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Dental News « Mark Freeman, DDS

Archive for the ‘Dental News’ Category

Who and Why Some People Get Cavities

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Unless you’re a dentist, chances are you don’t give that much thought to cavities. Along with chickenpox and ear infections, it’s a health issue we tend to associate with the Dora the Explorer set. So the results of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may leave you open-mouthed: One in four of us is walking around with an untreated cavity, and nearly all adults will suffer from tooth decay at some point in their lives.

“We tend to associate cavities with early childhood, but adults actually have the same rate of tooth decay as kids,” says Bruce Dye, DDS, dental epidemiology officer at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, who helped to conduct the survey. “It can affect you at any time during your lifespan.”

Considering that tooth care has been programmed into our brains for practically forever — brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily, and visit the dentist every six months — why are so many adults orally challenged? We get to the root of the problem and reveal surprising ways to keep your pearly whites in peak condition.

Certain populations are more cavity-prone

According to the CDC report, some ethnic groups have higher rates of untreated tooth decay than others. It’s more prevalent among African-Americans (46 percent) and Hispanics (36 percent), than Caucasians (22 percent) and Asians (17 percent). What’s causing the disparity?

“That’s the billion-dollar question,” Dye tells Yahoo Health. “We’ve been trying to tease out the source of the difference, but it’s a complex issue.” He explains that there are three overarching factors that contribute to oral health: biology, social conditions, and behavior.

In terms of biology, some people were blessed with genes that give their chiclets a better chance to shine, like bulletproof enamel, bacteria-bashing saliva, and a robust immune system. And according to the American Academy of Periodontology, it’s possible that certain clusters of the population are genetically susceptible to oral disease.

“A new study found that a small percentage of African-Americans are missing a variant form of salivary protein that wards off cavity-causing bacteria,” David Silverstrom, DDS, at the Silverstrom Group, tells Yahoo Health. (That being said, stellar oral care can help you overcome a less-than-ideal gene pool. And even strong DNA won’t totally protect you if you neglect your chompers.)

Then there’s the social element. “Lower socioeconomic groups tend to have greater levels of untreated cavities,” pediatric dentist Jonathan Shenkin, DDS, vice president and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, tells Yahoo Health. “And access to health care plays a major role.” Medicaid coverage varies greatly from state to state, with some states offering no dental benefits, or only limited benefits for emergency care. What’s more, even if a patient has decent coverage, he or she may not have access to transportation to get to the dentist’s office in the first place.

Finally, lifestyle contributes to the quality of your pearly whites. Research has found that disadvantaged social groups are more likely to smoke (which dramatically increases the risk of gum disease and tooth loss) and to consume diets high in added sugar, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. “In addition, there may be a lack of education about proper tooth care among people in poverty or near-poverty,” says Shenkin.

Sneaky habits can sabotage your smile

Cultural background aside, you may be wondering why cavities persistently pop up in some oral hygiene devotees, while, on the other hand, a slacker who does the bare minimum may still maintain a gorgeous grill.

Related: 7 Terrible Foods for Your Teeth (That Aren’t Candy)

Here’s the deal: The idea of “soft teeth” is a myth. However, genes do play a role in how cavity-prone your teeth are. “Certain DNA strands lay down teeth that are better able to absorb fluoride and create a hard enamel surface,” Dye explains. Plus, some people are born with particularly bountiful saliva, which provides a moist environment for healthy bacteria to thrive, bathes your ivories in essential minerals like calcium and phosphates, and neutralizes your mouth’s pH. (Too much acid eats away at enamel.) Having a naturally hardy immune response makes you better at fighting infections of any kind, from the flu to gum disease. Finally, the shape of your mouth has an impact: “Crowding makes it more difficult to floss and remove bacteria,” Shenkin points out.

But there are also hidden triggers. Bottled water guzzlers are missing out on the benefits of fluorinated municipal drinking water. (The same is true if you grew up sipping unfluorinated water, such as well water.) Snorers have dry mouths, an environment in which cavity-creating bacteria thrive. Teeth grinders wear down their enamel, making them more vulnerable to decay. Frequent snackers are exposed to a near-constant stream of sugar throughout the day.

On that note, you might also be unwittingly consuming cavity bombs. “Acidic foods like citrus and soda lowers the pH levels in your mouth, causing demineralization,” says Dye. If you consume sugary beverages (yes, that includes juice!) he suggests alternating with water to restore a healthy pH balance.

“And anything sticky gets caught in your teeth and lingers longer in your mouth,” adds Shenkin. That includes even healthy choices like dried fruit and nut butters. His fix: Chew sugar-free gum after meals to stimulate saliva flow, which will help clear away sugars.

Related: What to Avoid for Better Teeth — and Breath

Cutting corners might cost you more

Even people lucky enough to score dental benefits through work are starting to feel the financial costs. “Employers are covering less and less — in fact, there has been no increase in the maximum billable amounts in the last 30 years,” says Shenkin. “There are fewer in-network dentists to choose from, and out-of-pocket costs are rising. As a result, we’re seeing a dramatic drop in dental visits among adults with private insurance.”

But skimping on oral care until a toothache hits can backfire, big-time. “A cavity is like an iceberg,” explains Shenkin. “If you wait until you see a hole or feel pain to go to the dentist, it’s a sign that you probably have an enormous cavity brewing underneath.”

That’s right: There are rarely any noticeable signs or symptoms when decay first sets in, meaning that waiting to self-diagnose is risky. “That’s why we take X-rays,” says Shenkin. “You can’t view small cavities with the naked eye, but in an X-ray, they appear as dark triangles on the surface of the tooth.”

These tiny pits can often be easily treated with a program that promotes remineralization, such as avoiding sweet drinks and using toothpaste with a high fluoride concentration to strengthen your enamel and prevent the crater from reaching the inner layer of your tooth, or dentin. (Once it penetrates the dentin, game over — the drill comes out.) It can be hard to wrap your head around handing over a hefty sum for a cleaning when you feel totally fine, but “just because nothing hurts, that doesn’t necessarily mean things are good,” Shenkin says.

What if you do nada? If you’re lucky, your untreated cavity might remain stable, staying the same size year after year. Or it might get serious fast, triggering an infection that could potentially lead to hospitalization. “It’s similar to ignoring a rattling sound in your car,” says Shenkin. “Disregarding the problem will require much more expensive work in the long run.”

And it’s not only your teeth that are in danger. “Oral health impacts your overall well-being — when in balance, the complex community of billions of bacteria in your mouth actually protect and support your body’s ability to live,” says Silverstrom. “However, when disturbed, it produces bad bacteria that lead to gum disease and cause a decrease in our immune response. If you don’t take care of your teeth, you could get cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s.”

Best to play it safe, and put your money where your mouth is.

This article was found on Facebook:  Yahoo Health

Don’t Forget to Floss

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Flossing is an integral part of your oral health regimen:  however, many people do not spend enough time flossing their teeth, or they do not floss at all.  By flossing just once a day, you can decrease your risk of gum disease and increase your chances of maintaining good oral health throughout your lifetime.

Brushing cleans the tops and sides of your teeth, but flossing cleans in between teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.  Dental floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums.  it also helps to polish tooth surfaces and control bad breath.  You should floss your teeth for 2-3 minutes at least once a day.  The best time to floss is right before bed, but you can incorporate it into any part of your daily routine that’s convenient.

Take an 18 inch piece of floss and wrap the bulk of it lightly around your middle finger.  Wind the rest of the floss around your middle finger on the opposite hand, and use this finger to take up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed.  Do not rub the floss from side to side.  Instead, create a “C” on the side of each tooth.  Make sure to floss below the gum line.  Flossing should not be painful, but you may experience some discomfort or bleeding when you first start.  These side effects should subside in a week or two as you continue to floss.  If it does not, please talk to one of our Hygienist or Doctors at your next visit.

There are a variety of flosses available, and all of them do a similar job of removing plaque.  Wide floss, or dental tape, may be beneficial for those with a lot of bridge work or spacing between their teeth, while waxed floss may be easier to fit between tight teeth and restorations.  Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know when your teeth are clean.  Waxed floss does not fray as easily as unwaxed floss.

Another option is pre-threaded flossers or floss holders.  These are useful for those with limited dexterity, those just learning to floss, or caretakers who are flossing someone else’s teeth.  If you have children, you should start flossing their teeth as soon as they have two teeth contacting each other, and floss holders are very good for children to learn with.  If you have any additional questions about flossing or the type of floss best for you, please feel free to ask Dr. Freeman or Dr. Scott or any of our talented Hygiene Staff at your next cleaning!



Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233



Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

On the one year anniversary of the Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign, the Partnership for Healthy Mouths announced the results of their study.  They demonstrated substantial progress in the effort to improve the oral health habits in the children involved.  The study shows that more parents are regularly monitoring and maintaining their child’s oral care and daily brushing.

Since the Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign was launched in August of 2012, it has received a warm response from the media, even being broadcasted in Spanish in some states.  $33 million dollars of free ad time/space was donated nation-wide by television, radio and print outlets.  The PSAs aim to reduce the prevalence of dental decay by motivating parents to promote good oral health habits with their children by reminding them to brush two minutes twice a day.  According to the study:

  • More than 77% of parents report that their children are brushing at least twice a day
  • 64% of parents reported having their children see a Dentist at least once in the last year
  • 60% of those who saw a Dentist reported that their children got a cavity free check-up

Dental Decay is currently the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States.  It affects 16.5 million children per year.  Decay disproportionately affects children of low-income households, which have nearly double the number of untreated cavities than the rest of the general public.

“We are extremely pleased with these results and with the overall impact of the campaign.  Many dental problems can be avoided through simple changes in routines, and we’re seeing now how receptive Americans are to this message.”  said Gary Price, Secretary of the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation.  “Through our collective efforts together . . . we have become the foremost voice on the issue of improving children’s oral health nationwide.”

Since the campaign launched, there have been more than 1.3 million visitors to the Web-Site 2min2x.org which offers a collection of free, two minute videos featuring notable characters from children’s television shows.  The campaign also offers parents oral health tips on their smart phones.  Parents can subscribe by texting “BRUSH” to 30364 or by visiting the homepage of 2min2x.org.



Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233








How to Enjoy Preventing Tooth Decay

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Enjoy a sweet treat without the worries of causing tooth decay.  This sweet, effective alternative sweetener is Xylitol.  Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is derived from plant fibers such as fruits, vegetables, birch trees and corn cobs.  Humans consume about 8 to 10 grams daily in our diet, and it is naturally synthesized in the liver, which is essential for the conversion of food to energy.  The beauty of xylitol is that it is non-fermentable by oral bacteria because it consists of a 5-carbon chain, and bacteria need a 6-carbon chain food source to metabolize, cell divide and colonize.  The sweetener xylitol tricks the bacteria into attempting to use it as a food source, but it cannot digest it and use it for energy.  The xylitol also encapsulates the existing bacteria and reduces their stickiness, thus reducing the cavities.

Think about what this means for dentistry.  Studies show that Xylitol effective in reducing oral bacteria and dental decay when using it on a daily therapeutic dose for 6 months, and it has a lasting effect for two years when discontinued.  The recommended exposure protocol for xyletol is five times daily, at a minimum of 1 gram per exposure.  Strive for five!  The exposure time is five minutes, with no rinsing or eating for 15 minutes to allow the oral bacteria to bathe and ingest the xylitol.

Xylitol products vary, so reading labels is important.  For example, if the label on the product lists other natural sugarless sweeteners such as sorbitol (which can still be digested by MS), the xylitol may loose its effectiveness due to the competition with the other sweeteners.  When reading product labels, make sure that xylitol is the first ingredient and that no other sweeteners are listed.

Xylitol addresses 4 areas of concern for dentist:

  1. Reduces Oral Bacteria
  2. Increases saliva flow
  3. Raises the pH of saliva (bacteria need an acidic environment to create decay)
  4. Remineralizes the enamel by helping with the uptake of calcium

Typically xylitol products include chewing gum, mints, candy, toothpaste, and mouthrinses.  Xylitol testing has found the sweetener to be completely safe for all ages, but exceeding 40 grams per day may cause a laxative effect until the body adjusts.  It is important to note that dogs and other pets cannot tolerate Xylitol, and it is recommended that you keep it away from all pets.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233


When Good Gums Go Bad

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Periodontal Disease (also known as gum disease) doesn’t just cause yuck mouth.  Numerous studies have linked it to serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  Not only does gum disease affect your mouth and cause tooth loss, but it also affects your body causing an inflammatory response that affects your health.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all Americans 30 years old and older have some level of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease is an inflammation of the gums and bone structures that hold the teeth in place.  Bacteria in the mouth continually form a sticky substance known as plaque, which adheres to the teeth and gums.  If plaque is not removed daily by brushing and flossing, then the bacteria builds up along and under the gum line, creating a hard deposit called tartar.  The presence of tartar stimulates a chronic infection in the gums, which eventually can lead to tooth loss if untreated.  The first signs of periodontal disease typically occur as adults reach the age of 30.  This is a slow process with the earliest signs being gum bleeding when you brush or floss.  Healthy gum tissue is tight and pink, but infected gums will appear puffy and red.  As the disease progresses, other symptoms include bad breath, sensitive teeth, and receding gums.  Advanced periodontal disease will eventually lead to loose teeth, painful chewing, and tooth loss if the disease is not arrested.  To halt the progression of the disease requires extensive dental cleanings and regular hygiene recalls.

Poor Oral Hygiene is the leading cause of periodontal disease, but genetics also play a big roll in this problem.  Other risk factors include smoking, diet, hormonal changes as we get older, diabetes, and certain medications.  The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is so strong that many insurance companies have begun to pay for an extra dental cleaning a year for their patients with diabetes.  For additional information on Periodontal Disease see our Web-Page at


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233

Your Baby’s Oral Health

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

It is never too early to start taking care of your child’s teeth.  In fact, proper oral care should start well before your baby’s first tooth erupts by cleaning  your baby’s gums.  Twice a day, gently wipe your baby’s gums with a wet, clean terry cloth.  By wiping your child’s gums, you will create a clean oral atmosphere and help to get your child adjust to someone looking in their mouth.   When can you expect to see that first tooth?  The average age is 6 months, but some infants do not get their first tooth until they are 14 or 15 months old.  Do not panic if your child is a late bloomer.  On rare occasions, infants may be born with an erupting tooth.

Try  to say “no” to bottles in bed.  Never put your baby to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, formula or fruit juice.  If a baby goes to sleep sucking on these drinks, the fluid will coat and sit on the teeth the entire sleeping period.  The sugar in these beverages will promote cavities in your baby’s teeth just like they do in adult teeth.  Extreme cases have been termed “baby bottle tooth decay.”   Instead, let your child finish his or her bottle before bedtime.  If you must give your baby a bottle when going to sleep, fill the bottle with water instead.

Be sure your baby drinks fluoridated water.  By the time your baby is 6 months old, he or she will require some ingestible  fluoride for healthy teeth.  Ingestible fluoride goes into the developing baby and adult teeth to create a stronger, tighter bond between the enamel tubules.  Most babies can get all of the fluoride they need from the water they drink.  Keep in mind that bottled water usually does not have any fluoride, and well water may not contain enough of the element.  In these cases, fluoride drops may be required.  If you have questions about fluoride, talk to your pediatrician or dentist about your child’s needs.

Brush your child’s newly erupted teeth.  Once the first teeth come in, you can clean them using a soft, flexible child’s toothbrush and water.  Continue to clean your baby’s entire mouth, not just the teeth.  Gently brush his or her first teeth with a very small  amount of fluoridated toothpaste.  Just swipe the tip of the brush with paste so the child does not swallow too much of the foam.   Switch to a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste once your child is age 2-3 and can spit the paste out better.

Take your child to the Dentist.  Pediodontist are dentist who specialize in children with unusual or major dental issues.  In most cases, your family Dentist should be able to take care of your child’s oral needs.   Your dentist will examine your child’s mouth and advise you on any concerns you have, such as thumb sucking.  If you are having trouble brushing your child’s teeth, your dentist can show you a few methods to ensure you are doing a thorough job.  Regular exams starting at age 3 – 4 are essential to your child’s oral health so be sure to keep regular appointments with your family dentist.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233


Oral Home Care With Braces !

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Orthodontic treatment is growing in popularity among children and adults who are seeking the benefits of a healthy smile.  Those of us who have undergone orthodontic care or treated patients in braces are keenly aware of the challenges posed to maintaining oral health.  Trying to maneuver a toothbrush around brackets, working floss under a wire, or keeping plaque off of an appliance can be difficult for even a dental professional.  Here are some tips to help you keep your new smile as healthy as possible.

Toothbrush – The shape and design of a basic manual toothbrush does not help get into the nooks-n-cranies of brackets and bands.  The flat heads often brush above or below the wire but miss what is under the wire or embedded around the bracket itself.  Ultrasonic brushes, such as SoniCare, use a combination of the touch of a bristle and an ultrasonic pulse to blast food and plaque away from the brackets and the wire.  This helps to prevent decay from leaking under the brackets and bands.

Tooth Paste – Orthodontic patients should use a highly fluoridated tooth paste.  Bacteria love to find homes in the enamel around brackets and bands.  Once attached, they begin to break down the surface of the enamel.  Brushing helps to break up these bacterial colonies, but fluoride helps to remineralize the enamel structure.

Cleaning Between Teeth – Flossing is always difficult, but now that there is a wire in the way it is even more of a problem.   During orthodontics, however, cleaning between the teeth becomes even more of a necessity.  Many types of floss threaders have been developed to help patients get under their wires and between their teeth, and if flossing is not your favorite thing, then inter-dental brushes can be used to get between teeth and clean out spaces which are changing in size as your teeth find their new position in the arch.

IrrigationWater Picks are a great way to clean debris away from orthodontic expanders and appliances, and the American Academy of Periodontology claims that irrigation of the gums during orthodontics helps to prevent gingivitis.  Patients can use water to irrigate around their brackets, but adding Listerine or Saline to the system boosts the effective results of your hard work.

Listerine – Rinsing with Listerine daily helps to kill the bacteria which causes gum disease and decay.  Rinse vigorously for 45 seconds twice a day while you are in braces.

Fluoride RinseACT Fluoride and other rinses are great ways to protect your teeth from getting cavities around your brackets, bands and orthodontic appliances.  First remove the plaque.  Then repair the surface of the tooth with a good Fluoride rinse to remineralize the surfaces which may have been damaged.

Time – Probably the most important element in Oral Home Care while a patient is in orthodontics is TIME!   You must take an increased amount of time to take care of you teeth.  Watch yourself in the mirror as you brush and floss.  Make sure you get every angle and corner.  The time you spend on your oral hygiene may be twice what you spent before you had your braces . . . maybe more!  Take the time to take care of your teeth.  Orthodontics is a major investment of both money and time.  We all want you to have a beautiful, healthy and straight smile.

If you ever have any questions about hygiene products, please feel free to ask Dr. Freeman, Dr. Scott or one of our Dental Team Members.  We often have free samples and coupons we can give to you to try!


Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3290 Church Road                                                                                                                                                                           Henrico, VA   23233                                                                                                                                                             



Your Smile: Cost or Value?

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Every week at our dental office, a patient has an esthetic issue with a anterior (front) tooth, and either Dr. Scott or I sit down to discuss their treatment options.   Although we always include the best, most cosmetic treatment in our presentation, it often comes down to “How much does it Cost?”  At the office of Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates, we understand that the patient must always weigh the financial part of their treatment, but perhaps the question one should ask is “How much is my Smile Worth?”

It is amazing how many ways your Smile influences your life.  Many Psychological studies have investigated the effects of a person’s smile on different aspects of  life.  In a study of 1,000 women, a wide beautiful smile ranked as the number one thing that makes men most irresistible at the time of their first impression.  Their smile ranked higher than “lingering eye contact” and “strong arm muscles”.  In a similar study of 1,000 men, a w0man’s smile also ranked high (3rd) in their list of attributes, showing that a smile is one of the first things to spark interest in a potential relationship.                                                                                       

Smiles also seem to be contagious.  “Emotional Contagion” is the psychological term to describe the phenomenon by which the emotions of one person can be transferred to people around them.  A study at the University of Colorado showed that a person with an “infectious” attitude and smile positively effects the emotions of the people around them when placed into a room of strangers.   The test subjects were given a questionnaire about their feelings and thoughts before entering the study room and then again upon exiting.  It was shown that the longer they were in contact with the happy, smiling individual the more positive their outlook became.

In the work place, undercover studies have shown that bosses are twelve percent more likely to promote people who smile and are happier in the office setting.   Authentic smiles generally lead to more favorable job ratings.  People who smile during their interviews are more likely to be selected for open positions.   Yet another study conducted in a busy diner in New York City proved that waiter / waitresses who smiled while serving their tables received tips an average of 20% higher than waitresses who did not.

The actor / director Chan Kong-Sang knows firsthand the value of a nice smile.  After his first movie, his agent recommended that he change his name to make it more “American” and have extensive dental work done to improve the appearance of his smile.  Jackie Chan, as he is known today, has become a Hollywood powerhouse and loves flashing his smile on the big screen.  Now that is something to smile about!

When asked what he thought was the key to his success, Dale Carnegie said that his smile was one factor.   He said, “It costs nothing to give, but you receive much in return.   A smile enriches those who receive it without making poorer those who give.”

Consider the appearance of your smile, and how it can help influence your life.  Show it off, spread it around, and watch the smiles which come back to you in return.


Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates          

3290 Church Road   .  Henrico, VA   .   2323                                                    


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Tips To Keep Your Smile For Life

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Brushing and flossing are the basics of oral health, but they are only the beginning of a great smile.  A marvelous mouth takes more than squeezing paste out of a tube.  Take these helpful tips to develop a beautiful smile for life!

1)  Pay a visit to your dentist.  If you are prone to skipping the dentist, you are among the 50% of adults in the United States who miss the dentist yearly because of dental phobia, finances, or neglect.  Spend some quality time with your Dentist, at least twice a year, and you’ll catch problems at an early stage when they are treatable, not to mention more affordable to take care of.

2)  Count the years.  Toddlers and older adults tend to fly under the dental health radar, but they need oral maintenance just like the rest of us.  Children should see a dentist by the time they are 4.  Until they are coordinated enough to tie their own shoes, they will need help cleaning their teeth.  Older folks have their own oral health issues.  Arthritis can make brushing and flossing challenging, and as people age, the amount of saliva they produce decreases, which means more tooth decay and sometimes discomfort.

3)  Can the Soda!  Phosphoric Acid and Citric Acid, 2 ingredients of soda, eat away at the surface of your teeth.  While the occasional soft drink will not hurt you, a can or more a day makes your tooth enamel softer and more susceptible to cavities.  Switch to water instead.




4)  Do not sugarcoat it!  Sugar is a major culprit in tooth decay.  It fuels bacteria and acidity in your mouth, causing plaque to form and eat away at your enamel.  Your pearly whites are hit with up to 20 minutes of acid production for every sugar fest you indulge in.  To avoid being among the people who are faced with tooth decay, try to cut down on sugary treats and aim to brush and floss after meals and snacks.

5)  Pack it in.  Quit smoking.  The nicotine and tar in cigarettes not only turns your teeth yellow, but they also effect your gums.  Smoking creates a ripe environment for bacteria and plaque on your teeth and along the gum line.  That harms tissue, degrades the bone that supports the teeth, and eventually increases your risk of tooth loss.  Even worse, tobacco chemicals can lead to oral cancer.

6)  Use the right toothbrush.  You want a brush with soft bristles.  With the right technique, it should last 2 – 3 months.  It is ready to be replaced when you notice bent bristles, but if you have had a toothbrush longer than 3 months, replace it.  Bacteria can lurk between the bristles.

7)  Proper Strokes.   While you know you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, it is important to do it properly.  Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, pointed toward the gum line, and use gentle, circular motions.  Brush each tooth 10 – 15 times, but do not overdo it.  Overly aggressive brushing can damage teeth and erode your gum line.

8)  Finesse with Floss.  It is simple: flossing promotes healthier teeth and gums.  But like brushing, there is a right and wrong way because flaws in your technique can cause friction or cuts on the gum line.  Keep the floss tight against the tooth to break up plaque while leaving your gums in good shape.

For more information and videos on some on Oral Health Care, please see our web-site at RichmondDentalGroup.com for great tips on keeping a beautiful smile!



Floss First : Brush Later

Friday, March 16th, 2012

At the offices of Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates, we notice that Tooth Brushing seems to get all the attention.  It is the first thing patients are taught when visiting the dentist as a child, and almost everyone has a toothbrush and knows to brush their teeth every day.   But what about between the teeth?

Recent studies show that both caries (cavities) and periodontal disease (gum disease) are more prevalent between the teeth than on the flat tooth surfaces which face the cheek and tongue.  You might think the occlusal (biting) surface is the prime target for cavities, but there are only 20 occlusal surfaces in an average adult mouth, compared to 64 inter-proximal surfaces!  These are the surfaces between the teeth which cannot be reached with a toothbrush.  The inter-proximal tooth surface, just below the point where two teeth touch, is where most cavities begin. 

Since the gum tissue between the teeth takes minimal trauma from eating, it does not have as thick of a protective Keratinized layer as the gum tissue on the cheek and tongue side of the tooth.  Therefore, this area is more vulnerable to the acid released by bacteria creating  inflammation.   The inter-proximal gum is more susceptible to disease than the facial and lingual gum tissue.  Yet despite being the biggest target f0r cavities and gum disease, most patients spend more time on tooth brushing, rather than cleaning between the teeth.

How successful is the current brushing and flossing message?  Recent studies have shown that the average person only reduces their plaque scores by 50% with tooth brushing, despite feeling clean from toothpaste.  The concept of flossing is good, but compliance is very poor.  In the United States, only 13% or adults report daily flossing.  If the patient does floss, many do not have a good techniques and leave plaque behind.

To accurately target where the disease is more prevalent, many hygienist recommend that you clean the areas between your teeth first.  Flossing correctly is the primary daily treatment for these areas; however, many alternatives to dental floss are available.  Dental Floss still holds the top spot for inter-proximal cleaners, but triangular wooden/plastic swords and soft tipped plastic picks are available for the patient on the go.  Cleaning between the teeth on a daily basis is the most important thing.   If disease prevention is the goal, it should start between the teeth.   People should still brush their teeth, but if more emphasis is placed on cleaning between the teeth where the greatest risk of disease occurs, we will see a major decline in decay and periodontal disease.


                                                                                             Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates 
                                                                                             3290 Church Road   .  Henrico, VA   .   23233
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