Posts for: February, 2016

By The Smile Shack
February 21, 2016

There are many dental “facts” going around that just aren’t true, and can actually be quite harmful to your dental health. So what should you believe? At The Smile Shack, we know fact from fiction – so here are the top five dental myths busted!

Myth # 1: Use a hard bristled toothbrush to remove more plaque and food debris from your teeth.

BUSTED: While it may seem to make sense, a hard toothbrush can actually cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. Use a soft brush with a gentle stroke on all of your tooth surfaces, including the delicate area where your gums meet your tooth.

Myth # 2: Putting an aspirin next to your tooth will help a toothache.

BUSTED: The only thing that will do is burn and irritate your gum tissue. For a toothache, take an aspirin or other pain medication the normal way and make an appointment to see your dentist immediately! Whatever is causing the discomfort will not go away on its own and needs to be professionally diagnosed and treated.

Myth # 3: There is no need to treat baby teeth; they will fall out anyway.

BUSTED: Baby teeth are important! (See previous blog entry!) Not only do they help children chew, speak and smile, they act as spacers, making the proper room for adult teeth as the jaw grows. And just like adult teeth, if not taken care of properly they can develop cavities, cause toothaches, and lead to a lifetime of poor dental health.

Myth # 4: See your dentist twice a year.

BUSTED: That myth was created by an ad agency! While twice-yearly cleanings and exams are correct for some people, the proper interval should be determined by you and your dental professional.

Myth # 5: It is normal for your gums to bleed a little bit while brushing or flossing.

BUSTED: Healthy gums do not bleed with normal usage – it is a signal of gum disease. And – gum disease leads to tooth loss! Talk to your dentist or hygienist immediately if you notice blood with brushing or a pink toothbrush. It’s not only not normal; it’s a sign that something is amiss!

By The Smile Shack
February 21, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Oral Hygiene   Gum Disease  

If you ever get out of the habit of daily brushing and flossing, you’re setting yourself up for dental disease. Neglecting oral hygiene allows bacterial plaque to build up on tooth surfaces, which can give rise to aggressive gum infections known collectively as periodontal (gum) disease.

Gum disease may first manifest itself as gingivitis, an inflammation of the outer gum tissues around teeth. Resuming hygiene habits could help reduce the infection if it’s detected early enough. If the infection has spread deeper below the gum line, though, brushing and flossing won’t be able to reach and remove the offending plaque — you’ll need our help with that.

The objective of any such treatment is the same as your daily brushing and flossing — remove plaque as well as hardened deposits (calculus) that cause disease. The most basic technique is called scaling in which we use specialized hand instruments (scalers) or ultrasonic equipment to loosen and remove the plaque and calculus from all tooth and gum surfaces.

For deeper plaque, we may need to use a technique called root planing. As its name implies, we use equipment similar to scalers to shave or “plane” plaque, calculus, bacteria or other toxins from the roots that have become ingrained in their surfaces.

These procedures are often carried out with local anesthesia to ensure patient comfort and allow us to be as meticulous as possible with plaque and calculus removal. It’s imperative that we remove as much plaque and calculus as possible, and which often involves more than one session. This is because as the gum tissues become less inflamed it allows us to access more plaque-infested areas during subsequent sessions.

Hopefully, these techniques will arrest the infection and restore good health to gum tissues. It’s then important for you to recommit and follow through on a renewed daily hygiene regimen to reduce the chances of re-infection that could lead to more serious problems and potential tooth loss.

If you would like more information on treating periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Planing.”

By The Smile Shack
February 19, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Baby Teeth  

It can be tempting to treat baby teeth like Kleenex. They're disposable, so why should you take care of them?


These little choppers, also known as primary teeth, are more important than you may think.

For one thing, they reserve space for the permanent “adult teeth,” helping to guide them into position. When baby teeth are lost early, due to decay or injury, permanent teeth can drift into that extra space where they don’t belong. It's like when it snows and you clear out your parking spot and save your spot by putting a lawn chair there. Without that chair, you just might find your neighbor's Buick in your spot! Adult teeth are sneaky like that and can move into space if there's no baby tooth holding the spot.

Decayed or damaged baby teeth can also result in crooked and overcrowded permanent teeth. They are important in the development of speech, and forming the proper facial shape as well.

When a baby tooth gets decayed or infected, it can damage the permanent tooth developing underneath. Be sure your child avoids too many sugary drinks and sticky foods, and help them to brush frequently. Remember – it’s not just sodas and sports drinks. Even healthy drinks such as juice and milk are full of sugar. Of course seeing the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings is important for decay prevention.

Dr. Jeff suggests that babies come in to the office as soon as the first teeth erupt. Even if it’s just for a ride in the dental chair and a quick brushing, getting your child accustomed to the dentist goes a long way!

So now you know why it's important to take care of those baby teeth! It's also a good idea to encourage kids to learn how to take care of their teeth early on, and hopefully those good habits will carry on into adulthood.

By The Smile Shack
February 18, 2016
Category: Oral Health

We all know  hopefully we all know!  that opening a bottle of anything with your teeth is not a good idea!

Nevertheless, here are ten more things you or someone you love may be doing that can cause a little or a lot of damage to those pearly whites!

  1. Thumb sucking. Kids who constantly suck their thumbs can be causing the teeth and jaws to misalign, leading to major problems later in life. As for adults who suck their thumbs – well that’s a different story altogether!
  2. Chewing or sucking on lemons. Some people – we’re not sure why!  love the tanginess of lemons so much they suck on them. One thing is for sure: your tooth enamel doesn’t like the highly acidic lemon juice and will corrode with time.
  3. Brushing too hard. It seems to make sense! Scrub your teeth harder and they will get cleaner. But your teeth aren’t a dirty frying pan, and brushing too hard can wear down both your teeth and gums. Use a soft brush with a gentle but thorough technique.
  4. Jaw clenching and tooth grinding. These are signs of stress and are often done unconsciously. But these habits can not only wear down teeth and dental work such as crowns, they can cause pain and chronic problems with the sensitive jaw joint, often called the “TMJ.”
  5. Crunching ice. Think about the special blades your blender needs to crush ice. Get the picture? The hardness of ice plus the extreme cold is a double recipe for disaster to teeth and fillings.
  6. Utilizing the teeth as a human tool box. It may be tempting to tear off a clothing tag, rip open a bag of chips, hold a nail, or many other handy things around the house with your chompers. Don’t! There are proper tools for all of those jobs, and they are not found in your mouth.
  7. Put the pencil down. It’s easy to use your teeth as a pencil holder, eyeglass rest, or pen parker. But doing so habitually can cause your teeth to shift until there is an actual space in there for these objects – a space you probably don’t want!
  8. Biting nails. While a tense movie or close sporting event is often called a “nail-biter,” most people who bite their nails do it constantly. This can lead to small spaces between the teeth and shave off bits of enamel. And if you bite your toenails – congratulations on your flexibility, but it’s just as bad. And kinda gross.
  9. Drinking soda – even “diet.” We won’t go into the HUGE list of reasons not to drink soda right now, but even diet soda bathes your teeth in unhealthy acid and causes corrosion. When you are thirsty there is a reason your body craves water. Listen to it.
  10. Be picky about toothpicking. While properly using a toothpick can be healthy for your teeth and gums, doing it with too much force or aggression can hurt your gum tissue. So just like with brushing, take it easy!

By The Smile Shack
February 06, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!

If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.

If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?

As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.

And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!

If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?

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The Smile Shack Family Dentistry

3839 James Court Zanesville, OH 43701