Maintaining Your Oral Health
Some foods can help brighten your smile
What you’re eating could damage your smile, but other foods and beverages can help clean your teeth. If you experience persistent tooth stains, talk to us about ways you can enhance your smile.
Certain foods and beverages can lead to surface staining. Coffee, dark sodas, red wine and blueberries all leave their mark quickly.
“While daily home care and regular professional cleanings are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, certain foods can help remove stains from your teeth,” said Dr. Marty Zase, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “Foods such as apples, pears, celery, carrots, cauliflower and cucumbers produce saliva which combines with the foods’ natural fibers to naturally clean teeth and remove bacteria.”
Drinking beverages from a straw helps food dyes avoid teeth altogether, and regular toothbrushing is essential.
Brushing and flossing will remove most surface stains, but persistent stains may require a bleaching system. Bleaching products contain carbamide or hydrogen peroxide, which aid in removing intrinsic stains—the ones deep into the tooth—and extrinsic stains, which are on the tooth’s surface. There are numerous over-the-counter products and in-office treatments geared toward removing visible stains from teeth—making them appear brighter.
Talk to us about the options most suitable for you, your expectations and your budget.
A clean tongue is essential to fresh breath
Want to control bad breath? Don't ignore your tongue.
All those bumps and grooves on your tongue are a haven for bacteria and could be contributing to bad breath because of the gases they give off, says Dr. Matthew Messina, a consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. It's important to take care of your tongue in addition to regular brushing and flossing.
According to Dr. Messina, "Scraping the tongue can really reduce the number of those bacteria and can help a number of people with bad breath."
But what's the best way to tackle the tongue?
An article in a recent issue of General Dentistry found that tongue scrapers are effective at reducing halitosis, at least short-term. A toothbrush can work just as well as long as you remember to brush the tongue's middle and back, where microbe populations can be especially high.
If you find that brushing or scraping your tongue makes you gag, hold your tongue with your free hand. "Stabilizing the tongue a bit makes it easier to scrape or brush the surface," Dr. Messina said.
While brushing your tongue doesn't have a long-lasting effect on bad breath, it is an important step in keeping your entire mouth healthy. The ADA notes that bad breath could be the sign of a medical disorder, such as gum disease, a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or a liver or kidney ailment. Persistent bad breath should always be investigated.
Mom's smoking could increase baby’s risk for cleft lip
Can smoking cigarettes increase cleft lip risk?
That’s what researchers at the University of Iowa concluded after conducting an international study to determine if some babies are predisposed to cleft lip and/or palate because of a genetic inability to detoxify cigarette smoke.
The study concluded that fetuses lacking both copies of a gene used to counteract the smoke and whose mothers smoke during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing the condition.
About one in every 600 U.S. babies is born with a cleft lip and/or palate, according to the study.
The study’s results found that up to 60 percent of babies with Asian ancestry and 25 percent of babies of European ancestry lack both copies of the gene, which is called GSTT1.
The study’s lead author, Jeff Murray, M.D., put the findings in perspective, “If a pregnant woman smokes 15 cigarettes or more per day and her fetus doesn’t have working copies of the GSTT1, the chances of the fetus developing a cleft increase nearly 20 fold.”
When the gene is missing, the study said, a baby is unable to remove the toxins that may be transferred across the placenta when the mother smokes.
The Iowa researchers and a team of researchers from Denmark assembled a list of 16 genes directly involved in cigarette smoke toxicity and tested whether variations might adversely affect a person’s ability to break down the toxic products.
The teams used an existing database of 1,244 children with clefts as well as their parents and siblings to compile 5,000 DNA samples. The data they uncovered revealed that pregnant women who smoked and whose fetuses lacked the GSTT1 enzyme were much more likely to give birth to a baby with a cleft.
“When the chemicals in cigarette smoke challenge the normal development of these structures,” Dr. Murray said, “fetuses that lack the gene are at a distinct disadvantage.”