Don’t Try This At Home! The Dangers of At-Home Plaque Scrapers

woman sticking out her tongue

Each year more oral health product manufacturers introduce dental instruments to the consumer market that promote the do-it-yourself approach. One of these recently popular tools is a dental scaler, also called a plaque scraper.

The one thing these products are not advertising: improper use of these products can easily harm your gums and teeth.

How Dental Cleaning Tools Work

During your checkup and professional cleaning at a dental office, the dental care professionals will use small dental tools to scrape off the tartar from your teeth. These small tools are pointed at one end. Some are curved to reach around the rounded surfaces of your teeth. During dental scaling, the plaque is removed from the tooth surface and underneath the gum line.

Removing plaque is vital to the cleaning process. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth, it can cause issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. The bacteria found in plaque release acids as they feed. These acids break down your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay. Dental cleanings are great to use if you’re also considering dental fillings as well.

The Dangers of DIY Scraping

While plaque needs to be removed to care for your teeth properly, it should never be attempted at home. Plaque scraping should always be performed by a dental professional, a dental hygienist or a dentist.

  • Gum Recession. Because plaque scrapers are sharp, improper use can damage the delicate gum tissue. Trauma to the gum tissue of any kind is not only painful, but it can also lead to gum recession.
  • Tooth Sensitivity. If your affected gum tissue lowers and exposes the roots of the teeth, you will begin to experience extreme tooth sensitivity.
  • Infection. Improper use of plaque scrapers can result in infection. Tartar can be accidentally pushed under the gum line, leading to gum issues and infection.
  • Other Mouth Injuries. Plaque scrapers are incredibly sharp. These tools are specialized medical tools, and it takes extensive training to learn how to use them safely and correctly. Improper use could result in injuries to your cheeks, tongue, or other soft tissues inside your mouth.

Managing Plaque At Home

While it is not recommended to use a plaque scaler at home, there are many ways to keep your teeth healthy in between professional dental cleanings.

  • Floss. Using dental floss to clean between your teeth once a day is the best way to ensure you are thoroughly cleaning every surface inside your mouth.
  • Brush. Regularly brush your teeth using a steady and calm motion for two minutes, twice a day. Brushing your teeth about 30 minutes after each meal will help to reduce the amount of plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth.
  • Plaque Specific Toothpaste. Using a fluoride toothpaste or a tartar control specific toothpaste will help to repair any damage to your teeth. Fluoride works to protect your enamel against acid and decay.
  • Eat Raw Vegetables. The simple act of chewing raw vegetables can help to clean your teeth when brushing is not available.
  • Mouthrinse. Using mouthwash can help to clean your teeth in the hard-to-reach spaces inside your mouth.
  • Invest in an Electric Toothbrush. Sonic vibrations from an electric toothbrush allow for a superior clean because of their ability to perform a secondary cleansing action for removing plaque easily.

Managing Plaque Professionally

If you are concerned about plaque buildup on your teeth, visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can examine your mouth to determine if you have plaque, tartar or other dental problems that need to be addressed. If necessary, plaque can be removed safely by a trained and licensed dental hygienist. If you’re worried about plaque buildup, be sure to schedule an appointment with Cherrywood Dental Associates today.

10 Last Minute Tooth-Inspired Stocking Stuffers

colorful christmas stockings hanging on fireplace with healthy treats inside

Looking for a few last-minute ideas to fill the stockings you have hung with care? Here are a few great last-minute gift ideas. Getting your family excited about taking proper care of their oral hygiene is half the battle, so add these ideas to your gift list and make dental hygiene fun again.

A Fancy New Toothbrush

Everyone loves a new toothbrush. For the holidays, pick one that will get your kids excited about brushing their teeth and into the holiday spirit. Instead of their usual pink or blue toothbrush, opt for a unique option that gets them excited about oral hygiene. The toothbrush aisle is full of character brushes, brushes that light up and even brushes that play music while you clean your teeth! Be sure to choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with the appropriately sized head for smaller mouths.

A Tooth Timer

If brushing for a full two minutes is a challenge for your kids, consider getting a small timer to keep in the bathroom. Brushing for a full two minutes can seem like a long time when the concept of time is still a work-in-progress. A tooth timer can ensure your kids are brushing for long enough and will make brushing into a game.

Wacky Toothpaste Flavors

Kids don’t always share the minty-fresh toothpaste preferences that adults care for. Try finding exciting new flavors for their dental stocking stuffers. Toothpaste now comes in a variety of flavors including watermelon, citrus, cinnamon, ginger, strawberry, and more. Changing up the toothpaste flavor daily or even weekly can give your child something to look forward to while brushing their teeth. When it comes to kids, a little extra motivation can go a long way towards keeping up healthy habits.

Children’s Books

Reading is essential for the development of any child, so why not encourage your child to keep up good habits with a dentist-related children’s book? You can choose from titles that educate children on proper oral hygiene habits or find a book that teaches them about their overall health.

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum With Xylitol

Chewing sugar-free Xylitol gum can help in the production of saliva which washes away trapped food particles from your teeth. Gum containing Xylitol has been proven to help reduce cavities, making it a must-have stocking stuffer for the entire family.


Yes, chocolate can be good for your teeth! With the recent findings, it’s now more true than ever, that chocolate is a superfood for your teeth. While it should still be enjoyed in moderation, chocolate is far better for your teeth than other candy options that are sticky, gooey, or chewy.

Sports Mouthguard

Does your child play sports? If so, consider getting a mouthguard for Christmas, so their teeth are adequately protected. Even if they already have one, a new color or style can get kids excited about staying in the habit of wearing one.

Toothbrush Holder

Is your child often sleeping over at their friends’ houses or spending time at sleepaway camp? A colorful toothbrush travel case will make it easy for your child to remember to pack their toothbrush wherever they go. As a bonus, a toothbrush holder will keep their toothbrush clean and bacteria free.

Lip Balm

The ideal gift that can be used by anyone regardless of age, lip balm makes for the perfect stocking stuffer. During winter, our lips are one part of our body that is always exposed to the cold weather, so it’s vital to maintain their moisture.

Reusable Straws

Using a straw is a great way to protect your teeth, especially when sipping on drinks that may be acidic or prone to staining your teeth. One of the main reasons that using a straw will benefit your teeth is simply because it reduces the amount of contact between beverages and your teeth. Reusable silicone straws are the perfect gift for the entire family to make drinking beverages more fun.

Scheduling Your Post-Holiday Exams

Give your child the gift of good oral hygiene with fun, but practical dental stocking stuffers. These colorful, lively gifts will make routine habits like brushing and flossing seem much more fun. After the holiday season is finished, be sure to schedule your first dental exams of 2019 with Cherrywood Dental Associates.

The Signs & Treatment of Gum Disease: What You Need to Know

The Signs & Treatment of Gum Disease: What You Need to Know

The health of your gums affects your entire body. For example, did you know that unhealthy gums are actually associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease? This is clearly a serious issue, made more serious by the fact that nearly half of Americans aged 30 and over have periodontal disease.

It’s key to stay educated and empowered about your oral health so that you can practice good preventative care — and know when you need to seek professional help. Let’s look into the periodontal disease: causes, signs, treatments, and what you need to know to fight back against the disease.

What is Gingivitis?

Generally considered a precursor to periodontal disease, gingivitis is a milder form of periodontal disease. Just because it’s mild, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Left untreated, the plaque and tartar associated with gingivitis can lead to more serious problems.

The role of plaque and tartar

In gingivitis, the “gingiva,” or the part of your gums that meet your teeth, become swollen and inflamed due to a build-up of plaque along your gumline. What exactly is plaque? It’s an invisible film on the surface of your teeth that forms when bacteria in your mouth interacts with starches and sugars that you eat. One of the reasons we brush our teeth is to prevent plaque from building up.

However, when plaque isn’t removed, it can then turn into tartar beneath your gumline. Tartar is a hard, calcified substance that stores bacteria near your gumline. Because it’s so hard, it can’t be removed without a dentist. Eventually, the bacteria that collects in tartar begins to irritate your gums, leading to the inflammation associated with gingivitis.

Unlike some diseases that give you warning signs through pain, gingivitis is often painless and so may go unnoticed and progress into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontal disease.

What is a Periodontal Disease?

As tartar builds up and gums become increasingly more inflamed from the bacteria, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, also called periodontal disease or “gum disease.” After time, untreated tartar causes your gums to pull away from your teeth and create pockets into which more bacteria can grow. As the bacteria proliferates, it can cause even more damage. At its worst, periodontal disease can:

  • Cause your connective tissue to break down.
  • Lead to tooth loss and removal.
  • Destroy your bones and gums.

At this point, periodontal disease isn’t only putting you at risk for losing your teeth and damaging your jaw bone. Because of its links to overall health, periodontal disease may also put you at a greater risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other health issues.

Once gingivitis has progressed into periodontal disease, it’s absolutely vital to see a skilled oral health professional to get treatment.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Although the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) are generally painless, there are definitely some major signs that you or a loved one is suffering from this preventable oral disease:

  • Swelling & discoloration. Even in the earliest stages of gum disease (gingivitis), you will probably be able to detect inflamed gums as a result of your body battling against the bacteria. In the more advanced stages of gum disease, you may even notice that your gums are beginning to turn purple or red near your teeth.
  • Bleeding. Your gums may bleed when you brush or floss. Keep in mind that if you’ve only recently begun to floss, your gums may bleed for about a week. As long as it goes away, it may not indicate periodontal disease.
  • Bad Breath & Taste. If you’re noticing that your bad breath isn’t going away, or that you have a perpetually bad taste in your mouth, this could be a sign of gum disease.
  • Receding gums. As the bacteria begins to settle in under your gumline, you may notice that your gums start to recede from your teeth.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

Some individuals may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. Pay special attention to your oral health if any of the following is true:

  • Lifestyle. If you smoke or have excess stress, you may be more at risk.
  • Disease. Those with diabetes or immuno-suppressed systems (like AIDS) are more susceptible. In addition, taking certain medications that cause dry mouth can be a risk factor.
  • Hormones. Pregnant women and those on oral contraceptives are more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Oral hygiene. If you don’t practice good oral hygiene, or you have naturally crooked teeth, you may be more prone to periodontal disease.

Treatment of Gum Disease

If you suspect you have gum disease, it’s important to get to a professional immediately. They’ll be able to diagnose you through examining your gums and teeth. In addition, they might use a device called a probe to measure how deep the pockets around your teeth are. From there, they’ll be able to recommend the appropriate plan of action for you. Let’s take a look at some of the common treatments for gum disease:

  • Tooth Cleaning. For mild cases of gingivitis, your periodontist might simply do a tooth cleaning that removes the build-up of tartar on your teeth.
  • Scaling and root planing. This is a type of deep cleaning. Scaling refers to scraping off the tartar that’s accumulated both above and below the gum line. In root planing, your dental professional removes areas on your tooth’s roots where bacteria has a tendency to gather.
  • Pocket Reduction Surgery. In this type of surgery, your periodontist will fold back the gum tissue and clean the bacteria that remains in the pocket that has formed. If your bone has been been damaged by the disease they can also smooth the bone to promote healing.
  • Soft tissue grafts. To fill in and enlarge your remaining gums, your dentist can take tissue from elsewhere in your mouth and graft it onto the damaged gums.
  • Bone grafts. If your jawbone has been injured by disease, your periodontist can fill in your bone with a hard tissue graft.
  • Laser gum surgeryUsing the laser-assisted new attachment procedure (LANAP), your dental professional will use a laser to sterilize and kill the bacteria inside the pockets in your gums. In addition to killing the bacteria, the laser will also kill dead tissue and plaque and help reduce the depth of the pockets (so less bacteria can proliferate). In the process, this stimulates your gums and bones to grow, and helps your gums to heal and re-attach to your teeth.

Treatment Aftercare: What to Expect

Your treatment depends on the stage of your gum disease. Depending on what treatment you received, your doctor will send you home with recommendations for aftercare.

For example, if you had surgery or grafts, you might need to take medication for pain for a few days. You also might use a special mouthwash that helps prevent infection. Depending on the type of treatment you received, be prepared to eat soft foods for a few days and avoid strenuous exercise.

Prevention of Further Loss

Once you’ve seen a dental health professional to get back on the path to good oral health, it’s important to maintain healthy habits to prevent further loss and issues. Here’s how you can help support healthy gums:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and preferably after meals.
  • Floss frequently.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • See a dentist every six months to a year for a cleaning (or more often if you have risk factors).
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sugar and high in nutrients to support overall oral health.

At Cherrywood Dental Associates, we like to empower our patients near Woodbridge, VA and Greenbelt, MD, with information about their oral health. As part of your healthcare team, it’s our goal to provide compassionate care coupled with innovative treatments. If you want to get in touch about how we can help restore your smile, please contact us today.

Getting Your Teeth Their Whitest and Brightest – Teeth Whitening Options

Everyone knows that bright, white teeth are a key factor in making your smile look its best! However, we also realize that lifestyle plays an important role in this. Our favorite beverages, such as coffee, tea, soda, and red wine are things that many of us can’t imagine living without, yet they leave unsightly stains on the teeth. Also, with age comes gradual yellowing of the teeth as well. So what do we do? Well, there is great news! With the help of a dentist, you can get a natural-looking, white smile with ease. The dentine underneath our tooth enamel is what ultimately determines the color of teeth, as the enamel itself is translucent. When we use whitening options, the bleach penetrates the enamel resulting in the bright smile that we all desire. The process is simple, and can be done either in the office or conveniently at home. Let’s take a look at the best teeth whitening options that are available.

What Causes the Teeth to Yellow or Turn Darker?

Before we begin, it is important to understand exactly what causes discoloration of the teeth. Aside from the above-mentioned factors, discoloration of the teeth can be caused by:

  • Medication – the use of certain medications can cause discoloration of the teeth, such as certain antibiotics and antihistamines.
  • Some fruits and vegetables, especially those that are acidic, can cause the teeth to yellow or stain.

While it is difficult to completely avoid every situation that may cause staining, there are simple changes that are easy to make to your daily routine in order to prevent yellowing.

Teeth Whitening Options

When you look in the mirror and realize that your teeth look slightly yellow, you will wonder what your options are. A dentist has several procedures that can be used to effectively remove stains and whiten the teeth. He or she will discuss what the best option is for the needs of each patient. The whitening is done with either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Options include:

  • Bleaching that is done in-office – known as chairside bleaching, this process is easy and can be completed in one visit. It is painless and typically takes up to one hour. The result is teeth that are several shades whiter.
  • At-home bleaching – your dentist will provide custom-made trays that you take home. Bleach is applied to the trays, and they are worn according to the dentist’s instructions.

While teeth bleaching is typically painless, it can cause some sensitivity, so it is best to speak to your dentist if you have any concerns.

Procedure and Cost

Before a specific type of procedure is chosen for whitening the teeth, your dentist will perform an evaluation to determine which type of bleaching is best for you. He or she will talk to you about your lifestyle, how you plan to maintain the results, as well as take note of any dental work that you have had done.

Two of the main concerns for anyone who is considering teeth whitening is what is involved in the procedure, as well as the overall cost. Chairside bleaching is one of the most popular forms of teeth whitening. Keep in mind that this procedure does not work on veneers, crowns, or bonding. Using a hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching gel, the dentist will use intense light on the teeth for approximately 45 minutes. The light and the gel work together to penetrate the enamel of the teeth, breaking up stains and leaving a clean, white finish. This process can cost about $500 or more and is extremely effective.

For patients that choose the option of at-home bleaching, keep in mind that at least 2 appointments are typically necessary. During the first appointment, the dentist will take molds of the patient’s teeth for the purpose of creating custom trays. The patient will then be provided with a bleaching gel, and shown how to apply it to the trays and wear in the mouth for 30 minutes or so each day for approximately two weeks. The gel penetrates the tooth enamel, breaking up stains. This procedure is effective at removing stains and can cost approximately $300 or more.

Teeth-whitening options that are supervised by a dentist are safe for just about anyone.

Maintaining White Teeth After Professional Treatment

It is important for anyone who receives a professional teeth whitening procedure to be well-informed of how to maintain white teeth after the treatment is completed. Now that you have that bright, white smile you have always wanted, you need to make sure you keep it that way for as long as possible. The best way to begin is to avoid food and drinks that can cause long-term stainings, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and soda. Make sure to consume plenty of water throughout the day, as this helps wash away particles that are left in the mouth after eating and drinking other foods and beverages. Be sure you are following the proper teeth brushing techniques as well. Two times per day, using a whitening toothpaste, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and gums. Brush for at least 2 minutes. Floss each tooth one time per day. Another great tip to remember is to try to enjoy all beverages through a straw. This helps the liquid from saturating the teeth and reduces the chance of staining. Also, it is important to know that teeth whitening, even professional bleaching, will not last forever! You must follow the above-mentioned tips in order to get the most from your procedure. By carefully maintaining the results, the teeth will remain white for several months to several years. However, you may have to visit your dentist for an occasional touch-up.

At Cherrywood Dental Associates, we understand just how important it is to put your best smile forward. That is why we offer several teeth-whitening options so that, together with your dentist, you can choose the one that is best for you. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

Should I Be Using an Electric Toothbrush?

Hand holding electric toothbrush

From a young age, you have been taught the importance of properly brushing your teeth. Despite your best efforts, though, you may not be brushing as well as you would like to. Electric and manual toothbrushes each have their own benefits. However, bristles on manual toothbrushes cannot reach to remove all of the plaque and tartar buildup that resides between your teeth.

Do you use an electric toothbrush? If not, what are you waiting for?

Benefits of An Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrush bristles vibrate or rotate to help you remove plaque buildup from your teeth and gums. The vibration allows for more micro-movements each time you move your toothbrush across your teeth. An electric toothbrush will enable you to reach further thanks to the combination of motion and equal pressure from the brush itself.

Equal pressure is vital – far too many manual brushers do a good job on one side of their mouth, while the other side suffers. A right-handed person often brushes the left side of their mouth more thoroughly with a manual toothbrush and vice versa.

Superior Plaque Removal

A review of studies showed that, in general, electric toothbrushes do decrease more plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. After three months of continuous use, plaque was reduced by 21 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent. Oscillating (rotating) toothbrushes also seem to work better than just vibrating toothbrushes.

Ease of Use

Regular manual toothbrushes require you to move them back and forth along your teeth, whereas electric toothbrushes do most of the work for you. That means you need only to guide it along the surfaces of your teeth, making them easier to use for people with limited mobility. Many people find this method of brushing easier. Likewise, they may be helpful for anyone with mobility limits including those suffering from:

  • Carpal tunnel
  • Arthritis
  • Developmental disabilities

Technology Features

Generally rich in technology and advanced features, some electric toothbrushes can even enable you to improve your brushing habits. Most come with convenient features like a brush head or toothbrush holder, bathroom counter storage units and travel chargers.

Some high-tech features may include:

  • Numerous brushing modes specialized for sensitive teeth
  • Whitening benefits
  • Gum-massaging action
  • Pressure sensors to signal when you are brushing too hard
  • Timers to help you track of how long you are brushing each quadrant of your mouth
  • Digital reminders to replace your brush head
  • Oscillating or rotating sonic technology
  • Multiple brush head compatibility so you can choose which type of bristle design you prefer

Fun For Kids

It can be challenging to get your kids excited about brushing their teeth. For those children who are less-than-interested in their dental hygiene, an electric toothbrush may be the answer you have been in search of. If an electric toothbrush is more engaging to your child, it can help accomplish good oral cleaning and establish healthy habits for children. The more you are able to instill healthy brushing habits at a young age, the more those habits will benefit your child as they mature.

Ideal For Orthodontic Patients

Electric toothbrushes are known to be particularly helpful for patients going through orthodontic treatment. Appliances such as braces make brushing difficult, so an electric toothbrush allows a more thorough clean of those hard-to-reach places. If you or your child find it difficult to clean their mouth while having orthodontics, an electric toothbrush may be able to improve their oral health during treatment.

Are you interested in switching to an electric toothbrush, but are overwhelmed at the options? Cherrywood Dental Associates is here to help! Ask us for a personalized recommendation at your next checkup to ensure you find the best toothbrush for your teeth.


Straightening Your Teeth (Again!) With Invisalign

Hand with blue glove holding medical oral orthodontics Invisible

Many people have had traditional orthodontic treatment when they were younger, and unfortunately, for one reason or another, their teeth have shifted back to their original position. Sound too familiar? Luckily orthodontic treatments have come a long way, and Invisalign is there for those who have experienced wandering teeth over the years.

Why You May Need Orthodontic Treatment for the Second Time

For one reason or another, most young adults stop wearing their removable retainers after their orthodontic treatment is complete. A decade later, that bad habit of not wearing them can catch up with you. Your formerly straight teeth can look crooked again because of these oral health issues.

Shifting Teeth

The most common cause of shifting teeth after braces is not wearing your retainers for the recommended amount of time following orthodontic treatment. The natural progression of teeth causes them to migrate back towards their original positions, causing your teeth to become crooked again over time.

The best way to avoid your teeth from shifting back to their original positions before braces is to continue to wear your retainers for as long as it is comfortable to do so. Generally, after the first year, you will be able to reduce your retainer wear down to only a few nights a week.

Having permanent or “bonded” wire retainers placed on the inside of the front teeth is one considerable way to avoid having to worry about your teeth shifting out of alignment as a result of not wearing your retainers.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, or chronic grinding of your teeth, can force pressure on your alignment. Clenching or grinding can put stress on your teeth and gums, causing them to shift into different positions. To help break these habits, an orthodontist or dentist can provide you with oral devices that help to keep your teeth in place while avoiding any damage bruxism may cause.

Bad Habits

Some habits can follow us around for years. Mostly unconscious, habits that can contribute to an ongoing misalignment of the jaw and crowding of the teeth are sometimes referred to as “myofunctional” habits. Things like breathing through the mouth, tongue thrusting, and reverse swallowing can be hard habits to break, and will also cause once-aligned teeth to become misaligned after orthodontic treatment.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Straighter teeth make it much easier to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Poor oral hygiene will make your teeth and gums susceptible to cavities and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to infection, soft tissue damage, receding gums, and bone and tooth loss. Losing a tooth and not replacing it with a dental implant will cause the surrounding teeth to shift out of alignment to compensate for the space.

Illness or Injury

Facial trauma, such as a jaw injury or a mouth injury can have the effect of moving teeth out of place. Traumas are the most common cause of the most severe instances of crooked teeth. Losing teeth or having your jaw shift due to a forceful injury will create the effect of having your remaining teeth slowly shift to make up for the empty space over time.

Straighten Your Smile For Good

If you’ve already gone through traditional metal braces, but your teeth have shifted since your treatment ended, you may get even better results from Invisalign. Not only can Invisalign help your teeth get back on track, but your smile will have a better chance of staying perfect after your Invisalign treatment is over.

See the long-lasting results of Invisalign for yourself by scheduling a consultation appointment with Cherrywood Dental Associates today.

10 Fun Historical Facts About The Tooth Fairy

cartoon of tooth fairy and tooth

Losing a tooth as a child is considered a right of passage in many different cultures, and parents throughout history have created rituals to celebrate with their children. The legend of the Tooth Fairy is one of the most popular and iconic childhood stories in the world.

Here are 10 fun facts about our favorite dainty-dental-dealer.

She’s Not Always a Fairy

Worldwide, the Tooth Fairy varies in appearance. The majority of baby-tooth traditions around the world are connected to rodents. Depending on the culture and the nationality, the Tooth Fairy can be a squirrel, a mouse, or a rat. Cultural diversity is one of the things that make the Tooth Fairy so unique, and no matter the shape she embodies, the Tooth Fairy is one of the most magnificent magical creatures for children around the world.

She’s Younger Than You Think

When compared to Santa Claus, who dates back to ancient history, the Tooth Fairy only dates back to the early 1900s. She was first mentioned in an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune’s “Household Hints” column from September 1908. The story was further popularized by Esther Watkins Arnold in the 1927 play for children, The Tooth Fairy.

The Longstanding Celebration of Lost Teeth

While the specific concept of the Tooth Fairy is recent, cultures around the world have been commemorating lost baby teeth for hundreds of years. In the 13th century, the Middle Eastern tradition of throwing a baby tooth into the sky and praying for a better tooth to replace it was a common practice. In Turkey, Mexico, and Greece, children traditionally toss their baby teeth onto the roof of their house.

Her Rates Are Subject to Market Fluctuation

Insurance group Delta Dental has been tracking the average Tooth Fairy rewards since 1998 and comparing their results to stock market activity. Their research has found that in at least 12 of the past 15 years, trends in Tooth Fairy payouts have correlated to movement in the S&P 500. This can only indicate one thing – that the Tooth Fairy takes her stocks and investments very seriously.

She Visits Each Child About 20 Times

Children have 20 baby teeth that will fall out over the span of a few years.

The Vikings Had One Too

The Vikings, who pioneered many of the expeditions that lead to the discovery of the new world, seem to have developed something similar to today’s modern Tooth Fairy. While researching the 13th-century Scandinavian myths and poetry, The Norse Eddas, historians were able to transcribe the Viking language and successfully reference something that the Vikings called tand-fe´or tooth fee. In these writings, they described a ritual that took place between the parents and the child, in which the mother would offer a small payment to the child in exchange for its first tooth.

She Had Her Own Museum

Located in the split-level home of Dr. Rosemary Wells in Deerfield, IL, the Tooth Fairy Museum showcased art, books, dolls, and other Tooth Fairy memorabilia. Dr. Wells took it upon herself to become America’s foremost Tooth Fairy expert and even had her own business cards labeled with “Tooth Fairy Consultant.” Unfortunately, the museum closed following Dr. Wells’ death in 2000.

She Has Her Own Holiday

National Tooth Fairy Day is celebrated annually on February 28nd. However, other sources and calendars also list the holiday on August 22nd. With such a busy schedule, surely the Tooth Fairy deserves two holidays a year, right?

She Collects A LOT of Teeth

The Tooth Fairy collects about 300,000 teeth from children all over the world every night. It’s believed that the Tooth Fairy uses these teeth to build the fairy community where she lives.

She Helps To Promote Healthy Habits

Possibly the best thing the Tooth Fairy does is to help parents promote good dental hygiene from a young age. For years, many parents have told their kids that a perfect and healthy tooth is much more valuable to the Tooth Fairy than a decayed one. Schedule your child’s next dental exam with Cherrywood Dental Associates to keep their teeth as valuable as possible for future Tooth Fairy visits.


10 Ways to Recycle Your Old Toothbrush

a scattered group of different colored toothbrushes

You should be trading in your old toothbrush for a new one approximately every 3 months. Before you throw away your used one, consider the benefits it could bring to your life as a nifty little tool to keep around the house.

Here are 10 great ways to recycle your old toothbrush.

Uses For a Toothbrush in the Kitchen

An old toothbrush is the perfect cleaning tool for scrubbing off those pesky crumbs and pieces of food that fall into hard-to-reach places. The next time you’re deep cleaning the kitchen, try using an old toothbrush to help you clean kitchen appliances such as:

  • Toasters
  • Microwaves
  • Coffee machines
  • Other hard-to-reach places

Cleaning Your Chopping Board

Most cutting boards have some type of edge that can be tough to completely clean. Nothing works better for getting bits of food out of tight spaces than a used toothbrush. Unlike wiping your chopping board, a toothbrush will give you the opportunity for a deep, thorough clean.

Keeping Your Clothes Stain-Free

The real secret to getting a persistent stain out of an article of clothing isn’t what type of stain remover you are using, but scrubbing the stain out with a toothbrush. Apply a stain remover onto the spot and gently scrub the fabric with your used toothbrush to work the stain remover into the material until the stain has lifted.

Cleaning Tile Grout

Looking for a great way to clean the dirty grout lines between your tiles? Combine baking soda and water to make a paste and dunk your used toothbrush into the mixture to effectively clean out grime between kitchen or bathroom tiles. Your gleaming tiles and grout lines will thank you for this one.

Say goodbye to grout grime in your:

  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Tiled floors
  • Showers
  • Countertops
  • Backsplash

Applying Hair Dye

For quick touch-ups to cover grey hair or roots, use a toothbrush in addition to your hair dyeing kit. A toothbrush will help to blend the dye into your hair and will give you a more controlled way to apply color.

Crayon Marks on the Walls

A parent’s biggest fear during art projects is that your little one will sneak away only to be found creating a wall mural of their own with crayons. A used toothbrush and shaving cream will have those stubborn crayon marks removed in no time.

Cleaning Toys

Kids toys are a haven for dirt, dust, and germs. A used toothbrush is the perfect cleaning tool for cleaning between cracks and crevices of dolls, blocks and other toys.

Add it to Your Art Supplies

A used toothbrush is the perfect addition for your art supply box. It can work wonders when it comes to adding texture to a painting or adding details to a clay piece. Little hands love using a toothbrush in place of a paintbrush for hours of fun for free.

Clean Jewelry

An intricate piece of statement jewelry can be filled with twists, turns, and detail. Keep your jewelry sparkling clean and looking brand new by using a toothbrush to keep those tricky areas clean. One of the best secrets to keeping diamond rings sparkling is to soak the rings in ammonia and finish cleaning them with a used toothbrush to loosen any dirt or grime. Just rinse with water when you are finished cleaning for a professionally cleaned look.

Computer Keyboard

Keep your computer keys in tip-top shape with the help of a (dry!) toothbrush. Give the keys a gentle scrub to eliminate any evidence of snack crumbs or dirty fingertips.

The Best For Last

The best use for your toothbrush is…you guessed it, your teeth! The bristles in your toothbrush break down and lose their effectiveness in getting into all of those hard-to-reach corners and crevices around your teeth. Germs can easily hide in toothbrush bristles and lead to reinfection, so be sure to also change toothbrushes after you have had a cold, the flu, or an infection in the mouth.

Do you have any other great ways to recycle an old toothbrush that we missed on our list? Let Cherrywood Dental Associates know at your next dental exam.


What To Do If Your Child Injures a Tooth at School

boy holding the side of his mouth from tooth pain at school

Back to school season means sending your children back to the classroom and playground for another year of learning. The school playground may be filled with imaginary play, but it also tends to be a hotspot for injury to occur. As parents, we always aim to protect our children from experiencing a tooth injury, but it’s also important to know what to do if an injury does happen.

If The Injured Tooth is a Baby Tooth

If your child loses a baby tooth earlier than expected, there is no need to replace the tooth.

If a baby, toddler, or younger child injures the gums or a baby tooth:

Step 1: Apply pressure to the area if there is any bleeding with a piece of cold, wet gauze. If your child is old enough to follow directions, ask them to bite down on the gauze to apply pressure to stop the bleeding.

Step 2: Offer an ice pop to suck on to reduce any potential swelling, or hold an ice-pack wrapped in a soft cloth to the cheek.

Step 3: Give your child an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or children’s ibuprofen as needed for pain.

Step 4: Call your dental office to discuss the injury. Your dentist will let you know if the child should be scheduled for an appointment.

Step 5: Watch for any swelling of the gums, continued pain, a fever, or a change in the color of the tooth.


If a Permanent Tooth Comes Out Completely

If a permanent tooth comes out, it is considered a dental emergency and your dental office should be contacted right away. Permanent teeth have the best chance of being saved when replaced within 15 minutes, so it’s vital to act quickly and follow the guidelines below.

Step 1: Collect all pieces of the tooth. Only hold the tooth by the crown, or chewing end, of the tooth. Do not touch the root of the tooth.

Step 2: Place the tooth in a balanced salt solution (like Save-A-Tooth), if you have it. If not, place the tooth in a saline solution or a container of milk or your child’s saliva. Do not place the tooth in water.

Step 3: Rinse the mouth with warm water only.

Step 4: Call a dentist right away to schedule an emergency dental appointment.

Step 5: If the tooth is being stored in a container, have your child bite down on a gauze pad to relieve bleeding and pain.


If a Permanent Tooth Cracks or Breaks Off

Step 1: Collect all pieces of the tooth.

Step 2: Rinse the mouth with warm water.

Step 3: Call your dental office right away to schedule a visit.


Think Preventatively

Approximately 50% of kids experience some type of tooth injury during their childhood. Discussing the importance of playground safety and learning how to follow the rules on the playground will help to keep your kids safe and their teeth protected.

Always make sure your kids are protected with:

  • Mouthguards
  • Helmets
  • Protective gear
  • Childproofing your house


Should My Children Be Wearing Mouthguards?

There are mouthguards available that you can buy and fit yourself from the drugstore. However, the best way to protect your child’s teeth is to have a custom-fit mouthguard created by your dentist. When your dentist creates a custom-fit mouthguard, an impression of your child’s teeth is taken. Then, using dental putty, your dentist will form the groves and divisions of each tooth to make a replica of your child’s smile. The replicated mould is sent to a dental lab where the mouthguard is made of durable materials.

Store-bought mouthguards are only able to form the general shape of the tooth line whereas professional and custom-made mouthguards are built to specifications of your child’s exact tooth alignment for a better fit and added protection.

Think prevention by scheduling an appointment with Cherrywood Dental Associates to have a mouthguard made for your active children today.

The Big 3 of Oral Hygiene – Brush, Floss, and Rinse

toothbrush with toothpaste, floss, and mouth wash

Keeping your teeth strong, and your gums healthy is the best way to ensure your smile is bright and in excellent condition. There are three necessary steps to your oral hygiene routine: brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. One of the most common questions we get asked by our patients is, “which should I do first, brush, floss or rinse?”

Generally speaking, the order doesn’t matter as much as the quality of work you are putting into each task and that food particles and plaque are being successfully removed.

But Which Order Is Really Best?

The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job. Brushing and flossing is the best way to remove decay-causing plaque from your teeth and helps to maintain exceptional oral health. All three steps are essential to maintaining excellent oral hygiene. As you get older, it’s more important than ever to continue taking great care of your teeth to avoid cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay.

The primary goal of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque and to prevent tartar buildup effectively. Mouthwash can enhance those benefits while giving you fresh breath.

Should I Brush Before Flossing?

There is one main reason why brushing before flossing might make your oral care more efficient. First, most of us have a well-ingrained habit of brushing already. It’s easier to link new practices to an already existing pattern. Starting with brushing, and then adding to your oral care routine with flossing and rinsing is a great way to enhance an already established habit.

Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque, which can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and infection. Ensure you are using the right tools by always brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time.

Brushing your teeth:

  • Removes plaque
  • Removes food debris left behind
  • Eliminates other harmful bacteria from your teeth
  • Freshens breath
  • Stimulates the gums

Floss Neglected Spaces

While tooth brushing removes plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, just brushing alone cannot do the entire job of removing plaque from every surface. Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss removes unwanted debris from between your teeth where your toothbrush is unable to reach. Flossing is also important because it enables you to remove plaque while it is still soft. Once plaque hardens and forms tartar, only a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist or dentist can effectively remove it. Patients who are very susceptible to gum disease or tartar buildup may want to consider flossing twice a day.

Flossing is one of the oral hygiene habits that most often gets forgotten. Poor gum health is a major cause of patients having to undergo tooth extraction procedures and can lead to gingivitis, or gum disease.

Save Swishing For Last

After brushing and flossing, rinsing is often thought of as the final step to cleaning your mouth. You may choose to rinse with just water, though many patients benefit from using a fluoride mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen breath. Using a fluoride mouthwash for 30-60 seconds is particularly important before you go to sleep because teeth can repair themselves from the daily damage, uninterrupted.  If you are unsure which mouthwash you should use, consult with your dentist at your next dental exam.

Are You Getting a Thorough Clean?

These three steps, combined with regular dental exams and professional cleanings, will ensure a lifetime of excellent oral health. While some professionals could argue that there is importance in the order in which you clean your mouth, what matters is that you complete all three steps.

Schedule a routine cleaning and exam with Cherrywood Dental Associates today.


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Dr. Barzgar is an excellent dentist

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