Monday, August 14, 2017

Why You Should Brush Your Tongue

Why You Should Brush Your Tongue

You know brushing and flossing your teeth is important for your oral hygiene. You are supposed to brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Not many people know though that they should also be brushing their tongue. If you want to fight bad breath and truly optimize your dental health, you should be giving your tongue a good brushing each time you brush your teeth.

If you struggle with having bad breath despite brushing your teeth regularly and with the correct technique, the problem may very well be your tongue. Your tongue is a major contributor to halitosis.

What You Need To Know About Your Tongue

Although the tongue is a major feature of our mouths and integral part of our lives, it often goes overlooked. Most people do not give their tongue a second thought unless they burn it on hot food or accidentally bite it. Your tongue is a pretty elaborate group of muscles, and it is also a very nice home for a lot of different types of bacteria. If you look at your tongue, you will know that different foods and drinks cause it to change color. What is changing color on your tongue is the biofilm.

Bacteria On Your Tongue

Your tongue may not be at risk for getting cavities like your teeth, but it is a still a ripe target for bacteria - the same bacteria that causes cavities, plaque, and gingivitis. Your tongue is a great target for these bacteria to rest and then move on to your teeth. It accumulates in the spaces between your taste buds especially.

Your tongue is moist and textured, making it a great home for bacteria, which hides in the crevasses unless you make an effort to remove it. The best way to remove it is by brushing it with your toothbrush. You have likely noticed this buildup on your tongue, which is a biofilm. This biofilm can contribute to bad breath and tooth damage, even if you brush your teeth properly.

Rinsing Your Tongue

The buildup on your tongue being a biofilm makes rinsing your mouth out an ineffective way to remove the bacteria. Drinking water does not remove the bulk of the bacteria, and neither does mouthwash. A biofilm is a group of living microorganisms, which all stick together and also stick to your tongue.

Rinsing your mouth out only serves to remove a small portion of the bacteria or just the outermost cells of the biofilm. The lower cells in the spaces between your taste buds will remain, and new bacteria will grab onto these cells to reform the biofilm quite rapidly.

How To Properly Brush Your Tongue

You should be brushing your tongue each time you brush your teeth. Brushing your tongue is simple. All you need to do is gently brush the top surface back and forth, side to side, and then rinse your mouth out with water or with your preferred mouthwash to remove the biofilm you just brushed off.

There are also tongue scrapers available to buy, which you can use instead of your toothbrush. These tongue scrapers are available at most drug stores, and you simply glide them along the surface of your tongue to remove the layer of biofilm. Your regular toothbrush is just as effective, so it is fine to use it. You may also want to scrub your cheeks and the roof of your mouth to remove as much bacteria as possible.

If you find that cleaning your tongue causes you discomfort, this means you are likely doing it with too much force. The pressure needed to brush or scrape your tongue is not a lot. Your tongue is very delicate. It is inclined to become irritated and inflamed. If you accidentally brush your tongue too hard, you should forego brushing it for a day or two and then attempt to do so much more gently. Also, refrain from brushing your tongue if you have any wounds on it. Let the injury heal first before you resume the cleaning. If you have a very sensitive gag reflex, you need to clean the back of your tongue very slowly.

About the Author

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Periodontist in Nassau County, Long Island NY. Learn about periodontal treatments and services by visiting her website.

Additional Resources

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Effects of Bruxism on Oral Health

The Effects of Bruxism on Oral Health 

Some people occasionally grind or clench their teeth causing no harm to their dental health. However, persistent bruxism can easily damage teeth and cause other oral health complications.

Although bruxism can be a result of stress and anxiety, it is most likely to occur during sleep, which is likely due to an abnormal bite, missing, or crooked teeth. Bruxism can also be caused by sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.

Because grinding most likely occurs while one is sleeping, most people do not know that they suffer from bruxism until they are told. However, one symptom of bruxism that can be noticed is a dull, yet a constant headache or a sore jaw. Often, people find out that they grind their teeth at night because somebody who is close to them can hear the grinding.

Is Bruxism Harmful?

Bruxism can result in the fracturing, loosening, or even the complete loss of teeth. Chronic grinding can wear the teeth down to mere stumps. When this level of grinding occurs, crowns, fillings, bridges, root canals, dentures, and implants may be needed.

Severe bruxism can damage teeth and even result in tooth loss, but it can also have a negative impact on your jaws, resulting in TMD or TMJ, and it can ultimately even change the shape of your face.

Bruxism can greatly damage the enamel on your teeth, leading to cavities and various sore spots. These places need to be fixed by a dentist, and if you are not able to wear a night guard throughout the night, some areas of the mouth may repeatedly lose a filling, causing them to have to be refilled multiple times.

This can also result in great tooth sensitivity, as when the enamel of the tooth is worn down, the layers that are closer to the root of the tooth become exposed. This can be especially uncomfortable when eating hot or cold foods.

Bruxism is not limited to adults. Up to one-third of children have a tendency to grind their teeth as well. Children who grind their teeth usually do so during two times in their childhood, when their first baby teeth emerge, and then when their permanent teeth start to come in. While most children can kick the habit of grinding their teeth once their teeth are fully in, some continue to suffer from bruxism.

Children most commonly grind their teeth while they are sleeping, rather than during the day. While it is not clear why some children grind their teeth, some possible causes are improperly aligned teeth and an under or over bite. Nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders, anxiety, and stress can also cause children to have bruxism.

What are Some Tips to Reduce Bruxism?

Wearing a properly fitted mouth guard at night is the best way to protect your teeth from the negative effects of grinding them throughout the night. However, it is also important to address the cause of the grinding.

Stress and anxiety are common causes of bruxism. While your dentist can prescribe a muscle relaxer to help calm you down during your sleep, it is also important to ask your doctor or dentist about how you can reduce your stress. This may begin with going to stress counseling, seeing a physical therapist, or beginning an exercise program.

It is also helpful to find some ways to help you relax before going to bed, such as taking a warm bath or listening to calming music. It is also important to minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption before going to sleep and limit screen time in the hours before going to sleep. Dim the lights while you are preparing to go to sleep to help increase your body's production of melatonin.

You can also train yourself to stop clenching your teeth, especially during the day. If you notice that you are clenching or grinding during the day, move the tip of your tongue, so it is positioned between your teeth. This will help train your jaw muscles to remain relaxed.

Help your jaw muscles relax in the evening by creating a warm compress and holding it against your cheek, directly in front of your earlobe. This will loosen the muscles and help to reduce their tendency to tighten throughout the night.

If your teeth grinding is a result of an underlying sleeping disorder, treating it can help reduce or eliminate bruxism altogether. Bruxism is not an uncommon problem, and there are several ways to reduce its effects on your oral health. It is best to consult a physician to try to find and treat the underlying cause of your bruxism.

About the Author

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Periodontist in Nassau County, Long Island NY. Learn about periodontal treatments and services by visiting her website.

Additional Resources

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Benefits of All On 4 Dental Implants

The Benefits of All On 4 Dental Implants

What Are All-On-4 Dental Implants?

All on 4 Dental Implants is a surgical procedure that is used to restore missing teeth in patients. These dental implants are like traditional dental implants, in that titanium posts are surgically inserted into your jawbone then attached to prosthetic teeth; however, instead of replacing each tooth individually, just 4 surgical posts are used.

Fewer posts mean they can be used for patients with decreased bone density. Once the surgical posts are inserted, a dental arch containing four prosthetic teeth will be attached, providing a permanent solution for missing teeth. And, since it is a less invasive procedure, it can be completed in as little as one appointment and with less recovery time.

All on four dental implants can be used to replace your lower or upper set of teeth, or both, and provides natural looking, feeling, and fully functional teeth in the following ways:

Slimmer Than Traditional Dentures

The All on 4 dental implant arch is significantly slimmer than traditional dentures, which can be bulky, and it does not overlay the hard palate. Therefore, it does not tend to cause a gag reflex or hinder your ability to taste and sense proper food temperatures.

High-Quality Prosthetics

Only the highest quality prosthetics and dental implant materials are used during the procedure. The dental products used in the procedure are highly researched and innovative to provide only the most healthy, natural looking teeth that last for years to come. Additionally, molds and impressions of your own natural teeth will be taken, which will be used to make a custom bridge that perfectly resembles the natural contours of your jaw, for a natural look and feel.

No Need To Be Removed To Eat Or Clean

All on 4 dental implants provide patients with fixed, permanent teeth; therefore, they can be cleaned and cared for the same as natural teeth. In addition, they do not need to be removed at night time or following meals.

Do Not Shift Around Or Fall Out

Since All on 4 dental implants are permanently fixed, they will not shift around or fall out like dentures, which means they cause less discomfort and can save you from embarrassing mishaps and awkward speech so that you can speak, laugh, and eat with confidence.

Provides Less Irritation

All on 4 implants do not rest on the gums; therefore, they are less likely to cause inflammation, irritation or sores in the mouth, like dentures. They also eliminate the use of messy adhesives, gels, soaking solutions, and other specially formulated storage and hygienic products that are typically required for dentures, which can also cause frustration.

Restores Facial Contours

Tooth loss often leads to sagging facial contours and lip support, which can make you look aged beyond your years. All on 4 dental implants helps reduce sagging jawbone, lips and wrinkles for a more youthful appearance.

Promotes Better Jaw Bone Health and Halts the Progression of Bone Loss

All 4 dental implants channel the functional stimulation associated with eating, thereby supporting hard tissue, which promotes better jawbone health. In return, it also halts the progression of bone loss in the jaw and eliminates the need for repeated bridgework due to the changing shape of the jaw.

Provides A Natural Bite

All on 4 dental implants enables patients to bite down with a comparable to natural bite, which allows you to enjoy foods that may not have been an option before due to the loss of teeth or the discomfort of dentures. 

Who is a Candidate for All-On-4 Dental Implants?

Since the All on 4 implant procedure eliminates the need for bone grafting, just about every patient is a candidate for the procedure. In the past, tooth loss due to oral diseases meant deteriorating jawbone health in most patients, which eliminated them as candidates for dental implants because there wasn't enough bone to support and secure surgical posts.

The All on 4 implant procedure enables Periodontists to nearly always find enough bone from the existing volume to support the surgical posts. This enables more patients to receive dental implants and in as little as one day.

About the Author

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Periodontist in Nassau County, Long Island NY. You can learn more about All-on-4 Dental Implants by visiting her website.

Additional Resources


Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Preserve Tooth Enamel

Woman with a beautiful smile who knows how to preserve tooth enamel.
Tooth enamel, a thin, light yellow to grayish white colored substance, is the toughest substance found in the human body and serves to protect the delicate layers of tissue within the teeth. Over time, it can soften and dissolve, also known as demineralization, which can leave teeth susceptible to decay and over-sensitivity.

Demineralization occurs whenever the mouth becomes too acidic, which occurs following eating and drinking. Saliva helps counteract the effects of acid and even helps restore some of the lost calcium and minerals found in the enamel, also known as remineralization. However, if acid levels remain too high for too long, it can limit saliva's ability to protect the teeth, which can cause long-term mineral loss to the enamel. Once erosion sets in, teeth are more prone to disease, decay, and tooth loss.

Some common signs of worn enamel include:

  • Yellowing teeth
  • Chipped or uneven tooth edges
  • Dents on the surface of the teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help preserve your tooth enamel.

Practice Gentle Brushing

Over-brushing or vigorous brushing exerts undue pressure on your teeth, which scrapes away at the enamel and causes it to wear. It can also cause receding gums. As a rule of thumb, only brush twice a day and remember to take care when brushing your teeth to avoid eroding the enamel.

Use a Soft Bristle Brush 

It is a common misconception that harder bristles will clean your teeth better, and therefore, lead to healthier teeth and gums, but this is simply not the case. In fact, hard bristles and vigorous brushing wear down your enamel over time. The ADA recommends brushing with a soft-bristled brush and replacing a ragged toothbrush every three to four months.

Use a Fluoridated Mouthwash and Toothpaste 

Fluoride helps harden your teeth and protects against cavities and tooth decay. Be sure to select a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains fluoride to help preserve your enamel. You could also ask your dentist if you would benefit from supplemental fluoride treatments, such as in-office fluoride gel treatments or fluoride chewable tablets.

Wait At Least Thirty Minutes After Eating and Drinking to Brush Your Teeth

 Research shows it takes approximately thirty minutes for saliva to reinstate a normal ph level and remineralize the teeth. Brushing too soon could jeopardize this process and brush away some of the delicate minerals from the enamel.

Stick to Milk or Water

 When possible, choose milk or water over sodas, juices, and other acidic drinks. The calcium in milk and dairy products serves as a buffer to acidic substances and aids in remineralization while water provides a natural way to wash away acid and food debris from the teeth.

Use a Straw for Acidic Drinks

Drink acidic drinks with a straw to help avoid direct contact with the drink's acid, which could potentially cause demineralization of the enamel.

Avoid Snacking Right Before Bed

Saliva production slows while we're sleeping, therefore, eating right before bed means less saliva available for the protection and re-mineralization of the enamel.

Schedule Regular Dental Screenings

Seeing your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings helps keep your teeth clean and healthy. It also allows the dentist to address any issues before they become major concerns. Dental treatments for worn enamel vary, depending on the severity of the erosion. Crowns, fillings, and veneers cover teeth that no longer have enamel protection due to severe erosion.

Following these tips, in addition to practicing good oral hygiene, will go a long way towards preserving your enamel and protecting your teeth. If you experience signs of enamel erosion, see your dentist immediately to see what can be done to preserve your teeth before it leads to tooth loss.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

When Is A Good Time To Consider Dental Implants?

Diagram showing how Dental Implants are attached.
Your smile. It speaks volumes about you before you even say a word. Our smile is important to our image and the way we view ourselves. That's why it can be a real nightmare if your dental health is in decline.

Tooth loss is nothing to smile about. Here we will go over the symptoms related to tooth decay, why they occur and if dental implants are the proper choice for you.

There have been many advances in the field of dentistry in recent years; dental implants are no exception. Let's look into it now shall we?

The Symptoms

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and liquids - In the beginning stages of tooth decay, you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks. If you find yourself drinking or eating from one side of your mouth to dull the pain, then this is already happening. 
  • Dark brown, grey or black spotting - Beyond this interim stage, you start to see darker spots or maybe even a cavity in the teeth from too much acidity corroding the enamel.
  • Cavities (hole in the tooth) - Eventually, you may start to experience bad breath as a result or even a foul taste in your mouth. This is a clear indicator that there is a bigger issue that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
  • The final symptom being, of course, tooth loss. This is obviously what folks want to avoid.
All of these symptoms can lead to gum disease (Gingivitis) and tooth loss if left untreated.

So What Causes Tooth Decay?

  • Poor dental hygiene - In the beginning stages, these symptoms arise due to poor dental hygiene. It stems from simply not having a daily routine for your teeth. Good habits go a long way when it comes to your dental health.
  • Dental fissures (spaces in teeth which trap bacteria) - Crevices or spaces in the teeth can be a hazard here, as well. Fissures in the teeth can trap food and bacteria between the enamel and decay the tooth. Flossing can help with this, but dental work should be considered here.
  • Improper nutrition from food choices - Eating the wrong foods and drinks often can also have dire effects on the health of the teeth.
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar (food for bacteria) - Foods and drinks high in sugar, acids and carbohydrates are ones to keep away from. Sugary foods are the biggest culprit here. Bacteria in the mouth literally feed off of it to stay alive. Also, dry mouth issues can lead to tooth decay.
Keep these topics in mind for optimal dental and gum health.

Should I Get Implants?

With all of this information in mind, are dental implants right for you? Let's go over some of the benefits so you can decide.
  • Your smile will look natural - The most obvious benefit here is your smile. If you have lost teeth or are going to have some extracted, this is a great way to keep your smile.
  • Implants prevent decay of the jaw line - Implants preserve the jawbone and keep it from decaying as well. Up to 1/3 of your jaw can have a collapsed appearance from tooth loss.
  • Reduced appearance of mouth wrinkles - Implants will also reduce the effects of wrinkles around the mouth area.
  • Easier to clean than dentures - It is also far easier to clean dental implants than it is dentures or other quick fixes, the only main difference being a floss threader for flossing.
  • Higher self-esteem - Implants also look like your natural teeth, so when you smile, nobody will be the wiser about your implants. This goes a long way to improving self-esteem, as well.
  • Will not impede your speech - Furthermore, they will not cause you to have an impediment in your speech due to dentures. It's more difficult to speak naturally with dentures.
As you can see, the benefits of implants are many. Happy smiling!

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How To Overcome Dental Phobia or Anxiety

How To Overcome Dental Phobia or Anxiety

Fear of the dentist or anxiety that centers around any dental procedure is actually one of the most common fears that people report. 

As many as 75% of adults are believed to experience some degree of anxiety when visiting the dentist, even for routine appointments. 

Very few people look forward to going to the dentist, but dental phobia is more than feeling a little stressed about your visit before you go.

What Is Dental Phobia?

Dentophobia, or odontophobia, causes such an extreme degree of stress for sufferers that they often avoid going to the dentist at all costs. They will put up with gum infections, minor toothaches and an assortment of other easily treated problems just to avoid their dentist. They will put off visits until they have a full-blown dental emergency. It is believed that most cases of dental phobia stem from having a very negative experience at the dentist previously - some professionals even consider it to be a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Other causes of dental phobia may also be embarrassment due to poorly taken care of teeth or feeling like going to the dentist is a loss of control.

When a dental emergency arises, like a severe toothache or a dental abscess, the dental procedures necessary are often extremely unpleasant. In addition, being tense and nervous lowers your pain threshold, which will make the procedure even worse for those with severe dental anxiety. Only going to the dentist when one of these major procedures is needed serves to reinforce all of the negative feelings associated with dentophobia. Sufferers end up stuck in an endless cycle of fear and pain that is very difficult to overcome.

Those with dental phobia obviously have a much higher risk of gum and periodontal disease and they also risk early tooth loss. Because of the link between oral health and overall health, sufferers also tend to have poorer health in general. Their discolored and unhealthy teeth also result in lower self-esteem, and the far-reaching repercussions of their phobia can take a toll on both their personal and professional lives. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome dental phobia.

How To Overcome Dental Phobia?

Without treatment or some sort of intervention, dental phobia and anxiety will typically get worse over time. Each time a sufferer does go to the dentist, it is more likely to be a bad experience and they are even less likely to go again.

Overcoming dental phobia is much like overcoming any other type of extreme fear. Not every approach is going to work for everyone, but some of the main treatments include behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. Today, there are even specialized dentists that specifically treat people with dental phobia, and they work to make each visit a pleasant one. Having positive dental experiences, or ones that are not negative, helps a great deal with overcoming a fear of visiting the dentist.

Along with these approaches, there are also pharmacological approaches. The use of anesthesia and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are common for a lot of dental procedures even for patients without a phobia. But dentists will take special measures with their most fearful patients. They employ the use of prescription medications and sedatives to make procedures less stressful for patients with severe anxiety. These medications will help patients to feel calmer, but they allow them to continue to communicate with their dental professionals during the procedure. Sometimes these different approaches are used in varying combinations in order to determine what is best for the patient.

In order to avoid painful, long and unpleasant procedures it is important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and routine teeth cleanings. These types of visits typically don't involve any pain at all and choosing to visit the dentist more often helps to ward off those extreme dental emergencies. Having even these routine procedures done is extremely stressful for someone with dental phobia, but the fear can be overcome.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Some Great Apps for Dental Hygiene

Just like everything else, dental care has reached the app store. Want a reminder to floss? There's an app for that. Want a detailed description on actually how to floss? There's an app for that, too.

People have become so entrenched in their handheld technology that most prefer seeking out dental care resources on their phones rather than hearing it from the hygienist. But that's okay because if anything, these apps are helping people make better choices when it comes to their dental care.

Some of the best apps for dental hygiene include:

  • Dental Care HD. This app by Egate IT Solutions is $0.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad users. It provides flossing information and tutorials. Some of the sections include dental problems, eating right for the best oral health, and a guide to help the user know when they should visit the dentist and when they don't have to.
  • Brush DJ. This app by UK dentist Ben Underwood is free. It is a clever brushing timer that resources the user's own music library to get them to brush for an entire two minutes. Find a list of great brushing songs at the app's website:
  • MyDentist. This app by DentalAnywhere is free to download. It is all about improving patient and dentist communication. When a dental emergency happens after hours, this app makes it easy to for the patient to express what's wrong to the dentist using diagrams, pictures, and text. In turn, the dentist can quickly relay to the patient emergency instructions until they can see them in person.
  • Habit Streak. This free app by German Espitia helps users track their flossing habit. To glean the benefits of flossing, it needs to be done daily. The habit needs to take hold and with this app, it's easier to get there.
  • Dental Phobia. This app by Dr. Jeff Sherer is $.099. You can't have great hygiene without regularly going to the dentist. This helpful app provides information on coping strategies for dealing with dental fears, as well as alternatives.
  • Colgate Tooth Fairy. This app by MagiClick Digital Solutions is free and includes ways to build brushing routines and teeth brushing timers. It also has games like "Teeth Battle" and "Funky Smiles" to help get your kids into the app.
  • My Smile. This app by You Plus Pty Ltd. is $1.29 and allows users to compare your current tooth color to other colors on a 15 shade palate. This app is intended to act as a monitor of your tooth color over time.
  • KidsDental. This app by Orca Health, Inc. is $1.99. Taking care of teeth can be boring, that's why this app is great for kids, it makes dental hygiene exciting! It also covers issues like cavities and gingivitis.
  • Braces Help. This app by The Dental Specialists is free and helps kids (and adults) with what to do in certain situations when wearing braces. It also helps braces wearers learn about how to take care of their braces.
  • Philips Zoom Teeth Whitening. This app by Philips is free and is used for people who are interested in knowing what their teeth would look like if they were to apply whiteners. The app uses a photo of the person that can be then shared via email or social media.
  • Tiny Dentist. This app by Anastasiia Markacheva is free and puts kids in the position of the dentist. It allows them to get comfortable with the feel of the dentist "office" and "tools" through the app, along with pretending to be a dentist so they can be less fearful of the dentist's office.
  • Chomper Chums. This app by United Concordia Dental is free, and it's another great app to help kids learn about correct brushing techniques.

Good dental hygiene is just as important as exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep. Whether you are 4 or 94, it's never too early to start learning about proper oral care and these apps will get you on your way to proper flossing techniques, proper brushing techniques, and much more.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at: