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Varieties of Oral Hygiene

The most common and most recommended toothbrush type is soft. Brushes too firm can irritate and even damage the gums; while prolonged use will cause receding gum lines. Nevertheless, the perks of each brush type will never be ideal over a variety of different mouths. The method, however, will always be identical: brush vigorously, dive deep behind the molars, and use a circular motion to stimulate the gums. Do not brush the tongue with the toothbrush. The bristles are made for sweeping away debris and plaque, and are not made to be rubbed against the buds of the tongue. Doing so may only push the bacteria around; it will also trigger an unpleasant gag reflex. For this, a specially shaped tongue scraper should be used. The V-shaped head is better suited to scraping away surface plaque and saliva, without a gag reflex. Other shapes and heads are available, all with one thing in common: the lack of large bristles.

The prevalence of bad breath is most commonly attributed to the tongue and, surprisingly, not to the teeth and gums. Once again, the toothbrush, unless equipped with a special head, is not enough to combat bacteria on the tongue (specifically the soft spot near the tonsil). Tongue scrapers may seem excessive, but in fact it aides the toothbrush; because the toothbrush is primarily suited to cleaning the tooth and the tooth alone.

However, electric toothbrushes can be excessive. Studies show only a marginal gain over their manual cousins in the removal of plaque and debris. Take into consideration the price and maintenance, and electric toothbrushes show even less to gain. Their only benefit is to users with arthritis or like symptoms, where brushing the teeth by hand for over one minute (the minimum recommended brush time) can induce pain in the joints. Those who prefer electric over manual toothbrushes can also take pleasure in the vibration of the brush’s motor.

And if electric toothbrushes are popular, then floss is not. A survey indicated that very few people who brush their teeth really ever floss; and of those that floss, a majority do not floss correctly. Improper flossing can lead to receded and bloody gum lines. This is often the case with people who put too much pressure on the silk strand to clean. Proper flossing requires that the string wrap in a C-shape over one edge of the tooth, in an upward motion that starts from the gum line. In the case of flossing, electric flossers can actually improve the method. The vibration from the motor forces the floss to clean with less resistance.

This leads us to mouthwash, which contrary to popular belief, should not be used before brushing. Mouthwash is able to coat parts of the teeth that brushing and flossing and tongue scraping may not touch. But it is most essential to clean the back of the tongue and the throat via gargling.

The benefit of this, outside of better breath and hygiene, is a clearer voice.

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The Wonderful World Of Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is defined as any dental work performed on the teeth to improve their appearance. It’s not at all surprising that cosmetic dentistry is big business because very few are really ever satisfied with their original set of pearly whites. Ever see any of those image makeover programs on TV? Isn’t it true that one of the first things always tackled on the image makeover process is the improvement on one’s set of teeth?

Now, some may need just a touch of whitening due to eating, drinking and smoking habits, while others require more drastic cosmetic dentistry measures such as almost always the case when you have chipped, misaligned or missing teeth. So which one applies to you? Maybe a look at today’s leading cosmetic dentistry procedures will help you decide.

Cosmetic Dentistry Type No. 1 – What is Tooth Whitening?
Tooth whitening is perhaps the easiest and cheapest type of cosmetic dentistry you can tap to simply make a good first impression. People opt for this cosmetic dentistry solution if they are only after improving the color of their teeth and nothing more. The tooth whitening process is very easy. For instance, with at-home tooth whitening solutions, you get a ‘whitening kit’. This will include instructions and materials for you to make your own teeth impressions, which you then send off to an approved dental lab. The impressions are used to create a customized tray for you, which you then use to put the whitening gel on (also provided in the whitening kit). From here, it’s simply a matter of using the whitening tray and gel as often as you like till you get the level of whiteness you desire.

Main Pros: inexpensive; easy to perform, convenient to apply.
Main Cons: requires maintenance.

Cosmetic Dentistry Type No. 2 – What are Porcelain Veneers?
Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin sheets of porcelain that are bonded or molded to the front side of your teeth using a curing light. Although considered a tooth whitening solution (and that indeed they are), this cosmetic dentistry option offers so much more than just whitening your teeth. Porcelain dental veneers can be used to remove gaps between your teeth, fill out any chips on your teeth, and others. In short, they change the outline of your teeth, enabling you to flash a ‘perfect set’ of pearly whites.

This cosmetic dentistry procedure entails an initial visit to your cosmetic dentist where you both discuss what you want changed in your teeth’s appearance. If all’s well, a second visit is scheduled and on this session your teeth will be reduced (by about .5mm) and a mold for the porcelain veneers created. The actual manufacture of the porcelain veneers will take about a week. Once ready, you need to go to the dentist again for a fitting (hopefully, it is the first and final fitting as well).

Main Pros: looks very natural; stain-resistant.
Main Cons: irreversible procedure; can be quite expensive.

Cosmetic Dentistry Type No. 3 – What is Dental Bonding?
Dental bonding is a form of cosmetic dentistry where a dental composite filling is applied on your teeth. It basically uses the same procedure as applying porcelain veneers but the material used is different. So what is dental composite? To put it simply, it’s mainly plastic plus fillers and modifiers that serve to enhance the general characteristics of this plastic. As such, there is no single recipe for dental composite because its composition depends on what is required. For example, if you want dental bonding done on your front teeth, the need for a better, more natural color is needed (compared to dental bonding for your molars). As such, the fillers and modifiers added to the plastic will be those that improve the composite’s color.

The dental bonding procedure calls for an initial consultation with your dentist, followed by a ‘reduction session’ (don’t forget, your teeth need to be reduced a bit because the dental composite needs to be added to your teeth). On the same visit, the dental bonding treatment can take place.

Main Pro: inexpensive; can be accomplished in one dental visit.
Main Con: only good for minor teeth imperfections.

Cosmetic Dentistry Type No. 4 – What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are for those beyond just wanting to make a good first impression. This restorative cosmetic dentistry procedure is chosen by people who want to replace a whole tooth (or several missing teeth). A dental implant procedure often calls for the insertion of a titanium screw into your jaw bone (Titanium is used because it is believed that the mononucleate cells that are responsible for bone formation actually ‘connect’ to this element). Once the dental implant is in place, a few months as ‘recovery time’ (or integration time) are needed. After this, a temporary crown is fitted so that your gums get to grow around the crown and form a natural shape. After this, the permanent crown is placed.

Main Pro: nearest possible replacement to natural teeth
Main Con: extremely expensive; success rates largely dependent on oral surgeon’s skill.

Cosmetic dentistry is many things for different people. As always, your personal needs and budget will help you decide which option to choose.