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Couch and Hammond

Family Dentist Folsom

How To Pick A Toothbrush & Floss

We all know to brush our teeth. Check. We all know to floss our teeth. Check (okay, we know some of us skip this step but we’ll let it slide this time). But do we know which type of toothbrush and which dental floss is the best to keep our pearly whites, well, pearly and white? Today we clear the air on this important topic.

Toothbrushes & Brushing

Before getting into all your purchasing options, let’s do a quick brush up (pun intended) on proper brushing techniques to ensure your dental labors are as effective as possible.

brush-ones-to-keepWhen brushing, you don’t want to apply a lot of pressure; plaque is removed with gentle and thorough cleaning. By being too aggressive you are more likely to damage your gum tissue than clean properly. To start, place the head of the brush at a 45-degree angle and point the bristles just into the gum line. This helps disrupt buildup gathering at the base of the tooth. Avoid brushing all your teeth at once; rather, target a group of 3-4 and gently clear the surfaces before moving on to the next set. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the tooth: fronts, backs, chewing surfaces, and the sides of those hard-to-reach molars. Perfect!

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

Electronic toothbrushes are a fantastic option and do a lot to help agitate food particles and really cleanse your teeth. Manual toothbrushes also work well provided they are used effectively with our above tips. For bristles, many make the mistake of purchasing them too tough. The flexibility and gentleness of soft bristles is precisely what you want to clean without damaging. For toothbrush size, just ensure it isn’t too large that it prevents access to those back molars that can be tricky to reach. There is no single toothbrush that is perfect for everyone, so be sure you’re using the one that feels the best to you and will encourage regular use – if you have any questions, we are always here!

Dental Floss & Flossing

Onto floss – but first, the brush up:

When it comes to flossing, you make a C-shape to curve around each tooth as you bring the floss down. The point is not to drag the line straight up and down, which can irritate the gums, but rather to hug the surface of each tooth and clean from the top to the root with a gentle motion. Use about 18” of floss for a fresh portion each pass. Remember to clean both neighboring teeth each time you bring the floss down, and don’t miss any teeth!

Which Floss Is Best?

There are a few variables to keep in mind when finding your ideal floss. First is the thickness of the floss – some people have larger gaps between teeth, and others have very tight spaces that can make it hard to floss. The ideal thickness is one that is comfortable to use, but still thoroughly cleans between each tooth – for tight spaces, try a flat, ribbon-like floss. There are also options like the material the floss is made of, and then waxed versus unwaxed floss. Some suggest waxed floss may be slightly more effective, but whichever choice is most comfortable for you is the choice we recommend. Yes, a lot of our advice is related to your preferences, but if you find a dental product you like with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can be sure you’ve found a winner!

In fact, that is our biggest suggestion for when it comes to both brushes and floss: the right option for you is the one you will actually use. If you have more questions, give us a call – we are always happy to ensure our patients feel confident with their oral health and have all the facts.

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

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Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

Dental Deep Cleaning for Healthy Gums

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What is scaling and root planing? When is it recommended?

As with many aspects of general dentistry, scaling and root planing is a treatment related to keeping your mouth free of gum disease. Your routine appointments and your home care are preventative measures to maintain your oral health; but as nice as it would be to keep your oral health in perfect condition all the time, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. When we identify the onset of gum disease, we work quickly to reverse the condition and get you back on a healthy track. This is where scaling and root planing treatments play a critical role.

Often referred to as periodontal cleaning or deep cleaning, they are all the same form of treatment. The procedure removes dental plaque and tartar, specifically below the visible gum line. The spaces between your gums and teeth are prime breeding ground for bacteria and infection, so without treatment they can deepen and compromise your oral health. There are a variety of tools and methods available for periodontal cleaning, and each is designed to finely clean the dental pockets the gum disease is attacking and deepening. Successfully completed, the build-up collected around the teeth and gums will be removed, and the gums will heal tightly around the teeth for a secure and healthy fit.

Post-Treatment Follow-Up

Scaling and root planing are advantageous procedures if gum disease is present, but what about the importance of following up after you’ve been treated? Despite the fact healing and improvements will be seen immediately following treatment, the actual procedure is only the first step in arresting the periodontal disease. The true efficacy of scaling and root planing is contingent upon a number of variables, including patient compliance.

It is imperative the patient and our office collaborate to prevent the infection from recurring. Infection is often the result of negligent oral care, which will need to be excellent and diligently preformed following treatment. As it takes a significant period of time for the infection and bacteria to build-up, the remedial steps taken after scaling and root planing will not be an overnight solution – time and consistency will be necessary for a full recovery.

Subsequent appointments are often necessary in order to monitor and track the healing progress, and we will discuss the frequency and importance of these with you to ensure your understanding and comfort. Our office will be there to help through each and every step of this process with respect to your unique needs, as well as offer any resources or information necessary to restore your smile to a happy and healthy state.

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

Fear of the Dentist

 

What do clowns, spiders, monsters, and the dentist have in common?

They scare the living daylights out of many people; how many people? Over 75% of adults report some form of dental anxiety, and up to 10% suffer from full-blown phobias.

The causes for anxiety differ, but the escape is all the same: not scheduling that much-needed appointment. Avoiding clowns and monsters is fine, as they can’t offer services that could save you from tooth loss, gum disease, and potentially life-threatening heart diseases – but your dentist can, and that’s why it’s important to find a solution to your dental anxieties and make sure you’re keeping your smile as healthy as the rest of you.

Some causes for dental anxiety include:

  • Fear from a past experience
  • Fear of a painful procedure
  • Fear of the medical bill

The solution to all of the above is simple: Talk to your dentist. There are ways around each and every one of these that will allow you to ensure your dental health is taken care of and you are not at risk for unnecessary health complications!

If you had a painful experience in the past: Talk to your dentist! There are many ways to work around the issue – either by an alternate procedure, or perhaps a discussion about sedation dentistry to calm your nerves. If you tell your dentist the problem, they can work to find a solution that works for you.

If you are afraid of a painful procedure: Talk to your dentist! Again, there may be a less-painful procedure as an alternative. Or perhaps it’s not as painful as you originally feared. In many cases sedation dentistry is a fantastic option that either takes the edge off your nerves, or anesthetizes you entirely. What’s better than waking up with a shiny new smile and no fuss for you?

If you’re afraid of the potential bill: Talk to your dentist! You never have to be handed a bill you didn’t expect. First, get an estimate on the necessary procedures. Then talk! There are many options for those strapped for cash, including payment plans or various subsidies. But your dentist cannot help you answer a question that you didn’t ask! Remember as well, your health is an investment. You can pay to prevent or pay to correct, and the latter can be extraordinarily higher than the former; nothing can replace regular appointments and consistent care.

Remember, 75% of adults admit to some form of dental anxiety – your dentist has heard it before and will be happy to work with you to ensure you walk out with a smile that you’re both proud of.

By the way, fear of the dentist? That’s called odontophobia, and it doesn’t have to ruin your smile. Talk to your dentist and save your phobias for spiders and clowns.

 

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

Pre-Medication for Dental Work After Joint Replacement

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What is pre-medicating? What do artificial joints have to do with dental treatment? Why is this related to my oral health and not just overall health?

Good questions! Although artificial joints can seem like a far cry from concerns with your dental health, the two are more related than one may think. When it comes to artificial joints, there is an increased risk of infection due to the inorganic material in the body that should be taken into consideration. This is true from the time of placement, but it may also play a role with future medical treatments. It has long been suggested that pre-medicating should be a standard prerequisite to dental and other procedures, but what is pre-medicating and why would it help?

Pre-Medication Before Dental Procedures

Pre-medicating is the act of giving medication prior to a medical or dental procedure, which is done with the intention of staying ahead of potential infection problems. The theory is that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream, and those with artificial joints are already more susceptible to infection. Pre-medication is meant to help mitigate this risk prior to the procedure to keep your overall health in check from start to finish.

Sounds simple – what’s the dilemma?

Your replacement joints may not affect treatments at all! Many question pre-medication as it does not appear to be necessary. In fact, the ADA directly states “In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection.” There is evidence that dental procedures are not associated with prosthetic joint implant infections, along with the fact that there is evidence to suggest that there are potential harms in taking medication when not completely necessary. As such, the risks do not outweigh the benefits of pre-medication. In individual cases, there may be exceptions; however, as a rule pre-medication is not a necessary prerequisite for effective dental treatments.

Please be sure to let us know if you have artificial joints, or any out of the ordinary medical circumstances. We will be sure to take them into consideration when it comes to developing your treatment plan. For the most part, your artificial joints will not require special treatment on your end – we can treat you as we would any other patient to keep your smile looking sharp!

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

 

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a ‘periodontal probe’ to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth.

Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

The Dangers of Crunchy Munchies

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Easter means many things to different families everywhere, but one thing that remains consistent is the appearance of candy! Whether it’s hidden in eggs or just passed around, it comes at a nice nearly halfway mark in the year from Halloween. Sweets make for some excellent treats, and there is no reason not to indulge (in moderation of course)! However, all candies are not created equal, and it may be worth knowing which ones you can have relatively guilt free, and which could spell trouble for your wonderful smile.

When it comes to Easter indulgences, chocolate may make it onto the nice list – we know, this is great news to many of you. The less forgiving candies are the ones that make that all-too-familiar CRUNCH! Hard candies, like lollipops or jolly ranchers, can be an awfully tempting treat to bite. But best case scenario is they can pack hard-to-reach pieces of sugar into your gums that end up sitting there, as saliva can have a difficult time breaking them down. Worst case scenario, that crunch sound may be coming from a broken tooth, and sending you straight from your Sunday activities into our office.

We do love seeing our patients, but not at the expense of their healthy smile! It happens more often than you think, and it’s not just because of the sugar – even some who are prone to absentmindedly crunching on ice have discovered the dangers of biting down on crunchy munchies when they find a piece of their tooth broken off. Your teeth are durable for normal eating and chewing, but anything that causes too much stress can run the risk of chipping or breaking one of your pearly whites. Before you try to impress your friends with breaking that jaw breaker in half, remember that it’s earned that name for a pretty good reason.

Even if you resist that satisfying crunch, there are still a few other points of concern for hard candies that you don’t run into with other options (like chocolate!). Hard candies that you suck on tend to spend a concentrated period of time in a single location, which over-exposes particular areas of your mouth to sugar and lead to a very concentrated build-up of acid, which can be a quick way to damage the enamel. Consider this next time you find yourself unwrapping that tootsie pop or after-meal mint, and perhaps enjoy a stick of gum instead. It’s not often that the solution for a sweet treat is yet another sweet treat, but you’re in luck because this time it is! After enjoying your holiday treats, consider enjoying a piece of sugar-free gum – the increased saliva productions while chewing can actually help dislodge and break down the remaining sugar in your mouth.

Overall, we don’t want to take the enjoyment out of candy-filled holidays – enjoy your time with your friends and family, and definitely don’t be afraid to pop open that plastic egg and see what treats hide inside. If you do find yourself going crazy for the crunchy candies, we hope you chew safely…and if things go wrong, you always have your friends at our office to set things straight (:

Couch and Hammond Dentistry

Folsom Dental Office |916-805-5077
260 Palladio Parkway Suite 1001
Folsom, CA 95630
https://www.couchandhammonddentistry.com

Dental Health and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy changes a lot about the female body, which is no surprise considering all the physical and hormonal effects that take place over the course of those 9 months. All that considered, the profound connection between pregnancy and dental health can still be a shock to many.

As an example, the rapid surge in hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can alter the manner in which gum tissue reacts to plaque. Plaque buildup affects everybody, so it’s always important to make sure your teeth are being cleaned thoroughly. However, ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ is a condition that affects the vast majority of mothers-to-be and should be carefully monitored. Prevention is always more useful than treatment, and for that reason we encourage a diet high in Vitamin C and B12 – don’t forget, baby’s teeth are developing too so it’s important to have a diet that’s nutritious for your teeth and theirs! Be sure to brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss each evening as well.

In addition to ‘pregnancy gingivitis’, pregnant women are also at risk for ‘pregnancy tumors’. These tumors are inflamed, but non-cancerous, growths that may develop when the gums become swollen and irritated. Usually the tumors will resolve themselves post-birth, but if you find one and it’s uncomfortable or painful, don’t hesitate to call our office so we can help you proceed with the right treatment for you.

In general, if you are either currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should always let your dentist know immediately in order to best proceed to minimize the risk of pregnancy-related complications. If needed, most procedures can be performed during pregnancy, particularly if you are in pain or have any concerns. However, we do not recommend any elective procedures until after the baby’s birth in order to minimize health risks to you or the child. Pregnancy does come with health concerns to be monitored, but as was the case before you received the news about your bundle of joy, consistent and thorough cleaning is always your best bet. Above all else, relax and enjoy this special time!

 

Couch and Hammond

Folsom Office
260 Palladio Parkway, #1001
Folsom, CA 95630
916-805-5077

 

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