The Practice of Dr. Michael Koumas

How often should you go to the dentist?

Yearly dentist visits are key to keeping your mouth healthy and your wallet happy. Generally, anxiety over going to the dentist can keep some patients away, but these important visits can identify early signs of dental issues that can become bigger overtime. There is no exact amount of times you should be visiting the dentist, but the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends getting checkups at least once a year, maybe even twice to be safe.

Importance of a Checkup

Regular dental checkups are meant to keep your mouth healthy. Not only will the dentist recommend a cleaning or search for cavities, but they also look for symptoms of other diseases and conditions that can develop in the mouth. It is always best to be proactive, because spotting symptoms of dental health issues in their earliest stage means it can be a whole lot easier to fix whatever the issue may be. Remember, everyone is different, and some mouths require a dental visit once a year while others may need a handful throughout the year. A best practice is to consult with your dentist and see what they recommend based on your dental history.

Don’t Wait

Putting off that dentist appointment is never a good idea for many different reasons. First, dental issues can’t and won’t fix themselves which means that over time, the issue will only become more serious. As dental issues become more serious, they can also become costlier to fix. Ongoing pain or a wiggle in your tooth should be enough encouragement to pick up the phone and schedule that dentist appointment. Dentists are there to help you and keep your smile beautiful.

Are You High Risk?

Individuals with certain medical conditions can be considered high risk for dental health issues. The following groups of people are known to be high risk and should consult with their dentist to ensure they are keeping their mouth and teeth healthy:

  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Cancer patients

To schedule your dental appointment, contact local Newburgh, NY dentist Dr. Michael Koumas.

How to Stay Cavity Free This Halloween

bowl of candy corn - how to avoid cavities this halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, all the promotion of sugar-filled candy can be scary for parents out there with children. Especially when candy from trick-or-treating can last for weeks, even months after Halloween. With that in mind, here are tips on how to celebrate Halloween the healthy way and avoid cavities.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is the result of a tooth breaking down or decaying. Literally, a cavity is a whole in a tooth that increases in size overtime, if left untreated. Cavities are caused by plaque buildup and acids that break down the protective enamel on the outer layer of your teeth.

Candy Eating Tips

Time of Day

Keeping in mind the time of day you or your child snacks on their yummy Halloween candy is a good practice. Eating candy as a dessert at meal time is a better time because of the amount of saliva present. Saliva production significantly increases during mealtime, giving you better chances of those sugary leftovers and acids being washed away with the saliva. Remember, candy should be a special treat and should not be consumed throughout the day.

Avoid Sticky Candy

Candies like tootsie rolls, taffy, starbursts and even jolly ranchers tend to stick around longer than other candy. They are more difficult to wash out of the mouth, increasing the risk of cavities developing. Either avoid these types of candy or be sure to brush your teeth soon after consuming.

Sticking to your daily mouth care routine is important to prevent cavities developing. Also, scheduling a visit with your dentist is always recommended, even if you believe your teeth are perfectly healthy.

To schedule your dental appointment, contact local Newburgh, NY dentist Dr. Michael Koumas.

When to Get a New Toothbrush

frayed toothbrush bristles - When to get a new toothbrush

Changing your tooth brush occasionally is an important step to keeping a healthy mouth. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, maybe even sooner if the bristles on the brush are frayed. As the bristles become worn out, the brush becomes less effective in cleaning in between teeth. New toothbrushes are proven to remove more plaque and build up than a used toothbrush.

On the unfortunate occasion that you get sick, dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush to prevent future illness. The toothbrush can hold onto, and even grow bacteria.

Toothbrush Maintenance

Rinsing the toothbrush under water when finished brushing is important to reduce bacteria growth. In terms of storage, the toothbrush should be left out to air dry. If a toothbrush is placed in a closed case immediately after using, bacteria can grow because of the warm, moist environment. When on vacation or traveling for business, it is recommended that a disposable toothbrush is used only for the time you are away. If you want to reduce your plastic waste, explore other biodegradable options, like bamboo toothbrushes, that can help you feel less guilty about tossing your toothbrush every 3-4 months.

Bristles Strength

When shopping for that shiny, new toothbrush, you’ll see different bristle types such as soft, medium or even extra-soft. On average, most dentists recommend a soft bristled toothbrush as it is gentle on the teeth but also gets the job done. A bristle that is medium or even hard, may wear away at the enamel that is crucial in protecting your teeth. Asking your dentist for their recommendation for you personally is always encouraged.

To schedule your dental appointment, contact local Newburgh, NY dentist Dr. Michael Koumas.

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Dental Myths: Fact or Fiction

dental model of teeth - dental myths debunked

Misconceptions surrounding dental care are common and it is important to know what the facts are to keep your teeth healthy for life. Maintaining dental health can be simple, as long as you follow a daily routine and get regular check-ups at your dentist. Now let’s dive in deeper and set the record straight about dental care tips and whether they are tooth or false.

1. Chewing gum replaces brushing your teeth.

Gum actually does remove food that is stuck in your teeth, but this does not mean you can stop brushing your teeth twice a day. Chewing sugar-free gum is sometimes recommended by dentists to temporarily clean your mouth by removing loose food particles. When you chew gum it also helps produce saliva which aids in washing away those bad acids from foods and drinks. Sugars that stay on your teeth for a long period of time can cause cavities, which is why dentists recommend we brush twice daily. Remember that sugars are snuck into many of the foods we eat – so even if you try to avoid desserts and candies, the sugar in processed foods can also harm your teeth over time.

2. You don’t have to visit the dentist if nothing hurts.

This may be one of the biggest misconceptions out there and is very important to set straight. When it comes to dental issues, most of the time pain is not felt in the beginning stages whether it be a cavity or gum disease. Pain and discomfort often arise when the problem is bigger, resulting in root canals, extractions and other more involved procedures. The best way to keep your mouth healthy is by scheduling regular, bi-annual check-ups and teeth cleanings with your dentist.

3. Flossing is a personal preference.

Recently, daily flossing was removed from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but, that doesn’t mean flossing should be forgotten. In fact, most dentists still recommend their patients floss regularly because it is an effective practice in removing food stuck between teeth and reducing plaque. The buildup in those hard to reach places can only be removed by floss in many cases, and the removal of that buildup can prevent cavities. Gum disease can also be caused by the buildup and plaque that remains in between our teeth. When flossing, if your gums bleed, that is because they may be inflamed which is a sign of gum disease. Dentists recommend you floss daily to help prevent gum disease and in fact, the bleeding and irritation will decrease overtime with regular flossing.

To schedule your dental appointment, contact local Newburgh, NY dentist Dr. Michael Koumas.

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What to Do with a Chipped Tooth

woman cringing at chipped tooth. close up of woman's mouth

Has anyone every told you to place a chipped tooth in milk? What sounds like an old wives’ tale is actually rooted in science. Accidents happen, and a chipped tooth is not the end of the world, as long as you seek appropriate dental treatment as soon as possible. Now, if you’re still confused on why placing your chipped tooth in milk is a good idea, read on.

Milk and Teeth

When a tooth chips, your emotions can range from confusion, to fear, to panic. Remember to take a deep breath, because broken and chipped teeth are fairly common. If the tooth has been significantly broken, the best thing to do in this situation is to find the chipped tooth and wash it in saline, and then place in milk—it is not recommended to wash it in water. When a tooth is placed in water, the exposed surface may become damaged. Milk on the other hand, has proteins that can prevent this from happening.

The enzymes and sugars in milk help nourish the tooth’s cells. Along with those components, milk provides an alkaline environment to help keep the tooth alive. In cases where milk or saline-solution is not readily available, the next best option is to keep the tooth in your mouth where saliva can help protect it.

Small Chips

If the chip is minor, your dentist will likely not try to salvage it, so you do not have to worry about saving it. Be sure to rinse your mouth in warm salt water to help reduce your risk for infection. Small chips are treated by implanting a crown, bonding, or veneer.

What Next

Now remember, storing your tooth in milk is only a temporary solution, and in fact, it may only work for the first 4-6 hours. You should immediately contact your dentist and schedule an appointment to get your chipped tooth taken care of. Without doing so, your risk of infection becomes higher and your chances of successfully repairing the tooth significantly decrease as more time passes.

If you have a chipped tooth, be sure to get it fixed sooner rather than later. Contact local dentist Dr. Michael Koumas in Newburgh, NY to discuss what your best treatment option is.

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Waterpik vs Flossing: Which Works Better

floss, flossing piks, and toothbrush. dental tools on a white background.

When it comes to deciding between using a waterpik to remove plaque or going the traditional route with floss, it really is personal preference, according to most dentists. Still, both methods do have their pros and cons which may help inform your final decision. In the end, both methods can help keep your teeth healthy and happy as part of your dental care routine. Here’s what we have to say about deciding between a waterpik vs flossing:

Waterpik

Using a waterpik to “floss” your teeth and rid your mouth of plaque and food particles is a more involved, and often more costly process. The waterpik allows you to shoot water in between your teeth and the steady pressure removes anything built up. For some, a waterpik may be more convenient, like those who have braces or other dental work like crowns or dental implants. String floss requires a technique to hold the floss and maneuver it throughout the mouth, so water flossing may be an easier way for many to reach molars.

Flossing

To most, flossing is the go-to method to remove residual food that occasionally gets stuck in between teeth. Not only is traditional flossing more cost-effective compared to using a waterpik, but it can also be more convenient. A pack of floss can be brought everywhere and can be used at anytime because of its small size and simple-to-use technique. Plaque build up and food particles that sit too long between teeth can cause tooth decay and even worse, gum disease.

Healthy Mouth, Happy Teeth

No matter which flossing method you choose, make sure you choose one. Flossing is an important part of maintaining a healthy mouth and keeping your gums happy. Studies have shown that flossing has not only proven to reduce plaque buildup, but it also strengthens your gums against bleeding. Having a daily dental care routine is important for your overall health.

Talk to your dentist today about scheduling routine teeth cleanings as well as regular check-ups.

If you would like to schedule a dental appointment and learn more about using a waterpik vs flossing, contact local dentist Dr. Michael Koumas in Newburgh, NY.

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Is Charcoal Teeth Whitening Safe?

is charcoal teeth whitening safe? activated charcoal

Activated Charcoal has some miraculous medicinal properties, unfortunately, one of them is not teeth whitening, and it can actually do more harm than good. Activated charcoal has become a trendy ingredient because of its miraculous ability to absorb dirt and remove stains, despite its deep black color. Though activated charcoal is often used to purify water, treat food poisoning and even clean your pores, dentists do not recommend using it to whiten your teeth.

More Harm Than Good

Above all, using activated charcoal as a teeth-whitening method is discouraged by dentists because of its abrasive texture. Dentists have been cautioning patients that using activated charcoal for oral care can indeed have the opposite effect on teeth, contrary to what patients have read online or in magazines. It is believed that the charcoal particles can actually wear away and erode tooth enamel, which is crucial to protect your teeth. Keep in mind that once enamel is removed, it is almost impossible to get back.

There have been no studies conducted that support the belief that activated charcoal is safe for teeth whitening, and in fact, many dentists have proscribed patients from using it, citing its abrasiveness. Though some believe they have seen positive results from using activated charcoal, in reality, they are wearing their enamel away. Weaker and thinner teeth with eroded enamel are more prone to stains, making them look yellower in the long run.

Lack of Research

Teeth will become more sensitive and prone to breakage and decay once the enamel has worn away, another negative effect of using activated charcoal to whiten teeth. To warn consumers on the dangers of using activated charcoal to whiten teeth, the American Dental Association released an article speaking on the lack of clinical research and lab data to support any claims about the efficacy of activated charcoal to whiten teeth.

Teeth Whitening – The Right Way

The correct way to go about teeth whitening is to consult your dentist. They will be able to recommend a safe, effective method to have those pearly whites shining and ready to show off in no time. In-office whitening procedures, and even certain whitening toothpastes are safe and effective ways to go about teeth whitening. Be cognizant that there are many over the counter bleaching agents which claim to whiten teeth but can actually damage gums and teeth.

If you would like to discuss safe teeth whitening, contact local dentist Dr. Michael Koumas in Newburgh, NY.

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Myths About Teeth Whitening

Myths about teeth whitening.

Everyone wants to have a whiter smile, but making the decision to pursue whitening treatment can be tough. Myths and stereotypes can lead to negative connotations, inhibiting you from moving forward with treatment. Below are three misconceptions about teeth whitening:

Teeth whitening treatments at my doctor’s office are no more effective than those purchased at drugstores.
On the contrary, the maximum strength bleach that our dentists provide delivers the best and fastest teeth whitening results. Another factor that makes dentist-provided whitening kits most effective is the fact that the trays are customized to fit each individual patient perfectly which keeps the gel in closer, more precise contact with your teeth. Don’t waste your time at the drugstore when you can get a brighter, whiter smile from us in record time!

Tooth whitening harms enamel.
Despite this negative misconception, teeth whitening does not actually harm the enamel of a tooth. Bleaching works by opening the pores of a tooth. This allows for the peroxide to enter the inner structure of the tooth and remove stains. The pores will close again over time, leaving the enamel unharmed.

You can never drink coffee or wine again after whitening.
While patients are told to stay away from heavy staining and acidic foods, such as red wine and coffee, it’s not forever! Dentists recommend this just for the first few days after treatment because the pores in your teeth remain open and the chemical reaction takes place over the course of a few days.

Whitening treatments can be intimidating, especially if you are not properly informed. It’s important to know the facts when making decisions about your teeth. If you have any questions about teeth whitening, contact our office today at Newburgh Office Phone Number 845-562-1108

Tips for an A+ Smile

A healthy school lunch will not only give your child the energy they need throughout their school day, it will keep their teeth healthy too! Below are some examples of healthy foods that will keep your kid smiling all day long!

PB&J’s! While a popular choice, often times sugary jellies and nut butters are not great for kid’s teeth. Try switching to a natural peanut butter, and a preserve or fruit jam (aim for 5grams or sugar or less per serving). Use whole wheat bread as a healthy alternative too!

Cheese Please! Cheese is high in calcium which is probably one of the most important nutrients for your teeth. It is absorbed by tooth enamel and help block bacteria growth. Without calcium, your kid’s teeth could be in big trouble! Cheese also has protein, which is not only important for the growth and development of children, it also keeps their muscles strong and healthy making for a stronger smile.

Snack-Attack! Apples are great to munch on, they are high in water which help to dilute the sugars they contain. When you are chewing, the saliva production helps protect against tooth decay, pairing this with a low sugar nut butter makes an excellent snack! Edamame beans are also a great option, they are rich in calcium and are fun to eat too! Just make sure to get a salt free version to avoid too much sodium.

We want water! Although it seems simple, water is MUST. Often times we give our kids way to much juice and not enough water, and studies have shown that juice is just as bad for you as soda! Kids should be drinking 5-10 glasses of water each day, so encourage them to hydrate by sending them to school with a reusable water bottle they can keep filling up.

If you have any questions about what types of smile friendly foods your child should be eating, feel free to call our office today!

What Can Good Oral Health Prevent?

What can good oral health prevent.

When it comes to your teeth, practicing good oral hygiene should be at the top of your list. We only have one set of fully grown adult teeth that we use in every aspect of our lives. When we see family, friends and even strangers, one-third of the time our teeth are the first thing they notice. Having a well taken care of smile can make the difference in your social life. Aside from your teeth’s appearance, between meals and snacking, our teeth are constantly working for us. So, what are you doing to improve your teeth? Good oral health can prevent several undesirable dental traits and problems.

Making sure to brush your teeth for at least two minutes, scrape your tongue, floss daily and gargle with mouthwash twice daily can prevent bad breath caused from plaque and food build-up. Gum disease can be prevented by regularly flossing around the gums and teeth to loosen build-up and plaque that irritate the gums and cause cavities. Don’t let neglecting to maintain these oral health habits keep you from becoming a social butterfly.

Cavities are a pain. The toothache that comes from biting into a sugary treat can be enough to jumpstart your new oral health habits. In caring for your teeth, you can dramatically reduce the number of cavities that develop from the acid and bacteria left from foods, especially sweet ones.

Keeping your oral health in check may also inhibit costly dental procedures from accumulating. A cavity that is left untreated can quickly turn into a tooth in dire need of a root canal, and developing gum disease may require gum laser therapy or tooth extraction. Most certainly, teeth that are well taken care of will have less plaque build-up that causes bad breath, cavities and gum disease, and better oral health could potentially prevent overwhelming dental expenses in the future.

Want to know more about what good oral health can do for you? Give us a call to find out, and schedule your checkup today! Newburgh Office Phone Number 845-562-1108