Are Cavities Contagious? The Shocking Truth

The flu. Chickenpox. Measles. There are a lot of contagious illnesses out there. But, are cavities contagious? It seems like a crazy idea at first. But, there’s more truth to it than you think. Discover the contagious aspect of cavities, and what you can do to prevent them.

What Are Cavities?

In simple terms, cavities (also called caries or tooth decay) are holes in your teeth. These holes are permanently damaged areas on your enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. What’s worse, these holes are constantly expanding. So, a cavity can only get worse.

There are three types of cavities: pit and fissure, smooth surface, and root cavities. These are all classified based on the surfaces of the teeth that they impact.

Cavities are also extremely common. Over 90% of people in the United States have had cavities. Chances are, you know someone that has a cavity or has had one. And that’s why it’s important to understand if they really are contagious. 

How Do Cavities Form?

There are various reasons why cavities can form, including contagion. But, how they form happens the same way each time.

A sticky film of bacteria called plaque builds up on your teeth. This bacteria eats sugar and releases acid. The plaque bacteria’s acid destroys your tooth enamel, and the result is tooth decay. When you eat sugary or acidic foods, this process becomes even faster.

If you don’t remove it, plaque turns into a hard substance called tartar. At that point, only a dentist can remove it.

Are Cavities Contagious?

Shockingly, cavities are contagious. You can’t “catch a cavity” like you can catch a cold. However, you can “catch” cavities when you share bacteria with someone who has cavities or poor dental hygiene. Technically, that makes cavities a contagious disease.

The bacteria called streptococcus mutans is the real culprit behind cavities. As with any other contagious ailment, this bacteria can be spread from one person to another. 

And the most common ways to spread cavities? Sharing eating utensils and kissing.

Why Are Cavities Dangerous?

You may think that a tiny hole in your tooth isn’t something to worry about. But, a cavity can quickly become painful. It can even threaten your life.

Since cavities are permanent and constantly expanding, they pose danger over time. Once the cavity eats through your enamel and dentin, tooth decay can reach your nerves. By this point, cavities are excruciatingly painful. And losing your tooth is the least of your worries now.

If you still don’t get treatment for cavities, it can get worse. Tooth decay can spread to your face and lymph nodes. Ultimately, this decay and infection can cause heart disease and strokes. And these are definitely life-threatening conditions.

Cavities Are Even More Contagious For Children

Researchers found that 30% of three-month-olds, 60% of six-month-olds, and 80% of two-year-olds were infected with cavity-causing bacteria. The reason for this is because the contagious cavities were passed on to them by their parents.

No matter how loving and caring parents are, if they have cavity-causing bacteria, they can easily infect their children. But, of course, adults can pass the contagion to other adults just as easily.

How to Prevent Cavities

Luckily, preventing cavities is easy. Here’s what you should do and avoid to lower your chance of catching contagious cavities and developing them.

Prevent Cavity Contagion

Since cavities are contagious, you need to be mindful of who you share bacteria with. If you live with someone who has cavities, or who has poor dental hygiene, monitor what you share.

Avoid eating with the same utensils, sharing water bottles, and kissing with that person. At least until they get treatment for their cavities.

And if you’re the one with the cavity, be mindful of the people you come in contact with. Warn them about your condition and the contagious nature of cavities. And teach them how to take steps to prevent cavities. Finally, don’t share glasses, toothbrushes or kisses with anyone if you have a cavity.

Most importantly, be sure to get treatment as soon as possible.

Prevent Cavity Development

The most important this you can do to prevent cavities is to practice proper dental hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Cleaning your tongue regularly is also very effective in eliminating cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth.

Fluoride is a natural material that strengthens your enamel. While it can’t reverse a cavity, it can strengthen your teeth against the bacteria that causes it. Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities easily.

One of your greatest natural defenses against cavities is your saliva. It washes away the bacteria before they form cavities. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and increase your saliva production.

Since the bacteria that causes cavity contagion feeds on sugar, avoiding sugary foods and drinks can help lower the risk of tooth decay. Regular dental cleanings and oral examinations can also help keep your dental hygiene healthy.

What to Do If You Have a Cavity

Firstly, you need to know how to tell if you have a cavity. Tooth sensitivity, pain, and unusual discoloration are clear signs of a cavity. 

If you notice that you have a cavity, turn to a dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you receive treatment for it, the less likely you’ll develop complications. And even better, you won’t be contagious anymore either.

Your dentist will evaluate the type and severity of your cavity, and they’ll recommend the most effective treatment for it. Common cavity treatments are fillings, dental crowns, and root canals

Even if your tooth is beyond saving, a dentist can recommend an alternative that saves the beauty of your smile.

Save On Your Cavity Treatment

The best way to prevent contagious cavities from destroying your teeth and dental health is with regular dentist visits. However, a lot of people don’t go to the dentist because of the cost. 

Even if they have cavities, they fear the price of the treatments. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you.

With a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health. Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Save on all your cavity treatments and sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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12 Bad Teeth Habits You Need to Stop Now

Bad habits die hard, right? But, these bad dental habits aren’t just annoying. They’re also bad for your teeth. If you do these actions regularly, you wear away the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities, breaking, and discoloration. Not to mention, a host of other problems. 

To avoid bad teeth and unnecessary trips to the dentist, you need to make these lifestyle changes immediately.

1. Biting Your Nails Is a Bad Habit

Nail-biting isn’t a common bad habit among adults. But, studies have shown that 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their fingernails. Which is a crucial time in kids’ lives when their permanent teeth grow, and their bite shapes.

You wouldn't think that nail-biting has much of an impact on the health of your teeth. But, regular nail-biting can cause our teeth to shift out of place. What’s worse, it can also potentially result in chips and cracks in the tooth and splinters in the enamel.

Luckily, nail-biting is a relatively easy bad habit to break. Try regularly trimming your nails and applying bitter-tasting nail polish to them. Since nail biting is a common stress reliever, finding another way to relieve stress such as drawing or writing can help people put a stop to this tooth-damaging habit.

2. Chewing On Toothpicks Is Bad For You

How can toothpicks be bad for your teeth? They’re supposed to clean your teeth, not damage them. Right? Actually, toothpicks are bad for your teeth in two different ways: improper use, and chewing on them.

Proper toothpick use can help remove food particles and debris from your teeth. But, if you're not careful, you could damage your tooth enamel, lacerate gum tissue, and even cause a broken tooth. Plus, bonding and veneers can chip or break with improper toothpick use. 

Additionally, aggressive toothpick use could damage the roots of the teeth, especially where the gums have pulled away from the teeth leaving root surfaces exposed. A broken splinter could also lodge itself in the gum, resulting in an infection if not removed. This is just another reason why you should avoid chewing on a toothpick.

To protect your teeth and gums against damage, choose other ways to remove food from your teeth such as dental floss or brushing. If you must use a toothpick, use it carefully so you don't aggravate the gums or cause abrasions on the teeth. And never chew on a toothpick aimlessly.

3. Chewing Ice Can Cause Bad Teeth

The cold temperature and the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. Curbing this bad habit is critical to maintaining strong and healthy teeth.

Interestingly, craving and chewing ice may be a sign of anemia. The reason for this craving is unclear, but it’s a common side effect of iron deficiency. Some people crave chewing on ice, paper, or other substances with no nutritional value as a way to relieve stress. 

However, it’s important to point out that chewing on anything unnecessarily is bad for your teeth.

If you have this bad habit, a visit with a physician may be in order to see if you have an iron deficiency. If it's just stress, find a different way to relieve it. Alternatively, simply adding a regular yoga practice to your routine could help you break this bad teeth habit.

4. Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth Is Bad

Clenching or grinding your teeth can cause a significant amount of pressure to the gums and jaw structure and can also cause fractures and micro-fractures in your teeth. (Micro-fractures are weakened areas in your teeth that put them at risk for further damage._

The main cause for teeth grinding is stress. You need to find a healthy way to relieve stress that isn’t bad for your teeth. Coloring, physical exercise, and meditation are excellent stress relievers.

Alternatively, you could also wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. While it’s a temporary solution that doesn’t break the bad habit, at least it protects your teeth.

5. The Bad Habit of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is one of the first bad habits we have in our lives. It’s a common stress reliever for babies and young children. While most of us abandon thumb sucking by age 8, many adults still turn to this bad habit in times of stress.

But, it’s dangerous to suck on your thumbs after your permanent teeth have come in. Even if you were born with perfectly aligned teeth, thumb sucking could cause changes to the alignment of your teeth and jaw. This can result in eating and breathing difficulties. And the only way to correct misaligned teeth is with braces.

The best way to avoid developing bad teeth from thumb sucking is to abandon this bad habit once and for all.

6. Biting Pencils Causes Bad Teeth

As a child gets older, he or she may substitute thumb sucking for other actions like chewing on pencils and other objects. This action could be a nervous tick or simply a way to handle stress. But, it could also be a symptom of anemia.

Holding an object such as a pen or pencil between your teeth can supply a significant amount of pressure on your teeth and gums. This can result in cracked or loose teeth and other dental issues.

Putting a stop to this bad habit before any damage is done can help your teeth stay healthy and strong for a very long time.  

7. Biting Into Lemons Can Be Bad For Your Teeth

Lemons are very healthy. They’re a great source of vitamin C, they have detoxifying benefits, and they improve alertness. But, biting into a lemon is a bad idea.

Lemons contain high levels of citric acid which can quickly wear away the enamel on your teeth. This can then result in greater tooth issues including cavities. Even sipping water with a lemon slice can damage the enamel to some degree.

If you crave that tartness and you must have that lemon fix, at least swish your mouth with water afterward. Don’t let the acidic taste of lemon linger on your teeth, as it does more damage.

8. Brushing Too Hard Is Also Bad For Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is a crucial part of proper dental care. You need to do it twice a day as part of your dental hygiene routine. But, brushing wrong is also bad for your teeth. 

If you brush too hard, you can also damage your enamel, irritate your gums, and cause cavities. This is why it’s crucial to always brush your teeth in the right manner. Brushing harder doesn’t mean that your teeth will be cleaner.

To help prevent damage caused by brushing your teeth too hard, choose a good toothbrush. One that’s firm enough to remove plaque but soft enough not to cause damage to the enamel. A soft-bristled toothbrush can also help prevent gum damage.

Better teeth brushing habits include brushing for at least two minutes, using a light touch, and holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.

9. Brushing Right After Eating Isn’t a Good Habit Either

Leftover food particles after eating can damage your teeth. And the best way to clean your teeth is to brush them. So, it’s logical to brush your teeth after eating, right? A lot of people think so, but the reality is quite different.

Turns out that brushing your teeth right after eating is a bad habit as well. Your teeth are still sensitive, and brushing can easily wear away your teeth’ enamel. Especially after breakfast with acidic foods like coffee or orange juice.

Wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush your teeth. Better yet, brush your teeth before breakfast in the morning to take care of your dental hygiene in the safest way possible.

10. You Need to Stop Using Your Teeth as a Tool

People often use their teeth as tools for a variety of tasks. You can tear open a bag of potato chips, uncap a bottle of nail polish, straighten a bent fork tine, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing. It might seem convenient at the time but it's a bad idea for the long-term health of your teeth. 

Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip, especially at the edges. Even if you brush and take care of your dental hygiene regularly, you can develop bad teeth from this. After all, you wouldn’t want a dental emergency to happen to you.

Putting a stop to this bad habit will help protect your teeth against preventable damage. A simple way to break this bad habit is to keep real tools handy. You’ll be less likely to resort to using your teeth instead.

11. Drinking Soda Is Bad For You and Your Teeth

Over half of the population of the United States drinks at least one can of soda a day. Soda is really bad for your health overall, and it’s also very bad for your teeth. Carbonated beverages tend to be very acidic. 

Drinking soda regularly can cause tooth decay around your gum line and weaken your enamel. There is also a significant amount of sugar in soda. One of the major contributors to cavities is too much sugar consumption. Finally, if losing your teeth isn’t scary enough for you, soda also stains your teeth. So, it’s also bad for your teeth aesthetically.

But, what about sugar-free soda? Drinking sugar-free or diet soda might give us some benefits such as lower calories, but it still contains harmful acids that damage the tooth enamel.

Your best bet when it comes to protecting your teeth and gums is to eliminate carbonated beverages altogether. The initial transition to healthier beverages might be a challenge. However, you’ll stop craving it or enjoying it if you do decide to drink it again eventually. 

Cutting soda from your diet won't just have dental health benefits. It will be good for the rest of your body as well.

12. Smoking Is the Ultimate Bad Habit for Teeth

Smoking is probably the most well-known bad habit. Smoking significantly increases your chance of developing cancer. It also contributes to wrinkles and signs of aging. But, one of the biggest negative effects of smoking happens in your dental health. After all, your teeth are the first to come into contact with the harmful ingredients of smoke.

Smoking also causes more dental plaque and accelerates the severity of gum disease. Other dental health issues include periodontal disease and bone loss. Smoking also causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. 

This makes people who smoke more susceptible to infections and hinders the body's ability to properly heal infected gums. Not to mention how smoking stains your teeth.

If you think smokeless tobacco is better, think again. Just one can of chewing tobacco delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes. The tobacco irritates the gum tissue, causing gum recession, root exposure, and eventually tooth decay. The exposed roots can cause difficulty in eating or drinking as they are more sensitive to hot and cold.

If that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes they add sugar to smokeless tobacco to improve flavor. Which means an even greater risk of tooth decay. Not to mention that tobacco often contains sand and grit which furthers the damage to the teeth and gums.

There are a million and one reasons why you should stop smoking or chewing tobacco. And if you care for your teeth, you’ll need to quit this bad habit immediately. It’s hard. No doubt. However, nicotine patches and therapy can go a long way in curbing your cravings.

Get Your Bad Teeth Fixed For Cheaper

Quitting these unhealthy habits is crucial to protect your teeth and oral health. If you keep doing them, you may experience a lot of pain, lose teeth, and develop life-threatening conditions. And even if you manage to break these bad habits, your teeth may need some care to go back to their healthy state.

Don’t wait to have your bad teeth fixed because of the cost. With a Carefree Dental Card, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on getting healthy teeth? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

 

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How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Everybody wants a perfectly white smile. But, is the cost of teeth whitening worth it? Find out everything you need to know about the teeth whitening options you have, what it costs on average, and how you can get pearly whites for cheaper.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

The usual color of your teeth isn’t white. They usually have a yellowish tint to them. This is thanks to staining that our everyday activities, eating, and drinking cause.

Teeth whitening is the procedure to restore the original whiteness of your teeth. This is a cosmetic procedure, and it doesn’t improve or affect the usability of your teeth. But, it can be beneficial in a lot of other ways.

Many people see white teeth as a sign of health and status. A pearly white smile can influence your image, self-confidence, and mental health. These are reasons enough to invest in whitening your teeth.

What Causes Teeth Staining?

Your teeth are naturally white. However, there are certain foods or activities that can discolor your teeth. You can avoid some of these to maintain the whiteness of your teeth for longer.

The most common reasons for tooth staining are:

  • Eating habits: Some foods and drinks, such as coffee, wine, and tea include tannins. These chemicals settle on your teeth and attach color compounds to themselves. If you regularly drink coffee, you’re more at risk of yellow teeth.
  • Smoking: Smoking is bad for your health in many ways. And you can add the discoloration of your teeth to that list too. The nicotine in cigarettes leaves brown deposits on your teeth.
  • Drugs or medication: Some chemicals found in certain medication can also discolor your teeth.
  • Grinding: If you grind your teeth, you wear the enamel on your teeth. The enamel is the hard white substance that protects your teeth. The next layer of the tooth is the yellow dentin. If you grind the enamel away, you’re bound to weaken your teeth and reveal the yellow layer underneath.
  • Old age: There’s a direct correlation between aging and staining teeth. That’s why older patients who want their teeth whitened won’t get the same results as a teenager.

Home Remedies vs. Professional Dental Procedures

There are various ways you can whiten your teeth. The cost of home teeth whitening kits and professional procedures differs based on the brand and practice. But, if you’re looking to have your teeth whitened, these are the best options for you:

Home Teeth Whitening Kits

These are the cheapest and most convenient ways to whiten your teeth. But, their effectiveness and safety isn’t guaranteed. 

Usually, over-the-counter teeth whitening kits include a bleaching gel. This bleaching agent isn’t as concentrated as what you’d find at a dentist. It usually comes in the form of strips or as a gel with a one-size-fits-all tray.

Take Home Teeth Whitening Kits

If you want a compromise between effectiveness and cost, a take home teeth whitening kit may be your best choice. The dentist provides you with the necessary materials and guidance to whiten your teeth at home. However, this method takes a lot of time.

The dentist gives you a low-concentration peroxide gel. You’ll have to apply this on your teeth with the help of a custom-made tray.

Professional Teeth Whitening at a Dentist

This is the most effective way to whiten your teeth. But, it’s also the teeth whitening method with the highest cost. You’ll achieve significant color change quickly with the help of a dentist.

During a teeth whitening appointment, the dentist places a high-concentration peroxide bleaching agent on your teeth. Usually, this stays on your teeth for 15-20 minute long intervals.

If your teeth aren’t badly stained, you can walk out of the dentist within an hour with a shiny white smile.

Some dentists also use a laser teeth whitening treatment. While laser teeth whitening comes with a higher cost, it’s less harmful to your enamel.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

The cost of the teeth whitening procedure depends on a lot of factors. The method you use is crucial to calculating your budget for whiter teeth. While at-home kits are cheaper, they’re not as effective and don’t give you lasting results. And professional teeth whitening costs more, but it lasts longer too. You may save more money with it in the long run.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits usually cost between $20-100. But, it depends on the brand. You can find these in drug stores or pharmacies as they’re very popular.

Every dental practice prices their teeth whitening procedures individually. However, you’ll probably find the average cost of a take home kit in the $100-400 price range. Whereas an appointment with the dentist can be anywhere between $300-1500 on average.

The final cost will depend on how many whitening sessions you have and what kind of equipment the dentist uses to perform them. For example, laser whitening is usually a more expensive option. 

The above figures are estimates, based on current market prices. But you should remember that the cost of products and treatments will vary according to location, brand, and surgery rates.

Is Professional Teeth Whitening Worth the Cost?

Looking at the price tag, professional teeth whitening seems like a lot more expensive than just a simple at-home kit. But is the price difference justified? Is professional teeth whitening worth the cost?

Whitening your teeth isn’t without risk. Trusting a trained professional to do it for you isn’t just faster and more effective. It’s also safer. 

They’ll know how to whiten your teeth without damaging your enamel or gums. And they’ll use medical-grade materials and tools to restore the whiteness of your teeth.

If you’re looking for a quick, effective, and safe way to whiten your teeth, the cost of the procedure is definitely worth it.

The Risks of Teeth Whitening

Just like every medical procedure, teeth whitening comes with a few risks. Especially if you’re resorting to home remedies. If you’re not careful, teeth whitening can cost you more than money. It can also cost you your health.

  • Tooth sensitivity: Bleach is a ruthless material. So, you may feel increased sensitivity after you had your teeth bleached. Hot or cold temperatures, pressure, or touch can cause you pain. Some people even experience spontaneous pains called zingers. Luckily, this sensitivity usually only lasts a few days. And a dentist can recommend products or medication to alleviate the pain.
  • Gum irritation: Peroxide can irritate your gums. That’s why dentists put a guard on your gums when they’re working with highly concentrated peroxide to bleach your teeth. However, over-the-counter kits don’t provide this safety measure.
  • Technicolor teeth: If you have implants, dental crowns, or veneers, the results of teeth whitening may be different than you expect. Bleach doesn’t affect these restorative tools. So, your surrounding teeth may become whiter after bleaching than the fake teeth. This phenomenon is called “technicolor teeth”.

Teeth Whitening Cost in Time

Money isn’t the only thing you spend on a procedure like this. Teeth whitening also costs your time. How long you can see results depends on which method you chose, and what level of shade difference you want to achieve.

On average, the time cost of teeth whitening is 1-2 months with over-the-counter kits. That’s if you diligently apply the gel or strip to your teeth every day.

If you get a take home teeth whitening kit from the dentist, expect to spend a longer time on it. You’ll need to apply the bleaching gel for 2 hours every day. Paired with a teeth whitening toothpaste, you can expect to see results in 2-3 weeks. But, the results last longer than most methods.

The fastest way to whiten your teeth is to go to a dentist. They can brighten your teeth by several shades in less than two hours. However, if you have some severe staining, they’ll ask you to return for a second appointment to complete the procedure. And they also may ask you to continue with take-home whitening to achieve the best results.

How to Whiten Your Teeth for Cheaper

Ultimately, teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure. This means that a lot of insurance plans don’t cover it. But, this doesn’t mean that you should resort to over-the-counter methods with a higher risk to achieve the perfect smile.

If you have a Carefree Dental Card, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. This means that you’ll get the same teeth whitening at a lower cost. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on your teeth whitening? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Deteriorating Teeth With Old Age

 

Aging is an inevitable part of life. Decades of eating, drinking, and talking certainly take a toll on your teeth. Deteriorating teeth is a common sign of aging. Taking care of your dental health and preventing tooth decay is crucial to keep the teeth you were born with. Learn about the risks of aging on your dental health and what you can do to keep your teeth in tip-top shape.

You Don’t Have to Lose Your Teeth

Old age used to mean dentures and veneers. People over the age of fifty didn’t usually keep their own teeth. Due to their oral hygiene, the effects of aging, and not visiting the dentist, they lost several or all of their teeth.

But, that doesn’t have to happen to you. If you understand the effects of aging on your teeth, and you actively try to prevent and treat dental issues, you have every chance to keep your own teeth throughout your life. 

The 5 Biggest Dental Problems For People Over 50

Wrinkles aren’t the only sign of aging. Deteriorating teeth are just as telling about a person’s age. And we’re not just talking about missing teeth. Here are the most common signs of aging on your teeth and dental health.

1. Dry Mouth Is a Common Side Effect of Medication

Saliva actually helps clean teeth regularly. When you lack the necessary amount of saliva, you have dry mouth. And this can be harmful to your teeth. One reason dry mouth is more common in older age is because it is a side effect of many medications, and taking medication is more common among older age groups.

A dry mouth doesn't necessarily mean you are thirsty all of the time. A common symptom of this condition is bad breath, and a sticky feeling in your mouth. You may also have difficulty swallowing.  

Luckily, dry mouth is an easy symptom to fix. Make sure you drink more water than usual. Chewing on sugar free gum can also help. If you still have dry mouth, a dentist can recommend a more effective treatment.

2. Gingivitis Can Turn Into a Serious Disease

If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, gingivitis is probably the culprit. Gingivitis left untreated can turn into gum disease, which can lead to even more problems. You could lose your teeth due to more infection. But, you’d be lucky if your deteriorating teeth only stop there.

Untreated gum disease can lead to heart disease and even strokes. Luckily, it’s an easily preventable condition. All you need to do is have regular dental visits and dental care.

3. Tooth Decay Is the Most Common Sign of Deteriorating Teeth

One of the biggest signs of deteriorating teeth is tooth decay. The cause of this condition lies in poor dental hygiene. 

When you don’t brush your teeth and floss regularly, bacteria eats away at your teeth. Cavities can form, which may be painful. These cavities are often near old fillings or hard-to-reach spaces.

The deterioration of your teeth doesn’t stop at cavities though. The decay can continue to your gums, which can lead to early-stage gum disease. And you know that untreated gum disease could result in life-threatening conditions. 

Although your deteriorating teeth can be a great concern as you age, you can easily prevent it. Regular dental visits and possibly a boost in fluoride will help prevent tooth decay.

4. Make Sure Your Dentist Checks For Signs of Oral Cancer

The chance of having oral cancer rises with age. Smokers and heavy drinkers are even more at-risk of this illness. The best way to treat oral cancer is to receive a diagnosis early on. And the best person to diagnose it is your dentist.

Make sure your dentist checks for possible signs of oral cancer at your oral examination. This is just another reason regular dentist visits are crucial as you age.

5. Overcrowding Teeth Are a Common Problem for People Over 50

Your teeth shift with age. You may not even notice that they gradually overcrowd each other over time. The problem with overcrowded teeth isn’t necessarily aesthetic. The issue comes from the bacteria and food particles that get stuck in overcrowded teeth.

As flossing becomes more and more difficult, aging people abandon their oral hygiene. That’s when cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease develop. This means that overcrowded teeth are a big culprit for deteriorating teeth.

Luckily, not all hope is lost if you have overcrowded teeth above the age of 50. An orthodontist can sometimes fix the overcrowding with a retainer. But, you definitely need to commit to more frequent professional dental cleanings. These procedures can effectively clean your teeth and prevent poor dental hygiene from affecting your health.

Why Taking Care of Your Teeth Is Important

You may think that with today’s dental technology, you don’t have to worry about losing your teeth. You can always get implants, dentures, and veneers, right? Well, dental health is a little bit more complex than that. You need to take care of your aging mouth because you eat and talk with it.

If you take care of your deteriorating teeth, you can:

  • Avoid pain: Cavities and gum disease aren’t just dangerous. They’re also very painful. Seeing how easy it is to prevent them, it’s much easier to avoid the pain in the first place. 
  • Keep your costs low: Fillings, root canals, and dentures all cost money. The cheapest way to take care of your teeth is to try to keep as many of the original ones in your mouth as possible.
  • Prevent serious illnesses: Untreated gum disease can lead to heart problems and strokes. These are life-threatening illnesses. Taking care of your oral health means taking care of your general health as well.

How to Care for Your Deteriorating Teeth as You Age

If you’re over the age of 50, you need to pay special attention to your teeth. If you’re determined to keep as many of your teeth as possible, these 4 simple steps can go a long way in treating deteriorating teeth.

Keep Up With Your Oral Hygiene

You need to brush your teeth, floss, and clean your tongue at least twice a day, every day. Your regular oral hygiene routine can even include mouthwash if you’re so inclined.

If you’ve never brushed your teeth regularly, it’s never too late to start. Pick up this healthy habit, and you’ll see a quick improvement in the health of your teeth and gums.

Monitor Your Symptoms

As you age, you need to listen to your body. If you feel pain, or notice that something’s different about your oral health, speak to a dentist as soon as you can.

The discoloration of your teeth, gums, and tongue can be a sign of a serious illness. And a sharp pain or sensitivity in your teeth can be a cavity you didn’t know about. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, even if they don’t seem related. 

Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Usually, you should get two professional dental cleanings a year. But, as you age, your dentist may recommend you more. Cleaning your overcrowded teeth and the parts of your mouth you can’t reach is crucial to sufficient oral health. 

Visit the Dentist for Oral Exams

Even if you don’t feel any pain, you should still visit a dentist for a regular checkup. A trained professional can notice if something’s wrong before you can. When it comes to deteriorating teeth, safe is definitely better than sorry.

Save Money on the Dentist with Your Deteriorating Teeth

Without a doubt, the best person to examine and treat your deteriorating teeth is the dentist. And as you age, this becomes even more crucial. If you don’t visit a professional, you risk further deterioration, losing your teeth, and even death.

A lot of people avoid going to routine oral exams because of the cost. Luckily, with a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health.

Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. How much? Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists. That’s huge!

Ready to save big on your next oral examination for deteriorating teeth? Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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How to Prevent Morning Breath

Morning breath is one of the more unpleasant issues most people have to deal with in their daily life. And knowing how to prevent morning breath can make your and your partner’s life much more pleasant.

We've all been there. You’re waking up to a beautiful morning. There’s a soft light seeping through the curtains and you hear the sound of songbirds chirping outside.

You roll over and gaze across the bed upon your beautiful loved one, who’s also just waking from a peaceful slumber. You lean over to plant a good morning kiss, and then it happens:

Bad breath of giant proportions assaults your olfactory senses. And it’s coming from your loved one's mouth.

How, you wonder, can such a beautiful, sweet person emit from their mouth a smell that could be considered a weapon in some countries?

What Is Morning Breath?

What you fail to realize is that you probably have morning breath too. And maybe it’s even worse than your partner’s! 

The truth is, everybody has morning breath. The medical term for bad breath is halitosis. It’s a common phenomenon. Luckily, it’s easy to treat and prevent. 

What Causes Morning Breath?

When you’re awake, talking, swallowing, and eating keep your mouth in motion. This prevents the bacteria in it from settling. But when you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth has an opportunity to "activate". 

Once things settle down, they attach to residual food particles left on your teeth and tongue. The bacteria set up camp and get working on destroying your teeth. Fast forward 8-10 hours and that very same bacteria now have an odor we call “morning breath”. 

Even though morning breath is identified as that bacteria, there are certain situations that make morning breath even worse.

Poor Oral Hygiene

The most common cause for morning breath is poor oral hygiene. And if you don’t brush your teeth properly, there are more bacteria in your mouth to do damage. However, brushing isn’t the only part of a good dental hygiene routine.

You also need to floss your teeth and scrape your tongue every day. Food particles between your teeth and on your tongue are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

If you don’t take care of your oral hygiene, you can develop gum disease (periodontal disease). One of the first signs of periodontal disease is bad breath. Left untreated, you can lose your teeth and develop life-threatening illnesses.

So, bad breath won’t be the only uncomfortable consequence of poor oral hygiene.

Dry Mouth

If you have amazing dental hygiene and still have bad morning breath, dry mouth is probably the culprit. Saliva plays an important role in washing away harmful bacteria. However, during the night, our salivary glands function lower. This can lead to a dry mouth, and therefore, more bacteria.

Some medications can also cause dry mouth. And these can make your morning breath worse. 

Another factor that you should consider is snoring. The act of breathing heavily while sleeping quickly dries your mouth out. So, you may want to look for ways to cut down on snoring. (Your partner’s nose and ears will thank you.)

Certain Foods

Sulphuric compounds often contribute to the bacteria of morning breath. Eating certain foods, such as onions or garlic can make your halitosis even worse. Fortunately, getting rid of onion breath isn’t a complicated process. But, you should probably do it before you go to bed.

Tobacco

Smoking affects your oral health significantly. It can cause dry mouth, periodontal disease, and even mouth cancer. Not to mention how bad the smell of cigarettes can be. All of these reasons combined make tobacco one of the worst causes for morning breath.

GERD

Gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) is a special situation that can make morning breath worse. People suffering from this condition can have their stomach acid wash back up their esophagus. 

How to Prevent Morning Breath

Now that we identified the most common causes of bad breath, we know how to fight it. Knowing how to prevent morning breath can save you and your partner from uncomfortable mornings.

Preventing morning breath is much better than treating it. Since the cause of morning breath is most likely a medical condition or a poor lifestyle decision, taking steps to prevent it can make you healthier as well. 

That said, preventing morning breath can be a big lifestyle change. Still, it needs to be a regular effort on your part, and keeping that up isn’t easy. But, it’s definitely worth it.

Brush Your Teeth Before Bed

Since poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of bad morning breath, the best thing you can do to prevent it is to brush your teeth before bed.

Ideally, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day: in the morning and the evening. Make flossing and scraping your tongue a part of your oral hygiene routine as well. And using mouthwash can also be beneficial.

Keep Water By Your Bed

Another great defense for a dry, bacteria-friendly mouth is a simple glass of water. Keeping your mouth moist will combat the spread of those smelly bacteria and clear out any loose pieces.

Not to mention how great that water tastes when your mouth is all dry from sleeping. 

Drink Less Alcohol

While you may be more likely to forget to brush your teeth after a few drinks, that's not the only reason to cut back on alcoholic drinks, especially at night. Alcohol can contribute to a dry mouth, creating that breeding ground for those pesky bacteria. 

If you're feeling like a few drinks, try hydrating with water at the same time. This may be a difficult step in preventing morning breath, but it will benefit your health long term.

How to Treat Morning Breath

Now you know how to prevent morning breath. And while these three steps work wonders on the smell of your mouth instantly, you may want to freshen your breath in the morning regardless.

These treatments to bad breath are quick. But without treating the underlying cause, they’re useless long-term.

Brush Your Teeth

Again, the minty freshness of the toothpaste as you brush your teeth will surely eradicate the bad smell. Taking care of your oral hygiene in the morning is just as beneficial for your health. But if you get up and brush your teeth before your partner wakes up, you can prevent them from experiencing your morning breath as well.

Breath Mints

A quicker, but less hygienic solution is to take a breath mint. Just make sure you choose the sugar-free kind. You don’t want to cause more damage to your teeth.

Sugar-Free Chewing Gums

While sugar-free chewing gum isn’t as useful as brushing your teeth, it’s a little bit better than a breath mint. The act of chewing can activate your salivary glands, producing the saliva needed to wash the bacteria away.

Eat or Drink Something

Washing down the bacteria that caused the odor can get rid of the morning breath itself. Worst case, your morning breath will disappear once you have breakfast or a cup of coffee.

Still, it’s not a very good way to treat halitosis if it comes from bad oral hygiene...

Do You Still Have Morning Breath Despite Prevention?

Having bad morning breath despite doing everything to prevent it is a bad sign. Halitosis is often a sign of a serious underlying condition. So, if your morning breath doesn’t disappear within a few weeks of taking preventive steps, you should speak to a dentist.

A lot of people avoid going to the dentist simply because of the cost. But with a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health.

Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Save big on your oral examination when you become a Carefree Dental Card member!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

 

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Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth?

Are you one of the many Americans who need a cup of coffee to start the day? Coffee seems to be an absolute need for some of us to actually wake up. But, is coffee bad for your teeth? Or, is this delicious morning boost doing damage to your oral health?

What Does Coffee Do To Your Teeth?

There’s a simple rule to every drink: if it stains your clothes, it stains your teeth. The same goes for coffee. Even one cup a day can stain your teeth. And staining is one of the main reasons why coffee is bad for your teeth.

Coffee contains tannins. These ingredients are a type of polyphenol. They break down in water and make color compounds stick to your teeth. So, the tannins in coffee cause that yellow hue on your teeth that’s difficult to remove.

Does Coffee Damage Your Teeth?

Coffee stains your teeth. But, does it do any other damage? Is coffee bad for your teeth in general? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. However, whatever damage coffee causes is easily reversible.

Coffee is an acidic drink. This means that it damages your teeth by eating away the enamel. The enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. It’s a hard substance, but not indestructible. So, coffee and tooth enamel don’t mix well together.

Coffee also damages your teeth the same way any other food does. Especially if you take your coffee with sugar. The food particles stick to the pits and crevices of your teeth, and feed the bacteria in your mouth.

This bacteria is the culprit behind cavities and gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can result in lost teeth and even strokes and heart disease. In short, coffee contributes to much more than simple staining when it comes to your oral health. Luckily, both the staining and the bacteria are easy problems to fix.

Can I Drink Coffee Without Staining My Teeth? 

Coffee lovers rejoice! There’s still a way to have your daily Cup of Joe and have a pearly white smile. Using simple tricks can help prevent and diminish the staining to your teeth when you drink coffee regularly.

8 Tricks to Prevent Coffee From Staining Your Teeth

1. Limit How Much Coffee You Drink

If you’re a 3-cups-a-day kind of person, but you’re worried about how coffee stains your teeth, it may be worth limiting yourself to just one. Besides, the recommended coffee intake is just 2 cups/day.

2. Drink Coffee With Milk

Black coffee stains your teeth more. Diluting it with milk can diminish the staining effects of coffee. But if you drink coffee with milk and sugar too, you’ll create a different way how coffee can damage your teeth.

3. Use an Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are more effective than regular toothbrushes when it comes to removing coffee stains. If you use a manual toothbrush but you love your daily coffee, it may be worth investing in a different toothbrush.

4. Munch on Crunchy Fruit and Vegetables

Apples, celery, and carrots are natural stain removers. They activate the saliva production in your mouth that helps wash away the tannins of coffee.

5. Drink Coffee With a Straw

Drinking iced coffee with a straw is usual. But, you can drink hot coffee with a straw to diminish the staining effects it has on your teeth. Just be careful. Sipping steaming hot coffee with a straw can cause serious burns.

6. Drink in One Sitting

Sipping coffee throughout the day, even if it’s just one cup, helps bacteria build up. Whereas drinking your cup faster in one sitting minimizes it. 

7. Eat Something Before Your Coffee

Eating a bite or two with your coffee can brace your teeth from the staining tannins. This way the food and the saliva you produce create a buffer between the coffee and your teeth. Besides, even the French drink their coffee with a croissant

8. Brush Your Teeth Right After Drinking Coffee

Although it seems strange, if you truly want to prevent the damages of coffee, you should brush right after you drink it. That’s the most effective way to minimize how bad coffee is for your teeth.

How to Remove Coffee Stains From Your Teeth

Even if you drink coffee with a straw and eat a carrot right after, there’s still a chance that coffee will stain your teeth. And if you do none of the preventive measures, you’re almost guaranteeing that yellow hue on your teeth.

The only way to remove coffee stains from your teeth is to use teeth whitening solutions. These can range from cheap home remedies to effective professional whitening. Here are the most popular ways to whiten your teeth 

Brush Your Teeth With Baking Soda

Twice a month, sprinkle some baking soda (soda bicarbonate) on your toothbrush. This will help remove any color compounds and tannins stuck to your teeth. 

But, be careful with how roughly you brush.

The hard crystals of baking soda can also damage your enamel. And that can do more harm than good. So, be sure to brush gently. Plus, you should only do this twice a month at most.

Use Whitening Toothpaste

Some toothpastes are specifically designed to remove coffee stains. The whitening effects of these could reverse the damage coffee has done to your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Strips Help Reduce Coffee Stains

If baking soda and whitening toothpaste didn’t bring the desired results, you can invest in teeth whitening strips. These are a little bit more aggressive in whitening your teeth. 

However, you need to be careful with the brand and the ingredients of these strips. Cheap teeth whitening strips can damage your enamel even further.

Professional Teeth Whitening Procedures Are the Most Effective

The most reliable way to whiten your teeth is to have a dentist do it. They know how to protect your teeth while restoring their pearly whiteness.

The effects of a professional dental whitening also last longer. While the yellow staining does return if you keep drinking coffee, regular teeth whitening can eliminate this problem best.

Other Drinks That Cause Stains to Your Teeth

Coffee isn’t the only drink that stains your teeth. Apart from water, every drink causes an acidic reaction in your mouth. Though it’s not something you notice, it definitely weakens your enamel. The following drinks also include tannins, that stain your teeth:

  • Red wine
  • Black tea
  • Colas
  • Berry juices (blueberry, blackberry, cherry)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sports drinks

Keep the Coffee, But Visit the Dentist

Coffee is bad for your teeth. Unfortunately, coffee stains your teeth and eats away the enamel. Yet, many of us still wouldn’t give it up. If you decide to keep drinking coffee daily, you should consider visiting a dentist for a tooth whitening. 

The dentist is the only one that can check how much damage the coffee has done to your teeth. Luckily, oral examinations with the dentist don’t cost that much if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

The Carefree Dental discount plan can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* off your bill per visit in most instances. 

Ready to save BIG at the dentist? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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What to Expect From a Dental Cleaning

 

Professional dental cleanings are crucial for proper oral hygiene. No matter how well you brush your teeth at home, an expert has more skill and knowledge. There are a lot of benefits to getting your teeth cleaned professionally. But most importantly, it can prevent a lot of serious illnesses. Here’s everything you should expect from a dental cleaning.

It’s never too late to start getting dental cleanings. Whether you’re getting over your fear of the dentist or you just haven’t had the time, it’s good that you’re thinking about getting cleanings. Make it a regular habit, and you’ll reap the benefits of proper oral hygiene in no time.

How to Prepare for a Dental Cleaning

Technically, you don’t have to do anything before your dental cleaning. If you regularly brush and floss your teeth, you don’t have anything to worry about. But every dentist and dental hygienist appreciates it if you brush your teeth before your appointment as a courtesy.

If you have a preexisting condition (or you suspect cavities or gum disease), make sure you inform the professional who’s cleaning your teeth.

The 6 Steps of a Professional Dental Cleaning

Usually, a dental hygienist or a dentist completes your professional dental cleaning. It usually takes 30-60 minutes for the procedure. These are the steps you can expect as soon as you land in the dentist chair.

1. Physical Examination

First, your dental hygienist will examine the current state of your teeth and gums. They use a small mirror to check the hard-to-see areas of your mouth.

The dental hygienist will note any signs of gingivitis, cavities, or other potential concerns. If they notice a major problem, they’ll call in the dentist to discuss potential treatments. 

2. Scaling: Removing Plaque and Tartar

Once the dental hygienist finishes your examination, they’ll start the dental cleaning with scaling. Using a tool called a scaler, they remove any tartar buildup and plaque from your teeth. You’ll hear scraping sounds, but this is completely normal. 

The more plaque and tartar buildup you have, the longer this step will take.

Plaque is harmful bacteria on your teeth. You can easily remove it with common home remedies. But if you don’t, it can easily develop into tartar. Tartar is a very hard material that’s fused to your teeth. Only a dental hygienist or dentist should remove it.

3. Polishing With Gritty Toothpaste

Next, the dental hygienist will use gritty toothpaste and an electric toothbrush to brush your teeth. The grinding noise you’ll hear during this process may be alarming. But, it’s just the sound of the leftover tartar disappearing.

Using harsh toothpaste like this is great to polish your teeth twice a year. But using it every day would wear down your enamel quickly. You should always be gentler on your teeth when you’re brushing them at home.

4. Flossing at a Dental Cleaning

No matter how well and how regularly you floss at home, nothing beats the flossing during a professional dental cleaning. Let the expert go through your teeth to reach problematic spots and to get rid of leftover tartar.

5. Rinsing

After flossing, you’ll probably have to rinse your mouth. This helps get rid of all the debris from plaque and tartar that got removed. (Don’t be surprised at multiple rinsings during a dental cleaning.)

6. Fluoride Treatment

The last step of a dental cleaning is fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a chemical that helps protect your enamel. Most kinds of toothpaste contain this ingredient. But, a professional fluoride treatment is more effective.

The dental hygienist will place a foamy gel or a sticky paste into a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth. Then, you’ll have to bite onto this and hold it in your mouth for a minute. Additionally, the dental hygienist will also use fluoride varnish. They’ll paint it on your teeth with a brush. Saliva makes this varnish harden, and it will protect your teeth for the next couple of months.

After Your Dental Cleaning

Your dental hygienist will tell you how long you need to wait before you eat or drink again. Usually, you can eat or drink right away. But, you may not want to. A lot of people enjoy the minty freshness of dental cleaning and want to preserve that feeling.

Be aware that your gums may be sensitive after the procedure. And eating hot or cold foods may cause you discomfort. So, try to avoid them until your teeth are less sensitive. 

You can immediately schedule your next dental cleaning appointment for 6 months in advance. Until then, make sure you keep your oral hygiene routine up. Brush and floss at least twice every day. Scraping your tongue also contributes positively to your oral health.

Does a Dental Cleaning Hurt?

A lot of people are scared of dental cleanings. The prodding, the strange noises, and the discomfort can alarm anyone. But for most people, a dental cleaning isn’t painful at all.

However, some circumstances can make your dental cleaning hurt. If you have sensitive or inflamed gums, you may feel more discomfort than others. Cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay can also make dental cleanings quite painful.

It’s important to communicate your pain to your dental hygienist. They can take a break, avoid the painful area, or examine the source of the pain and see what can be done to alleviate it. 

Why Professional Dental Cleaning Is Important

There are a lot of benefits to professional dental cleanings. And there are a lot of risks to not getting one. So, if you think that your brushing at home is good enough, you’re in for a surprise. Even the fear of the dentist isn’t enough justification to skip your dental cleaning.

1. A Dental Hygienist Has Better Products and Tools

Your toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t medical grades. Even if you do brush your teeth with the proper technique and pressure, a dental hygienist can still do it better. Not to mention those who don’t brush their teeth well without even realizing it.

2. An Expert Can Recognize Problems Earlier

Surprise! You can’t look inside your mouth. And looking in the mirror can only get you so far. A dental expert has the skill to see every part of your mouth and the knowledge to recognize early signs of problems.

3. You Can’t Remove Tartar at Home

If you allow plaque to build up, tartar forms on your teeth. This hard material gets fused to your teeth and doesn’t scrub off with a toothbrush. Instead, you need the dental hygienist’s scaler to get rid of it. But, you also need their skillset. Trying to remove tartar yourself can cause serious injuries or harm your enamel

And the last thing you want to do when cleaning your teeth to promote your overall dental health is create problems.

4. Bad Dental Hygiene Can Lead to Illness and Even Death

Let’s say don’t mind the built-up tartar on your teeth. That tartar will eat into your teeth. Next thing you know, you’ll have cavities. And you’ll probably only notice the cavities when they become extremely painful. 

If you’re lucky, you may only need a filling or root canal surgery. But, you may actually lose your tooth.

Bad oral hygiene can also lead to gum disease. Untreated gum disease has severe complications. This inflammation affects more than just your gums. It can spread to your lymph nodes, and even up to your eye

Ultimately, untreated gum disease can give you a stroke or a heart attack. By then, your bad oral hygiene became a life-threatening condition. It’s easy to prevent that by going to the dentist for cleanings regularly.

5. Dental Hygienist Are Very Nice

This one’s for those who are afraid of the dentist. The dental hygienist will do everything possible to make your dental cleaning as smooth as possible. No matter how scary the prodding and the sounds are, they’ll take good care of you.

How Often Should You Have a Professional Dental Cleaning?

Experts recommend that you get a professional dental cleaning twice a year. That means that you should make an appointment every six months. But, it ultimately depends on your dental health. 

Some studies suggest that people who aren‘t at risk of gum disease can get a dental cleaning once a year as well. But, even for them, twice a year can be beneficial.

Those at the risk of gum disease or other oral health problems need to get a dental cleaning at least twice a year. This can significantly prevent and treat their dental problems.

Save Money on Your Next Dental Cleaning

A lot of people hesitate to get a dental cleaning because of the cost. Although they’re not afraid of the dentist, they’re wary of the bill that follows. While every dental practice has different prices, an average adult dental cleaning can be pricey.

Luckily, you don’t have to pay that much for a dental cleaning if you have a Carefree Dental Card. The Carefree Dental discount plan unlocks huge savings at participating dentists. 

With a Carefree Dental Card, you could save between 15% - 50%*, per visit, in most instances on dental cleanings at participating providers. Get a thorough dental cleaning (and peace of mind) without worrying about the price when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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How to Clean Your Tongue Effectively

Why You Should Be Brushing Your tongue

You need to brush and floss every day, right? That’s what we’ve all been taught. But our parents, teachers, and even dentists often forget to mention the third component of oral hygiene: the tongue. Follow this useful guide on how to clean your tongue and learn why you should do it every day.

Why You Should Clean Your Tongue

Proper oral hygiene is crucial for your overall health. And your tongue plays a very important role in that. Cleaning it regularly can prevent serious diseases. Not to mention how good it feels. Here are the top 5 benefits of cleaning your tongue to motivate you.

1. Less Bacteria on Your Tongue

Our teeth and gums are targets for bacteria, and our tongues are no exception. Due to the tongue's unique structure, bacteria can accumulate and thrive between your taste buds. To remove it, you need to know how to clean your tongue properly.

Rinsing alone won't help. These microorganisms are too small and stick together between the tongue's crevices in the biofilm. When harmful bacteria aren't removed, the situation can lead to tooth damage and foul odors. (And these are problems nobody wants to deal with…)

2. Avoid Bad Breath by Cleaning Your Tongue

Sulfuring compounds on your tongue are one of the biggest contributors to bad breath. Luckily, cleaning your tongue can get rid of it effectively. The difference in your fresher breath will be noticeable.

What tool you use to clean your tongue matters when it comes to bad breath. A tongue scraper gets rid of 75% of sulfuric compounds. Meanwhile, a toothbrush only takes off 45% of them.

3. Reduce Plaque With Tongue Scraping

Plaque is the bacteria that builds up on your teeth. Untreated plaque leads to tartar, cavities, and gum disease. By scraping the bacteria off your tongue, you also prevent plaque buildup

4. Your Mouth Will Feel Fresher

A great but often forgotten benefit of cleaning your tongue is the new feeling of your mouth. Brushing your teeth makes it feel fresher, so why shouldn’t you scrape your tongue? Enjoying that new sensation is definitely worth cleaning your tongue.

5. You May Taste Differently

When you scrape your tongue, you also free up your covered taste buds. One study found that cleaning your tongue can make you taste sucrose and citric acid differently. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue?

You should clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Make it part of your dental care routine. That means at least once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. Twice every day.

Ideally, you should also clean your tongue at midday. Usually, if you have a bad taste in your mouth, or feel that your mouth is overly dry. 

Once you get into the habit of cleaning your tongue twice a day, you'll notice fresher breath and (hopefully) improved dental health at your next checkup.

How to Clean Your Tongue With a Tongue Scraper

The best tool you can use to clean your tongue is a tongue scraper. This specifically designed tool is the most effective way to scrape away the bacteria. Follow these simple steps to effectively clean your tongue with a scraper.

  1. Buy a tongue scraper. It’s usually made of metal or plastic. Some tongue scrapers have a handle with a triangle scraper bit. Others are a V-shaped bent design.
  2. Stick out your tongue as much as you can.
  3. Position the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. Go as far as you can without triggering your gag reflex. 
  4. Next, push the scraper down on your tongue. Move it towards the front. 
  5. When you’ve pulled the scraper all the way, rinse it with water. Spit out excess saliva.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5. Clean your tongue as much as you need to get rid of harmful bacteria.
  7. Finally, clean the tongue scraper thoroughly after you’re done.

 

How to Clean Your Tongue With a Toothbrush

Even if you don’t have a tongue scraper, you should still clean your tongue. While your toothbrush isn’t as effective, it’s better than nothing. Here’s how to clean your tongue with a toothbrush to achieve the best results.

  1. A soft-bristle toothbrush is the best to clean your tongue.
  2. Stick out your tongue as much as you can.
  3. Position the toothbrush at the back of your tongue. Go as far as you can without triggering your gag reflex. 
  4. Brush gently forward and backward on your tongue.
  5. Spit out excess saliva and rinse your mouth with warm water.
  6. Finally, clean your toothbrush thoroughly after each use.

How to Clean Your Tongue With a Spoon

If all else fails, you can also clean your tongue with a spoon. A regular tablespoon can do the trick. Follow the same steps as you would with a tongue scraper. But, instead of the scraper, use the inside of the spoon to scrape the bacteria off your tongue. 

Can Mouthwash Clean Your Tongue?

Using mouthwash regularly can benefit your oral health. Mouthwash can clean your teeth and areas of your mouth you wouldn’t reach otherwise. Mouthwash can also give you a fresher breath. And some oral rinses even contain ingredients to fight bacteria. 

Still, it’s no substitute for a thorough tongue scraping. If you want all the health benefits of cleaning your tongue, using a tongue scraper is your best bet. 

When to See a Dentist

Making tongue scraping a regular part of your dental hygiene routine is beneficial in a lot of ways. Doing it regularly can prevent diseases and even tooth loss. But, if you notice any unusual changes to your tongue, you should definitely speak to a dentist.

If you develop white or pink patches on your tongue, or if it appears smooth and glossy, seek out a professional. Changes to your tongue can be a sign of a severe underlying health condition.

A lot of people avoid the dentist because of the cost. But, if you leave even minor oral health conditions untreated, they can quickly develop into severe illnesses. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between your oral health and your wallet if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

The Carefree Dental discount plan can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* off your bill per visit in most instances. 

Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

Read More »

How to Fix a Chipped Tooth

Although tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, your teeth arent’ indestructible. One wrong move can break a significant part of your tooth. This is what we call a chipped tooth. Here’s what you need to do if you have a chipped tooth to fix it quickly and painlessly.

Causes for Chipped Teeth

There are a lot of reasons why your teeth get chipped. The most common causes for a chipped tooth are:

  • Biting on something hard (like a pit, candy, or ice)
  • Playing contact sports without a mouthguard
  • Falls or car accidents
  • Grinding your teeth in your sleep

Is a Chipped Tooth Painful?

How painful your chipped tooth is depends on how badly it broke. If the chip is small, it doesn’t damage the nerves in your tooth. But, if the fracture separates the nerves in your tooth, it can be very painful.

What to Do If You Have a Chipped Tooth

If you accidentally chip your tooth, don’t panic. Keeping calm is crucial when you have a dental emergency. Seek out a dentist immediately. They can fix your chipped tooth easily.

If your chipped tooth hurts, you can take pain relief medication such as acetaminophen. Rinsing your mouth with salt water can also help ease the pain.

Sometimes, the chipped tooth’s remains can be dangerous. The sharp or jagged edge can cut your tongue or the inside of your mouth. To prevent any further pain, cover your chipped tooth with sugarless chewing gum or wax paraffin. This should keep you safe from your own chompers until you get to the dentist.

If you can, avoid eating after chipping your tooth. But if you need to eat, stick to soft foods that you don’t need to chew much. 

How Your Dentist Fixes Your Chipped Tooth

When you get to the dentist, they’ll evaluate the severity of your chipped tooth. Here’s what you can expect during your dental visit for a broken tooth. 

Dental Filling or Bonding

Smaller chips to the tooth are quicker to fix. This makes them a cheaper option too, not to mention much less painful. This is because you’re not dealing with nerve damage.

Your dentist can use dental fillings to make your tooth whole again. These fillings also remove any sharp edges. Don’t worry, if your fillings are exposed. Your dentist will use a tooth-colored resin. This kind of bonding fixes your tooth and restores your perfect smile.

Veneers

Veneers are a full layer of covering for your damaged tooth. First, your dentist will remove a small amount of the surface of the tooth. Then, they’ll create a mold to get the correct shape for the veneer. Finally, they’ll apply the veneer.

After that, your chipped tooth will be as good as new.

Dental Cap or Crown

If the damage to the tooth is severe, you’ll need a bit more work done. Your dentist may file your tooth until there’s enough space to add a dental cap or crown. These coverings are made from resin, ceramic, metal, or porcelain fused to metal.

Root Canal

Sometimes a chipped tooth fractures all the way to the pulp. It’s severe damage that requires root canal treatment. But, root canals aren’t as scary as they sound. 

During this procedure, your dentist removes the decayed pulp, cleans it out, and then seals the tooth with a crown. While it’s not painless, it’s still better than leaving a severely chipped tooth.

Which Tooth Is Most at Risk?

Any weakened tooth is at risk of chipping. But, statistically, the second lower molar chips the most. That’s because of the pressure you put on it when you chew. 

You’ll also need to be careful with any fillings you have. These aren’t as tough as real enamel. As a result, you may chip the filling again.

Risk Factors For Chipped Teeth

Some people’s teeth are more prone to chipping than others. How easily your teeth chip depends on your lifestyle and genetics. Understanding the risk factors can help you prevent chipping your tooth:

  • Lack of calcium: Calcium is the main component in strong and healthy teeth. If you don’t have enough, your teeth get softer and more susceptible to chips, cracks, and breaks.
  • Tooth decay: Cavities eat away at your enamel. It’s crucial to turn to a dentist if you have cavities.
  • Grinding your teeth: Tooth grinding or bruxism can wear down the enamel of your teeth over time.
  • Eating acidic foods: Fruit juices, coffee, and spicy foods break down your enamel quicker.
  • Acid reflux or heartburn: These digestive problems can bring stomach acid up to your mouth, which can weaken your teeth.
  • Age: Your teeth inevitably wear down over time. If you’re over 50, pay special attention to cracks and chips in your teeth.

Don’t Overpay Fixing Your Chipped Tooth

Even if you do everything to protect your teeth, accidents happen. When your tooth chips, don’t hesitate. Seek out a dentist immediately. Leaving a chipped tooth, especially if the damage is severe, can lead to complications. You could even lose your tooth entirely.

A lot of people hesitate going to the dentist because it isn’t cheap. Luckily, Carefree Dental can get you huge discounts on dental procedures at participating dentists.

Simply show your discount card to a participating dentist and you could potentially save 15% - 50%* per visit on dental procedures in most instances. Ready to keep more money in your wallet after the dentist? Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

 

You’ve heard about cavities. You know how dangerous they are. But still, you’re not quite sure how to recognize a cavity. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This guide will show you how to tell if you have a cavity, and what you can do about it.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is permanent damage to your tooth in the form of a hole. It’s also called tooth decay or caries. Cavities happen when the bacteria in your mouth eat away at your enamel. While cavities are irreversible,they’re easily treatable if you catch them in time.

What Types of Cavities Are There?

There are three main types of cavities: pit and fissure, smooth surface, and root cavities. They differ based on where your cavity is on the tooth. Knowing where cavities form can help make it easy for you to find them. Plus, you’ll know which areas of your teeth to give extra attention when cleaning.

Pit and Fissure Cavities 

These are the most common. This is when the cavity sits on the top of your tooth. Bacteria easily stick to the grooves and crevices of your back teeth. Luckily, these types of cavities are as easy to treat as it is to find them.

Smooth Surface Cavities

You can find smooth surface cavities on the side of your teeth. They’re less common because the bacteria can’t get a good hold there usually. Still, they do happen. 

Root cavities 

These Cavities are close to the root of your tooth. They mostly happen when gum disease eats away your gums, and your roots become exposed. Unfortunately, due to the lack of enamel, root cavities can quickly become severe. They’re painful and harder to treat.

How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

It’s not easy to tell if you have a cavity. You can’t really see the back of your teeth. Even with a mirror. But, you can always pay attention to how you feel. Your body will alarm you if there’s something wrong in your mouth.

The Symptoms of Cavities

These are the most common symptoms of cavities. If you notice any of these, it’s fair to assume that you have cavities.

  • Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
  • Pain when you bite down

If you sense any of these symptoms, you should see a dentist as soon as you can. They’ll be able to quickly identify the issue and see if you’ll need treatment.

What Causes Cavities?

The main cause of cavities is a buildup of bacteria. This often forms into plaque and tartar. But, ultimately, the cause of cavities is poor dental hygiene.

If you don’t brush your teeth and floss properly and regularly, the bacteria in your mouth flourishes. You need to take care of your dental hygiene to prevent cavities. 

Risk Factors of Cavities

You’re always at a risk of developing cavities. Especially if you don’t brush your teeth regularly. But, these risk factors give you a higher chance of cavities if you don’t pay attention.

  • Tooth location: You’re more likely to develop cavities in your back teeth. So, make sure to use extra care when you brush your molars and premolars.
  • Sugar: The bacteria that causes cavities loves sugar. Be careful how much sugar you eat, as it can easily lead to cavities. 
  • Food that sticks to your teeth: Apart from sugar, food that sticks in the crooks and crevices of your teeth brings the danger of cavities. Caramel, honey, chips. They’re delicious, but bad for your teeth.
  • Bedtime infant feeding: If you give your baby a bottle to fall asleep, you’re putting them at risk of developing cavities. The food gets stuck in their teeth overnight, and eats away at their teeth.
  • Lack of fluoride: There’s a reason most toothpaste contains fluoride. This chemical strengthens your enamel, and helps you fight against cavities naturally.
  • Dry mouth: After brushing, the best way to get rid of harmful bacteria is with your saliva. It naturally washes them away. But if you have a dry mouth, your body doesn’t produce enough saliva to help wash your teeth.
  • Heartburn: Acid reflux and heartburn make your stomach acid come to your mouth. This acid is very harmful to your enamel. Weaker enamel puts your cavities at greater risk.

The Dangers of Untreated Cavities

When you find a cavity, don’t ignore it. Untreated cavities can lead to far worse complications. When the cavity reaches nerve endings, it will be very painful. You won’t be able to eat. To make matters worse, you’ll feel the pain from the cavity constantly.

Cavities can also get infected. The infection can go beyond the tooth. It spread to the jaw and even up to your eye. If you leave your cavity untreated, you can lose a tooth. But, you can also develop potentially life-threatening conditions.

Save Money With Your Trip to the Dentist

Cavities can be a serious problem. Still, a lot of people hesitate to go to the dentist. That’s because dental procedures to fix cavities can be quite expensive. As a result, a lot of people risk their health to save their wallets.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between money and your well-being. With Carefree Dental you can unlock big savings on most dental procedures at participating dentists.

It’s simple. Just sign up and get your Carefree Dental Card. Book an appointment with a participating provider. And when you show up for your appointment, show your card. You can save between 15%-50% off your bill per visit, in most instances. 

Ready to save BIG on your dental bills? Sign up to Carefree Dental today!

 

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

Read More »