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Oral pH: The Chemistry of Healthy Mouths

April 29th, 2020

MOST OF US learn a little about the pH scale in our science classes as teenagers, but what does that have to do with oral health? A lot, actually, which is why we’re going to take this opportunity to give our patients a quick refresher on the basics of pH.

What Is pH and What Does It Mean?

The pH scale measures how acidic or basic something is, from 1 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. Anything lower is increasingly acidic and anything higher is increasingly basic. For example, stomach acid has a pH of between 1.5 and 2.5, orange juice ranges from 3.3 to 4.2, plain water is neutral at 7, soap tends to be between 9 and 10, and bleach is strongly basic at 12.5. So what about the human mouth?

Check out this short video about acids and bases:

The pH of Our Mouths

Different parts of us have different ideal pH levels. Healthy skin should be mildly acidic (around 5.5) while blood should be slightly basic (7.4). For healthy teeth and gums, our mouths should be as close to neutral as possible. Unhealthy mouths tend to be more acidic, which is very harmful to tooth enamel. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it’s very vulnerable to acid erosion. It will begin to erode at a pH of just 5.5!

How Mouths Become Acidic

Our teeth can be exposed to acid in many ways. When we eat or drink something sour or tart, that is actually the taste of the acid. Soda is also highly acidic (the bubbles come from carbonic acid). Acid exposure can also come indirectly when we consume sugars and starches. Harmful oral bacteria gobble up the leftovers stuck between our teeth after a meal, a snack, or a sip of soda, and they produce acid as waste. Vomiting or acid reflux are other ways acid can reach the teeth.

Saliva: Our Natural Defense Mechanism

So how do we fight back against all those acid attacks? First, we have the built-in defense of saliva. Saliva washes away food particles and neutralizes our oral pH. This essential job is why dry mouth can be so dangerous for oral health. Without saliva, our teeth are more vulnerable.

We should do as much as we can to help our saliva do its job. It’s a bad idea to sip on sugary/acidic drinks or eat a lot of snacks, because every time we eat, our saliva has to start neutralizing our oral pH all over again, and the acid has more time to erode our enamel. If you’re going to indulge in occasional treats, keep them to mealtimes.

Cut Down on Acidic Foods

Another way we can help our saliva protect our teeth is by cutting down on the acidic foods and drinks and trading them for more alkaline ones. That means eating more fruits and veggies and fewer breads, dairy products, and meats. We should especially minimize the amount of soda we drink and sugary treats we eat.

We’re All Part of the Fight Against Enamel Erosion!

Following all these tips doesn’t make it any less important to brush twice a day for two full minutes, floss daily, and keep up with your regular dental appointments! If you want to learn more about how to keep your tooth enamel strong, we’d love to answer your questions. We want all of our patients to have the tools to keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime!

We love those healthy smiles!

How to Properly Wear a Facemask?

April 20th, 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced issued an Executive Order requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation. The Executive Order went into effect on Friday, April 17th. Make sure you know how to property wear a face mask. Stay safe and healthy!


Important Update About Our Office Regarding Coronavirus

April 3rd, 2020

To Straight Finish Orthodontics patients and families,
As you may know, our governor has ordered all medical and dental practices to cease all non-emergency procedures.  This prohibits all orthodontic procedures that are not absolute emergencies. The purpose of this mandate is to help curb the spread of infection of the virus and preserve personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns.  We are unsure how long this mandate will last. Many of you are wondering will this delay my orthodontic treatment.  Rest assured I have gone through all the charts and aware of your treatment progress.
My team and I have formulated a strategic plan so that your treatment needs will be tended to as best as possible. Within a few days  of your scheduled appointment, you will be receiving a phone call from the office and notifying you that I will be video conferencing you using WeChat's video call function or Zoom video.  I will evaluate your current condition and give you further instructions on your care moving forward. I know this does not replace the office visit but want to still give you the best personalized care so please be on the lookout for my video call.  If you do not hear from us we are confident that you are in a stable position that can be maintained until we arrange to see you next.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to request a video conference by contacting the office.

The following recommendations are important for you to remember at this time:

1) Braces, expanders and other appliances are safe and stable in your mouth.  The one missed visit should not extend your treatment time in a significant way.

2) Be careful with foods that you eat.  Avoid sticky and chewy foods that can cause a broken bracket which I am unable to repair at this time.  If a bracket is loose it is ok as long as you are not in any discomfort.  Please notify the office of your loose bracket and we will repair the bracket at your next orthodontic visit.

3) For my Invisalign patients, additional aligners have been given. Continue your aligner wear as instructed.  If you get through all your aligners before I see you simply wear the last set of trays at night only until you are back in the office.
4)  Retainer patients please continue your retainer wear as instructed to prevent any relapse of your teeth.
MOST IMPORTANTLY PLEASE PRACTICE GREAT ORAL HYGIENE AT THIS TIME. Our daily schedules are different now and brushing can be easily overlooked but now it is most important than ever to maintain a clean and healthy mouth.
If you have an emergency, please contact the office at (212) 966-9628 or you can contact us via email at info@straightfinish.com to determine what is the best course of action for the situation.
When we are able to re-open, our schedule will likely be different in order to minimize contact between patients in the waiting room. Our team will be hard at work to ensure that your treatment time is not extended/affected by the office closure.  I will be reviewing each chart to determine the order in which patients should be seen so we can finish treatment on time.  Thank you so much for your understanding and consideration during these unprecedented times.
I hope to see you all face to face at the office soon. Please stay safe and wishing you all good health.
Dr. Shauna Fung, DDS














Coronavirus Health and Safety Tips

March 24th, 2020

CORONAVIRUS IS AFFECTING all of our lives right now as we work together to slow the spread of the virus, keep everyone safe, and stay positive. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation going around, and we want to make sure our patients are well-informed.

Symptoms and Testing

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough, and sometimes tiredness. Don’t confuse it with seasonal allergies, which mostly involve congestion, itchy throat, and sneezing, or the flu, which involves vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, aches, and fatigue. Until tests for COVID-19 are widely available, only people exhibiting the typical COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing.

The number of confirmed cases is likely to go up as more tests become available. Higher numbers might seem alarming, but remember that it won’t represent an increase in the number of people who have COVID-19, it will represent an increase in the number of people who have been tested, which is a big step in the right direction. The more information we have about who has the virus, the easier it will be to contain and ultimately treat it.

Social Distancing and Protecting At-Risk Demographics

Why are we being encouraged to avoid large gatherings and work from home if possible? Coronavirus spreads person-to-person through close contact and when an infected person coughs or sneezes and germs get on their hands or surfaces other people touch. Elderly people and those with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable, and the best way to protect them is by following social distancing recommendations.

Hand-Washing and the Power of Soap

Because there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, washing our hands frequently is one of the best ways that we can slow the spread of the virus. Thanks to simple chemistry, regular soap is a highly effective weapon against coronavirus. These microscopic germs have a fatty layer that holds them together, and when the fatty layer comes in contact with soap, it breaks apart and the virus is destroyed.

This is why washing our hands is so effective. We should make sure to take at least 20 seconds and get every surface, then dry our hands thoroughly. Hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol content is a decent (but less effective) substitute. It’s also important to avoid touching our faces as much as possible.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces

Washing our hands is great, but it’s even better if we can clean the germs off the things we touch. We should be disinfecting our electronic devices and the surfaces in our homes and workspaces. Don’t forget doorknobs and light switches! Soap and water, alcohol-based cleaners, or bleach are all good options, but vinegar hasn’t been shown to be effective in this case. Make sure to give those surfaces a good scrub, not just a single swipe!

Getting Information from the Best Sources

As healthcare professionals, our top priority is ensuring that our patients have the best information in times like these, particularly with such a serious subject where the situation is changing rapidly. To learn more about the coronavirus and what you can do to help slow the spread, go to the CDC’s website. In the meantime, remember that taking good care of your teeth and gums is just as important now as ever!

Stay safe and happy. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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