How to Take Care of Clear Aligners

woman inserting her clear aligner after proper cleaning

When undergoing treatment to straighten your teeth using clear aligners, you spend the majority of the day wearing your aligners. That means that taking good care of your clear aligners is a key aspect of your oral care, and it’s crucial to the success of your treatment. In this post, we’ll tell you what you need to know to keep your aligners in great shape.

Oral Care Before Wear

When you take your trays off, it’ll generally be to eat and drink. That’s why it’s so important to brush and floss your teeth before you wear the trays again. If you don’t do this, food particles and bacteria will get trapped in the aligner, eventually spreading to your teeth and causing cavities.

Rinse Regularly

Always rinse your trays when you remove them to eat. Do this with cold water only. It’s important that the saliva is rinsed from the aligners or it may build up and harbor bacteria, which could pose dangers for your teeth when you put the trays back on.

Avoid Heat

Never use hot water to clean your aligners. Hot water will warp the plastic, rendering your trays entirely useless–and they can be costly to replace. Along these lines, never put your trays in the dishwasher.

Clean Properly

Make sure that you never use toothpaste on your clear aligners. Toothpaste is slightly abrasive–abrasive enough to leave tiny scratches in the plastic where bacteria would feel right at home. Use soap instead, and you can also turn to a retainer cleaner for a cleansing soak.

New Year, New Smile!

Make 2020 the year you achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. In addition to clear aligner therapy, we have a great selection of restorative and cosmetic solutions that’ll give your smile new life! Give us a call to schedule a consultation, or visit our website to use our online form.

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How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Nobody wants cavities. They start out small, but if untreated, they only get bigger. The decay spreads and causes serious problems. The best way to deal with cavities is to prevent them from even starting. How? Here are five ways:

1. Watch What You Eat & Drink

All food can cause cavities, because the bacteria in your mouth eat whatever you eat, and create plaque, tartar, and acid. However, certain foods are more bothersome than others. Bacteria loves sugar and refined carbs, so if your diet is heavy with those, you are more likely to get cavities. Nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruit and vegetables are much better for your teeth and your body in general. Raw fruits like apple and celery can even help break down plaque on your teeth before it hardens into tartar. For beverages, water is naturally the best, while drinks packed with sugar (like soda and many energy drinks) are the worst.

man wearing a bathrobe brushing his teeth to prevent cavities

2. Have a Consistent Brushing/Flossing Routine

The best way to prevent cavities is to take care of your teeth and gums through brushing and flossing. We recommend brushing at least twice per day for two minutes each time. Flossing can be a once-a-day habit, so you can prevent cavities from forming because of plaque found in the tiny spaces between the teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too! Lots of bacteria like to live on your tongue’s surface, and if you don’t clean them away, they spread to your teeth. Replace your brush every 3 months or so, since the bristles of brushes wear down and aren’t as effective at cleaning.

3. Use a Toothpaste with Fluoride

Fluoride is a natural element, and it’s been well-established that small amounts of it strengthen your teeth. You can get toothpastes with fluoride or a fluoride rinse to keep your teeth in the best shape possible. If you are at special risk for cavities, fluoride toothpaste and rinses are an especially good addition to your oral health routine.

4. Don’t Chew Tobacco or Smoke

Tobacco products have been linked with increased risk of tooth decay. Studies show people using smokeless tobacco are especially vulnerable to cavities at the gumline. While chewing tobacco raises your risk the most (which makes sense considering the stuff is right in your mouth), smoking is also dangerous for your oral health.

5. Go to the Dentist Twice a Year

After a solid brushing/flossing routine at home and other lifestyle choices that keep your teeth healthy, going to the dentist bi-annually is the best way to prevent cavities. Dr. McCord, Dr. Knox, and the team at Mint Dental Care are here to give your teeth a professional cleaning and catch any problems before they become serious. We can see your mouth and teeth much more thoroughly than you can, and provide expert care and advice on how to keep cavities at bay.

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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 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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5 Tips for Fighting Cavities

Aerial view of a pink, blue that is missing a bite, and brown donut, covered with colorful sprinkles on a wooden counter

If you have ever had a cavity, you’re in the majority: it’s estimated that nine in ten American adults have at least one cavity.

What Are Cavities?

A cavity is a small area of decay on your tooth, usually in the form of a small hole. They’re not easy to detect yourself, which is why it is so important to see Dr. McCord every 6 months so that he can determine if you have them. Common signs of cavities include tooth sensitivity and pain, along with bad breath. Cavities are easily treatable in their early stages, but if you don’t get them treated right away, the decay will spread and you may be required to have a root canal or a tooth extraction in the future.

What Causes Cavities?

Tooth decay occurs when you have too much bacteria on the surface of your teeth and are not doing enough to curb their growth. Eating a diet that is rich in sugar and carbohydrates is a leading cause of cavities, because when bacteria on your teeth break down leftover sugar, they release acid that can actually eat away at the protective layer of your teeth. Additionally, poor oral hygiene leads to cavities.

5 Tips to Prevent Cavities

Even though they’re quite common, cavities are actually easily preventable! Follow these 5 tips to be completely cavity-free.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet
  2. A well-balanced diet will balance acid levels in your mouth, making it harder for bacteria to grow. Having a proper mix of vitamins and nutrients will also help remineralize, or strengthen, your teeth every time you eat. Protein, calcium, and fiber are especially important for your teeth, so don’t be shy to incorporate more dairy, leafy greens, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet!

  3. Use Fluoride
  4. Using dental products that contain fluoride and drinking fluoridated water is a great way to ward of cavities, since fluoride prevents cavity-causing bacteria from multiplying. Just be careful not to use too much, because it can cause staining on your teeth.

  5. Brush & Floss Every Day
  6. Brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time and flossing at least once per day is the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease. It only takes a couple of minutes each time!

  7. Stop Smoking
  8. Smoking negatively impacts your health, and because it weakens your immunity, it makes it even easier for the bacteria that is normally not so harmful to your teeth to overtake them and cause infections.

  9. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
  10. It’s very important to have Dr. McCord examine your teeth twice per year to make sure that either you don’t have cavities at all or are able to have them treated.

Don’t let cavities get the best of you! Visit us at Mint Dental Care for a clean bill of health. Contact us today!

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5 Uses for Your Old Toothbrush

green and white toothbrush sitting on counter

Just because you’re due to replace your toothbrush doesn’t mean you have to toss out the old one! Toothbrushes have become convenient tools for a variety of reasons. Here are just five ways to put that old toothbrush to good use.

1. Cleaning Tile Grout and Under Sink Taps

Tile grout can be pesky to clean. It may seem like there isn’t a tool that’s small enough to squeeze into the tight space of the tile and scrub it at the same time, but a toothbrush does just the trick. While you’re at it, go ahead and use your old toothbrush to clean under your sink taps too with a little splash of vinegar.

2. Clean Your Keyboard

It’s so frustrating to get tiny dust and food particles all over your computer or laptop, but we all know that it’s inevitable! Use a toothbrush to scoop crumbs out from in between the keys and keep it handy to prevent further messes.

3. Dye Your Hair

Yes, people have used toothbrushes to help dye their hair! If you’re trying to cover up your roots or pesky greys, use a toothbrush to apply hair dye on those smaller patches of hair for more accurate coverage.

4. Remove Stains from Fabrics

Instead of scrubbing tough stains out of your clothes, carpets, or drapes with just a cloth, use a toothbrush to help get difficult stains out. Just dab a bit of laundry detergent on the stain and let the toothbrush do the rest.

5. Make an Art Project

Give your children a toothbrush to paint with for a different effect than a regular toothbrush. It will make for some cool refrigerator art!

Toothbrushes are versatile objects, but don’t forget that their primary purpose is to keep your teeth clean and healthy! Brushing your teeth twice a day and scheduling a dental visit twice a year are great ways to ward off oral health issues. Here at Mint Dental Care, we offer general, cosmetic, and restorative services for you and your family’s needs.

Contact us to schedule an appointment!

Top 5 Most Common Dental Emergencies

man dealing with a painful dental emergency

Dental emergencies can happen to anyone — maybe during an intense game of basketball or while eating a caramel apple at the fair. Whatever the story, your teeth will probably need professional help. While getting to the dentist as soon as possible after an emergency is essential to maintaining your dental health, there are things you can do to prevent further damage. Here are five of the most common dental emergencies with advice for what you can do immediately to help yourself in each situation.

1. Knocked Out Tooth

If you’ve knocked out your tooth accidentally, it’s important to save the tooth so your dentist can reattach it. Rinse the tooth off in water or milk, and safely store the tooth by tucking it inside your check to keep it moist, making sure to keep the root intact. See your dentist as soon as possible so they can assess the damage and decide the best course of action.

2. Cracked Tooth

Call your dentist immediately if your tooth is fractured or cracked. Take over-the-counter pain medication to minimize discomfort, and use ice packs liberally to reduce swelling in your face. The more ice packs you use at the beginning, the better off you’ll feel later.

3. Temporary Dental Crown Comes Off

If you realize your temporary crown is coming off, try to catch it before you swallow it or lose it. Put a tiny dab of Vaseline on the back of the crown to temporarily bond it to your tooth, and make sure not to bite down too hard. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to replace the crown.

4. Painful or Infected Tooth

If you think you have any type of oral infection, you need to get help as quickly as possible. Call your dentist immediately so they can bring you in. No matter what, do not try to treat the infection yourself.

5. Broken Jaw or Jaw Pain

If you’ve been in an accident and hurt your jaw, you need to see your dentist immediately. Make sure to ice your face to prevent swelling, and don’t eat solid food until you’ve seen your dentist.

While accidents and emergencies happen to everyone, there are some things you can do to safeguard your teeth. Here are a few:

  • Stay away from tough foods, such as popcorn and caramel
  • Wear a mouthguard if you’re playing sports
  • Brush and floss regularly
  • See your dentist for biannual checkups
If you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call (479) 202-0025 to speak with our friendly staff.

Tips for Getting Your Kids to Practice Oral Hygiene on Their Own

parent looking down at young kid

Have you ever thought about how you’re helping your kid remember to practice good oral hygiene at home? Maybe it only comes up when you ask whether or not they’ve brushed their teeth before they head out the door for school or when you’re tucking them in at night. Helping your kids develop healthy habits early on is a great way to make sure their smile stays in tip-top shape as they grow up.

Bring Learning Into Story Time

It doesn’t have to feel like a lecture when you’re trying to teach your child how to keep their smile sparkling. By incorporating some kids’ dental hygiene books into story time, they can have fun while learning how to brush and floss, and why they should be doing it. There are plenty of books out there to choose from. We particularly like The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss and Brush, Brush, Brush! from Scholastic.

Play a Song During Brushing

The general recommendation is that everyone should be brushing their teeth for at least two minutes. And two minutes just happens to be right around the length of a short song. You two can pick a special song that they can put on during brushing time so they know exactly when to stop. An added benefit is that it could keep them from getting bored while they’re brushing too!

Choose a Fun Toothbrush and Toothpaste

The idea of brushing their teeth might seem more appealing to your child if they have a fun toothbrush and cool toothpaste to use. There are lots of toothbrushes out there that are in fun shapes and colors, or that are designed around a popular cartoon or comic book character. The same goes for toothpastes, which come in a variety of flavors these days. You can let your kid choose their favorites at the store, and then maybe they’ll be excited to go home and try them out!

Use a Kid-Friendly App

Many parents keep their phone or iPad handy to keep their child entertained, and the right app can be used to teach them about their dental health too! There are apps that demonstrate how to properly brush, that walk them through a dental visit with fun story lines, and that explain the how and why of dental care. With a dental app to guide them, tech-savvy kids can take on their oral health care with confidence!

For more dental care tips, contact the Mint Dental Care team. If you’re ready to bring your child in for a dental appointment, we’d love to have you and your family at our practice!

Help your child have their very best smile!

How Do You Get Rid of Halitosis?

girl covering her mouth

Bad breath (also called halitosis) isn’t the easiest thing to self-diagnose. Maybe you notice that people stand a little further away when they’re talking to you, or maybe you have an unpleasant, lingering taste in your mouth. Or perhaps someone close to you has the guts to give you the bad news. We’ve put together some of the causes of halitosis as well as some solutions for getting rid of it and going back to fresh (inoffensive!) breath.

Causes of Halitosis

Wonder what the culprit is behind your bad breath? Here are some of the most common causes of halitosis:

  • Bad Oral Hygiene — When you don’t take proper care of your teeth, food particles can get stuck there, leading to bacterial growth and then bad breath.
  • Dry Mouth — Dry mouth, whether situational (like when you wake up in the morning) or medical (a condition called xerostomia), can cause halitosis because there is not enough saliva to clean away bad odors.
  • Tobacco — Tobacco products not only contribute to unpleasant mouth odor, but they can also lead to gum disease, which also results in bad breath.
  • Certain Medications — There are certain drugs that reduce saliva production, which we mentioned earlier is helpful for ridding the mouth of negative odors. Then, there are other drugs that actually release chemicals as they break down which produce bad breath.
  • Certain Diseases — There are some illnesses that can cause bad breath, including chronic sinus infections, diabetes, liver problems, and kidney problems.

How to Fight Bad Breath

There a few different things you can try to fight bad breath. Here are some halitosis solutions:

Practice Better At-Home Care

Regularly brushing and flossing could be just what you need to get rid of your bad breath. Brush at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. It’s even better if you brush after your meals and brush your tongue too. Floss your teeth at least once a day. You can also incorporate mouthwash into your dental regimen.

Regularly Hydrate

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated and your mouth stays moist. If you want, you can chew gum or suck on mints to promote saliva production. We strongly recommend sugar-free gum or mints!

Give Up Tobacco

If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably heard plenty of reasons why you should quit. Fighting bad breath is another one you can add to your list!

Visit the Dentist

Did you know that halitosis is actually one of the most common conditions that brings people to the dentist? When you visit the dentist, we can see what is causing your halitosis in order to find the best treatment solution.

Want professional help for your halitosis? Contact us today for an appointment!

How to Maintain a Healthy Dental Regimen

illustration of bathroom

Taking care of your dental health can seem overwhelming at times. There is a lot of advice out there, and some of it is contradictory. Here is a list of 8 easy tips to help strip away the fluff and simplify your dental regimen:

1. Brush your teeth twice a day after meals, taking care to spend at least two minutes brushing. This might seem obvious, but many people spend 30 seconds or less brushing their teeth and then call it a day. Make sure to use a soft toothbrush that you replace every three months.

2. Floss once a day. Toothbrushes can’t get all the food particles that are stuck between your teeth, which is why flossing is so important. Focus on one tooth at a time and use fluid, gentle motions as you place the floss between teeth. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter if you brush or floss first.

3. Make sure your drinking water contains fluoride, which helps protects teeth from cavities. This is especially important for children.

4. Use a mouthwash. Like fluoride, the right type of mouthwash helps protect your teeth from cavities. It also helps maintain gum health and avoid dry mouth. There are many brands of mouthwash, so make sure to find one you don’t mind using every day.

5. Limit acidic drinks like soda and citrus juice, as these can erode teeth enamel and cause cavities. They also contain a lot of sugar.

6. Stay away from smoking or smokeless tobacco, which can put unnecessary stress on teeth.

7. Rinse after snacking so food particles don’t cling to your teeth and cause cavities.

8. Visit your dentist every six months for your regular cleaning. This way they can keep an eye on your dental health and recommend any necessary changes to your routine.

To check up on your dental health today, contact the Mint Dental Care team!