Brushing regularly and thoroughly is the most important way to keep your smile healthy. This removes bacteria-containing plaque from the teeth and gums. Within minutes of brushing, this sticky plaque begins to form again on the teeth. This is why people should brush AT LEAST twice daily (morning and bedtime). Brushing should take at least two minutes. Soft-bristled toothbrushes are best. Medium and hard bristles are too stiff and can contribute to receding gums, abrasion of the teeth and sensitivity. Brush ALL surfaces of the teeth, but focus on the gum-line area. Plaque forms first and heaviest there. Don't brush too hard! Gentle pressure is all you need. If your toothbrush bristles are flaring out you are brushing too hard. This also contributes to receding gums, abrasion, and sensitivity. 

Small circular motions or short vibratory strokes work best. Massaging the gums gently with your toothbrush bristles helps keep them healthy and plaque free. Poor brushing can lead to white spots of weakened enamel, primarily along the gum-line areas. These weakened areas in the teeth are prone to progress into cavities. Power toothbrushes help many people remove plaque more effectively. Fluoridated toothpaste is generally better because they help strengthen the teeth as well as freshen breath.

YES!  Flossing helps prevent tartar buildup and cavities between your teeth. It plays a major role in preventing and fighting periodontal disease. This helps your overall health as well as your mouth. A flossing tip is to keep the pressure against the TOOTH, not the gums! This is easier if you make the floss "hug" the tooth in a C-shape. This keeps the floss snug against the tooth, thus not hurting the gums. It also cleans more surface of the tooth. Flossing daily is best, but flossing some is better than none. Floss piks make it easier for many to floss their teeth. If you can't, or won't floss, use an alternative inter-dental cleaner such as a toothpick, inter-dental brush, or oral irrigation device.

Yes, a tongue scraper will help. A major source of bad breath can be the top back surface of the tongue. Bacteria thrive there and release smelly sulfur-containing vapors. Food (or drink) particles can also stick to the tongue, contributing to bad tastes and odors. Tongue scrapers are generally plastic and come in many forms. They remove more bacteria than just brushing your tongue.

These are simple to use; you just drag it from back to the front of the tongue. Don't press too hard, it should not be uncomfortable. Beware of your gag reflex! Don't go too far back, or you may gag yourself. Also, you have larger taste buds in a v-shape way back on the top of your tongue, so be careful not to scrape those!

Sensitivity comes in many types and for various reasons. Report sensitivity to your dental professionals. A few causes include wear on your teeth, a recession of the gums, cavities, or cracked teeth. Some people naturally seem to have more sensitive teeth. Sensitivity toothpaste containing an extra ingredient (potassium nitrate) to fight sensitivity can help but can take several weeks to show improvement. Sometimes prescription strength fluoride toothpaste, gels, or mouthwashes may also be prescribed to decrease sensitivity. Avoid whitening products when possible. Already sensitive teeth will generally be more sensitive to bleaching products. 

Ask your dental professional at North Arkansas Dental Group how to decrease your sensitivity during bleaching. Whitening toothpaste also can be more abrasive to the enamel and seem to increase sensitivity in some people.

Drinking water helps clean your teeth. It stimulates saliva production, and it helps fight and prevent bad breath.
The sugar and phosphoric acid, which are found in high amounts in soda, both attack the enamel, weakening it, and making you prone to cavities. The longer and more frequently teeth are exposed, the higher the risk of tooth decay. A habit of sipping on a single soda throughout the day is very detrimental to your teeth. It creates an increased exposure time to the above-mentioned acid and sugar causing more cavities.
Crunchy foods like apples and carrots help clean teeth. Starchy foods, like breads and crackers, stick to the teeth and break down into sugars, increasing risk of cavities. Be sure to rinse these foods down so they don't sit for long periods on your teeth.
Mouth guards can be for many different purposes. Athletes should protect their teeth from injury with a custom fit appliance. People who clench or grind their teeth often can prevent tooth damage by wearing an appliance. Appliances are sometimes made to help alleviate TMJ problems, oral habits like thumb sucking, and even snoring!

There are several options for you to lighten the color of your teeth. Over-the-counter products can lighten the teeth. They generally contain a weaker bleach concentration than what is available through your dental office, and take longest to work. Custom fit trays, made by your dental team, offer a better delivery system for the bleach than most OTC products. A stronger concentration of gel bleach is used in conjunction with the trays which can be worn for fifteen minutes to two hours or put in at bedtime and worn over night. 

Some dental offices offer in-office bleaching. This is the quickest way to whiten teeth. During this procedure a protective covering is placed over the gums, a stronger bleach is applied in 15 minute sessions, and a special light is often used to accelerate the bleaching process. Sensitivity can result, or worsen from bleaching but is generally limited to 1-2 days following. Only natural teeth will lighten with bleaching, porcelain and tooth colored fillings DO NOT CHANGE COLOR. Your dental professionals at North Arkansa Dental Group will be happy to sit down with you to discuss and decide which type is best for you and provide more tips to bleach safely and effectively.

Tooth colored fillings can improve the appearance of teeth by filling in cracks, chips, indentations, and replacing weakened, or discolored enamel. It can also help smooth out teeth and create a more attractive smile.
Veneers are a thin, custom-made protective covering that covers the front and sides of a front tooth. These look very natural, and a more natural tooth is saved than with a crown. They can fill in gaps, cover stains, and offer instant results for achieving that perfect smile. Veneers are a more long-term fix than bonding filling for improving teeth cosmetically.
When more tooth structure has been lost, a crown may be a better fix. A crown surrounds the whole tooth and more evenly distributes chewing forces than a large filling does. Large filling actually weaken teeth, and over time stress fractures form. Often a portion of the tooth will break off. A crown is often needed to rebuild the tooth. Large cavities also may require a crown if there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling. Crowns can be metal or custom shaded to match your teeth.
Dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth. During an outpatient surgery, titanium implants are placed into bone. The implants are generally covered and left for a few months to heal and let bone integrate them. Then the prosthetic device can be made and placed on the implant. Implants create many options, we can replace a single tooth, or teeth, or a few implants can be strategically placed to support a full denture. This gives denture wearers much more support and chewing ability and helps preserve supporting bone in the mouth from shrinking.
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