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Is Chewing Gum Bad For Your Teeth?

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Is Chewing Gum Bad For Your Teeth?

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

Is chewing gum good for you? There are several factors to consider if you’ve wondered whether you were helping or hurting your oral health by indulging in that sweet burst of flavor. The good news is gum-chewing can provide positive health benefits depending on the type of sweetener used, when you chew it and how much you chew.

Sugared Gum or Sugar-Free Gum?

There is a positive link between chewing gum and dental health, as long as the gum you chew does not have sugar. As a general rule, sugar is not good for your teeth because it can cause cavities and tooth decay. Bacteria uses sugar to produce acids that can weaken tooth enamel. Regular gums not only contain sugar, but also preservatives and artificial flavoring that also can contribute to tooth decay.

There are benefits of chewing gum if it doesn’t have sugar. Sugar-free gum can improve oral hygiene and health by neutralizing acid produced in the mouth during the breakdown of food. This helps prevent tooth decay. Sugar-free gum also can inhibit the development of plaque and aid digestion. Another alternative to sugared gum is one sweetened with xylitol, a sugar alcohol. Xylitol gum benefits include possible prevention of tooth decay by reducing bad bacteria in the mouth. 

Other Health Benefits of Chewing Gum

 Aside from boosting oral health, chewing gum can: 

  • Increase focus — Chewing gum can improving alertness by increasing blood flow to the brain.
  • Boost memory — By increasing focus and improving alertness, gum-chewing may help your brain better retain information.
  • Improve digestion — The increased saliva that results when you chew gum promotes more swallowing, which may aid digestion.
  • Reduce stress — The rhythmic motion of chewing gum can reduce stress because it releases nervous energy.
  • Weight management — Chewing gum also can help you manage your weight because the physical act of chewing helps suppress food cravings. This can prevent overeating or eating out of boredom. 

If you are unsure which kinds of gum will promote good oral health, look for sugar-free gums that have been recommended by the American Dental Association for their recognized benefits. Keep an eye out for the ADA’s Seal of Approval on gum packaging when choosing which one to buy.

Adverse Effects of Gum Chewing to Keep in Mind 

Overall, chewing gum can offer many positive health benefits. However, too much gum-chewing can lead to problems. Excessive chewing can cause jaw pain and headaches. Chewing too much sugar-free gum can cause digestive distress, as xylitol and other sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect. 

While chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial, it should not replace regular dental hygiene or daily brushing and flossing. If you have further questions about chewing gum and dental health, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our dental health professionals.

How To Choose The Right Toothpaste

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

When was the last time you thought about how to choose toothpaste? Whether you’re loyal to the brand you grew up with, choose whatever is on sale or simply grab the brand that’s handy, you may not be aware of the different types of toothpaste or what factors to consider when choosing one.

If you already look for an ADA-approved toothpaste, keep in mind that the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance program is voluntary. The ADA seal indicates that a toothpaste meets certain guidelines, but its absence doesn’t necessarily mean the toothpaste falls short. What else to look for in a toothpaste? Here are some questions to help you find the right one for you:

  • Does it contain fluoride? The answer is probably yes, depending on the toothpaste you choose. For example, every toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance contains fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that is found in drinking water and many foods. It can help strengthen the enamel of your teeth, which makes them more resistant to decay. According to the Oral Health Foundation, it also can reduce the amount of acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth, further lessening your chance of developing cavities. If you have questions about high-fluoride toothpaste side effects, talk to your dentist.
  • How abrasive is it? Although dental enamel — the surface of your teeth — is strong, the dentin underneath it can be damaged by abrasion. Toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance have a lower “Relative Dentin Abrasivity” rating and shouldn’t hurt your teeth.
  • Do I want a toothpaste that provides whitening or desensitizing? There are plenty of toothpastes that purport to whiten your teeth, but these can increase tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, look for a toothpaste designed to help reduce it, and make sure to bring up the issue at your next dental appointment.
  • What does the toothpaste contain? While rare, some people can have allergic reactions to the essential oils (such as cinnamon, peppermint or spearmint) that may be contained in toothpaste. To avoid toothpaste side effects, read the label carefully if you know you’re sensitive to certain ingredients. If you start using a new toothpaste and notice that your mouth is irritated, stop using it and talk to your dentist about it. You may be surprised to learn that toothpastes, especially those made for kids, can contain sugar, so check labels before you buy. 
  • Do I want a natural toothpaste? Consider whether you want a “natural” toothpaste — one that is free from chemicals and additives. These toothpastes use natural ingredients such as baking soda, salt, coconut oil and even clay to clean and polish your teeth. If you have reasons for wanting to choose a natural toothpaste, ask your dentist for recommendations.

With the variety of toothpastes available, you’ll want to choose one that best fits your needs. And don’t forget to talk to your dentist about any questions or concerns you have about your teeth and dental health. We are here and happy to help you!

Is Mouthwash Bad For You?

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

Brushing and flossing are probably part of your regular dental routine. You may also take a swig of mouthwash as the final step to feeling minty fresh. What you may not know is that mouthwash can have damaging effects on your teeth, gums and overall oral health. Mouthwash side effects can range from dry mouth to an increased risk of mouth cancer depending on the active ingredients in the formula.

The Difference Between Cosmetic and Therapeutic Mouthwash

The effects of mouthwash differ depending on which type of mouthwash you use. Cosmetic mouthwash serves as a temporary fix to bad breath. This type of mouthwash acts the same way as popping a breath mint or piece of chewing gum, because it doesn’t have the same active ingredients as therapeutic mouthwash. Therapeutic mouthwash, in contrast, contains ingredients such as chloride, fluoride and peroxide that actively fight plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis and bad breath. While cosmetic mouthwashes are obtained over the counter, some therapeutic mouthwashes must be prescribed by your doctor. These include formulations containing chlorhexidine, a compound used to treat gingivitis.

The Problems With Mouthwash

As a conventional product you may use every day, you’re probably wondering “why is mouthwash bad for you?” In fact, there are numerous ways mouthwash can be harmful to your oral health: 

  • It can cause more cavities by killing good bacteria that support the natural remineralization of your teeth, which is critical to the process of reversing tooth decay.
  • It can dry out your mouth because its high alcohol content disrupts the natural production of saliva.
  • It can irritate canker sores with its high alcohol content and create mouth ulcers by burning a hole in the tissue of your cheek’s protective layer.
  • It can mask deeper oral hygiene issues by temporarily treating bad breath.

While the alcohol in mouthwash causes a burning sensation that convinces you it’s working its magic, it doesn’t reach harmful bacteria residing beneath the gum line. Other harmful ingredients can be found in mouthwash, including:

  • Chlorine dioxide, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “hazardous gas”
  • Chlorhexidine, a major allergen
  • Parabens, which disrupt hormone function
  • Formaldehyde, a harmful preservative that can cause respiratory irritation

These ingredients, which are associated with allergic reactions and elevated cancer risk, are most harmful when mouthwash is consumed in larger quantities.

What Can I Use as an Alternative to Mouthwash?

Ditching mouthwash altogether is the best way to avoid its oral health risks. But if you still want to use it, choosing formulations that don’t include harmful ingredients is a good place to start. Try organic or alcohol-free mouthwash as a milder alternative to traditional mouthwash. They may not seem as effective since they aren’t as intense, but these mouthwashes will eliminate more bad bacteria than good bacteria. You also can concoct a DIY mouthwash using aloe vera juice, water, baking soda and peppermint essential oil.

Using mouthwash can make you feel fresh and clean for the moment, but it should never take the place of brushing or other routine oral care. If you are wondering whether you practice correct dental hygiene, contact our office for more information or to schedule a dental cleaning.

5 Tips For Keeping Your Smile Bright This Year

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

A bright smile exudes confidence, improves your appearance and makes a great first impression. However, teeth can stain and discolor over time for a number of reasons, including the natural aging process, eating habits and poor lifestyle choices. At Schererville Family Dentistry, we want you to enjoy a bright smile all year long. To help, we’ve compiled five easy tips to help you maintain white, healthy teeth throughout the year.

1. Avoid foods that stain

Certain foods and drinks are more likely to stain your teeth than others. These include red wine, brown soda, soy sauce, berries, curry sauce and black tea. Limiting foods and beverages with dark pigments can go a long way toward protecting your teeth from stains and discoloration over time. Likewise, eating a piece of crunchy fruit or raw vegetables at the end of a meal or as a snack can help remove buildup from the surface of teeth.

2. Put an end to smoking

There are many health benefits that ensue when you quit smoking, including improvements in oral health. Since teeth are naturally porous, the nicotine and tar present in tobacco penetrate them and cause yellowing and discoloration of the enamel. Talk to your doctor for advice on how to stop smoking — your teeth and body will thank you.

3. Exercise good oral hygiene

Twice-daily tooth brushing is an important way to keep teeth healthy and remove any surface stains. To maximize your brushing power, use a dentist-recommended whitening toothpaste to help minimize stains over time. Flossing daily also helps remove staining food particles and plaque from between teeth and along the gum line.

4. Rinse after meals

Brushing after you eat is the best choice, but it isn’t always possible. When you can’t get to your toothbrush, opt for water instead. Swishing it in your mouth is an effective way to dislodge bacteria and rinse away residue from the teeth.

5. Talk to your dentist about professional whitening

If you want to keep your teeth looking and feeling great, visiting your dentist is one of the best ways to do so. Routine dental cleanings help remove harmful tartar and surface stains from your teeth that regular brushing can’t reach.

Schererville Family Dentistry also offers professional whitening, including in-office whitening and take-home trays. In-office whitening treatments are a great option for patients who desire immediate results. We use a safe, professional-grade whitening agent to brighten teeth by several shades in a single office visit. Patients notice significant results by the end of the treatment.

We also offer take-home whitening trays that allow patients to brighten their teeth from the comfort of home. We custom-fit the trays to your teeth and provide a powerful whitening solution to deliver noticeably whiter teeth over the course of several days.

It’s not uncommon for teeth to become dull and discolored over time. The good news is you can reduce stains by adopting healthy habits and committing to good oral hygiene. If you have questions about how to minimize stains or if you would like to learn more about professional whitening, contact our office. We are happy to help!

The Reasons So Many Kids Get Cavities

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

For some parents, keeping their children cavity-free is a real struggle. In fact, it may seem like every time they visit the dentist, their child has a new cavity. Can you relate?

As it turns out, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases affecting children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even more common than asthma and allergies. The good news is that tooth decay in kids is also very preventable with the right approach to at-home care and regular visits to the dentist.

Common Causes of Childhood Decay

Cavities, or dental caries, are damaged areas of a child’s hard tooth surface that develop into tiny openings or holes. They are caused by plaque — the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that attacks the tooth enamel and gums using the sugars from foods, drinks and saliva in your child’s mouth. Because bacteria are naturally present in the mouth, a child can get a cavity as soon as his or her first tooth appears.

Why are children so susceptible to decay? Researchers believe that a combination of factors can increase the risk for cavities in kids, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits: If children are not properly brushing their teeth twice a day, sugars and plaque left on the teeth will continue to attack the enamel and can quickly lead to decay.
  • Unhealthy diet: Sugar is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to childhood tooth decay. Consuming too much juice, candies and other treats over time can wreak havoc on kids’ teeth.
  • Sharing foods: The same bacteria that cause cavities can be transferred within families. That means when parents and siblings share drinks and foods, cavity-causing germs in the mouth can spread from one person to another and increase the risk for decay.
  • Insufficient fluoride: Fluoride is an important mineral that helps protect teeth against decay. A child who doesn’t get enough fluoride in his or her diet is more susceptible to cavities.
  • Delayed visits to the dentist: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their child to the dentist when his or her first tooth erupts or no later than his or her first birthday. When parents postpone their child’s appointments to the dentist, emerging dental problems may go unnoticed, leading to more serious, painful oral health issues down the road.

Preventing Cavities

Uncontrollable factors such as genetics and inadequate saliva flow can increase a child’s risk for tooth decay. In many cases, however, the risk for cavities can be significantly reduced with a combination of diligent oral hygiene, regular visits to a dentist, and a well-balanced diet.

  • Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth, even before his or her first tooth appears. Use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding. Once the first tooth appears, you can begin using a small, wet toothbrush.
  • Never put your infant or child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice, as this increases the amount of time that teeth are exposed to decay-causing sugars.
  • Establish routine, healthy oral hygiene habits at home. Assist very young children with brushing every morning and night. Older children can brush on their own, but may need supervision to ensure they are cleaning properly. Brush together to model proper technique, and make brushing fun by playing a game or music.
  • Promote healthy, nutritious eating habits at home and on the go. This includes a diet that is rich in raw vegetables, fresh fruits, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Limit your child’s sugar intake — including soda, juice and candy — especially those that are sticky in nature. Starchy foods, such as pretzels and cereal also promote decay and should be eaten in moderation.
  • Encourage kids to eat and drink in one sitting instead of grazing on food throughout the day. Constant snacking continuously exposes teeth to damaging acids. Prompt brushing after meals and rinsing with water in between meals can help reduce decay.
  • Use fluoride as an effective way to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce decay. Adequate fluoride from your water source and dentist-recommended fluoride toothpaste can even reverse signs of early tooth decay in kids.
  • Scheduling routine dental visits for your child is one of the best ways to combat childhood decay and promote a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Starting appointments at an early age help create a positive attitude about the dentist while educating parents about how to best care for tiny teeth.

Tooth decay can cause chronic pain, lead to tooth loss, and interfere with a child’s eating and sleeping habits. The good news, however, is that childhood cavities are preventable.

It’s not too late to introduce good oral health habits into your family’s daily preventive care routine! In the meantime, for those who live in northwest Indiana, schedule your child’s next appointment with our office. At Schererville Family Dentistry, we are committed to providing your child with quality, personalized pediatric dental care in a fun, nurturing environment.

All About Flossing

Written by NWDentist on . Posted in Uncategorized

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a critical part of keeping your mouth healthy. What many people do not realize, however, is that brushing alone does not remove all of the food and bacteria that get trapped in the nooks and crannies of your mouth. This is where flossing comes into play.

Proper flossing loosens plaque and tartar in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, such as the back teeth and along the gum line. If you’re new to flossing or haven’t reached for the floss in quite some time, then you may need to brush up on your flossing skills. With a little practice and some tips from our office, you will find that flossing becomes easier and your mouth becomes healthier over time.

Proper Technique Is Key

If you want to reap the full benefits of flossing, proper technique is essential. Start by breaking off approximately 18 inches of floss. Wrap each end around both middle fingers, and leave a few inches of floss in the center.

Next, use your index fingers to gently guide the floss between your teeth in a zigzag motion, making sure you reach as far along the gum line as possible. Avoid forcing the floss or using harsh sawing motions, as this can injure your gums and cause bleeding. Move on to the next tooth and repeat the process, using a clean section of the floss to avoid transferring bacteria. Don’t forget to floss the back teeth, as they are also susceptible to decay and gum disease.

In some cases, traditional floss may not be the best option for cleaning between your teeth and along your gum line. If you wear braces or have dental restorations, your dentist can recommend alternatives, such as interdental brushes, floss picks and water flossers. If dexterity is a concern, there are specialized products available to make flossing easier, such as floss holders and pre-threaded flossers.

Benefits of Flossing

Flossing regularly has significant benefits for your oral health. These include:

  • Flossing prevents bad breath.
    When debris and bacteria become trapped in your teeth, it can produce an unpleasant odor. By flossing regularly, you will dislodge old food from your teeth to keep your mouth smelling and feeling fresh.
  • Flossing reduces the risk for gum disease.
    Dental floss is one of the best defenses against gum disease, as it removes bacteria-laden plaque before it has the chance to spread deep below the gum line. Without flossing, plaque will continue to attack the gums, causing severe inflammation, redness and pain — and eventually leading to bone deterioration and tooth loss.
  • Flossing lessens the risk for cavities.
    When food and bacteria fester between your teeth for long periods, your enamel becomes susceptible to decay. Floss can remove excess plaque buildup between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach, reducing your risk for cavities.
  • Flossing keeps your teeth bright.
    Finally, flossing can play an important role in keeping your teeth looking great by minimizing discoloration between the teeth. Flossing removes stain-causing food and bacteria before it has a chance to penetrate the enamel.

Proper flossing combined with twice-daily brushing are the foundation for good oral health, fresh breath and a beautiful smile. If you have questions about flossing, want to learn more about preventive care, or need to schedule your next visit to our office, contact Schererville Family Dentistry today at 219.322.3232.

Schererville Family Dentistry

1050 Caroline Ave
Schererville, IN 46375
Call or Text Us: 219.322.3232