Good dental hygiene doesn’t just include brushing and flossing. It also entails the maintenance of your dental supplies, such as your toothbrush. When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? Toothbrushes don’t last forever and do wear out over time. Not swapping your old one out for a new clean brush can lead to dental health issues that could normally be prevented. So, how often should you change your toothbrush?
If It’s Frayed, Throw It Away – When To Toss Your Toothbrush
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you change your toothbrush every three to four months. This helps to keep bristles intact and effective at removing plaque from your teeth and gums. Studies have shown that after three months, bristles begin to break down and become less effective.
Electric toothbrushes have become extremely popular, and just as you need to change your toothbrush out every so often, you also need to replace the head of your electric toothbrush if that’s what you use. Because the nylon bristles of electric toothbrushes tend to be shorter than manual toothbrushes, they tend to wear out sooner and need to be replaced more often. It’s a good idea to change your electric toothbrush head every three months. Depending, you may need to replace it sooner if the bristles begin to show wear due to the quick spinning motions.
Along with general wear, there are other circumstances that should drive you to toss your old toothbrush, even before the three-month recommendation. For example, if you’ve been sick with a viral or bacterial infection, you should replace your toothbrush and your family members’ toothbrushes to prevent the spreading of germs and bacteria. Also, if someone else uses your toothbrush by mistake, get a new one to avoid risking infection from their oral bacteria.
Why You Need A Fresh Brush
Now that you know when you need to change your toothbrush, let’s talk about why you need to change it out. It’s a given that when your toothbrush is worn out, it won’t be able to clean your teeth properly. But there’s more to just inadequate brushing when using an old toothbrush.
When you can’t brush your teeth effectively because you have worn or frayed bristles, you run the risk of leaving plaque and food debris in your mouth. This can lead to dental problems, including bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Even if your toothbrush looks fine, bacteria could be lurking in between your bristles. This can happen normally, but especially when you’re sick. Swapping your “sick toothbrush” for a clean one can prevent reinfection.
And because most toothbrushes are stored in a dark, damp place, mold and yeast can begin to develop and be transferred right into your mouth via your toothbrush. A 2011 study discovered that the germiest spot in your bathroom isn’t your toilet but is actually your toothbrush holder. That alone should make you want to change your toothbrush right now.
Make Your Toothbrush Last Longer
The frequency of replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head can vary based on the factors discussed above. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure your toothbrush is in good condition.
Always rinse off your toothbrush after brushing.
Store your toothbrush in an upright position so that it can air dry completely.
Don’t store your toothbrush in a closed container. If you are traveling, let it dry before placing it back in its travel case.
Don’t store your toothbrush where it can touch someone else’s.
When it’s time for a new one, throw out the old toothbrush. Don’t try to clean your old brush head with mouthwash or soap.
Contact VIPcare Dental Today!
Changing your toothbrush often is vital to good oral hygiene. Set a reminder on your phone or a sticky note, so you don’t forget to get a replacement brush when your three or four months are up. Using a good toothbrush along with getting routine dental cleanings will help improve your oral health and keep your teeth and gums healthy and beautiful. Contact VIPcare Dental to schedule your appointment today!
Your smile speaks volumes, even before you say a single word. It doesn’t just express your emotions or reveal your pearly whites, it showcases your health. And not just your oral health, your overall health.
Did you know that your dentist can detect signs of health maladies such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer just by looking in your mouth? Oral health is a window to your overall health.
What’s going on in your mouth can have a serious correlation to the rest of your body.
How Oral Hygiene Affects More Than Your Smile
From a young age, we’re taught the importance of good oral hygiene – brush twice a day, floss between your teeth daily, and visit your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. Tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and tooth loss can all result from poor oral hygiene.
Underlying conditions and certain medications can also cause oral disease. That’s why a good oral hygiene routine is important for keeping further complications at bay.
However, it’s not always just your teeth, gums, and overall appearance that suffer from poor oral hygiene. Depending on the severity, it could be life-threatening. More and more studies are finding a direct link between bad oral hygiene and major diseases including oral cancer.
The Larger Effect of Poor Dental Hygiene
Oral cancer is not a rare disease. It’s one of the most highly prevalent cancers worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 54,010 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. And sadly, 10,850 will succumb to the disease.
Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops on the lips, other parts of the mouth, and the oropharynx (part of the throat at the back of the mouth). It occurs when cells within the mouth begin to grow out of control and become abnormal. These abnormal cells begin to attack the healthy cells and cause mutations that result in possible tumors or tissue damage.
It’s not clear what the exact cause of oral cancer is but conditions such as gingivitis (gum disease), cavities, and loose or missing teeth have been found to contribute to the development.
So, what’s the link to oral hygiene?
Bacteria – The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Research has found that bacteria resulting from poor oral hygiene could be a major culprit to types of oral cancer. Your mouth contains about 700 microbes, or germs, such as bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Gross, right?! However, not all microbes are bad. There is good bacteria that helps with digestion and fights off harmful germs, and then there is bad bacteria that can wreak havoc on your entire body.
Your mouth is a gateway not only to your digestive tract but also to your respiratory tract. Every single day, you are constantly swallowing bacteria that travels into your gut and throughout your body. Bacteria can also creep into your bloodstream with transportation via your gums.
Every time you eat, brush, and floss you’re pushing germs into your gum tissue. That doesn’t mean stop brushing and flossing. It just means that if your gums are tender, inflamed, or recessed due to gum disease or another periodontal disease, it’s only opening the door further to harmful bacteria.
Other contributing risk factors for oral cancer include:
HPV (human papillomavirus) Infection
Age (average age of most people diagnosed with oral cancer is 63)
Gender (more than twice as common in men as in women)
Family history of cancer
How to Prevent Oral Cancer
When it comes to oral cancer, prevention is key. Which means, lowering your risk factors. Although oral hygiene is not the sole contributor to oral cancer, it’s one factor you can control. It’s imperative, especially with age, that you continue to take good care of your teeth, gums, and mouth. As we age, our teeth can weaken and experience wear and tear, this makes us more susceptible to other issues.
Ceasing or limiting tobacco and alcohol consumption is another risk factor you have control over. Moderation is always best if you choose not to stop consumption and use altogether.
Don’t skip your dental exams. By visiting your dentist for regular checkups, he/she can keep an eye out for any possible changes or symptoms occurring in your mouth. It’s also important for you to make note if you see any changes in between your scheduled dental appointments.
Contact your dentist if you notice any of the following:
Mouth sores that won’t heal
White or red patches on the gums or elsewhere in the mouth
Changes in the fit of your dentures or implants
Loose or shifting teeth
Difficulty swallowing or chewing
A lump or mass in the back of the throat
Mouth swelling or pain
Any of these symptoms can be a red flag and can help to detect abnormal cells before they develop into cancer. These are signs you don’t want to ignore or pass off as being something else.
Diagnosing Oral Cancer with an Oral Screening
Along with prevention, early detection is vital with oral cancer. Currently, 63% of oral cancer diagnoses are found in late stages (stage III, IV), resulting in a 5-year survival rate of less than 50%. When detected early, the 5-year oral cancer survival rate increases to 80-90%.
During your 6-month dental exam, you should ask your dentist to perform an oral cancer screening. This is a simple visual exam where your dentist looks for any signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. He/she will also feel oral tissues for any possible lumps or growths.
In addition to a clinical exam, some dentists are now using supplemental methods for detecting abnormal areas.
Shining Light on Oral Cancer
A new state-of-the-art cancer screening device, OralID™, is making it easier than ever to spot precancerous and cancerous cells. It’s completely painless and, best of all, it only takes two minutes! No rinses or dyes are used, just a small hand-held device that your dentist uses to shine light into your mouth.
OralID™ uses fluorescent technology that distinguishes healthy cells from abnormal cells. When its blue light is emitted into the mouth, healthy cells appear brighter in color as abnormal cells lack fluorescence and appear darker. Your dentist can see the color variations using a special pair of glasses.
The OralID™ screening system is helping to detect cancer in its earlier stage which only makes it more treatable and increases chances of survival.
VIPcare Dental Tampa is proud to offer this new cutting-edge oral mucosal screening. OralID™ makes oral cancer screening affordable and accessible to patients. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancer claims the life of one American every single hour. Catching oral cancer early can prevent you or a loved one from becoming a statistic.
The thought of oral cancer is scary but by having regular oral cancer screenings you can feel at ease knowing you are taking control of not just your oral health but your overall well-being.
To learn more about oral cancer, oral cancer screenings, or the OralID™ device, contact one of our dental clinics near you. It’s time to shine the light on oral health!
When you get a tooth pulled you will often get instructions on how to prevent dry socket, but do you know what a dry socket is?
It’s the most common complication patients experience after a tooth extraction, especially when it comes to wisdom teeth removal. The condition prolongs the healing process and can be very painful. Let’s dive deeper into what a dry socket is and how you can lower your risk of dry sockets.
Dry Socket Vs Normal Socket
So what’s the difference when it comes to dry socket vs normal socket?
After tooth removal, a blood clot will form in the normal tooth socket. The clot is there to help protect the socket and heal the nerve endings and bone that are underneath. While the clot remains, the pain you experience will gradually lessen.
If that blood clot dissolves or comes loose it will cause a dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis. That leaves the bone and nerves in the socket without any protection. Instead of the pain receding, it will suddenly become more intense, similar to a severe toothache.
Symptoms of Dry Socket
The main thing you’ll notice if you have a dry socket is the pain, as we just mentioned. That pain may not be limited to just the extraction site though. It may extend over to your ear, eye, temple, or neck on the same side as the socket.
There are a few signs aside from the severe pain that you can look for.
Take a look at the extraction site. You should be able to see the clot in the socket. If it looks empty or you can even see bone underneath, you likely have a dry socket.
You may also notice you have bad breath or an unpleasant odor coming from your mouth. It may cause a bad taste, as well.
First, do not create suction in your mouth. You need to avoid straws, smoking, or anything else that will cause you to suck in. The suction can cause the clot to come loose. Smoking also delays healing and increases your blood pressure.
Watch what and how you eat. You should try not to chew on the side of your mouth where the tooth was removed. Eat soft foods instead of things that are hard or crunchy. This lowers the chance that something will get lodged in the socket or the clot coming loose.
Don’t rinse your mouth too vigorously. You’re allowed to rinse your mouth after having an extraction, but doing it too forcefully can dislodge the clot that’s protecting your socket.
Avoid drinking alcohol or mouthwashes that contain alcohol for at least 24 hours after the procedure. Alcohol can cause extra bleeding, which will delay the healing process.
In those first 24 hours, you should also limit physical activity. Strenuous activity is another thing that can lead to more bleeding.
Proper Extraction Site Care
Maintaining good oral hygiene will be even more important during the recovery process. It will help ensure the blood clot stays put and prevent germs and infection.
Your dentist or oral surgeon should tell you how you need to brush for the first day, possibly even recommend you only use a mouth rinse.
The ADA recommends not cleaning the teeth around the extraction site for the first 24 hours but still brushing and flossing all of your other teeth. After that, you can begin cleaning the teeth around the socket and using a warm salt water rinse after eating.
Using an over-the-counter pain medication can help, but you may need a prescription medication to adequately lessen the discomfort. Ask your dentist which medication would be best for your situation.
Your dentist may use a medicated dressing to decrease your pain level and protect the area. A medicated gel or paste may be used, as well.
It may be necessary to flush the socket at home with saltwater or a prescription rinse. This helps remove debris and promote healing.
If you think you may have a dry socket, contact your dentist to get the best guidance. They will be able to tell you if the best course of action is using a home remedy or if it’s severe enough for you to come in for a visit so they can more thoroughly address the problem.
Shifting teeth are just a fact of life. No matter what you do, they will always be moving ever so slightly. While it’s normal, it’s also important that you address any teeth shifting issues before they get severe.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your teeth move and things you can do to prevent or fix it.
Why Teeth Shifting Happens
It’s not just braces that cause shifting teeth. Even if you did have them when you were younger, they’ll still end up changing position as you age (which is why wearing your retainer is important). Sometimes it’s just a result of getting older, other times it’s because of another condition that exacerbates that movement.
As we just mentioned, getting older in itself causes teeth shifting. That’s because they’re being used all the time.
Even something as simple as pushing your tongue against your teeth while you’re talking, for example, puts pressure on them. That makes them move over time. Those small changes over a long period of time can add up to big changes.
There’s also the growth of your jawbone. When you get older, the jawbone grows forward and gets more narrow. Sometimes it can affect the amount of room your teeth have.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, can lead to teeth shifting. The gums are weakened, which allows the teeth to move. It can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Grinding your teeth, also called bruxism, is another major cause of shifting teeth. It often happens while you’re sleeping, but some people will also clench or grind their teeth subconsciously during the day.
That constant, extreme pressure causes your teeth to move over time. The grinding is also bad for your enamel.
If you have a missing tooth, the surrounding teeth will naturally move because of the extra space that’s available.
The main concern here is if you lose some of your front teeth, also called incisors and canines. Things like wisdom tooth removal don’t usually have much of an impact in this area.
Ways to Prevent Shifting Teeth
There’s no way of totally preventing teeth shifting. You can help minimize that movement, though. All you have to do is maintain a good oral hygiene routine by:
Brushing and flossing two times every day
Using a mouth rinse
Eating a healthy diet
Not using tobacco
Seeing your dentist regularly
If you’re already taking these measures to maintain your oral health, you should be in good shape. Your dentist can help guide you through any problems you may run into even though you’re doing everything you can to slow the shifting.
Fixing Shifted Teeth
Depending on how much teeth shifting has already occurred, you may need a dental professional to straighten your smile. The fix is going to depend on the cause and severity of the issue.
If the movement is being caused by tooth decay or gum disease, you’ll have to undergo treatment. Your dentist will guide you through that.
If you clench or grind your teeth, something like a night guard may be necessary.
Finally, if you have missing teeth, you need to get that gap filled. There are numerous options to make that happen depending on what your situation is. It could be a partial denture, a dental implant, or a dental bridge.
No matter what the issue is, make sure you talk about the options with your dentist and get it taken care of before the problem gets worse.
Most of the time when you see the dentist you’ll get a routine dental cleaning to remove any tartar buildup and plaque that your regular brushing and flossing couldn’t take care of. Sometimes it takes a little more. That’s where the dental deep cleaning comes in.
Here’s everything you need to know about the procedure and the advantages and disadvantages of deep cleaning teeth.
What is a Dental Deep Cleaning?
A dental deep cleaning is officially called periodontal scaling and root planing. During a routine teeth cleaning, your hygienist focuses on cleaning and polishing the outer surface of your teeth. For a deep cleaning, the focus is on removing the buildup that has accumulated below your gum line and on the surface of the roots of your teeth.
Deep cleaning is one of the methods of treating gum disease. If your teeth don’t get cleaned well on a regular basis, the bacteria found in plaque will inflame your gums. That inflammation causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, creating spaces called pockets. Plaque can then got caught in those pockets.
You can’t remove that plaque with regular brushing and flossing. A dental professional has to remove it. If the problem isn’t addressed, it can lead to tooth and bone loss.
If the issue is addressed early enough, you’ll be able to just get a professional cleaning. You’ll need a scaling and root planing if the pockets have gotten too large, usually defined as 5 mm deep.
Advantages of a Deep Cleaning
A periodontal deep cleaning has several benefits, the main one being it helps stop the advancement of gum disease. If you don’t remove that tartar from the pockets, the inflammation will continue.
The procedure will also help fight bad breath, promote gum health, prevent tooth loss, and protect the roots of your teeth.
Disadvantages of Deep Cleaning Teeth
There are a few potential disadvantages of deep cleaning teeth. The most common one is some pain and sensitivity after the procedure. You’re also not guaranteed to have your gums reattach to your teeth following the procedure. In rare cases, there’s a risk of nerve damage.
How to Know You Need a Dental Deep Cleaning
The only way to know for sure if you need a deep teeth cleaning is to see your dentist. They will measure the pockets and sometimes take x-rays to determine if there is bone loss already occurring.
In general, you can look for the following symptoms to decide if it’s possible the procedure could be one that you’ll need:
Red and swollen gums
Tender or bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
Your teeth appearing longer than they used to (signs the gums have receded)
If you are experiencing those symptoms, that’s not a sure sign you need a deep cleaning. Sometimes a routine cleaning is all that’s necessary. It’s important to see your dentist immediately so they can determine the best treatment plan.
Deep Cleaning Procedure
There are two parts to the dental deep cleaning procedure: scaling and planing.
Scaling is done first. During this part, the dental professional will scrape away all of the plaque and tartar that has accumulated in the pockets. They will work their way down until all of it has been removed all the way to the bottom of each pocket.
After the scaling is complete, the root planing will be done. For this part of the procedure, the dentist or hygienist will smooth out the roots of your teeth so the gums have a good space to reattach to.
Many times it will take several appointments to complete the procedure.
Here’s a quick video about the procedure from the American Dental Association:
Deep Cleaning Teeth Aftercare
Pain or sensitivity for a few days or up to a week after the procedure is normal. Your gums may also feel tender or swollen and bleed some.
Your dentist will give you instructions on how to care for your gums based on your condition after the procedure. Your dentist may prescribe medication or a specific mouth rinse to help control any new infection and/or pain. You may also be asked to come in more frequently to have teeth cleanings instead of the usual twice per year.
A follow-up appointment will also be scheduled so the dentist can check for any new infection and see if further treatment is needed.
You learn how to brush your teeth pretty much as soon as you have teeth to brush. There’s probably a certain way you go about brushing every day, but you may need to make some changes to your style to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time caring for those pearly whites.
Using the right technique can help keep your teeth in better shape without doing more work than you already are. Read on so you know you’re brushing the right way.
Proper Technique for Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing twice a day is crucial to having healthy teeth and gums. But if you’re not using the right technique during those brush sessions you aren’t getting your teeth and gums as clean as they need to be.
Put your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
Move the brush side to side across your teeth. You should use short strokes so you’re brushing each tooth individually.
Use that same motion to go across the front surfaces of your teeth, the inner surfaces of the teeth (that face inside your mouth), and the tops of your teeth (the areas you use to chew).
When you’re brushing the backs of your front teeth, tilt your toothbrush vertically and brush in an up and down motion to make sure you’re getting the best coverage.
Knowing how to brush your teeth properly in combination with flossing, eating a healthy diet, and seeing your dentist regularly will prevent you from dealing with gum disease and tooth decay.
Common Brushing Mistakes
Even if you’re using the right method for brushing, there are still a few other things you need to look out for. Make sure you’re not guilty of one of these common brushing mistakes.
Using the Same Toothbrush for Too Long
It’s easy to forget exactly how long you’ve been using the same toothbrush. You need to remember to get a new one every three or four months.
Sometimes you can just tell by looking at the brush that it’s about time to replace it. Toothbrushes with the bristles fraying outward won’t be very effective in getting plaque out of the nooks and crannies it likes to hide in.
Not Brushing Long Enough
How much time do you spend brushing? It’s easy to just slap the toothpaste on the bristles and then rub it across your teeth a few times, but that quick brush just isn’t going to cut it.
The ADA recommends brushing for 2 minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
Brushing Too Hard
Don’t bear down too hard when you brush. Scrubbing too hard can damage your gums.
Some signs that you’re brushing too hard include noticing your gums are receding, having more sensitive teeth, and your teeth not being as bright near your gums.
Brushing Right After Eating
Resist the urge to brush immediately after you eat, especially if you have eaten foods that are acidic. Doing so can actually damage your enamel instead of cleaning it. That’s because the pH levels in your mouth are unbalanced, leaving your enamel vulnerable.
You should wait about an hour after eating before you brush. Drinking water or chewing sugarless gum are good ways to help your pH levels return to normal faster.
Using a Hard Bristled Brush
This goes hand-in-hand with brushing too hard. Hard-bristled brushes can damage your gums and are tougher on your enamel. You should use a soft-bristled brush.
Brush or Floss First?
Do you brush or floss first? Most people tend to brush first and then floss afterwards, followed by a rinse with cold water or mouthwash. You may want to change that up a little, though.
Researchers say flossing loosens the bacteria that has found its way in between your teeth. When you floss first, the brush can then get rid of more bacteria than doing it in the reverse order.
While flossing and then brushing may be the ideal sequencing, dentists say the most important thing is that you’re both brushing and flossing daily, no matter the order.
Your Dentist Will Know
Knowing how to brush your teeth properly is immensely important to your overall oral health. You have to do it right and do it regularly to get all the benefits.
If you’re just flossing right before you go to the dentist or you’re not brushing long/regularly enough, your dentist is going to be able to tell. The amount of plaque that’s lingering in your mouth will be a giveaway. So make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly.
There’s some good news, though. Most of those stains are removable.
A combination of prevention and some methods to remove stains from teeth will have you loving your smile in no time. The first thing you need to understand is what’s causing the stains in the first place.
Common Causes For Teeth Stains
There are three different types of teeth stains.
The first type is extrinsic staining. This type of stains is found on the surface of the tooth. You get these when there is food or drink residue and buildup that covers the enamel. It’s caused by things you eat and drink, along with tobacco use.
Intrinsic staining is the second type. As the name implies, this kind of staining happens below the surface of the tooth. This occurs when the particles of food and other buildup work their way past the tooth’s enamel. These types of stains often need to be removed by a professional, but sometimes they can be addressed with at-home methods.
Lastly, there’s age-related staining. Most adults’ teeth will discolor as part of the normal aging process. That’s because your enamel will wear down over time, making the dentin below it more visible. The dentin naturally yellows, so your teeth appear more yellow. That combination of intrinsic and extrinsic staining over time causes a lasting discoloration.
For foods, fruits like dark berries can leave your teeth with a kind of purple tint sometimes. The pigment in those berries can get into the pores of your enamel and cause staining. That goes for different fruit juices, as well.
Red sauces, like what you’ll find on pizza or in spaghetti, can also cause discoloration. Those sauces are acidic, which weakens your tooth enamel.
You should watch what you drink in order to prevent teeth stains. Your morning cup of tea or coffee will be a big player in causing discoloration. Both drinks are dark in color and contain compounds that can cause stains. The same goes for dark sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. All are associated with weakening your enamel, which leaves your teeth prone to staining.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Wine lovers might notice a purple hue to their mouths after having a couple of glasses of vino. Those grapes that were used to make the wine are known for leaving stains behind. Other alcoholic beverages like beer also make your saliva acidic, which weakens your enamel and leaves your teeth prone to stains.
Tobacco use, such as smoking cigarettes or using chewing tobacco, has been shown to leave behind yellow or brown discoloration. Studies also show that tobacco users are more likely to experience teeth stains than people who don’t use tobacco.
While food, drink, and tobacco use are some of the main contributors to tooth discoloration, they aren’t the only culprits.
Another factor to take into consideration is if you’ve had any damage to a tooth. If you have had some type of injury to the tooth, it may get darker. It will usually be confined to just the damaged tooth.
As mentioned previously, aging should be taken into account, as well. Your teeth will naturally yellow as you get older.
Lastly, some medications can cause discoloration of the teeth. You’ll need to speak to your doctor to see if any antibiotics you have been prescribed could cause this as a side effect.
How to Whiten Teeth
Your first course of action shouldn’t be surprising: keep up with regular brushing and flossing.
You should be brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day. Use a whitening toothpaste that has the American Dental Association seal of approval.
There are some over-the-counter whitening products aside from toothpaste you can use. It’s a good idea to talk to your dentist before using them to make sure it’s a good product for you to be using.
If those things aren’t working, you may need a professional whitening treatment from your dentist.
Prevention is also key. Try to stay away from drinks that are likely to causing staining. When you do have those drinks, you can drink through a straw to help minimize the amount of contact the drink has with your teeth.
If you don’t have a straw available or just don’t like to use them, rinse your mouth out with water after having one of those other drinks. It will help your mouth start getting its pH balance back to a good level, which keeps your enamel strong.
Quit using tobacco products right away to prevent any further staining.
Beware Natural Teeth Whitening Methods
You’re probably wondering about some other at-home remedies you’ve heard about through the years. We’ll talk about a few of these, but in general, they aren’t a good idea. In reality, most of them are bad for your teeth and do more harm than good.
First, let’s talk about scrubs with a paste made of activated charcoal or baking soda. There’s no evidence that shows those scrubs will help whiten your teeth. The fact of the matter is rubbing these abrasive substances on your teeth can damage the enamel, which will actually make your teeth appear more yellow.
There’s also the myth that rubbing lemons, oranges, or apple cider vinegar will have a whitening effect on your smile. In this case, you’re introducing a lot of acids directly to your teeth, which weakens the enamel. That leaves your teeth more prone to staining and other issues.
Another popular home remedy is called oil pulling, where you swish something like coconut oil around in your mouth. The American Dental Association says there’s no evidence to show this has any effect on whitening your teeth.
Keys to a Brighter Smile
As is the case with most things concerning your oral health, the best thing you can do to have the bright white teeth that you want is to brush and floss twice a day. Preventing the stains in the first place is the best thing you can do.
Of course, you’re not going to prevent all types of stains. Talk to your dentist about using an over-the-counter whitening product or see if they recommend you get some type of professional treatment at the office.
When you think about oral health you probably just think about doing your regular brushing and flossing. There’s another thing you need to be taking into account, though: the pH of saliva in your mouth.
If you have acidic saliva, that can be bad news for your pearly whites. Let’s dive in and see what pH is, how it affects your teeth, and what you can do to keep it at the right levels.
Well, first you’ll need to understand a little bit about how the pH scale works.
The scale is used to describe the acidity or alkalinity level of a substance. The pH scale goes from 0 – 14. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance is. The higher the number, the more alkaline the substance is. Seven is a neutral pH.
When it comes to food and drink, things like soft drinks, black coffee, alcohol, fruit juices, and some meats are known for having a high acidity. Consuming things like that will give you acidic saliva, which is not good for your teeth.
Why Acidic Saliva is Bad for Your Teeth
So now you’re wondering why you should worry about acidic saliva. It’s all about your tooth enamel.
When your saliva pH gets too low, the acid will start breaking down your tooth enamel, which is called demineralizing. Even though your tooth enamel is extremely hard, once it breaks down it won’t grow back. Once your enamel has worn away, the next layer, called dentin, is exposed.
If you’re dealing with enamel erosion, you might start to notice tooth sensitivity when you’re drinking something hot or cold beverages. You might also start seeing some yellowish discoloration on your teeth. That’s because, while your enamel is seethrough, the dentin is white. With no enamel to protect the dentin, it starts to become discolored.
The loss of enamel also opens the door for cavities. Without enamel, the bacteria that leads to tooth decay can more easily eat holes in your teeth, and you’ll end up needing to get a filling or other form of tooth repair.
Fixing the pH of Saliva
If you’re worried about your saliva pH levels, there are several things you can do. First, you can test your saliva using pH strips that can be found at drug stores. You can also talk to your dentist about getting a test done.
On a daily basis, it’s mostly about being cognizant of what you’re eating and what steps you’re taking after you eat.
You’re not going to give up eating and drinking everything that can make your saliva acidic, so it’s really about either limiting your intake or balancing it out afterwards. For example, try to stay away from sugary drinks. If you do drink something sugary, don’t just sip on it for a long time. You’ll want to drink it quickly, and don’t swish it around in your mouth. Afterwards, you can drink some water to help generate more saliva and start balancing out the acidity.
Another good thing to do after you’ve had something acidic is chew sugarless gum, especially if it contains xylitol. Chewing gum will encourage saliva production to help balance the pH in your mouth. The xylitol is believed to help prevent bacteria from sticking to your tooth enamel.
Eating something that’s more of an alkaline can help get you balanced a little faster. Eat dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt. Calcium will help lower the acidity.
Lastly, do NOT go and brush your teeth immediately after eating something acidic. Your enamel will be weakened, so brushing your teeth can actually cause more damage. You should wait about an hour so you can naturally return to the correct saliva pH level.
Find Your Balance
Keeping your saliva pH between 6.2 and 7.6 as often as possible is crucial to keeping your teeth healthy. When you have acidic saliva, it can eat away at your enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, bad breath, and tooth decay.
To help keep a neutral pH, you can adjust the things you’re eating and drinking along with helping bring the acidity in your mouth back down by rinsing your mouth with water or eating or drinking something that’s high in calcium.
Schedule an appointment today so you can get a thorough examination of your oral health and find out exactly what shape your tooth enamel is in now.
Going to the dentist is something a lot of people dread doing. At least one study has shown that more than 60% of people around the world are afraid of those appointments, some of them even saying it’s so bad they have NEVER visited a dentist. Some of that fear could stem from not knowing what happens during a routine dental cleaning.
All of the scraping, poking, prodding, and the sound of that drill can make you cringe. There’s a reason behind those methods, though. Let’s break down what those scary looking and sounding tools do and why they’re important for your oral health.
The Importance of Regular Cleanings
Your daily brushing and flossing routine helps remove harmful bacteria from your mouth. That bacteria can turn into hardened plaque and tartar. The problem is brushing and flossing can’t get in all the spaces that plaque finds its way into.
That’s where those tools come in. Everything the hygienist uses to scratch and scrape on your teeth is designed to remove plaque that brushing and flossing can’t get rid of. If left untreated, you’re likely to end up with other health issues to deal with.
When that tartar and plaque build up, it begins to eat away at the enamel on your teeth. That’s how cavities develop. Cavities and tooth decay can also cause bad breath that won’t go away. The only way to fix it is to get a dental cleaning so a professional can remove the buildup.
The buildup can also eventually lead to gum disease. Plaque and tartar can get below the gum line and irritate your gums. The inflammation causes small pockets to form. Food and bacteria can hide in those pockets, which will make the inflammation worse. That eventually leads to gum disease if not addressed.
All of these conditions can result in tooth loss. When it comes to gum disease, you can also experience bone loss, which further complicates the issue. Merely getting a teeth cleaning twice a year can save you the trouble of dealing with all these problems.
Dental Cleaning Process
Even though you know why getting regular teeth cleaning is important, it still might not make you any less anxious about getting it done. We’ll walk you through the dental cleaning process so you know what’s happening every step of the way.
Before taking any action, a dental hygienist will first do an examination of your mouth. The hygienist will look for spots where there’s plaque or tartar buildup, dark spots on your teeth, any gum inflammation, or anything else that could be cause for concern.
If there’s anything that looks a little more serious, the hygienist may call in the dentist to take a look. They won’t want to start working until they’ve decided the best course of action to get your teeth and gums back in top shape.
This is also the part of the dental cleaning process where you’ll be asked if there are any areas of concern you have noticed or if you’ve got any questions about what’s going to happen during your cleaning. Don’t be shy. Get answers to your questions so you can get rid of any anxiety you might still be having about the procedure.
Removing Plaque and Tartar
Here’s where those scary tools get started. The hygienist will use something called a scaler to scratch and scrape any plaque or tartar off of your teeth. It’s the little sharp, hook-looking tool.
The hygienist will scrape off any of the bad stuff that’s still stuck to your teeth. The more of a buildup there is, the more scraping will have to be done. The scalar can also remove plaque from below the gum line and in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.
If this is your least favorite part of the experience, it’s all the more reason the be vigilant with your daily brushing and flossing routine. That’s how you prevent plaque and tartar from building up between your dental cleanings.
The better you are about brushing and flossing, the less scraping the hygienist will have to do.
Now that the vast majority of the buildup has been removed, it’s time to get those pearly whites, well, pearly again.
The tool of choice for this task is a sort of high-powered electric toothbrush. It has a rubber cup on the end of it where the hygienist will apply a gritty toothpaste called prophylaxis paste. The paste will scrub off any leftover plaque and polish your teeth.
The sound and feel of this tool could be another source of anxiety or discomfort. It makes the high-pitched sound like a drill, which can be a little scary. It also feels a little bit like grinding on your teeth while it’s in operation.
If it starts freaking you out a little, just remember it’s going to make your oral health much better in the long run. And just think about how smooth and shiny your teeth are going to look!
There’s no horror movie-looking tool used here. It’s just good old-fashioned floss. Your hygienist will go thoroughly between your teeth and down around the gum line to ensure all of the plaque has been removed.
During this part, you might also get some questions about your flossing habits or told about some spots you should really focus on when you’re flossing on your own. Pay close attention. Following any advice given at this stage can help your next have less scraping from the scaler.
Sometimes your hygienist might apply a fluoride treatment to help protect your teeth from cavities until your next visit.
There are a couple of different forms this could come in. Some offices will use a fluoride gel or foam that will be placed into a mouthpiece. You’ll then wear the mouthpiece for about a minute before the hygienist removes it.
The other common method is a little different. It’s more of a tacky varnish that will be painted onto your teeth. The moisture in your mouth hardens it, so you can eat and drink after it’s applied, but you won’t be allowed to brush for a certain amount of time afterward.
Your cleaning is all wrapped up! Now it’s time for the dentist to come in and give your fresh teeth a look. The dentist will do a check for gum disease and look at any alignment issues you may have. They will also look at any sealants or fillings you may have gotten in the past to make sure those are still in good shape.
Keep Up With Daily Maintenance
Knowing a little bit more about exactly what’s happening while you’re laying in that chair can help you feel more at ease during your dental cleaning. The scary sounds and feelings aren’t as bad when you know what they’re doing and why.
The bottom line here is you have the power to make these routine teeth cleaning appointments as quickly as possible. Being vigilant with your brushing and flossing on a daily basis will result in less plaque and tartar for the hygienist to scrape off. A little work every day can save you a lot of pain later on.
Do you wake up every morning with a dry mouth and throat? Maybe you even get up in the middle of the night in need of a drink of water to rewet your mouth.
You could be dealing with a condition called xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. You need to know how to prevent dry mouth while sleeping because it can lead to some other oral health issues.
Problems Dry Mouth Can Cause
If your mouth is dry, you have a lack of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is crucial in keeping your mouth healthy. It helps clean bacteria that accumulate off of your teeth and gums. That’s how it plays a big role in preventing tooth decay and keeping your breath fresh.
Aside from the plaque, tooth decay, and potential tooth, dry mouth can also lead to sores in and around the mouth, a yeast infection in the mouth, and cracked and split lips.
With each of these conditions, you’re looking at further treatment to get the issue corrected. You should start taking measures to fix dry mouth when you start noticing the following symptoms:
This is the first thing you should think about. If you’re dehydrated, it’s going to affect your saliva production. All you’ll need to do is increase the amount of water you’re drinking throughout the day.
Side Effects From Medications
If there are medications that you take regularly, check the list of side effects they can cause. Dry mouth is a fairly common one. You may notice you’re experiencing dry mouth more than just at night if this is the root of your problem.
Some of the common medications that can cause dry mouth are:
Blood pressure medicines
Parkinson’s disease medications
Sometimes you may just be breathing through your mouth while you’re sleeping. There are a number of things that could be leading to that, too.
You could be dealing with a respiratory infection, a cold, an allergy flareup, sleep apnea, or even narrowed nasal passages. You will likely notice if the cause is something like a cold or allergies, but a doctor will need to diagnose sleep apnea and narrowed nasal passages.
The autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s syndrome attacks the glands in your body that produce tears and saliva. It causes the person with the disorder to experience dry mouth, which can get worse at night when your glands naturally produce less saliva.
Those with Sjorgren’s syndrome may notice other symptoms like difficulty swallowing food without a drink, mouth pain, speech problems at night, and dryness in the eyes and throat in addition to the mouth.
Dry Mouth Prevention Methods
If you are dealing with Sjorgren’s syndrome or something like a side effect from medication, you’ll need to talk with your doctor about the best course of action for getting rid of your dry mouth. For most other issues, you can use some of these methods to prevent xerostomia.
Start by drinking more water. Sipping it throughout the day will help you increase your intake and keep your mouth moist. Swapping out any sugary or acidic drinks you usually have with water will go a long way. Cutting down on those caffeinated drinks helps, too.
Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies can help, too. They stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth, which keeps it from getting dry.
Choosing the right mouthwash is another good step to take. Using a rinse that has alcohol in it can dry out your mouth. Try one out that doesn’t have alcohol. There are also mouthwashes that are designed to help with dry mouth. They contain xylitol, just like many sugar-free gums and candies. Adding fluoride toothpaste and fluoride gel before bedtime is also worth looking into. For those two options, it’s a good idea to consult your dentist.
If possible, don’t use over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. They can make your dry mouth worse.
When to See a Professional
If you try all of the methods you can use at home, it’s time to talk to your doctor or dentist so they can help narrow down the cause of your xerostomia. If the condition is making it difficult to sleep at night or causing a lot of pain or discomfort, you should make that appointment as soon as possible.
If you leave dry mouth untreated, it can lead to some severe dental problems in the long run. Making dentist appointments twice a year can help. You’ll just have to remember to bring it up during your visit.
Here’s why it’s so important. Throughout the day, you get food particles and other things stuck on and in between your teeth. When you don’t get rid of those particles, bacteria will attack them and turn into a sticky substance called plaque. The acid in the plaque will eventually eat into your tooth and can destroy it if left untreated.
When you brush, you get rid of all the plaque on the easily accessible surfaces of your teeth. The problem is your brush can’t get out everything that’s in between your teeth. That’s where flossing comes in. Running floss correctly in between all your teeth will dislodge any particles that were stuck.
Flossing also helps keep your gums healthy. That helps prevent gum disease. Gum disease leads to the breakdown of soft tissue in your mouth and can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. If that happens, your teeth can become loose or even fall out entirely.
Gum disease has also been linked to cancer and even heart disease, which further underscores the importance of daily flossing.
How to Floss
So now you know why you SHOULD floss. Now you’re probably wondering how to floss correctly. It’s pretty simple.
Here are the 5 steps to get it done, according to the ADA:
Take about 18 inches of floss. Wrap the majority of it around one of your middle fingers. Wrap the rest around your other middle finger, leaving a few inches in between the two fingers to use.
Hold the middle piece tightly between your thumbs and pointer fingers.
Guide the floss between two teeth in a gentle rubbing motion without snapping the floss into your gums.
When you get to your gums, wrap the floss into a sort of “C” shape against one tooth, and slide it into the spot between your gum and tooth.
Keep the floss held against the tooth and rub it up and down to remove anything that’s stuck to the sides.
You’ll repeat those steps for each tooth. Make sure to use a different portion of your long strand of floss in each gap. Using the same section will only spread the bacteria that the floss is removing. And don’t forget to do the back of the teeth that are in the back of your mouth (the ones that don’t have another tooth behind them).
Flossing With Braces
If you have braces, you’ll use pretty much the same method. The biggest difference is going to be at the beginning. Instead of just sliding the floss from the top of the teeth downward, you’ll first have to thread the floss underneath the wire of the braces. At that point, you can use steps two through five to get the job done.
You will want to use waxed floss or some other product designed to clean around braces. Unwaxed floss will make it more likely to shred and get stuck in your braces.
The Tools of the Trade
While the best tool to clean between your teeth is traditional floss, it’s not your only option. The best option FOR YOU is going to be the one that you will actually use. Here’s the case for the most common ways to get the job done.
These days, floss is usually made from nylon or other plastic filaments. It’s cheap to buy, and it’s extremely effective.
The good thing about traditional floss is it doesn’t spread bacteria throughout your mouth when you’re flossing correctly. Since you change the section you’re using for each gap, the bacteria is staying on the floss and not being rubbed into the next set of teeth.
The downside to traditional floss is it’s the most inconvenient method. It takes a little longer because you are constantly adjusting the strand, and it can get uncomfortable trying to fit your fingers at the angle you need to get into all the necessary spaces.
Using a floss pick is a great alternative to traditional floss. Since the strand of floss is on a pick, you can reach further back into your mouth much more easily. It’s also easier to get the floss in between your teeth.
The tradeoff here is that you’re using the same small piece of floss for your whole mouth. That’s spreading bacteria from one spot in your mouth to every other area. Now there could be bacteria in a spot where it wasn’t before you put it there.
One way to mitigate that is to use a different pick for each quadrant of your mouth. You will use four picks to get your whole mouth done, but then there isn’t as high of a possibility of spreading bacteria.
A water flosser, also known as a dental water jet or oral irrigator, shoots a stream of water in between your teeth to clean those hard-to-reach spaces instead of running floss through them. They make the process much easier to do than floss, especially for people who wear braces or have arthritis. An added benefit is they can help keep your breath fresh for a longer period of time.
Water flossers aren’t without their downsides, though. You’re going to pay quite a bit more to get ahold of one as opposed to just buying some form of floss. It’s also going to be a lot messier than just flossing. Even though there’s an added mess, it’s still not as effective. The stream of water doesn’t always remove all the plaque like physically running a piece of floss over your teeth would.
The Most Important Part
Daily flossing is going to keep your teeth looking fresh and sparkly. You’ll get the immediate benefits of removing any buildup from the day and fight off future damage by preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Pick whatever method works best for you. The most important thing is that you’re doing it every day. And don’t miss your regular cleanings at the dentist.
When it comes to oral care, one of the first things that someone with improper hygiene might encounter is cavities. That type of tooth decay is among the world’s most common health problems. Learning exactly what causes cavities and all the ways you can prevent them can save you from adding to that statistic.
What Causes Cavities
Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are caused by several factors that happen over a period of time. This isn’t a condition that just happens overnight.
The first step in the process is when plaque forms on your teeth. Plaque is a clear, sticky substance that will coat the teeth. It’s caused by eating sugary or starchy foods and then not cleaning your teeth well afterward.
Bacteria will attack those food particles on your teeth, which leads to the formation of plaque. If it’s not brushed away, it can harden and form tartar, otherwise known as calculus. Tartar forms a sort of hard shield for the bacteria, making it harder for you to get rid of.
If you get to this point, the plaque will start to attack the hard enamel coating that’s meant to protect those pearly whites. The acid found in the plaque will begin to dissolve holes into the enamel, creating the first part of the cavity.
With the enamel removed, bacteria can then move into the next layer of your tooth, called the dentin. It’s a much softer layer, so the acid doesn’t have to work as hard to eat away at this layer. Dentin also has tiny tubes in it that communicate with the tooth’s nerve. That’s where you’ll start to feel some sensitivity.
After making their way through the dentin, bacteria and acid will end up destroying the pulp, which is the soft, inner part of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels. The acid and bacteria will make the pulp irritated and swollen, which compresses the nerves. At this point, you’ll be experiencing pain due to the pressure on the nerve.
Symptoms of Cavities
Let’s dig a little deeper into the symptoms you should look out for to know if you could have a cavity. They can be different depending on which tooth is affected and how bad the cavity has gotten.
Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says to look out for:
Tooth pain that happens without any apparent cause
Pain when eating or drinking something hot, sweet, or cold
Visible holes in your teeth
Brown, black, or white staining on the surface of the tooth
Pain when you bite down
If the cavity hasn’t gotten too bad yet, you might not notice any symptoms at all. That’s why it’s important to keep your regular appointments with your dentist. They’ll be able to spot early signs of tooth decay so you can address the issue before it escalates.
When it comes to treatment, it’s going to depend on how bad the cavity is. If you let it get too bad, you might end up needing a tooth extraction. That’s another way catching the problem early can save you a lot of pain in the future.
In the best-case scenario, you’ll catch the problem really early. That will allow your dentist to just apply a fluoride treatment to help restore your enamel and prevent further decay.
For a tooth that has gone too far for that, you’ll have to get a filling. This is where that dreaded drill comes into play. The dentist will use the drill to remove all of the decay. Then, the hole gets filled in with a substance like silver, gold, or a composite resin.
If a filling isn’t quite enough, you’ll need to get a crown. That’s a sort of cap that fits over your tooth to protect it since the enamel has been eaten away. The dentist will still have to remove all of the decayed parts of the tooth before putting on the crown, which sometimes comes in the form of a root canal if the damage is severe enough.
If the tooth is too far gone to save even with a root canal, the dentist will have to extract the tooth entirely.
How to Prevent Cavities
Now that you know what causes cavities, you’re better equipped to learn how to prevent cavities. The biggest measure you can take is having an excellent oral hygiene routine.
You need to brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. It’s even better if you brush after every time you eat. Flossing each time is also a must. It ensures you’re getting all of the food particles off of your teeth and gums.
Your dietary habits can also affect your oral health. Try not to eat or drink too often (except for water). When you eat or drink sugary beverages, you’re altering the pH balance inside of your mouth. That creates acid and introduces bacteria. Be constantly snacking, you’re leaving your teeth open to attack all day.
To quench your thirst, try drinking tap water instead of other beverages or bottled water throughout the day. Tap water usually contains fluoride, which helps fight tooth decay.
When you need a snack, reach for something that’s tooth-healthy instead of something sugary. Things like fresh fruits and vegetables increase your saliva production, which helps to clean off your teeth. Make sure you’re avoiding things that can easily get stuck in the crevices of your teeth or in between them.
What Increases Cavity Risk
Anybody with teeth can get cavities, but there are other factors that could make you more likely to get them than others. According to the Mayo Clinic, those factors include:
Not getting enough fluoride
Younger or old age
Bedtime infant feedings
Fight Back Against Tooth Decay
If you’re terrified of that drill the dentist uses or you just would rather not end up sitting at home one night in immense pain and contemplating pulling out your own tooth, you need to take your oral health seriously.
Brushing and flossing twice a day combined with regular appointments with your dentist will go a long way. If you haven’t been in a while, set your appointment today so you don’t have to end up going through even more pain somewhere down the line.
Even though it contains lactose, which is a form of sugar, milk is really good for your pearly whites. The combination of calcium and vitamin D is great for making strong bones and teeth.
How Milk Helps Your Teeth
Did you know that more than 99% of your body’s calcium can be found in your teeth and bones? Contrary to popular belief, teeth are not bones, but both your teeth and your bones need calcium for strength. Since those two things are the hardest substances in your body, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough calcium daily.
When you meet your daily value of calcium, it will help strengthen the enamel on your teeth and promote a stronger jaw, too. Having a tough jawbone will help prevent tooth loss in the long run.
But the benefits don’t stop at having stronger teeth. Research shows that eating dairy products can help prevent tooth decay, too. Essentially, dairy products (especially cheese) increase the pH levels in your mouth, which helps to fight cavities. Those dairy products also contain caseins, which put a sort of protective film over your teeth’s enamel.
There is one exception to this rule. It’s a condition called baby bottle tooth decay. This happens when a baby’s teeth have prolonged exposure to sugars.
The most common cause of this is leaving a baby with a bottle overnight. The milk will remain on the teeth for the whole night. Since younger children’s teeth are still developing, they don’t have that fully-formed protective layer of enamel. The sugars found naturally in the milk will then cause decay.
The moral of the story here is to make sure your children aren’t going to bed with a bottle and brushing their teeth before they go to sleep for the night to wash away any of those sugars that might be hanging around.
Alternatives to Cow’s Milk
Drinking milk is one of the best and easiest ways to get your daily dose of calcium, but it’s not the only way. People who either don’t like milk or can’t drink it due to dietary restrictions have plenty of options.
If you’re in the crowd that just doesn’t like milk, go with yogurt and cheese. Yogurt actually has more calcium than milk in a single serving. Cheese helps make you salivate, which will help clean off your teeth and keep that pH level in the right zone.
Many people have moved to milk substitutes like almond milk or soymilk for various reasons. When it comes to soymilk, you’ll be getting a good dose of calcium, but it could also increase the acidity in your mouth. That is bad for your enamel, so make sure you’re brushing frequently.
Almond milk isn’t a good source of calcium on its own, so you won’t be able to count on it for getting your recommended daily dose.
Those of you who don’t eat dairy at all can try adding more fish to your diet. Types such as salmon and tuna are high in calcium and vitamin D.
Vegetarians and vegans can try eating more tofu, turnip greens, kale, and bok choi. Those foods contain less calcium and vitamin D than dairy products, so you’ll just have to eat more servings to get the same benefits.
If you’re not already doing it, add a nice cold glass of milk or some yogurt to your daily diet to make sure you’re making those pearly whites nice and strong. As always, keeping up with your daily brushing and flossing along with making regular appointments with your dentist will keep your smile nice and bright.
The teeth and gums are two major components contributing to your oral health. It’s no secret that you need to take care of both for good oral and overall health of your body. However, most people fail to do it effectively, thinking that all you need to do is observe good oral hygiene.
Good oral hygiene may be a vital component of healthy teeth and gums, but not the only one. We have the inside scoop or should we say secrets that our dentists share with patients for a picture-perfect smile with the help of healthy teeth and gums.
Secret # 1: Play more attention to your diet
The food you consume has an impact on you both physically and mentally. One major physical aspect it impacts is your oral health, which is why you need to have a sensible diet that consists of foods that promote healthy teeth and gums. Here are some examples of such foods:
Apples: Not only do apples contain healthy nutrients, but they have natural acids that contribute to a cleaner clean mouth. The skin of the fruit serves as natural floss, that keeps your gums healthy. The best part is, both kids and adults can substitute their sugary dessert with apples, due to its sweet taste.
Dairy products: Calcium is vital for strong teeth and there aren’t many food products out there that contain the amount of calcium that dairy products do. Be sure to increase your intake of milk and cheese for healthier teeth.
Fibrous vegetables: The fiber found in fibrous vegetables can help keep your gums healthy. Eating fibrous vegetables also requires a lot of chewing which results in the production of saliva. The saliva produced results in healthier teeth and gum as it washes off any harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits such as lemons, kiwi, orange, and guava are a great source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is crucial for healthy gums as it ensures the connective tissues between your teeth and jawbone remain strong and healthy. It is also an antioxidant that fights off oral problems such as gingivitis. So introduce citrus fruits in your diet as a natural source of Vitamin C.
Ginger root: It may be pungent, but ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds that promote oral health. You don’t have to eat it raw or on its own, you can stir fry a small amount of ginger and add it to your next meal.
Water: While water is not a type of food, your body needs it to function properly. Water can help reduce plaque as it washes away any food debris leftover in your mouth. It also promotes the production of saliva which is important for your oral health. You need to try to consume at least eight glasses of water on a daily basis.
While you want to increase the consumption of the foods mentioned above, you also want to lower your intake of sugary products. This includes chocolates, hard candies, fruit juice, soft drinks, and so on. Sugar might not be harmful on its own but it feeds the bacteria in your mouth, giving them fuel to produce plaque and in the long term cavities.
Secret # 2: Pick the products used for oral hygiene carefully
Everyone is well aware of the fact that brushing twice a day and flossing are key components for good oral hygiene. However, you need to be careful about the products you use when you brush and floss.
Things to consider when brushing your teeth
Toothpaste: You can find hundreds of different types of toothpaste in your local pharmacy and all claim to provide you with healthier teeth and gums. When picking a toothpaste, you need to ensure it is approved by ADA and contains fluoride. Fluoride is important for healthy teeth as it fights the demineralization process of the teeth, the first stage of tooth decay. So make sure you purchase a floured toothpaste.
Brush: The only thing you want to look out for in a brush is that it has soft-bristles. Using a toothbrush with medium or hard bristle can result in bleeding gums if you aren’t careful and gentle enough.
When it comes to flossing, you just need to pick floss you are comfortable using. This can be in the form of a thread or Waterpik, which utilizes pressurized water to clean between teeth.
Secret # 3: Visit your dentist once every six months for a regular checkup
While visiting your dentist for a regular checkup is not really a secret, however, a lot of individuals still fail to do so. Most of whom are either careless or have a fear of dentists.
There are two parts to dental checkups, examination and professional cleaning. Your dentist will start the checkup by examining your gums and teeth. They check for plaque, tartar, cavities, if any depth space between your teeth and gums is present, or any other signs that may point to an oral problem. If a problem is discovered, they will discuss treatment so it is treated immediately.
After the checkup, they will move on to cleaning your teeth. During this process, plaque and tartar are removed. Even if you have the most thorough oral hygiene regimen, it is normal for some tartar buildup which your brush or floss cannot eliminate. Dentists have special tools that help them eliminate the presence of tartar from your teeth and inner gums.
Forgoing dental checkups leaves you vulnerable to oral problems from cavities to periodontal disease. If you have a fear of the dentist, be sure to let them know. Most dentists are trained to deal with patients that are not very comfortable and are willing to take measures to make your visit pleasant.
There is no way to achieve healthier teeth and gums without a healthy, mouth-friendly diet, regular dental checkups, and using the right products for your oral hygiene regimen. You can have the most optimal of dental hygiene habits, but still, be at risk of oral problems such as gum disease, which has a link to cancer, without the secrets we have mentioned.
No better time than now to start your road to healthier teeth and gum. Be sure to visit your dentist so they can examine your teeth and map out a plan to help you along the way.
That is right, the sugar is not technically rotting your teeth. The bacteria residing in your mouth are the known culprits. As the bacteria builds up and multiplies in the mouth, it aids in the formation of a thin layer called plaque.
This film of plaque build-up is comprised of bacteria, food particles and more. As the plaque thickens and solidifies, the tooth will start to dissolve.
Prevention is the key; brush away that plaque with proper oral hygiene.
As described above, plaque is a thin biofilm comprised of food, bacteria, and other particles. Everyone has plaque and it starts as a thin, colorless layer on the tooth.
The plaque is constantly forming in the mouth. If plaque is not removed with proper oral hygiene, over time, it will develop into a thicker film known as tartar. Tartar can lead to gingivitis and gum disease. Dental plaque can be comprised of more than 300 different strains of bacteria.
The major component in oral hygiene is the prevention of plaque build-up.
Most children who have been to the dentist will have heard of sugar bugs. It’s a great description of the oral bacteria residents. These sugar bugs love to eat… sugar! You guessed it.
Although technically they do not cause the teeth to rot, they are a key player. They feed on the sugar and food particles in your mouth. If the bacteria do not have a food source readily available, they would not continue to thrive and multiply in the mouth.
With poor oral hygiene habits, the bacteria can continue to colonize causing the plaque to thicken and the decay to worsen.
Foods to Avoid
There are many other food sources besides just sugar. These other components to tooth erosion and tooth damage can be found in a multitude of food and drinks.
In order to keep dental health a top priority, this list is comprised of foods and drinks that you should avoid. Soda is listed below in its own category as there is a lot to be said about this carbonated beverage.
Ice: This may come as a shock since ice is just frozen water. It’s not that the water is a culprit; it’s chewing on the hard, crunchy ice that can lead to tooth damage.
Gummies: Chewy, squishy, gummy foods such as fruit snacks tend to stick to your teeth. You cannot easily wash this off with water and it can lead to plaque build-up. Gummies are a great food source for oral bacteria.
Gum with sugar: The constant chewing of gum that has sugar in it is considered a dental prevention no-no. It’s providing a food source to the mouth bacteria with the constant sugar chewing and directly pressing and latching onto the teeth. However, sugar-free gum can prevent tooth decay.
Sour Candy: Sour gummies or sour chews will stick to the teeth as they are gummy and easily adhere to the surface. They also have different acidity levels because of the sour flavorings.
Citrus Fruits: Although rich in Vitamin C, it’s the acidity that can continue to erode and eat away at the tooth enamel.
Crunchy Potato Chips: These salty snacks are crunchy. As you are eating potato chips, they can easily be lodged in crevices in the teeth.
The Damaging Truth about Soda
Soda can be extremely damaging to the teeth. As you learned above, it isn’t the sugar that causes tooth decay. It’s the bacteria, as well as the damage to your enamel, in the decay process.
Sugar is most definitely a culprit, but it does not act alone. Acid is a major factor in enamel erosion and damage. Soda is filled with phosphoric acid.
Not only is soda bad for your oral health, but it is also linked to obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Diet Soda: This carbonated drink filled with sugar substitutes seems like it would ok because it does not have sugar, but it is acidic. In particular, it has phosphoric acid. This acidity can further cause tooth decay by wearing down the tooth enamel.
Regular Soda: Sugar filled sodas often have 10 packs of sugar in just one can of a 12-ounce soda! So not only does this carbonated sugar have the phosphoric acid, but it has sugar, the food source for oral bacteria.
You are certain to have eaten at least one of the foods or drinks above. If and when you do, it’s a good practice to swish your mouth out with water shortly afterward. This helps cut the acidity. It can serve as a short term solution until you are able to properly brush your teeth.
Also, consider chewing sugar-free gum in the interim as well.
Use a straw when you are drinking acidic beverages. This can help alleviate the direct contact with the acidity in the beverages, as well as benefiting your pearly whites by not allowing the staining properties of the beverages to directly harm your teeth.
Starting in Ancient China, the early concepts of oral hygiene were created. It’s a natural feeling to want to keep your teeth clean. Proper oral dental care can affect your entire body. Keeping your teeth clean is key for preventative oral care and overall health.
Brush your teeth with an ADA-approved soft bristle toothbrush. This should be a little softer than the boar-bristled brush that Ancient China used, and it will help protect your enamel more as well.
You should wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Eating produces saliva and this can help with the mineralization on the teeth. You can still rinse your mouth out with water to get food particles out and help neutralize the acidity.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure you change out your toothbrush 2-3 times a year.
Flossing reaches 40% of the tooth surface that would otherwise be missed with regular brushing. Make sure you are using a long enough piece of floss so that each tooth surface is getting a clean piece of floss.
Be sure to visit your dentist at VIPcare Dental at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and an exam.
Ancient Egyptian mummies were found to have suffered from cardiovascular disease. This means that over 3500 years ago, Egyptians were plagued with the same disease as the modern man, atherosclerotic heart disease.
The autopsies performed on the ancient Egyptians showed plaque adhering to their blood vessels. This is quite remarkable that the same disease has been affecting mankind throughout the ages.
The diet and lifestyle of the modern man are thought to be the blame of the world’s number one killer, heart disease. However, if heart disease affected the Ancient Egyptians, then other risk factors must be involved in atherosclerotic heart disease besides the Western diet and American lifestyle.
Atherosclerotic heart disease affects the blood vessels due to chronic inflammation. This inflammation is caused by fatty plaques entering the vessels, mixed with the dysfunction of the vasculature wall. This combination causes the narrowing of the arterial blood vessels.
When your blood vessels are narrowed, they aren’t able to function properly. The plaque build-up in the blood vessels is comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium deposits, and other substances which cause the formations to adhere to the inner blood vessel lining.
Known risk factors for atherosclerosis and dysfunctioning blood vessels include high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain bacterial infections. Diet and lifestyle choices are strongly correlated to the aforementioned conditions.
Unfortunately, the typical Western diet is often comprised of red meat, processed foods, high-fat content foods, fried foods, sodas, high sugar content foods, and processed grains. It makes complete sense that a healthier diet and well-rounded active lifestyle can serve as prevention to many conditions that plague the modern man who adheres to the typical Western diet.
Inflammation Causing More Inflammation
The inflammation associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and other infectious diseases, keeps atherosclerosis in a vicious cycle.
The inflammation from the fatty plaque build-up causes further inflammation and dysfunction in the blood vessels which causes more narrowing; That means the atherosclerotic disease continues to worsen when the inflammation continues to be present.
HEART DISEASE AND YOUR TEETH
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The risk of heart
disease is tripled for
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The Garden Hose Analogy
Imagine your garden hose being clogged full of dry mud and caked debris within the inner lining of the hose. When the faucet is turned on, it would not flow at the proper speed. The flow of water would be decreased due to the build-up in the water hose.
This analogy can describe your arterial portion of the blood supply. When you have atherosclerotic plaque build-up, your blood cannot get to the organs, muscles, skin, bones, and the remainder of your body properly.
This leads to one portion of atherosclerotic disease. This type of atherosclerotic cardiovascular dysfunction that affects your arterial blood supply, your arteries, is called Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD.
Imagine the garden hose is supplying the water to the rest of the garden, just like the arteries supply blood to the rest of your body. If the water is unable to reach parts of the garden, things begin to die. Much like the human body, when blood cannot properly reach the organs, ischemia can set in.
Also Known As…
Atherosclerotic disease can be confusing because it has many different names. Some of these names are medically coined to help describe the disease process. Whereas the other names have risen in popularity as Americans use these names to describe the symptoms.
There are many different types of cardiovascular diseases. You can see how some of these names became interchangeable as they describe the process of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerotic Arterial Occlusive Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD
Peripheral Vascular Disease, PVD (this name can refer to vein disease or arterial disease)
Hardening of the Arteries
Coronary Heart Disease
Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease
Atherosclerosis is the most common form of cardiovascular disease. When you think of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack, the atherosclerotic plaque build-up is the leading cause of these conditions.
Certainly, diet plays a huge role in the formation of plaques, but there are other components that need to be looked at with atherosclerotic heart disease. One component of heart disease that is just now coming into headlines for correlative studies is the connection between oral health and cardiovascular disease.
Recent studies have shown that individuals with poor oral hygiene have higher incidences of cardiovascular disease.
Oral Health Connection
Oral health is connected to your cardiovascular health as with other conditions such as oral cancer, preterm labor, pneumonia, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Poor oral hygiene is what seems to be related to cardiovascular disease. The more inflammation with gum disease and the more oral bacteria build-up, the higher likelihood you will see a connection to heart disease.
As one study showed, when you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, there is a lower risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, heart disease risk is tripled, for those who do not brush their teeth twice daily. As previously mentioned the inflammatory conditions of gingivitis are thought to be one of the main culprits.
Gingivitis and gum disease are preventable with daily habits of good oral hygiene. This means your daily oral hygiene habits can lower your risk of atherosclerotic heart disease.
The bacterial build-up from cavities and tooth decay is another factor involved in the link between cardiovascular disease and oral health. As mentioned above, the dysfunctioning of the arterial walls has a number of causes. Infectious microorganisms are one of the reasons arterial walls become dysfunctional.
The bacteria associated with dental decay can travel through the bloodstream causing inflammation of the blood vessels.
When you do not develop good oral hygiene habits, routines that favor poor oral health can easily fall into place. It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, use fluoridated water or toothpaste, and if you are unable to brush your teeth, rinse your mouth out with water or chew sugar-free gum.
“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding” – Leonardo da Vinci
Just remember that the more you understand about your body and how to take care of it, the more power you have to be in control and live a healthier life. Knowing that oral hygiene is important not only for your mouth but for the rest of your body is an invaluable tool.
If you think of the above quote by the great Leonardo da Vinci in relation to the knowledge of your own health, then you can see the power and joy in the knowledge of your own healthcare. You are the best advocate for your health.
Now that you see the connection with your cardiovascular health and your oral health, make sure you keep oral hygiene a top priority. We have many oral health tips at VIPcare Dental.
Don’t Forget These Daily Oral Hygiene Tips
Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA approved soft-bristle toothbrush.
Make sure you brush for 2 minutes each time, to ensure you have reached all surfaces and your tongue.
Floss your teeth at least once a day.
Rinse your mouth out with water if you are unable to brush in the middle of the day.
Chewing sugarless gum can be beneficial if you are unable to brush for a while.
Wait 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth.
Change your toothbrush a few times a year, as there can be bacteria lurking in the hidden bristles.
Don’t forget to schedule your dental cleanings at least twice a year.
As with all medical conditions, make sure you talk to your dentist about any heart conditions you have may have. There are certain conditions that your dentist may want to give you a prophylactic dose of antibiotics prior to your dental cleanings. Making sure your oral health care provider is aware of all of your medical conditions, will help ensure you are taken care of in the safest way possible.
Your dentist is here to help you not only with your oral health but to help in any way they can as you strive to maintain or reach a healthy lifestyle.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding your oral health or if you have any questions regarding the connection between heart disease and your oral hygiene.
We are here to help and available for any questions or concerns that you may have. Your oral hygiene is important. At VIPcare Dental, we are a comprehensive dental team. We would love to help, so contact us for an appointment.
Your beautiful smile uses approximately 12 muscles when it shows off your pearly whites. When you smile, you boost your mood and you can promote happiness to those around you. Your smile is contagious.
That smile of yours plays a big role in the rest of your body; not only did this just show a link from your mouth to your mood, but your oral health connects to your overall health in more ways than you may realize.
The Systemic Connection
When you have good oral hygiene, it can make you feel more confident. Your smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet you. Your psychological behavior and social confidence are both positively impacted by your oral health. This self-confidence is warranted, as you should feel great about the preventative measures you have taken to manage gingivitis, tooth decay, bad breath, and systemic conditions.
Oral hygiene helps not only with your teeth but the rest of your body. There is a systemic connection to periodontal health and oral hygiene.
Oral Health Connects to Systemic Disease
There are many ways your oral hygiene is connected to your systemic health. Below are eight different conditions that are highly linked to the inflammatory conditions associated with poor oral hygiene. Although this is not a complete list, it is quite a substantial list showing your oral hygiene health affects your entire body system.
Periodontal (gum) disease is often caused by poor dental hygiene. When you do not floss or brush your teeth frequently, you allow for plaque build-up, bacterial growth, and gum inflammation.
As your gum inflammation worsens, it can lead to bleeding gums, bad breath, receding gum lines, and more serious gum disease that could eventually require gum grafting surgery.
There is a correlation between preterm labor and plaque build-up. Maintaining good oral hygiene and obstetrician care can help with carrying a longer-term pregnancy. There are other risk factors or health conditions that can cause preterm labor, but the plaque build-up and inflammatory conditions associated with oral health are both risks for preterm labor.
Studies have shown a link between bad oral bacteria and lung disease. When you do not have proper oral care, you are increasing your risk for lung infections by allowing this bacteria to grow and proliferate in the mouth. The bacteria that often multiplies in the mouth from poor oral hygiene, is often the same bacteria seen in pneumonia.
Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor oral hygiene have higher rates of heart disease compared to those who practice good dental health care. Inflammation and bacteria are the two main components of poor dental hygiene. Both of these components are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Infective endocarditis, IE, is an inflammatory infection of the heart. IE is frequently caused by the same bacteria that colonize your mouth. There have been multiple studies correlating good oral hygiene to a lower risk of infective endocarditis.
Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar glucose levels become too high and unmanageable. Diabetes does have a lot of potential complications, especially when blood sugar levels are not maintained. It can affect your oral health by causing periodontal disease. Poor blood sugar control can lead to periodontal inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your own tissue to attack itself at the linings of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition. The inflammation in gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis are both significantly high. Managing your gum tissue inflammation with proper oral hygiene can decrease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Prevention is the best type of medicine for your overall health.
The measures taken to prevent disease is termed preventative medicine. Everyone has certain inherent risk factors that can make them more susceptible to certain diseases and health conditions, but when you are cognizant and can take measures to decrease the risk factors from causing diseases, you are taking steps in preventive medicine.
The most important role you have in your own preventative medicine is your lifestyle choice. Not all areas of health can be prevented, but when you take measures by educating yourself and modifying lifestyle behavior to help give your health the best opportunity, you are being an excellent self-advocate.
Oral Hygiene Tips
Here are a few tips for making good oral hygiene a daily part of your routine.
Floss your teeth properly by using 18 inches of dental floss daily. When using a long enough piece of the dental floss, you are ensuring a clean part of the floss goes between each tooth. Flossing helps remove plaque and excess food particles.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush approved by the ADA. By using a soft-bristled toothbrush, you can prevent gum abrasion.
Your toothbrush should be changed two to three times a year. When you change your toothbrush you are preventing reinfection from hidden bacteria in the toothbrush bristles.
Wait 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth. Your saliva production immediately after eating helps with the mineralization of your teeth.
Don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year. If you are doing well and not having any oral discomfort or concerns, a visit with your dentist every 6 months can help with any tartar build-up. This dental visit also keeps a professional eye on your oral health. Scheduling your cleanings and dental visits are integral parts of your preventative oral healthcare.
Your oral health improves when you brush your teeth more often and floss on a regular basis. If you have to wait hours between brushing, a few oral health tips include:
Chewing Sugarfree Gum: When you are unable to brush your teeth, chewing ADA approved sugarfree gum can help promote the flow of saliva in your mouth. The saliva will help decrease the acidity in your mouth as well as help move the food particles that may be stuck to your teeth. This is definitely not a replacement for brushing your teeth but can be a great resource for you when you are unable to brush.
Rinsing Your Mouth: If you are unable to brush your teeth, another oral health option is to rinse your mouth out with water. This will help decrease the acidity in your mouth. Rinsing also aids in the removal process of food particles.
If you have any dental discomfort, speak to your dentist to help prevent any conditions from worsening. Don’t delay your dental care.
Be sure to take the time for yourself so you can keep your body healthy. Schedule your cleanings twice a year to have an oral hygiene expert help you stay on top of your oral health.
Why is Oral Hygiene Important for Your Overall Health
As mentioned above, your body is interconnected in more ways than you realize. Your mouth is full of bacteria, hopefully, your mouth has maintained the balance of good bacteria with proper oral hygiene. When you develop dental infections and gum inflammation, you are more at risk for diseases that are interlinked with inflammation and infection.
Most Oral Diseases Are Preventable
With conditions such as gingivitis, dental decay, and more, it may be surprising to learn that most of these conditions can be prevented. It is also quite shocking that this preventable disease is so prevalent in the United States. Studies have shown that over 64 million Americans, 30 years and older, have gum disease.
Taking preventative measures is the best medicine you can give your body. You have learned numerous ways you can self-advocate for your oral healthcare. There are many lifestyle choices and habits that can help you take care of yourself. Education is always key to preventative medicine.
Do you have any questions or concerns relating to your oral health? Let us help you with your oral health prevention plan.
We are here for you. Your overall health is linked to your oral health and we want to help you take control of your healthcare and preventative medicine. We want to keep your beautiful smile beaming. Please reach out if you have any questions on how your teeth relate to your overall health or with any other concerns you may have.
With the high caloric intake of sugar and the bad rap corn syrup gets, it is no wonder the sugar substitute market has boomed in the United States.
Monk fruit, stevia, erythritol, agave, sorbitol, and xylitol are amongst the most popular of the sugar substitutes.
What exactly are these sugar substitutes? Where do they come from? How do we know if they are good for us? If they are sugar-free, can they cause tooth decay?
Answering each of these questions can lead to a better understanding of the connection between oral health and sugar substitutes.
Monk Fruit: What is it?
Monk fruit or luo han guo was originally derived from China and Northern Thailand as a medicinal plant. Chinese monks were found cultivating monk fruit in the 13th century for medicinal purposes. Monk fruit was historically used for inflammatory conditions and ailments associated with high fevers.
In the United States, monk fruit was introduced as a zero-calorie sweetener once the fruit of the plant went through a pureeing and extracting process to allow the monk fruit extract to have zero calories per serving. This extraction process has morphed monk fruit into a more palatable sweetener which is known to be 100-400 x sweeter than sugar. The Food and Drug Administration has regarded the monk fruit as GRAS, Generally Recognized As Safe. Monk fruit became prevalent in multiple healthy food products and amongst those who were looking for a safe sugar alternative.
Agave: What is it?
Agave syrup, derived from the agave plant, is sweeter than sugar but has more calories. Ideally, you can use less agave to obtain the same palatable sweetness as sugar.
Agave reached its newly found fame for having a low glycemic index. It started to hit the shelves as a liquid alternative for syrups and sweeteners.
The glycemic index is measured by how quickly the blood glucose level rises after 2 hours of eating or drinking a particular food or drink. Agave has a low index because it has minimal amounts of glucose sugars. However, agave does have a high concentration in fructose sugars.
Studies have shown that regular fructose intake is associated with a higher risk of fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, which can impair blood sugar control in the long run. These facts may make agave a less desirable alternative to sugar.
Stevia: What is it?
Stevia in the form of the sugar substitute is known as Reb A sweetener. The raw stevia is derived from the flowering stevia plant. It goes through a refining and extraction process to get to the Reb A. That extract is used as the popular sugar substitute.
Stevia has GRAS approval from the FDA. This sugar substitute is 250-300 times sweeter than regular sugar, so a minimal amount is needed to have the same desired sweetness.
What is sugar alcohol?
Sugar alcohol is neither sugar nor alcohol. It was coined sugar alcohol because chemically speaking they resemble part sugar and part alcohol. Sugar alcohols have notoriously been associated with gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. Sugar alcohols can cause GI discomfort because of the way they are absorbed in the body. Sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed which causes it to be sent to the gut. While sugar alcohol is in the gut, it gets fermented by bacteria in the intestines. This process can cause a laxative effect and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Each sugar alcohol is absorbed in a different percentage, which leads to a range of GI effects dependant on the absorption rate. If more is absorbed into the bloodstream, then less is left for the gut absorption, hence causing less GI upset.
Sugar alcohols have been recommended to be eaten in smaller quantities to help minimize the irritability in the bowels.
What is Sorbitol?
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that contains fewer calories than traditional cane sugar and is often added to sugar-free foods and drinks. Sorbitol only has about 65% of the sweetness as sugar. So it is not a direct sugar substitute in terms of sweetness. Sorbitol does have a low glycemic index.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is an extremely low-calorie sugar alcohol. It is much sweeter than sugar. About 90% of erythritol is absorbed through the bloodstream and excreted into urine unchanged.
This means only 10% of the erythritol is absorbed into the gut, which leads to less GI issues, whereas sorbitol tends to cause more bloating and irritability because more sorbitol is absorbed into the intestinal tract causing bowel discomfort.
With a better understanding of these sugar substitutes, the next question can be asked…
What is Tooth Decay?
The outer hard layer of the tooth is made up of enamel. Tooth decay is when the enamel is destroyed by bacteria in an acidic environment. Once the enamel is destroyed, the soft deeper part of the tooth is exposed and decay continues to erode these soft surfaces.
Tooth Decay, Dental Caries, and Cavities
These three interchangeable words are all used to describe the destruction of the teeth caused by bacteria in an acidic environment.
Tooth Destruction Process
There are a few steps in the dental decaying process.
First: When you have a build-up on your teeth of sugar, bacteria will thrive as this is a food source. Certain types of caries-causing bacteria will continue to grow and multiply when their food source is present. This bacteria causes an acidic environment.
Second: As the bacteria eat the sugar, the microorganisms multiply and grow. This bacteria helps the formation of a thin biofilm known as plaque. Plaque is comprised of many things including water, food, and bacteria.
Third: Once there is a solid layer of plaque, the tooth starts to dissolve. The thick bacteria film will start attacking the enamel due to the acidity which causes erosion and little holes in the outer layer of the tooth.
Fourth: Once the enamel has a hole, the bacteria can easily erode to the deeper soft layers of the tooth causing decay to rapidly spread. As food enters the hole in the tooth, it is harder to clean, causing more erosion.
Now that tooth decay has been defined, it can help explain that neither the sugar or sugar substitutes are responsible for causing the cavities directly. The bacteria creates the acidic environment which erodes the tooth causing dental decay.
The Bacteria Does Not Act Alone
The bacteria thrives in an environment that is sticky, residue-filled, and full of sugar. So if you are eating foods or drinking beverages that either causes sugar deposits or residue film, you are aiding the bacteria to grow in your mouth.
Sugar Substitutes: Hinder or Help?
Sugar substitutes can both hinder and help oral hygiene. It depends on what the sugar substitute is paired with. The sugar substitute is not eaten alone. Depending on what you are eating will determine if you are promoting or preventing the bacteria to thrive. Remember a sticky, filmy, and acidic environment promotes tooth decay.
Answering the following questions will aid in answering if the sugar substitute helps or hinders oral hygiene.
Is the sugar substitute in a sticky, gummy snack? If so, that can leave a film residue onto the dental enamel. The film residue can be hard to clean. This will start the dental decay process.
Is the sugar substitute in a diet or low-calorie soft drink? If the substitute is in a low-calorie drink, it will further harm the dental enamel. The other ingredients in the soda are corrosive, which is harmful to the teeth. This aids in the decaying process.
Is the sugar substitute in chewing gum? If the answer is yes, this can be beneficial to your pearly whites. If you are unable to brush your teeth after a meal, chewing gum made with a sugar substitute aids in oral hygiene. When you are chewing gum, saliva is produced. This saliva will help cleanse and protect your teeth. Saliva serves as an acid neutralizer to your mouth. The saliva produced while chewing gum can also assist in oral hygiene by sweeping away little food particles adhered to your teeth.
As noted above, the sugar substitutes do not directly cause tooth decay. The sugar substitutes can help oral hygiene when added to a sugarfree gum. Besides chewing gum, sugar substitutes are often added to foods or drinks that can aid in the production of bacteria by providing a food source or acidic environment, this will promote tooth decay.
Dental Health is Important
Good oral health can help prevent dental caries, gingivitis, bad breath, and much more. The more you know and understand about oral hygiene, the more preventative measures you can take. If you take care of your mouth, you can help prevent complications as you get older.
Poor oral hygiene, especially gum disease, has been linked to preterm labor, stroke, heart disease, and diabetic complications.
If you have questions about oral hygiene and your dental health, we are here to help you. Our well-trained dental staff is knowledgeable in oral hygiene and can help you with any concerns you may have with your oral health.
You have taken a great step in oral hygiene by educating yourself. Please reach out to us if we can assist you in any way. We would love to see your smile.
This is something that all dentists have dealt with at some point or the other: eager to get the best possible dental care, many first time patients are quick to ask our clinic staff whether they “specialize in cosmetics or repair work”.
While we are always eager to celebrate empowered patients who are willing to check everyone’s credentials (because you should!), there seems to be a general understanding that cosmetic and restorative dentistry are neatly defined specialties that oppose each other.
The truth is that, rather than seeing them as opposing
professional paths, these are just two
legs of the same table.
Restorative Dental Work: The Bread and Butter
of Ocala Dentists
Restorative dental work is the one that aims to cure or treat diseases or injuries in the teeth, gums, or mouth. It is not actually a specialization within dentistry, as it covers much of the preventative and common fixes that dentists see on a day-to-day basis. This includes:
Cosmetic Dental Work: the Finishing
Touches That Make a Masterpiece
Despite what the name may seem to imply, cosmetic dentistry is rarely limited to just making things look better. At its most basic, it does encompass whitening treatments – but it also deals with many procedures meant to make crowns and prosthetics look more natural and feel more comfortable, such as:
Why They Should Never Stand Alone
Nowadays, almost every industry seems to be developing
multiple and new specializations – from aeronautical engineering to home
remodeling, we all want to hire the guy who has done the same job a hundred
However, dentistry benefits
from long-standing relationships and a close rapport between patient and
care provider. This is why Vipcare Dental strives to maintain the closeness
gained by years of regular appointments.
Besides, it is very rare nowadays to perform any sort of
restorative work (such as a new crown or a periodontitis treatment) that does
not include some sort of cosmetic touch-up at the end. A dentist’s ability to
handle both with ease will make all the difference between the oddly-colored
implant and the neatly camouflaged repair.
Furthermore, major restorative work – such as the one you’d
need after suffering a car accident – is often a serious investment that
deserves to be protected. Much of what will be needed to protect your new
dentures will fall under the cosmetic umbrella, such as contouring a crown to
make sure it fits in better, or even providing a full maintenance course.
At VIPCare Dental, We Are “Comprehensive Specialists”
When we first started out, our dream was to become the top Ocala dental office for restorative and cosmetic services alike. However, we are not foregoing the expertise that comes with specialization. Our team of highly experienced practitioners allows us to provide all our patients with an equal amount
of experience across all fields.
Naturally, relying on your usual family dentist also comes
with several benefits for you:
logistics: From where to park to how to deal with your insurance, it pays
off to go to people who know you.
nerves: Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for feeling nervous before
a dental procedure. We know it’s hard and we know that keeping our patients
comfortable is priceless.
familiarity with your personal history: If we took care of the initial
bridge, then we should also be the ones to make sure it stays in top shape –
and who remember where it’s located every time you come for cleaning. This has been shown to
significantly improve outcomes and to shorten recovery times.
opportunity for holistic care: Teeth health is often a mirror of general
health. Anything from your blood sugar levels to your sleep quality may impact
the state of your teeth – and we care too much to let it go unchecked.
At the end of the day, both types of dentistry are important tools when it comes to protecting your teeth – alongside preventative care and patient education. Major accidents, rare tumors, and advanced periodontitis may all require the best uber-specialized surgeon available, but as a family dental practice, we will do our best to keep your problems from ever getting that far. Contact us for an appointment so we can start improving your oral health!