Surviving the Holiday Dental Woes

It’s time for good cheer, gift giving, and making merry this holiday season. There are so many things to consider such as what gifts you’ll get for friends and loved ones, what you’ll wear to holiday parties, and how to navigate family get togethers. It’s been said that the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Indeed there’s a lot to consider. However, sometimes we forget about our health, more specifically oral health.  All those sugary cookies, desserts, and sweet treats you’ll be eating over the holidays this year can take a toll on your teeth.

Here’s are four easy steps to combat the holiday dental woes.

Step 1: Put a limit on sugar consumption (ahead of time).

We all are familiar with the infamous relationship between sugar and oral health. Sugar plays a very large role in our overall food consumption here in the United States. The effect of sugar on our overall health can be quite sobering if you dare to look into it. Consequently, sugar’s impact on oral health is staggering. The truth is sugar in and of itself does not cause harm to your teeth. Rather, it’s the unfortunate chain of events occuring after eating that delectable sugar cookie that causes the harm. You see, unhealthy bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar molecules. This process is what creates plaque buildup that eventually leads to tooth decay. Therefore, eating less sugar during the holidays would be a smart way to avoid suffering from cavities, or worse tooth loss. Put a limit on how much dessert you will eat. Eat your dessert on smaller plates so it feels like you’re eating more.

Step 2: Plan to drink more water.

Water can be described as the magic elixir of life. It can do wonders for your body including hydration, flushing toxins out of your body, and aiding in digestion. Additionally, water can help rinse your mouth out and pass any extra sugar digestive tract preventing it from sitting in your mouth and attracting bacteria. Drinking more water also helps to fill up your belly and give you a more full feeling which can deter overeating.

Step 3: Brush.

It may seem extra hard to get your twice daily tooth brushing in during the holidays. But it can make a big difference. Brushing your teeth twice a day especially after eating sugary foods and consuming acids, will help keep your smile bright and clean. Remember to make your each brushing time last for two minutes in order to reap the maximum results.

Step 4: Schedule your dental cleaning after the holidays.

Just in case you do build up extra plaque during the holidays, you can clear it out with a dental visit. Plan ahead and schedule a visit with your dentist to coincide with the holidays. Having a dental visit right after the holidays will help you to remain accountable to yourself in order to be prepared for the visit. Also, the timing of the visit right after the holidays will ensure you have a teeth cleaning done right as the new year kicks in.

You don’t have to let your oral health take a back seat during the holidays. Be proactive with yourself and your family so that you can survive the holidays with a healthy smile.

How to get your Stubborn Husband to go to the Dentist

How to Get Your Stubborn Husband to go to the Dentist

Whether the man in your life has an innate fear of the dentist or he just doesn’t deem it important enough to go, you may understandably be frustrated with his lack of attention to his oral health. After all, you know the importance of regular cleanings every six months as well as flossing and brushing twice daily. But he may not realize it. Check out these tips to encourage your husband to make an appointment.

Recite the Stats

Many men think well in terms of numbers, of hard and true facts. Learn the statistics and let him know what you find.

  • 31% of adults aged 20 to 44 have untreated cavities, according to the CDC.
  • Only 64% of adults aged 18 to 64 visited a dentist in the past year.
  • Large amounts of bacteria in the mouth caused by poor dental hygiene can allow germs to invade the bloodstream. This can lead to infections and diseases, says Medical Daily.
  • The American Dental Association says that those who are at a high risk of developing periodontal disease should visit their dentist more frequently.
  • One in four adults admit they don’t brush twice a day, including one-third of men.
  • Only 9% of men have oral health that is deemed excellent.
  • 51,000 of people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer this year, says the American Cancer Society. About 10,000 of them will die.
  • Oral cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women.

Address the Root Problem

The #1 reason people avoid going to the dentist? Fear. In fact, three out of four adults report at least some anxiety when facing a dental visit, from feeling slightly afraid to feeling terrified, according to the Dental Fears Research Clinic. Approach the issue gingerly and ask your husband if he feels anxious about going to the dentist. You may be rebuked at first, but be persistent. It’s actually quite common for men to feel fear due to the lack of control they experience in situations like dental visits. In a society that puts a lot of pressure on men to be in control and never show emotion, it’s no wonder your guy is having a hard time admitting this.

Common sources of dental anxiety include the fear of pain or injections, the sound of drills and other instruments, lying flat in the chair, and simply that lack of control that comes with being at the mercy of someone else.

Problem is, men who proclaim they hate the dentist simply avoid going to appointments. While this calms the fear initially, it leads to the need for more in-depth cleanings, more cavity fillings and other procedures when they do go. This results in more pain and loss of control, so they stop going for awhile again and the cycle repeats itself. Bottom line, if men kept up with their six-month cleanings, the visits would be far more pleasant than if they were to wait until bigger issues crop up.

Another top reason for avoiding the dentist is cost. With many families going without dental insurance due to the high cost of this insurance on top of standard health insurance, many men forgo their own dental visits in favor of saving money. They may stress the importance of dental care with their wives or children, but when it comes to themselves, they feel their money is best spent elsewhere.

Luckily, the office of Gary Demetriou, DMD, can remedy both of these situations. We accept many different insurance plans, and for those who don’t have insurance, we offer affordable payment plans that work with your budget. In terms of allaying fears, our staff is well aware that many people — including men — may feel anxious when visiting us. That’s why we do all we can to put you at ease.

3 Quick Tips to Improving Your Dental Routine

There’s more to good oral health than brushing and flossing each day. You may still not be seeing the results you want. But there are more ways beyond the traditional flossing and brushing that can help you achieve the results you’re craving. So, here are a few more quick tips to enhance your dental routine for a cleaner, brighter, healthier smile.

1. Clean your tongue: You probably have a toothbrush in your bathroom right now that has the tools to help you do this, but you probably never use it. The backside of your toothbrush is ideal for scrubbing your tongue and inside of your cheeks to remove bacteria. Your teeth aren’t the only place that bacteria can thrive. The ridges of your taste buds are perfect hiding spots, so take some time when brushing to get your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. This will cut back on the plaque and unwanted bacteria lurking in your mouth. If you don’t have this feature built into your toothbrush, you can purchase a separate tongue scraper or get one from your dentist.

2. Gargle before brushing: Pick up some alcohol-free mouthwash or antiseptic mouth rinse and swish out your mouth before brushing. Doing it before you brush is more beneficial than after. Why? Doing it after you brush will wash away the fluoride that was in your toothpaste, essentially reversing the good work you just did. Rinsing beforehand will do wonders for loosening up plaque, getting rid of the rest when you brush. Be sure to get an alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol-based mouthwash solutions can dry out your mouth, which you don’t want to do because your saliva acts as a natural mouthwash. Drying up your saliva will do more harm than good in the long run because your saliva is what is needed to flush out germs and food particles throughout the day.

3. Brush the right way: How you hold your toothbrush can make all the difference. You should hold it at a 45-degree angle rather than parallel. Your old way of brushing isn’t as effective at getting in those crevices between your teeth and at the gum line that can harbor bacteria. Keep in mind, you should be switching out your toothbrush every three months or so, or after you’ve been sick. Keep a steady stock of toothbrushes, mouthwash, floss and toothpaste in your bathroom closet so you never run out. If you run out and don’t get to the store for a few days, you can set back your oral hygiene routine quite a bit.

Now that you have the tips to a healthier smile, get going! You will see results faster than you think. And don’t forget to keep up with your six-month visits to the dentist. Those visits will allow the dentist to ensure nothing more serious is going on and will keep your teeth clean and free of problems. Call Dr. Gary Demetriou, DMD, to schedule your six-month visit today.

What You Can Do Right Now for Healthier Teeth

You may not have the perfect teeth you’d like at the moment. Good oral health seems to be a constantly-evolving process that isn’t ever really “perfect” in many people’s eyes. However, there are things you can start doing right now that will improve the health of your teeth and overall oral hygiene.

Keep Flossing

No matter what you’ve heard lately, it’s important to keep flossing. Do it every night, especially after a big meal and especially if you have braces. You may have heard about studies that found flossing was not effective or necessary in maintaining oral health. However, both the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you should still floss. They say those studies were flawed by participants who said they flossed more than they really did.

Brushing alone cannot get into those between-the-teeth spaces to get rid of bacteria that can lead to gingivitis. In fact, flossing gets at least four times deeper into the gums than brushing ever can.

Stop Drinking Soda

Now’s as good a time as any to kick the soda habit. Even if you drink diet soda, all that acid is eroding your tooth enamel, which you can never get back once it’s gone. Cola and ginger ale are the worst culprits when it comes to high sources of sugar. Sugar, as you know, causes cavities — so you’re doing a double disservice to your teeth by drinking that fizzy stuff. If you absolutely must have a glass of soda, brush your teeth afterwards or at least drink water.

Stop Smoking

Easier said than done, right? But if you ever want to see those pearly whites again, you’ll nix the tobacco. That’s because smoking coats your teeth with a yellow hue, which is bad enough. However, the nicotine and tar in cigarettes are gradually eating away at your gums, making your mouth a breeding ground for bacteria and plaque, says WebMD. By harming your gums, you’re increasing your risk of future tooth loss as well as mouth sores that can result in oral cancer.

Start Brushing Right

If your brushing technique doesn’t seem to be effective, you’ll have to switch it up. If you’re at a loss, ask your dentist next time you have a visit how you can brush more effectively. Devote at least two minutes to cleaning your teeth and gums. Any less than that and you’re not putting in enough attention to each tooth. Make sure your brush is angled 45 degrees toward your gum line, then use circular strokes very gently. Are the bristles bending? You’re working it too hard. Because plaque is relatively soft, you can get it off your teeth with some gentle brushing.

Stay Current on Your Six-Month Visits

Take a look at your calendar. Do you have a six-month cleaning scheduled? If not, call your dentist today to book your appointment. One of the easiest ways to take care of your teeth is to visit the dentist twice a year — at least.

10 Must-Know Cavity Myths You Need to Bust Right Away

You may assume only candy causes cavities or that kids get more cavities than adults. Truth is, though, a lot of the things you’ve heard about cavities, what causes them and how to avoid them may not be true — or as entirely true as you once thought. Let’s go over some myths and facts about cavities so you can move forward with the right knowledge to pass on to your kids.

Myth #1: Adults don’t get as many calories as kids. In fact, while you may assume because kids love candy and soda that they have way more cavities than their parents, the truth is actually the reverse. With advances in fluoride treatments every six months at the dentist as well as in the water supply, coupled with better education in schools about oral hygiene, decay in school-aged has been reduced by half in the last 20 years, says WebMD. Conversely, older adults are experiencing unprecedented cavity rates due to the prevalence of medications that tend to dry the mouth. When saliva is reduced, the protection it affords is lessened.

Myth #2: Sugars present in cookies and candy are the only culprit of cavities. Nope. cavities are actually caused by bacteria, which is a process that can be jump started by any number of foods with hidden sugar in them, including rice, potatoes, bread, fruits, and vegetables. That bacteria then produces acids that can add to the problem, especially if you’re drinking lots of acidic beverages such as juice and soda.

Myth #3: Putting an aspirin near the source of a toothache will make it go away. Nope again. You’ll have to actually consume that aspirin for it to have any pain relieving effects. Aspirin contains acids that can burn your gums and cause ulcers.

Myth #4: Fillings have a set life expectancy. While it is true that fillings don’t necessarily last forever, factors such as tooth wear and oral hygiene play a part in when you should have them replaced. Don’t let any dentist tell you there’s a certain timeline for fillings. It should depend on an individual basis.

Myth #5: No need to go to the dentist; if you don’t feel pain, you don’t have a cavity. Cavities don’t always cause pain, however, and you could be doing a lot more damage letting them fester if you don’t regularly see your dentist. At your six-month checkup, your dentist can take a look and see if anything is happening, fixing problems before they do start to hurt.

Myth #6: Once a cavity is treated, another one won’t crop up in its place. You can treat that one cavity, but lapsing back into poor oral hygiene habits may open the door for a new one to form next to the existing one or around it.

Myth #7: Tooth grinding causes cavities. This one isn’t as cut and dried. No, it can’t technically cause cavities, but tooth grinding can cause stress and wear on the enamel over time, leaving your tooth more vulnerable to decay.

Myth #8: Brushing is all you need to do to prevent cavities. In order to get into spaces between the teeth, you’ll also need to floss and use mouthwash in addition to brushing in order to fight cavities effectively.

Myth #9: Chips in your teeth don’t cause cavities. Yes they do, as they offer a great place for bacteria to hide and fester. Again, use a fluoride mouth rinse to combat decay.

Myth #10: Cavities are the only reason you need a root canal. Yes, unfilled cavities that are left untreated certainly do lead to the need for root canals; however, other things can too, such as grinding or clenching of the teeth or injury/trauma to the tooth.

Overall, it’s important to keep up with your six-month dental checkups. Call Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D. in North Andover at 978-794-0010 today!

4 Ways to Improve Your Smile

If your smile has been lackluster lately, you may have considered cosmetic dentistry to restore the brilliance of your teeth. Anything from injury to food stains can dull the look of your smile over time, but there are a few ways you can correct that! Did you know that smiling adds seven years to your life? Here are some more quick stats about smiling:

  • 88% of people say smiling makes them feel good
  • 92% of people say they smile to brighten someone’s day
  • Smiling can kickstart your immune system for better overall health

If that doesn’t make you want to reclaim your smile, we don’t know what will! Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can achieve that.

Teeth Whitening

Anything from coffee to wine to cigarette smoke can stain your tooth enamel. If you’ve already tried those over-the-counter teeth whitening remedies to no avail, try professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office. When done in a clinical setting, you know the results will be successful, thanks to professional-grade whitening treatments done while you wait.

Dental Bonding

Have you chipped or broken a tooth? You may be a good candidate for dental bonding, which involves the creation of tooth-colored composite resin with no numbing agent required. This semi-permanent filling repairs  chips and breaks, as well as exposed roots and cavities. You get a tooth that looks just like the original, with a strong material that is sure to last many years.

Veneers

These are thin shells of plastic or porcelain that fit over your existing tooth. First, an impression will be taken of your upper and lower teeth, which will then be used to make a customized set of veneers. These are great for those with broken or chipped teeth, gaps, or permanently discolored teeth. Veneers generally last longer than bonding yet aren’t as expensive as dental crowns.

Invisalign

Many people decide to go with Invisalign over traditional metal braces, due to their less invasive design nature and increased convenience. With no need for cumbersome brackets and wires, Invisalign can correct a variety of orthodontic issues such as:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Overcrowding
  • Gaps
  • Cross bites
  • Overbites
  • Under bites

Best part is, there are no painful adjustments — only customized aligners used in succession for gentle, gradual correction of your orthodontic problem. In addition, Invisalign treatment usually takes about half the time of traditional braces, which is why so many teens and adults love this option. And because you can remove your Invisalign braces at meal and snack times, there’s no embarrassment about getting food stuck in your teeth.

Contact Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D.

Getting a brilliant smile starts with a visit to Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D., who has been a dentist in Andover & North Andover area since 1986. Our staff is dedicated to your comfort and prompt attention as well. Call for an appointment today at 978-794-0010. We have many convenient slots available to fit your busy schedule.

The Proper Way to Brush Your Teeth

Nothing could be simpler than brushing your teeth, right? After all, it’s not rocket science. Turns out, eight out of 10 of us are doing it wrong. Getting it right, and then teaching your kids so they have a lifetime of good oral hygiene habits, is crucial. If you don’t brush correctly, this could just be an act in futility. Let’s go over some steps to take to ensure you’re getting the job done right.

Find the Right Brush

It all starts with the right brush for you. Your dentist can recommend the best one for you, but generally, most people should stick with a soft brush. A hard brush can damage your gums and make them bleed, leading to recession that can allow harmful bacteria in. It’s best to get a soft nylon brush with round-ended bristles that can prevent scratching and irritation of the teeth and gums, says the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Make sure the brush you choose is the right size overall for your mouth. If you find yourself straining to open your mouth wide enough for the brush, it’s too big for you. So, what about electric toothbrushes? This is really up to the individual user. Electric toothbrushes can make it easier on those who suffer from arthritis, for example. The tool you use doesn’t matter as much as how you use it.

Get the Bristle Placement Right

After adding a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto the brush, hold the bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle to gain the best access. This is so that the bristles can reach both the tooth surface and the gums. Start brushing gently in a back-and-forth rolling motion, beginning with the gums and then moving slowly down towards the tooth surface. Don’t neglect those hard to reach areas. Be careful to get the outer and inner tooth surfaces, back molars, and tongue.

Timing

It’s best to brush three times a day, or after every meal. However, you should make it a point to brush at least twice a day, in the morning and before bed. Most people simply don’t brush for long enough, though. Make sure you’re taking at least two minutes to do the job. If it helps, divide your mouth into four sections and break up the time in 30-second increments. Watch TV, listen to music, or sync to your smart phone while you do it to help the time pass quickly. If you have an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer, even better!

Know When to Let Go

Never keep your brush beyond the three-month mark. Not only can it get overrun with bacteria, the bristles tend to break down over time, losing their flexibility.

Get the Right Toothpaste

With so many products on the market, it can be tempting to go with the fancy ones, such as tartar control, whitening or similar ones that can really be harsh on the tooth enamel. It’s best to stick with a simple plain fluoride toothpaste. If your teeth need a whitening boost, alternate the two.

Need more tooth brushing tips? Schedule your appointment with Dr. Demetriou today at 978-794-0010.

3 Quick Tips to Improving Your Dental Routine

We don’t always have all the time in the world to improve the health of our teeth. However, just a few minutes a day is all it takes to keep your brilliant smile, plus adopting a few healthy lifestyle habits in between. Check out these three quick tips to improving your dental routine that you can start today.

1. Eat Better

A healthy diet and exercise routine isn’t just good for your waistline — it’s good for your smile too. Just as important as brushing and flossing, your diet can have a major impact on the health of your gums and teeth. Instead of reaching for carb-heavy foods that also happen to be high in sugar, go for fruits and vegetables that are packed with nutrients, from apples and bananas to broccoli and kale. Nix the sodas and fruit juices, and teach your kids to do the same. Sugar breeds bacteria in the mouth, leading to decay. In order to keep cavities at bay, start eating healthier and your mouth will thank you for it.

2. Switch out your Toothbrush Regularly

Your toothbrush is your friend. However, it’s time to get a new friend every few months or whenever you notice the bristles beginning to fray. You should also get a new one after you’ve been sick with the cold or flu to prevent re-infecting yourself or spreading your germs to others. In a pinch, you can throw your toothbrush in the dishwasher to sanitize it, but this can damage the bristles over time. It’s a good idea to have a new brush waiting in the wings so you always have one on hand.

How to Find the Right Dentist for Your Family

3. Read Toothpaste Labels

Not all toothpaste is created equal. That’s why you should always take a minute to read the labels before buying a tube at the market. You’ll find a lot of the ingredients work to protect the whiteness and sparkle of your teeth, but what are all those other ingredients for? Do you need them?

Here are some you could do without:

  • Triclosan: This antibacterial agent is a common addition to many of the most well-known toothpaste brands out there, designed to prevent gingivitis. However, studies reveal antibiotic resistance and hormone disruption, while the EPA technically calls this a pesticide.
  • Dyes: It’s no secret that synthetic colors and dyes are added to toothpaste to make them look better on the shelf and more appealing to all consumers, particularly kids. These dyes have connections to allergic reactions, behavior difficulties for those with ADHD, asthma attacks, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
  • Saccharin: This is an artificial sweetener added to improve the taste of toothpaste, but there has been a link found between cancer and saccharin consumption. It can also bring on allergic reactions, headaches, skin irritation and diarrhea.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): This gives soaps and toothpaste their signature bubble and foam. Although it helps dissolve plaque, it can also lead to ulcers and mouth sores, skin irritation, and an upset in your mouth’s pH balance.

Want more tips on how to improve your dental routine? Dentist Dr. Demetriou serving Andover & North Andover can help. Call us today for an appointment at 978-794-0010.