Environmentally Friendly Ways to Care for Your Teeth

When it comes to making environmentally-friendly choices, every little bit helps. Oral hygiene is a significant part of our daily routine, which is why thinking about ways to make brushing our teeth more sustainable and positive for the planet can make a substantial impact over time! Here are a few of our favorite ways to go green when caring for our teeth.

1)    Choose a toothbrush made of recycled material.

There are an increasing number of options for toothbrushes that are made from products like recycled plastic, yogurt containers, or cardboard. Consider brands like Preserve and Toms of Maine. These recycled toothbrushes do as good of a job as any other brand, yet have a significantly less harmful footprint on the environment!

2)    Choose a toothbrush that’s biodegradable.

Toothbrushes don’t last forever (you should be changing them out twice a year or when the bristles start to fray). However, instead of throwing them out and consigning them to eternity in a landfill, consider a biodegradable toothbrush, made from natural materials like bamboo. Though their bristles do have to be removed before they can be composted, this option ensures that the toothbrush will naturally break down over time without leaving any harmful substances behind.

3)    Buy toothpaste made from natural ingredients.

Being more discerning with your toothpaste selection is another way to make a difference. Many traditional kinds of toothpaste are made from ingredients that are taxing on the environment or which, because they’re not natural, contribute to harmful traces found in our water system (a problem shared with many synthetic prescriptions and ingredients).

4)    Turn the water off when you’re brushing.

Here’s a simple tactic that doesn’t require any extra effort: turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. This one’s easy to forget, but its impact can be huge over time. If you’re brushing your teeth for the recommended full two minutes with your faucet running, you’re wasting approximately five gallons of water! Multiply that by thirty days, and you could be misusing up to 150 gallons of water, in just one month! Instead, the only times you need to wet your toothbrush is upon initially running the water and re-rinse as you near the end of brushing.

5)    Use biodegradable dental floss.

Did you know? Most dental floss is made from nylon – derived from crude oil. Not only does its source have a massive carbon footprint, but this type of dental floss takes about 50 to 80 years to decompose. For an alternative, consider silk dental floss (which is sometimes sold coated in beeswax). This type of floss does an equally good job of getting into the nooks and crannies of your teeth, yet decomposes within 60-90 days.

6)    Keep an eye out for recyclable packaging.

Everything comes in a package, and more often than not, those packages are made from materials like plastic that aren’t sustainably sourced or easily broken down. Check the labels on the packaging of your toothpaste box, mouthwash bottle, or dental floss holder for indications that they’re made from recyclable materials or that they can be recycled.

If you are looking for environmentally-friendly habits to tie into your daily oral care routine, Allegiance Dental Associates is happy to speak with you about a variety of strategies for protecting and preserving your teeth and the planet! Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!

Make Flossing a Habit Today

Most people know how important it is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, but many people seem to dismiss flossing as an unnecessary extra step. Whether you think brushing your teeth is enough, or you just don’t feel like taking the time to floss, here’s a few reason why you should reconsider your oral hygiene routine.

Plaque Builds Up Everywhere

While brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the flat  surfaces of your teeth, it can only reach minimally between your teeth. Flossing allows you to effectively remove particles of food and plaque that get stuck in between your teeth that brushing cannot reach.

Plaque and bacteria stuck in between your teeth can cause tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and many other unpleasant side effects. If you want to avoid painful procedures at the dentist, take the time each day to floss and clean out those hard to reach areas.

Your Gums Won’t Bleed Anymore

The fact that flossing more will lead to your gums bleeding less may seem counterintuitive considering that flossing can cause your gums to bleed. However, the more you floss, the less likely your gums are to bleed because you’re removing the bacteria that actually causes inflammation from increased blood flow to the gums.

You may have to endure occasional bloody gums if you are first starting to floss, but over time, your mouth will bleed less and be much healthier.

Your Overall Health Will Be Better

Gum disease affects more than just your mouth when it comes to your health. By maintaining your gum health, you reduce the risk of a number of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even respiratory disease.

Increase the Effectiveness of Toothpaste

When brushing your teeth, you’re using the bristles of the toothbrush and the fluoride in the toothpaste to remove plaque from your teeth. By clearing away plaque by flossing, you’re allowing for the fluoride from the toothbrush to reach more places on the teeth, increasing its effectiveness.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Need help forming a healthy oral routine in your daily life? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Handling Pediatric Dental Anxiety

The mention of the dentist can strike fear into children of all ages.

 

Pediatric dental anxiety is a fairly common occurrence, ranging from mild concern to extreme panic that can actually affect the way your child thinks about the dentist and their oral health for the rest of their life. Since it is so important to visit the dentist regularly throughout  life, it is important to teach children that the dentist office is nothing to be worried about and the dental office helps teeth stay clean and strong. Here are a few tips to help your child cope with dental visits.

Start Dental Visits at a Young Age

Starting dental visits as early in your child’s life as possible is not only good for their oral hygiene, but it helps establish familiarity with the concept of dentist appointments. Most dentists recommend bringing kids in as soon as their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. Starting routine visits at a young age can help your child build trust in their dentist and feel more comfortable.

Read Dental Storybooks to Your Children

With colorful illustrations, easy to understand language, and a positive story regarding a dental visit, dental-related children’s books are a perfect tool to demonstrate to your child that there really isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to visiting the dentist.

Communicate Effectively

Give your child plenty of advanced notice when letting them know they have a dentist appointment coming up. Telling your child  at the last minute about a dental appointment can increase stress and anxiety, and may cause them more fear than if they have time to mentally prepare.

If they have any questions about what will be done at the dentist, answer them honestly and specifically, avoiding vague statements along the lines of “everything will be fine”. Use words like “clean”, “strong”, and “healthy” in regards to their teeth to convey the reason behind the dental visits.

Lead by Example

Show your kids what it takes to keep a healthy mouth at home. Encouraging brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, and showing them the proper way to do each one will help them develop positive oral hygiene habits. Let them know that the more they do to keep their teeth clean at home, the easier and smoother the dentist visits will go.

Go to a Family Dentist

Going to a family dentist for your children is usually the best option. Family-focused dental clinics are prepared and experienced at dealing with children and making sure they have a positive dentist experience. Family dentists can have colorfully decorated walls with pictures of popular cartoon characters, children’s books and toys to read and play with in the waiting room, and a toy chest with prizes to be given out for a well-behaved visit.

Looking for a great family dentist for your children? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

 

 

Look 10 Years Younger

dentist bel airYour smile is one of the first things a person will notice when you meet.  If you would like to improve your smile with a simple procedure, teeth whitening may be a great option for you, especially if you have stained, dull or discolored teeth. Our dental office is providing teeth whitening services to new and existing patients.

Regardless of how well you care for your teeth, over time, discoloration will occur.  The main causes of stained teeth are genetics, antibiotics, tobacco and certain foods. As we age, our teeth darken as well. While preventing tooth discoloration is nearly impossible, our experienced team can help reverse the effects of discoloration by helping to create a whiter and brighter smile.

Whether it’s an in-office treatment or at-home treatment, the principles of teeth whitening are the same.  A special whitening agent is applied to the teeth in order to bleach the stains and brighten your smile. Our expert dentist will discuss your whitening needs and goals with you to determine which option is best for you.

In-office teeth whitening is the quickest method to a brighter, whiter smile.  With the supervision of an experienced dental professional, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than with at-home kits. Optimal results are achieved much faster with the professional whitening treatment, and in many ways the results are much better given the nature of the bleaching agents that are used. On average, patients find they appear up to ten years younger just by restoring the bright, white smile of their youth.

During a professional teeth whitening treatment, we will first clean the teeth.  They will apply a whitening agent to your teeth, carefully avoiding your gums and soft tissue.  Once applied, a laser light will be directed at the teeth to expedite the process.  For maximum results, the process may be repeated more than once.

If a visit to our office for professional whitening isn’t an option for you, at-home treatment may provide the whitening you need. While you will find a vast variety of at-home teeth whitening products on the market, including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays and more, we can fit you with custom-made whitening trays that will more accurately fit to your teeth for a more even whitening result.

At-home teeth whitening results are less dramatic compared to those achieved at the dentist. While at-home teeth whitening is easy to use, it is not recommended if your teeth or gums are sensitive.

If you are looking to brighten your smile and look ten years younger, contact our office for more information or to schedule a consultation today.

Dental Crowns vs. Fillings

Many people are  familiar with dental crowns and fillings because of experience with fractures, tooth decay, or other similar problems. Crowns and fillings offer a solution to restore the form and function of teeth to health.  

Dental Restorations

The broad term used to describe the various options to restore the cosmetic appearance and structure of the teeth is “dental restorations.” There are different kinds of dental restorations available that are typically used for varying degrees of tooth decay and damage.

In general, the traditional dental filling is the least invasive dental restoration and is used for more minor tooth decay, such as small cavities. Dental crowns are a better option when there is major tooth decay or damage to the teeth.

Fillings

As mentioned earlier, dental fillings are primarily used to fill cavities. Most people, even those who take great care of their teeth, will receive some type of filling in their life. Even if you brush and floss regularly, cavities can still appear if you eat sweet foods more regularly or even just from food generally becoming stuck in your teeth.

The procedure for a filling involves preparation of the tooth, often in the form of excavating into the tooth  to remove damaged or decayed tooth material. After removing the decayed material, the fillings is inserted and set into place.

Metal  fillings were more common in the past, but nowadays, most fillings are white, which provides better cosmetic appearance for the smile. White (or composite) fillings are also better for dental health, given that less tooth structure needs to be removed  and they don’t contain mercury like metal fillings.

Crowns

Dental crowns are mostly used for major tooth decay and damage. A dental crown is essentially a cap that fits right over the tooth. After removing the damaged tooth structure, an impression is made of the tooth and used to set the dental crown on the tooth. The crown acts as a protective barrier, protecting it from further damage, while eliminating pain or discomfort associated with sensitivity.

Overall, fillings and crowns are both viable options for cosmetic and structural restoration after work has been done for tooth decay. Fillings are best used for minor tooth decay, while crowns are best for major tooth problems.

Are you in need of dental restoration and looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Connected Health: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

For decades, scientists have been studying the links between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease. Over the years, research has continued to find strong correlations between these two inflammatory conditions. While there is work yet to be done, we have already discovered connections that may influence how we approach health care in the future. Consider a few key components of the gum disease – heart disease relationship.

Gum disease and heart disease share many of the same risk factors. Some of these include smoking, obesity, stress, nutrition, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of Americans aged 65 and older currently have periodontitis – the most advanced form of gum disease. Recent studies have suggested that patients with heart disease may have increased likelihood of developing gum disease as well.

Likewise, gum disease increases your risk of heart disease. This may be due to the higher rates of inflammation in your body that occur with gum disease. If you already have a heart condition, gum disease may worsen your illness. One study published in 2015 noted an increase in the severity of heart attacks in patients with gum disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Treating gum disease may decrease your odds of contracting or worsening heart disease. A study published in 2014 found that patients who were treated for gum disease had fewer hospitalizations and lower health care costs related to heart disease. While more research is needed to determine the exact nature of this connection, it is clear that avoiding or treating gum disease can be considered an important part of prevention and treatment for heart disease, as well.

You can reduce your risk of serious health complications from heart disease or gum disease. Healthy diet, regular exercise, good dental hygiene, and avoiding tobacco can all help reduce to your risk of developing one or both of these conditions. See your doctor and our dentist regularly for preventive care and treatment.

To schedule your periodontal screening, contact our office today.

Are Dental Veneers Right for Me?

dentist bel airWe often have visitors to our office ask about solutions for fixing stained teeth or filling in gaps between teeth. We sometimes suggest veneers. Veneers are one cosmetic option available for correcting your smile. Here’s what you should know about veneers, and whether they are right for you and your smile.

What Are Veneers?

A Veneer is a thin cover placed over the front of the tooth. Typically, they are made of dental porcelain and designed to cover your existing tooth, not replace it.

What They Do

Veneers are used to fix a broken or chipped tooth, shrink the noticeable gaps in between teeth, or reduce the visible stains on teeth. Our office specially sizes them to fit your teeth. Generally, the structure of your teeth is not altered since the veneers are placed over your teeth.

What You Need to Know

Those who get veneers sometimes experience a minor increase in sensitivity, particularly to hot or cold food and drinks. Veneers are typically nonreversible, as they often require a small amount of tooth enamel to be removed. After getting them, it is advisable to avoid drinks such as wine, coffee, or tea that are often culprits of causing staining. Taking care of them still requires you to brush twice each day and floss regularly as well. Your teeth are not invincible to staining or decay so be sure to continue to take care of them.

It is important to know that veneers are a solution to minor tooth issues such as discoloration, gaps, or misaligned teeth. They are not a substitute for braces, bridges, or other dental work. Schedule a visit to our office to meet with our dentist. Together our team can work with you to develop a plan to reach the goals and look you are hoping to achieve.

For more information on how to achieve the smile you have dreamed of, contact our office. We look forward to seeing you during your next visit with us!

5 Ways to Safely Remove a Loose Tooth

When children reach a certain age, they begin to grow out of their baby teeth. But before the tooth comes out and they get paid a visit by the tooth fairy, there’s a fair amount of wiggling and playing with the tooth that helps get it to the point where it can be removed. Once the tooth is loose enough to come out, there are several safe methods that can be used to quickly and painlessly to remove it.

Just Keep Wiggling

As time passes, a baby tooth will naturally become loose by constant use of the mouth for eating, getting pushed  by the tongue, and from the adult replacement tooth erupting underneath it . All of these factors help to gradually loosen the tooth until it’s ready to be removed.

When it gets to the point where you can wiggle it back and forth a significant amount, you can use your thumb and index finger to  twist the tooth out. As long as the tooth is ready to come out, this is typically one of the easiest and most painless ways to remove a tooth. If you want to be a bit more sanitary and prepare for any blood, you can use a piece of gauze.

Eat Hard Foods

Eating crunchy or hard foods such as apples and carrots can help to push the tooth out using the force of the mouth and the jaw. Also, eating chewy foods like tough meats may provide enough force to knock the tooth loose.

Use Floss

When a tooth is very loose and you don’t want to use your fingers, or it’s too difficult to reach with fingers, you can use floss to get it free. Wedge a string of floss beneath the tooth and pull hard to quickly free the tooth.

Use Tweezers

If you need more precision than fingers can offer, a pair of tweezers can be used to grip a very loose tooth. Using a clean, sterile pair of tweezers can also be safer as it eliminates bacteria from the fingers that can get in the wound left behind from the removed tooth.

See a Dentist

If a tooth isn’t loose enough and needs to be removed to clear the way for an adult tooth that’s coming in, you may have to resort to going to the dentist to get it removed. Rather than attempting to pull the tooth prematurely and cause more pain than necessary, the dentist will have the  expertise necessary to make the removal of the tooth a safe and painless process.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist in Bel Air, MD | Are You at Risk for Hairy Tongue?

Dentist Bel Air

cosmetic dentist bel air mdYou may not realize it, but you could be at risk of developing an unsightly medical condition known as hairy tongue. While it is harmless in most cases, hairy tongue is still an unpleasant ailment. The causes are not always completely known, but practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting our dental office for cleanings can help prevent the issue. Here’s what you need to know.

What is hairy tongue?

With hairy tongue, your tongue may look like its covered in fuzz or hair, but this condition is actually caused by an accumulation of bacteria. The surface of your tongue is covered in small, rough papillae which gives it its rough texture. Overtime, these papillae grow, shed, and are replaced. Occasionally, the older papillae may fail to shed properly. This causes a buildup on the tongue and can cause a hair-like appearance.

Who is at risk of hairy tongue?

According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, as much as 13% of the population may have hairy tongue. Anyone can develop the condition, but certain risk factors such as age and tobacco use increase your chances.

What causes hairy tongue?

While the exact causes of hairy tongue are not known, there are a variety of factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing the condition. Poor oral hygiene and a diet of soft foods can put you at an increased risk, as a lack of stimulation on the tongue can prevent the shedding of older papillae. Excessive consumption of certain substances, including tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea have been shown to contribute to this condition. Dehydration and dry mouth can slow down the tongue’s natural refresh cycle of replacing papillae.

The best defense against hairy tongue is a regular at-home oral hygiene routine that includes twice daily brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Visiting our practice at least twice a year for cleanings can also give us an opportunity to regularly examine your mouth and catch any early signs of hairy tongue.

If you’re past due for your regular cleaning or are concerned that you might be developing hairy tongue, don’t hesitate to contact our practice for an appointment today.

Your Go-To-Guide to Easter Candy and Healthy Teeth

With Easter right around the corner, there’s no doubt kids are thinking of all the candy and treats they’ll be getting for the holiday. Many Americans celebrate the holiday in part by giving out Easter baskets and holding Easter egg hunts filled with chocolate, candy, and other sweets.

While traditions may hold strong and kids (and adults too!) will always love their sweet treats, all the candy they’ll be eating will take its toll on their teeth. While talking about oral health on Easter certainly isn’t the most fun topic, it’s a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with some basic information and to learn which treats are better and which you can stay away from to keep you and your kids happy and healthy at the same time.

What Does Candy Do to Your Teeth

When eating foods and snacks with a high sugar content, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and excrete an acidic substance as a result. This acidic substance contributes to the decay of the tooth enamel, buildup of plaque, and gum disease and cavities. The longer you expose your teeth to sugar, the more damage is done from the acidic secretions of the bacteria.

Quick Tips

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day when indulging in sweets. Water helps to neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria. Swishing the water around your mouth is an even better way to clean your mouth, as it can shake loose any bits that are stuck in between your teeth. Sugary food that is stuck in the mouth will cause acidic breakdown of the enamel until the food is removed.
  • Try to exercise moderation in the amount of candy you eat. Having a few pieces here and there throughout the day will save your teeth a whole lot of damage than if you constantly indulge in sugary snacks all day.

Treats to Stay Away From

Here are a few types of treats that are particularly damaging to your oral health:

  • Sticky or Gummy Candy – Any candy that has a tendency to stick to the teeth will do more damage as the pieces that get stuck continue to cause damage to the tooth until they are removed.
  • Hard Candy – The more time you spend exposing teeth to sugars, the more damage will be done to the enamel, and the more likely you’ll get a cavity. Candies like lollipops and jawbreakers will cause more harm simply by being in the mouth for a longer time.
  • Dried Fruit – One of the more surprising ones on this list, dried fruit, causes the sugars in the fruit to become very concentrated. Similarly to sticky candy, dried fruit can easily get caught in between your teeth and cause damage until you remove the particle of fruit.

Healthier Alternatives

Try some of these alternatives that you and your kids will still love:

  • Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate that’s low in sugar has been shown to have teeth strengthening properties.
  • Real Eggs – Want an alternative to candy that can be turned into a fun activity as well? Decorating hard-boiled eggs during Easter with natural dyes is a classic activity and doesn’t have the sugary content that candy does.
  • Sugar Free Candy – Low sugar or sugar free candy can taste just as good but won’t have the same sugar content that is responsible for causing damage to teeth.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.