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What Healthy Foods Should I Incorporate into My Diet?

Dieting is a popular New Year’s Resolution. This year, why not take a dental approach to the traditional diet? The team at Falmouth Dental Arts has whipped up the perfect plate–and poured a cuppa– for your pearly whites. 

Dairy: Cheese and yogurt both contain Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. This mineral is just as important for your teeth as it is for your bones; calcium-deficient diets suffer from underdeveloped teeth, gum disease, and tooth decay. Cheeses and yogurts address your need for Vitamin D, and boast the added bonus of counteracting acid erosion of teeth, making them excellent options to end a meal. Cheese for dessert, anyone? **Dairy allergies? Fatty fish such as salmon are also a wonderful source of Vitamin D. 

Oranges: Surprise! Although citrus fruits contain erosive acids, they pack a powerful punch of Vitamin C, which encourages collagen production and strengthens tissue and blood vessels. Increased collagen, stronger tissue and better blood flow means stronger gums and happier homes for your teeth. An orange a day keeps the periodontist away–just make sure to wait at least 30 minutes between eating and brushing to minimize acid erosion. 

 Fruits and Veggies: Looking for another reason to make a salad? High-fiber leafy greens act as natural toothbrushes, scrubbing your teeth while you eat and encouraging saliva production. Meanwhile, the high-water content of traditional lettuces help rinse your mouth. Carrots and celery are also excellent snack options, washing your teeth with every crunch! For tooth-conscious options from the fruit bowl, choose apples and strawberries. Apples offer the same healthy crunch benefits as snappy vegetables, while strawberries actually contain malic acid, a natural enamel whitener.

 

Tea: Black and green teas contain compounds called “polyphenols”. Polyphenols ward off bacteria responsible for cavities and gum disease. Less bacteria means fewer cavities and less bad breath. When combined with other good dental habits, drinking tea can cure halitosis, so drink up and breathe easy. 

While a balanced diet represents one facet of your dental health, you can’t substitute twice-daily brushing and flossing with apples and carrots. Falmouth Dental Arts encourages you to the best of both worlds! If you have any questions about the best foods for your teeth, just ask us at your next appointment. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.    

Need a Resolution? Kick these 5 Bad Habits that Hurt Your Teeth!

Did you remember to brush your teeth when you went to bed after ringing in the New Year at midnight? Your team at Falmouth Dental Arts hopes you did, and we wish our family of patients a year filled with healthy mouths. Are you still looking for a 2020 resolution, but feel like adding a whole new good habit is a little too ambitious? Why not try quitting a bad habit instead? 

We’ve compiled a list of 5 Bad Habits that hurt your teeth. Quit one–kick them all!–and look forward to your best dental year yet! 

1. Biting your nails: We’ve all done it once or twice, but when biting your nails becomes a habit, it has bad side effects for your nails and your entire mouth. Biting your nails can chip your teeth and ultimately impact your jaw. Continually protruding your jaw and biting with pressure gradually changes the natural alignment of your bite, resulting in jaw dysfunction.

Kick It! Try painting a bitter-tasting polish (available in clear varieties as well, for those who would prefer a more subtle tone) on your nails.

2. Brushing too hard/Overbrushing: We all know that brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, is a terrific tooth habit! However, brushing with a stiff-bristled brush, applying a lot of force, or brushing for longer than two minutes can all hurt your teeth and gums. Overbrushing in any form can damage your tooth enamel and erode your gums.

Kick It!  Look for a soft-bristled brush with the ADA Seal of Approval, and be sure to use a gentle hand when brushing. Don’t think of “scrubbing” your teeth–think of “massaging” them. So much nicer!

 

3. Grinding your teeth/Clenching your jaw: Life can be stressful. Sometimes that stress makes us slouch at our desk or hunch our shoulders, but sometimes stress seeps into our dental posture as well. Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw can cause cracking or chipping of your teeth, not to mention muscle and joint pain from sustained pressure. 

Kick it! Try some relaxation techniques throughout the day, especially before bed. Grinding your teeth when you’re sleeping is the most difficult to address because you’re unconscious! If you are particularly prone to grinding your teeth in your sleep, you may need to invest in a mouth guard to wear while you sleep. 

4. Using your teeth as tools: Just like biting your nails, we’ve all attempted to use our teeth as scissors or an extra hand. However, your teeth are made for eating and for smiling–not for opening bottles or removing tags. When you use your teeth as tools, you run the risk of cracking or chipping your teeth, puncturing your gums, or even choking.

Kick it! Go get a pair of scissors, find your bottle opener, and make two trips! It may seem like more work at first, but your teeth will be happier. 

5. Chewing ice: This one may seem a little specific, but consider this: your tooth enamel is a type of crystal, as is ice. When you push two crystals against each other, one eventually breaks. In this particular scenario, it is typically the ice which cracks and crumbles–but that’s not a guarantee! Sometimes, teeth or dental appliances break first, leading to a costly visit to the dentist.

Kick it! Use a straw to sip icy beverages, or remove the ice before you start drinking.

Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we are committed to providing top-notch tooth love for our patients in the office. However, we want to support you and your teeth at all times! If you have any questions about these bad habits, or want some more ideas on how to build good dental habits, please ask at your next appointment. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.         

Holiday Gifts to Benefit Teeth!

Still looking for the perfect stocking stuffer, guaranteed to make someone smile? Falmouth Dental Arts wants that “Thank You!” Smile to be extra healthy, so we polled our staff for their  Top Five tooth-related presents. 

1. Electric Toothbrush: You’ve most likely heard by now that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning your teeth than a standard manual toothbrush. Another benefit to the electric brushes is built-in timers to ensure proper brushing time. They’re fun for kids, safe for gums, and help people with braces or other oral appliances clean better! 

We recommend Oral B or Sonicare models.

 

2. Waterpik: If you’ve always wanted to replicate the refreshing feel of the dentist’s waterpik at home, now is your chance! Waterpiks are easy to use, and are shown to be more effective than traditional string floss at reducing gingivitis and removing plaque.                

We recommend the cordless travel Waterpik;  it’s less expensive, more convenient, and mobile! 

 

 

3. Shower Flosser: another member of the oral irrigation family, the shower flosser takes water-picking to new levels. An easy-to-install attachment connects the flosser to your shower head so that you’re able to combine your flossing and showering time–at last!

 

 

4. Woven Floss: If you’re not ready to invest in an oral irrigation system or just prefer the tradition of flossing, our staff recommends purchasing a woven floss. Made of microfibers, woven flosses expand between teeth to provide a deeper clean. However, the microfiber technology still allows the floss to fit intotight gaps without shredding. Gentle and soft on sensitive gums, woven floss does it all! 

 

5. ACT Restoring Mouthwash: After you’ve finished brushing with your new electric toothbrush and have wrapped up whatever flossing method you prefer, a cool swish of minty mouthwash is just what the dentist ordered. Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos prefer ACT Restoring mouthwash for its anti-cavity power. 

 

Any one of these five items makes for a fantastic, practical, and thoughtful gift for your loved one–or give your own teeth a little love this holiday season with a present to you, from you. If you’re lucky enough to give or receive a dental-related present this year, please share it on Falmouth Dental Arts’ Facebook page

 

If you had one too many candy canes and need to schedule a post-holiday cleaning, please call our office at 207.781.5900.     

 

Dental Radiology: Purpose and Precautions

X-rays might sound a little extreme for the dentist, but that’s not necessarily the case. From early detection of cavities, decay, gingivitis, and even oral cancers, X-rays are an excellent tool for your dentist to get the full picture of your teeth, gums, and jaw. 

Who needs dental X-Rays?

Everyone needs dental x-rays. X-rays are typically done as soon as you become a patient at a new dental practice to help your new dentist become better acquainted with your current dental health. After your initial exams, x-rays become an annual part of your regular oral exams. Children usually require x-rays more frequently than adults because their jaws and teeth are still  developing to maturity.

Dentists especially need x-rays to perform their job thoroughly. Although their super dentist eyes can spot damage or decay on the surface of teeth and gums from miles away, neither Dr. Brunacini nor Dr. Karagiorgos have x-ray vision! They need a little bit of help to see inside your teeth, gums, and jaw bones to give you the best care possible.

Radiology Precautions

The radiation levels used during dental x-rays are so low that they are completely safe. However, to cover all of the bases, you will be given a lead bib or apron to wear while your x-rays are taken. Although it might not be very stylish, the lead bib or apron acts as a precautionary shield to your vital organs so they can avoid any unnecessary exposure to radiation. 

If you are pregnant or believe that you might be pregnant, you should not have any x-rays done. Please let your hygienist and dentist know if you think or know that you are expecting! 

Types of X-Rays

X-rays images are not only helpful to your dentist–they’re fun to look at. There are four major types of dental x-rays that provide a different map of your mouth:

1. Bitewing: For a bitewing x-ray, the hygienist will have you bite down on a special piece of paper during the x-ray. The resulting image will show how well the crowns of your teeth match when you bite down.   

2. Occlusal: Occlusal x-rays examine your bite–how well your bottom and top teeth line up as well as the structure of your jaw. They also take a close look at the roof and floor of your mouth.

3. Panoramic: This is an exciting x-ray! For a panoramic view, the x-ray machine will rotate slowly around your head to give the dentist a comprehensive view of your entire oral and nasal cavities. 

Three Dimensional Scans take panoramic excitement to new levels. The latest development in dental technology is the CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) 3D scan. The process of a 3D  is very similar to that of a panoramic: the machine rotates slowly around your head, capturing images of your skull. Instead of traditional x-rays, the CBCT scan uses cone beams (named for their conical shape) to create a 3D model of your entire jaw structure. Like any three dimensional object, the CBCT scan can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

4. Periapical: This type of x-ray gives a big picture of a small surface area. Periapical images zoom in on one or two teeth to show the bone and gum in great detail.

Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to provide our patients the most comprehensive dental care available. X-rays are a valuable tool for our dentists, hygienists and patients, giving us an in-depth look at teeth, gums, jaw bones and nasal cavities. Regular x-rays allow dentists to predict–and address–oral issues before they become serious complications.

If you have any questions about our dental x-ray procedure or the images themselves, just ask. Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, and our fabulous hygienist team will be more than happy to answer all of your questions so that you can be just as excited about your x-rays as we are. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.    

 

My Teeth are Sealed: An Interview with Dr. Karagiorgos

Have dental sealants recently been recommended to you or your child? Have you always wondered what dental sealants are, and how they are beneficial to teeth? Falmouth Dental Arts wants to answer all of your tooth-related questions so that you can feel confident and informed when you visit our office! Dr. Karagiorgos took some time to answer basic questions about dental sealants and explain the sealant process.

1. What are sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Sealants are a dental material which fills in deep grooves in a tooth’s surface to minimize the opportunity for cavities to develop. 

2. Why should patients consider getting sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: The surfaces of the teeth toward the backs of our mouths have special surfaces with lots of small grooves, called pits and fissures. Pits and fissures help us grip food while we break it down when we chew. The size and depth of pits and fissures are different for everybody. However, deeper grooves often trap food particles and can promote the presence of bacterial film. This puts people with deep grooves at particular risk for cavities. 

As part of a comprehensive oral health approach, filling these deeper surfaces with a dental material such as sealants can help prevent cavities.

3. At what age do patients need sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Because the likelihood of developing decay is highest for newly-erupted premolars and molars, children and teenagers are the ideal candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars would also benefit from sealants. 

While some children would benefit from sealants on their baby teeth, parents should seriously consider sealants for children on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This typically starts around age six. The sooner the sealants can be applied to teeth, the sooner they can start protecting cavity-prone molars. 

4. What is the process of applying sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Applying sealants is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for the dentist or hygienist to seal each tooth. Here are the five steps: 

  1. First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned. 
  2. After cleaning, each tooth is dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
  3. The dentist or hygienist will put a gel on the chewing surface of the teeth which will roughen up the tooth’s enamel, helping the sealant bond to the teeth.
  4. The teeth are rinsed and dried. 
  5. The dentist or hygienist paints the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden faster. 

5. Does it hurt to get sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: No, not at all. Because all of the work is above the gum-line on the chewing surface of the teeth, patients don’t need to be numbed. This makes the sealant process fast, easy, and pain-free.

 

6. Is it fun to apply sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we promote great oral health habits for patients of all ages. Our goal is to make coming to the dentist feel like you’re visiting a friend, while having a little dentistry done on the side! From routine check-ups to sealant application, we love our jobs and hope that our patients feel cared for when they’re here. We look forward to making your visit to the dentist as easy, painless, convenient–and of course as fun–as it can be. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900 

Images courtesy of Children’s Dental Funzone