Posts for: June, 2020
Keeping your smile healthy is our top priority and it should be yours, too!
When was the last time you thought about your at-home oral care routine? Are you brushing as often as you should be? Are you flossing every day? These are important habits that can protect you against cavities and gum disease. In fact, decay and gum disease are highly preventable with the proper at-home care in place. Along with visiting our Cohasset, MA, family dentists Dr. Kevin Thomas and Dr. Aaron Chenette for routine checkups, here’s how to maintain good oral hygiene,
Enhance Your Oral Care Routine
Let’s see how your current oral care routine holds up. Here’s what your dental care should consist of,
- Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time
- Using fluoride toothpaste, which can reduce your risk for cavities
- Flossing at least once a day
- Using an antimicrobial oral rinse
- Brushing your tongue, roof of your mouth and cheeks
- Swapping out a toothbrush with old, worn bristles for a brand new one
Improve Your Diet
What you eat and drink everyday plays a major role in your health, both systemic and oral. Just as your bones, tissue and muscles need the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy, so do your teeth and gums. Avoid sugar, starches and processed foods (this includes most packaged meals and food items). Some additional diet tips to follow include,
- Getting enough vegetables and fruits each day (about five to nine servings)
- Staying hydrated
- Maintaining a diet that is balanced in lean proteins, whole grains, beans, nuts and low-fat dairy
- Checking all food labels for sugar content
Ditch Bad Habits
Everything from soda addictions and smoking to using your teeth as tools can cause long-term damage to your teeth and gums. It’s important to take a look at your current habits and how they’ve been impacting your oral health. If you are a smoker, our family dentist and her dental team can help you find local Cohasset, MA, smoking cessation programs or products to help you quit. Once you’re aware of your bad habits it’s easier to stop them. We can help.
To schedule a visit with one of our dentists, Dr. Kevin Thomas or Dr. Aaron Chenette please call Cohasset Dental in Cohasset, MA at (781) 383-9393.
Looking in the mirror, you probably focus on your teeth and gums—i.e., your smile. Your dentist, though, will take the time to look deeper into your mouth, searching for anything out of the ordinary. That could be a type of mouth sore known as lichen planus.
Lichen planus are lesions that can appear on skin or mucus membranes, including inside the mouth. The name comes from their resemblance to lichens, a fungus found on trees or rocks (although the sore itself isn't fungi). As such, they often have a lacy pattern of lines emanating from purplish bumps.
Again, the first indication you have such a condition may come from your dentist. Sometimes, though, you may notice greater sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods and, if the gums are affected, irritation when you eat or brush.
If you find out you have lichen planus, don't be alarmed—it usually doesn't pose harm to your health and it's not contagious. Its appearance, though, could be mimicked by more harmful medical conditions, so your dentist will want to confirm the lesion observed is truly lichen planus.
It's routine, then, for your dentist to excise a small sample of the sore's tissue and send it to a pathology lab for biopsy. Although results will more than likely confirm lichen planus or some other benign lesion, it's better to err on the side of caution and ensure you're not dealing with something more serious.
If you are diagnosed with lichen planus, you may need to take steps to manage symptoms. In most people, the sore will go away on its own, although there's no guarantee it won't reappear sometime later. In the event it lingers, your dentist may prescribe a topical steroid to help ease any discomfort.
You can also minimize a future outbreak by practicing effective daily oral hygiene to reduce the bacterial populations that may contribute to the condition. And when you're symptomatic, try avoiding spicy or acidic foods like citrus, peppers or caffeinated beverages.
Lichen planus is more bothersome than harmful. Taking the above steps can help you avoid it or deal with it more effectively when it occurs.
If you would like more information on lichen planus, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Lichen Planus: Mouth Lesions That are Usually benign.”
If you’re brushing and flossing daily, as well as seeing your dentist at least every six months, you’re doing the top things needed to maintain your dental health. But all your hygiene efforts could be undermined if you’re not eating a dental-friendly diet. Simply put, there are foods that protect and promote dental health and those that increase your risk of dental disease.
Diets in the latter category are typically high in added sugar and low in natural food fiber. The largest sources of these are processed sugars from sugar cane or beets and high fructose corn syrup. With just a little knowledgeable label reading, you can find sugar and its various aliases added to thousands of processed food items including pastries, candies, sodas and energy drinks.
Heavy consumption of processed sugars also contributes to dental disease. Disease-causing bacteria thrive on sugar as a food source, which fuels both their growth and their production of oral acid. Elevated acid levels can dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel faster than saliva can keep up. Softened enamel opens the door to tooth decay, while increased bacterial growth can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.
A diet, however, low in added sugar and high in fiber can have the opposite effect. Although fresh fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars, they also have indigestible parts called fiber that slow the digestion of any sugars and allow the body to more efficiently process them. With the higher quantity of vitamins and minerals found in unprocessed foods, the overall effect of this diet is a decrease in your risk for dental disease.
Speaking of dental-friendly foods, we should also give honorable mentions to certain dairy items like cheese and milk that stimulate saliva production and are rich in calcium needed for tooth strength. Another beneficial category is both black and green tea, which contain antioxidants to fight disease and fluoride to strengthen enamel.
Adopting a low-sugar/high-fiber diet can have a profound impact on your overall health. Over time, you’ll also reap dental health rewards with stronger teeth and gums and a lower risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
If you would like more information on diet and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”