The Right Way to Care For Your Teeth at Night

We all brush our teeth when we get ready in the morning, but some people have developed a habit of neglecting their teeth at night. It’s especially important to follow a good oral hygiene routine at night, because bacteria increases in our mouths overnight. In order to prevent cavities, we need to go to bed with clean teeth so that the bacteria don’t have any food particles to break down and feed off of. Basically, before going to sleep at night you should take care of your teeth by following a basic oral hygiene routine: brushing, flossing, and rinsing.


A good brushing before bed will help protect your teeth from the buildup of plaque that leads to tooth decay.  Select a brush that has soft bristles and is dentist-approved.  Brush gently back and forth at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Dentists are now finding that certain people are genetically predisposed to be at a greater risk for developing dental and gum diseases. Patients who are not at an especially high risk are fine to wait until bedtime to brush, but patients who are at a higher risk should brush after dinner and before bed, as well.


Flossing is the element of oral hygiene that is most neglected, and it’s especially important to floss before bed to remove any food particles that may have become lodged between the teeth during the day. To floss correctly, use an 18-inch long strand of floss and wind most of it around your middle fingers so that only about an inch or two is exposed between the fingers. Gently rub the floss between your teeth, and curve it against each tooth to make sure you get any debris that may be at the gum line in the front and back of the tooth. Repeat this for all of your teeth. Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from between the teeth and the gum line before it hardens to form tartar, which is only removable with a professional cleaning.


Rinsing with mouthwash is a great way to end your nighttime oral hygiene routine.  Rinsing not only freshens the breath, but it can also help remove any plaque or food that has been missed during brushing and flossing.


American Dental Association

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Even if you practice great oral care at home, it is important to see your dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams. Let your dentist know about any changes in your overall health during these visits.

Signs of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

While wisdom teeth were once essential to human survival, these days they really aren’t necessary and they can often become impacted when there is not adequate space in a person’s mouth to accommodate these “third molars.” When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it can lead to pain, infection, swelling, damage to surrounding teeth, and a host of additional uncomfortable threats to a person’s overall oral health. When a patient has an impacted wisdom tooth, he or she will need to undergo oral surgery to have that tooth removed. If you have not had your wisdom teeth removed, it’s a good idea for you to become educated about the symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth so that you can address any issues before they cause you pain or threaten your oral health.

Just like any tooth, a wisdom tooth may cause minor discomfort when it begins to erupt through the gum tissue. This is normal and the discomfort should quickly subside. However, if the wisdom tooth is impacted, the pain will likely increase and the patient may also experience the following symptoms:
•    Headaches
•    Stiff jaw
•    Sinus congestion
•    Irritated gums
•    Gum disease
•    Irritation to the cheeks or tongue
•    Tooth decay
•    Shifting or crowding of surrounding teeth
•    Infection of the small flap of gum tissue that could remain over the wisdom tooth

Most people’s wisdom teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, but this age can vary widely according to the individual. If you have an erupting wisdom tooth, be sure to keep the area very clean by brushing and flossing regularly and using an antiseptic mouthwash. If you begin to experience pain or any of the above symptoms, your wisdom tooth may be impacted and it’s a good idea to pay a visit to your dentist before you experience increased pain or damage to your mouth.

American Dental Association, “Wisdom Teeth.”

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Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain and present a number of serious oral health threats.

Metal Versus Porcelain Dental Materials

These days, you have many options in the types of dental materials used for fillings, crowns, bridges and other dental restorations. Each offers its own advantages and potential disadvantages. Here is a brief look at the different dental materials, and the pros and cons of each.

Metal Alloys

The word alloy indicates a mixture of metals. For example, gold alloy refers to a mixture of gold and copper as well as other metals. Metal alloys are used principally for crowns, fixed dental bridges and some partial denture foundations.

The advantages of gold alloy are that:

  • It is highly resistant to further decay.
  • It is durable and isn’t prone to fracturing under stress.
  • Gold alloy restorations only require minimal removal of tooth material for placement.

The potential disadvantages are that:

  • It is not tooth colored and may be more noticeable.
  • It may exacerbate tooth sensitivity, as it conducts heat and cold.

Ceramic (Porcelain)

Ceramic, or porcelain, dental restorations are comprised of a glass-like material. These days, ceramic is almost always used to fill a cavity. The tooth-colored material is also used for crowns, veneers, inlays and fixed bridges.

The benefits of ceramic are that:

  • Ceramic restorations closely match the color of the surrounding teeth, making them nearly imperceptible to others.
  • It is resistant to further decay and to surface wear.
  • It does not cause sensitivity in teeth.

The potential drawbacks are that:

  • Although ceramic restorations are resistant to surface wear, they may cause some wear on the opposing teeth.
  • Ceramic is not as strong as metal alloy and may fracture under stress.
  • Ceramic is not necessarily a good material for the molars, depending on what type of restoration is needed.

Learn More

If you require a filling or other dental restoration, we invite you to schedule an appointment with us. That way, your dentist can examine your oral health and listen to your concerns before suggesting an appropriate treatment option, including the type of dental material that is most appropriate for your oral health needs.

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What Other Materials Are Used for Fillings?

In addition to ceramic, composite resin and dental amalgam are also used for fillings. Composite fillings are comprised of a mixture of plastic resin and powdered glass. Like ceramic, or porcelain, composite resin is also tooth colored and therefore blends well with the color of surrounding teeth. They generally hold up well under the forces of biting and may be a good treatment option for many patients.

Dental amalgam fillings are comprised of a mixture of liquid mercury and metal-alloy powder. This mixture is self-hardening. Although they are an economical treatment option, they are not tooth colored and may be detectable when you laugh or speak.

If you have any questions about your filling treatment options, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

Your Orthodontic Options: Types of Braces

When it comes to orthodontic treatment, today’s patients have an increasingly wide range of options available to them. Each type of braces offers different benefits: the key is to work with your dentist and orthodontist to determine which type of braces will be best the best fit for your unique needs and goals. Read on to learn about the most common types of braces available to you.

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are very durable because they are made from metal, and this makes them a good option for younger or more active patients. While some patients, especially adults, may balk at the way metal braces will affect their appearance, many kids and teens look at wearing braces as a kind of rite of passage and aren’t bothered by the look of metal braces because a number of their friends are likely wearing them, too. In addition to being highly durable, traditional metal braces are often the most affordable way to straighten a patient’s smile.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are an excellent option for patients who hesitate to invest in orthodontic treatment because they are concerned with the way braces look. Ceramic braces are made in a number of shades, so they can be customized to closely match the color of a patient’s teeth and this makes them less noticeable. Some orthodontists even offer ceramic braces that are totally translucent.  Because they are made of ceramic, this type of braces can be brittle and prone to damage, so they may not be a good option for patients who participate in sports or other activities that may cause dental trauma.

Lingual Braces

While traditional metal and ceramic braces are applied to the front of the teeth, lingual braces are virtually undetectable because they reside on the inner surfaces of the teeth. While lingual braces are highly effective, an orthodontist needs specialized training to fit patients with this type of braces so they may be more expensive than metal or ceramic braces.


Invisalign® invisible braces are the ultimate orthodontic option for patients who have concerns about the way braces will make them look. With Invisalign®, patients wear a series of clear plastic aligners that help their teeth gradually shift positions. Invisalign® is virtually invisible, and many patients enjoy the convenience of Invisalign® because the aligners can be removed for eating and cleaning. Invisalign® is a fantastic option for patients with mild to moderate misalignment, but is not well suited for patients who need more extreme adjustments.

Advances in the field of orthodontics have endowed our patients with many choices when it comes to straightening their smiles, so each patient is sure to find the right solution for them.  If you would like to learn more about the types of braces offered in your area, schedule a consultation with your dentist.  He or she will conduct a thorough examination and discuss factors such as your needs, timeline, and budget so that you can make an educated decision about which type of braces is right for you.


The American Association of Orthodontists

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Learn about some of the many types of braces available to today’s orthodontics patients.

Bad Habits That Can Harm Your Smile

You could be destroying your smile without even knowing it.  It’s true: many of us have a number of habits that could be harming our teeth.  Read on to learn about some of these habits, then do your best to break them – before your smile suffers the consequences.

Thumb Sucking
It’s not uncommon for babies and small children to suck their thumbs: in fact, this may help newborns strengthen the oral muscles they need to feed.  However, if a child sucks his thumb after his permanent teeth begin to surface (usually at about 5 years of age), permanent damage may be done.  Thumb sucking could lead to teeth that are misaligned, which may cause cosmetic issues as well as problems with chewing and breathing.  If your child is too old to be sucking his thumb, try working with your pediatrician to develop an effective system to help him quit this habit.

Brushing Too Hard
Everybody knows that regularly brushing their teeth is an essential part of a good oral hygiene routine.  It’s good to be thorough, but brushing too hard can actually do more harm than good.  Excessive or high-pressure brushing can irritate the gums and erode the enamel, potentially leading to increased sensitivity and even cavities.  The solution?  Try to be a bit gentler on your teeth when you brush, and look for a soft-bristled toothbrush approved by the ADA (American Dental Association).

Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching
Many of us clench our jaws unconsciously and grind our teeth while we sleep.  This can cause tooth fracture and may also damage dental work.  If you clench, try to become more aware of when you are doing this so that you can focus on relaxing your jaw muscles.  For grinding (also known as bruxism), talk to your dentist about being fitted for a mouth guard that will not only reduce grinding but will also protect your teeth.

Chewing on Ice
This is a common one, and another unconscious bad habit that may be difficult to break.  Ice is both hard and cold, and both of these qualities can do some serious damage to your teeth.  Try to become aware of when you are chewing on ice and stop as soon as you can.

Using Teeth as a Tool
We have all done this one: using teeth to snap off a clothing price tag, open a bag of chips, or unscrew a bottle top.  Try to remember that your teeth can be delicate and easily broken (and dental work, as well).  Use your teeth for chewing and smiling, and leave the other work to the tools.

Chewing on Pencils (Pens, Eyeglasses, etc.)
Another subconscious habit that may be difficult to break, chewing on pencils or simply holding them between the teeth can place a large amount of pressure on the teeth.  This can cause teeth to shift or crack, and can even break dental work.

Biting your Nails
This is a habit you should break for a number of reasons.  Not only is it harmful to the hands and nails, but it looks tacky and can really do a number on your teeth.  Nail biting can cause the teeth to shift or break and can also splinter the tooth enamel.  If you do this, work to find another way to displace nervous energy.

Drinking Soda
This is a tough one for many of us!  Soda and carbonated beverages often have a high acid level, which leads to erosion of the enamel, the protective layer that covers our teeth.  This can lead to decay and cavities.  If you must drink soda, try using a straw so that most of the acid bypasses your teeth.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

A number of us have developed habits that can have a negative effect on our oral health.  Learn about smile-damaging habits and how to break them.

Facial Pain & Proper Dental Care

When someone experiences facial pain, the sensation can negatively affect virtually everything he or she does. Even a slight movement of the head can be painful. The pain can begin as a slight ache but may eventually develop into a sharp, all-consuming, stabbing sensation that makes it difficult to concentrate on work or anything other than the pain.

There are many different causes of facial pain. For instance, it can be experienced by people that suffer from sinusitis. An upper respiratory tract infection or nasal injury can also cause facial pain. However, a common cause can be attributed to dental abscesses or tooth infections. Fortunately, proper oral hygiene and regularly scheduled dental examinations can arrest dental infections or abscesses before they get out of control, or can prevent them from occurring altogether.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess occurs when the mouth, jaw, face or throat is adversely affected by a tooth infection or cavity. In some instances, these infections can be signs of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders. Therefore, they should never be ignored. However, they can also be caused by lack of timely and proper dental care.

Facial pain can result when a bacterium from a tooth cavity begins to extend into the gum line, the throat, cheek, and the area beneath the tongue or into the facial bones or into one’s jaw. The resulting dental abscess can make gum tissue inflame and can cause uncomfortable, unrelenting pressure. As the infection worsens, pus begins to collect at the site and becomes progressively more painful until the abscess ruptures on its own or is surgically drained.

Upon rare occasion, the infection can cause swelling that threatens to block the person’s airway. This can cause difficulty breathing and can turn into a serious medical issue. It is not uncommon for the person who experiences a dental abscess to also experience general malaise that includes nausea, chills, vomiting, sweats and fever.

When facial pain is caused by some type of oral infection, a qualified dental professional can diagnose and successfully treat it by performing a root canal, pulling a tooth, or treating the infection with antibiotics. However, it is important not to wait too long before scheduling an appointment with your dentist.


Balentine, Jerry R, DO, FACEP. “Dental Abscess Overview.” eMedicineHealth, March 2014.

Face Pain. (n.d.). Harvard Medical Health Guide. Retrieved July 12, 2012.

Herpes Zoster. Symptoms. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 12, 2012.

Sinusitis: Symptoms. (n.d.). National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Treating Facial Pain

Experiencing facial pain due to a dental infection is an unfortunate condition that can be successfully treated by a dentist. In many cases, the condition can be prevented altogether by proper oral hygiene and by scheduling regular dental check-ups. Therefore, anyone that has not seen his or her dentist in the last six months should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing any facial or jaw pain, contact your dentist immediately.

Tooth Replacement Options

If a person loses a tooth that shows when he or she smiles, it’s very likely that that person will see a dentist as soon as possible to replace the missing tooth and complete their smile. However, when a patient loses a tooth that doesn’t show, he or she may not realize that it is very important to replace that tooth, as well. When a tooth is lost, surrounding teeth can shift positions to fill the gap and the area is more susceptible to decay. Whether you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist will be able to recommend a number of tooth replacement options.


Dentures have earned a bad reputation for being uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the truth is that modern dentures are light years away from the dentures of your grandparents’ days: they look more natural, fit better, and are much easier to care for.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the most permanent way to replace one or more missing teeth, but they are also the most expensive method and they require the greatest investment of a patient’s time. Implants are artificial tooth roots that are surgically implanted into the jaw and topped with artificial teeth.  Implants are permanent and only require a good oral hygiene routine.

Dental Bridges

If a patient is missing one or a few teeth but is not a good candidate for dental implants, his or her dentist may recommend a dental bridge. A bridge is a replacement tooth or teeth that are held in place by a dental crown on the adjoining teeth.

Sports injuries, accidents, infection, and other traumas can lead to missing teeth that need to be replaced promptly to ensure proper oral health and function.  If you have lost one or more teeth, there are many tooth replacement options available to you. To learn more about these options and which may be best for your unique needs, contact your dentist to schedule a consultation.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

For a number of reasons, it’s very important to replace teeth that have been lost, extracted, or knocked out.  Learn about tooth replacement options by contacting your dentist today.

Solutions for Cracked Teeth

A tooth that is chipped or cracked can detract from the beauty of a smile and could present oral health issues in the future. Cracked teeth can cause cuts in the mouth, give decay a place to hide, and a tooth that is weakened by a crack could break further under the normal pressure of eating and speaking. So what can your dentist do to mend your cracked tooth? There are three main solutions for cracked teeth:

Porcelain Veneers

A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that is cemented to the front surface of a tooth to change its appearance. Veneers can mask chips, cracks, discoloration, gaps, and a number of other cosmetic dentistry issues. Porcelain veneers are very popular, especially among famous actors and public figures, due to their ability to transform a smile.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is often the fastest and least expensive way to mend a cracked tooth. With bonding, the dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material to the tooth and sculpts it into shape so that it matches the shape of a patient’s natural teeth.

Dental Crowns

If a tooth is deeply cracked, broken, or vulnerable after a root canal, a dentist may opt to use a dental crown. Crowns are fitted over the entire surface of a tooth, so they lend much more structural support than porcelain veneers and bonding and are a better choice for severely damaged teeth.

Whatever the cause of your cracked tooth, a good cosmetic dentist will be able to offer you a range of solutions. When considering cracked tooth solutions, it is important to take a number of factors into account. How damaged is the tooth? What is your budget?  Does the crack show when you smile? When discussing cracked tooth solutions with your dentist, be honest about your needs and goals so that you can arrive at the right treatment plan together.

American Dental Association,Veneers

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Your dentist can offer you a variety of ways to mend your cracked tooth, including porcelain veneers, dental bonding, and dental crowns.

Find out how a dentist can help transform your smile. 

Dental Care During Pregnancy

Many pregnant women don’t get the dental care they need, despite the association between oral health and pre-term deliveries.

In 2013, a well-known news outlet told the story of Luatany Caseres, a young woman who suffered a seriously infected tooth for a week before she could find a fourth year dental student who would treat her. She tried seeking care from a local emergency dental clinic that treats the uninsured but, on her third attempt there, Caseres learned the dentist would not see her because she was pregnant.

Caseres is not alone. A recent report says that, in 2007 – 2009, 56 percent of pregnant women said they did not see a dentist during pregnancy. This professional group noted a strong association between access to dental care and income, with the poorest women having the least access.

There are many possible reasons pregnant women do not receive the care they need. An OB-GYN doctor does not perform an oral exam and she may be tired of doctor visits. Some expectant women may be afraid to see a dentist, mistakenly thinking dental work can be dangerous during pregnancy. Lastly, with all of the appointments necessary during pregnancy, women may not be willing to schedule more time away from work or family for dental care.

Dental Care During Pregnancy

A national pregnancy association says that preventative dental work is essential during pregnancy. Rising hormone levels during pregnancy can cause gums to swell and bleed, potentially trapping food that irritates the gums even more. It is safe for pregnant women to engage in preventative care that reduces gum inflammation.

Studies have shown that gum inflammation is common during pregnancy and that a pregnant woman’s oral health can affect the health of her unborn baby. Furthermore, dental infections increase the risk for early labor, which can have serious health consequences for both the mother and her child.

Vomiting associated with morning sickness can cause tooth decay. Dental checkups to monitor decay do not pose a problem for pregnant women.

Timing Is Everything

When planning a pregnancy, a woman should complete major dental work before she conceives. She can receive routine dental exams, cleanings, emergency care, and preventative care during pregnancy but, as a precautionary measure, should schedule dental care for the second trimester of pregnancy. The baby experiences developmental spurts during the first and third trimester, so a pregnant woman should avoid dental work during the early and late stages of her pregnancy. Any questions regarding your general oral health or dental care during pregnancy should be discussed with your dentist.

Saint Louis, Catherine. “Obstacles for Pregnant Women Seeking Dental Care.” The New York Times, May 6, 2013

Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. “Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Number 569. August 2013.

American Pregnancy Association. “Pregnancy and Dental Work.” January 2013.

Cleveland Clinic. “Dental Care During Pregnancy.” July 2012.

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Expectant women should refrain from elective dental procedures, such as tooth whitening and cosmetic procedures, until after delivery.

A pregnant woman should always avoid dental x-rays. If x-rays are necessary, a dentist will fit the mother-to-be with a protective shield.

To improve her own dental health and the overall health of her baby, a pregnant woman should eat a balanced diet, brush her teeth twice daily and floss her teeth once a day.

Any pregnant woman in extreme pain or suffering from a tooth infection should persist in her efforts to seek professional dental care.

Save Your Smile with a Mouthguard

Good protection for your joints, knees, and elbows will not help you if you get hit in the face. With a strong blow to the face, your smile could be ruined forever or worse; you could suffer a concussion. Often overlooked, mouthguards or mouth protectors can prevent serious injuries during physical activities. Mouthguards have been made mandatory for certain high-contact sports like football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. Mouthguards are not officially required for sports considered lower contact like baseball, basketball, soccer, or gymnastics. Basketball players, however, are actually 15 times more likely to experience a facial injury than high-impact football players. If you play any sport without a mouthguard, you are 60 times more likely to suffer an orofacial injury.

How Mouthguards Work

Mouthguards typically fit around the top row of teeth, and provide a barrier between teeth or orthodontic appliances and soft tissue like cheeks, lips, and the tongue. This barrier helps to prevent serious soft tissue injuries during sports as well as broken teeth or injuries to the face and jaw. The mouthguard also works as a shock absorber, preventing concussions by distributing and dissipating the force on impact. If you have braces or other fixed orthodontia on the lower teeth, your dentist might recommend a mouthguard to protect the lower jaw as well.

Types of Mouthguards

There are three types of mouthguards to choose from, depending on your comfort level and the amount you are willing to invest:

Stock: A stock mouthguard is the least expensive option. These guards are pre-formed and usually quite bulky. They can often be uncomfortable and hinder breathing and talking.

Boil and Bite: Boil and bite mouthguards can be purchased at most drug stores and sporting goods stores. These guards conform to the shape of the mouth and teeth by first being softened in boiling water and then bitten down on.

Custom Fitted: The most expensive option, custom fitted mouthguards provide the most comfortable fit. Made by your dentist, these guards are molded to fit the unique shape of your mouth and bite. Custom fitted guards provide the best option for those with braces or other orthodontia in place.

Whether you choose to purchase an inexpensive option or to invest in a custom fitted mouth protector, be sure to select a mouthguard you feel is comfortable – otherwise, you will likely “forget” to wear it.


Mouth Healthy. “Mouthguards.” American Dental Association, 2013.

American Dental Association. “Statement on Athletic Mouthguards.” 2009.

Dentistry Today. “ADA Encourages Wearing Mouthguards During Recreational Activities.” April 2012.

Dentistry Today. “Children Need to Wear Protective Mouth Gear While Playing Sports.” July 2011.

Our staff of dental professionals are dedicated to helping you achieve your dental wellness objectives. Thank you for subscribing to our dental wellness newsletter.

Athletes of all ages, skill levels, and types should wear protective mouthguards to prevent injuries. Your dentist can assist you in choosing the right mouth guard for your activities and specific dental needs. If you have any fixed orthodontic appliances, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss which mouthguard option is the best for you.