Posts for tag: oral health
You've probably brushed your teeth every day since early childhood when your parents handed you your first toothbrush. But do you really know if you're doing it effectively and removing disease causing bacterial plaque or biofilm? Let's take a look at the basics of tooth brushing.
What is the goal of brushing and flossing your teeth? While it is true that brushing your teeth freshens your breath and removes stains from the surfaces of your teeth, the principal goal of tooth brushing is to remove dental bacterial plaque. This biofilm grows in the nooks and crannies of your teeth, and especially at the gum line — regardless of what you eat or drink. If left on your teeth, this bacterial film can cause gingivitis (inflammation of your gums). It can progress to periodontal disease, affecting the supporting bone of your teeth and even result in tooth loss. This means that flossing should also be an important part of your daily dental hygiene routine to remove plaque from the protected areas between your teeth.
Can you actually brush too much? More is not always better and can be damaging. We advise you to use a soft brush and to brush gently. It does not take force to remove plaque, and using a toothbrush too vigorously can damage your gums and cause them to recede (shrink away from your teeth), causing sensitivity and tooth wear. It takes between 12 and 24 hours for plaque to form on your teeth, so you don't need to brush more than twice a day and floss once a day.
How do you know when you've done a good job? A good test is that your teeth should feel like you've just had a professional cleaning. Your tongue is a great evaluator — just feel for smoothness at the gum line.
Is a powered toothbrush better than a manual one? An evidence-based study comparing all the research available found little difference between power and manual toothbrushes. The conclusion was that some powered toothbrushes with a rotation-oscillation action achieve a modest reduction in plaque and gingivitis compared to manual toothbrushes. But as we say, “it's not the brush, it's the hand that holds it.”
Come to our office for a demonstration. Any brush, whether electric or hand-powered, requires professional demonstration and training so that you know how to remove plaque correctly. Bring your toothbrush with you on your next visit to our office, so we can see your brushing technique and make sure you are doing it correctly for the most efficient plaque removal. And don't be embarrassed — nobody really knows how to brush effectively until they're shown!
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about tooth brushing and oral hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Manual vs Powered Toothbrushes.”
Lots of people collect Beatles memorabilia, but one Canadian dentist took this hobby to new heights recently when he paid $31,200 for John Lennon's molar at auction. According to published reports, Lennon had given the extracted tooth to his housekeeper as a souvenir in the 1960s after coming home from the dentist's office. The molar was discolored and had a cavity, according to the dentist who purchased it after the housekeeper's family put it up for bids. “For the cavity to be this large he probably wasn't seeing a dentist that regularly,” the dentist said. His brushing and flossing routine may not have been that conscientious either!
For healthy teeth, it's important to have a good daily oral hygiene routine at home and regular professional cleanings here at the office. Our hygienist will scale your teeth to remove hard deposits (tartar), and polish them to remove stains for a wonderful, extra-clean feeling.
Dental hygienists are trained to do lots of other things to promote your oral health besides cleaning your teeth. They can check the skin in and around your mouth looking for any suspicious bumps, sores, etc., that may need further evaluation. They will also evaluate your periodontal health (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), checking for signs of gum inflammation and bleeding (gingivitis). And they monitor teeth for signs of decay, which is actually the world's most widespread disease.
Cavities, or dental caries as it is also known, are the most notable consequences of tooth decay. Left untreated, caries can lead to pain and tooth loss. John Lennon's dentist must have believed there was nothing more to be done for the badly decayed molar that later went on to fetch such a high price.
Unless you're a rock star, your teeth are worth a lot more in a healthy and functioning state — inside your mouth! So if it's been a while since your last appointment, please come in and see us. Remember: Good dental health is priceless.
If you would like more information on tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “Tooth Decay.” Dear Doctor also has more on the “Dental Hygiene Visit.”
Already read every “What to Expect” book twice over? Think you know something about how pregnancy affects your teeth and gums — and vice versa? OK, ace — test your knowledge by taking the quiz below. No peeking at the answers!
Myth or fact: The calcium in baby's teeth comes from mom's teeth.
MYTH. Calcium is needed to build baby's teeth and bones, but it should come primarily from the mother's diet, not her body. If an expectant mom's diet contains too little calcium, however, this essential mineral may be supplied from calcium stored in her bones. That's one reason why a proper diet — with an adequate intake of dairy products, plus dietary supplements, if recommended — is important throughout pregnancy.
Myth or fact: Developing symptoms of periodontal disease is common during pregnancy.
FACT. The levels of many hormones, including progesterone, are higher during pregnancy. When periodontal disease is present, progesterone stimulates the body to produce prostaglandins, which cause inflammation of blood vessels in the gum tissue. This can result in a disease called pregnancy gingivitis. Excess growths of gum tissue called “pregnancy tumors” may also develop. These benign growths are probably related to dental plaque.
Myth or fact: Untreated dental infections pose a risk to the fetus as well as the mother.
FACT. Studies have shown that pregnant women with severe periodontal disease are at greater risk for preterm birth and low birth weight babies, and may be susceptible to an increased rate of pre-eclampsia, a serious complication. This seems to be due to the fact that oral bacteria can trigger inflammatory responses in other parts of the body — even the placenta. That's why a dental evaluation is so important at the first sign of a potential problem.
Myth or fact: All moms should take fluoride supplements to help their babies form strong teeth.
MYTH (for now). The benefits of parental fluoride supplements are poorly studied, and at present remain controversial. Although baby's teeth begin forming in the second month, fluoride works best after the teeth have erupted in the mouth. So, at present, this practice isn't recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Myth or fact: Once your baby is born, it's OK to feed them pre-chewed food or slobber over them.
Myth (we gave that one away). First of all, it's gross. Second, while your baby isn't born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay, this behavior can transmit them from you to her, causing dental problems down the road. So don't do it. But do come in for a dental evaluation as soon as you know you're expecting. And have a safe and healthy pregnancy!
If you would like more information about pregnancy and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Pregnancy and Oral Health,” and “Expectant Mothers.”
Both diabetes and gum (periodontal) disease are chronic inflammatory diseases that have negative consequences for millions of people worldwide. But before we continue, let's define these two diseases:
Periodontal disease is a condition in which biofilms of dental bacterial plaque stick to teeth near the gum lines causing the gum tissues to become inflamed and infected. If not treated properly and in an early stage, it can cause severe damage to the bone that supports the teeth, resulting in tooth loss. It occurs in the absence of good oral hygiene which includes ineffective daily brushing and flossing and neglecting to see your dentist.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels become excessive. Glucose is the body's main source of sugar for energy. The hormone insulin, among other mechanisms, normally controls glucose. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels are harmful and ultimately can even be life threatening if left untreated. With type 1 diabetes, insulin injections (shots) are required to maintain the proper blood sugar levels because the body no longer produces its own blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is generally less severe and can usually be treated with a combination of diet and medication.
And while both of these diseases share the same common enemy, you, there is scientific evidence revealing links between the two. Diabetes increases the risk factor for developing periodontitis, and conversely, periodontal disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control blood glucose levels.
Want To Learn More?
Learn more about these two diseases and their relationship by reading, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you have diabetes but haven't had a dental exam and cleaning in a long time, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also use this consultation to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your oral health and its relationship to your diabetes.
Planning a dream trip is something many people spend weeks, months or even years doing prior to their departure. However, in all of their excitement, they often forget about preparing for any “what if” dental emergencies that could occur while on the road. This is especially important if the trip will be overseas where you could face language barriers in addition to the concerns of finding qualified dental professionals you feel comfortable with treating an emergency.
The first and most important step you can take prior to departure is a proactive one: schedule an appointment with us for a thorough exam. (You should also do the same and schedule an appointment with your physician concerning your general health.) During this visit, be sure to let us know about your travel plans, where you will be going and what you will be doing so that we can ensure you are best prepared for your trip. For example, if you will be trying some new or high-impact activities, you may need a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Also, have any dental problems taken care of prior to traveling because pressure changes, especially during air travel, can cause pain in an untreated tooth.
As for seeking safe emergency dental care while you're traveling, here are some tips:
- Be sure to carry your travel information with you at all times, including the names and phone numbers of organizations to contact in case of a dental or medical emergency.
- Some good sources to contact in an emergency are:
- Friends or relatives that you are visiting in the area
- A local hotel concierge
- If traveling overseas, Americans living in the area or American military personnel; The International Association For Medical Assistance To Travelers, a network of doctors and medical institutions around the world (www.iamat.org; 716-754-4883); American Consulate or American Embassy in the country you are visiting; or if in Europe, the American Dental Society of Europe (ADSE; www.adse.co.uk; Phone: 011 44 141 331 0088)
And be sure to take our address with you on your trip. We would love to receive a postcard from you while you're traveling!