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Dr. Robert Pieters

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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

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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.

Dental Care 101

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

It’s easy to take our teeth for granted. Maybe you think if you simply brush daily and head to the dentist once or twice a year, your teeth will be fine. However, there are many other ways to improve your oral health.

Here’s a closer look at some of the best dental care tips you can follow that go beyond brushing and routine dentist visits to help improve your overall oral health.

1. Skip the Sugar

You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s important to avoid sugar as much as possible for better dental health. Sugary foods turn to acids in the mouth and can result in tooth decay.

2. Get Plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D

Since your teeth and gums are made of calcium, you need to make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet to keep them strong. Soybeans, cheeses and yogurts are great ways to get more calcium. Vitamin D is also important, since it helps your body absorb calcium.

3. Don’t Forget Vitamin C

When you think about oral health, you may not think of vitamin C, but a vitamin C deficiency can result in dental problems such as bleeding gums and loose teeth. Add some citrus to your diet or other foods high in vitamin C.

4. Add Foods to Your Diet That Promote Saliva Production

Saliva does a great job at battling the bacteria in your mouth, so it’s important to make sure your mouth is producing enough saliva. Eating certain foods — such as cranberries, lemons, cherries and limes — can promote saliva production. Drinking plenty of water can also help your mouth produce saliva.

5. Use Mouthwash After Meals

After eating, rinse your mouth with mouthwash. It not only kills germs, but it keeps the rest of the world from knowing if you had garlic or onions for dinner. If you don’t have mouthwash, rinsing with water can help in a pinch.

Brush twice a day, floss and try using some of these tips to improve your oral health. Don’t forget those routine dental visits for cleanings, checkups and other dental services, too.

Debunking Dental Myths To Protect Your Oral Health

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

Research shows a connection between your oral health and your overall health, so it’s essential to stay informed when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dental myths circulating that may be hurting your dental health.

Here’s a look at some of the most common dental myths and the truths you need to know.

Myth No. 1 — You Can Skip the Flossing

The idea that flossing isn’t important is a common myth. Unfortunately, many people skip this extra step after brushing their teeth. The problem? Your toothbrush can’t reach the entire surface of the tooth. You’re missing nearly one-third of the tooth’s surface if you don’t floss. Bacteria building up between teeth can result in tooth decay, tooth pain and gum disease. Flossing is an easy, cheap way to improve your oral health.

Myth No. 2 — Dental Visits Are Painful

You’ll be glad to hear that this is just a myth. Dentists today practice comfort-conscious care, ensuring that you’re kept comfortable during dental procedures. In the past few decades, significant advances in dentistry make it easy to keep visits mostly pain-free. Scared of the dentist? Sedation dentistry is an option that can ease your mind.

Myth No. 3 — My Teeth or Gums Will Hurt When There’s a Problem

Many dental issues don’t cause pain until they become very serious. Then, you’re left with invasive, expensive treatment options. The key to keeping your mouth healthy is to catch any dental problems early — before they cause pain. This means keeping up with those biannual dental visits.

Myth No. 4 — Diet Drinks and Fruit Juices Are OK for Teeth

If you’re skipping sugary sodas, that’s great. However, fruit juices and diet drinks — while they may seem like a healthier option — are bad for teeth, too. Fruit juices have natural sugars and acids that can break down tooth enamel, cause gum disease, and cause tooth decay. Diet drinks may not have sugar, but they have acids that can erode your tooth enamel.

Myth No. 5 — Oral Cancer Isn’t That Dangerous

Oral Cancer will kill roughly 1 person per hour. Thousands of people will be diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Early detection is key to increasing the survival rate for oral cancer. As with all cancers, oral cancer is on the rise, but with early detection more people are being treated successfully.

Myth No. 6 — Oral Cancer Only Occurs in Smokers

While smoking has the ability to increase the risk of oral cancer, new research has found a link between oral cancer and HPV. Just because you’re not a smoker doesn’t mean you can’t end up with oral cancer. Dentists have equipment to detect oral cancers early, which is another reason to stick with those regular dental visits.

Myth No. 7 — I Don’t Need My Silver Fillings Replaced

You probably aren’t aware that a large percentage of those silver fillings are mercury, and mercury can leach out of the filling over time. Mercury has been linked to chronic diseases, neurological issues and autoimmune diseases. Thus, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about replacing any silver fillings you may have.

Now that you know the truth behind some of the most common dental myths, it’s important to take preventive action to keep your oral health in great shape. If you live in Indiana, contact us today to schedule a dental appointment at our Schererville office.

Signs Of Tooth Decay

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

tooth-decayWhile it is never fun for your dentist to discover that you have a cavity, it is fairly common to face tooth decay at one time or another. Plaque buildup is the leading cause of tooth decay, which occurs when a thin layer of sticky, colorless bacteria forms on the teeth. Whenever we consume sugary foods and beverages, these bacteria produce harmful acids in our mouth, which then begin to weaken and destroy the tooth’s hard outer surface. When plaque isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can progress through all layers of a tooth’s structure until a cavity, or hole, finally appears.

Signs of decay

If you suspect that you have tooth decay, have it checked out by your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you identify decay, the less extensive the damage and treatment likely will be. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have tooth decay:

  • • Unusual tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks

  • • Persistent tooth pain

  • • Dark spots on teeth or discolored teeth

  • • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth

Cavity prevention is easy

The best defense against decay is excellent oral hygiene habits at home and routine visits to your dentist. By treating decay early, you can prevent more serious problems that require treatments such as fillings and even root canal therapy.

Simple ways to prevent tooth decay include the following: 

  • • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

  • • Floss daily to remove trapped food debris from between teeth and along the gum line.

  • • Rinse your mouth with water after eating.

  • • Visit your dentist twice a year for routine exams and professional cleanings.

  • • Stimulate saliva production between brushing by chewing gum, as saliva helps fight cavities by rinsing harmful materials from the mouth.

  • • Modify your diet to limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.

If you are suffering from the painful symptoms of tooth decay, call Schererville Family Dentistry today. We can provide the treatment you need to combat cavities, stop pain and save your tooth!

10 Quick Tips On Oral Hygiene

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teethIn order to maintain a healthy mouth and a sparkling smile, you must build lasting oral hygiene habits — most of which start at home. These 10 simple tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for many years to come

1. Brush teeth twice a day.

No matter how busy life gets, make sure you prioritize tooth brushing. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day to prevent decay and gum disease. Diligent brushing will also help keep your breath fresh and your teeth stain-free.

2. Don’t forget to floss daily.

Like brushing, flossing is very important to oral health as it cleans problem areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. At a minimum, floss once a day to remove food particles and plaque buildup that collect between teeth and along the gum line.

3. Focus on proper brushing techniques.

Effective tooth brushing requires a full two minutes each time. Holding your brush at a 45-degree angle, use a gentle back and forth motion to clean the tooth. Repeat for each tooth until you have cleaned all surfaces of your teeth.

4. Quit using tobacco as soon as possible.

Smoking and other tobacco products aren’t just bad for your general health, they can also wreak havoc on your mouth. Stop using tobacco products now to prevent many serious health problems including oral cancer and gum disease.

5. Remember to replace your toothbrush.

Toothbrush bristles wear over time, so make sure you replace your brush at least every three months. You should also toss your brush and purchase a new one following an illness to prevent recontamination.

6. Eat a balanced diet.

The foods you consume on a daily basis impact more than your body — they impact your mouth as well.  Green leafy vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals to keep your mouth healthy and free from disease.

7. Say no to sugary treats.

You should make an effort to reduce how much sugar you eat. Sugar-filled foods and drinks play a significant role in the development of tooth decay. Eliminating them from your diet is a great way to avoid cavities and other dental problems.

8. Use the right toothbrush.

As a general rule, the best toothbrush is one that fits comfortably in your mouth and easily reaches all of your teeth. Most professionals recommend a soft-bristled brush with a small head for effective brushing. Electric toothbrushes are also excellent alternatives to manual brushes, especially for a person with limited dexterity.

9. Rinse your mouth.

Used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, mouthwash can be an effective way to help strengthen enamel, prevent the development of plaque, and fight gum disease. If you can’t get to your mouthwash, swishing with water after eating can also help dislodge food particles until you can brush.

10. Visit your dentist regularly.

Last but certainly not least, visit your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings and exams to help detect and prevent future problems. Always report dental problems to your dentist as soon as possible to avoid more serious issues and treatments.

Allow us to help you take the next step toward better oral hygiene. For professional cleanings, exams and tips on keeping your mouth healthy, visit us at our Schereville office.  Call (219) 322-3232 today!

Why You Should Get Treatment For Your Cavity

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Most of us have faced a cavity or two at some point. These tiny holes on a tooth’s surface form when the tooth begins to decay. The hole can grow larger and deeper over time, a process of breaking down the tooth’s enamel. While cavities may seem inconvenient, it is critical that you have them filled by a dentist as soon as possible. Treating cavities early helps prevent long-term damage to the structure of teeth and is critical for maintaining good oral health.

Untreated cavities and health risks.

You may be tempted to delay treatment for a cavity, especially if you aren’t experiencing pain. Unfortunately, improved brushing won’t repair decay — and as your cavity gets larger, so does the risk for other health problems.

Increased sensitivity, pain and swelling are all symptoms of deep, untreated cavities. As the cavity grows deeper, the nerve of the tooth can get infected, and a root canal may be required to save the tooth. If damage to the nerve is too extensive, extracting the tooth may be your only option.

Cavity treatment is easy.

If you suspect that you have a cavity, the best thing you can do is get it filled by your dentist immediately. Treating a cavity as soon as it begins to form is a quick and virtually painless procedure thanks to modern dentistry, but can be far more complex if you ignore it.

Filling a cavity involves the following easy steps under the gentle care of your dentist.

  • The area surrounding the decayed tooth is numbed by the dentist using a numbing agent.
  • The dentist will gently remove the infected portion of the tooth.
  • Once the decay is removed, the dentist will fill the tooth with a special filling material, such as composite-resin or porcelain.
  • In just a few hours, the effects of the numbing agent will disappear, leaving you with a healthy, natural-looking tooth and restored oral health.

Prevention is key.

Ultimately, your best option is to prevent cavities before they develop. Since most cavities are caused by sugars and bacteria in the mouth, you can play a vital role in protecting your teeth and gums from harmful decay by taking better care of your teeth at home. Brush and floss regularly with fluoride toothpaste, and limit sugary foods and drinks that create plaque in the mouth. These simple at-home improvements combined with regular visits to your dentist will go a long way to prevent cavities from forming in the first place.

Don’t Wait — Contact Schererville Family Dentistry Today! 

Bottom line: The longer you put off treatment for your cavity, the more painful and complex it becomes. Contact Schererville Family Dentistry at the first sign of decay for quick and easy cavity fillings. Even better, avoid cavities altogether by practicing excellent oral hygiene and visiting our office for routine cleanings and exams.

Tips For Preventing And Reducing Tooth Stains

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When you look in the mirror and smile, don’t be alarmed if a set of stained, discolored teeth smiles back at you. Unfortunately, many of us will experience some degree of tooth discoloration over the years.

The good news is that discolored teeth are common and typically easy to correct. Your dentist can help you find the right whitening treatment to brighten your teeth by several shades. In the meantime, follow these simple steps for preventing and reducing unwanted tooth stains. 

What is causing your tooth stains?

Most types of stains are extrinsic, meaning they affect only the outer tooth enamel. Extrinsic stains can be removed fairly easily. Other types of discoloration may be intrinsic, which affects the inner structure of the tooth, also known as the dentin. Teeth with intrinsic discoloring are not as easily corrected.

There are many factors that can contribute to tooth stains, including:

  • Foods and drinks: Coffee, tea, soda, red wine, soy sauce, tomato sauce and berries are common offenders of tooth stains.
  • Poor dental hygiene: Stain-causing substances left on teeth due to inadequate brushing and flossing can eventually lead to tooth discoloration.
  • Natural aging process: Teeth may naturally yellow or change colors with age as enamel thins and wears.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking and chewing tobacco can make teeth appear yellowed and dingy over time.
  • Disease and medications: Certain diseases and medications can lead to discoloration of your teeth.
  • Trauma: Discoloration of a tooth may appear following an injury.

Can I prevent my teeth from staining?

Many surface stains on the teeth can be easily prevented with simple lifestyle changes. Brush and floss after every meal to reduce the build-up of stain-producing foods on the teeth. If you’re a coffee lover, wine enthusiast or smoker, consider cutting back or stopping altogether to reduce stains. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly for routine cleanings to remove tough stains from the surface of teeth.

What treatments are available to whiten my teeth?

When changes to your lifestyle and at-home remedies aren’t enough, your dentist can provide advanced whitening treatments for dramatic, long-lasting whitening results. One option, at-home whitening trays, allows patients to conveniently whiten their teeth from the comfort of their home. After being custom fitted for trays by the dentist, patients will wear the trays with a bleaching gel each day as prescribed. Over the course of several days, patients will notice whiter teeth and a brighter smile as stains disappear.

If you desire nearly instant results, you may benefit from professional, in-office teeth whitening. This safe and highly effective treatment involves applying a special whitening agent to the teeth. The whitening solution is activated by a light to accelerate the whitening process. In-office whitening is ideal for busy patients looking for immediate results and dramatically whiter teeth in as little as one visit to our office.

Professional cleanings help keep teeth white!

At Schererville Family Dentistry, we can help you maintain white, stain-free teeth through professional cleanings. Combined with at-home care, a regularly scheduled cleaning is one of the best ways to remove stain-causing substances from your teeth.

Cleanings are quick and comfortable at one of our two office locations — not to mention a critical part of maintaining good dental health for a lifetime. Call (219) 322-3232 today!

Bridging the Gap: Why Prompt Tooth Replacement Is Important for Adults With Missing Teeth

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When you think about losing a tooth, you may think back to wiggling a baby tooth in the hopes that it would fall out sooner and summon a gift from the tooth fairy. Childhood tooth loss is a crucial developmental step toward a healthy adult smile, but it’s not the only type of tooth loss that may occur.

Why Prompt Tooth Replacement Is Important for Adults With Missing Teeth

While dental advances have made adult tooth loss less likely now than it has ever been before, many adults must come to terms with a gap in their smile.

In this blog, we discuss the common causes of adult tooth loss, how adults may replace missing teeth, and why prompt replacement is crucial for good dental health.

What Are the Common Causes of Adult Tooth Loss?

Adult tooth loss can happen to anyone. However, tooth loss disproportionately affects individuals who are over 65 years old, who are smokers, who live under the poverty line, or who are black or Hispanic.

These demographics are not causes of tooth loss but rather contributors. For example, age and smoking can weaken teeth, and those living under the poverty line, a group often including minorities, may have fewer dental and medical resources to combat the damage.

In adults, tooth loss rarely consists of wiggling the offending tooth back and forth. Adults are more likely to lose their teeth in the following ways:

  • Dental extraction, which becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged or infected beyond repair and could harm the teeth around it, oral soft tissues, or the jaw
  • An impact injury, such as would occur due to an airbag deploying in a car accident and dislodging teeth that are compromised by poor dental care

As we discussed in our previous blog, “Get the Facts: Common Dental Myths That Could Harm Your Teeth,” adult tooth loss is not an inevitability, even for seniors. However, it is important to care for your teeth properly and avoid damaging habits to reduce your risk of tooth loss.

What Options Do Adults Have to Replace Missing Teeth?

In dental emergencies where a tooth is knocked out, a skilled dentist may be able to restore the natural tooth. In order for this procedure to be performed, the patient must see a dentist within an hour of the incident. The tooth must still have all tissue and the root attached and preferably should be untouched.

In most cases, however, simply returning the tooth to its socket is not an option. Instead, patients may be offered the following replacement solutions.

Dental Implants

Dental implants consist of a strong titanium screw and a cosmetic crown. To put in the implant, a dentist places the screw in the jaw bone and attaches the crown to the screw’s anchor.

Dental implants may work better when a patient has lost only one tooth and wants the most natural-looking and natural-feeling replacement.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures consist of one or more false teeth that either fit into the mouth like a dental retainer or are anchored to the teeth around them. In cases of extensive tooth loss, complete dentures would be used instead.

Dentures are usually used to replace multiple teeth but may be the preferred alternative if the patient does not have adequate gum health or jaw-bone strength to support implants.

The right replacement method for you depends on the extent of your tooth loss, your current oral health, your medical history, and your budget. Consult with your dentist to determine your best option.

Why Is Prompt Replacement So Important?

When a child loses a tooth, the new tooth usually begins to erupt soon afterward, filling the gap. When an adult loses a tooth, the gap must be filled with a false tooth as soon as possible. Lost teeth can change your appearance and the functionality of your mouth.

Adult tooth loss can cause the following issues:

  • Facial collapse—Loss of the front teeth changes the shape and muscle tone of the face. Individuals may exhibit sunken cheeks and a shorter facial profile.
  • Increased risk of future tooth loss—When an adult tooth is lost, the new opening exposes the enamel and roots of the teeth on either side of the gap. Many individuals with missing teeth that go unreplaced will experience future tooth loss.
  • Lower jaw-bone density—Bones stay strong through use. When a tooth is lost, that section of the jaw bone no longer receives stimulation, and the lack of stimulation can change the composition of the bone.
  • Misalignment—Without a false tooth to fill in the gap in your smile, your teeth may shift due to your altered bite alignment.
  • Reduced chewing capability—Dental experts estimate that each lost tooth reduces a patient’s chewing ability by 10 percent.
  • Unclear speech—Depending on which teeth you are missing, the gaps in your smile may also create impediments to your speech.

If you have gaps in your smile, consult with your dentist. Choosing a high-quality tooth replacement can get your dental health back on track and restore your bright, confident grin.

5 Steps to Improve Your Personal Oral Hygiene Routine

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Whether you just had a dental cavity filled or just wish you flossed more consistently, you may realize that you aren’t satisfied with your oral hygiene routine. This realization can come at any age and shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment but rather a call to action.

5 Steps to Improve Your Personal Oral Hygiene Routine

To improve your oral hygiene overall, you’ll need to take small steps that build lasting good habits. Start with these five steps toward a more effective oral hygiene routine.

  1. Consult With Your Dentist

The first step in an effort toward better oral health should always be a trip to the dentist. During your next regular dental cleaning and exam, ask if you can address some of your concerns with your dentist.

Your dentist can make oral hygiene recommendations based on the current health and strength of your teeth, as well as the condition of your oral soft tissues. This consultation can prove vital during the next step of determining where your oral hygiene routine habits are weakest because you’ll already have a professional’s insight.

  1. Determine Your Weak Points

Lasting changes start with small, manageable changes rather than complete overhauls. Give yourself some time to sit down and honestly determine which of your oral hygiene habits are the weakest.

Do you sometimes forget to brush your teeth on the way out the door? Do you skip flossing more often than you do it? Does your sugary diet undermine all the hard work you do when brushing and flossing? Once you’ve determined where your routine is weakest, make a plan to address that area specifically.

For example, to address the specific hypothetical problems we brought up, you could put two minutes for brushing your teeth on your daily calendar page. To improve flossing, make a goal to floss once more a week than you currently do and increase the number of sessions each week. Start reducing the amount of harmful foods you consume one at a time.

  1. Make the Whole Day Part of Your Routine

While it’s obviously essential to put in the time to brush and floss thoroughly, you can also begin other habits to keep your teeth healthier overall. To make your average day better for your teeth, your habit changes could include:

  • Avoiding food and beverages other than water before you go to bed
  • Chewing sugar free gum after you eat to reduce the amount of food particles that stick to your teeth
  • Drinking more water to encourage natural saliva production and wash away food particles

Altering your diet to include more tooth-friendly foods can also ensure that your daily activities support a healthy smile. Start with the recommendations in our previous blog, “4 Cavity-Free Cooking Tips.”

  1. Replace Your Toothbrush and Other Tools

For many individuals, their best efforts toward better oral hygiene are undermined by poor-quality tools. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, as well as after a viral or bacterial illness. If you haven’t replaced your toothbrush in a while, start fresh.

Choosing equipment that works for you personally can improve the quality of your oral hygiene dramatically. Use your dentist’s recommendations to decide on your brush bristle hardness. You may even want to consider using an electronic toothbrush.

Similarly, if you struggle using traditional floss, handheld “flossers” may be more comfortable for you. If you have particularly sensitive gums, you may even decide to try water flossing. Finding the right combination of at-home dental tools for your comfort and specific health needs ensures that your oral hygiene sessions are as effective as possible.

During your dental consultation, your dentist may also recommend adding a mouthwash or a fluoridated product to your routine to supplement your usual brushing and flossing.

  1. Time Your Brushing Sessions

One of the most common problems with inadequate oral hygiene routines in adults is that the individuals just don’t spend enough time brushing. Use a stopwatch to time one of your usual brushing sessions. If you come in at less than two minutes, start improving your oral hygiene by setting aside more time.

Set a timer when you brush to ensure that you don’t skimp or skip potentially neglected oral surfaces like the insides of your teeth, your tongue, and your gums. If you have trouble maintaining focus, pick a song that’s approximately two minutes and make it your new oral hygiene jam.

As you designate a small amount of time each morning and each evening for your teeth, you train yourself to include this full routine in your everyday schedule. It may take some time to build up the habit, but being consistent can ensure that you automatically prioritize your oral health for many days, weeks, and years to come.


Use these steps and the recommendations of your dentist to feel confident that you’re doing everything necessary to achieve your best smile.

Schererville Family Dentistry

1050 Caroline Ave
Schererville, IN 46375
Call or text us: 219.322.3232