Our Blog

Toothbrush Care

November 8th, 2023

You found the perfect toothbrush! The bristles are soft, to avoid irritating your delicate gum tissue. The angle of the bristles is perfect for removing plaque. The handle is durable and comfortable when you spend at least two minutes brushing in the morning and two at night. Why, you love this toothbrush and you’ll never let it go… for the next three or four months.

The life of a toothbrush is naturally a short one. Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George and our team recommend replacement every three to four months because the bristles become frayed and worn with daily use. They cannot clean as effectively when the bristles begin to break down, and, depending on your brushing style, may wear out even more rapidly. (Children will probably need to replace toothbrushes at least every three months.) But even in the short time you have your toothbrush, there are ways to keep it ready for healthy brushing.

  • Don’t share. While sharing is normally a virtue, sharing toothbrushes can lead to an increased risk of infections, especially for those with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases. Similarly, keep different brushes separate when drying to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing. Make sure to remove any toothpaste or debris left after you brush.
  • Store the brush upright. Air-drying is the preferred way to dry your brush, as covering the brush or keeping it in a closed container can promote the growth of bacteria more easily.

There are several products on the market that promise to sanitize your brush. The verdict is still out on its success, but if you or someone in your home has a compromised immune system, call our Holland, MI office to see if it might be worth your while to check them out.

Even though your toothbrush won’t be with you long, make its stay as effective and hygienic as possible. And if you find a brush you love—stock up!

National Brush Day

November 2nd, 2023

October 31—Halloween. Fourth Thursday in November—Thanksgiving. And, in between these two favorite autumn holidays, we have November 1—National Brush Day!

Okay, okay. Maybe National Brush Day isn’t quite as well-known as Halloween or Thanksgiving, but we take any opportunity to celebrate your dental health. So, let’s celebrate brushing!

After all, brushing is vital for healthy teeth and gums.

  • Brushing is your first line of defense against plaque. Plaque forms all day long. Plaque sticks to your teeth. Plaque is filled with bacteria which produce cavity-causing acids. Brushing regularly means plaque won’t stay on your teeth long enough to cause serious tooth decay.
  • Brushing effectively is especially important while you wear braces. Plaque collects around brackets and can cause enamel discoloration if it’s allowed to build up.
  • Brushing is also important for your gum health. Angling your brush to carefully clean plaque and bacteria away from your gum line helps prevent gum disease.

To make the most of the time you spend brushing, let’s take a moment to review some basics on National Brush Day.

Are You Brushing Correctly?

  • Big, broad brushstrokes aren’t the answer. Instead, use short up-and-down or circular strokes over each tooth—outside, inside, and on the flat surfaces of your molars.
  • Because plaque forms all day, you need to keep on top of it. Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time is a good general rule, but doesn’t always hold true during orthodontic treatment.
    • If you wear braces, Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George will probably recommend brushing after each meal or snack to make sure plaque and food particles don’t stick to your teeth and your braces.
    • Take advantage of the special orthodontic brushes that are available if your old brush isn’t cleaning your braces (and your teeth!) as well as you’d like. A brush with a smaller head or different shaped bristles might make all the difference.
    • If you have aligners, you take them out to eat. It’s always a good idea to brush before you replace them. Otherwise, food particles which would normally be brushed away or washed away by saliva are trapped next to your teeth.
  • Brushes are meant to clean, not to scrub. You don’t need a heavy hand for cleaner teeth.
  • Which also means, there’s almost never a good time to brush with a hard-bristled brush. Hard bristles, along with hard brushing, can actually damage your enamel. Stick to a soft-bristled brush for dental TLC.

Are You Taking Care of Your Brush?

  • To clean away bacteria and viruses you might have picked up during the day, wash your hands before brushing and flossing.
  • Shake your brush dry when you’re finished and then let it air-dry upright with the handle pointing down. Only use a case for travel, and make sure it has air holes for ventilation. (Bacteria thrive in a wet environment.)
  • If your toothbrush lives in the bathroom, close the toilet seat before flushing to avoid airborne particles.
  • No matter how close you are to your family members or roommates, don’t share your toothbrush. Sharing doesn’t mean caring in this case—it means sharing germs. Your brush should keep a healthy distance from other brushes as well.
  • And no matter how fond you are of your brush, be prepared to replace it often! Most brushes last three to four months at best, because bristles start to fray and can’t clean effectively after several months of use.

It’s no coincidence that National Brush Day comes right after Halloween, the most sugar-filled holiday of them all. So, how can we mark the occasion?

Take a moment to review your brushing habits. Check out the brushes designed for orthodontic treatment. Treat yourself to a new toothbrush. Brushing your teeth properly is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your oral health. That’s something to celebrate!

Witch Halloween Treats Are Trickiest for Your Teeth and Braces?

October 26th, 2023

It’s that time of year again—Halloween! Carving pumpkins. Creating costumes. And, of course, collecting candy.

But some of the candies in that collection aren’t much of a treat for your teeth. When you’re deciding on the perfect pieces to choose from the candy cauldron, here are some tricks to identify the ones that can be more frightful than delightful for your tooth enamel and braces:   

  • Is It Chewy or Sticky?

Any sticky or chewy candy—caramels, taffy, licorice, gummy anythings—is candy that also sticks to your teeth. And it really sticks in between your teeth, where it’s harder to brush away.

The problem? Bacteria in plaque love sugar, and sticky candies provide them with hours of sugary feasting. Bacteria use this sugar to make acids, and acids cause weak spots in tooth enamel. These weak spots will get bigger over time as the bacteria keep on attacking your enamel, and that’s how you can end up with a cavity. Less sugar which spends less time on your teeth = fewer cavities!

And there’s another good reason to pass up chewy treats if you wear braces. Candy can get stuck under your brackets and wires, or be sticky enough to pull a bracket right off a tooth.

  • Is It Sour?

Sour candies get that intense, lip-puckering taste because they’re so acidic. What’s wrong with acids? Just like the acids made by bacteria, acids in food attack our tooth enamel, too.

Sour candies are hard on your teeth all by themselves. When you eat a candy that’s both sour (acidic) and gummy (sticky), all coated in sugar, that’s triple trouble!

  • Is It Hard or Crunchy?

Some kids like hard candies like lollipops and fruity drops because they last a long time. But that’s the problem. All that time a hard candy rolls around in your mouth is time spent bathing your teeth with sugar.

Thinking of shortening your sugar exposure by chewing hard candies? Also a bad idea! Crunching into a piece of hard candy can chip or crack a tooth and even damage fillings.

Crunchy treats can be hard on braces, too. Peanut brittle, nutty candy bars, candy apples, popcorn balls, or any hard or crunchy candy can damage your brackets and wires when you bite down.

Luckily, there are healthier trick-or-treating choices if you know what to look for. 

  • Soft Candies and Chocolates

A chocolate bar, a peanut butter cup, mint patties, and other soft candies won’t stick around on your teeth the same way chewy or hard candies do. No sour acids, either. And because dark chocolate has less sugar than lighter chocolates, it’s an even healthier choice.

Bonus: They’re easy to bite and chew when you wear braces!

  • Sugar-Free Gum

This treat is not only sugarless, but chewing it helps us make more saliva. Saliva washes away sugary food particles and helps neutralize the acids in the mouth. If you wear braces, check with Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George to see if sugar-free gum is safe for your brackets and wires.

No need to skip the trick-or-treating this year. Occasional sugary or acidic treats can be balanced out with daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet, and regular visits to your dentist for exams and cleanings. When you do enjoy a treat that’s sugary or acidic, there are tricks to help you keep your smile healthy and cavity-free.

  • Eat a treat or two with your meals instead of snacking through the day. You won’t be exposing your teeth to sugar for hours at a time, which means bacteria and acids won’t be haunting your enamel all day long.
  • Drink water. If you eat your candy with an acidic soda, you’re getting sugar + sugar + acids. That’s a scary recipe when it comes to healthy teeth! Water helps wash away sugar and acids—and, if you have fluoridated water in your community, you’ll be getting a bit of fluoride to strengthen your enamel, too.
  • Halloween is no time to ghost your toothbrush and floss. Be extra careful to brush and clean between your teeth after eating sweets. Wearing braces? Don’t forget to clean around your brackets and wires. Using aligners? Be sure to brush well after you eat something sugary before you replace them.

If you’re wearing braces this Halloween season, it’s important to avoid all the sticky, hard, and crunchy treats to keep your braces and your treatment schedule intact.

Any questions? Talk to Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George at our Holland, MI office to learn the best ways to keep your smile looking boo-tiful all year long!

Ouch! Are You Biting Your Cheeks More Often?

October 19th, 2023

You’re biting into something delicious, and, Ouch! You bite into something you didn’t mean to—the inside of your tender cheek.

Painful moments like this happen every now and again. But if you find that more frequent cheek biting means that you’re extra-cautious when eating or speaking, if you wake up with sore cheeks in the morning, or if you catch yourself gnawing on your cheeks during the day, it’s time to see Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George.

Causes of Cheek Biting

Many of us experience the occasional cheek chomp when we’re eating or talking. No fun! Besides the pain, a bite can cause broken skin, inflammation, a canker sore, or a cyst. Luckily, the discomfort from these accidental bites generally resolves after a few days.  

Sometimes, though, biting becomes a more frequent annoyance. Regular bites can be caused by several conditions. One of the most common?

  • Orthodontic Misalignment

If you notice that you seem to be biting your cheek a lot when eating or speaking, it could be an orthodontic problem. When your teeth or jaws don’t align properly, if your mouth is small in proportion to your teeth, or if your teeth have shifted over time, your cheeks can feel the consequences! Dr. Daniel George and Dr. Cadie George can help you discover if a misaligned bite is the source of your biting problems.

But it’s not just orthodontic problems which can cause painful cheek bites. Other causes can include:

  • Bruxism

Bruxism is a medical term for tooth grinding. If you clench or grind your teeth as you sleep, it’s hard on your teeth and on your jaws. And for some people, that nightly gnashing causes cheek biting as well.

  • Wisdom Teeth

Most of us don’t have the room to welcome four new—and large—teeth. As the wisdom teeth come in, they can cause bites, especially if they erupt leaning outward toward your cheeks. They can also push your other teeth out of place.

Treatment Options

Why visit our Holland, MI orthodontic office? A one-time bite can be extremely uncomfortable, and might lead to inflammation or a sore spot inside your mouth. Usually, these reactions fade in a short while.

But what about continuous biting? Regular biting injuries can lead to bigger problems. Tissue can get thicker or erode. Scar tissue can build up inside the mouth. Ulcers and other sores can become larger and more painful.

If you’ve been biting your cheeks more often, your orthodontist can diagnose the cause and offer you treatment options depending on the reason for this frequent biting:

  • Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment can improve tooth and bite alignment—and can eliminate those painful cheek bites if misalignment is what’s causing them. Today’s orthodontics offers more options than ever before, for both adults and kids.

  • Traditional braces are more effective—and more subtle—than ever, with brackets which are smaller or come in clear and ceramic styles.
  • Clear aligners are a convenient, almost invisible way to treat misalignment with a series of trays which gradually improve alignment with each new set.
  • Lingual braces are attached to the back of the teeth, so there are no visible brackets and wires.
  • Functional appliances can improve and correct bite issues which braces or aligners alone can’t treat as effectively.

Whatever the reason for painful cheek biting, you deserve to eat and speak and enjoy your day without constant “Ouch!” moments affecting your comfort and health. If these moments are happening all too often, visit our Holland, MI office for the answers to your biting problems.