Maintaining fresh breath can be a constant battle. One minute you’ve brushed your teeth and all is well, and the next you catch a whiff of your own oral odor from inside a mask or as you’re speaking to a friend. While regular brushing and flossing can give you a leg up on keeping your mouth smelling clean, sometimes you need to cut down on funky smells while out and about. To do that, try one of these five tips.
For as long as humans have existed, we’ve been putting things in our mouths in pursuit of food, medicine or enjoyment. While the first commercially sold chewing gum is credited to John Curtis in 1840, it’s likely that chewing gum has existed in some form or another for as long as people have roamed the earth. Nearly every ancient civilization has a version of gum made from tree resin or tar.
And while chewed-up gum is often thought to be of little value to anyone, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have used someone’s old chewed-up, dried-out “gum” to unlock clues about our ancestors.
Teeth are more fascinating than we give them credit for. It’s easy to lose sight of how magnificent the human body is when we’re always focused on keeping it in tip-top shape or peak operating condition. Rather than get bummed out about the problems our bodies give us, let’s revel in the glorious things they can do — and simply are. The human mouth is a unique, wild and wonderful space with some fascinating and gross things going on that are worth knowing, if only so you can win your local coffee shop trivia night.
Nothing that gives you joy during tough times is frivolous. With the status of your next dental appointment unknown or up in the air due to global health events, it’s only natural to focus on the state of your smile — it’s a major point of pride, and keeping it looking gleaming and sparkling is a priority for many. While the only safe teeth-whitening treatment is one provided by your dentist, there are some ways you can preserve and prolong the effects at home — and some DIY home remedies you should definitely steer clear of.
If you can’t stand the thought of eating ice cream or your morning cup of coffee makes you cringe until it’s lukewarm, you may have sensitive teeth. Acidic foods, like your favorite orange or spaghetti with tomato sauce, can also cause you pain at the mere thought of eating them, and you might be so sensitive that you wish you could skip brushing, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash altogether. Sensitive teeth are teeth that hurt — and while some people have naturally sensitive teeth, others may notice a sudden onset of sensitivity caused by other problems.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
If you hit the genetic lottery, you may just have naturally thinner enamel covering your teeth than other people. Enamel is the hard outer shell of your teeth that keeps the soft, sensitive dentin and pulp shielded from external stimuli.
Other times, you might experience sensitivity as a result of an underlying disease or condition. For example, GERD (gastro-esophagel reflux disease), gastroparesis or hyperemesis gravida can wear down enamel through excessive exposure to acid. Closer to the root of the pain, cavities, gingivitis or broken or lost fillings and crowns can also contribute to tooth sensitivity.
Habits like eating or drinking acidic foods too often, brushing your teeth overly enthusiastically or grinding your teeth at night can also add to pain throughout the day. If you’ve recently gotten dental work done — from intensive care like a filling to cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening — you may also experience a temporary increase in sensitivity to your teeth.
What Can I Do About Sensitive Teeth?
Caring for sensitive teeth starts with a good home care routine. Choose a soft toothbrush and ease up on your grip — you don’t need to scrub hard to ensure your teeth are clean and free from bacteria. Alcohol-free mouthwashes and rinses can help, as can those that provide extra fluoride.
Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth can provide some relief. These toothpastes are free from irritating ingredients and may have extra fluoride to help build up your enamel. Some sensitive toothpastes may also include ingredients that help numb the root of your teeth to provide relief from mild pain and irritation. Steer clear of whitening toothpastes, which can weaken enamel, as well as DIY or at-home whitening treatments. Skip gimmicky, charcoal-based toothpastes that can cause mechanical damage by abrading the surface of your teeth, which may be irreversible.
If you’re experiencing sensitivity that’s more than just an irritating sensation — pain or discomfort severe enough that it interferes with your life — it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist.
How Does My Dentist Treat Sensitive Teeth?
Your dentist will start by giving your teeth a cleaning and thorough exam to try to determine the underlying cause of your sensitive teeth. If your discomfort is due to thin enamel, you may be given a prescription for fluoride mouth rinse to help build up your teeth’s defenses. Your dentist may also apply fluoride via a custom-fit tray or directly to your teeth, and will likely advise you to skip whitening treatments or ingredients that promote tooth whitening.
For sensitivity caused by gum recession, cavities or other major issues, your dentist will form a treatment plan to help alleviate your discomfort. For example, gum recession due to periodontal disease may require a more advanced cleaning to restore gum health and allow your gums to grow back over the parts of your teeth that aren’t normally exposed and are therefore more sensitive. Sensitivity due to cavities can be remedied by a filling. For extreme pain or discomfort, you may need a root canal to remove the damaged nerve.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed to protect the health of our staff and patients and cannot take phone calls or requests for appointments at this time. We can, however, answer any questions or concerns sent via email, which you can do by clicking here. We hope to open again soon and can help address concerns about mild to moderate tooth sensitivity at that time.
Adding a member to your family is an exciting time. With so many appointments to ensure the health of mother and baby, it’s easy to forget that your teeth, gums and tongue play an important part in your overall health and wellness. Routine dental care while pregnant doesn’t just ensure you have a sparkling smile to match your new glow — it can also potentially prevent complications late in pregnancy and during birth and head off problems with your oral health after your bundle of joy enters the world.
It can be easy to lose sight of when your family’s dental health needs attending to. Between busy days managing a household, work activities and keeping kids on task, the last thing on anyone’s mind is when they should schedule a cleaning. Setting up a dental health schedule for your family can save you the headache of trying to keep track of it all. Whether you plot it out in your bullet journal, set a reminder on your phone’s calendar or have a list written out, a schedule of what needs to happen when to ensure your family’s teeth stay healthy is useful.
For adults, it’s fairly easy to remember to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once, but keeping kids on track with daily oral care can become daunting. The goal is to get to the point where it’s second nature and requires no prompting.
Some parents find a sticker chart to be helpful in getting their kids trained to remember these important tasks. Every time your young child brushes and flosses, add a sticker to their card. After a predetermined number of stickers, kids earn a reward — either something to make brushing and flossing more fun or something they’ve really been wishing for.
Make a habit to get the entire family brushing their teeth for two minutes at a time upon waking up and just before going to bed to keep plaque, biofilm and bacteria at bay.
It’s not a bad idea to take stock of how your mouth is feeling at least once a week. You can do this during your normal brushing time. Take note of any problems or issues you might be experiencing. For example, has your breath been a little more aromatic in the past week? Have you noticed new staining or sensitivities?
A weekly check-in with yourself can help you keep track of any emerging problems and ensure you get timely care for any issues that may arise. Check in with your kids and spouse weekly, too. This is also a good time to discuss any concerns and keep an ongoing dialogue open about oral health and wellness.
While oral cancer can strike anywhere, certain habits put you in a higher risk category. For example, if you haven’t been able to quit smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco, it’s a good idea to perform a self-check for early signs of oral cancer at least monthly. Take a good look into your mouth for any changes in color, cuts or lesions, swellings or growths. If you see anything out of the ordinary, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to have it checked out.
Go toothbrush shopping at least once every three to four months — sooner if your brush’s bristles start to fray or you experience an illness involving your ear, nose or throat. You can check this one off your list by buying brushes or electronic toothbrush heads in bulk for the year all at once or signing up for a subscription box or service that keeps toothbrushes automatically delivered to your home.
Schedule a cleaning and checkup with your dentist’s office once every six months. Some dental offices allow you to schedule an entire year’s at once, while others use scheduling software that only allows you to book an appointment a certain number of months in advance. Go ahead and plan out your family’s dental appointments or when you need to call in and make them in your own schedule, planner or calendar software to have an easy reminder.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed due to ongoing concern for the health and safety of our patients and staff, but we look forward to the day when we can see you in our office again. While we aren’t currently available by phone to take requests for appointments, you can reach us via email with questions or requests for appointments looking into the future by clicking here.
Self-care isn’t always lighting a candle and drawing a hot bath while brewing your favorite cup of tea. Self-care is sometimes choosing to actively and mindfully focus on improving part of your health, and one of the simplest ways to be more proactive is remedying commonly overlooked minor dental or oral health issues. While you may not be able to get into your dentist’s office, you can make plenty of self-care power moves for a fresher, cleaner, healthier smile at home.
Brushing and flossing are only two of the ways you can take care of your oral health at home. During times when you can’t get into the dentist’s office, your dentist and staff are relying on you to perform fastidious home care and make the best choices for your oral health. An often overlooked component of maintaining your smile between dentist visits is choosing the best foods to keep your teeth, tongue and gums looking and feeling their best. These five foods can deliver some added benefits beyond tasting great and being part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Your tongue can provide a surprising picture of your overall health and wellness. One of the reasons regular visits to your dentist are so important is because dentists can often spot problems in their early stages. While some tongue issues are directly linked to oral health and hygiene, your dentist can be one of the first responders for several other emerging conditions.