Celebrate ADHA Oral Hygiene Month

Even though our oral hygiene is important every day of the year, the month of October has been designated Dental Hygiene Month by the American Association of Dental Hygienists, or ADHA. Each October since 2009, the ADHA and its members have celebrated all things oral hygiene and dental hygienist, usually with a different theme each year.

This October, Dental Hygiene Month is once again celebrating hygienists and all they do for our teeth – and reminding us of the healthy steps we can take to ensure we have the best dental hygiene possible. Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, shares these steps with us.

“First and foremost, the No. 1 tip from the ADHA and any dentist is to brush your teeth regularly,” says Lesko. “This means brushing your teeth not once but twice per day, for at least two minutes each time.”

According to Lesko, nearly half of all people around the world only brush their teeth once a day, and that’s not nearly enough to prevent dental caries (also known as cavities) from forming.

The next tip? Flossing.

“Flossing may not seem that important unless you have something stuck between your teeth, but it should be a part of your regular dental hygiene routine,” Lesko says.

Lesko and the ADHA recommend flossing at least once a day, preferably at the end of the day so plaque and food particles don’t stay stuck between your teeth overnight.

“Flossing removes about 30 percent of the plaque and food particles that brushing can’t get to,” says Lesko.

Finally, the ADHA recommends you rinse with mouthwash after brushing and flossing.

“Mouthwash will remove and rinse away any bits of plaque and food that you missed brushing and flossing,” Lesko says. “And it makes your breath fresh, too.”

Though there has been some debate about whether mouthwash should be used prior to brushing to loosen plaque and debris or after brushing and flossing, Lesko says rinsing with water first should suffice.

“Save the mouthwash for when you’re done so you get the full effect and benefits of the mouthwash.”

For those who have tried mouthwash in the past and aren’t a fan of the taste or feeling, Lesko says the mouthwashes of years past have evolved. There are now alcohol-free varieties and different flavors that may be tolerated easier than the old minty standbys.

Oh, and one last tip: Be sure to thank your dental hygienist this Dental Hygiene Month!


Tips for Treating Sensitive Teeth

If you have sensitive teeth, it can really take the joy out of your daily life. From passing up your favorite foods like hot coffee and ice cream to experiencing discomfort during hot or cold weather, sensitive teeth affect more than just your mouth. This condition can really affect your mood too. But thankfully you don’t have to simply accept the discomfort and inconvenience of sensitive teeth. Here are some lifestyle changes you can make that may go a long way toward lessening the pain of sensitive teeth, so you can get back to enjoying the foods and activities you love without the sensitivity!

Change How You Brush

Yes, there is a wrong way and a right way to brush your teeth. If you are brushing your teeth too hard, brushing your gums, or brushing back and forth, you could be harming the gums and causing gum recession. Gum recession in turn can cause – you guessed it – sensitive teeth. If this sounds like how you’re brushing, try this instead: Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and brush in small circular motions. If you need a demo, ask Dr. Lesko and her team at your next appointment.

Change What You Brush With

Sometimes we may be brushing the right way, but with the wrong brush. This is an easy fix. Stick with a medium to soft-bristled brush and follow the brushing guidelines above. Save those hard-bristled brushes for your tile grout!

Change Your Toothpaste

If you are experiencing sensitivity but not using a sensitive toothpaste, it may be time to switch. Sensitive toothpaste is made with an ingredient called potassium nitrate, which is used to fill in the tiny pores in the teeth called tubules. These tubules lead to the nerves, so when they’re blocked, you can actually prevent hot and cold foods and air from reaching those nerves. It’s kind of like how the insulation in your walls blocks the outside weather from getting inside your home.

Change Your Diet

While you shouldn’t have to change your diet to accommodate tooth sensitivity, there are certain foods that forgoing may make it easier to live life pain free. Foods that are high in acid such as citrus and soda or foods that are high in sugar may make sensitivity worse, so eliminating these where you can from your diet may enable you to enjoy other foods again.

Ready to make an appointment to talk about your tooth sensitivity? Call Dr. Lesko’s office today at 970-812-0355.


Selfies and Oral Health

You hear about them all the time in the news – people getting in trouble for taking them, people getting hurt while taking them, even people taking lessons on how to take them. They’re those photos we snap of ourselves with our smartphones known as “selfies.” But while some people are quick to decry the selfie culture that we as a country have adopted, selfies, for all their controversy, can still do some good in the world.

A recent study conducted with researchers in India and at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that tooth-brushing behaviors changed when participants took selfies while brushing their teeth.

“First the participants were re-trained on how to brush their teeth properly by the researchers in the study,” says Fort Collins, Colorado, dentist Dr. Allison Lesko, “and then they were sent home with instructions to record themselves via video or selfie brushing their teeth.”

The participating university students submitted two weeks’ worth of brushing selfies to the researchers in the project for analysis, and what the researchers found was nothing short of fascinating.

“They found slight modifications in the photos and techniques captured in the selfies,” says Lesko.

So what do researchers think motivated these changes?

“The researchers believe the participants modified their techniques because they knew someone was watching, but also because they were actually trying to improve their brushing technique to the new way they were taught to brush in the study,” she says.

According to Lesko, that’s good news.

“It showed the researchers that these participants wanted to make positive changes, and that the snapping of the selfies was kind of a motivator to stick with that – because they knew in a sense that someone was watching them while they brushed,” Lesko says.

Lesko says that while the study was small, there are still some very important takeaways. For example, the idea that photographing yourself could help positively reinforce a new behavior such as a better way to brush your teeth. Another benefit?

“You can bring those selfies to the dentist with you and have your own dentist evaluate your brushing technique,” she says. “If you’re doing something wrong or inefficient, we can give you pointers or lessons and you can conduct your own home study like the one that Case Western conducted and see if taking selfies while you brush changes anything about your own brushing technique.”


7 Effective Teeth-Whitening Tips

You may think that having sparkling white teeth is only restricted to celebs, but you can achieve it too by using several effective teeth-whitening techniques. We’ve scoured the web for things that really work, and here are our most effective tips to help you get that beautiful smile you deserve.

1. Get an In-office Treatment

You’re probably not surprised this comes in as No. 1. Professional teeth whitening is the fastest and safest way to get the results you’re looking for.

 2. At-home Kits and Strips

Some over-the-counter bleaching products such as whitening strips can also be effective since the ingredients in these products are similar to those used in professional teeth-whitening procedures, albeit at lower concentrations. At-home treatments take more time to show results and in the long run may cost you more money since it takes several weeks of using these kit’ to see results. And the results you do get most likely won’t be even close to the results you would see with a professional treatment.

3. Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening pastes don’t work like strong bleaching products, but they can help with those stains that are very close to the teeth’s surface. Watch out for tooth sensitivity, though, and be sure to talk to Dr. Lesko about which whitening toothpastes are best for you.

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common causes of yellowing for many people, and it poses a risk to your teeth-whitening goals. Once tobacco penetrates the enamel, it becomes impossible to remove the stain by just brushing alone.

5. Eat Right

Food and drinks such as coffee, red wines and red juice can easily discolor your teeth, so you have to try your best to avoid them.

Foods like celery, apple, carrots and other crunchy products will stimulate saliva production, thereby reducing the amount of debris on your teeth. You’ll also want to rinse out your mouth with a glass of water after every meal.

6. Floss Once, Brush Twice

Flossing rids your mouth of the bacteria accumulation between the teeth; once a day is all you need. Brushing, on the other hand, removes stains and plaque from the teeth’s surface and should be done twice a day.

7. Visit Your Dentist

Dental cleanings and examinations can also be of great advantage. Your dentist will use professional tools that will effectively remove many of the stains you already have on your teeth and help prevent a buildup of plaque that could lead to future discoloration.

To find out more about teeth whitening or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 970-812-0355.


Banish Bad Breath for Good

Bad breath is like the metaphorical “toilet paper on the shoe.” Everyone else knows it’s there, but most of them don’t know how to tell you, so it remains until you notice it yourself. Unfortunately, in the case of bad breath, that can be almost impossible if you aren’t checking for it. Whether you’re insecure about your breath or just want to safeguard yourself just in case, here are some time-honored tips for making sure your breath is fresh as a daisy.

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