• Dental Hygiene Services for People with Braces: Special Considerations and Tips

    Good oral hygiene (brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day) is a must to keep both your mouth and your body healthy. When you have braces, the added brackets and wires add hiding places for plaque so you can’t only have good hygiene, you have to have great hygiene. Plaque is sticky because it is made up of food, saliva, and bacteria, so you need to brush after every meal. At night, you need to floss, rinse your mouth thoroughly, and then brush your teeth and braces until the metal shines.

    Dental Braces Hygiene by Donahue Dental

    Hygiene Issues Associated with Braces

    If you don’t make good oral hygiene a priority when you have your braces, there are hygiene issues that can arise. Some of these issues are:

    • Gingivitis: When plaque builds up around the gum line your gums might bleed, be swollen, and/ or puffy. These are all signs of gingivitis (gum disease) and it is the first stage of periodontal disease.
    • Periodontitis: The next stage in periodontal disease is when the infection and inflammation in your gums spread to the ligaments and bones that support your teeth. This causes your gums to start to pull away allowing for plaque to continue to build up in the gaps and pockets that are formed when your gums pull away from the bone.
    • Decalcification: These are permanent stains that form around your braces from decalcification. The only way to prevent these permanent stains is to brush routinely.

    Good Hygiene with Braces

    Now that you know what will happen if you don’t practice good hygiene, you might be more likely to follow these steps for good hygiene with your braces:

    • Rinsing: This is more than taking a quick swig of water to get the extra toothpaste out of your mouth. When you have braces, brushing will be easier if you rinse your mouth first because it will loosen the food that is trapped in between your braces. Rinsing also protects the enamel of your teeth and fights off gingivitis.
    • Brushing: You will still want to brush your teeth with a soft bristle or power toothbrush for two minutes every time you brush, but now you will want to brush every time after you eat. Brush all parts of your teeth, your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and add all parts of your braces. Remember to replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles wear down because of repeated contact with your braces.
    • Brushing Your Brackets and Braces: To brush your actual braces, an end-rounded bristle toothbrush works best to brush the brackets and wires. Brush them until they are shiny.
    • Flossing: When you floss, continue to floss in all the areas that you would normally floss, but getting to these areas may be more difficult. Wax floss also makes flossing easier because it slides easier between your teeth and through your braces so there is less chance of it becoming hung up on the braces. People have found that using an orthodontic flosser or floss threader has helped them to get under the wires to below the gum line when they are flossing with braces.
    • Rinse Again: When you have finished flossing, rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce biofilm and inflammation that can lead to gingivitis. There is an added plus of your mouth feeling and smelling fresh.
    • Other Tools: There are also interdental brushes that are made to get in between the wires and brackets of your braces as well. Your orthodontist and/or dentist may also suggest using a fluoride rinse and an interdental cleaner as part of your oral hygiene routine.

    Watch What You Eat

    As you’ve seen, it is harder to keep your teeth clean while you have your braces. One way to make the cleaning process easier is to be careful of what you eat so as not to damage your gums and/or tooth enamel. Here are some foods to stay away from while you have your braces:

    • Foods that are high in starch and sugar will lead to plaque buildup causing cavities, stains on your teeth, and/or gum disease,
    • Highly acidic foods will erode the enamel on your teeth,
    • Foods that are hard and crunchy can cause damage to the wires and brackets themselves,
    • Sticky foods can pull metal brackets out of place.

    Staying away from, or at least greatly limiting these foods will help you practice good hygiene while you have braces.

    Additional Tips for Braces

    There are several other activities that can help with keeping good oral hygiene while having your braces:

    • Don’t chew on your fingernails, plastic straws, or pens because they can bend the wires on your braces.
    • Cut your food with a fork and knife before biting into it.
    • Wear a mouth guard that is designed for athletes with braces.
    • Place dental wax on your braces where they rub against your mouth to prevent sores until you can get an appointment to see your orthodontist.

    Practicing good oral hygiene requires only a few extra steps while wearing your braces. These additional steps will be worth the effort when you get your braces taken off and your teeth are healthy. If you live in the St. Charles area and have any questions, please contact us online or call us at 636.487.5652

  • The Benefits of Professional Dental Cleanings and How Often You Should Schedule Them

    You brush twice a day. You’ve cut back on the sugary drinks and sticky candy. You even floss after you brush your teeth. Why do I need a professional to clean my teeth when I take care of them myself? We here at Donahue Dental want to share seven reasons why you should have a professional dental cleaning that we have learned about over our 33 years of serving people with their dental needs.

    Professional Dental Cleaning Services in St. Charles, MO

    How Often Should You Undergo Professional Dental Cleaning

    A professional dental cleaning consists of removing any dental plaque by scaling and planing your teeth. This is an essential process to your overall dental hygiene that should be done twice a year, or every six months. During your dental cleaning, it may be advised that you visit more regularly to have a professional clean your teeth until they are restored to health.

    Benefits of Professional Dental Cleaning

    If you are still wondering if you need a professional to clean your teeth when you do a perfectly fine job, here are seven reasons why you should have a professional clean your teeth:

    Removal of Tartar and Plaque

    The best home dental hygiene can’t remove all of the tartar and plaque from your teeth and gum line. A professional dental cleaning will remove tartar and plaque from above and below the gum line. They will also be able to remove all the bacteria and deposits that have settled in the gum pockets to prevent serious periodontal problems. The removal of tartar, plaque, and bacteria will help to prevent more serious dental conditions.

    It brightens your smile

    Your teeth become stained over time by the different food and drink that you consume. Even if you are careful not to consume food and drinks that will stain your teeth, they become discolored and need to be cleaned to remove these built-up stains. As part of the dental cleansing process, the dental professional will perfectly polish your teeth to provide you with your brightest smile yet. They may also recommend a prophylaxis treatment that can rid your teeth of these stains that have discolored your teeth.

    Bad Breath is Reduced

    Bad breath is more than “morning breath” or what your breath smells like after you have eaten something pungent. Bad breath is a medical condition called halitosis. One of the reasons your breath has an unpleasant odor is because of the bacteria, rotting food particles possibly below the gum line, and potentially gangrene that is a result of a gum infection. The frontline defense against bad breath is daily brushing and flossing, but a professional dental cleaning treats your entire mouth beyond what daily brushing brings which will leave your mouth healthier, fresher, and reduce infection in your mouth.

    Cavities are Prevented

    One of the reasons for tooth decay is plaque buildup on your teeth. Plaque eats away at the enamel of your teeth leaving them susceptible to cavities. Professional dental cleaning removes the plaque buildup on your teeth to keep the plaque from eating away the enamel of your teeth. A professional dental cleaning, added to your daily brushing and flossing, prevents cavities.

    Tooth Loss is Prevented

    Plaque not only eats away the enamel of your teeth, the plaque buildup also loosens your tooth and gum lines. As your tooth and gum line loosen your mouth becomes more susceptible to gum disease which is a leading cause of tooth loss. When a dental professional removes the plaque from your teeth, your tooth and gum line stay healthy and firm, preventing gum disease and tooth loss.

    Early Detection of Dental Problems

    Oral pain is usually intense and interrupts daily life. During your professional dental cleaning, the professional cleaning of your teeth will also check your teeth for tooth decay, cavities, fractured teeth, and lost or broken fillings. By discovering these problems early on, the hope is to fix the problems so they don’t become more serious, painful, and expensive over time.

    More than Your Oral Health is Boosted

    Your oral health is related to your overall health and there is a direct correlation between poor oral health and a diagnosis of diabetes and heart disease. During your professional dental cleaning, your dentist may also be able to diagnose other medical conditions during your exam.

    If you live in, or around, St. Charles and need a dentist or have questions about your oral health, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Donahue Dental. You can find us online or call us at 636.487.5652.

  • The Role of Diet in Maintaining Good Dental Hygiene

    Importance of Diet for Good Dental Hygiene

    When considering how to maintain good dental hygiene, you might picture brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. But what you eat, and drink also affects your oral health, possibly as much as your daily dental care habits. You can effectively enhance your smile by being more selective about your food choices and eating habits. Here are some pivotal diet-related ways to promote good oral health.
    Dental Hygiene Diet by Donahue Dental

    Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet

    While nothing you eat can replace the need for regular brushing and flossing, your diet plays a crucial role in maintaining dental health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products provides essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and D, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Plus, crunchy fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, act as natural tooth scrubbers, cleaning your teeth as you eat them.

    Drink More Water

    Staying well-hydrated is beneficial for your entire body, including your mouth. Water washes away food particles, keeps your mouth moist, and, in the case of fluoridated tap water, helps prevent tooth decay. Keep a water bottle with you and drink from it throughout the day.

    Avoid Sugar and Starch

    Your mouth is home to several hundred different kinds of bacteria, some of which are beneficial to your oral health. Others, however, can cause cavities and other dental problems. When you consume foods high in sugar and starch, unfriendly bacteria feast on the remnants, producing acids that erode tooth enamel. The key is to be mindful of added sugar and avoid starchy foods like bread and crackers that can get stuck in your teeth.

    Steer Clear of Sticky Foods

    Not only does the amount of sugar in your food matter, but also how long and how often your teeth are exposed to it. Foods that cling to your teeth, like gummy candy and dried fruit, provide a constant sugar supply for harmful bacteria, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

    Shun Staining Foods and Drinks

    Certain foods and beverages are notorious for discoloring teeth. These include coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries and beets. While you don’t need to avoid these foods completely, moderation and good oral hygiene help maintain the natural whiteness of your smile.

    Minimize Snacking

    Munching on food between meals might seem harmless, but it threatens your oral health. When you snack, your saliva doesn’t get a chance to neutralize the acidity in your mouth, which increases the time your teeth are exposed to harmful acids. Limiting snacking and focusing more on regular, wholesome meals allows your saliva to do its job.

    Wait 30 Minutes After Eating to Brush

    You might think that brushing immediately after eating is the best way to maintain clean teeth. However, brushing too soon can cause more harm than good because the bristles rub acids deeper into your enamel and dentin (the layer underneath the enamel). This is why it’s best to wait about 30 minutes after eating before you brush to give your saliva enough time to neutralize the acids and begin the remineralization process.

    Rinse Your Mouth or Chew Sugarless Gum After Meals

    If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, rinsing with water and chewing sugarless gum are good alternatives. Rinsing removes large food particles, while chewing gum stimulates saliva production to neutralize and wash away acids. Just make sure the gum is sugar-free to avoid feeding the bacteria in your mouth!

    Curb Your Sweet Tooth with Xylitol

    Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute in gum, mints, and candy. Unlike traditional sugars, xylitol doesn’t contribute to tooth decay. In fact, it improves oral health by reducing the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Chewing xylitol gum also promotes saliva production, which is vital for remineralization. Xylitol is most beneficial when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, good oral hygiene habits, and regular dentist visits.

    Skip the Alcohol

    While a cocktail or glass of wine now and then might seem like no big deal, drinking alcohol can decrease saliva production, causing dry mouth. Chronic dry mouth raises your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Opting for non-alcoholic beverages is important to maintain a healthy, hydrated mouth.

    Avoid Tobacco

    Smoking or chewing tobacco negatively impacts your health in countless ways. Regarding your teeth and gums, tobacco can cause bad breath, staining, gum disease, oral cancer, and tooth loss. If you use tobacco, consider seeking help to quit.

    Visit Donahue Dental

    A healthy diet is essential for good oral health, but regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings are equally important. At Donahue Dental, we understand the importance of comprehensive, personalized oral care. We combine our years of experience and cutting-edge technology to provide exceptional dental services in St. Charles and St. Peters, MO. For a dental experience that will leave you smiling, please call (636) 946-6117 and request an appointment today!

  • The Consequences of Neglecting Dental Hygiene and How to Avoid Them

    Importance of Dental Hygiene

    Good dental hygiene is the key to a captivating smile, strong teeth, and fresh breath. This involves caring for your teeth and gums through daily at-home care and routine dentist visits. If you want a bright, radiant smile and a healthy mouth, learn about the consequences of neglecting dental hygiene and how to avoid them.
    Dental Hygiene Habits by Donahue Dental

    What Are the Signs of Dental Neglect?

    When dental hygiene falls by the wayside, the consequences can be surprisingly widespread, impacting your mouth and body in various ways. Here are some common examples of how dental hygiene negligence affects your health:

    • Bad breath: While occasional bad breath may occur after eating certain foods, chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is an early sign of poor oral hygiene. Failing to remove trapped food particles from your mouth leads to unchecked bacteria growth, resulting in a foul odor that mints and mouth sprays can’t mask.
    • Cavities: Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are exposed to acid from bacteria feeding on dietary sugars in your mouth. This acid erodes the tooth enamel, creating small holes or cavities. Failing to seek dental treatment promptly may lead to further tooth damage, unsightly discoloration, and toothaches.
    • Receding gums and gum disease: Poor dental hygiene often leads to plaque buildup, causing gum inflammation or gingivitis. If ignored, the gums may begin to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that harbor more bacteria, leading to full-fledged gum disease.
    • Tooth loss: When cavities and gum disease go untreated, these problems can progress until they infect your teeth, jaw bone, and connective tissue. A root canal or other treatment may reverse the infection, but if the tooth is loose or severely infected, it may fall out or require extraction by a dentist.
    • Diabetes: The relationship between poor oral health and diabetes goes both ways. Gum disease can make it harder to control blood sugar levels, leading to worsened diabetes. Conversely, diabetes increases the risk of developing gum disease due to decreased immunity.
    • Kidney disease: The inflammation from chronic gum disease weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. This puts you at risk for kidney disease and other related conditions.
    • Heart disease: Many studies have found correlations between gum disease and heart disease. Although the exact reason isn’t clearly understood, research suggests that harmful bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in your heart’s blood vessels, leading to inflammation and raising the risk of clots that can trigger a heart attack.

    Best Habits for Proper Dental Care

    Learning the effects of poor dental hygiene may be disconcerting, but the good news is that you can keep these risks at bay with proper dental care. Here’s what a good oral hygiene routine entails:

    • Brush twice a day: Brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste removes food particles and plaque from your teeth, preventing decay. Make sure you brush for a full two minutes at least twice a day.
    • Floss daily: Flossing is easy to neglect, but it’s crucial for removing plaque and food particles from areas where your toothbrush can’t reach, like between the teeth and below the gum line. Floss at least once a day to help prevent gum disease and cavities.
    • Rinse with mouthwash: Mouthwash isn’t a substitute for brushing and flossing, but it can complement your routine. A good fluoride mouthwash freshens your breath and removes the biofilm—a thin layer of bacteria—from your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks.
    • Use the right equipment: Most dentists recommend using a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent gum damage and enamel erosion. Replace it every three to four months—sooner if the bristles become frayed. You may also want to upgrade to an electric toothbrush for superior brushing capabilities. Then, choose toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride, a mineral that prevents cavities by strengthening the enamel.
    • Chew sugarless gum after meals: While brushing after eating is ideal, it isn’t always practical. Chewing sugarless gum is the next best thing, increasing saliva flow to naturally wash away food particles and neutralize harmful acids.
    • Drink plenty of water: With no added sugars or colors, water is the best way to keep your mouth moist, wash away food particles, and neutralize acids produced by oral bacteria.
    • Visit the dentist regularly: Routine dental check-ups and teeth cleanings help you identify oral health issues when they’re most treatable. The recommended guideline is to visit the dentist twice a year—more frequently if you have a higher risk of oral diseases.

    Safeguarding your dental hygiene demonstrates a commitment to your overall well-being. At Donahue Dental, we share this commitment, offering personalized, comprehensive dental care to address each patient’s unique needs. With our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced dental professionals on staff, you can expect the very best care from us. Call our office today at (636) 946-6117 to request a dentist appointment in St. Charles or St. Peters, MO.