Dental Hygiene

Dr. Bice at Grand Dental

Dr. Brandon Bice is an associate dentist at Grand Dental serving patients in our Channahon and Wilmington offices. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Midwestern University’s college of dentistry and has been with Grand Dental for nearly three years.

Meet the Dentist
Hi there, I’m Dr. Brandon Bice, a dentist at Grand Dental Group who wants to make sure your teeth are healthy and well cared for, even when you are far from the dentist’s chair. This forum is dedicated to providing patients with extra advice and guidance for optimal oral health. I think I’ll call it the “adBICE Corner.”
Each month I will cover a new topic and I want this blog to be relevant to your needs. So, I invite you to leave behind comments and ideas!

I Have a Confession
I’m a nail biter—it’s true, even your friendly neighborhood dentist can be guilty of this destructive habit. Sometimes, I don’t notice I’m doing it. My nail beds have suffered, and, as a Dentist I know I’m jeopardizing my oral health every time my fingers touch my teeth.

The Hard Truth
Our teeth are stronger than our nails, but over time nail biting can cause significant damage to both teeth and gums. Consistently biting wears down the tooth surface and can cause chipping and cracking. I’ve worked on several patients who have chipped a tooth from nail biting. While you may not notice it, nail biting slowly wears down the tooth’s enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to acids and sugars and eventually can lead to tooth decay.

Unseen Invaders
Beyond the damage to the tooth surface, nail biting exposes our mouths and immune systems to harmful bacteria that can lead to gingivitis or worse. The dirt and germs trapped underneath fingernails get transferred to your mouth and can make you sick. Think about it, your fingers collect bacteria from everything they touch each day. And did you know that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats, according to a 2012 study from the University of Arizona? Yuck – That’s a lot of bacteria.
 
So, What Can We Do?

Biting nails can weaken enamel.

While experts have not come to a definitive consensus on the cause of this habit, nail biting can be overcome if you work at it. Some solutions include trimming your nails short, carrying a nail file and using bitter tasting nail polish. Identifying triggers can help you find a substitute activity, like squeezing a stress ball. Before I wrote this article, I didn’t even think about kicking my habit, but after doing the research I’m ready to commit.

My choice? I’m going to schedule myself for a MANicure. Stay tuned for updates.

The oral health of our patients is our highest priority at Grand Dental. I will be here to help you learn how to take extraordinary care of your teeth, gums, bone and more. I welcome your suggestions for new topics and would be happy to answer your questions – so reach out with your comments.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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 THERE’S NOTHING BETTER than a swim in the pool to cool down during the hot summer months. Before we dive in, we should be aware of how our time in the pool can impact our oral health. That’s right: the chlorine in swimming pools doesn’t just cause dry skin and eye irritation, it can also have an effect on our teeth.

Chlorine Versus Our Teeth

The reason swimming pools contain chlorine is that it helps to decontaminate the water from microbes and other unpleasant things that could pose health and sanitation risks to swimmers. However, when chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid, and unless the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated, that acid can lead to a condition called swimmer’s calculus.

Swimmer’s calculus causes yellow and brown stains  to develop on teeth enamel after too much exposure to chlorine. It also makes our teeth feel more sensitive after swimming, because enamel erosion leaves the dentin underneath more vulnerable. When we have good oral health, our saliva works to keep our mouths as close to a neutral pH as possible, thus protecting our enamel from erosion, but acid exposure can harm enamel before the saliva can do its job.

This isn’t usually a problem for casual swimmers, but anyone who is a serious swimmer or participates in water sports should be aware of the possibility of developing swimmer’s calculus. The best ways to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth are to maintain a good oral health routine with daily brushing and flossing, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out the chlorine residue, and keep your mouth closed while swimming!

Check out this video to learn about other ways our teeth are exposed to acids:

Dental Concerns Of Scuba Diving

If swimming pools aren’t your thing but you love snorkeling and diving, your teeth will be safe from the effects of chlorine, but they may still face other problems. Barodontalgia, commonly called tooth squeeze, occurs when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This pressure change can result in significant tooth pain and can even fracture teeth, and a good preventative measure is a dental appointment before diving season begins!

Most divers are familiar with how uncomfortable those “one size fits none” mouthpieces can be, but do you know they can be bad for your teeth? Divers with poorly-fitting mouthpieces have to clench to keep them in place, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain and headaches and makes it uncomfortable to chew. If you’re a frequent diver, you might want to invest in a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

We want all of our patients to have a wonderful summer enjoying their favorite water sports and activities without fear for the effects on their teeth. Schedule a dental appointment so that we can make sure your teeth are healthy and answer any of your questions about underwater tooth problems and how to avoid them!

Take time to cool off this summer! You deserve it!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

DO YOU GET a painful jolt through your teeth every time you try to enjoy a bite of ice cream or a sip of fresh coffee? If you do, then you’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and you’re not alone. More than half of adults between the ages of 20 and 50 experience some degree of sensitivity in their teeth, and children can have sensitive teeth too.

So why does this happen? Well, to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to know about the structure of a tooth and how the different layers function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

The crown of each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules running through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth can detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity

Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel wears away, which could be the result of teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. Without enamel, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.

Another major cause of sensitivity is root exposure. Teeth roots don’t have that layer of enamel; their main defense is the gums. Gum recession, which can also be caused by teeth grinding or improper brushing, leaves the roots vulnerable. Other causes of sensitivity include cavities and having a chipped or fractured tooth.

 

 

How You Can Protect Your Teeth

If you do have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, start using a soft-bristled brush if you aren’t already, because hard bristles may further damage the enamel and gum tissue. You can also switch to a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Finally, avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks.

What Our Practice Can Do

Make sure to come to us if you begin experiencing tooth sensitivity, even if your next regular appointment is months away. We can strengthen your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform dental restoration work on areas with enamel loss, recommend a gum graft to cover exposed roots, or prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste. We’ll also make sure there aren’t any other problems with your teeth!

We’re here to make sure your smile stays healthy and strong!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

 

 

Should I still be flossing my teeth?

New guidelines released by the federal government earlier this month have removed flossing as a recommendation for Americans. The U.S. report focuses on dietary benefits for citizens and has historically included regular flossing as part of a healthy lifestyle. The latest report removed flossing due to “weak, very unreliable” evidence that flossing improved dental or overall health. 

Why did the recommendation change? There is some debate as to whether studies on the benefits of flossing are skewed or inaccurate. Dental governing bodies, such as the American Dental Association, state that the past studies on flossing show a decrease in inflammation and the removal of plaque and debris in between teeth. Other organizations cite that the studies are too small or short in duration to be of value. So what is a patient to do?

At Grand Dental Group, we strongly recommend that you ask your dentist or hygienist for his or her professional opinion. No one knows your mouth better than your own oral health care provider. Do not change your current oral home care routine based only on this recent guideline change. Talk to your dentist first.

Does flossing really work? Our providers know flossing is only as good as how often and how well it is performed. Flossing only on rare occasion likely isn’t making a difference in someone’s oral or overall health. The same holds true when flossing is performed incorrectly – which is very common! To say that flossing is ineffective in instances where it is performed sporadically or poorly is not a fair judgement. In addition, flossing well and flossing daily is not enough to overcome other health obstacles. Patients who have challenges such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, or who smoke are unlikely to see a health benefit from flossing only. In the opinions of the Grand Dental dentists, floss is a valuable tool, but flossing alone cannot combat overwhelming hurdles. It is no different than expecting a rinse to alone treat gum disease. Or expecting one single workout to combat a month of high calorie intake. But does that mean flossing isn’t helpful? Not at all.

The value of flossing is found when it is part of an entire oral health care regimen. In our clinical and professional experience, flossing is beneficial, regardless of the latest government recommendations. But, it must be performed effectively and frequently to make a difference. Occasional flossing certainly does the trick when trying to remove a popcorn hull, but for patients who want to see real oral health results, we have recommendations:

·         Brush effectively at least two times a day

·         Floss effectively once a day

·         Cease the use of tobacco products & smokeless tobacco

·         Reduce alcohol consumption

·         See your dentist or hygienist regularly for preventative care

·         Manage diabetes and heart disease

·         Eat a diet high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar

Flossing is not a cure for gum disease and doesn’t ensure a cavity-free mouth. But, when performed properly and routinely, it does remove bacteria and food debris from teeth. Since it is also an inexpensive and easy task, we still recommend it as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.

If you have questions about flossing please reach out to any of our Grand Dental locations, we proudly serve Aurora, Franklin Park, Channahon, Sycamore, Lake Zurich, & Wilmington, IL.

What Dental Floss Should You Use?

When patients ask us ‘what floss should I use?’ our favorite response is: whatever kind you want! At Grand Dental Group, we know that most patients are not fans of flossing their teeth. Floss gets stuck, it is cumbersome to get your hands in your mouth, and most people simply don’t know how to floss properly. But for patients that want to make a difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of their flossing efforts, we have some recommendations for you.

Dental floss comes in many forms, sizes, and materials. This amount of variety is great for patients! It is easy to find a floss that works well to clean your teeth that you also enjoy using. Your dentist or hygienist may make a specific recommendation for a type of floss based on your dental needs. Generally speaking, if a patient is flossing properly, then any floss will work.

Floss can come in waxed or unwaxed varieties and in widths ranging from thin ribbon to wider tapes. Patients with tight teeth or crowded teeth may find that the thinner flosses or waxed types work better. Floss that is slippery but strong, such as Glide, can easily slide in between snug teeth to clean out food and debris. Nothing is more frustrating than getting floss caught in your teeth. These flosses are designed to clean teeth without breaking, snapping, or getting caught.

Wider tapes or puffy floss can clean between teeth that have gaps or wider spaces. For patients with moderate to severe gum disease or significant spaces between their teeth, these larger flosses will be a better job removing plaque bacteria.

For children or adults with limited dexterity or small mouths, flosser picks have become a popular item. Flossers look like small toothpicks on one end and have a horseshoe shaped floss piece on the opposite end. This design helps patients reach back teeth with one hand. Parents also find that these are helpful little tools when flossing their children’s teeth. Flossers come in kid-friendly sizes that are perfect for little hands and mouths. Flossers are a good option for patients who have a difficult time reaching their back teeth, who lack the hand strength or coordination to floss well, or who need to floss while traveling or on the go. Although floss picks rarely clean as well as a good manual flossing, they are decent option, and certainly better than not flossing at all.

Other aids to clean in between your teeth are interproximal brushes and rubber tip brushes. These items are usually dispensed by your dentist or hygienist and recommended for patients who have special circumstances or who are unable to floss effectively.

Regardless of the type of floss you use, it is important that you floss well. Make sure you gently slide the floss in between teeth to reduce snapping and pain. The floss should curve around the side of the tooth in a c-shape. Dip the floss just below the gumline before you pull it out. This method of “c-shape flossing” will effectively remove plaque and food from below the gumline and in between teeth. Flossing should be done at least once a day. When done properly over time, gums should not hurt or bleed at all. If you have questions about what floss to use and how to use it, contact your dentist or hygienist for personalized recommendations and care.

 

Dental New Year’s Resolutions

This is that time of year when most adults try to create a resolution to make personal improvements in their lives for the new year. According to statisticbrain.com, over 30% of people who make resolutions have broken them my mid-January. About 50% of adults make resolutions and those that make very specific resolutions are 10 times more likely to be successful than those who make vague or general resolutions. In the top 10 resolutions, we see the common desires to lose weight, save money, get healthy, quit smoking, and even to fall in love. Most resolutions focus on self-improvement and improved health, wellness, and happiness.

At Grand Dental Group, we suggest that patients consider their dental needs and health when making tangible and attainable goals for 2016. Making small improvements in your oral hygiene routine and committing to better dental health are easy goals and will make your new year a great one!

Floss

Most of us don’t do it at all, or too infrequently to make it efficient in reducing plaque and bacteria. So, we suggest that patients consider flossing once or twice a week if they don’t currently floss. Speak to your dental hygienist to make sure that you are flossing correctly. If you are already a flosser-keep up the good work and make sure you are flossing properly and daily. For people who absolutely are not interested in flossing, check out flosser picks. These are small pieces of floss that are attached to a horse-shoe shaped handle. Flossers make flossing an easy and convenient task.

Brushing Twice A Day

Again, your dentist or hygienist should be able to direct you on how to brush more effectively. Brushing twice a day allows adults and children to remove plaque and food debris that accumulates on teeth throughout the day and night. If you are a once a day brusher, add an extra two minute brushing to your day. It will make a significant difference in your gum and tooth health, as well as your breath freshness. Patients can further improve on their brushing by including a high quality power brush in their home care routine.Visit your dentist

Visit Your Dentist

Make a commitment to your health by scheduling dental cleanings and checkups at least 2 times a year. Prevention is key to avoiding more significant and expensive dental problems. If you have the benefit of dental insurance, you most likely receive two cleanings a year covered under your plan. Like oil changes are to the long term health of a car, preventative dental cleanings and exams are the best thing you can do to ensure lasting oral health.

Quit Smoking or Chewing

This is a tricky task and requires that the patient desires to cease tobacco use. If you are ready to quit, talk to your dentist or medical physician. There are smoking cessation programs and medications that can assist you. Smoking and tobacco use increased a patient’s risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer. When a patient is interested in quitting, we have staff and professionals that can help.

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem for adults and children alike. Most of us have noticed that our own breath was less than minty fresh on occasion. However, for others, halitosis can be a significant and embarrassing problem. There are several reasons why we may emit a foul odor from our mouths. Thankfully, most of the causes of bad breath are easily fixed. But underlying health conditions or dental problems can make bad breath more difficult to resolve.

Some of the more obvious reasons for bad breath include the ingestion of certain foods, drinks, or even medications. Supplements like vitamins and fish oil can leave patients with a bad taste or odor after their ingestion. Garlic, onions, coffee, peanut butter, and other foods or drinks can also leave lingering smells inside the mouth. When it comes to foods, drinks, and medications, practicing good oral hygiene can be the easiest fix. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing after eating or drinking can immediately freshen breath by removing the debris or particles causing the odor. If it is impractical to brush or floss, such as in a social setting, chewing a piece of sugar free gum or eating a sugarless mint can help mask or minimize the odor.

Untreated gum disease and active decay can also cause foul breath. Patients who experience chronic bad breath should seek the advice of their dentist. An exam by your dentist will reveal any obvious dental causes of your halitosis. The bacteria found in gum pockets and within tooth cavities can omit odor, causing your breath to smell. Regular professional cleanings, gum treatments and therapies, and restoring any cavities can correct the problem and eliminate bad oral smells.

For other patients, medical reasons may be underlying causes. If you dentist cannot locate a dental reason for your bad breath, Grand Dental Group hygienists and dentists recommend you speak with your family physician or an ENT  (otolaryngologist), for an evaluation. GERD, or acid reflux, post-nasal drip, and sinus infections are all guilty of causing chronic halitosis. You may require medical treatment for these conditions. Tonsiloths, or tonsil stones, are also suspected in patients with chronic bad breath. In all of these cases, you are best suited to see a medical doctor for an exam and treatment options.

Dry mouth or xerostomia is a common cause of bad breath. When the mouth dries out, the odors emitted from bacterial by products can be more evident. This is almost always the cause of the dreaded “morning breath”. When we sleep, we have a reduced saliva flow. Saliva is a natural buffer against decay and can neutralize foul odors. In situations where saliva is reduced, bad breath is more noticeable. This happens after sleeping, when taking certain medications, or becoming dehydrated. Open-mouth breathing is another example of dry-mouth causing halitosis. You may notice bad breath after a long workout, after taking certain prescription medications, after giving a long speech or talk, or if you need to breathe through your mouth for an extended period of time.

Hydrating the mouth and body can help with xerostomia-causing halitosis. Drinking water frequently, using hydrating oral pastes and rinses such as Biotene or Oasis can also help.  For some patients, your dentist or doctor can prescribe an oral lubricant. Alcohol, smoking, excessive salt intake, or using alcohol-based mouth washes can actually contribute to dry mouth bad breath.

If you have a problem with halitosis, keep a food diary and make a note of your breathing and sleeping habits. Discuss your concerns with your dentist or physician. Go ahead and carry sugarless mints or gum with you for those occasions where you need a quick breath-freshening. In general, there are several treatment options for patients who suffer from chronic bad breath, so there is no reason to suffer or be embarrassed. See your dentist or doctor for answers!

At Grand Dental Group, we tend to think that health-conscious or dental-minded holiday gifts are brilliant and awesome! Who needs another coffee mug, giant bottle of cheap drug store perfume, or another pair of non-skid slipper socks? And as much as everyone thinks women love candles and lotions, most ladies we know have a stockpile of those bath and body products under their sinks or in their closets. So, let us help you think outside the box and buy for those “impossible” types on your gift list this year with our new favorite items:

Flossing seems like an easy task, and it generally is! However, most patients do not floss regularly and those that do, don’t usually floss correctly. Grand Dental Group hygienists have organized the art of flossing well, step by step.

It is important to know that the time of day that you choose to floss is not important. Flossing well is much more important than whether or not you floss after or before brushing your teeth. In addition, it is not unusual for patients’ gums to bleed while flossing, if it is not a habitual routine. Gingivitis, or the inflammation of your gum tissue, is often evident when non-flossers or infrequent flossers improve their home care and oral hygiene. The good news is that gingivitis is a reversible condition and regular, effective flossing will help your gums over time. Ideally, gums should not bleed when a patient flosses.

If you still have questions about how to floss correctly, we advise that you speak with your dentist or dental hygienist. Dental professionals are passionate about oral hygiene and will be happy to show you proper techniques.

Baby teeth are important for many reasons. Aside from allowing infants and toddlers the ability to chew their food and nourish their growing bodies, baby teeth are space holders for future adult teeth. Dentists know that caring for your child’s teeth is an integral part of their overall health. Keeping baby teeth clean and decay-free will set the stage for a life time of good oral hygiene and pleasant dental experiences. If a baby tooth does decay or form a cavity, the tooth should be restored as soon as possible. Parents often wonder why they should fill baby teeth if they are just going to fall out. The answer is, some baby teeth do not exfoliate until a child is in their early teens. A decayed baby tooth may become infected and cause the child pain, or worse, develop into a serious, systemic infection. Removing a baby tooth before it naturally falls out can cause future orthodontic problems such as crowding. Parents can avoid many of these problems by following some basic tips and guidelines.