The Importance of Flossing

flossingWe all know that brushing is important, but don’t forget about flossing! It’s just as important AND it takes less time, yet many Americans choose to skip it. If you consider yourself to be one of those less diligent flossers, consider that flossing (together with daily brushing) is integral to preventing tooth loss, cavities, and periodontal gum disease. So if you’re ready to turn over a new leaf and give flossing the attention it deserves (and we hope you are), here are some recommended techniques to ensure you’re flossing the right way:

  • Get a grip. The way you hold your floss makes a big difference in how effective you are at cleaning your teeth. Start with a section of floss that is 18 inches long and wind it around each middle finger, leaving a couple of inches of floss in between. Hold the floss in a taut fashion between your index fingers and thumbs and gently guide the floss between your teeth, up and down.
  • Don’t neglect the gum line. As well as flossing up and down between your teeth, use the floss to gently scrape the surface of your tooth and under the gum line. Just make sure you aren’t too forceful with the floss, or you may damage your bruise your gum tissue.
  • Keep it clean. It’s best to use a clean section of floss as you go from one tooth to another to ensure that each tooth is being cleaned effectively. And if you have any missing teeth, don’t avoid their sides when you floss; they need just as much attention as the rest of your teeth. When you floss, you can begin with the upper teeth first, or choose the lower teeth. What matters is that all your teeth get equal flossing time.
  • Wax on.Waxed floss slides between your teeth easily as opposed to unwaxed floss, which tends to shred. Ribbon floss is a good choice because it covers more of your tooth, and it’s also less likely to cut your gums. For added incentive to floss, choose a version that has a cinnamon or mint flavor, which helps leave your mouth feeling fresh.

Learn more about good flossing habits. Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

Why Wearing a Mouth Guard is Important

According to the American Dental Association, approximately one-third of all dental injuries are related to sports. That’s why wearing a mouth guard is crucial to preventing injuries like chipped or broken teeth, lip and cheek injuries, root damage, fractured jaw, and concussions. A mouth guard is a soft laminate or plastic item used specifically to prevent oral injuries. If you play sports or take part in activities that could potentially damage your teeth, a mouth guard is essential. Here are a few reasons why:

Less Chance of Loosened Teeth
If you’re not wearing a mouth guard and an object hits your mouth, it could loosen your tooth or, even worse, break it. Wearing a mouth guard ensures that if an object does hit your mouth, your teeth will be protected and an injury will be less likely.

Minimized Risk of Tooth Fracture
Even if you wear a mouth guard, you can still fracture your tooth. But if it does fracture, the mouth guard will have provided enough cushion that the tooth can typically be saved. For example, if you fracture the crown of your tooth, your dentist can put white filling material into the part that is fractured.

Less Risk of Tooth Loss
It’s a tragedy to lose a tooth because you didn’t wear a mouth guard, especially if it could have been prevented. Even if you lose a tooth that isn’t permanent, it can still lead to problems when your permanent tooth comes in due to the trauma to your primary tooth.

Protects Against Soft Tissue Injuries
The soft tissue in your mouth is protected from your sharp teeth when you wear a mouth guard, preventing bruising and cutting your cheeks, tongue, and lips.

Want to learn more about choosing a mouth guard that’s right for you? Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.  We are located in Minot, ND and look forward to hearing from you!

Foods to Avoid After Teeth Whitening

Teeth WhiteningThere’s no question that a brighter, whiter smile can boost your appearance and self-confidence. That’s why this procedure continues to grow in popularity. But it’s important to know that what you eat and drink in the days after the procedure can make a big difference to your teeth. To avoid tooth staining, avoid the following five foods and drinks.

  • Sorry, java lovers. Your morning cup of Joe is one of the most common causes of tooth staining. Think of it this way: anything that can stain a white shirt can stain your teeth. At least wait two days after your whitening procedure to incorporate coffee back into your daily routine.
  • Red wine. Studies indicate that one glass of wine a day has its health benefits, but red wine is also a primary cause of tooth staining. To maintain the tooth whitening effects, abstain from a glass of red for as long as possible.
  • Certain sauces.In the days following your treatment, steer clear of dark sauces like tomato sauce and soy sauces. Also avoid stews and marinades, which contribute to significant staining.
  • Dark chocolate, in particular, can do a number on your recently whitened smile. But it has its good points too. It contains a powerful antioxidant that’s been known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. You don’t have to do away with dark chocolate forever. Just stay away from it for the first week.
  • Highly acidic foods. When you whiten your teeth, the bleaching components that are used temporarily weaken your tooth enamel. If you add acidic foods into the mix, it can add more acid to your saliva which can harm your teeth. In the days after your tooth whitening, avoid food types that can increase acidity like oranges, lemons, limes, pickles and soda.

Want to learn more about getting the most out of your tooth whitening procedure? Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.  We are located in Minot, ND and look forward to hearing from you!

5 Ways to Beat Bad Breath

bad breathWhat can be more embarrassing than bad breath? Well, a lot of things. But foul mouth odor is definitely high on the list. If you’re dealing with bad breath, take heart – there are ways to get rid of it. Here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Up your brushing and flossing game.When plaque builds up on your teeth, it creates bacteria that causes bad breath. If you haven’t been great about brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, it’s time to change that. Just be careful not to brush with too much gusto, which can erode tooth enamel and make your teeth more prone to decay.
  2. Swish with mouthwash or water.Mouthwash is an effective tool at getting rid of bacteria, not to mention it has a refreshing, minty taste. Just be sure to buy mouthwash specifically designed to kill germs that cause bad breath. Drinking and rinsing with plain water can also refresh your mouth, especially in the morning and after you eat to get rid of lingering food particles.
  3. Watch what you eat. Some foods like garlic and onions tend to linger even after you brush. That’s because garlic and onions contain components that travel to the blood stream and lungs, which you then breathe out. Look for raw crunchy foods instead, which are great at cleaning your teeth naturally. These include apples, carrots, celery, cranberries and walnuts. Eating yogurt is another great way to help reduce bad breath because of the active cultures it contains.
  4. Maintain healthy gums. One of the biggest culprits for bad breath is gum disease. That’s because bacteria invades your gums and creates pockets at the base of your teeth to create a foul odor. Your first line of defense against gum diseases is to maintain good oral hygiene.
  5. Visit your doctor.Sometimes even your best efforts can’t stop bad breath. When this is the case, it’s time to see your doctor. It could be a sign of a medical condition.

Learn more about beating bad breath. Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.


Understanding Plaque

dental careWhen you wake up in the morning and run your tongue over your teeth, you’ll feel a thin coating of film. This is plaque, a sticky colorless film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. If plaque isn’t removed by regularly brushing and flossing, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

How plaque forms
After you eat, the bacteria found in plaque uses the sugars from your food to produce acids that slowly erode your tooth enamel. If the enamel is attacked repeatedly, it begins to break down and cause a cavity or hole in the surface of your tooth.

The harmful effects of plaque
If plaque continues to build up, it eventually hardens to form tartar, which is much more difficult to remove by brushing and flossing because it collects at the gum line. As plaque, tartar and bacteria grows, your gum tissue can become swollen. You may even see blood when you brush your teeth. This can be an indication of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to a more severe type of gum disease called periodontis. This condition occurs when a bacterial infection makes your gums and tooth-supporting bone diminish. Your gums may recede and pull back from the teeth, and in severe cases, the bone supporting your teeth breaks down completely and can lead to tooth loss.

Fighting back against plaque
The best way to combat plaque is to brush and floss daily, using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste with fluoride. Other ways to prevent plaque include eating a balanced diet and curbing snacks between meals. And, of course, visiting your dentist at least once a year for a professional cleaning and checkup is essential to a healthy mouth.
Learn more about fighting back against plaque. Contact Dr. Stanly Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

Root Canals Shouldn’t Be Scary

root canalRoot canal.

Wait. Why are you running from the room? Halloween’s over. Just the term is enough to give some people an anxiety attack. Maybe they watched the old movie Marathon Man one too many times (Is it safe?). Maybe it’s stories from your uncle back 40 years ago.

Whatever the cause, root canals need a new publicist! This procedure we use at Broadway Family Dentistry is really a tooth saver, and that’s a good thing because saving a tooth is always preferable to having to replace it. Plus, the modern root canal doesn’t involve any more discomfort than having a cavity filled.

The team at Broadway wants to clear up some of this fear of the root canal.

What happens to dictate the need for a root canal?

Every tooth has one or more roots that anchor the tooth into the jawbone. Nerves and blood vessels run through several tiny channels or “canals” in the root into the pulp at the center of the tooth. Sometimes, a cavity or fracture allows bacteria to penetrate through the enamel on the outer tooth, infecting the inner part of the tooth, the dentin. If the infection grows, the tooth can develop an abscess. Now the tooth is in a bad way, as the bacteria spreads down into the root canals and possibly into the surrounding gum tissue.

At this point, a root canal will be necessary to:

  • Minimize pain
  • Remove infected and dead tooth tissue
  • Reduce swelling
  • Get rid of all the bacteria and keep it from spreading
  • Salvage healthy tooth structure
  • Maintain function of the tooth

The root canal process

This is where people get the wrong idea about pain and root canals. When the interior of a tooth becomes infected, all of the sudden nerves are exposed. That equals serious pain. People project this pain onto the root canal procedure. Actually, the root canal is done to remove the cause of the pain!

Here’s what the Broadway Dentistry team does.

In a root canal, once you’re given local anesthesia, we drill into the infected tooth to access the infected pulp. We then diligently remove all the infected pulp, along with the tooth root (and all its nerves — the pain cause). Everything is thoroughly disinfected and then the now-hollow tooth is filled with a rubber-based substance known as gutta percha. A crown or filling closes the hole and you’re done. Plus, your tooth is saved, often for the remainder of your life!

How much does a root canal hurt?

The truth is a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a typical filling. You read that right. Really the only pain is the slight prick of the initial anesthesia, along with some minor jaw aches afterwards due to having your mouth open. Remember, the root canal is what is going to get rid of the extreme pain caused by your infected tooth!

If you’re having some tooth pain, decay could have entered one of your teeth. Call us at Broadway Family Dentistry, 701-839-1299, to make your appointment.

NuCalm© Minot, ND

Dental treatment does not have to be something you dread. Our office now has NuCalm, a patented all-natural option to help you relax in the dental chair. NuCalm not only provides you with a deep relaxation experience during your appointment but also leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

What is NuCalm?

nucalm_reg_logo_6501NuCalm is a patented all-natural stress intervention technology. NuCalm scientifically sequences four relaxation therapies to mimic your body’s own process for ‘winding down’ and preparing for sleep. You will feel the same way you feel just as you are about to fall asleep.

How does NuCalm work?


Deep relaxation is achieved through 4 simple steps. NuCalm is administered by our dental team at the beginning of your appointment and takes just a few minutes to apply. While listening to soothing music, you will relax comfortably during your appointment.

  • Step 1 – All-natural dietary supplements c containing proprietary formulation of amino acids goes on as cream
  • Step 2 – FDA-cleared micro-current stimulation. Research shows this helps facilitate the relaxation response.
  • Step 3 – Soothing music presented through headphones. Layered in the music is proprietary neuroacoustic software designed to guide you into deep relaxation
  • Step 4 – Light-blocking eye mask or glasses block visual stimulation and help you maintain relaxation.

Please call our office to see if NuCalm may be an option for your dental care.

Information used with permission from ©Solace Lifesciences, Inc.

My Child Lost a Tooth! What Now?

pediatric dentistryThe average age for your child to begin losing his or her primary teeth is age six, with all permanent teeth in place by about age 13. When your child has a loose tooth, it can be an exciting yet somewhat anxious time for both of you. Knowing the proper way to help your child when his or her tooth is ready to come out is important. Your dentist can educate your child about losing their teeth and inspect them to gauge when they’re likely to come out.

Once a tooth is loose, here are some ways you can help make the transition easier:

  • Prepare for bleeding. Let your child know that there will be some bleeding when the tooth comes out, which is only temporary and nothing to worry about.
  • Keep up on good oral hygiene. Your child may be hesitant to brush the loose tooth areas surrounding it, but it’s important that he or she continues to brush daily and floss regularly, just a bit more gently around the tooth that is loose.
  • Encourage wiggling. It’s tempting for your child to wiggle a loose tooth with his or her fingers or tongue, and that’s okay. Sometimes this is all it takes for the tooth to come out.
  • Let them pull it. If a tooth is only slightly loose, leave it alone for now. When the tooth is loose enough to pull, allow your child to do it using tissue or a piece of gauze. Your child can best determine his or her level of discomfort and whether or not to stop pulling at any point.

After the tooth falls out, take the following steps:

  • Use a damp cloth to apply pressure on the area, which will bleed slightly
  • Gargle with warm water
  • Instruct your child to be gently when brushing the area where the tooth fell out to avoid irritation
  • Make a big deal of it – many parents tell their children about the “tooth fairy” in an effort to make losing teeth exciting rather than scary

If your child experiences any pain or the gums appear swollen or red, an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol or ibuprofen may help. You can also try a topical numbing agent. If pain is severe, visit your dentist.

To learn more about what to do when your child has a loose tooth, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299  to schedule a check-up.

The 5 Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

sensitive teethIf sipping hot coffee or eating ice cream makes you wince, you may have tooth sensitivity. While this may be discouraging and painful, there are remedies for your sensitive teeth. Check out some of the main reasons you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity and what you can do about it.

Brushing too harshly. If you’re using a toothbrush with stiff bristles, this can contribute to sensitivity. And brushing with too much force can also be harmful, as it can erode your tooth enamel over time and expose your dental nerves. Stick to a soft-bristled toothbrush and go easy when you brush.

Teeth grinding. Another way to break down your tooth enamel is by grinding your teeth. This can expose the middle layer of your tooth (called dentin) which exposes the hollow tubes that lead to your nerves. You may need a mouth guard if this is the case, so talk to your dentist to see if this may be the best solution for you.

Using whitening toothpaste. Many brands of toothpaste contain chemicals made for whitening your teeth, and you may be one of many who are sensitive to these chemicals. If you think your toothpaste may be contributing to your tooth sensitivity, switch to a brand that doesn’t contain a whitening formula.

Excessive plaque. If you aren’t brushing daily or flossing regularly, your teeth will get plaque buildup, which can then wear away tooth enamel. When this happens, your teeth lose the protection they need to prevent sensitivity. Be diligent about your oral care and visit your dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and exams to keep your mouth healthy.

Receding gums. If you don’t say on top of your oral care, your gums can start to recede as you age, which can make your teeth sensitive. It can also lead to gum disease. See your dentist for a complete evaluation.

To learn more about treating tooth sensitivity, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

What Exactly Is Tooth Enamel?

oral healthTooth enamel is essential to your oral health. After all, it’s what covers your teeth and protects them from becoming damaged. So when your enamel wears down, you’re at greater risk for tooth decay. But what, exactly, is tooth enamel and how can you protect it? Read on to learn more to ensure you have a healthy mouth for years to come.

Tooth enamel is the outermost substance on your teeth. It rivals your bones for being the hardest substance in the human body and protects the nerves in your teeth from extreme hot or hold, which can cause sensitivity. When your tooth enamel is exposed to acid and bacteria buildup, it can erode and decay. And while enamel is a protective surface, it can easily crack or chip. This usually happens when you eat hard foods or when food gets stuck between your teeth. The easiest way to tell if you’ve cracked a tooth is if you feel pain when chewing, or when you drink something hot or cold.

For Healthy Enamel, Watch What You Eat
To effectively protect your enamel, there are certain foods and drinks you should avoid. Soda, for example, contains high levels of sugar and acid which can dissolve your enamel over time. Sports drinks and energy drinks are other culprits for erosion because they also have a significant amount of acid. Avoid these drinks to protect against enamel breakdown. Other contributors to decay include foods with vinegar, such as vinegar-based salad dressings or even potato chips. And it bears repeating that candy is a no-no if you want to preserve your tooth enamel. The high levels of sugar are main proponents for enamel decay.

Restoring Tooth Enamel
If your tooth enamel begins to erode, visit your dentist as soon as possible, especially if you’re experiencing tooth pain. Having regular checkups, as well as brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, are excellent ways to stop tooth decay and enamel erosion in its tracks.

To learn more about keeping your tooth enamel healthy, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299. We look forward to hearing from you!