Gums & Gum Disease
On almost any surface, a thin layer of bacteria known as biofilm can stick. That’s why your gums and teeth feel like they’ve been covered in slime when you wake up in the morning. Biofilm is normal and happens to everyone—even if you brush, floss and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash. But when you don’t remove the biofilm on a daily basis, it can build and develop into dental plaque.
Dental plaque which could lead to gum disease is made up of some bad bacteria (the kind that thrives on sugar left behind on gums and teeth and turns into tooth-decaying acid) and some good bacteria (the kind that makes normal biofilm less enticing to acid-hungry bacteria).
A person with super-solid home dental care, who brushes, flosses, and swishes daily, can control and minimize the size of the biofilm, and potentially make it even healthier by increasing the amount of good bacteria it contains. But when you clean and rinse your gums and teeth less frequently, biofilm (typically pale yellow in color) can harden into tartar and gets thicker which only dentists and their professional tools can remove. Stick to your rinsing routine to keep your biofilm in its healthier condition.Back to top
As we age, it’s increasingly common to see a drop or two of blood in the sink after brushing or flossing–so commonplace that many of us convince ourselves it’s not a big deal. But bleeding gums—even during a dentist cleaning—are not normal and not healthy. They’re a sign—possibly along with other often-missed red alerts like puffy, red, irritated gums—of gingivitis (early gum disease). Millions of adults have some form of gum disease, yet only a very small fraction realize it because gum pain is not an early symptom. The good news: early-stage gum disease is reversible, through improved daily mouth care and more frequent visits to the dentist for plaque and tartar removal with professional tools. But left ignored, blood in the sink can progress to serious gum disease (periodontitis) that attacks gums, erodes the jawbone and is the number-one reason teeth fall out. If you’ve spotted droplets, don’t wait another day to start improving your brush, floss and rinse routine.Back to top
You’ve recognized one of the most telltale signs of mid-stage gum disease. And this is not one you want to ignore. When you notice your gum and bone pulling away from your teeth, and more of the lower part of your teeth becomes visible, your gums are receding. Often referred to as shrinking gums, when this happens, the roots of your teeth become exposed to harmful bacteria and your mouth becomes susceptible to a whole host of health issues. If accompanied by red, inflamed gums that bleed when brushed, early gum disease is a likely reason. Left untreated, gum recession can have serious, irreversible consequences, such as loss of dentin (hard, dense, bony tissue forming the bulk of a tooth beneath the enamel and keeping your teeth firmly in place), and the exposed roots can become tender, sore or infected.Back to top
It’s best to use LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily, as directed. The FDA reports that the combination of ingredients in LISTERINE® mouthwash is “generally recognized as safe and effective,” and that LISTERINE® mouthwash is extremely effective in killing bacteria above the line as well as reducing sticky plaque film and early gum disease (gingivitis),which can lead to serious, advanced gum disease if left unattended (hence its powerful zing when you swish). Use LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily for 24-hour protection from gum disease-causing bacteria.Back to top
It’s best to use LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily, as directed. The combination of ingredients in LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash is extremely effective in killing bacteria above the gum line as well as reducing sticky plaque film and early gum disease (gingivitis), which can lead to serious, advanced gum disease if left unattended (hence its powerful zing when you swish). Use LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily for 24-hour protection from gum disease-causing bacteria.Back to top
Cavities & Strong Teeth
Tartar is basically plaque that has been left untreated and worsened into a harder surface on the teeth that only dentists can remove. Plaque is a thick film on teeth comprised of saliva and trapped food particles that build up on the gum line. If plaque is not removed every day by gentle brushing, flossing and rinsing with powerful LISTERINE® antiseptic mouthwash, it can harden into tartar. The acid from plaque can attack teeth soon after meals; if not cleaned away it can break through enamel and lead to cavities. Plaque also harms gums and can lead to red, swollen gums that bleed when brushed, or even lead to receding gums.
Tartar is hard and crusty and porous. It is yellow or brownish in color and appears on the gum line. Tartar is plaque that was not removed and has hardened from mineral deposits in saliva. Tartar buildup causes cavities, tooth decay and tooth loss as well as gum disease. It continues to grow and calcify if not removed. Tartar can only be removed from your teeth by dentists and their professional tools. Brushing, flossing, rinsing with LISTERINE® mouthwash and using a tartar-control toothpaste can prevent this.Back to top
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element known to prevent tooth decay when ingested or applied to teeth as a topical solution. Fluoride can help reduce the number of cavities in teeth. The acid in plaque leads to mineral loss in the tooth (demineralization), which leads to tooth decay. The formation of cavities, however, can be reversed by remineralization, or the deposit of minerals on damaged areas of the tooth. Application of topical fluoride can speed up this restoration of lost minerals.
When fluoride is ingested by the stomach and intestines, it is absorbed by the body to make teeth stronger. It is often found in drinking water in high enough quantities to reduce cavities, depending on which area of the country you are in (and whether you drink tap or filtered/bottled water). You can also get small amounts of fluoride by eating certain foods, such as spinach, carrots, asparagus, most seafood, tea and food prepared in fluoridated water, or by using a fluoride toothpaste and LISTERINE® fluoride rinse.Back to top
Yes, it is a less commonly known fact that baby teeth are less dense than permanent teeth and wear down faster. They are also whiter than permanent teeth (also called second teeth or adult teeth). Adult teeth are naturally a little more yellow in color.Back to top
While baby teeth are whiter than permanent teeth, the enamel and dentin layers in baby teeth are thinner than those in adult teeth. The pulp is also bigger relative to the rest of the tooth, meaning that when your child gets a cavity it can reach the nerve of the tooth much faster, which makes dental checkups for children extremely important. Baby teeth also have shorter roots and aren't anchored as well in the bone, allowing them to fall out more easily. This also gives the root of permanent teeth more room to grow underneath the baby teeth.Back to top
Yes, you should rinse your dentures and brush away food particles and debris twice daily. Use dental tablets that dissolve in water and soak dentures in the cleaning solution in a container. Always clean dentures over a soft towel or basin half full of water, as they can be slippery and easily break if they fall. Brush with a soft-bristle brush in lukewarm water. Thoroughly clean the denture. Rinse with LISTERINE® mouthwash after to keep the mouth feeling fresh and clean. When not in your mouth, dentures should be soaked in mouthwash.Back to top
Yes, persistent bad breath may be a byproduct of other medical conditions. Common ailments like acid reflux and heartburn could leave a bad taste in your mouth. In other cases, bacteria and mucus buildup from a sinus infection could be what’s causing the issue. Slightly fruity breath that isn’t wholly pleasant or offensive is a telltale sign of diabetes, while a strong, ammonia scent has been linked to kidney disease.
Periodontal diseases like gingivitis can cause bad breath because of the presence of excess bacteria in the mouth. And dry mouth, which causes a decrease in saliva, leaves your mouth unable to naturally flush bacteria and food particles from your teeth and gums before they break down and start to decay.
If you’re worried your bad breath might be a sign of a bigger issue, or if you’re just unable to tame it yourself by brushing, flossing and rinsing, talk to your dentist.Back to top
When it comes to habits that can cause bad breath, few rank higher than tobacco use. Just the act of smoking alone, not to mention the associated health risks, is enough to leave your mouth tasting—and smelling—like an ashtray. Having a high-sugar diet doesn’t help, either; the natural bacteria in your mouth will feast on the excess sugars and redecorate your teeth and gums with bacteria buildup. Carbohydrate-cutting diets can often double your chances of bad breath as your body increases its production of ammonia to try and metabolize food. People who fast or skip meals regularly run a different kind of risk: chewing helps stimulate saliva, which helps prevent your mouth from getting dry and smelling stale. When you stop for long periods of time, your breath can begin to smell. Dry mouth also affects people who regularly breathe through their mouths, putting them in the unenviable position of having bad breath. Finally, people who are overstressed can wind up having unpleasant breath.Back to top
Yes and no. Since bad breath is often caused by dry mouth, chewing sugar-free gum can be a great way to get those saliva glands going. Not only will it help to flush out bacteria, saliva also helps usher unwanted food particles from your mouth before they can break down in your mouth.
Gums, candies and mints that are loaded with sugar, however, are not going to help. They may mask the odor, but they’ll do little to actually kill the bacteria that are causing your breath to smell. That’s because the sugar sticks to your teeth and gums where it can both break down to cause additional odor and increase plaque buildup. More plaque equals even more bad breath.
Your best bet is to brush, floss and rinse twice daily. This will ensure your mouth is optimally clean.Back to top
Unless you’re rinsing with a garlic and blue cheese-flavored variety, no mouthwash will cause your breath to stink. In fact, studies show LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash may even help get saliva flowing faster, thereby preventing dry mouth (which is linked to bad breath). For best results use LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily, as directed, for 24-hour protection from bacteria.Back to top
Teeth are not naturally white. They are a pearly shade that, as we age, no matter how good your oral hygiene, gradually turns more yellow. You see this first when a baby’s snow-white teeth are replaced by permanent teeth that are, by nature, more yellow in color. As we get older, the outer layer of enamel on the teeth wears down and exposes the dentin layer of the teeth, which is more yellow. Over the years, tartar and wear-and-tear stains appear and can darken the color of teeth.Back to top
Yes, false teeth can absolutely stain and turn colors over time. When not brushed daily, left-behind food debris and bacteria-filled plaque can create stains that look yellowish-gray, green and even black on teeth. (However, dental implants like crowns and veneers cannot be whitened.) Avoid this scenario by maintaining stellar oral hygiene even when your teeth are false, and brush and soak your dentures regularly while also following the proper steps to clean your dentures.Back to top
All whitening procedures, whether performed at home or done professionally in an office, rely on the same chemical reaction to deeply penetrate and break down stains. The main difference is the cost (professional cleanings range from $500 to $1,000 compared to $10 to $40 for DIY whitening methods). And when completed in the office, the dentist can take measures to protect the gums and rest of the mouth while whitening. DIY whitening is immediate, easy to use and widely accessible at drugstores. Professional whitening treatments also tend to take longer,1 hour to 1.5 hours, whereas DIY treatments take, at most, 30 minutes. That said, results of professional whitening in an office last a bit longer (up to 1 year) compared to at-home whitening results (up to 6 months).Back to top
Often when you notice white spots after a whitening treatment, it is a matter of white spots that were there before the treatment and were just made more noticeable by the treatment. Generally, white spots only last for a short time after the treatment, at most for a few days afterward. Sometimes small white spots can appear because of poor calcium deposits. White spots do not warrant concern and vanish as the treatment progresses.Back to top
Your child should be at least 12 years old before you start introducing him to products such as mouthwash and whitening products. At this point, he’ll have all of his permanent teeth. Consult your family dentist if you want to try a whitening treatment. OTC whitening strips or rinse or toothpaste may be more viable options to try before pricey professional whitening procedures that insurance does not cover. And because stained teeth can be caused by a diet that needs a nutritional boost, try to pinpoint the cause with your dentist before embarking on a treatment.Back to top
Also known in technical terms as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is an abrasive material that can scrub away stains thereby maintaining the current color of your teeth. Baking soda can be effective for surface stains, but it cannot go as deep as a chemical like peroxide.Back to top
Whitening has been proven to be safe and effective, and whether you have a professional procedure done at the dentist’s office or you perform DIY whitening treatments at home, most whitening treatments rely on the same bleaching agents. You can get into trouble if you start overdoing it and use too many different whitening products. Stick to a few and always use as directed. Overdoing it on whitening treatments can weaken enamel.Back to top
Follow the instructions on the product package. If you get the whitening results you want without experiencing any sensitivity, using a whitening treatment once a month should be sufficient. You may need to repeat a whitening bleach cycle to reach the white you want, but you shouldn’t exceed more than twice a year without consulting your dentist. Also remember that whitening is not appropriate for everyone, if you are pregnant, a nursing mother or have a history of gum disease, consult your dentist before undergoing a whitening treatment.Back to top
Tooth sensitivity is usually a sharp, intermittent zinging pain in response to air, food, or drinks that are especially hot, cold, sweet, or sour. If you’re experiencing mouth pain that is more severe and consistent, you should consult a dentist to be certain what you are experiencing isn’t a more serious or chronic condition such as a cavity, gum disease or a cracked tooth.Back to top
Sensitive teeth pain occurs when your enamel or softer root cementum is worn down or your gum line has receded to expose what is called dentin. Dentin contains cylindrical tubules that run from the center of the tooth (or the “pulp”) where the nerves are located. When the dentin surface is exposed, dentin fluid flows outward from the pulp. If this flow is disrupted by external stimuli (such as hot or cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks) a signal is sent to the nerves which is felt as pain.
As the gums pull back, the dentin tubules become exposed and your teeth have less protection from these substances and temperature sensations. While sensitive teeth may not necessarily have a differing appearance than healthier teeth, sensitive gums will turn red and will often bleed without being prodded, such as when brushing. Also unlike sensitive teeth, sensitive gums may not cause the same type of discomfort. The trouble is that the longer you ignore them, the worse this is for your teeth and oral health, so be sure to consult your dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing sensitive gums.Back to top
In a healthy mouth, there are tiny tubules in dentin (the soft part inside a tooth) that are covered by gums, cementum (a hard layer of tissue), or enamel. These dentin tubules lead to nerves and if enamel, cementum or gums start to wear away, tubules are open (exposed), so stimuli like temperature changes in the mouth from hot soup, cold ice cream, or even cold air, can move through them to the nerves. This causes the shooting pain known as tooth sensitivity.Back to top
Tooth whitening can be achieved in two ways: the use of bleaching products and non-bleaching products and either may cause sensitivity. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t whiten your teeth, but that you should simply be aware of the effects of whitening treatments and use them alongside proper and routine oral care.Back to top
LISTERINE® SENSITIVITY with CRYSTAL BLOCK™ Technology works differently than many sensitivity toothpastes. Our CRYSTAL BLOCK™ Technology contains potassium oxalate, an ingredient which binds to calcium in your saliva and leads to the formation of calcium oxalate crystals deep inside exposed dentin tubules. Each rinse thus forms crystals that build up deep inside open tubules, blocking 97% of tubules in just 6 rinses* to provide daily repair of damage by creating a powerful barrier for continuous sensitivity protection.**
LISTERINE® SENSITIVITY starts to work right away***, and the crystals build with every rinse to provide deep, stable, lasting protection. As the crystals build up, tooth pain starts to go away. That usually happens in 2 weeks, with results that last between rinses.** The tubule occlusion is more durable than the occlusion from a leading sensitivity toothpaste that also blocks tubules – even after mechanical and acid challenge.*
*In laboratory studies
**With continued use
***Relief in 2 weeks with continued useBack to top