Why Should We Clean Our Tongue?

Our tongue is a magnet for bugs (of all kinds)!
Our tongue is a magnet for bugs (of all kinds)!

Do we need to brush (or otherwise scrape and clean) our tongue? And the answer is yes. But why? We don’t chew food with our tongue. We cannot get a cavity on our tongue. No matter how much (or how little) we floss it won’t make a difference to our tongue. So why do we need to brush our tongue?

The answer has to do with the anatomy of the tongue. In spite of our tongue feeling nice and smooth to us, it has thousands upon thousands of tiny folds and grooves on it. And in these folds and grooves is where the tiny bacteria can hide. The same bacteria that cause tooth decay or gum disease find a nice home in the nooks and crannies on the tongue. Not only that, plaque also becomes trapped in these tiny grooves. The bacteria then use the plaque to proliferate (e.g. multiply). So our tongue then becomes a safe haven for bacteria and it is this bacterial content along with the plaque that cause bad breath.

Fortunately, we can clean our tongue easily (way easier than flossing!). There are 2 main ways for cleaning your tongue. We are not talking about rinsing with mouthwashes (although that helps too). We are talking about mechanically cleaning our tongue. One way is to use your toothbrush after you have brushed your teeth. Gently brush forward on the tongue starting as far back as you can without making yourself gag. Just remember, don’t push hard. Gently brush forward. Do this a few times trying to cover the entire surface of the tongue (just the top side, no need to brush the bottom side).

Tongue scrapers can be used to clean the tongue effectively.
Tongue scrapers can be used to clean the tongue effectively.

Another option is to use a “tongue scraper.” These are made of plastic and allow for simple cleaning of the tongue rather quickly. You fold these like a “U” shape and just run it over the tongue (back to front).

Not only cleaning your tongue will make your breath more fresh, it will also open up your taste buds. You can once again begin tasting the food in your mouth without all the bugs and bacteria impairing your taste buds. Be sure to visit our web store to find tongue scrapers and other hygiene related products.

Happy “tonguing!”

Platinum Dental Inc. Blogging Staff


Holidays and Stress

Holidays cause an increase in stress levels
Holidays cause an increase in stress levels

Happy holidays everybody. The year is ending and soon it will be 2019. With the holiday season upon us inevitably we’ll be seeing family and friends. And while most people (well, maybe not most) enjoy seeing their family and spending times with them during the holidays, it is not an entirely stress-free event. And what happens to most people when they stress? Their blood pressure goes up, breathing gets a bit more labored, their body temperature rises and they may even feel a bit queasy. Another physiological response to stress is clenching or grinding of the teeth. And while this pales in comparison to other bodily responses, it does end up causing jaw pain, toothache, cracked teeth, headaches and other issues. With all of these issues, it would be good to have an action plan for handling the increase in stress during the holidays (and other times of the year too). Following is a list of “natural“ remedies for anxiety and stress.

  1. Exercise- we’re not talking about competing in a Triathlon. Walking for 20-40 minutes per day at a moderate pace is great for reducing stress. Plus our body release “endorphins” which is the body’s natural way of making itself feel better.
  2. Meditation-meditation doesn’t have to involve the lotus pose and deep breathing for 2 hours! But it does require some activity to steer your mind away from all the negative (or stressful) thoughts. And what better way to do this than by focusing your mind on something else (instead of nothingness). Cross word puzzles, brain teasers and other non-timed, non-competitive activities are great ways to meditate.
  3. Relaxation exercise- kind of an oxymoron! Who can relax while they exercise? There is a way. Lay on your couch or bed and focus your attention to different muscle groups/body parts. Focus your energy to a body part (like your feet) and move up slowly from there.
  4. Spending time with animals- this is why dog owners on average live longer than non-dog owners. Caring for another life form focuses our energy on them instead of wasting it on negative thoughts. Plus, animals do crazy things which is in itself a form of entertainment (except when that involves clean up on our part).

Hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these suggestions for reducing your stress during the holiday (i.e. stressful) season. Happy holidays and happy new year.

Is Chewing Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Chewing Ice and Your Teeth
Chewing Ice and Your Teeth

Summer is upon us. And if you doubted that you can take a look at the thermometer. With the hot days and weeks ahead of us, we always look to find ways of keeping ourselves cool.

You’ve always been told to drink plenty of water every day, but especially on hot days. Well, how about chewing on ice cubes? Isn’t that the same as drinking water plus it cools us way down!

The problem with chewing on ice cubes is that it can cause damage to your teeth. There are all sorts of crunchy foods we all eat and enjoy: pretzels, nuts, chips, etc. All of these foods (including ice cubes) place a tremendous amount of force upon our teeth and jaw joints. And the more we subject our chompers to these types of foods the more chance of dental trauma we have. Chipped teeth, cracked or broken fillingsloose caps and jaw pain are just a few examples. And while these are all repairable by your dentist, this damage is avoidable. So when it comes to chewing on ice, simply don’t. We subject our teeth to plenty other hard and crunchy stuff. One less is better. Instead of actively biting into and crushing the ice cube in your mouth, just move it around with your tongue and let it melt naturally. You’ll feel the cooling effect of the ice cube in your mouth, get the water that you need and avoid damaging your teeth. Be sure to check out our other blog posts for healthy summer snacks and more.

10 Healthy Summer Snacks

Healthy summer time snacks
Healthy summer time snacks

Summer is upon us. Days are longer and hotter. We are out and about doing our thing. It’s easy to miss a meal or even go longer without food in between meals. Hello snacks!

Snacks are a great way for us to keep our energy level up and get thru our days. Having sufficient energy throughout the day not only helps us get thru our chores and tasks, but it also helps our immune system to keep us from falling ill.  But not all snacks are created equal. And what’s more, people are generally drawn to snacks that are not 100% healthy. Do you ever get home after work all tired and hungry and before your dinner you dig in the bag of potato chips? Before you know it the bag is half gone (especially if it’s Doritos in my case!) If you had a snack around 4 pm or so, you’d be able to pass the chips and wait for dinner.

With that said, we have put together 10 healthy snacks for you to munch on during the hot summer months.

  1. Lightly salted apple slices – Get your favorite kind of apple. Chop it into slices (do not peel). Soak the cut slices in cold water for 30 minutes. Take out and pat dry. Sprinkle a very small amount of salt (very small amount). Put these in a zip lock bag and stick them in the fridge. This is a perfectly healthy snack that tastes good and also doesn’t ruin your teeth (or your waist line!).
  2. Carrots dipped in guacamole or hummus – Baby carrots are the best. They come all ready to eat. Pair these up with some guacamole or hummus and voila.
  3. Ants on a log – Take a few celery sticks. Cut off the leafy part. Smear peanut butter on one side and sprinkle some raisins on top. While raisins are sticky and sweet and not so good for teeth, the celery sticks will help in removing these bits and pieces. Peanut butter is a great source of protein as well. Apples also go really well with peanut butter, plus you need no raisins.
  4. Frozen yogurt – Instead of that scoop of ice cream, have some frozen yogurt. There are very easy delicious recipes for making homemade froyo.
  5. Yogurt with fruit – Take plain (or vanilla yogurt) and add in a handful of blue berries. Quick, simple and delicious. Try different fruits to see what you like the most.
  6. Whole grain crackers and cheese – Fulfilling and healthy. You can substitute apples for the crackers. Apple and cheese slices. Yum.
  7. Trail mix – Make your own or buy from the store. Just don’t buy the one with all the “m & m’s” in there. Solid snack to keep you going.
  8. Fruit salad – Making a small container the night before and sticking it in the fridge will give you an excellent snack the next day. Plus, you really cannot pick an unhealthy fruit.
  9. Milk – Excellent source of calcium. Good for the teeth and the bones. Plus tastes good to drink without adding chocolate. Pair the milk with half a banana. Tasty and healthy.
  10. Chia seeds – They make healthy delicious snacks that everyone can enjoy. The texture might need a little getting used to. But a great healthy snack.

Follow these suggestions for snacking not just for the sake of eating healthy snacks, but also snacks that are good for your teeth.

Happy summer.

Watermelon Anyone?

Watermelons have amazing benefits
Watermelons have amazing benefits

Summer is around the corner. Days are getting longer and the temperature is rising steadily. Staying hydrated during the hot summer months is crucial to your health, especially for the younger and the older populations. And while most people are content on filling up on pure water, sometimes you need a change of pace. But instead of a Gatorade or any number of flavored beverages you can get, consider sinking your teeth into a slice of watermelon.

Growing up in a place where the summer is pretty hot, my family was used to having watermelon on a regular basis. I remember having a bowl of fresh watermelons served with our dinner routinely.  And while they are sweet, delicious and refreshing to bite into, they are full of health benefits that most of us are unaware of. Not only are watermelons full of health benefits, they also help us fight periodontal disease (gum disease).

Watermelons are full of Vitamin C which is very helpful in fighting “free radicals”. We are not talking about overly political figures running around trying to change policy. NO! We are talking about precursors to cancer and other inflammatory diseases like heart disease. Vitamin C helps keep these free radicals in check, making them less likely to cause damage to our body. The same Vitamin C is instrumental in helping keep periodontal disease under control. That’s not to say you don’t need to brush or floss. But it says that watermelons make our bodies stronger in fighting the damage caused by periodontal disease. Another benefit of vitamin C is in reduction of asthma (both frequency and severity of asthma attacks).

Watermelons are alkaline (opposite of acidic). Our bodies operate at a slightly alkaline level. However, most foods we eat are acidic and ingesting them leads to imbalances in our bodies. Watermelons help neutralize other acidic foods and help keep our body in its optimal pH range.

Watermelons are also great for weight loss. Yes they are. Watermelon is mostly water and fiber. Eating a bowl of watermelon will leave you filling full and satisfied compared to a sugary snack! Plus, it will leave your body after your body has absorbed what it needs, letting the fiber clean up our insides as well.

Watermelons are 40% water and they have minerals our body needs desperately to operate smoothly. What better water substitute than watermelons. Plus, they contain an amino acid which makes our muscles recover faster. This is important for any athlete as their recovery time decreases with consumption of watermelons. What the professional athletes need to be consuming during their timeouts or half time is watermelons. Maybe this is a stretch, but you get the point.

As you can see there are more than a few benefits to this red yummy fruit. And we’ve only listed a few of them. An internet search will show you many more amazing benefits of watermelons. Watermelons are not only tasty, but they are also good for you. This summer make a point of picking up a watermelon a week and incorporating it into your diet.  Stay healthy and be strong.

What Does A Root Cavity Look Like?

Root cavity shows up as a brown stain at the gumline of the affected tooth
Root cavity shows up as a brown stain at the gumline of the affected tooth

Dental cavities can start in different places on a tooth. Sometimes they start on the “chewing” surface of the tooth. This usually happens when the teeth are not brushed thoroughly.  Sometimes a cavity starts in between the teeth, or what are called “flossing” surfaces of the teeth. At other times, the cavity can start at the gum line of the tooth. While these are not as common as the other 2 locations for cavities to start, they are seen more and more in older patients. Reasons are usually receded gums, not enough saliva and less than ideal brushing techniques.

A cavity at the gum line of a tooth gone untreated can affect the nerve in the tooth and end up causing an infection!

Fortunately, these cavities can be fixed with dental bonding procedures, before the cavity gets too large and out of control.

In the era before the invention of dental bondings these cavities were filled with an amalgam (mercury) filling. This worked except it looked worse than the actual cavity. Also tooth structure had to be removed for placement of the mercury filling, regardless of whether the tooth structure was healthy or not. That’s because the mercury fillings were not bonded onto to the teeth.

Dental bonding allows placement of bonding material which match the shade of the tooth. Also, the bonded filling is chemically bonded to the tooth, so we only need to remove the decayed tooth structure. And of course the filling looks way more natural (and does not contain mercury).

Dental bonding is used in treating the gum line cavity.
Dental bonding is used in treating the gum line cavity.

Dental materials have been getting better, stronger and more natural looking. A root cavity which used to look hideous after being repaired with a mercury filling can now be treated with natural looking results.

To learn more about this procedure visit our web page on dental bondings. If you have teeth with mercury fillings at the gum line, get them replaced as they don’t look good, not to mention their unhealthy contents (mercury). If you have a brown spot on the root of the tooth, don’t ignore it. It can lead to a dental infection requiring a root canal and crown.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry helps you doze off
Sedation dentistry helps you doze off

Do you dread going to the dentist? We’re not just talking about a little anxiety. We’re talking about morbid fear and downright nervousness so much so that you cannot go to the dentist. If so, sedation dentistry may be the answer to your problems.

With this technique, a patient can be dozing off and on during their dental appointment. The patient knows that they are at the dentist, but they are much more relaxed and comfortable during their visit. This makes dental care not as difficult and challenging for them. Some patients doze off so well that when they are awakened, they don’t realize that their dental care has been completed. Now that’s a pleasant surprise.

Sedation dentistry can be used safely for almost every adult. During your initial visit, our dentist performs an exam and X-rays and comes up with a plan of action for your dental care to address your dental concerns. After a complete review of your medical history, specific medications are prescribed for you to take for your sedation dental visit. The night before your dental procedure you’ll take some pills by mouth when going to bed. When you wake up, you’ll take some more medications and when you arrive at your appointment, more medications will be dispensed to achieve an optimal and comfortable sedation level for you. Once you are comfortably sedated your dental care begins.

Most adults need to see their dentist twice a year for regular check-ups and cleanings. During these annual visits, the dentist can monitor and check for new cavities or other dental problems. Fearful patients do not go to the dentist ’til something hurts so bad they can’t take it any more. Something that was fairly easy to fix will now require a lot more because it wasn’t fixed early on in the process. Sedation dentistry helps fearful adults get the dental care they so badly need, safely. Sedation dentistry is a safe and economical alternative to IV sedation or general anesthesia.  Read more about sedation dentistry on our website. If you or someone you know can benefit from this procedure, be sure to contact us so we can help you improve your dental health.


Why Do I Wake Up With Jaw Pain in the Mornings?

Jaw pain in the morning means you clench your teeth while you sleep
Jaw pain in the morning

Some people wake up in the morning with jaw pain. And most people think they may have a cavity or a “bad tooth” that’s causing them the jaw pain.

Jaw pain in the morning though could also be due to clenching or grinding of the teeth while sleeping. While there are no accurate statistics to tell us how prevalent this condition is, a large number of people wake up every day not just to the sound of their alarm, but to regular jaw pain as well.

People are quick to take an Aspirin or a Tylenol to dull the pain. But these medications have their own side effects after prolonged use. More importantly, taking these medications does not fix the problem, but merely masks the painful side effects.

No one knows for sure why some people clench their teeth in their sleep while others don’t. Stress is always blamed as a factor in people clenching their teeth while sleeping. Regardless of what causes clenching, the damage that this disease causes is profound. Inability to open and close the mouth comfortably, difficulty chewing, jaw pain and headaches are only a few of the symptoms that people suffer from as a result of clenching.

While we are awake, we can control (more or less) what we do with our bodies. People who clench their teeth while awake can be trained to stop this harmful habit. However, you cannot train a sleeping person not to clench. For this reason, people who suffer from this disease need an appropriate “mouthguard” for when they sleep.  Without the proper mouthguard (or no mouthguard or the wrong type) the symptoms will continue to worsen, resulting in irreversible damage to the jaw bones, the teeth and ultimately the face.

Our doctor is trained in treating this group of disorders. To learn more about this horrible disease, visit our webpage dedicated to jaw pain. If you or a loved one suffers from any of these symptoms, contact us so that our dentist can help you find relief.

Can Brushing Too Hard Damage My Teeth?

Receding gums expose the more sensitive part of the tooth
Receding gums expose the more sensitive part of the tooth

Let’s face it. We all brush our teeth (hopefully at least twice daily). The ideal way to brush the teeth is using a small circular motion with a soft-bristle toothbrush.  The reason being that a hard bristle toothbrush can actually do more harm than good. Even though the enamel is the strongest and toughest part of our body, the gums are not. So even if the toothbrush doesn’t cause any damage to the actual tooth, it can cause recession for the gums (gums pulling away). You know your gums are receding when you look at your teeth and notice they look like they’re getting longer. Also, the neck of the teeth (the part just above the gums) looks more yellow/orange than the top part of the tooth. The reason is that once the gums recede, you are looking at the tooth root. And since the root is made of different materials (not enamel), it looks different and has a different color.

If you talk to a group of dentists regarding what causes the notching seen at the neck of the teeth you’ll get different answers. Some dentist will tell you that excessive rubbing or force while brushing the teeth causes this problem. Others will tell you that it is caused by how your teeth fit the opposing teeth (for chewing purposes) and by excessive biting forces (clenching or grinding).  Another factor that plays a role here is the foods and drink we ingest. Anything acidic (like orange juice) makes the tooth structure chemically weaker. That’s why dentists recommend against brushing your teeth after drinking that glass of OJ. So if you eat or drink acidic beverages, brush hard and clench your teeth, you are very prone to having your gums recede and your teeth notch.

What is important here is that all of these (brushing in a scrubbing fashion, hard bristle toothbrush, acidic foods or beverages, and excessive biting forces) are all risk factors for recession of the gums and the notching of the teeth. So the question remains: what can we do to minimize the damage?

Use a soft bristle toothbrush. Minimize the use of acidic beverages and foods. Avoid clenching your teeth. Use the correct brushing technique. Use toothpastes with fluoride to keep the enamel strong. Use of certain mouthwashes also helps protect the roots of the teeth from decaying. If you have teeth that have recession or have notching already, we can help. Give us a call and we’ll help you stop the recession and fix the damaged teeth.

Who Wants a Black Filling?

Amalgam fillings turn black and corrode over time
Amalgam fillings turn black and corrode over time

Ever wonder what the old “silver” fillings or “amalgam” fillings look after a few years in the mouth? Here is a good picture! Maybe they should be called “black fillings!”

Silver fillings were created decades ago to allow dentist to fix teeth that were decayed. And while a lot of scientific findings were used to create the filling material, they leave a lot to be desired by today’s standards.

Silver fillings have been placed for a long time (and still continue to be placed in some dental offices and clinics). However, they do pose several major problems. First of all, they look like crap after a few years of service. This is obvious to anyone, not just dentists. They leak and stain the tooth structure around them. Looking at the photo above you can see the gray shadows that’s spreading out from the filling inside the tooth. They cause teeth to break prematurely. Because of their metallic nature, they expand and contract differently than enamel and dentin when exposed to high and low temperatures. Because of this difference in expansion and contraction rate, they place a lot of unnecessary forces on the tooth. Looking at the photo above you can see 2 fracture lines starting on the left side. Oh, and one last minor detail is that they contain mercury. No biggie though!

White fillings are more esthetic
White fillings are more esthetic

This is the same tooth after the silver filling and fracture lines were removed and replaced with a white filling. White fillings are not just more esthetic and pretty. They resemble the tooth structure they are replacing making teeth less likely to fracture. Also, these white fillings are bonded to the teeth chemically. This helps solidify the tooth as a unit, instead of having something lodged in the center of the tooth causing it to split over time. These white fillings are also easier to repair and maintain compared to a silver filling.

The next time you are given a choice between a silver filling and a white filling, you’ll be better prepared to choose the white filling knowing it is a better material which not only looks better, but is better for the health of the tooth. At Platinum Dental, Inc. we only use white fillings when a filling is necessary. Follow this link to learn more about white fillings.