Has your hygienist ever recommended that you brush twice daily? I made this recommendation to a patient recently, and he informed me that because he brushed his teeth at night, he did not need to brush his teeth in the morning. This patient asked me, “why would I need to brush my teeth in the morning? I didn’t eat anything while I was sleeping, so my teeth are still clean.”
It became apparent to me that this patient had a misunderstanding of how plaque develops on his teeth, and I think that other people may have the same misconception about how plaque forms. This patient and I were able to have an educational conversation about how plaque develops, and my patient was surprised to learn something new at the dentist.
So, first of all, what is plaque? Plaque is the white, fuzzy stuff you feel on your teeth after not cleaning your teeth for a while. This plaque is filled with bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. Seconds after a cleaning, whether from your hygienist or from brushing your own teeth, the plaque starts to come back. It begins as a protein layer of slime that our mouths produce naturally, called the acquired pellicle. Bacteria that are always present in our mouths bind to this pellicle and begin to colonize. When bacteria colonize, they bind together into a film that you can see and feel on our teeth; the white fuzzy stuff we call plaque. This plaque will form whether or not food is eaten. It’s important to remove plaque about once every 12 hours, or twice per day, to help reduce the amount of bacteria present in our mouths, and to prevent cavities and gum disease.
During my conversation with my patient about how plaque is formed, we speculated about why he might have had a misunderstanding about plaque. He asked me, “I thought you were supposed to brush after eating, because the food makes the plaque and the plaque gives you cavities.” Part of this is true; brushing after meals does help to prevent cavities, but not for the reasons he initially thought. The plaque that is already present uses the sugars in the foods we eat, and produces an acid, which is what causes the cavities. By brushing after we eat, we remove the plaque so it doesn’t have the opportunity to produce acid; we also neutralize any acid that may have already been produced, thus preventing cavities. We also discussed that removing, or disrupting plaque about once every twelve hours prevents the colonized plaque from mineralizing into calculus. Calculus is the hard stuff that gets stuck on your teeth that you can’t brush off; it most commonly develops on the tongue side of lower front teeth. This calculus, and the embedded bacteria, are one of the main causes of gum disease. Calculus can’t be removed with a toothbrush, so it’s important to see your hygienist regularly for professional cleanings to remove the calculus deposits which have formed.
When my patient understood why brushing more than once per day would benefit his oral health, he expressed that he would consider brushing twice daily, and we would observe the results of his efforts at his next cleaning appointment. Often times understanding why we do something is half the battle.
Many of you know two questions that your Dental Hygienist will inevitably asked you when you go in for your regular check-up visit: “Are you brushing two times a day?” and “How is your flossing going?”
As an Hygienist, we do not asked these questions to get after you. We promise we do not love nagging you to floss. We do it because we genuinely care for your health and helping our patients understand how brushing and flossing can keep you healthy is one of our professional goals.
Most of you know the guidelines. For optimum dental health, you should brushing two times a day for two minutes, and floss one time a day. We know that is what we are supposed to do. But do we know why?
Plaque (that soft, filmy, white stuff that grows on our teeth) accumulates constantly. 24/7. It never stops growing. Even if you do not eat food, it grows (common misconception that plaque only grows when you eat). Inside plaque lives bacteria. This is the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. It is recommended that we brush two times a day to remove the plaque and disrupt the bacteria’s harm on our mouth. If we do not remove the plaque, then we are allowing the bacteria to start creating cavities and cause inflammation and infection in our gums.
If the plaque is left in an area for a while then it will harden and calcify. This is what we can tartar build-up, or you may even hear us refer to it as calculus. While plaque is soft and can be removed with a toothbrush and floss, tartar is like a rock cemented onto your tooth. You can brush and floss all day long, once it’s turned into calculus, it’s not going any where. The biggest down side of that is that it still has the bacteria inside of it. Now it’s stuck on your tooth, not going anywhere, with all this bacteria. Even better for gum infections and things to occur.
Don’t worry, your awesome Hygienist will save you. We have the tools and know-how to remove that calculus and get your mouth back to health! But, so do you! You can brush and floss every day, remove that plaque, and prevent that calculus from even forming!
Now many of you do brush your teeth. Which is fantastic! We love when you do that! However, not as many of you floss. I’m not sure why. It’s just as important, and doesn’t really take that long. Here’s something to remember when you want to skip flossing tonight… You can be THE most amazing brusher in the whole world, but you will never be able to clean between your teeth with just a toothbrush. It’s a fact. The best technique will not maneuver those toothbrush bristle to places they cannot physically reach. Floss is the only way to clean the remaining 35% of your tooth that the brush did not get. Floss is a toothbrush’s best friend. They go hand in hand. One just as important as the other.
I hope this helped you understand a bit more why we always ask these two simple questions. If you have any other questions, we are here for you! Just ask!
In my daily practice, I am fortunate enough to provide dental hygiene care for many patients, some of which have been patients in the practice for more than 30 years. (That’s longer than I’ve been alive!) These patients often comment to me how much their experience in the dental office has changed over the years. The biggest difference that is noted by these patients are the use of plastic barriers all over the office.
Along with the many advances in technique and technology that dentistry has developed over the years, infection control procedures are one area that has grown by leaps and bounds.
Prior to 1985, many dentists practiced “wet finger dentistry,” a colloquial term for performing dental procedures without wearing gloves. With the increase of diseases being transmitted by bodily fluids, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) introduced a set of precautions that medical and dental professionals were to use to protect themselves and their patients from the transmission of diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis B, which are spread by blood and other bodily fluids, such as saliva. Under Universal Precautions, all blood and saliva were to be treated as infectious, whether they were known to be or not.
When Universal Precautions were introduced, dental professionals began wearing non-porous materials to protect their hands, mouths, noses, and eyes; particularly gloves, masks, and safety glasses or face shields.
In 1996, approximately ten years after Universal Precautions were introduced, the CDC issued an updated infection control protocol for medical and dental professionals, called Standard Precautions. Standard Precautions include infection control protocols to prevent the transmission of diseases that can be acquired through contact with not just blood and saliva, but also non-intact skin and mucous membranes.
Under Standard Precautions, there are many detailed protocols for the use of gowns, or lab coats, specific hand-cleaning procedures, whether by washing or applying hand sanitizer, and proper decontamination of instruments. Dental professionals still wear gloves, masks, and eye protection to prevent transmission, and they also take additional precautions in the operatory where the patient will be seated.
Between every patient, the CDC stipulates the disposal or sterilization of materials which directly contact the patient’s blood or saliva, and a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all materials and surfaces within a 6 foot radius of the patient, using a chemical germicide that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The CDC also recommends using a plastic barrier for areas in the operatory which are difficult or impossible to disinfect.
So, the next time you’re in the dental office and see plastic around the keyboard, light handles, x-Ray sensors, chairs, and many other surfaces, you can rest assured that your dental professionals are following recommendations by the CDC for protecting you from acquiring any diseases the patient before you may or may not have had.
If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. However, many people think it is normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. False! Inflammation and bleeding are early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. If not treated quickly and properly, those early signs of gingivitis may lead to a more serious infection called periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease affects the supporting tissues around the teeth including the gums, the periodontal ligament, and the bone. As the plaque in your mouth spreads and accumulates below the gum line, the toxins within that plaque infect and break down the “foundation” that hold your teeth in place. If not treated with periodontal therapy, the disease will only get worse and tooth loss may occur.
In the presence of periodontal disease, a “regular” prophylaxis cleaning can NOT be completed. The definition of prophylaxis is the prevention of disease. Once periodontal disease is diagnosed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend non-surgical periodontal therapy. Non-surgical periodontal therapy is also referred to as scaling and root planing, or a deep cleaning. Scaling and root planing involves thoroughly removing the plaque and calculus (tartar) that resides above and below the compromised gums. Smoothing the tooth roots allows a clean surface for tissue re-attachment and pocket reduction. Local anesthetic is recommended to make this procedure comfortable and painless for the patient. The goal for non-surgical periodontal therapy is to treat and eliminate the active infection, reduce periodontal pocketing around teeth, prevent further bone loss. The shallower the pockets are around your teeth, the easier they are to keep clean and healthy! When periodontal health is achieved, your oral health care provider will recommended more frequent periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3-4 months to keep tissues healthy and stabilized. In few circumstances where periodontal health cannot be achieved, a referral to a Periodontist may be recommended for further treatment.
Signs & Symptoms of Gum Disease:
Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
Pain/sensitivity when chewing
Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
You can prevent periodontal disease by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. In recent years, gum disease has been linked to overall health problems. You can read more about those on Andra’s recent blog post Oral Health: A Window to your Overall Health! Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
Our dental practice has more over 50 year olds than under 50. As aging adults, we need to be aware of certain things that can keep us from retaining our teeth our entire lives.
Judith Ann Jones, DDS, a spokesman on elder care for the American Dental Association and director of The Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine spoke about 5 things that are especially important to the over 50 crowd.
Tooth Decay: Contrary to what many people believe, adults keep getting cavities! I’m always surprised when people are stunned to learn they have a cavity as an adult. Areas of the teeth that have never had a cavity can decay, but areas where we see more problems are where an old filling is leaking and at the base of an older crown. The best prevention is brushing well each day along the gumline. An electric toothbrush is very helpful in accomplishing this as well as the use of fluoride. An over the counter fluoride rinse nightly is great and in our office we have special prescription strength fluoride that is wonderful for cavity prevention as well as help with sensitivity.
Dry Mouth: Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime We see so many people with this problem. “Saliva protects our teeth. The calcium and phosphate present in saliva prevent demineralization of your teeth”, Jones says. Many drugs cause dry mouth as well as some diseases and as we get older, we are on more medications thus we see this commonly in older adults. This is a difficult one to deal with for those affected. The best thing is to drink lots of water, use saliva substitute and try xylitol products. Also, if you smoke, stop, it just makes your mouth drier.
Gum Disease: If your gums are swollen, red, or bleed easily, you have gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease (gingivitis) will become more serious and will cause deterioration of the bone that holds the teeth, we call this periodontitis. If this condition continues without treatment, it can cause the loss of the teeth. The best way to prevent gum disease is to clean your teeth well each day with brushing, flossing, and use of interdental cleaners like soft picks or go betweens. And of course, seeing your friendly dental hygienist as often as recommended. We can remove the mineralized bacteria from your teeth that you can’t remove with brushing.
Tooth Crowding: “As you age, your teeth shift”, according to Lee W. Graber, D.D.S., M.S, Ph.D., Past President of the American Association of Orthodontists. And “that can be problematic, not because you’ll look different, but because it can make your teeth more difficult to clean, leading to more decay. It’s also of concern because misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and damage to the supporting tissue and bone”, Graber says. “Add to that the tendency of older adults to have periodontal disease, and you could end up losing your teeth even faster.” If your teeth have really shifted, and you find you are having a difficult time keeping your teeth clean and food keeps getting caught in certain areas, ask our doctors about orthodontics. We offer Invisalign to our patients and we’ve had patients in their later years choose to straighten their teeth. I just finished with my invisalign treatment. I had braces when I was a teenager but my teeth had shifted and I was experiencing these problems I just mentioned. I decided to do Invisalign. It’s easy to do and my teeth are so much straighter. They are now in the correct alignment and my teeth and gums will be healthier. If you choose not to do orthodontics, more frequently exams and cleanings may be necessary.
Oral Cancer: According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year, and more than 8,000 will die from it. “Oral cancer incidence definitely increases as you get older”, Jones says, and “is very often linked to smoking and heavy alcohol use.” Jones also said, “Only about half of people who develop oral cancer survive the disease.” If discovered early, there is an 80 percent chance of surviving for five years. When we do your periodic exams when you come in for your cleaning, you will be checked for oral cancer. We also offer Velscope, Identafi, or Oral ID technologies to help in finding oral cancer earlier.
Keep brushing, flossing and smiling! We want to help you keep your teeth healthy your entire lives!
Before we even start trading secrets, what is Halitosis? Halitosis is the fancy word for “Bad Breath.” We’ve all had it at one point or another. Whether that is morning breath, when we’ve forgotten to brush, or when we’ve eaten something with a strong taste. Whether temporary or permanent, bad breath comes to everyone. So let’s talk about the secrets of where it comes from, why we get it, and most importantly, how to get rid of it!
Bad breath can come from several sources. Here’s a list of some of the most common ones:
Tooth decay or / and gum disease such as gingivitis
Dentures and bridges
Post-nasal drip and congestion of the nasal passages
Food stuck between the teeth
Coating of the tongue caused by a build up of bacteria
Infection of the throat and tonsils
Bronchitis or pneumonia
Acid reflux and GERD
Digestive problems and stomach ulcers
High-protein diet that includes fish, cheeses, and meats
Foods that are strong smelling or spicy such as onions and garlic, exotic spices (ie. curry)
Supplements, such as Fish Oil Capsules
Low Carb Diets – causing “Ketone breath” as a result of the low carb consumption causing the body to burn fat as it’s energy source which then causes an end product of the body making ketones, which causes a fruity acetone-like odor when exhaled
One of the most common reasons people have halitosis is due to a condition called “Black Hairy Tongue” or a coated tongue. It sounds scary and unusual, but it’s something that can be cured quickly.
The bacteria build up on tiny rounded projections called papillae which are on the surface of the tongue, also known as tastebuds. These papillae grown longer catch all the food and bacteria in the mouth. Without brushing your tongue or removing the bacteria, it can embed in the tongue and causing a coating. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue to appear black and hairy.
Certain lifestyle habits and conditions can make people more likely to develop black hairy tongue. They include:
poor oral hygiene
drinking a lot of coffee or tea
using antibiotics (which may disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth)
taking medications that contain the chemical Bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol for upset stomach)
not producing enough saliva
regularly using mouthwash that contains peroxide, witch hazel, or menthol
getting radiation therapy to the head and neck
Black hairy tongue is more common in men, people who use intravenous drugs, and those who are HIV-positive.
Now that we learned about Halitosis and Black Hairy Tongue, here are tips and tricks to getting rid of it:
Gently brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush, but more importantly, don’t forget your tongue!!! Start at the back of your tongue and scrape forward, being sure not to scrub the tongue and embed the bacteria even further. You can use a tongue scraper to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning the area. Be sure to come in for your regular check up and cleanings so that your friendly hygienist can help you too! Soon, the coating will go away and so will the bad breath.
If you find that you have consistent bad breath you can try our other tips:
If you smoke, quit.
Add more roughage to your diet. Soft foods won’t clean off the tongue effectively.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your mouth clean.
Natural home remedies include:
Fenugreek should be consumed in the form of a tea made with one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in one liter of water. Simmer till the water is infused and strain before drinking. When consumed regularly, fenugreek seeds are an excellent home remedy for halitosis.
Making a tea or infusion with fresh parsley or cloves is also a good way to treat bad breath. Simply boil water with freshly chopped parsley and drop in a few cloves to the mix. Cool the mixture and strain before using it as a natural mouthwash after eating. There have been numerous studies supporting claims about the efficacy of cloves and clove oil in dental care.
include fresh vegetables, fruits and grains into your daily diet.
increase your intake of Vitamin C from foods
include guava in your diet
An individual should consult their physician for a diagnosis if they have
persistent dry mouth
sores in the mouth
pain with chewing or swallowing
white spots on the tonsils
any other symptoms of concern
Call your doctor or dentist if the problem doesn’t get better on its own. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or an antifungal drug to get rid of the bacteria or yeast. Topical medications, such as tretinoin (Retin-A), are also sometimes prescribed. As a last resort, if the problem doesn’t improve, the papillae can be surgically clipped off with a laser or electrosurgery.
Hopefully this let you in on some of our secrets to a happy healthy mouth! Happy brushing and breathing everyone!
Many people are realizing that there is a direct connection between oral health and total body health. It is finally being generally accepted that oral health and general health are to be interpreted as one entity, not separate as has been the view in the past. Dentists has been saying this for years, and finally science is proving them right! You cannot be healthy without good oral health.
“The mouth can act as a portal of entry for infection, ” says Salomon Amar, DMD, PhD, Professor and Director at the Center for Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics at Boston University School of Dental Medicine. “Ongoing inflammation in your mouth can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which may lead to more inflammation in other parts of your body, such as the heart.”
What conditions may be linked to oral health?
Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
In 2005, the NIH funded a study on this topic. They randomly selected 1,056 participants with no prior heart attacks or strokes. All were evaluated for levels of periodontal bacteria. After removing the effects of the other risk factors of age, gender, and smoking, Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and lead author of the study stated, “It was found that there was an independent relationship between gum disease and heart disease.” One theory about why this may occur is that small amounts of bacteria enter your bloodstream while you’re chewing. “Bad” bacteria from an infected mouth may lodge itself inside blood vessels, ultimately causing dangerous blockages. Strengthening his theory is the fact that when scientists have looked at atherosclerotic blood vessels, they have sometimes found fragments of periodontal bacteria. Meanwhile, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, established that aggressive treatment of gum disease reduces the incidence of atherosclerosis within six months.
It has been found that up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis. “The theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels,” says Sally Cram, DDS, PC, Consumer Adviser for the American Dental Association. “This can increase the risk for heart attack in a number of ways. Inflamed blood vessels allow less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body, raising blood pressure. There’s also a greater risk that fatty plaque will break off the wall of a blood vessel and travel to the heart or the brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.”
Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Scientists believe that gum disease or inflammation in the mouth possibly triggers an increase in a chemical compound called prostaglandin, which induces early labor. While this theory has not yet been confirmed, a 2001 study found that pregnant women who develop gum disease between weeks 21 and 24 of their pregnancy are four to seven times more likely to give birth before week 37. There is evidence that poor gum health in the extreme can lead to low birth weight as well.
Babies born too early or at a low birth weight often have significant health problems, including lung conditions, heart conditions, and learning disorders. While many factors can contribute to premature or low birth weight deliveries, infection and inflammation in general seem to interfere with a fetus’ development in the womb.
Though men have periodontitis more often than women do, hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk. For the best chance of a healthy pregnancy, Pamela McClain, DDS, President of the American Academy of Periodontology, recommends a comprehensive periodontal exam, “If you’re pregnant or before you become pregnant, identify whether or not you’re at risk.”
Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection which puts the gums at risk.
Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health followed 9,296 non-diabetic participants, measuring their level of periodontic bacteria over the course of 20 years. “We found that people who had higher levels of periodontal disease had a two-fold risk of developing type 2 diabetes over that time period compared to people with low levels or no gum disease,” explains Ryan Demmer, PhD, Associate Researcher at the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and the lead author. There are a few theories about why this might be the case. One proposes that when infections in your mouth get bad enough, it can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout your body, which in turn wreaks havoc on your sugar-processing abilities. “There are all kinds of inflammatory molecules,” says Dr. Demmer, “and it’s believed that maybe some attach to insulin receptors and prevent the body’s cells from using the insulin to get glucose into the cell.”
It has also been noted that inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. “Periodontal disease further complicates diabetes because the inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin,” says Dr McClain. Diabetes and periodontitis have a two-way relationship. High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections. Diabetes can also slow the healing process and lower resistance to infections, including oral infections. Fortunately you can use the gum disease-diabetes relationship to your favor: managing one can help bring the other under control.
HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, might play a role in some diseases. Certain diseases, such HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.
Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle, might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Osteoporosis and periodontitis have an important thing in common, bone loss. Researchers are testing the theory that inflammation triggered by periodontitis could weaken bone in other parts of the body.
Alzheimer’s disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
–Dementia: The bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels in the head or through the bloodstream, that might even lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Pneumonia. A 2008 study of elderly participants found that the number who developed pneumonia was 3.9 times higher in patients with periodontal infection than in those free from it. “The lungs are very close to the mouth,” says Marsha Rubin, DDS, practicing Diplomat of Special-care Dentistry at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. “Even in a healthy mouth there is lot of bacteria, but bacteria in a not-healthy mouth can get aspirated into the lungs, causing pneumonia or aggravating COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.” Several intervention studies cited by the CDC show that an improvement in oral health can lead to a reduction in respiratory infection. Periodontal disease may make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder worse, possibly by increasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs.
Pancreatic Cancer. A study published in 2007 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute surveyed 51,529 American men about their health every two years between 1986 and 2002. Of the 216 participants who developed pancreatic cancer, 67 of them also had periodontal disease. Independent of the participants’ smoking status, the study found that having a history of periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. This, according to the study, could be because of systemic inflammation or increased levels of carcinogenic compounds produced in the infected mouth. Interestingly, another viable theory about why gum disease may cause type 2 diabetes points to damage to the pancreas as well. “With the pancreatic cancer study, we thought it was very interesting that you have this localized infection that has an impact on a systemic organ that is very intimately tied to the pathophysiology of diabetes,” says Dr. Desvarieux.
Cancer. Your dentist and hygienist should screen for oral cancer and other cancers of the head and neck, including skin cancer, cancer of the jaw bone, and thyroid cancer, during routine checkups. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. During your next dental visit, ask your dentist to do an oral cancer screening. See your dentist immediately if you observe:
Any sore that persists longer than two weeks
A swelling, growth, or lump anywhere in around the mouth or neck
White or red patches in the mouth or on the lips
Repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat
Difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness
Scientists aren’t sure of the exact cause of oral cancer. However, the carcinogens in tobacco products, alcohol and certain foods, HPV infections, as well as excessive exposure to the sun, have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Risk factors for oral cancer may also be genetically inherited. You can help prevent oral cancer by:
Not smoking or using spit tobacco
Limiting your alcohol intake
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
Also, periodic self-examinations can increase your chances of detecting oral cancer, so be sure to examine your face, cheeks, jaw and neck regularly for any changes or lumps.
Other conditions. Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth, and eating disorders.
Because of these potential links, be sure to tell your dentist if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health, especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.
How can I protect my oral health?
To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
Schedule regular dental checkups.
Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. It is important to let your dentist know your full family medical history. If you have periodontal disease, make sure you see your dentist frequently and get it treated promptly, before it progresses to the point where you begin losing teeth or it starts to affect your overall health. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
One thing is clear: the body and mouth are not separate. Your body can affect your mouth and likewise, your mouth can affect your body. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can really help you live well longer.
“Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants.”
What Are The Dental Benefits of Xylitol?
Splenda (Sucralose) is a commonly used artificial sweetener that one would use to sweeten their iced tea. Once you drink your sweet tea, your teeth are splashed with the sugary beverage, and the Splenda begins to break down in your mouth. Bacteria already thriving in your mouth are immediately drawn to the sugars on your teeth. During this process, the bacteria, for lack of better words, “poop” out acid onto your teeth, and begin the cavity process.
Xylitol does not break down in the mouth like typical sugars (Splenda). Because acid-producing bacteria cannot digest Xylitol, the growth of bacteria is greatly reduced in your mouth, up to 90%. After taking xylitol, the bacteria are unable to stick to the surfaces of your teeth, and thus results in decreased plaque.
Your saliva in your mouth is naturally trying to keep your mouth at a neutral pH, as one is ingesting sugars. If sugar is only consumed a couple times per day, the saliva can protect your mouth and teeth on its own. But for most, sugar is so often consumed that your natural defenses (saliva) are not enough, in the battle of cavity prevention. Xylitol can also increase a neutral pH saliva flow, which could decrease your risk of cavities.
Other Benefits of Xylitol?
Xylitol serves as an effective sugar substitute for diabetics and non-diabetics
Delicious sweet taste… with no unpleasant aftertaste
Provides one third fewer calories than sugar
May be useful as a sugar alternative for people with diabetes (on the advice of their healthcare providers)
It’s 100% natural. Xylitol is not an artificial substance, but a normal part of everyday metabolism. Xylitol is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts
It’s convenient to use
Xylitol can be conveniently delivered to your teeth via chewing gum, tablets, or even candy. You don’t need to change your normal routine to make room for Xylitol
How Much, and How Often Should I use Xylitol?
Strive For 5:
Use Xylitol toothpaste, mouthwash, and nasal spray upon waking up
After breakfast use Xylitol gum, mints, or candy
After lunch use Xylitol gum, mints, or candy
After dinner use Xylitol gum, mints, or candy
Use Xylitol toothpaste, mouthwash, and nasal spray upon going to bed
Although attractive to some, tongue, lip, and cheek piercings have a number of health related risks associated with them. One of the biggest dangers of mouth piercings is the damage to the teeth that can come from bumping or rubbing against the piercing. There is also a fairly high risk of infection to this area from bacteria that can get trapped.
*Infection – Risk of this is increased due to the new wound created. The array of bacteria that live in the mouth plus the addition of bacteria from handling the jewelry.
*Transmission of Disease – Oral piercing poses increased risk of the herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B or C.
*Endocarditis – The piercing site poses risk for mouth bacteria to enter the bloodstream and lead to developing endocarditis–an inflammation of the heart or its valves–in certain people with underlying (many times asymptomatic or undiagnosed) heart issues.
*Nerve Damage/ prolonged bleeding – Numbness or loss of sensation at the piercing site or movement problems can occur if the nerves are damaged. If blood vessels are punctured, prolonged bleeding can occur. Tongue swelling following piercing can be severe enough to block the airway and make breathing difficult.
*Gum Disease – Piercings, especially involving longer jewelry, like barbells, have a greater chance toward this disease. The jewelry can come into contact with gum tissue causing tissue recession, an injury leading to loss of teeth.
*Damage to Teeth – Teeth contacting the jewelry can chip, crack, or wear away. One study from a dental journal reported 47% of barbell wearers for 4+ years had at least one chipped tooth.
*Difficulty in daily functions – tongue piercings can result in problems with swallowing, chewing food, and clear speech. This occurs from the jewelry stimulating an excessive production of saliva. Taste can also be altered.
*Allergic Reaction – We call metal hypersensitivity Allergic Contact Dermatitis, which can occurring in susceptible people.
*Jewelry Aspiration – If jewelry becomes loose in the mouth it poses a possible choking hazard if swallowed causing issue to the digestive tract or lungs.
If oral piercings are still for you, please consider:
-find a recommended studio
-Visit the studio first and ask about hospital-grade autoclaves to sterilize, or use of disposable instruments. Are disposable gloves used?
-Ask to see a health certificate.
-Are instruments kept in sterilized packages?
-Are employees vaccinated against Hep-B?
-Ask many questions, the staff should be willing to respond
WARNING SIGNS!! (Consult your dentist if any of these occur)
-yellow/green discharge (normal is clear or white)
-scarring or thickened tissue build up darkening the piercing site
In order to maintain a healthy mouth, one must use a clean toothbrush. Toothbrushing plays a major role in your personal oral hygiene care. When brushing, it is important that you use a clean and functional toothbrush. Toothbrush bristles can harbor harmful bacteria that can be damaging to our oral health.
The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 months. The same rules apply to both manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads. Many types of bacteria can be found on toothbrush bristles, these bacteria can continue to multiply over time potentially causing harm to our mouths. Toothbrush bristles also break down over time causing the bristles to fan out, fray or simply fall out. When your toothbrush bristles break down the toothbrush becomes less effective, making it harder to clean your mouth properly. If you or any member of the family become sick or gets an infection in the mouth, it is important to replace yours or their toothbrush immediately to be prevent that harmful bacteria from spreading or re-infecting you or that person. In order to prevent cross contamination make sure you do not share toothbrushes for any reason.
After brushing your teeth it is important to thoroughly rinse your toothbrush to remove any additional toothpaste, bacteria and saliva. Germs can hide in your toothbrush bristles and lead to oral infections of not properly cleaned.
After cleaning your toothbrush, it is very important to allow your toothbrush time to thoroughly dry between usages. Designate an area for your toothbrush to dry. Many toothbrush storage containers are available that prop your toothbrush upright and allow the toothbrush to not touch anything else while drying. When traveling, it is just as important to allow your toothbrush to dry between usages. Keeping the toothbrush bristles covered while storing it within your other items during travel is important as well. Small toothbrush storage cases are available at almost all pharmacies and grocery stores. Just make sure the toothbrush is fully dry before storing it in its case.
5 Quick Rules:
Do not share toothbrushes
Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each use
Leave your toothbrush in an open area to dry after each use
Discard your toothbrush if you become sick or get any dental infections