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5 Interesting Facts About Tongues

How often do you think about your tongue? Not only is this oft-forgotten muscle super important to great oral health, it’s also just plain interesting! Read on for some fascinating facts about your tongue that you probably didn’t know.

girl sticking out her tongue

1. Like Fingerprints, Everyone’s Tongue Print Is Different

Your tongue is uniquely your own, there’s no other one just like it. In fact, your entire set of teeth is also completely unique to you. Even identical twins don’t have the same sets of teeth. This is why dental records can be used, if needed, to identify human remains.

2. Tongues Are Three Inches on Average

Ever tried to touch your tongue to your nose? If you can do it, maybe your tongue is a bit longer than average. Most tongues measure three inches in length, from the back of the tongue to the tip. The record for longest tongue? It’s currently 3.98 inches, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

3. The Tongue Contains Thousands of Taste buds

Your tongue is covered with thousands of taste buds, ranging anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000. Many people assume that the little bumps on their tongue are taste buds, but those bumps are actually called papillae. Each contains around six taste buds. Generally, taste buds can’t be seen with the naked eye.

4. The Tongue Is Made Up Of Eight Muscles

Another misconception is that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, but this can’t be true. The tongue is made up of multiple muscles–eight to be exact. The muscles serve different purposes, and they allow the tongue to change shape and position, giving the tongue remarkable flexibility and stamina. The tongue is incredibly strong though, consider just how often you use it.

5. The Tongue Can Be a Window Into Your Health & Wellness

The appearance of your tongue can give your doctor clues to what’s going on in your body. White patches, for example, may indicate a fungal infection called thrush, or a red, blistered tongue could be a sign of dry mouth. A healthy tongue should generally be a shade of pink.

Pay Attention to Your Tongue!

The health of your tongue is an important component of your oral health. Without proper care, bacteria can accumulate on the surface, leading to bad breath and the spread of bacteria and eventual tooth decay. Invest in a tongue scraper or use your toothbrush to give your tongue a good daily scrub.

Don’t forget to visit our office for regular checkups and cleanings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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What’s the Best Way to Whiten Teeth?

A bright, white smile can be a game-changer. Not only do white teeth help your smile shine, they can also give you the confidence to smile freely. At Mint Dental Care, our patients often ask us about the best way to whiten teeth. The answer depends on your schedule and your goals for your smile. We offer three different whitening options: one-size whitening trays, custom trays, and one-visit whitening.

woman inserting teeth whitening trays

One-Size Tray Whitening

For folks who want an affordable, low-fuss option, one-size whitening trays are a great fit. Our team will provide you with premade trays and bleaching gel to use at home on your own schedule.

Custom Tray Whitening

This individualized treatment involves creating a custom tray to fit your teeth. First, we take an impression of your mouth and then custom-create your tray. A snug fit is important, as it keeps the bleaching gel from leaking while being more comfortable to wear. Again, you’ll have the convenience of whitening your teeth at home on your own schedule.

One-Visit Whitening

If you can’t wait another day for whiter teeth, one-visit whitening is the treatment for you. Our team will complete your professional whitening treatment in just one visit. Another benefit of one-visit whitening is that Dr. McCord and our team are able to closely monitor your teeth as you receive the treatment.

Any one of our professional whitening services can give you the smile you’ve always wanted. Because our whitening products are professional-grade, they are much safer and more effective than products you can buy at the drugstore or homemade remedies. In fact, certain homemade remedies said to whiten teeth, like lemon juice or activated charcoal, can actually damage your enamel.

No matter your goals for your smile, we want to help. To ask our team any questions about our whitening services or to schedule a consultation, contact our office today!

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Can Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth Alleviate Discomfort?

These days, there are a variety of brands of toothpaste available at your local grocery store or pharmacy. It can be hard to decide which type is best for you. If you’ve been dealing with tooth sensitivity, you might want to consider switching to a toothpaste that helps with this problem.

big red toothbrush with toothpaste

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

There are many reasons why you might be experiencing a dull, achy pain in your teeth. Cavities, chronic teeth clenching, and eating hot, cold, or acidic foods can all cause teeth to feel discomfort. This is because the wearing away of the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) leads to exposure of the underlying layer of the tooth (the dentin). The dentin contains microscopic tubules that are covered in nerve endings. This means that when the dentin becomes exposed due to enamel erosion, discomfort and pain may follow.

What Can Be Done to Help Sensitive Teeth?

If you’ve noticed sensitive teeth for more than a few days, we’d like you to call us. If the pain is being caused by a cavity or teeth clenching, we’ll want to get you an appointment for filling or get you fitted for a night guard. If there is no obvious cause to your sensitivity, we will recommend a few adjustments to your routine, including using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.

How does Sensitive Toothpaste Work?

Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth are very effective. They include ingredients that block nerve ending receptivity in the exposed dentin. This means less pain and discomfort. We’ll recommend you use this toothpaste for at least a month or until symptoms improve. Your toothpaste should also contain fluoride. This will help to strengthen and remineralize your teeth, helping to slow down enamel erosion and protect the dentin from further exposure.

If you have new or worsening pain in your teeth, we’d like you to call us right away. We’ll set up an appointment to find out what’s causing your sensitive teeth and get you on the road to recovery. Don’t let tooth pain stop you from eating your favorite foods! Contact us today.

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Can Veneers Fix a Tooth Gap?

If you’re self conscious about a tooth gap, you may be wondering what your options are for improving your smile. At Mint Dental Care, we offer several choices for getting the smile of your dreams. If you’ve been putting off having a procedure because you aren’t sure what’s right for you, we’d like to give you answers on what to expect.

red headed woman sticking her tongue through a gap in her front teeth

How to Fix a Tooth Gap

Some think that the only way to fix a tooth gap is through orthodontia and braces. This isn’t true. Porcelain veneers are also an effective and lasting way to close gaps. Veneers are thin sheets of resin and porcelain composite that we adhere to the front of teeth. They look and feel as natural as your teeth, but can be made the perfect size, shape, and color to make your smile straight and glowing.

If You Decide to Get Veneers

It’s much easier than you may think to get the smile you’ve always wanted. First, you’ll schedule a consultation with Dr. McCord. Together, you’ll create the image of your ideal smile, and he’ll help determine if veneers are the right choice for you. Once your custom veneers are complete, you’ll come in for the bonding process. At this point, we’ll prepare your teeth for bonding the veneers. You’ll then have permanent, strong, beautiful teeth that look and feel like your other teeth. Although it’s possible for veneers to become damaged, they are very durable and should last many years with proper care. They may be the solution you’ve been looking for to close your gap.

If you’re interested in getting veneers, call us. We’ll schedule a consultation and discuss your options with you. If you’re interested in learning about financing options, we offer an in-office membership plan. We also take third-party financing plans through CareCredit. Don’t put off getting your best smile. Contact us today!

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Holiday Treats That Are Good for Your Teeth

The holidays mean time spent with family and friends, fun traditions, and maybe even some presents. They also mean lots of food, and often not the kind that are good for your oral health. For those looking to stay healthy and cavity-free this holiday season, we’ll discuss some holiday treats that are good for your teeth.

three gingerbread man cookies good for oral health

Gingerbread Cookies

Yes, some cookies are not bad for your oral health! The key is finding those that don’t require a lot of sugar. Your typical sugar cookies often have more than a cup of sugar, while gingerbread cookies call for about half that. Another benefit is that gingerbread is high in fiber and ginger is an anti-inflammatory.

Cheesy Reindeer

Want a snack that’s as healthy as it is cute? Look no further than cheese reindeer! Cheese is good for your teeth because it’s packed with calcium to make your tooth enamel stronger. To make cheese reindeer, simply take a wedge of cheese cut in a triangle for the face, use black olives for the eyes, a round chunk of red pepper for the nose, and pretzels for the ears.

Oatmeal Cookies

Another healthier cookie, oatmeal cookies are good for your oral health because they are also much lower in sugar. In fact, they can be made with even less sugar if you substitute applesauce for a lot of the sugar in the recipe. Applesauce is a more natural sweetener that will also keep the cookies moist for longer. Better for your teeth and better for your tastebuds!

Pumpkin Pie

Another holiday treat you don’t have to feel too guilty about is pumpkin pie. High in fiber and Vitamin A, pumpkin strengthens your teeth’s enamel and works to keep gums healthy. Pumpkin pie recipes also don’t often call for too much sugar. Just be sure not to pile on the whipped cream!

Sweet Potatoes

Naturally sweet without being packed with sugar, sweet potatoes are a great holiday treat. They’re high in vitamins A and C which are vital to maintaining healthy gums. Just make sure that you pass on the sweet potato casserole that’s topped with marshmallows and brown sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringues

Instead of Hershey’s kisses, which are filled with sugar, make your own drop cookies with chocolate and hazelnuts. It’ll save your teeth from a lot of sugar, but will be so delicious that you won’t miss the Hershey’s kisses.

If you have any other questions about healthy holiday snacks that are good for your teeth, or if you need to schedule a checkup, contact us today!

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How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Form?

Sometimes patients wonder why it’s necessary to see us for a checkup every 6 months. This is because the health of your teeth can change drastically in a span of just a few months, and we want to make sure we’re aware of any changes to your dental health. Take cavities for example. A cavity can take months or even years to form in an adult. It takes even less time for a child because the enamel of baby teeth is more susceptible to breakdown than adult teeth. You or your child might not feel a cavity forming, but we can see it. This is why it’s so important to get seen routinely.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in a tooth that forms when it begins to decay. Tooth decay is caused by a wearing down of enamel, or the outer layer of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed off of sugar to cause plaque, which can break down the enamel of the teeth and cause cavities. Cavities can cause a toothache or sensitivity upon eating certain foods.

cartoon man brushing his teeth and cartoon tooth giving a thumbs up

How Can You Prevent Cavities?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to diligently practice your daily dental hygiene. Brushing twice daily for two minutes each time and flossing once daily will greatly reduce your chances of getting a cavity. Also, reducing your sugar intake will help to keep teeth clean and free of plaque. Visiting our office for your scheduled cleanings is also an important step to keeping teeth strong.

What to Do if You Suspect You Have a Cavity

Give us a call! Don’t be shy. Fixing a cavity is easy and will help keep the tooth from being damaged further. We’ll repair your tooth with a filling and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time!

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Does Mouthwash Make Your Teeth Healthier?

Considering making mouthwash a part of your daily routine? There are some great reasons to do so, but do you need it?

man pondering the benefits of mouthwash for oral health

What Does Mouthwash Actually Do?

A swish of mouthwash after brushing can feel great, leaving your mouth feeling squeaky clean. But besides leaving your teeth minty fresh, how is it benefiting your smile? Depending on the type of mouthwash you choose, you’ll be getting a different effect. Typically, mouthwashes are antiseptic solutions, formulated to target a variety of issues, depending on the type you select. Mouthwashes have been shown to be effective in reducing plaque and sensitivity, whitening and brightening the smile, freshening breath, and more.

Is Mouthwash Necessary?

If you’ve kept up with your brushing and flossing to maintain a healthy smile, you probably don’t need it, though it likely won’t do you any harm. Mouthwash is often recommended for use by people with gum disease, cavities, or halitosis, for example. If you’re suffering from any such issues, your dentist may recommend a specific formula for targeted treatment.

How to Use Mouthwash

Whether you need it or not, make sure you’re using mouthwash correctly, many people don’t! It’s important that you swish the solution for at least 60 seconds in order for it to take effect. Avoid an alcohol based mouthwash, they have been proven harsh and maybe even be dangerous. Also, do your research and look for a mouthwash that’s proven effective, and targets the problems you actually have. A fluoride rinse is a smart choice for those prone to cavities, while an anti-plaque wash is helpful to anyone with gum disease. Avid coffee drinkers may be looking for a whitening wash to add to their medicine cabinet. Don’t choose a mouthwash that doesn’t do the job you need, or doesn’t do the job at all. Some washes may freshen breath in the short term, but with no germ-fighting ingredients, do no long term work on fighting bacteria and eliminating bad breath.

Not sure? Ask Us!

If you’re not sure which type to use, or whether you should even use it at all, give us a call. At Mint Dental Care we’re here to advise you on how to round out your routine for the best possible clean!

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5 Tooth-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

sugar cubes on a black background
Sugar makes some food taste good, but that’s the only good thing about it.
Sugar is suspected to be a major factor contributing to many significant health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer.

And of course everyone knows it also wreaks havoc on our teeth. Actually, sugar alone is not the cause of cavities. Rather, cavities are caused by the acid released by the combination of sugar and bacteria. The acid destroys tooth enamel, which creates decay.

Fortunately, there are numerous sugar substitutes which do not react with bacteria to cause acid, and therefore do not lead to cavities. In this article, we offer a list of 5 such substitutes that you might want to try, if you haven’t already. All of them are available under various brand names, and are also marketed by numerous manufacturers under their generic names.

1. Sucralose

Sucralose, which is best-known by the brand name “Splenda,” is one of six sugar substitutes that are approved by the FDA. The others are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, neotame, and advantame. Of all the FDA-approved sweeteners, sucralose is one of the most extensively researched, having been the subject of more than 100 safety studies.

Sucralose is a general purpose sweetener that can be found in a variety of foods including baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts. Unlike some other non-sugar sweeteners, it is heat stable, making it suitable for use in cooking.

2. Stevia

This sweetener is derived from a plant native to parts of South America, where it has been used for hundreds of years. It is categorized as “GRAS” by the FDA, which means it is “Generally Regarded As Safe,” and therefore does not require premarket FDA approval like other food additives. However, the raw stevia leaf itself is not considered GRAS and is therefore not permitted for use as a sweetener.

3. Monk Fruit

Technically known as Luo Han Guo, Monk Fruit is a type of gourd that’s native to Southern China. Like Stevia, the sweetener derived from Monk Fruit is categorized as GRAS by the FDA. It has the additional benefit of being rich in antioxidants with their associated anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Xylitol

This is one of several sugar alcohols that are classified GRAS by the FDA. Commercially produced from sugars and starch, sugar alcohols are used primarily to sweeten sugar-free candies, cookies, and chewing gums. Among the sugar alcohol sweeteners, Xylitol is unique in that it actually prevents decay by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. It also may aid in teeth remineralization. As a result, Xylitol is increasingly popular as a sugar-free sweetener for chewing gum. It is sold under several brand names, including Ideal, Polysweet, and Xylosweet.

5. Erythritol

Erythritol, another sugar alcohol, occurs naturally in fruits such as melons, pears, and grapes. Zerose and ZSweet are probably the best-known Erythritol brands.

When it comes to avoiding cavities, sugar substitutes are a reasonable substitute for the real thing. However, there’s no substitute for good oral hygiene and professional dental care! So if you’re overdue for a checkup, contact us at Mint Dental Care and set up an appointment with Dr. McCord or Dr. Knox today.

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Here’s Why You Should Consider an Oral Cancer Screening

Keeping your mouth healthy doesn’t just mean preventing cavities and decay. It also means preventing potential oral cancer, which claims the life of one person per hour every single day. Cancer is a very serious (and often fatal) disease so opting for a quick oral cancer screening during your dental visit could save your life.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening consists of a thorough examination of your mouth, cheeks, and tongue. Our expert team will also scan your lips, face, and neck and physically examine the lymph nodes in your neck in order to check for any potential abnormalities, like lumps and discoloration. If we believe that you need any further testing, we will refer you to a specialist or conduct it ourselves in our office. Don’t be worried during your oral cancer screening. If you come see us every six months, chances are that any abnormalities will be detected in the early stages. With early detection, chances of survival are much higher!

What Are the Causes of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer has many causes, but your chances of developing it increase if you use tobacco products, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and/or practice poor dental hygiene. You are also at risk if you or a blood-relative have previously been diagnosed with oral cancer or if you have had excessive exposure to the sun.

Closeup of a woman with painted red nails smoking a cigarette, increasing her risk of oral cancer

How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?

Quitting smoking or avoiding smoking is a major way to prevent oral cancer. You can also reduce your chances of developing oral cancer through the same ways you prevent other oral health ailments: daily brush and floss your teeth to prevent bacteria growth; consume a proper, balanced diet that is low in sugar, acid, and alcohol, all of which can create a toxic environment in your body; drink plenty of water; and visit our office every six months.

Your Oral Health Is Our Priority!

Preventive care is critical to maintaining positive oral health. Next time you visit our office, ask for an oral cancer screening to take an extra step in ensuring that your smile is strong and healthy. At Mint Dental Care, we offer oral cancer screenings as one of our many preventive treatments. Contact us to schedule your next appointment today!

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5 Tips to Get Your Kids Excited About Brushing

Dark-haired girl puts hands on 
cheeks while standing in a green meadow with wildflowers while wearing a white dress

Teaching your child to brush their teeth is one thing, but how do you make sure that they brush their teeth twice a day, every day, for two whole minutes each time? These tips will help your kiddo start—and stick to—a proper brushing routine.

  1. Set a Good Example
  2. Children love to follow the example of their parents. Establishing a brushing schedule of your own is the best way to make sure that your child does the same. If possible, attend twice yearly dental appointments as a family to set an example of superb preventive dental care for your children while confirming everyone’s oral health is in good shape.

  3. Teach Them Why It’s Important
  4. A question that kids love to ask is: “Why?” Explaining the importance of brushing to your child will help them brush more often. Try to find fun books, videos, and tools like dissolving agents to get your little one to learn the science behind why they need to brush to keep their mouth healthy.

  5. Make It Fun
  6. Let your kiddo choose their own toothbrush color and toothpaste flavor so they have a say (and an element of control) in their routine. Doing so will help them get more excited about brushing their teeth twice a day!

  7. Incentivize Your Child
  8. A little reward can go a long way! Try putting stickers on a calendar every day your child brushes to motivate them to brush their teeth without you having to ask. Let them collect a certain number of stickers until they win a prize.

  9. Visit the Dentist
  10. A family dentist, like Dr. McCord and Dr. Knox, can help your child establish a consistent brushing routine. In child-friendly language, they explain dental procedures and the importance of maintaining excellent oral health to our young patients, and demonstrate proper oral care techniques to perform at home. Moreover, at Mint Dental Care, we offer state-of-the art technology to give you and your children the most thorough dental examination while maintaining everyone’s comfort. Come check out our spa-like amenities! If your child experiences dental anxiety, we also offer nitrous oxide to put them at ease throughout their appointment.

We are here to set your child up for a lifetime of oral health success. Our team can help your family establish and maintain positive oral hygiene habits. Contact us at Mint Dental Care to schedule appointments for you, your spouse, and your children!

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