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The unhelpful things many women do before dental visits

Skip the extra brushing and flossing

Do you ramp up your flossing, brushing and mouthwash routine before you visit the dentist? Well, you'd better tone it down. Not only is it unnecessary, it could actually be harmful.

Going to the dentist certainly isn't one of life's more enjoyable experiences, at least for the majority of people. From the buzzing and drilling to the fear that your dentist will find out how infrequently you actually floss, it's one of those mostly-unpleasant life chores that you do because well, you're a responsible adult and you don't relish the idea of dentures down the road. As apprehensive as you might be about actually putting your mouth to the mercy of all those mysterious, shiny tools, there's an added worry: that the dentist will judge you for the state of your teeth.

Quite a few people tend to ramp up their dental hygiene when they see that scheduled appointment pop up on their calendars. Sounds counterproductive to clean your teeth before you go to get your teeth cleaned, but it's a common practice. And we have good news: There's no need to actually floss more, brush more or overdo it on the mouthwash before flashing your pearly whites in the dental chair. In fact, doing these things can actually hurt your oral health. Edita Outericka, D.D.S., at Dynamic Dental in Massachusetts who also practices cosmetic dentistry, says, "Aggressive flossing and brushing the day of or a few days prior to dental treatment does not reverse the damage done from improper hygiene in between dental visits. It can, however, inflame soft tissue and cause gum recession."

Most dentists agree that you don't need to change your hygiene habits before a dentist visit. Martin Hogan, D.D.S., Division Director of Dental Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, says dental patients don't need to do anything"... special, just stick with good oral hygiene and home care on a regular basis and you should be fine. This would include brushing two to three times per day, and flossing once a day. "If you're looking for a way to brush more effectively on a daily basis, you might try the ARM & HAMMER™ Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean toothbrush, which should keep your mouth cleaner overall. For best results, use with ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ toothpaste.

However, there is one instance in which you might want to change your behavior in advance of a dental appointment, and that's if anything in your medical history has changed. If you are taking any medications or have recently had any surgeries or medical procedures, be sure to let your dentist know in advance of your appointment. Dr. Hogan adds: "There are several different conditions that require a patient to take antibiotics prior to a dental appointment. This is done to help reduce bacteria in the bloodstream that can be caused by specific dental procedures. The guidelines are always changing and being revised."

So, if you've recently been sick or have been diagnosed with any medical conditions since your last cleaning, make sure your dentist is aware. Otherwise, keep the brushing, flossing, swishing and whitening on par with your normal levels. And remember, your dentist is there to help you achieve good oral health — not to judge you on your flossing habits.

This post is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER™.

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