You know brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing are staples of good oral hygiene, but is brushing your tongue really necessary? In short, yes.
Why is my tongue important?
Though the tongue often plays second fiddle to your pearly whites, it’s actually a critical body part. Without a tongue we wouldn’t be able to speak, chew, taste, or swallow food.
Your tongue is an organ made up of a group of muscles that each have a specific job. There is a small muscle at the tip of the tongue that moves quickly, using the surface of the teeth to create certain sounds, such as pronouncing the letter ‘L’.
This muscle also moves food from the front of the mouth to the back, where it mixes with saliva and breaks down into digestible pieces. Other muscles in the tongue allow it to change shape and move in different directions. Additionally, muscles at
the back of the tongue make it possible for us to articulate hard sounds of speech, such as the letters ‘K’ and ‘G’. These rear muscles also move food into the esophagus in small, controlled amounts to prevent choking.
The muscles that make up your tongue are covered with moist, pink tissue known as mucosa and tiny bumps called papillae, which are covered in thousands of taste buds and give the tongue its rough texture.
What happens if I don’t brush my tongue regularly?
Just as bacteria can build up on your teeth and create plaque, it can also accumulate between taste buds and other crevices on your tongue. Along with dead skin cells and food debris, bacteria become trapped on the tongue and need to be physically
removed with brushing or scraping. If not cared for properly, your tongue essentially becomes a sponge spreading bad bacteria throughout the mouth, which can cause a number of health issues including:
- Bad Breath – The most common side effect of bacteria buildup on the tongue is halitosis. The odor-causing bacteria tends to congregate at the back of the muscle, so be sure to get your brush back there!
- Duller Tastebuds – The biofilm that builds up and coats your tongue can also cover your taste buds, leaving your sense of taste dulled.
- Black, Hairy Tongue – While it sounds like a horror movie, this is a real condition that occurs when the papillae become stained from leftover food and drink particles. These remnants give the tongue a dark, furry appearance.
- Oral Thrush – This occurs when bacteria levels in your mouth go beyond the normal range and naturally occurring yeast grow out of control.
- Periodontal Disease – Because bacteria buildup on your tongue can spread to your teeth and gums, it increases the likelihood of gingivitis (red, inflamed gums). If left untreated, the inflammation can advance to periodontal disease,
which occurs when the gums pull away from the teeth and the space in between becomes infected. Not only can this lead to loss of teeth, chronic inflammation caused by periodontal disease is linked to more severe health issues, such as a
higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and miscarriage.
How do I keep my tongue healthy?
A healthy tongue should be pink in color with papillae (tiny bumps) covering the surface. The best way to ensure your tongue stays healthy is to brush it every time you brush your teeth. Be sure to brush front to back and side to side, as bacteria
hide in hard-to-reach places. Just be careful not to over brush, as that can cause irritation. Some patients prefer to use a tongue scraper and, though not necessary, inexpensive scrapers are generally available where toothpaste and dental floss
are sold. Remember – a healthy tongue color isn’t a guarantee of good dental health, so don’t forget to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings.
What if I still have questions?
That’s what we’re here for! If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact our practice.
Plaque, like many oral health concerns, begins as a silent menace. You may recognize this colorless, sticky film as the fuzzy coating you feel when you first wake up.
For many people, a colorless film on the teeth may be the only sign. However, in some cases, more noticeable symptoms, such as receding gums or bad breath, occur.
What is plaque and what causes it?
Plaque forms in your mouth throughout the day as you eat and drink and every night as you sleep when foods that contain carbohydrates (i.e., sugars and starches) are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth feed on these foods and produce acids.\
Plaque is known as a “biofilm” because it is actually a community of living microbes surrounded by a gluey polymer layer. The sticky coating helps the microbes attach to surfaces in the mouth, so they can grow into thriving micro-colonies.
How do I treat plaque?
Proactive dental care is the best way to manage plaque. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, limiting sugary foods and drinks, and seeing your dentist twice a year to have plaque thoroughly removed. If brushing with a regular, soft-bristle brush isn’t enough, you may want to consider using an electric toothbrush and/or adding a toothpaste that contains baking soda. Additionally, mouth rinses that contain small amounts of menthol, thyme, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils, have been shown to help reduce plaque and gingivitis.
What happens if plaque isn’t removed?
If plaque is not removed regularly when it’s soft, it can combine with minerals from your saliva to create crystals that harden into tartar. Tartar, which generally has a yellow or brown color, builds up along the gumline on the front and back of your teeth. If left untreated, tartar can lead to a number of complications including cavities and gum disease.
It’s important to note that plaque that has hardened into tartar cannot be removed with regular brushing and must be scrapped away by a dental professional. Our dentists and oral hygienists can remove this during your regular dental checkup and cleaning.
Contact our office today to schedule your next checkup!
For those individuals that have lost their teeth or have been suffering from missing teeth, it is important to understand how critical it is to address the issue. The reality is that nobody would like to live their life with missing teeth. In addition to it looking very awkward, it also affects your self-confidence because it hinders you from being able to smile openly. Other than aesthetics, there are several other reasons why you should seriously consider replacing your lost teeth.
Reasons people lose teeth and at what time
Why do people lose their teeth? One of the most common reasons is age. As an individual becomes older, the strength of the teeth (known as enamel), along with the ability of the jawbone to maintain the current condition of your teeth diminishes. As a result, the teeth become more fragile and are lost over time.
Some of the other common causes of teeth loss include decay, disease, or the simple failure to take care of your teeth in a proper manner. In some cases, diseases such as periodontal disease result in a person losing one or more teeth over the course of time.
People also struggle with losing their teeth because of sports injuries, accidents, and trauma that has been sustained to the mouth. As we all know, there is no age limit to slipping and falling, being involved in an accident, or experiencing physical contact to the mouth.
Importance of replacing lost teeth
Regardless of their stage in life, it is imperative for those individuals who have lost teeth to have them replaced as soon as possible because the teeth play a very important role in many of the critical life functions. Teeth also play an important role for influence and communication with the digestive system. Many people forget that teeth are the first step in the digestive process.
There is absolutely no doubt that the teeth are necessary for one to be able to tear, chew, grind, and bite food in your mouth. If you lose your teeth, then it prevents the ability of your mouth to conduct all these actions in an effective manner. As a result, is also reduces your ability to live life to the fullest. With a lack of teeth, it often becomes quite difficult to consume nutritional foods on a regular basis and a constant worry with what types of food to eat.
Even though it might be slightly hard to believe, your teeth play an important role in your ability to communicate and speak in an effective manner. Teeth are used by people to enunciate properly, offset certain words, and form certain patterns of speech. So individuals who have lost one or more teeth often find it quite difficult to talk properly. As a result, it might also seem very frustrating at times.
Best options for teeth replacement
If you are missing any teeth, it is in your best interest to look at the options available to you. This is something which you should do at your earliest convenience. The longer you wait to get your teeth replaced, the more severe problems become and you have to deal with the consequences.
Amongst all the tooth replacement options available out there, most find dental implants to be the best option. This is because dental implants require both the crown and the tooth root to be replaced. Since the replacement tooth is embedded in the bone, it helps prevent the further loss of bones. Simply put, an implant is an artificial tooth inserted in the bone.
In terms of its drawbacks, the only significant downside with dental implants is the healing time. From the time the procedure is completed, the healing process can take anywhere up to three months. However, since you are obtaining permanent teeth, the implants should last the rest of your life. Considering the replacement teeth are natural and functional, you don’t have to worry about anything. Dental implants do not need to be adjusted or replaced, so patients can enjoy the benefits without concerns.
A second popular option to replace lost teeth are bridges. These are replacement teeth held in place by attaching to your neighboring healthy teeth. While bridges are composed of different materials, the most preferred option is the more natural looking ceramic bridges.
Thanks to bridges, your remaining teeth are prevented from shifting into the gap. Bridges also help prevent the loss of bones. Even though they typically last many years, bridges eventually need to be replaced. Most individuals find them slightly less desirable than implants, since they require the structure to be taken away from the nearby teeth.
If you are suffering from missing teeth, Rangewood Dental can provide you with some great tooth replacement options. We encourage you to contact our Colorado Springs dental office today to schedule a consultation and we can discuss the best options for you!
Did you know that this year in the United States alone, the number of adults expected to be wearing dentures is a whopping 37.9 million? That’s about 4.3 million more people than just 30 years ago!
So, you’re not alone if you think you may be headed down that path. Even people that take great care of their teeth sometimes end up requiring dentures, simply due to the many years of wear and tear.
To help you recognize if you may need dentures – now or in the near future – we’ve provided the top five warning signs that you may require dentures.
Note, if you’re currently experiencing warning signs #1, #2 or #3, it may not be too late to save your teeth, assuming you visit a dental provider in a timely manner. However, if you’re experiencing warning signs #4 or #5, it may be too late. Regardless, we’d strongly urge you to schedule a consultation with your dentist right away, as there is still some opportunity available for preserving your valuable teeth.
Warning Sign #1: Severe Toothaches
The first and most prominent denture warning sign is a painful toothache that won’t go away. This type of nagging toothache could indicate that tooth decay is occurring and has already made its way to your nerve. At this stage, a routine root canal could save the tooth. However, if the decay is too excessive, you’ll need a dental implant or partial denture. So, it is important to promptly visit your dentist if you are experiencing any tooth discomfort. It may be the difference between saving your original teeth or requiring dentures.
Warning Sign #2: Inflammation and Bleeding of the Gums
A fundamental rule of thumb for preserving optimal oral health – When you feel sensitivity or have bleeding gums, make an appointment with your dentist right away! It’s always better to detect and address the issue in its early stages. If left untreated, that inflammation can progress from the beginning stages of gingivitis to severe periodontal disease. Once you experience periodontal disease, bone loss around your teeth begins to occur. Unfortunately, this ultimately leads to the loss of teeth and the need for dentures.
Warning Sign #3: You’re Having Trouble Eating Hard or Chewy Foods
If you experience severe pain when eating hard or chewy foods, it may indicate a cracked tooth, cavities, or gum disease. It’s always important to promptly address these matters with your dentist and they can take any needed action to preserve your teeth. Your dentist will often recommend root canal treatment, then placing a crown on the tooth to prevent further decay. In addition to eliminating the cause of your pain, you’ll often get to maintain your original teeth and preserve strong bone density.
Warning Sign #4: Loose or Shifting Teeth
Once your teeth start to shift or become loose, it typically means bone loss around the teeth has already started. If this is occurring, your dentist will need to examine your teeth as soon as possible to determine if they can be saved or if they will need to be extracted. Once a tooth is removed, there is no good option for keeping it. It is also important to note that this bone loss can cause a myriad of other issues, including the reshaping of the jawbone.
Warning Sign #5: Tooth Loss
While a loose tooth should certainly motivate you to visit your dentist ASAP, a tooth that has fallen out should prompt even more immediate action. Unfortunately, due to the misconception that tooth loss is not a significant issue as long as you can still chew properly, recent statistics show that nearly 19% of adults aged 65 and over were edentulous (had complete tooth loss). It is important to understand that besides further bone loss occurring in the jawbone, the fewer teeth you have doing all the work, the higher the chance of losing more teeth. The remaining teeth often take on too much-added pressure, causing them to fall out as well.
While our dental team believes in taking all the necessary actions to preserve your original teeth, it’s sometimes too late and dentures are required. If you are currently experiencing any of the above warning signs, we advise you to contact us today to make an appointment. Whether taking preventative actions or providing you with denture treatment options, we’re here for you every step of the way.
Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth?
When we ask our patients this question, the typical response is…”No, but is it really that complicated?”
Yet, most people are astounded to find that part of the reason for their oral discomfort is often due to incorrectly brushing their teeth.
Teeth are one of the most valuable “assets” that you have, and you’re only given one permanent set of teeth in your lifetime. So, why are so many people not taught the correct way to brush from an early age? While this still surprises our dental office each day, we’re here to teach you the four essential techniques that you and your family need to develop starting today.
Four Essential Teeth Brushing Techniques
Only Use a Soft-Bristled Brush
Unfortunately, not all toothbrushes are up to par with the advised standards. So simply selecting one toothbrush based on color or design is not the best approach. You’ll want to find one that has soft bristles and will be gentle on your teeth and gums. To determine which brushes are up to standards, you’ll need to look for the official American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval.
It is also important to note that the American Dental Association recommends replacing your family’s toothbrushes every three to four months and even more often if the bristles are noticeably frayed or matted.
Use a 45 Degree Angle
When learning to brush our teeth at a young age, few people are told anything about using the proper toothbrush angle. Your toothbrush should be aimed at 45 degrees inside your mouth as you brush your teeth. The reason for this specific angle is so that the toothbrush can more effectively clean your gum line. If your gums aren’t properly cleaned each day, it can lead to gum infections or diseases.
Short Circular Strokes
We see it all the time, especially in kids, but brushing left to right along your teeth is not a good idea. In fact, this technique can even cause damage. When cleaning teeth, you need to have a mindset where you’re massaging and not scrubbing your teeth.
Instead, start from the gum line and brush in little circular motions, up and down the teeth. It is important to brush gently but thoroughly.
Take Your Time
We’ve all heard it multiple times. In fact, nearly every time you go to the dentist you will be reminded to spend 2 minutes, two times a day, brushing your teeth. Nevertheless, many people become quickly bored or distracted and fall substantially short of this mark.
Here are some fun ways to encourage you and your kids to spend the necessary time brushing your teeth:
- Play your favorite pop song.
- Use an actual timer or download an app on your smartphone.
- For kids, use an app like the Disney Magic Timer by Oral-B. This app uses your child’s favorite characters and sticker books to make brushing time fun!
Understanding the correct way to clean our teeth is a valuable step in achieving optimal oral health. It is important to keep in mind that this measure is only part of a complete dental care routine. You also need to:
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Limit sugary beverages and snacks.
- See your dentist regularly for the prevention and treatment of oral disease.
Contact Our Office
Our dental team enjoys encouraging and assisting our patients to maintain healthy, beautiful smiles. If you have any questions on how to brush your teeth properly, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!