We all know we should frequently replace our toothbrushes. Most of us, however, don’t do it nearly enough. Misinformation and a lack of concern for dental hygiene are to blame. If you think the free toothbrush you get at your bi-annual dental cleaning is enough to coast on, you’re wrong.
The American Dental Association suggests people should change their toothbrushes once every three months. However, this metric is rarely accurate; replacement frequency depends entirely on how often you use your toothbrush. Rather than using time to measure replacements, simply look at the bristles. If they start to bend, the brush is not cleaning as effectively as it should. This is when you should replace.
If you brush your teeth twice every day (the ADA-recommended amount), the 3-month guideline is probably correct. If you brush less, you won’t need to change as frequently. However, this “brush-saving” strategy is not recommended.
If you can’t tell your toothbrush’s effectiveness by the bristles, use another trick. After brushing, run your tongue across your teeth. If you have a clean, slippery feeling, the brush is still cleaning adequately. If not, it is probably time to buy a new utensil.
Cleaning effectiveness is a great metric for toothbrush replacement, but bacteria build-up should also be considered. To avoid excessive bacteria, follow these tips:
- Replace your toothbrush if you or a roommate has been sick.
- Let the toothbrush stand up to dry between uses. This will allow the bacteria to die.
- Store your toothbrush as far from the toilet as possible.
- Refrain from using plastic brush caps.
Toothbrushes are the first steps toward oral health. If you’re on the fence about replacing yours, it’s a good idea to go ahead and do it—these inexpensive tools prevent bacteria and tartar build-up, which could lead to more serious dental conditions. When in doubt, throw it out.
If your dentist office is anything like ours, there’s a clear divide between the dental professionals (dentist, dental hygienist, etc.) and the administrative billing specialists. These dental professionals will offer you their expert advice without any view of how much a recommended procedure or course of action is liable to cost you when the bill arrives. In some cases, the process is comically opaque. The billing person might tell you something like, There are inconsistencies in the insurance fee schedule. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when you get the bill.
Aside from the fact that one should really be able to know how much a service is going to cost before getting it, there is a more insidious effect that tends to occur with these types of insurance coverage policies—if you can even call the seemingly arbitrary ways that insurance bills people as “policies.” But the insidious effect is to create the belief that patients aren’t in control of their own dental health outcomes. If you don’t know how much a dental procedure is going to cost, you can’t contextualize your choices and you can’t buy in to a teeth cleaning routine.
And while dentists and dental hygienist like to focus on the dentistry and pretend the insurance issues don’t exist, when you ask them behind closed doors, they know that dental insurance is broken.
It undermines the credibility of specific dental advice. It can happen without us even knowing it. Of course, we tell ourselves that we’ll take care of our teeth and that we know this practice is important. But life gets in the way. Already busy schedules are overrun with unexpected headaches and all you need is a few minutes to decompress, the act of flossing and brushing your teeth can become a truly daunting task. This is especially true at the end of the day, which is unfortunate since brushing your teeth at the end of the day is the most important since it prevents food particles from decaying in your mouth overnight.
It’s a shame these types of billing frustrations can have a subtle but substantial impact on these daily habits because it’s also true that the best outcomes at the lowest overall cost tends to come with a serious and regular teeth cleaning schedule. Dental care isn’t cheap under any circumstances, but an insurance system that allows people to understand and structure these costs in a way that fits their household budget and personal priorities is bound to improve a person’s sense of control and empowerment over the future of their oral health and dental outcomes overall.
Toothpaste is your first defense against a range of dental problems. Unfortunately, with an oversaturated market, making a choice is incredibly difficult. In fact, there are more than 40 brands available, each promising to be better and more effective than the last. It is necessary to understand the implications of popular toothpaste claims. In purchasing the correct toothpaste for your needs, you can more directly address your personal dental issues. Below, we have outlined several popular types of toothpaste.
Tartar Control—Tartar begins as plaque, a colorless, sticky substance that forms due to natural bacteria. If you do not brush teeth regularly, the plaque will eventually lead to tartar buildup. Tartar control toothpaste works to target plaque with fluoride, a substance that prevents tooth decay.
Whitening—Whitening toothpaste is a good start to a brighter smile. Peroxide is often the essential ingredient in whitening toothpaste, and it has been shown to be effective at removing stains from the outer layer of a tooth’s enamel. Peroxide also aids in the prevention of gingivitis and periodontal disease. However, always practice caution when using whitening products—they can lead to tooth sensitivity if used too frequently.
Natural—This type of toothpaste utilizes “natural” or organic ingredients, which often include mint and fluoride. They work like normal toothpastes but don’t contain chemicals. These options are often slightly more expensive.
Sensitive Teeth—A sensitive teeth toothpaste is a great way to combat tooth sensitivity. Pain occurs when dentin, the bone at the core of a tooth, is exposed; sensitive toothpastes have ingredients to protect teeth in hot and cold temperatures.
Everyone is guilty of putting off healthcare visits once in a while. However, dental problems may present themselves more assertively than others, as toothaches and bleeding gums can affect nearly every aspect of life. If you suspect you have something wrong with your smile, see a dentist immediately. However, if you’re unsure, this is a great place to start. Here are five signs you should make an appointment with your dentist.
Chronic Tooth Pain—It goes without saying that your teeth shouldn’t hurt. Though this could be something as simple as tooth sensitivity, in the most severe cases, it could mean nerve damage, exposed root surfaces, or a loose filling. Additionally, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as periodontal disease.
Bleeding Gums—Inflamed gums are most often caused by hardened plaque that has accumulated under the gum line, which is a result of improper dental hygiene. This could be a sign of gingivitis, periodontitis, or gum disease, which could lead to tooth loss if not treated in a timely fashion.
Chronic Bad Breath—There is a difference between occasional bad breath and a chronic issue. The latter is likely caused by tooth decay, bacteria, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. If you find yourself consistently popping gum to prevent embarrassment, get yourself a dental appointment as soon as you can.
Jaw Pain—Jaw pain affects everything from eating to speaking, allowing it to have a serious impact on your quality of life. There could be several causes—impacted wisdom teeth, teeth grinding, an abscessed tooth, and gum disease. If it hurts, it is safest to make an appointment with your local professional.
Wisdom teeth generally appear between ages 17 and 25. The last of the 32 teeth to erupt, these four can cause a lot of trouble. Often, they don’t have the space to come in normally. When this happens, they may become impacted—they can be stuck under the gum or grow toward another tooth. The jaw usually doesn’t have enough space for all the teeth, and because wisdom teeth are the last to appear, they cause trouble.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems. From trapped food to intense swelling and infection, it is best to prevent impact before it happens. Unfortunately, the only way to truly know if a wisdom tooth is impacted (or is on its way to being impacted) is to see a dentist or oral surgeon for an X-ray. However, a few symptoms; we have listed them below.
- Painful, swollen, and bleeding gums
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Consistent head and/or jaw ache
- Unpleasant taste while eating
- Stiffness of jaw
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist. Untreated impacted wisdom teeth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, as well as tooth damage, infection, and overcrowding. In the rarest cases, impacted wisdom teeth can cause cysts and tumors. The best way to prevent impacted wisdom teeth is to visit your dentist regularly, practice good dental hygiene, and consult a professional if experiencing any non-normative sensations.
Dentistry is an essential but often-overlooked medical practice. General dentistry is the first line of defense for the oral health and hygiene of a person, and visits to a professional are essential for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. Moreover, as we age, we become more at risk for certain oral conditions. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Dry mouth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Yellow teeth
- Tooth decay
Poor dental habits will only serve to increase the risk of these conditions, which can lead to infection and tooth/bone loss over time. It is essential to take care of oral health, and visiting a professional is the first step. Preventative dental care will help you avoid common health risks as you age.
Unfortunately, millennials, as a generation, are shirking the responsibilities of dental care—often working long hours for minimal health benefits, dentistry has taken a back seat for many 20- and 30-something-year-olds. Coincidentally, Colorado has become a haven for adventurous and career-driven millennials. Cities like Denver and Boulder are full of trailblazing and excited young professionals, but they are also full of compassionate and skilled dentists.
We want to bridge the gap between the millennial lapse in dentistry and available orthodontists, periodontists, and dentists in Colorado. Our directory of professionals will help you find exactly what you’re looking for. In need of a quick cleaning? We can connect you to the perfect office. Haven’t been to the dentist since high school? Don’t worry—we have the perfect professional for your needs. Brighten, protect, and preserve your smile with a Colorado dentist.