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No Tricks, Just Treats: Three Tips to Stay Safe & Healthy On Halloween

 

Halloween isn’t just the spookiest day of the year – thanks to all that trick-or-treating, it also tends to be one of the sweetest! And while this may sound like a great opportunity to loosen the reins and let the kids go wild, Halloween is also notorious for being one of the biggest annual events… at your local dentist’s office. But we’re here to help you keep your mouth healthy on Halloween.

According to the American Dental Association, cavities, chipped teeth and more all skyrocket in the week following Halloween. But with a bit of common sense and some thoughtful indulgence, you can enjoy the sweets of Halloween and the holidays beyond in moderation, without jeopardizing the health of your teeth.

Make Smart Choices

Choosing smart candies goes beyond just enjoying your sugary treats in moderation. It also includes picking the right options to consume in the first place. For example, candy that stays in your mouth for a long time, such as lollipops or other hard candies, can increase your risk of tooth decay. These candies can also pose an injury risk if accidentally swallowed or if you chomp down on them, possibly resulting in a chipped or broken tooth.

Work On Your Timing

Let’s face it, most people are going to eat some candy and not eat healthy on Halloween. But in order to minimize the risk all that sugar poses to your teeth, you’ll want to think about coordinating your candy consumption. It may seem silly, but timing your candy intake so that it coincides with meals (either immediately or shortly after, in most cases) is the best way to go.

Why? Well, it’s simple. When you eat a well-balanced meal, your salivary glands go into overtime. The increased saliva production helps remove the acidic content of the food you consume and washes away leftover food particles that can promote cavities and other tooth damage.

Drink More Water

Balancing out your sugar consumption with an increased intake of water and other sugar-free fluids can go a long way toward preventing damage and decay from sweets. Your best bet is fluoridated water – so if you prefer bottled to tap, you should look for brands that include added fluoride.

Keep Up Those Cleaning Habits

Lots of dietary decisions can seem like treats or cheats – but unlike skipping out on your diet for a day, you don’t want to chalk Halloween up as a loss and miss out on the other aspects of your oral health routine. Brushing your teeth in the morning and evening, and flossing to remove any stubborn food particles are more important than ever on days where your sugar consumption is higher than normal. These habits can help counteract the extra sugar and lower your risk of damaging your teeth, thus keeping your mouth healthy on Halloween.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Healthy Teeth

Of course the key to a beautiful smile is caring for your teeth on a regular basis, but how?!

Well, first off, you should listen to your dentist. You may not realize it, what we tell you is for the purpose of giving you that happy healthy smile you’re proud to let shine. As we’ve said before, proper dental care isn’t just about keeping your teeth healthy, but keeping your whole body healthy. But sometimes that motivating factor isn’t just the health, it’s about having that perfect gleaming white straight smile, so while this list will help you keep a healthy body and smile it will also make your teeth gleamingly beautiful.

How To Maintain Healthy Teeth:

  • DO keep your regular dental appointments. Teeth cleanings and checkups are essential. A professional cleaning takes care of problems before they start, and it’s always good to have someone who knows what they’re doing take a close look at your mouth health.
  • DO floss daily. Two times a day is even better. Food can get between your teeth, and a toothbrush doesn’t always cut it to clear that out. You can floss after brushing or before, but you definitely want to do it.
  • DO brush twice a day. For two minutes, twice a day, brush to reach peak toothy cleanliness. After eating sugary foods it’s pivotal, because the sugar on your teeth eats away at the enamel and can even cause cavities.
  • DON’T brush too hard. Brushing too hard or using a brush that is too stiff scratches the enamel on your teeth, and over time it can rub down your enamel. It can also damage your gums, and damaged gums can hurt your teeth and your smile.
  • DON’T stick things in your mouth. It looks silly. But also, it’s not healthy for your teeth. It can scratch and damage your tooth enamel.
  • DON’T bite your nails. See above about sticking things in your mouth. They may be your nails, but they can still damage your teeth (and your fingers).
  • DON’T use your mouth to open things. If you really want to maintain the integrity of your teeth, don’t use them like a tool. Biting into bags or bottle tops to try to pry or tear them open can damage your enamel and gums
  • DON’T drink coffee, tea, or soda. This is a tough one to swallow. These drinks are addictive and desireable, but they can discolor your teeth and even eat away at your enamel or cause cavities (especially the sugary drinks).
  • DON’T grind your teeth. Grinding your teeth can be really bad for them. Doing this enough will cause your teeth to chip and crack, not a good look. A mouthguard can protect your teeth from grinding at night, you can even get custom ones made.

 

 

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Smile! (It’s Good For You!)

 

Smiling isn’t just something we do when someone tells a joke or does something silly. It’s a means of communication that transcends speech, language, and even sight. In fact, there are even different kinds of smiles – some studies suggest that there are as many as nineteen facial expressions that can be characterized as smiling – and all of them mean something different.

And in addition to conveying thoughts and feelings, smiling is actually good for you! From old adages like “laughter is the best medicine” to scientific evidence of the health benefits of smiling, it’s been shown time and time again that people who smile more tend to lead longer, happier, and healthier lives. So today, we’re highlighting a few of the big benefits that come along with a toothy grin.

Mental Benefits

Some of the big benefits to smiling occur behind the scenes – and not just in your own body and mind. Smiling projects outward, allowing you to experience the benefits both internally and from the world around you. Those benefits include:

  1. Emotional Release. Smiling and laughing is a great way to release emotions and tension. From a nervous laugh or smirk, to a full-belly guffaw and open-mouthed grin, smiling is a wonderful way to let out those built up emotions.
  2. Better Interactions. It’s a time-tested fact that people are seen as most approachable, engaging, and enjoyable to interact with when they’re smiling. Keeping your lips turned up is a great way to have more positive social interactions, and it even makes you more attractive when searching for a partner!
  3. Better Quality of Life. Smiling doesn’t just convey emotions – it projects charisma, positivity, and confidence. A relaxed person that smiles often is more likely to be perceived as capable for new jobs, promotions, and relationships, all of which can have a drastic impact on your overall quality of life.

Physiological Benefits

The benefits to smiling aren’t just in your head. There are actual, real physical responses from your body when you smile – and some of them can be pretty impressive. For example:

  1. More Endorphins. Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter that helps boost feelings of happiness and lower stress levels. When you smile and laugh – even if it’s not genuine – these transmitters are released, causing you to feel content and relaxed.
  2. Less Pain. Endorphins can also act as an organic pain killer. Especially for sufferers of chronic pain, smiling and laughing really is the best form of natural medicine for pain management.
  3. Less Cortisol. Endorphins aren’t the only hormone affected by smiling – that happy facial expression can also reduce your body’s production of cortisol (the stress hormone), further lowering stress levels.
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Dental Dilemma: Three Steps To Choosing A Dentist That’s Right For You

 

You just moved to a new area. Your insurance provider or policy changed. Or maybe your old dentist just retired. Most of us have experienced the painful search for a new dentist – and while it’s never fun to have to find someone else that you can trust to stick their hands in your mouth, that doesn’t mean it has to be a test of will.

When push comes to shove, there are a few basic things that you need to know about your new oral care provider before you climb aboard as a new patient. And in today’s blog, we’re covering the basics – from some questions you should be asking any new healthcare provider, to making your final selection.

Start Searching

Back in the “good old days,” it was common to find new service providers by cracking open the Yellow Pages and scrolling down the list of names. But nowadays, there is the blessing (and sometimes curse) of more options being available than ever before – and that means more time spent sifting through good, bad, and misinformation. So how to avoid hunting for a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Start with friends and family – make a list of providers that come recommended by people that you trust. You can also use online communities and social networks to seek out (and vet) additional options.

Still don’t have as many choices as you’d like? Contact your local health department for a list of service providers in your area. And you can also use the American Dental Association’s Find-A-Dentist tool. The ADA is the nation’s largest and most well-regarded trade organization for the dental industry, and the resources on their website are a great place to find information if you can’t get a feel for the reliability of other references and recommendations.

Check Their Eligibility

Some dentists just won’t work for you – not because they’re the wrong fit, but because visiting their office is impractical. After all, if you were willing to drive a few hours out of your way for your biannual cleaning, wouldn’t you have just stuck with the dentist from your last town?

So when you’re starting a search for a new dentist, the first step is to screen for eligible candidates. Your screening should include some pretty basic logistics:

  • How far away is their office and what are their hours? Do they have regional or satellite locations that they practice from?
  • Is their practice covered by your insurance? Is it in- or out-of-network?
  • If you require translation or interpreter services for medical care, can their office assist with accommodating these needs?

And for one final, but important screening question: are they a registered member of the American Dental Association? Dentists that are members of the ADA are held to a rigorous ethical standard that demands effort above and beyond the normal call of duty, requiring them to always act in your (the patient’s) best interest.

It’s OK To Interview

It might seem silly to think about interviewing a potential doctor before you become one of their patients, but it’s actually recommended that you do just that. After all, the last thing you want to do is go through the hassle of filling out paperwork, scheduling an appointment, and arriving to an initial cleaning or exam, just to find out on the spot that you aren’t comfortable with the dentist you’ve selected.

Calling around to the service providers that make it through your screening process and asking for a few moments of the dentist’s time prior to booking as a new patient can save everyone time, headaches, and frustration. You’ll probably want to do the interview in person – after all, that gives you an opportunity to check out the office, make sure that everything is clean and well-maintained, and confirm that the staff is welcoming and accommodating to your needs.

Depending on your comfort level, it may also be okay to interview your prospective new dentist over the phone (depending on their schedule) – it all comes down to what needs to happen to keep you comfortable. A few questions you might want to consider:

  • Do you provide dental health instruction to your patients during cleanings and exams?
  • How does your office handle emergencies and after-hours cases?
  • Is the office staff familiar with your insurance coverage and benefits?
  • Does the office keep dental records and medical history in permanent or temporary files?

Once you’ve interviewed your candidates and found a dentist that fits your needs, the next step is to contact their office about becoming a new patient. They’ll walk you through the onboarding process and you’ll be smiling confidently again in no time.

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Your Mouth & You: All About Gums

 

When it comes to oral care, you probably think mostly about your teeth. Your chompers can be one of the most important parts of your face – after all, a great smile is widely regarded as one of the most desirable features a person can have. Smiling confidently builds trust, conveys happiness, and can portray someone as genuine and open.

But when it comes to taking care of your mouth, those teeth aren’t everything. We’ve written in the past about both your teeth and tongues, but another part of your mouth is pretty critical when it comes to your ongoing oral health: your gums. So in today’s blog, we’re taking a deeper dive into the world of your gums – and discovering why they’re so critical to a happy, healthy mouth.

Getting Gummy

First things first – what are your gums? Well, the gums (or gingiva) are a layer of tissue connected to both the exposed portion of your teeth and the underlying bone. That pinkish-red gum line brings it all together, surrounding your teeth and forming a seal against plaque and bacteria that could otherwise create big problems.

Because of their tight bond with the bone underneath, your gums help resist the friction of daily traffic within your mouth – from food and drink to foreign objects – and protect the sensitive areas of your tooth that aren’t coated with that sturdy enamel.

When Gums Go Wrong

Gum disease can be incredibly problematic for the ecosystem that exists within your mouth. The early stage of gum disease – marked primarily by inflammation and sensitivity – is known as gingivitis. Full-on gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can result in tooth failure or worse.

Keeping An Eye Out

So if gum disease can cause so much damage, the next question is obvious – how do we prevent it? The best way you can avoid gingivitis and periodontitis is simple: maintain good oral health care. Regular dental exams and cleanings (most insurance companies cover biannual visits), daily brushing and flossing, and eating a diet rich in mouth-friendly foods are all great preventive measures.

But another great thing you can do to avoid the complications that come along with gum disease is to watch out for the warning signs and symptoms. Any big changes in your gums can indicate that something is amiss, such as:

  1. Color. Your gums most likely are (and should be) a vibrant pink color, often described as “coral pink”. Gums that lean more toward red – or in extreme cases, turn white or blue – can indicate that something is off. Most importantly, consistency in the color of your gums is critical; variations in the normal coloring do occur from person to person in the uniform color of your gums, but if spots or patches pop up suddenly, it’s time to see the dentist.
  2. Shape & Texture. Your gums should normally be firm, resisting movement and contoured to fit tightly against your upper and lower teeth. Changes in your gums – feeling soft, swollen, or puffy, or gums that aren’t closely fit against your teeth – can indicate that something is wrong and require attention from a professional.
  3. Sensitivity. It’s normal, especially if you haven’t flossed or brushed in a while, for a bit of blood to appear when you’re resuming your oral care regimen. But your gums should never bleed just from being touched or probed, and excessive bleeding during normal daily cleaning may be a cause for concern.

In general, if you have concerns about changes in the appearance, texture, or feeling of your gums, you should contact your dentist immediately. Gum disease is bad but, caught early, can be effectively treated to avoid serious complications.

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Veneers: The Basic Breakdown

 

Maybe you’ve had immaculate oral care habits since you were a child – you brushed your teeth and flossed daily, used mouthwash to kill bacteria and remove plaque, had cleanings and exams twice annually, and did everything that you were supposed to do. Or maybe you’re a recent convert to the lifestyle of great oral health and are playing catchup from years of bad habits.

No matter your dental background, it’s entirely possible that you don’t have the smile that you want. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, more than one-third of American adults are unhappy with how their teeth look; for example, among young adults (aged 18-24), nearly 50% have untagged themselves on a photo in social media because they didn’t like their smile.

So what if you have a great oral care routine and nothing to show for it, what can you do? There are tons of options, but one of the most cost-effective and pain-free solutions? Veneers.

What Are Veneers?

In short, veneers are thin pieces of a tough material that has been molded to fit your teeth and attached in order to improve the appearance. Veneers are commonly made of porcelain, resin, and other composite materials – and although they don’t last forever, they can work wonders when it comes to covering up dental issues, including:

  • Tooth discoloration from daily habits (coffee, smoking, etc.), fillings, root canals, etc.
  • Broken, chipped, or irregularly shaped teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • … and more!

Overall, the goal of a veneer is to change the shape, size, and/or color of the tooth (or teeth) to which they are applied.

How Do Veneers Work?

Veneers are a temporary dental prosthetic that last anywhere from 5-15 years depending on the material and your oral habits. It’s important to note that veneers are almost always considered an elective procedure – which means they typically aren’t covered by insurance. The average cost of veneers can range, but you should expect to pay between $1000-2000 depending on your needs.

The most common (and often considered to be the best looking) veneers are formed out of porcelain. They are custom-made to fit your teeth and then applied using a special, semi-permanent dental cement and ultraviolet light to help the adhesive set properly. Composite veneers are also common, but typically used for minor fixes, such as to close gaps and fill chips or cracks.

What’s Good & Bad About Veneers?

The most obvious benefit to getting veneers is the boost of confidence that comes from a whiter smile that isn’t marred by gaps, chips, or otherwise irregular teeth. If you’ve ever wanted a flawless white smile, then veneers are a great option to achieve that picture-perfect look. And because veneers are semi-permanent, and molded to fit your teeth, they don’t typically require any special maintenance – just brush and floss as normal.

That said, veneers aren’t a perfect solution. In addition to being custom-fitted, veneers can be colored to achieve a look that is brighter than your current smile, without being painfully obvious or overly radiant; however, once you pick your color, you’re stuck with it. So if you only have partial veneers and your other teeth change colors between cleanings, whitening treatments, etc., your veneers may start to look out of place over time.

Porcelain veneers are also prone to chipping and cracking – after all, the ceramic material is more delicate than your teeth. So if you have other problem habits, like grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, you may find that you need to work to correct these habits in order to avoid chipping your veneers. Veneers may also not be recommended if you have a history of weakened tooth enamel, gum disease, or other conditions that might be exacerbated.

And of course, veneers are just a prosthetic – they don’t correct underlying problems in your teeth, and tooth decay can still occur, so it’s important to keep or develop good oral health habits. As always, checking with your dentist to see if veneers are right for you is your best bet.

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Five Steps to Choosing the Best Toothpaste

The scene is probably pretty familiar – you walk into the oral care aisle at the store and are surrounded by choices, choices, and more choices. Even after you’ve picked out a toothbrush (if you need help choosing the right bristles for you, refer to our earlier blog article), you still have more choices to make. Up next? Toothpaste.

Toothpastes often contain dozens of different ingredients – many of which are unpronounceable much less easily identifiable for their purpose – and are branded with lots of flashy marketing claims intended to appeal to an overwhelmed consumer. But today we’re going to take a deeper dive into what makes up your toothpaste, what you should be looking for (and what you shouldn’t), and how to know the difference between all those different options.

First Things First

One of the biggest differentiating factors you should be looking for in your toothpaste? The American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. This seal is voluntary, meaning that not every good toothpaste is going to have it – with that in mind, you shouldn’t use the ADA seal as your sole criteria for selecting a new brand of toothpaste.

But you can be certain that any toothpaste that does have the seal has met some rigorous testing and standards, so it can serve as a good baseline. For example, no ADA-approved toothpastes contain sugar as a flavoring ingredient, which can be counterproductive to maintaining good oral health. You can be reasonably sure that any toothpaste with the ADA seal is safe, effective, and has been demonstrated to do what it claims.

Odd Ingredients & Crazy Claims

Some of the claims in the toothpaste aisle might seem way too good to be true. After all, how can one toothpaste whiten your teeth a hundred times better than the next? But among all of the boastful marketing glamorization, there are a few things you might want to consider.

  1. Whitening toothpastes aren’t a marketing scam, but they aren’t a miracle pill either. These toothpastes do typically contain additional whitening or polishing agents, but are still only one component of a good oral health regimen. The most common additives in these toothpastes are a low dosage of hydrogen peroxide, as well as mild abrasives – minerals that can help to remove surface stains by essentially increasing the scrubbing power of your daily brushing habits.
  2. Have you ever had a sharp, shooting pain in your teeth when you eat something icy cold or piping hot? Desensitizing toothpastes have compounds that can create a barrier between the exterior of your teeth and the nerves housed at the core. Different compounds have different levels of effectiveness – potassium nitrate is commonly regarded as the most effective desensitizing agent in over-the-counter toothpastes.

As with any health-related concern, if you are looking to whiten your teeth, reduce sensitivity, or meet other needs through daily self-care, it’s always a good idea to speak with your dentist before selecting a product.

Fluoride: The Great Controversy

You’ve probably heard about the fluoride controversy when it comes to drinking water – since 1945, nearly 75% of American homes serviced by community water systems have trace amounts of fluoride added to their water – and in Maryland the numbers are even higher, with over 97% of homes serviced by a community water system receiving fluoridated water.

Wild claims have been made about the supposed hazards associated with drinking fluoride-enhanced water, but the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus is that fluoride is not only safe, but beneficial. The advantages of fluoride are strengthened tooth enamel, which can lead to significant decreases in tooth decay, especially in children. So what does this have to do with toothpaste?

Fluoride’s biggest benefit is fighting cavities, by strengthening tooth enamel and leaving your teeth better equipped to withstand acidic content in our daily diet as well as ongoing bacterial content. In some cases, fluoride has even been indicated to help reverse early-stage cavities by supporting the mineral content in our teeth. So by selecting a toothpaste that contains fluoride, you can simultaneously clean up those pearly whites and ensure that they are strong and healthy for many years to come.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Maryland is ranked fourth nationally for percent of the population that receives fluoride, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Kentucky is the state ranked first, with 99.9% of homes receiving fluoridated water (although Washington DC would be first if it were a recognized state, with 100% fluoridation).

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Veneers: The Basic Breakdown

 

Maybe you’ve had immaculate oral care habits since you were a child – you brushed your teeth and flossed daily, used mouthwash to kill bacteria and remove plaque, had cleanings and exams twice annually, and did everything that you were supposed to do. Or maybe you’re a recent convert to the lifestyle of great oral health and are playing catchup from years of bad habits.

No matter your dental background, it’s entirely possible that you don’t have the smile that you want. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, more than one-third of American adults are unhappy with how their teeth look; for example, among young adults (aged 18-24), nearly 50% have untagged themselves on a photo in social media because they didn’t like their smile.

So what if you have a great oral care routine and nothing to show for it, what can you do? There are tons of options, but one of the most cost-effective and pain-free solutions? Veneers.

What Are Veneers?

 In short, veneers are thin pieces of a tough material that has been molded to fit your teeth and attached in order to improve the appearance. Veneers are commonly made of porcelain, resin, and other composite materials – and although they don’t last forever, they can work wonders when it comes to covering up dental issues, including:

  • Tooth discoloration from daily habits (coffee, smoking, etc.), fillings, root canals, etc.
  • Broken, chipped, or irregularly shaped teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • … and more!

Overall, the goal of a veneer is to change the shape, size, and/or color of the tooth (or teeth) to which they are applied.

How Do Veneers Work?

Veneers are a temporary dental prosthetic that last anywhere from 5-15 years depending on the material and your oral habits. It’s important to note that veneers are almost always considered an elective procedure – which means they typically aren’t covered by insurance. The average cost of veneers can range, but you should expect to pay between $1000-2000 depending on your needs.

The most common (and often considered to be the best looking) veneers are formed out of porcelain. They are custom-made to fit your teeth and then applied using a special, semi-permanent dental cement and ultraviolet light to help the adhesive set properly. Composite veneers are also common, but typically used for minor fixes, such as to close gaps and fill chips or cracks.

What’s Good & Bad About Veneers?

The most obvious benefit to getting veneers is the boost of confidence that comes from a whiter smile that isn’t marred by gaps, chips, or otherwise irregular teeth. If you’ve ever wanted a flawless white smile, then veneers are a great option to achieve that picture-perfect look. And because veneers are semi-permanent, and molded to fit your teeth, they don’t typically require any special maintenance – just brush and floss as normal.

That said, veneers aren’t a perfect solution. In addition to being custom-fitted, veneers can be colored to achieve a look that is brighter than your current smile, without being painfully obvious or overly radiant; however, once you pick your color, you’re stuck with it. So if you only have partial veneers and your other teeth change colors between cleanings, whitening treatments, etc., your veneers may start to look out of place over time.

Porcelain veneers are also prone to chipping and cracking – after all, the ceramic material is more delicate than your teeth. So if you have other problem habits, like grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, you may find that you need to work to correct these habits in order to avoid chipping your veneers. Veneers may also not be recommended if you have a history of weakened tooth enamel, gum disease, or other conditions that might be exacerbated.

And of course, veneers are just a prosthetic – they don’t correct underlying problems in your teeth, and tooth decay can still occur, so it’s important to keep or develop good oral health habits. As always, checking with your dentist to see if veneers are right for you is your best bet.

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Your Mouth and You: All About Tongues

 

Tongues – we use ours for talking, eating, and swallowing. It’s the primary (but not the only) way we taste our food. It helps us manipulate food from our front teeth for tearing to our back teeth for chewing. We use it every day, but we probably hardly ever think about it – and yet, our tongues are one of the most interesting muscle groups in our entire body!

So if you’re working on developing a better understanding of your mouth and how to take care of it, knowing a little bit more about your tongue can go a long way toward helping you keep it healthy! That’s why, in today’s blog, we’re dispelling a few common myths and sharing some fun facts about the tongue.

Putting That Tongue To Work

When it comes to the tongue, there are plenty of myths out there, one of them being that, relative to its size, your tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body. It turns out that isn’t quite true – partially because your tongue isn’t just one muscle. The tongue is actually a grouping of eight different muscles that intertwine together to operate. This grouping is referred to as a muscular hydrostat, and consists primarily of muscles with no skeletal support. One of the most well-known comparisons in other animals? An elephant’s trunk!

And when it comes to keeping your tongue working well, you definitely need to do more than just flap it for exercise. The tongue naturally has a high fat volume, and increases in this volume have been correlated with general obesity. According to various studies, your tongue can actually accumulate fat along with the rest of your body – an issue that can cause obstructive sleep apnea in adults with obesity.

Let’s Talk Taste

On average, most adults have between 2000-4000 taste buds built into their mouth. The sensory cells in the taste buds are responsible for the ways in which we perceive taste – and although there are old wives’ tales suggesting that we develop “new” taste buds every seven years, our taste buds actually renew themselves much more frequently, every week or so.

When it comes to taste, everyone is different. Approximately a quarter of all adults fit into a classification called “supertasters” – these folks are able to detect certain tastes more intensely, especially bitter tastes. And if you’ve ever heard anyone say that cilantro tastes like soap, they’re probably not kidding! It turns out, though, that this sensation is more closely linked to the olfactory senses (our sense of smell) – individuals that get a soapy taste from cilantro are more sensitive to the scent of aldehyde chemicals, which are found in cilantro and soap.

On The Front Lines

As you know by now, the human tongue is pretty dynamic – and not just in the ways we use it every day. Tongues can also be an important tool when it comes to detecting disease and other health problems. For example, painful bumps on the tongue might just be canker sores (mouth ulcers), or they might be an indication of something more serious.

Similarly, white spots or a white coating on the tongue can be indicative of something simple, such as oral thrush (a type of yeast infection) – but they can also be caused by leukoplakia, which can be a precursor to cancer. If there’s something out of the ordinary going on with your tongue, it’s a good idea to see your dentist or your primary care doctor to determine whether it’s a simple problem or a warning sign of something bigger.

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Four Ways Your Dentist Keeps You Calm (Without You Knowing)

Being a dentist isn’t just about going to dental school and learning the anatomy of the mouth – there are plenty of tools and tricks that can’t be taught in the classroom, not the least of which is bedside manner. After all, if you can’t make someone comfortable, how do you expect to be able to stand there with your fingers in their mouth for a half hour?

Just like a physician, dentists work with all sorts of patients – kids, adults, seniors – and all of them react differently to being in the big chair. It’s all too common for patients to have an internalized fear or phobia of visiting the dentist, but that shouldn’t stop you from receiving excellent care for your mouth.

So with that in mind, today we’re taking an inside look at a few things dentists do to make you more comfortable and put you at ease – without you even knowing!

Just Keep Waiting

Not all waiting rooms are created equal – but in most cases, there are some common elements that you can probably recall seeing over the years. For example, waiting room music? It’s not mandatory that you like smooth jazz to be a dentist; however, it’s been proven numerous times that certain types of music have the ability to relax patients and reduce stress/anxiety during their wait.

Another great waiting room staple? The dentist’s office fish tank. These items aren’t just there for decoration, they’re another source of calm and relaxation. The gentle splash of the water, the lazy swimming of the fish – it’s all there to keep you cool and take your imagination from running wild about what’s going to happen once you’re in the chair.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

It may seem like the tray of tools that the dentist uses is always just out of sight – and that’s for a reason! These trays are typically covered with a sterile towel or cloth prior to your exam, and they’re only uncovered once the dentist has you leaning back comfortably. Why? Well, in addition to keeping their cleaning implements sterile, they want to avoid the panic that comes along with seeing a bunch of scary-looking objects that are about to go in your mouth.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

You might think your dentist is a chatterbox – and it might even frustrate you, because you can never answer any of his or her questions while they’re working away on your teeth. So why do they bother asking? The questions serve as a distraction. If you’re focused on trying to answer a question, you aren’t thinking about the little pokes, prods, and pinches that are going on around your tongue.

And don’t worry, your dentist has gotten pretty good at learning how to interpret patients, even when their mouth is full. So go ahead and answer – they can probably figure out what you’re saying.

Sedation Dentistry

When push comes to shove, some people just have such deeply ingrained anxiety about the dentist that a simple office visit and exam can send them over the edge. That’s why sedation dentistry was created – to help even the most challenging patients get the dental care they need. And when you elect to try sedation dentistry, there are other benefits too! When your body is more relaxed, your dentist has better control over their work and doesn’t have to worry as much about twitching, spasms, or gagging. This allows them to work faster and more effectively, saving everyone time and money.

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