Posts for: November, 2014
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.”
The holiday season is upon us and hopefully your teeth have survived the sticky, sugar-coated onslaught that is Halloween! Up next…Thanksgiving! Below you’ll find a list of the good, the bad and the starchy foods of this All-American indulgence fest.
Foods That Are Great To Gobble!
Turkey - Protein-rich foods, like good ol’ Tom Turkey, can actually be good for your teeth. Turkey contains phosphorus which can help foster strong teeth and bones when mixed with vitamin D and calcium.
Yams – Yams are naturally sweet so hold the gooey, sticky marshmallows, please! Served baked or roasted, yams are nutrient-rich and don’t stick to the surface of teeth. If you must sweeten them up, a touch of brown sugar or molasses should suffice.
Veggies – Vegetables like beets, broccoli, carrots and celery contain high amounts of vitamin A and C which are instrumental in repairing gums from periodontal disease.
Pumpkin – Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin C and calcium, a great combination for strengthening bones and teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth after enjoying this delicious dessert, though!
Cranberry Sauce – Cranberry gets the Gold Star of Dental Health as far as Thanksgiving goes! Recent research has indicated that cranberries contain special compounds that disrupt the development of plaque-causing bacteria. Be sure to make your cranberry sauce with real cranberries and not the jelly substance that keeps the shape of the can!
Turkey Day Hall Of Shame
Pecan Pie – This sticky, sugary, chewy dessert is a disaster for your teeth. At least pumpkin pie has some vitamins to offer!
Popcorn Balls – The popcorn and caramel can easily get stuck in your teeth and promote tooth decay, not to mention discomfort!
White Wine – Although it won’t stain your teeth like red wine, white wine has a high pH level and packs an awful acidic punch that can erode you teeth.
Stuffing, Cakes & Rolls, oh my! – That’s right! Pretty much all the really good stuff! The carb-loaded, starchy treats are great for causing tooth decay.
Okay, so we don’t really want to ruin your holiday fun. Go ahead and indulge in some of these forbidden treats – within reason! We won’t tell...just be sure to rinse your mouth with warm water or, better yet, brush your teeth after each big holiday meal.
While she was pregnant with her son Camden Jack Cutler, 25-year-old Kristin Cavallari noticed an odd occurrence in her bathroom sink: “Every time I floss, my sink looks like I murdered somebody!” the actress and reality-TV personality exclaimed. Should we be concerned that something wicked is going on with the star of Laguna Beach and The Hills?
Before you call in the authorities, ask a periodontist: He or she will tell you that there's actually no mystery here. What Cavallari noticed is, in fact, a fairly common symptom of “pregnancy gingivitis,” a condition that affects many expectant moms in the second to eighth month of pregnancy. But why does it occur at this time?
First — just the facts: You may already know that gingivitis is the medical name for an early stage of gum disease. Its symptoms may include bad breath, bleeding gums, and soreness, redness, or tenderness of the gum tissue. Fundamentally, gum disease is caused by the buildup of harmful bacteria, or plaque, on the teeth at the gum line — but it's important to remember that, while hundreds of types of bacteria live in the mouth, only a few are harmful. A change in the environment inside the mouth — like inadequate oral hygiene, to use one example — can cause the harmful types to flourish.
But in this case, the culprit isn't necessarily poor hygiene — instead, blame it on the natural hormonal changes that take place in expectant moms. As levels of some female hormones (estrogen and/or progesterone) rise during pregnancy, changes occur in the blood vessels in the gums, which cause them to be more susceptible to the effects of bacterial toxins. The bacteria produce toxic chemicals, which in turn bring on the symptoms of gingivitis — including painful and inflamed gums that may bleed heavily when flossed.
Is pregnancy gingivits a cause for concern? Perhaps — but the condition is generally quite treatable. If you've noticed symptoms like Kristen's, the first thing you should do it consult our office. We can advise you on a variety of treatments designed to relieve the inflammation in your gums and prevent the harmful bacteria from proliferating. Of course, your oral health (and your overall health) are prime concerns during pregnancy — so don't hesitate to seek medical help if it's needed!
How did things work out with Kristen? She maintained an effective oral hygiene routine, delivered a healthy baby — and recently appeared on the cover of Dear Doctor magazine, as the winner of the “Best Celebrity Smile” contest for 2012. And looking at her smile, it's no mystery why she won.
If you would like more information about pregnancy gingivitis, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Expectant Mothers” and “Kristen Cavallari.”