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Oral Health Tips: Travel Edition

January 11th, 2019

When you leave on a trip, you probably double-check that evrything’s ready: your clothes are packed, your ticket is handy, and your passport waits patiently on top of your bag or in a special pocket.

The same level of preparedness should apply with regard to caring for your oral health when you’re about to leave home for a while. Whether you’re jumping in the car for a weekend camping trip or flying halfway across the globe for a longer stint, the tips below will help you keep your teeth healthy whil you’re away.

Prepare Ahead of Time

The key to maintaining good oral hygiene during travel is preparation. Schedule a regular dental appointment so your teeth are freshly cleaned and ready before you leave. This can identify potential issues that might cause problems while you’re away.

If you have any items on a dental “to-do” list, such as wisdom tooth removal, replacement of a filling, or orthodontic adjustment, it’s a good idea to get those procedures completed before your trip.

En Route

If you’re stuck on a long flight or trekking far into the woods, you might find yourself where there’s no sink or even a toothbrush at hand. We speak for everyone when we say that nothing is worse than a mouth that feels, shall we say, less than fresh.

A lemon wedge or Granny Smith apple slice can help freshen up your breath when you’re in need of a quick fix. Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water can help to wash away bacteria that causes cavities and reduce that gritty sensation. If you’ve got toothpaste, put a dot on your finger or a damp washcloth to serve as a makeshift toothbrush.

Nowadays, travel-sized dental products are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies. You can find travel toothbrushes, mini mouthwashes, and pocket-sized floss to slip into your travel bag.

Colgate makes disposable mini-toothbrushes called Wisps that can help you freshen up when you may not have access to a regular toothbrush. Packing a few extra dental supplies may also be a good idea in case one gets damaged or lost.

At Your Destination

Traveling abroad can expose you to unfamiliar conditions. Some countries have compromised water sources that will make you extremely ill if ingested, even from the tiny amount of water with which you wet your toothbrush.

Minimize that risk and keep bottles of water on hand instead for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush. If your toothbrush comes in contact with contaminated water, swapping it out for a new one is the safest option.

Storing your toothbrush properly is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing on it. Place your brush in a Ziploc bag when you’re on the go and allow it to breathe once you get to a temporary destination.

Traveling near or far should be an enjoyable experience. Dental issues shouldn’t be a source of worry on your vacation. As long as you’re prepared and take precautions, your teeth can stay healthy even when they’re out of the country!

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our McLean, VA office.

Tooth Protection and Winter Sports

January 4th, 2019

Just because it’s cold out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up keeping fit and active! Winter is the season for some of our favorite team sporting activities, and when you’re donning your protective gear, don’t forget to protect your teeth as well.

  • Basketball

This sport actually tallies one of the highest counts of dental injuries. Running, jumping, and diving for the ball on an unforgiving court can lead to tooth and jaw injuries.  And for every ten men on the floor, it seems like there at least 50 flailing elbows in the paint.

  • Hockey

Notorious for the toll it takes on teeth, hockey is a game of sticks, ice, and whizzing pucks. And when your sport’s penalties include the terms hooking, slashing, and tripping, the more protection, the better.

  • Skiing

When you are flying down the slopes, combining powdery snow and speed, mouth protection is a good idea. This also applies to snowboarding and other snow sports.

  • Wrestling

Grappling and pinning in close quarters can lead to unintended injuries after accidental contact with the mat or your opponent.

Different uniforms, different equipment, and different playing fields, but all these sports have one thing in common—the easiest way to protect your teeth while playing them is with a mouth guard.

Mouthguards generally come in three forms:

  • Over the counter, ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but might not be a comfortable fit as they are pre-formed sizes.
  • The “boil-and-bite” option is a mouthguard form placed in hot water. You then bite down to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards can be fabricated just for you through our McLean, VA office. These appliances are designed to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, you definitely need a custom mouthguard to prevent an injury to your mouth or braces caused by an ill-fitting appliance.

Whether you play on a team or pursue individual athletic activities, keeping safe as you keep fit is your first priority. We would be happy to discuss your mouthguard options for any sport, any time of year.

Smile, the New Year is Almost Here!

December 28th, 2018

We’ve been celebrating the new year for a really, really long time. It goes way back, but it started formally in 1582, when Pope George XIII made January 1st the official holiday for ushering in the new year. The idea was to yell, cheer, and blow horns to scare away all the evil spirits of the previous year with the hope that the new one would be filled with happiness and opportunity.

While scaring away evil spirits isn’t what’s on our mind these days, we still ring in the New Year by cheering and hollering with friends and family. It’s a time to set new goals, refocus on old ones, and look forward to all the surprises the coming year will bring.

Whether you’re saying hello to the New Year snuggled up at home on your couch in the McLean, VA area or by gathering your friends for a social celebration, here are some tips to help ensure you welcome this new chapter with a smile.

Tips for a great New Year’s Eve celebration from Deirdre Maull DMD MS Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

  • Stay safe. This one’s vital, because nothing puts a damper on your party like an emergency trip to the hospital. Stay responsible and try to plan ahead, whether that means taking a taxi, staying with a friend, or recruiting a designated driver. Do what you have to do to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
  • Spend time with the people you love most. The way we see it, the whole point of the holiday season is to cherish your family and friends. Regardless of what you’re doing, make sure there’s something for everyone. It’s essential to do something the whole group will enjoy!
  • Smile! Whether you get all dressed to go out or have a quiet gathering with family and friends, make sure you accessorize with a smile. There’s always something to smile about!

We can all agree that change can be scary sometimes, but ringing in the New Year is an observance we all welcome with open arms. We hope you’ll enjoy this transitional holiday in a fun, healthy, and safe way. You have endless possibilities ahead of you!

From Dr Deirdre Maull, have a fantastic New Year!

Foods that Can Harm Enamel

December 21st, 2018

Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, it results in tooth decay. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.

Foods that harm enamel

Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.

Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.

What can I do to prevent enamel damage?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.

Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come! Give us a call at Deirdre Maull DMD MS Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics to learn more!