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Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

October 11th, 2017

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing after a meal can be incredibly bad for your teeth if you do it after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each of your teeth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than your bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures your mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization. That’s what happens when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

Our mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what we eat throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your teeth to be more susceptible. If you brush your teeth when they have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to your enamel. Your toothbrush’s bristles will actually wear away some of your enamel. So it’s healthier to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after you eat include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude your meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once you’ve allowed time for your mouth to be restored to a healthy pH level, you may brush your teeth as you normally would. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on your teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Most important, don’t forget to wait to brush at least one hour after you eat!

Still have questions? Call our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ralph.

Eat Well, Feel Good, Smile Better

October 4th, 2017

Did you know that the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and gum disease? Not so coincidentally, they are also the easiest to prevent. As much as we would like for the brushing and flossing to do all the work for us, in reality, we really are what we eat — and a healthy diet is just as important for dental health as it is for the rest of the body.

Eating well boosts your immune system, and makes you less susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. When you maintain a balanced diet, you provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to succeed. So what does a healthy, balanced diet entail? It’s really quite simple. Here are some tips:

  1. Focus on lean meats, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  2. Limit your intake of sugary drinks like energy drinks and soda.
  3. Keep your sweet tooth in check.
  4. Beware of acidic meals and snacks that are high in salt and sodium.
  5. Drink lots of water.

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all,” magic diet that will automatically improve your oral health, but following the five guidelines above as best you can is a great way to start. Food and drinks that are high in sugar or acidity weaken your enamel, stain your teeth, and make you more likely to develop a cavity or gum disease.

At Dr. Scott Ralph Orthodontist, we like to encourage our patients to drink a lot of water during the day. Doing so not only keeps you hydrated, but also helps rinse out the sugar and acid from various things you’ve consumed during the day.

If you think your diet might be affecting your smile, come pay Dr. Ralph a visit or give our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA office a call! We’re always happy to answer your questions.

Protecting Your Smile with Mouthguards

September 27th, 2017

If you participate in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that you might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change. Potential injuries when you don’t wear a mouthguard include chipped and broken teeth, fractured jaws, root damage, damage to crowns and bridgework, concussions, and/or injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums.

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for you in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to make sure you find one that fits properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for you by Dr. Ralph. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if you need a mouthguard or which kind is right for you? Ask Dr. Ralph or one of our staff members for more information.

Which mouthwash should you use?

September 20th, 2017

Although using mouthwash is certainly not the equal of brushing and flossing, it does have benefits for your dental hygiene. If you use mouthwash regularly, you should find out which type is best suited for your needs. Here are some things to think about the next time you’re at the store.

The first item to weigh is why you want to use mouthwash. If the reason involves a high risk for cavities, you should focus on a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Make sure to double-check the label, because some mouthwashes do not necessarily include fluoride.

If you’re looking for a mouthwash to fight gingivitis, select an oral rinse with antibacterial properties. Make sure to read labels and avoid picking one that contains alcohol. Antibacterial mouthwash would also be best for a patient who has periodontal disease.

Another option is prescription mouthwash. These should be discussed with Dr. Ralph and/or your pharmacist in order to avoid negative side effects. Pay close attention to the directions regarding how much to use and for how long. Keep in mind that some brands may lose their effectiveness if you use them on an ongoing basis.

For children, you can find a mouthwash that changes the color of plaque on their teeth. This is a fun way to help them understand how well they are brushing, and what areas they need to focus on. It can even be a tool for adults who have trouble reaching certain areas of their mouth.

While mouthwash is generally considered as a safe means to improve your oral health, you need to keep certain things in mind. Avoid using any mouthwash that has alcohol in it. If you are using a strong one, it can reduce your sense of taste over time. Be wary of a mouthwash that claims it can loosen plaque; this is not accurate and can mislead consumers.

We hope these simple suggestions will help you the next time you’re at the store. Make sure you pick the right mouthwash to keep that healthy smile! Feel free to contact Dr. Ralph at our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA with any questions you may have.