it’s taken care of as soon as possible. You never know when it could potentially affect your overall health. 

Why should we care about gum disease?

February has been designated Gum Disease Awareness Month! Initially launched by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, its purpose is to raise awareness about gum disease and encourage healthy dental habits to prevent it.

What is gum disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease, also referred to as periodontitis, is the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In the early stages, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. As it progresses, the gums can pull away from the tooth, which can eventually result in bone and tooth loss. Not only does gum disease affect your mouth, it can affect your body as well. Regular check-ups and good oral hygiene are important to ensure everything is healthy.

Risk Factors

Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults, with 47.2% of those aged 30 years and older having some form of it. This risk only increases with age. On top of age, there are many other risk factors that can increase your chance of developing gum disease. One of the primary risk factors is smoking, followed by poor oral hygiene, diabetes, stress, hormonal changes and medications that cause dry mouth.

How can gum disease affect your body?

While gum disease starts in the mouth, when left untreated, it can start affecting many other parts of the body as well. This includes respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease and diabetes.


Common symptoms of gum disease to watch out for include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums.
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums.
  • Gums that feel tender when touched.
  • Gums that bleed easily.
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing.
  • Painful chewing.

How can gum disease be prevented?

The best way to help prevent gum disease is to have regular checkups with your dentist, brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease. If you’re having any symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out.

Howard Family Dental is a part of Mortenson Dental Partners.

Keeping Your Smile Healthy for Dental Hygiene Month

Every year in October we celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month! This is the time of the year when we recognize the work dental hygienists do, and help raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. As your partner in oral health, your dental hygienist helps to keep your teeth clean and educate on and […]

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