Is Sunshine Good For Your Teeth?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Overall Health

sunshineWe all know that getting out into the sunshine can benefit our overall health by boosting mood and increasing vitamin D levels. But can sunshine also be good for oral health? While this may seem like an odd question to ask, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that it’s actually not that far fetched –  as the benefits of sunshine, especially the added dose of vitamin D, can in fact benefit your oral health. 

The Benefits of Sunshine & Vitamin D

There are countless benefits of sunshine and vitamin D. Research has shown that sunshine, in particular, helps us sleep better, feel better, and may even help us lose weight. But it’s the power of vitamin D that we get from the sunshine that truly makes your dentist in Rocky Mount happy. Some ways that vitamin D helps our teeth and our bodies include: 

  • Stronger Teeth – Without vitamin D, our bodies aren’t able to absorb calcium properly, and without calcium, we aren’t able to build strong bones or teeth. This makes both calcium and vitamin D an essential duo for the health of our smiles and our bodies.  
  • Less Tooth Decay – Stronger teeth tends to mean less tooth decay, at least that was the thought behind all of the research that studied the connection between vitamin D and decay. The results of these studies suggest that those who get an adequate amount of vitamin D have a reduced risk of tooth decay. One study even found that getting enough vitamin D can lower the risk of decay by 50%. 
  • Better Immune System – Study after study shows a positive correlation between vitamin D and a strong, more effective immune system. While this connection between vitamin D and the immune system is complicated and complex, there’s really only one thing you need to know. Vitamin D helps regulate and balance the immune system so it’s prepared to fight off germs.

Where to Get Vitamin D

The best way to get enough vitamin D is to get outside and soak up the sun. But this isn’t always an option. When the sun is out of reach, supplement your vitamin D intake through the foods you eat such as: 

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified cereal, orange juice, or yogurt 

Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D, and when our levels are too low, our bodies are at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency that could lead to osteoporosis, increased risk for type 1 diabetes, and even breast, colon, or prostate cancer.

Take some time this summer to enjoy the sun and get outside. Aim to get between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine every day, but also make sure you know your limits. Recommended sun exposure varies based on age, health history, skin tone, and other factors. Wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for a prolonged period of time. 

While vitamin D is a great way to help protect your teeth and your body, it doesn’t replace regular visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount. Be sure to schedule dental appointments every six months. 

3 Risks Associated With Oral Piercings

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

woman with facial piercingsOral piercings have been popular for years and are a way that many people choose to express themselves. Most commonly, oral piercings are found on the tongue, lip, or cheeks. While many may consider these piercings cool or trendy, there are several reasons why your dentist in Rocky Mount is wary of oral piercings. Join us as we share the three most common risks associated with oral piercings.  

Damage 

Oral piercings can do more than simply change the way you look. When you first get an oral piercing, it can affect the way you speak and how you chew until you get used to it. However, there are times when these unexpected and unwanted changes don’t go away. You see, there is a complex system of nerves in our mouths and all around our faces. If your piercer accidentally hits one of these nerves, it can cause temporary numbness or even long-term nerve damage, which can permanently affect your taste as well as speech. 

Tooth damage is also a common risk factor for anyone with an oral piercing. As you’ve probably noticed, oral piercings are hard to ignore, and you’ll often find those with an oral piercing playing with it all the time. Now while this may seem like just a habit, the truth is, constantly hitting your teeth with a piece of metal can cause chipped or broken teeth. This damage will need to be repaired by your dentist in Rocky Mount before it leads to bigger, more complicated treatment or pain. 

Gum Disease

Just like playing with a piercing can damage teeth, this repetitive behavior can also damage gums. When the gum tissue is damaged, it makes it very easy for mouth bacteria to wiggle their way up under the gums, settle in, and cause gum disease. Gum disease brings on a whole host of other concerns for your dentist in Rocky Mount and can even affect the entire body. Gum disease can cause chronic bad breath, tooth loss, heart disease, and has been linked to certain types of cancer. 

Infection

Whenever a hole is made in the body, such as with a piercing, infection is always a concern. Piercing infections can be minor, but if left untreated can become serious or even life-threatening. However, piercing infections in the mouth are of particular concern for a few reasons. First, the mouth provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply and thrive. This means that a minor infection can quickly become a serious infection. Additionally, infections tend to come with a series of symptoms such as swelling. When swelling occurs in the mouth, it can block the airway and make it difficult to breathe. If you notice any of these signs of an infection, get medical attention right away:

  • Redness
  • Heat or warmth
  • Discharge
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Lower the Risk

If you do decide to get an oral piercing, take the following steps to lower your risk of complications. 

Do your research. Before committing to getting a piercing from just anyone, do your research. Make sure your chosen piercer has a good reputation and is able to answer questions about sanitization standards. 

Clean the area. Our mouths naturally contain tons of bacteria, which we know aren’t ideal for a healing piercing. To help protect yourself from this bacteria and any infection that may come along with them, clean your piercing regularly. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of rinsing your mouth with water after you eat to get rid of any food particles that may be lingering around. 

Leave it alone. Not playing with your new piercing is key to protecting your teeth and gums. 

See your dentist. Oral hygiene and regular dental appointments are important for everyone, but perhaps more so for those with an oral piercing. Make sure you brush and floss every day and see your dentist in Rocky Mount twice a year to further protect your oral health. 

Of course, if you’re still unsure if the risks outweigh your desires for an oral piercing, talk with your dentist.

4 Causes of Gum Pain

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Gum Disease, Oral Cancer, Oral Health

man examines his gumsMany people think that it’s normal for gums to hurt or bleed during brushing or flossing. However, that’s a pretty big misconception. Whenever your gums bleed or are painful, whether this occurs while brushing or not, it’s usually a sign that you should see your dentist in Rocky Mount. Even though gum pain may be nothing more than a temporary minor issue, there is a chance that it may be a sign of something more serious. Let’s take a look at some causes of gum pain. 

Canker Sores

Canker sores can pop up in various places in your mouth, including your gum tissue. They can seem to come out of nowhere and can be painful, as well as annoying. A canker sore can appear either red or red with a white coating. They’re different from a cold sore in that they aren’t contagious, but they can raise concern. Not to worry, canker sores are usually no big deal and should go away on their own within 7-14 days. However, if a canker sore doesn’t disappear, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Rocky Mount

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious health condition that, if left untreated, can lead to death. However, oftentimes oral cancer treatment is very successful, but it’s key that you catch it early. Remember when we said that if you have a canker sore that doesn’t go away you should call your dentist in Rocky Mount? Oral cancer is why we highly recommend that. Oral cancer can initially appear as a tiny sore, but unlike a canker sore, oral cancer doesn’t go away. Oral cancer can affect any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the gums, so if you’re experiencing gum pain along with a sore, see your dentist. 

Minor Burns

You know that feeling when you’re so hungry you just can’t wait for that delicious pizza to cool off before taking a bite? Do you know the feeling that comes after that, the “oh, hot, hot, hot” feeling? Well, those impatient bites of super-hot food can cause minor burns to the roof of the mouth, as well as the gums. These burns can result in temporary gum pain. This type of gum pain usually isn’t something to worry about and will heal on its own. But in the future, we recommend taking it slowly and letting your food cool a bit before eating it. 

Gum Disease

Perhaps the most common explanation to gum pain is gum disease. Gum disease is usually categorized by red, swollen, painful gums that bleed while brushing and flossing. If not treated, gum disease will progress to more severe stages and cause the gums to pull away from the teeth. This can eventually cause teeth to fall out. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to other problems throughout the body including an increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers. 

Gum pain may be no cause for concern, but if it doesn’t go away or is chronic, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Rocky Mount as soon as you can so that we can find the underlying cause behind your pain and recommend the best treatment for you. 

What Causes Migraines?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

man with migraineThere’s a medical condition that affects over 39 million Americans. It has no known cause, no known cure, and treatment can vary in success from person to person. We’re talking about migraines and for a good reason. June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, a time for medical professionals, including your dentist in Rocky Mount, to come together and raise awareness about this very real, often debilitating, and always frustrating condition. 

Do You Have a Migraine or a Headache?

There are a lot of commonalities between migraines and headaches — both of which can be painful, sometimes extremely so. However, there are also several differences between migraines and headaches, and knowing the symptoms of each can help you identify whether you have a migraine or a headache and guide into treating it effectively. 

Headaches vs. Migraines

HeadachesMigraines
  • Pain typically affects the entire head
  • Pain tends to affect one side of the head, although not always
  • Pain doesn’t get worse with activity
  • Pain increases in intensity when doing anything physical 
  • Pain usually feels like there’s constant pressure in your head 
  • Pain appears as more of a throbbing sensation than pressure
  • There are no other symptoms in other areas of the body
  • May also experience nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, blurry vision, and visual auras such as blind spots, lines, or glowing patches

What Causes Migraines?

Unfortunately, there is no known cause of migraines. That’s one reason why this neurological condition can be so frustrating and equally difficult to treat. There are several theories as to what may cause or trigger migraines, but it appears that they may differ from person to person. Some commonly supported cause or triggers of migraines include: 

  • Stress and a surge in serotonin
  • Hormones, particularly in women
  • Certain foods or skipping meals
  • Drinks such as alcohol or caffeine
  • Weather
  • Not enough sleep

Another area of interest to researchers as well as your dentist, in Rocky Mount, is the jaw and, specifically, the bite.

A Bad Bite & Migraines

Again, it’s worth noting that no one thing causes migraines, and everybody’s situation is unique. However, recent research has suggested a possible connection between a bad bite and migraines. You see, your jaw muscles are directly impacted by your bite, and when you have a poor, it can place constant, unnecessary stress on the muscles and cause pain. Additionally, since the jaw is so close to the head and actually shares several muscle groups as well as some large nerves, this pain can also be translated into the head and neck. The result may just be an intense headache or even a full-blown migraine. Studies also suggest that chronically clenching or grinding your teeth has a similar effect on jaw muscles and may also increase the risk of migraines. 

Even though migraines are incredibly painful and may even inhibit someone’s ability to get out of bed, there are treatments available. Migraine research continues to expand which results in better, more effective medications and treatments. The best way to find out what may be causing your migraines and find the best treatment for you is to talk with both your primary care doctor and your dentist in Rocky Mount.  

Xylitol: A Mouth’s Best Friend?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

sweetenerHaving a serious sweet tooth can mean bad news for your dental health. But your dentist in Rocky Mount has a little secret that can allow you to satisfy your desire for something sweet and benefit your oral health at the same time. It’s true! This special sugar substitute is called xylitol, and it’s pretty powerful.    

A Closer Look at Xylitol

While you may be familiar with the name xylitol, it’s benefits are far and plenty, and not many people know exactly what it can do for our bodies and oral health. First, xylitol is a sugar substitute, but unlike other sugar substitutes, xylitol is natural. It’s found in both vegetables and fruits as well as in our bodies. Second, xylitol tastes like sugar and looks like sugar, but it certainly doesn’t act like sugar. Xylitol has fewer calories than sugar, which can help maintain weight or assist in weight loss. Xylitol also has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t cause spikes in blood glucose the way that sugar does. These two things alone make xylitol a pretty solid substitute for sugar. But your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that while xylitol can certainly help overall health, it can protect teeth, too.  

How Does It Work? 

In short, xylitol helps eliminate bad bacteria from the mouth, thus decreasing the chances of the bacteria wreaking havoc and causing decay. Let’s take a closer look at how xylitol does this. 

One of the most common “bad bacteria” found in the mouth is something called Streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup and decay. Now, these bacteria love to feed on sugar. In turn, sugar gives the bacteria energy and allows them to multiply. Basically, the more sugar we eat, the more powerful we make Streptococcus mutans, and the more likely it is that we’ll suffer from tooth decay. However, what makes xylitol so great is that while the bacteria will still eat it, it doesn’t fuel them. Instead, xylitol actually starves the bacteria. In fact, xylitol can effectively lower bacteria levels, sometimes by up to 75%. 

Xylitol Gum

Perhaps the most common place to find xylitol is in certain chewing gums. This is great news for your oral health because not only does the act of chewing gum help stimulate saliva production (more on that in a bit), but chewing xylitol gum also provides all benefits offered by xylitol.  

As we mentioned, chewing gum produces more saliva. But is more spit actually a good thing? Yes! You see, saliva helps wash away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth. This further protects teeth from enamel erosion and decay. Additionally, saliva helps remineralize teeth with calcium and phosphate, making them stronger over time.

Now, even though xylitol is beneficial to oral health, it doesn’t replace good oral hygiene. It’s still (and forever will be) important to brush and floss your teeth every day. That, along with maintaining regular visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount, is a recipe for a happy, healthy smile.  

Does Asthma Cause Cavities?

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

asthma inhalerAsthma is one of the most common diseases in America and affects approximately 25 million Americans. While asthma mainly affects the lungs and respiratory system, your dentist in Rocky Mount knows that there is also a lesser-known connection between asthma and problems with oral health.   

A Look at the Research

The hypothesis that asthma sufferers also have an increased risk of cavities and other oral health problems has been around for quite some time. In fact, this theory was so strong and has been around for so long that there is now substantial research on the connection between the two. Let’s take a look at what scientists have found. 

Mouth Breathing

One of the most common symptoms of asthma is difficulty breathing. This occurs as a result of airway inflammation. To try and breathe deeper, many asthma sufferers will breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. While mouth breathing in and of itself isn’t a problem, what happens as a result of it is. Many mouth breathers experience dry mouth because the constant exposure to air dries out saliva, and production can’t keep up. That’s what’s concerning to your dentist in Rocky Mount. When there’s not enough saliva in the mouth, bacteria and acids that are usually rinsed away with it are left lingering around. These bacteria and acids can wear away tooth enamel, and the result is often decay and cavities. 

Medications

Even if an asthma patient doesn’t breathe out of their mouth, their medications, such as an inhaler, can also result in dry mouth. However, this definitely does not mean an asthma patient should stop using their medication as prescribed- as the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus, there are ways to decrease the effects of dry mouth caused by either medication or mouth breathing. 

Lower the Risk

Since much of the research ties dry mouth to the potential increased risk of developing tooth decay or cavities, the best thing to do is combat the dry mouth. The good news is that there are easy ways to do this including: 

Drinking A Lot of Water. Our bodies need water to function properly, and our oral health needs to stay hydrated to continue to produce protective saliva. Those who suffer from dry mouth may need more water than those who do not. When in doubt, or whenever the mouth feels dry, drink water. 

More About Water. If the mouth feels particularly dry after using an asthma treatment or taking asthma medication, a quick rinse of water can help remove any of the drying ingredients from the mouth, which can then keep the mouth from feeling too dry for too long.  

Chewing Gum. Chomping on a piece of sugar-free gum can also help the body produce more saliva. It’s a natural process that occurs whenever we chew to help digestion. 

Telling Your Dentist in Rocky Mount. As with any piece of health history, it’s important that your dentist knows about any asthma diagnosis as well as any medication used. This will help customize treatment and allow the dental team to keep a close eye on any potential oral health side effects.

Remember, everyone, including asthma sufferers and non-asthma sufferers, can benefit from proper dental care. To fully protect your teeth against decay and to lower the risk of cavities, make sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain checkups with your dentist in Rocky Mount

4 Ways to Avoid a Dental Emergency

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Emergency, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

woman with toothacheNobody wants to experience a dental emergency but the truth is, they happen. While many times a dental emergency is unavoidable or is a result of an unexpected accident, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants you to know that there are some ways you can reduce your risk of a dental emergency

  • Don’t Smoke. One of the best ways you can not only reduce your risk of a dental emergency but also bigger oral health and overall health problems down the road is to avoid smoking or using tobacco in any form. Both smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco increases the risk of gum disease, oral cancer, tooth discoloration, and tooth loss. 
  • Practice Safe Snacking. We’re not here to tell you to completely avoid snacking on your favorite treats. But your dentist in Rocky Mount does want to encourage you to practice safe snacking by limiting the number of times you snack throughout the day. Constant snacking exposes your teeth to food particles around the clock. This can continuously feed the bacteria in your mouth, which means the bacteria continuously releases acid. This acid can easily damage and weaken enamel and increases the risk of decay. You should also choose your snack foods carefully. Some snacks such as popcorn or nuts can increase the risk of an accidental cracked or chipped tooth thanks to hidden kernels or hard pieces. 
  • Don’t Chew on Things You Shouldn’t. Besides food, our teeth shouldn’t be used to chew on anything. This includes pens, pencils, fingernails, and even ice. These objects are hard and can easily cause teeth to chip, crack, or even break. If you find yourself chewing out of anxiousness or stress, try to chew away at a piece of Xylitol gum instead of your office supplies. 
  • Take it Easy on the Drinks. The best way to fuel your body and protect your teeth is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. On the other hand, beverages that are high in acid or sugar can expose your teeth to these damaging ingredients. Try to limit your intake of soft drinks, fruit juice, and even sports drinks. All of these beverages either contain a lot of sugar that can easily coat your teeth or are acidic and will wear away tooth enamel.

As always, brushing and flossing your teeth every day is a great way to remove bacteria that may have built up throughout the day. You can also rinse your mouth out with water after snacking to help get rid of food particles that would otherwise feed bacteria. But these preventive measures only go so far, and you should still see your dentist in Rocky Mount for regular checkups and cleanings.* 

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call your dentist. 

*At the time of publishing, the ADA has recommended the postponement of all preventive dental appointments. Please check your local recommendations.

Helpful Hints to Protect Your Oral Health

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

protected familyDuring these unprecedented times, we’ve all become much more focused on caring for our overall health. But did you know that taking care of your oral health is also a crucial part of staying healthy? Join your dentist in Rocky Mount as we share some helpful hints that you can use to protect your oral and overall health now and forever.

Wash Your Hands

This important message has been spread far and wide over the past few weeks, and with good reason. Washing your hands several times a day can help remove germs and keep you healthy. It’s also important to wash your hands prior to brushing or flossing your teeth. So before you pick up your toothbrush or floss, scrub your mitts for at least 20 seconds and never put unwashed hands or fingers in your mouth. 

Don’t Bite Your Nails

Speaking of not putting your hands in your mouth, now is a great time to stop your nail-biting habit. Not only are our nails packed with dirt and bacteria that are easily transferred into our mouths when we nibble on our nails, but you can also damage your teeth from the constant biting. 

Protect Your Toothbrush

Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine has always been important, and your dentist in Rocky Mount still recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day. But you also need to protect your toothbrush from damage and bacteria buildup. To do this, make sure you store your toothbrush properly. This means keeping your toothbrush away from other ones in your house — a few inches will do. You should also store your toothbrush upright with the bristles at the top and keep it uncovered. Avoid cross-contamination by never sharing your toothbrush with anyone, as that can lead to an unhealthy exchange of bodily fluids. 

Replace & Disinfect Your Toothbrush

If you do happen to get sick, you should invest in a new toothbrush once you feel better. In the meantime, you can disinfect your toothbrush using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. In fact, a peer-reviewed study has found that 0.5% hydrogen peroxide effectively reduces coronavirus infectivity. To make this mixture for your toothbrush, follow these steps:

  • Mix 1 fl oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 5 fl oz of water
  • Soak your toothbrush in the mixture for 10 minutes. Dump out the mixture.
  • Rinse your toothbrush prior to brushing. 

Even if you haven’t been sick but your toothbrush is 3-4 months old, or if the bristles are frayed, you should still purchase a new toothbrush. 

At this time, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends postponing any routine dental care for three weeks. Please know that your dentist in Rocky Mount is eagerly awaiting the day when we can actively see all of our patients again in our clean and safe office. Until that time, take care of your oral health at home to protect your teeth and your overall health. 

Good Nutrition Equals a Healthy Mouth

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health, Overall Health

nutritionIt’s no secret that we care about our neighbors and are committed to helping them have the healthiest smiles possible. But there are several things that go into getting a healthy grin beyond simply brushing and flossing alone. The truth is, one of the biggest factors directly related to good oral is good nutrition. During this National Nutrition Month, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants to share some nutritious tips to help not only fuel your body… but protect your teeth, too. 

Healthy Diet, Happy Mouth

Providing yourself and your family with healthy food choices can go a long way in keeping their mouths happy and healthy, and finding smile-friendly treats isn’t difficult. In fact, the best foods for oral health are easily found in your local grocery store. So the next time you’re wandering up and down the aisles trying to choose foods your family will love, try these tooth-friendly foods:

  • Fruits and Veggies – Snacks found in these two tasty food groups should make up 50 percent of the foods you and your family consume daily. Look for fresh fruits and veggies with a little crunch. Celery, cucumbers, carrots, and apples are all great options. 
  • Fish, Eggs, and Meat These phosphorus-rich foods help boost enamel strength and ensure that it stays strong and healthy.
  • Water is Wonderful – Nutrition isn’t only about what we eat but also about what we drink. When it comes to oral health, water is always best. H2O is your Rocky Mount dentist’s beverage of choice since it helps neutralize acids in the mouth, rinse away bacteria, and stimulate saliva production, all of which help protect teeth. 

Defend Against the Snack Attack

Everyone loves a good mid-snack, and eating smaller snacks in between meals can help keep your body fueled and your metabolism moving. But not all snacks are created equal. Options packed with sugar or carbs can increase the risk of decay and cavities. Instead, opt for cheese, trusted veggies, or hard-boiled eggs. However, constant snacking, even on healthier foods, exposes your teeth to bacteria and leftover foodstuffs all day long. Try to brush your teeth after every meal and snack or rinse with water if you can’t fully brush. 

Calcium is Key

This magical mineral is essential for strong teeth and bones. Obvious sources such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are excellent choices. But did you know that certain produce also packs a calcium punch? Collard greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, and soybeans are all awesome sources of calcium. But remember that calcium doesn’t act alone and needs vitamin D in order to be absorbed. Try to include vitamin D rich foods in your diet such as fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and vitamin D enriched cereal and oatmeal. 

Besides practicing good oral hygiene habits and seeing your dentist in Rocky Mount at least twice a year, the best way to protect your smile is by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. This National Nutrition Month, and every month, commit to fueling you and your family’s bodies with body-healthy and smile-healthy foods. 

Why You Should Always Brush Your Tongue

Written by Dr. Richard Hunt on . Posted in Dental Hygiene, General & Preventive Dentistry, Oral Health

tongue scraperYour dentist in Rocky Mount may spend a lot of time talking about the health of your teeth and the best way to take care of them. After all, dentists are responsible for doing everything they can to make sure your pearly whites stay strong for a lifetime. But there’s another part of your oral health that’s often forgotten but shouldn’t be ignored — your tongue. 

Fast Facts

Your tongue is a fascinating part of your body and is responsible for a lot of important things. In fact, your tongue helps you speak, chew, and swallow. It’s also one of the strongest muscles in your entire body! But your tongue can also hide some dangerous bacteria, and if you don’t care for your tongue properly, these bacteria can cause a lot of problems. 

Benefits of a Clean Tongue

Every time you brush and floss, make sure to give your tongue some attention. Properly cleaning your tongue can help: 

  • Food Taste Better. As we’ve mentioned, tongues can hold a lot of bacteria. These bacteria can build up on taste buds and influence the way foods taste. By cleaning your tongue daily, you’re freeing up your taste buds to absorb all of your favorite foods so that you’re able to savor every last delicious bite. 
  • Freshen Breath. Even though bad breath can be caused by many different things, tongue bacteria are often to blame. When you don’t remove all of the bacteria build-up from your tongue, it can put off an unpleasant odor. If you notice that your breath isn’t so minty-fresh, make sure you’re brushing your tongue every day. If the bad breath doesn’t go away, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Rocky Mount as it may be a sign of something more serious. 
  • Make Teeth Healthier. Your teeth are in constant contact with your tongue — all day and all night. This means that anything lurking on your tongue can easily transfer to your teeth. So when bacteria are left lingering around on your tongue, it can affect your teeth and cause decay, cavities, or even gum disease. 

How to Brush Your Tongue

It’s just as important to brush your tongue every day as it is to brush and floss. So every time you pick up your toothbrush, make sure to show your tongue some love. Proper tongue brushing includes starting from the back and gently brushing forward, then swiping your toothbrush from left to right. If you have trouble brushing your tongue, try using a tongue scraper. This little tool is also effective at removing tongue bacteria and may be easier for those with a sensitive gag reflex. 

As always, make sure you see your dentist in Rocky Mount twice a year, as well as practice good oral hygiene habits at home… including your tongue.