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How to Maintain Your Oral Health While Traveling

oral travel kit
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s best to maintain good oral health, and this means following an appropriate regimen of oral hygiene. Here are a few tips to keep you on track when you head for parts unknown.

Put Together a Travel Kit

Many travelers already have a slew of kits at the ready, especially if they go on trips frequently. You may, for example, have a nail kit, complete with clippers, emery boards, and orange wood sticks for cuticles; items that won’t raise the same red flags at TSA checkpoints as metal grooming tools (scissors, files, and so on). Many people also have quart-size, clear travel bags for toiletries, so that they can quickly display items at the security check.

If maintaining a good oral health regimen is important to you and you travel frequently, it’s a good idea to assemble all of the items you’ll need to have at the ready. Your kit should include a travel toothbrush (with some kind of cover to keep away germs, lint, and so on), floss or floss picks, and travel-size toothpaste and mouthwash.

Alternatives to Taking Your Faves

Can’t find your favorite mouthwash in a travel-size container that will pass TSA inspection? Never fear – there are alternatives to keep you on track with superb oral hygiene. For example, you could simply purchase empty packs of suitably sized containers to fill with your preferred brand of toothpaste and mouthwash, if you can’t find small enough pre-packaged options.

You could also try alternative brands that are available in travel sizes – after all, you’re only going to be traveling for a short while. Remember, if you’re checking a bag, full-size products that won’t pass TSA standards can go into checked bags (although you might want to seal them in leak-proof baggies or bins, just in case). Finally, you could simply purchase full-size versions once you reach your destination. This might be the best option for extended travel of, say, several weeks.

Set Reminders

It’s not unusual for your regular schedule to get out of whack when you travel. You might understandably forget to brush, floss, and rinse after every meal, or even when you return to a hotel room.
The best way to stay on schedule for proper oral hygiene, aside from having all the equipment and products you need on hand, is to set yourself reminders. Mobile devices make it easy to repeat daily reminders with alerts that tell you when it’s time to brush. Even if you’re visiting the Louvre or scaling Kilimanjaro, there’s no need to neglect your oral hygiene.

Oral Cancer Screening at the Dentist

Oral cancer screening
When you visit the dentist, you do so with the goal of maintaining good oral health. Even though you practice a regimen of oral hygiene at home, complete with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, the professionals at the dental office have the education, experience, and tools to provide a deeper cleaning, check for possible issues with x-rays, and provide you with advice on how best to preserve your oral health.

There’s another part of the average dental visit that you may not know much about, and you might not understand why, exactly, you need it. More and more dentists make oral cancer screenings a requisite portion of every visit. What is this exam and why do you need it? Here’s what patients should know.

What is an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening is a simple, visual examination of the mouth that dentists or dental hygienists perform as part of a regular dental checkup. The exam is meant to determine if there are any signs of cancer or precancer present in the oral cavity.

What Can I Expect?

There’s really not a lot to an oral cancer screening, at least not from the patient point of view. You visit the dentist expecting to have your mouth examined anyway, and all that occurs during an oral cancer screening is that your dentist or hygienist looks at your gums, cheeks, throat, tongue, and all the soft tissues of your mouth to make sure everything looks normal and healthy, and that there are no signs of oral cancer or precancer. It should take no more than a minute or two.

Why Do I Need One?

If you’re don’t use tobacco products, you have no family history of cancer (or at least oral cancer), and you have no other risk factors for developing cancer, you might not think you need an oral cancer screening.

The problem is that any number of factors could contribute to the occurrence of oral cancer, and you may not even know what all the risks are. Oral cancer, like any cancer, is easier to treat and potentially cure when caught in the early stages. Regular oral cancer screenings are the best way to catch warning signs early and treat before a major problem develops.

Oral cancer screenings are quick, painless, and provided as part of regular dental check-ups, which means you have absolutely nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain by doing them. If you happen to catch signs of oral cancer early on, you’ll be very glad you agreed to regular oral cancer screenings from the dentist.

Do You Clean Your Implants Just Like You Clean Your Natural Teeth?

taking care of dental implant Dental implants are a great solution for those in need of minor to major teeth replacements. They can last for years and look totally organic when compared with your natural teeth. They’re also durable and function exactly the same way as your natural teeth. That said, considering they’re artificial, they aren’t prone to the same plaque, bacteria and cavities that your natural teeth are. But don’t let that fool you into thinking you can skimp on treating them with the same tender, loving care. They can still develop problems of their own if you don’t care for them properly, and said problems can wind up costing you bundles (not mention causing discomfort). Here are some of the reasons why you need to follow your dentist’s lead when it comes to both your natural teeth and your dental implants..

Think About Their Surroundings

Your dental implants are surrounded by natural bone, tissue and gum. Just because the implants won’t rot and decay from lack of cleaning and flossing, that doesn’t mean the surrounding area won’t be affected. In fact, the area surrounding implants can be even more prone to infection due to the fact that they aren’t bound to the bone the same way as your natural teeth are. Your natural teeth are held in place by the periodontal ligament, and implants are attached directly to the bone. That ligament is key to understanding why you need to clean your implants just like your natural teeth, if not better.

The Difference the Ligament Makes

The periodontal ligament snugly holds natural teeth in place, but also carries blood vessels that supply individual teeth with the body’s natural antibodies. Antibodies are the body’s first line of defense when it comes to infection, and they’re very effective. However, dental implants aren’t attached to the bone and gums by ligaments, they’re fitted directly to the bone as we mentioned before. That means they have no natural antibodies coming their way if some kind of bacteria or other harmful substance finds its way to them. That’s why you need to treat your implants as you would the rest of your mouth. While they won’t suffer from the plaque and cavities your natural teeth will, they are vulnerable in other places. Regular brushing, rinsing and flossing are absolutely necessary with natural teeth and artificial. You should also keep up with regular dental cleanings and X-rays to make sure no unseen problems have arisen.

How Gum Disease Could Affect More Than Just Your Teeth and Gums

teeth and gums
Your mouth is one of the primary entries to the rest of your body. It provides a way to your digestive tract, your pulmonary system and your cardiovascular system. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when your mouth develops a problem like gum disease, it can affect the rest of your body, not just your teeth and gums. Read on for some of the ways this pervasive condition can manifest in areas other than your mouth so you can be sure to guard against it.

Lung and Respiratory Diseases


As we mentioned, your mouth is a gateway to your respiratory systems. Studies have shown that gum disease often goes hand-in-hand with pulmonary diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or COPD. If your body is busy fighting an infection in your gums, it’s not going to be able to effectively fight the respiratory diseases that patients with gum disease are already prone to. Thus, not only are you more susceptible to these diseases, you’re also less equipped to fight them off.

Problems Conceiving and During Pregnancy


Studies also show that women who suffer from gum disease or other periodontal problems, on average, take several months longer to conceive than women who don’t suffer from these problems. Once a woman actually does conceive and become pregnant, she is much more likely (nearly 50%) to develop gum disease to the changes in her body chemistry and hormones. If not properly maintained with regular dental care and dentist visits, women have been known to give birth prematurely or to underweight babies.

Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke


Recent research has also linked gum disease with cardiovascular disease and risk of stroke. There are those who theorize the type of bacteria that gather in the mouth when a patient suffers from gum disease are similar or the same to the bacteria that also gather in the arteries causing heart disease. While there are many other causes for cardiovascular disease and stroke, if you can eliminate one of them with proper dental care, why not?

Best Practices


If you want to avoid gum disease and thus help guard against the above problems, practicing better dental care is the first step to doing so. A proper dental care regimen involves brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash no less than two times a day. Ideally you should be flossing after every meal, so carrying dental floss with you when you go out would be prudent. And, as always, regular visits to your dentist that include cleanings and X-rays are absolutely essential to proper dental care and disease prevention.

How to Take Care of Inflamed Gums

oral health
When your gums become red and swollen, it’s a sign that something has gone amiss with your oral health. Often, this condition is related to an increase in bacteria that causes the buildup of plaque on your teeth, irritating your gums and leading to gingivitis and associated symptoms.

Although this condition is often easily preventable with proper oral care, there are several factors that could contribute to the formation of inflamed gums. For example, certain medical conditions or medications can cause dry mouth that allows bacteria to flourish. Use of tobacco products could also play a role.

Regardless of the cause, however, you do have options for treatment when you notice that your gums have become inflamed.

Proper Oral Care

The best way to prevent and treat inflamed gums is with proper oral care. This means brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash after every meal, or at least in the morning and evening when you’re at home.

You might want to speak with your dentist to make sure you’re doing these things properly and using the right products. Most of us haven’t had a lesson in brushing since the age of five or six. Maybe it’s time for a refresher course.

In addition, some products may be better suited to your particular condition. If, for example, a needed medication is causing dry mouth, you might want to try a mouthwash that helps to keep your mouth hydrated and combats dry symptoms and bacterial growth.

Home Remedies

If you’ve started practicing proper oral care but you’re still experiencing symptoms of swollen gums, you might want to try a common home remedy like swishing with salt water or a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide (1-3%). These rinses should help to reduce the bacteria responsible for swelling – just make sure not to swallow them.

Of course, these homemade rinses are comparable to regular mouthwash, so you needn’t use both. Just keep in mind that these products won’t remove plaque that has already formed.

Professional Help

Although you can do a lot on your own to improve oral health, you still need the expert services of your dental professional to remove plaque on teeth and below the gum line. This is essential if you want to reduce swelling in gums and stave off worsening conditions, including gingivitis and periodontal disease. By working with your dentist you can get your gums back in ship shape and protect your overall oral health.

The Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

impacted tooth
Most people have their wisdom teeth removed as teenagers. This is a common occurrence because of the pain and other symptoms that coincide with wisdom teeth coming in during adolescence.

Also, in many cases, wisdom teeth can crowd existing teeth, ruining the work of previous orthodontics, necessitating future orthodontic adjustments, and even causing oral health issues. Plus, wisdom teeth are extremely hard to care for, as they are at the back of the mouth, which makes them prone to cavities and other problems.

In other words, it makes sense to remove wisdom teeth as soon as they start coming in. However, not everyone chooses to do this, and they can suffer issues later in life as a result.

One major issue is impacted wisdom teeth, which occurs when other teeth stop the wisdom teeth from fully erupting. How can you tell if one or all of your wisdom teeth are impacted? Here are a few common warning signs.

Discomfort or Pain

The most common side effect of impacted wisdom teeth is pain. When your wisdom teeth are blocked from erupting, they don’t necessarily stop growing. They just start pushing up against surrounding bone and tissue.

This can cause a lot of discomfort as your developing tooth butts up against your teeth, your jaw bone, and your gums. The pain can be severe and if you don’t address the issue, it will likely increase over time as wisdom teeth continue to grow and move.

Swelling and Bleeding

If wisdom teeth are unable to erupt properly and they impact surrounding bone and tissue, painful swelling and bleeding can result. The gum tissue surrounding wisdom teeth may become tender and bleed whenever pressure is applied, such as when eating, brushing, or flossing.

This can make normal daily activities difficult and frustrating. In addition, swollen gums can lead to additional problems like infection that you definitely don’t want. Your jaw can also become swollen, as can nearby glands in your neck and shoulder. This swelling is not only painful and inconvenient, but it can also impact your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and cause headaches.

Treatment

When these symptoms occur, it’s important to speak with a dental professional immediately to find out if impacted wisdom teeth are the cause. If so, the best form of treatment is generally tooth removal.

If impacted wisdom teeth aren’t removed, they can crowd other teeth and lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even cysts. With professional help, you can avoid all of these symptoms and get on with your life.

Resin Direct Bonding Care and Maintenance Tips

Resin Maintenance Tips
Tooth bonding is a common way to restore teeth. The bonding, however, must be cared for or else it too will degrade over time. Following good habits and maintenance practices will boost your dental health and prolong the life of the composites that are used to restore your teeth.

A good habit is to brush at least twice a day, using an ultra-soft toothbrush. Flossing should be completed at least once a day. The best time is before going to bed, because it is after you have had all your meals for the day. Direct composite resins can easily pick up surface stains. Foods such as blueberries and sauce can cause staining, as can coffee, tea, and red wine.

Avoid Abrasive and Corrosive Substances

An abrasive toothpaste can easily damage direct bonding resins, so avoid these and baking soda. You should also avoid mouthwashes that have alcohol, as it can damage the finish. Any mouthwash that doesn’t have alcohol in it is fine. Also, only use sodium fluoride and not any other variation that can be damaging.

Watch Your Oral Health Habits

Don’t bite into hard items such as bones, ribs, or hard candy. Nuts can be just as bad, as can be hard bread, which can stress the material and fracture it. Avoid habits such as opening plastic packages with your teeth, nail biting, chewing ice, or pipe smoking. Bonded teeth can also be susceptible to damage from eating apples, corn on the cob, and carrots, which can chip the bonding away.

Restore Damaged Bonding Quickly

It does not take long to renew a chipped or fractured veneer. However, you should schedule an appointment soon so your dentist can avoid any further damage. Bonding can last, but how long depends on many factors. Your regular dental habits contribute to the amount of stress put on your teeth, but composite materials can last a long time if you follow proper care and maintenance tips.

If you do care for your veneers and bonding, your teeth will also look better. Eating right and avoiding unhealthy items, at least from a dental perspective, can strengthen your teeth and help the resin last longer. Bad habits can discolor it and even weaken the bond, so it won’t be effective for that long. Staying vigilant can avoid or at least put off any additional dental work to maintain your smile after resin direct bonding.

4 Tooth Enamel Restoration Tips

Enamel Restoration
Serving as a protective shell, tooth enamel can withstand biting, chewing, grinding, and other everyday stresses. It’s also resistant to temperature changes and chemicals. Over time, however, enamel can wear away, and even chip and crack. A chronically dry mouth can also degrade tooth enamel because saliva has calcium, phosphate, and other protective compounds. Once this outer protective layer is gone, it doesn’t grow back, but there are ways to repair tooth enamel.

1. Cap the Tooth with a Crown

If the enamel is weak enough, a crown can be used to cap the tooth. This will protect the damaged areas and restore the tooth’s function. If pain has prevented you from eating, it will now go away. Additional decay can be prevented as well. Crowning is a procedure done in a dental office and each crown is fit to the unique size and requirements of the person’s teeth.

2. Tooth Bonding

Bonding is used in mild cases of enamel erosion. A tinted resin is applied to the damaged tooth; it then hardens and the dentist will polish and trim the resin to perfect the fit. Bonding is usually completed in an hour during one dental appointment.

3. Get Veneers

A dental veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that fits over the front of the tooth. Some enamel is removed anyway when veneers are put in, and they are permanently attached to the tooth with cement, which hardens upon exposure to a special light beam. Teeth are still prone to staining and decay. Veneers can restore your mouth if a lot of enamel has worn away and you want to have a better smile.

4. Use Plenty of Fluoride

Fluoride is a compound found in some toothpaste that helps strengthen enamel. Your teeth are therefore protected against acid and other aggressive substances. It’s best to start using fluoride as early as possible, so it’s also recommended for kids.

Enamel restoration can be tricky. Try to protect enamel by avoiding drinks with sugar in them, and try not to swish drinks around in your mouth, which can expose more of each tooth to corrosive acids. Rinse after eating, consume more dairy, and drink green and black tea that have antioxidants that can prevent tooth erosion. Starches, citrus fruits, and fruit juice can also damage enamel. Although some enamel erosion throughout your life is likely, there are ways to protect and restore it when the time comes.

10 Alternative Uses for Toothpaste That Will Surprise You

dental health
Toothpaste isn’t just for brushing anymore. Sure, it’s the best defense against cavities and gum disease but did you know you can apply it to any number of additional household purposes? While some of these alternative uses will no doubt surprise you, the reasoning behind them will not. Toothpaste contains a multitude of components and active ingredients that can be applied to clean, soothe, and replenish a whole list of things around the house and on you as well.

1. Cleaning Baby Bottles

Parents know how rank those used baby bottles can get after repeated use. Just combine some toothpaste and hot water and scrub them clean. They’ll be smelling fresh as new in no time. If you really want to sanitize them, stick the bottles in the dishwasher when you’re done.

2. Removing Stains

Carpets, clothing, walls, it doesn’t matter. Toothpaste can help remove tough stains from all of those things and more. Just apply toothpaste to the affected area, add some water, and scrub. Avoid applying a whitening toothpaste with any bleaching ingredients to colored materials, for obvious reasons.

3. Repairing Holes

Out of caulk or drywall putty? No problem, just grab a tube of toothpaste and fill the hole with that instead. Keep in mind, this should only be done for those really small jobs.

4. Replenishing Leather

Any of your leather goods from coats to purses to shoes and more can look like new by using toothpaste to take out those unsightly scuffs.

5. Remedying Bruises

Bruises look as bad as they hurt, so apply some toothpaste and skin cream to that bruise and wrap it up with a bandage or some Band-Aids and leave it overnight. In the morning, wash it off and repeat before bedtime each night until the bruise disappears.

6. Soothing Skin

Bug bites and rashes are no picnic so to soothe those itchy areas affected by these nuisances, use a little toothpaste to stop the itch and ease the skin. You’ll find that you won’t be bothered by those issues much longer.

7. Replacing Hair Gel

That’s right, your toothpaste has similar components and polymers as hair gel. So if you run out of the former, you can use the latter to get the look you want when you have no other options.

8. Restoring Headlight

The headlights on your car take a beating from all the road hazards out there. But you can buff out those flaws with some toothpaste and they’ll look good as new.

9. Eliminating Coffee Table Rings

Got some rings on your coffee table? Dab a little toothpaste on those rings and wipe them away with a soft cloth. You won’t even need any water either. When you’re done apply your favorite furniture polish to get that shine back.

10. Deodorizing Fido

When your dog gets into it with a skunk in your backyard, simply wet your pet, add some toothpaste and let the fluoride absorb the smell for a few minutes before rinsing it all out. You may need to repeat the process a few times but it should get the job done.

5 Important Oral Health Tips for Seniors

oral health
Oral health is imperative for seniors’ well-being. That’s why we’ve come up with five tips for maintaining proper care and hygiene of the mouth so that you can stay healthy in the face of greater risk of tooth loss, development of cavities, and other oral health challenges that seniors face.

1. Dry Mouth – Also known as “xerostomia”, this can be a serious condition that often develops as a result of taking certain medication. When seniors experience dry mouth, it means they are producing less saliva and that can make them more likely to have tooth decay. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against poor oral health and you can combat this condition by drinking more water, use sugar-free gum or lozenges, or talk to your doctor about changing prescriptions.

2. Bad Breath – Not a pleasant condition to deal with as it can make seniors feel uncomfortable in social situations and give them lower self-esteem. Brushing and flossing twice a day can combat bad breath symptoms and make your mouth and teeth look and feel healthier. Be sure to brush inside your cheeks as well, that’s where much of the odor causing bacteria hides.

3. Gum Disease – Gum disease and gingivitis are also very serious and they can lead to painful oral conditions, characterized by red and puffy gums that often bleed for no reason. So in order to avoid developing periodontal problems, brush and floss regularly and keep regular appointments with your dentist. Plaque build-up can lead to major oral health issues if you’re not careful.

4. Mouth Cancer – Oral cancer can strike anywhere, the mouth, the tongue, and the throat, and there are over 30,000 cases diagnosed a year. While the median age for seniors diagnosed with mouth cancer is 62 years, this condition can strike if you neglect the early warning signs, which can be detected quicker with regular checkups. Symptoms can include painful sores, discomfort in the lips or tongue, and discolored areas that are white or red.

5. Paying for Dental Care – Many seniors put off dental care simply because they aren’t sure how they are going to pay for it. Since Medicare doesn’t pay for routine dental costs, you may want to start saving for these expenses as part of a retirement savings plan. There are also many discount and supplemental dental plans that seniors can explore that come with lower monthly premiums and reduced out of pocket costs.