Why Flossing is Important for your Dental Health

It’s difficult to reach the plaque and food debris that lodge between your gum line and teeth by just brushing alone. A survey conducted by the American Dental Association says that only 50 percent of Americans floss daily, and percent of Americans floss less than daily.

Girl Flossing

We understand that remembering or taking the time to floss can be challenging. But it’s really important for you to make sure you floss! Here’s why:

Reducing Plaque

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon to fight against plaque. You might think that statement is exaggerated, but floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums. It also polishes tooth services to help control bad breath.  Many people think that flossing is a way to remove food debris from between your teeth, but more importantly it removes plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleaning.

Plaque can cause tooth decay, and eventually, if not properly taken care of, can result in tooth loss or gum disease. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.

Tips on how to floss

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. Even flossing 2-3 times a week is a better option than none at all, but always try to floss at least once per day. It’s hard to know the right way to floss if no one has ever showed you. Luckily, The American Dental Association outlined some tips and directions on how to floss properly:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand; this finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion—never snap the floss onto the gums
  • When floss reaches the gum line, create a C shape against one tooth, and gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, gently rubbing the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth near your molars! The most decay will rest near the back of your teeth

Flossing should not be painful. When you first begin flossing again, you may feel some initial discomfort. With daily brushing and flossing, the discomfort will ease within a week or two. If this pain persists, please contact us for an appointment, for you may be at risk for gum disease.

Choosing Floss

We know there’s a lot of different kinds of floss on the market. How often you floss is actually more important than the type of floss you choose. So essentially, your choice of floss is based on your preference:

  • Multifilament floss: This kind of floss is made of nylon or silk floss. Generally, nylon dental floss will be more common. This type of floss also comes in waxed or unwaxed. Floss is coated in wax to help fit around your teeth. An example of this kind of floss is Johnson & Johnson’s REACH Fluoride Woven Floss.
  • Monofilament Floss: A newer kind of technology, this floss’ fabric is like nylon, but doesn’t rip or tear. Because it’s stronger, more patients feel that it is easier to pull in-between teeth. Some brands like Glide are made with this material (which of course is where it got its name!)

As long as you are taking the time to brush twice daily for two minutes each, and floss at least once per day, you are helping to keep your mouth healthy and free of plaque and potential gum disease.

At Shane McDowell, we love seeing our patients healthy and happy. We are committed to serving you with the best dental health care possible. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or email us at info@myfortmyersdentist.com

The link between gum disease and heart health

Did you know, that there could be a connection between the health of your gums and the health of your heart? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack.

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is gum inflammation, whereas periodontal disease is a serious gum disease. Gingivitis begins with bacterial growth in your mouth, and if not properly treated, can lead to tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue around your teeth. Gingivitis will come first, and if not properly treated, will develop into periodontal disease.

There are several things that can cause gum disease.

  • Illness: several disease including HIV and cancer can lower your body’s ability to fight bacteria.
  • Medications: certain medications can affect the health of your mouth by causing dry mouth or abnormal growths in the mouth
  • Poor Oral Hygiene Habits: neglecting to brush and floss your teeth daily can cause infections in the gums
  • Bad Habits: smoking can sometimes make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself, therefore making it harder for your mouth to heal itself from bacterial infections
  • Hormonal Changes: this includes hormonal fluctuations during menopause, pregnancy, puberty and monthly menstruation. Experiencing these can make gums more sensitive, allowing gingivitis to develop

How do you know if you have gum disease?
The symptoms you could experience with gum disease include:

  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Persistent bad breath of bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums after brushing

How this affects your heart health
Because the mouth is referred to as “the pathway to the body,” its health is a way to judge a person’s overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with moderate or advanced gum disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

A recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association studied 657 people with known heart disease. It was noted that these people had higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to atherosclerosis of the carotid artery in the neck that can lead to stroke. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries that develops when fats and other substances in your blood begin to stick to the sides of your arteries, leading to a stroke or a heart attack.

More than 90 percent of all systematic diseases—including heart disease—have oral symptoms. In some cases, dentists can help patients with a history of heart disease by examining them for infection or inflammation that could indicate heart problems.

What can you do to prevent gum disease and possible heart problems?
• Brush for 2-3 minutes twice per day, making sure to brush your teeth as well as your gums
• Floss daily
• Eat a healthy diet that provides essential nutrients
• Avoid tobacco
• Schedule regular dentist check-ups and cleanings

If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away. At Shane McDowell DMD, we want to make sure that your mouth is healthy, so the rest of you can be healthy too! Call us to set up an appointment today, at 239-936-0597 or email us at info@myfortmyersdentist.com

What is gum disease?

shutterstock_28627237Gum disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. It is an inflammation of the gums that could lead to the loss of tissue that holds your teeth in place. The main cause of gum disease is the consistent formation of plaque, bacteria, on teeth. When the plaque isn’t removed properly, it can actually cause your gums to start pulling or moving away from the teeth. Plaque that doesn’t get brushed or cleaned off your teeth can also harden and form what’s called “calculus” or tartar under your gums. This tartar will then make it even more difficult to properly remove plaque from teeth and could cause gum disease.

There are many reasons to be aware of the causes and ways to prevent gum disease. As a dentist, I can tell you that the number one reason for tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Furthermore, gum disease is also linked to coronary artery disease and other systemic diseases.

Gum disease is preventable and oftentimes reversible. The sooner you treat it, the better. Below are some symptoms and warning signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that appear red and swollen and bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that look like they’ve pulled away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • The appearance of pus between teeth and gums
  • Teeth that feel loose or like they are moving away from one another

We also want to share the ways to prevent gum disease include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes per session
  • Clean between your teeth at least once daily with floss or another ADA approved interdental cleaner
  • Visit the Shane McDowell Dentistry for your regular checkup and cleaning

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms for gum disease noted above, please contact us today to schedule your next appointment. We care about your daily oral health routine and look forward to continuing to serve you! For more information or to schedule an appointment with us, please visit our website at www.myfortmyersdentist.com or call (239) 936-0597.

Drink Green Tea for a Healthy Smile

green teaWhat you eat and drink directly impacts the health of your teeth and gums. With all of the drinks selection available, one of the best drinks for your oral health may be brewed tea! A review of existing studies show that drinking brewed teas results in less enamel loss than drinking soft drinks and fruit juices and that the effect of tea on tooth enamel is similar to that of water.

What are the Benefits of Drinking Green Tea?

Scientific studies are beginning to show the potential health benefits of drinking green tea, especially in weight loss, heart health, and oral health. Green tea’s ability to help reduce symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease may be due to the presence of the antioxidant catechin and the compounds called polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that cause plaque. By interfering with the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria, green tea may actually help promote oral health, and ward off further gum disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about healthy habits for your mouth, we invite you to call our personable staff today at 239-936-0597 or visit our website at MyFortMyersDentist.com to make an appointment.

Top 5 Reasons to Make Your Teeth a Spring Cleaning Priority

Regular dental visits are very important to your health and wellbeing. In fact, we recommend you have a professional cleaning and dental exam every six months. Spring is a great time for your first cleaning of the year.

Spring cleaning appointment

First, because many people are in “spring cleaning” mode, so it is easy to remember to make this important appointment as part of your annual routine. Second, a spring cleaning puts your second cleaning of the year in the fall, before the holiday rush makes it harder to fit it into your schedule.

Why are these routine visits so important?

  1. To prevent gum disease – This is our top reason because it is so important to the health of your entire body! By preventing gum disease, you avoid oral health problems such as bone loss, bad breath and tooth loss, and you also preventing one of the main risk factors for a myriad of health problems such as heart disease and some cancers.
  2. To help detect oral cancer – Early detection is very important with any cancer, and oral cancer is no exception. We screen patients for signs of oral cancer at every exam.
  3. To have a healthy smile – Regular cleanings will help keep your teeth white and healthy so your smile looks great.
  4. To maintain good oral health – Good home maintenance is of the utmost importance, and we can help. When we examine your teeth we can point areas where you need to focus more attention and coach you through any oral health challenges you face.
  5. To save money – By detecting problems early when they can be fixes more easily, you could avoid more costly procedures down the road.

Schedule your spring cleaning appointment today! Call our office at 239-936-0597 or visit www.myfortmyersdentist.com.