Recently several of my patients have asked me some questions about essential oils. To be honest I have a very limited knowledge of the subject. I hate when I don’t have all the answers for my patients. So I thought what better way to learn more about the subject then to write about it. However, let me preface this information with a reminder that while these essential oils can provide effective preventive and palliative care, it is not a substitute for dental care. If you have a cavity or a toothache please do not hesitate to give us a call. Periodontal disease and cavities left untreated will only become worse over time.
As dental professionals we rely on tested clinical research and published blinded research studies to substantiate any therapeutic claims and demonstrate effectiveness. However with essential oils there is little published research, because several problems present in trying to conduct research on essential oils. First, essential oils are not standardized. Synthetic Pharmaceuticals are reproduced to be identical, where as essential oils cannot be produced to be identical. Second, while conducting research on essential oils it is difficult to gage for individual differences in how the oils affect people. Also little funding is provided for research on homeopathic remedies. More research studies are done for synthetic therapeutics because these follow the usual scientific research path.
The Essential oils that I would like to talk about are:
1.) Cinnamon oil
A.) Cinnamon bark oil
B.) Cinnamon leaf oil
2.)Tea Tree oil
1. Cinnamon Leaf Oil: Leaf oil is primarily useful for palliative care. It may be effective in reducing pain and inflammation
Cinnamon Bark Oil: bark oil has antibacterial qualities, has been shown to effectively destroy 21 different types of bacteria.
How to use: You can rinse with diluted cinnamon oil after brushing, or put some on your tooth paste. Cinnamon oil is very strong and should not be ingested. Also some people have been known to have allergic reactions to cinnamon oil, so test in a small area of your mouth first.
2. Tea Tree Oil: This oil is effective for antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties.
If you have a allergy to celery or thyme, you should not use this oil. Also just like the cinnamon oil, tea tree oil is very strong and should not be ingested.
How to use: There are wooded toothpicks that have been impregnated with tea tree oil. These can be found at a health food store, or purchased on-line. You can also mix a small amount with your toothpaste, then brush.
3. Myrrh: This is effective for mouth sores.
How to use: Mix 1 to 2 drops in eight ounce glass of warm water, swish for thirty seconds then spit.
4. Clove Oil: This is effective for toothaches, also known to sooth sore gums.
How to use: Mix one drop with a plant based carrier oil, olive oil wood be a good carrier oil to use. Then apply with a cotton swab.
For gum tissue and other oral tissues mix 1 to 2 drops in eight ounce glass of warm water, swish for thirty seconds then spit.
5. Peppermint Oil: This oil is effective in treating bad breath, it also has mild anesthetic properties.
How to use: Mix two drops of peppermint oil with two cups of distilled water. Shake we’ll before each use, swish a mouthful for one minute then spit.
There are other essential oils that are effective for oral health that I did not include in this overview: basil, almond, and lavender, just to name a few. I hope that these basic guidelines can shed a bit more light on the subject. All essential oils should not be ingested, and always consult your medical physician before starting any type of therapy at home.
It’s like a dream come true! Can pizza really be good for oral health? Pizza is one fast food that is full of nutrition and helps ward off dental problems. Pizza consumption among Americans is higher than any other Nation. According to 1800dentist.com pizza can be a powerful meal for fighting off many cancers and boosts your dental health. Italian researchers have discovered eating pizza may reduce the risk of second heart attack, even among the obese. This study projected that eating 14 ou. of pizza a week may reduce the chance for heart attack up to 50% Lets weigh the odds for 100 grams of pizza….
The following chart shows only 15 grams of fat is used in pizza, this is 5% of the daily intake. The fat source of cheese and oregano oil are both beneficial for health reasons.
Nutritional Facts-100 gems of pizza Daily values based on 2000kcal diet
Protein 11.21 gm
Carbohydrate 28.51 gm
Fat 15.2 gm
Dietary Fiber 2,2 gm
Vitamin A 140 milligrams
Vitamin B1 0.22 mg
Vitamin B2 0.23 mg
Vitamin B3 2.47 mg
Vitamin B5 0.27 mg
Vitamin B9 47 micrograms
Vitamin B12 0.57 micrograms
Selenium 19.6 micrograms
Vitamin C 1.9 milligrams
Calcium 151 mg
iron 2.41 mg
Potassium 198 mg
Magnesium 24 mg
Phosphorus 207 mg
Sodium 618 mg
Copper 0.1 mg
Manganese 0.31 mg
Zinc 1.48 mg
Pizza is full of calcium as cheese is one of calciums best sources. Calcium is important for cell division and muscle contractions, including your heart beat. It is also important to support bone health, lower the odds of tooth decay and gum disease.This mineral is needed by the cells of our body that carry nerve impulses, for salivary production and enzyme activity for the production and activity of hormones involved in digestion, energy and fat metabolism. Calcium interacts with sodium, magnesium and potassium to regulate blood pressure and water balance.
Clinical evidence also suggests carvacrol (in oregano oil), may suppress redness and swelling as well as Candida Albicans infections. It also tastes great! Eating pizza will help you get your needed protein for building muscle and other bodily tissues, so put meat on your pizza! Protein maintains tooth structure, mucosal connective tissue development, and immune function.
Carbohydrates give us fuel for the CNS, help fat metabolize and prevent protein from being used as energy. Chewing on the crust aides to the daily chewing requirement. This will increase facial muscle tone and decreases mouth sugars by stimulation salivary flow.
Vitamin A helps skin cells grow and maintain mucosal tissues and immune function.
Vitamin B deficiency is common and can affect the mouth. It can provided a burning sensation in the mouth and the tongue can feel swollen making it hard to swallow, The cheeks may look pale and slough off. B12 deficiency has now been linked as a contributor to periodontal bone loss.
Tomato sauce is high in vitamin C. This wards off infections and improves immune health. A deficiency of vitamin C may lead to bleeding gums. Tomato sauce contains calcium and lycopene. Lycopene studies show it is used as a preventive carotene for oral cancer
Garlic helps with gum inflammation and has allinase, foods’ most important cancer fighting and immune-boosting enzyme.
Fiber is an important part of your diet as it promotes digestive health and can reduce serious concerns like heart disease and cancer, so increase your veggie options. Leafy greens have tons of minerals and vitamins and can protect eyesight, minimize aging problems, ward off gum disease and protect against oral cancer (Phytonutrients).
Evidence shows that pizza has healthy ingredients. Remember to floss!
Look into the mirror, stick out your tongue. What does it look like? What is the color, the texture, what do you think it is saying about you? Here are some examples of what you might see and what it means.
This may be a sign of a overgrowth of candida or yeast in your mouth. You may have also heard this condition called thrush. This condition is very treatable with prescription from your dentist for a anti fungal mouth wash from the pharmacy.
BLACK AND HAIRY:
This can have several different causes; poor oral hygiene, bacteria overgrowth, or yeast growth. This may look alarming it does not cause any health problems and is usually painless. This condition will usually resolved without treatment.
RED AND WHITE SPOTS:
These are usually areas where your taste buds have worn down. This is very common and no need to treat.
WEBBED OR STRIPED LOOK:
This is a chronic auto immune disease that effects the mucus membrane in your mouth.
This may simply indicate a fever or strep throat. However chronic redness in tongue may indicate a deficiency in certain vital nutrients such as; folic acid, B12, or iron. This is a photo of a individual with B12 deficiency; smooth, beefy, red tongue.
This is a result of the tongue pressing into teeth, usually while you are sleeping. This may be a tell tale sign that you tend to clinch and grind your teeth in your sleep, usually stress induced.
This ridges will go away, the treatment for clinch and grinding is a custom night guard.
Another potential cause of these ridges is if your tongue becomes slightly enlarged or swollen. This may be a indication of thyroid problems.
Breathing out of your mouth may not seem like a huge problem, but in terms of oral health and facial development, mouth breathing can create numerous oral health concerns. Chronic mouth breathing occurs when your body cannot get enough oxygen through your nose, therefore, must resort to your mouth for the necessary oxygen supply. It can be caused by several different factors – obstructive, habitual, and anatomic conditions. In most cases, mouth breathing is caused by chronic nasal obstruction. Examples of this include enlarged tonsils, allergies, nasal congestion, asthma, and nasal polyps. It may also be caused just by habit. A person might not even know any better because it is the norm for them to breathe through their mouth. Some anatomic conditions that can cause mouth breathing include Down syndrome, malocclusion, tongue thrusting, cerebral palsy, and sleep apnea. Each of these conditions contribute to the deprivation of oxygen which can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of mouth breathing in dentistry include:
dry lips and mouth
inflamed and bleeding gums
chronic bad breath
Mouth breathing has been known to cause developmental problems in children. Often times children breathe through their mouth habitually and many parents never think twice about it. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, it may lead to permanent skeletal deformities. The face can begin to grow long and narrow, the nose can become flat with small nostrils, and the lips can be thin on top and quite pouty on the bottom. This, in addition to the other negative effects to oral health, shows that mouth breathing is a whole body problem and should be treated as early as possible.
Yes, you read that right, mouth breathing can be treated! You would think that it would be an easy habit to change – just close your mouth, right? Unfortunately, for people who struggle with mouth breathing, it’s not that easy. The body simply doesn’t know how to breathe normally, and the muscles of the face and mouth have compensated and learned to work incorrectly. In order to stop mouth breathing, the muscles must be re-trained to function in new ways. Treatment includes respiratory exercises, lifestyle changes, and in some cases medical surgeries and devices. If you feel as though your mouth breathing is occurring more than normal, please consult with your dental or health care professional to determine the cause and treatment needed to correct your chronic mouth breathing.
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.
Many commercial mouth washes and whitening strips have hydrogen peroxide as one of the key active ingredients. However many are using straight hydrogen peroxide as a mouth wash to kill germs. Is this a safe and effect practice?
Hydrogen peroxide is compose of water and oxygen that works to kills germs and bacteria, and helps to whiten teeth. It comes in either 1% or 3% concentrations. You can even see it in action! When it foams in your mouth you know that it is working at killing bacteria. It also can be used to clean your night guard, retainers, or even soak your tooth brush in. Best of all it is inexpensive.
However this is not the magic cure all, there are some strong precautions that I would like to share with you. While there are many benefits it can be harmful on gum tissue if used in too strong a solution or too long. It is very drying to the tissues. This will also work to kill good bacteria in the mouth. This will leave opportunity for yeast infections of the mouth to flourish, also called thrush. Candidiasis is a fungal or yeast infection of the mouth or throat. Candida yeast that normally live in the mucosa membrane will flourish causing a over growth of candida, commonly called yeast infections.
This can be a relatively safe practice by following a few guidelines; dilute peroxide with 50% water, and do use every day. If you are one of the many people who suffer from dry mouth stick with a over the counter rinse formulated for dry mouth sufferers.
I often hear parents complain that they cannot get their kids to eat healthy foods. I remember the frustration myself when I couldn’t get my toddler to eat anything, let alone a healthy vegetable. Now that my kids are grown, I wish I had understood that my young child wouldn’t starve himself to death. Toddler’s appetites vary from day to day and if the child is growing and energetic, they are probably getting enough of the nutrients they need.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
1. Young children and toddlers need between 4-6 healthy meals and snacks per day.
2. Limit beverages such as juice, sweetened drinks and even milk, as it can reduce the childs appetite for food. (not to mention harmful effects on the teeth!)
3. The context in which the food is offered is also of importance so present a relaxed environment, free from distractions like the tv.
4. Kids should be allowed to decide whether and how much to eat and they should not be pressured or rewarded for eating certain foods.
5.When introducing foods, patience is key as it often takes as many as 8-10 exposures to a food before it is accepted.
6. When children are stubborn about eating, it is commonly their way of exerting their independence and this may be a battle to be cautious with. Force feeding may cause a child to dislike that food, shuts off the mechanism in the brain that tells the child she is overeating, and may possibly make the child more stubborn and difficult about food.
All of this being said, with our increasingly hectic schedules and the relative ease in which fast foods and overly processed foods are available, nutritional deficiency as well as obesity is becoming more of a concern in our country. Scary Statistics show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents since 1980. In 2010, more than 1/3 of children and teens were overweight or obese.
Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease, prediabetes, or diabetes. They are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social problems like teasing, bullying, and poor self-esteem. Obesity also increases the risk of many types of cancer!
There are many websites on nutrition, healthy eating and ideas. Here are just a few healthy ideas for snacks and easy meals offered from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Mini Pizza: Toast a whole-wheat English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
Snack Kabobs: Put cubes of cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks.
Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze.
Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins (optional).
Mix together ready to eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in sandwich bags for an on-the-go snack.
Microwave a small baked potato. Top with small amount of cheddar cheese and salsa or plain low-fat yogurt. (Tastes just like sour cream)!
Banana Split: Top a banana with low-fat vanilla and strawberry frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with your favorite whole grain cereal.
Apple Pie Oatmeal: Make one packet of microwave oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup and enjoy with whole grain crackers.
Fill a waffle cone with cut-up fruit and top with low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Parfait: Layer vanilla yogurt and mandarin oranges or blueberries in a tall glass. Top with a sprinkle of granola.
Spread peanut butter on apple or banana slices.
Breakfast smoothie: low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
Try crunch vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat dressing for dipping.
Keep cut veggies ready for an after school snack. Some favorites are red, yellow, or green peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas.
Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. Journal of the American Medical Association 2012;307(5):483-490.
National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Features on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.lymphoma.15
Freedman DS, Zuguo M, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS, Dietz WH. Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007;150(1):12–17.
Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, Bandera EV, McCullough M, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2006;56:254–281.
Dietz WH. Overweight in childhood and adolescence. New England Journal of Medicine 2004;350:855-857.
Here at Dentistry Done Differently we want to know what you want to know about your oral health. Have you ever left the dentist office remembering a question you forgot to ask your dentist. Here is your chance to ask. It can be from how to floss to what are root canals. At the bottom of this post leave your questions in the comment section and we will answer them to the best of our ability. Thank you for your previous comments and feed back. We want to create a community that is full of healthy mouths and happy smiles.
Being pregnant comes with various responsibilities, your oral hygiene being one of them. It is important that you continue to maintain your normal brushing and flossing routine. It is also a great idea to rinse daily with a fluoridated mouth rinse. There are several brands to choose from, just make sure you look for the ADA seal which guarantees safety and effectiveness.
For most women your routine dental visits are safe throughout your pregnancy. Make sure when calling to make your dental appointments you let your dental office know what stage of your pregnancy you are in. Let your dentist know if you have had any changes in your medications or if you have received any special instructions from your physician. Depending on your specific situation and your treatment needs, some of your dental appointments and procedures may need to be postponed until after your pregnancy.
Dental X-rays are sometimes necessary if you suffer a dental emergency or need a dental problem diagnosed. It may be wise to contact your physician prior to your dental appointment to get their approval to have x-rays if necessary.
During pregnancy some women may develop a temporary condition known as pregnancy gingivitis, which is typically caused by hormonal changes you experience during pregnancy. This is a mild form of periodontal disease that can cause the gums to be red, tender and/or sore. It may be recommended that you be seen for more frequent cleanings to help control the gingivitis. If you notice any changes in your mouth during pregnancy, please contact your dentist.
During your pregnancy you may have the desire to eat more frequently. When you feel the need to snack try to choose foods that are low in sugar and nutritious for you and your baby. Frequent snacking can cause tooth decay.
Feeling nauseous? If you experience morning sickness you can try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. This mixture lowers the acidity in your mouth. The acidity can cause erosion of the enamel. Your gag reflex may be extra sensitive during your pregnancy, so switching to a smaller toothbrush head may be beneficial.
As a dental hygienist, one of my most frequently asked questions is, ‘There are so many toothbrushes, which one should I use or should I just switch to an electric toothbrush?’. My response is, first, always use a SOFT name brand toothbrush (I know stores sell medium and even hard toothbrushes but don’t buy them!!) and second to make sure you are brushing correctly at least 2 times daily and brushing for at least 2 minutes. When I say correctly, I mean to aim the toothbrush up into the gums at a 45 degree angle.
Properly angled brushing
Unhealthy vs. healthy gum tissue
I see lots of people who do brush their teeth, but since they don’t actually brush along the gumline, their gums are red and puffy. So, brush the gums like you are giving them a massage; use little back and forth or circular motions. Don’t use long scrubbing strokes, it is abrasive! Then floss and/or use an interdental cleaner of some kind each and every day. No matter how good a toothbrush is and how good someone brushes, it’s impossible to get in between the teeth clean with just a brush. Also, change your brush often! When the bristles begin to flare out or it’s been 3 months, change it, it makes a difference to use a new brush.
If your brush looks like this, throw it out!
A brand new SOFT toothbrush
If you brush really well with a manual toothbrush, you probably won’t see that much of a difference if you were to switch to an electric toothbrush. The problem is, many people don’t clean their teeth that well with a manual toothbrush so that’s where the electric toothbrush can really help. We recommend 2 brands of the electric brushes, the Sonicare and the Oral-B Braun. These are not the battery powered toothbrushes, these brushes plug into the wall and have a rechargeable battery. They just have so much more brushing action than a manual toothbrush that even if you aren’t that great of a brusher, you can do an excellent job if you use one of these brushes daily. In a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health, they stated, “The subject group using the powered toothbrush demonstrated clinical and statistical improvement in overall plaque scores. Powered toothbrushes offer an individual the ability to brush the teeth in a way that is optimal in terms of removing plaque and improving gingival health, conferring good brushing technique on all who use them, irrespective of manual dexterity or training.”(1) In another study, “the Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush was found to be safe and significantly superior to a manual toothbrush in reducing gingivitis, sites of gingival bleeding and plaque over time. DiamondClean reduced gingivitis and gingival bleeding sites up to two times more and removed up to four times more plaque than a manual toothbrush after four weeks of use.”(2) Sonicare also states that their ‘DiamondClean toothbrush effectively removed extrinsic tooth stain within one and two weeks of use, and it was significantly superior to a manual toothbrush at both one and two week checks.'(3) On the Oral B website, they state that their Professional Precision 5000 toothbrush has produced these results: 34% less gingival bleeding at 6 months vs. a regular manual toothbrush and 29% lower gingival bleeding scores at 3 months vs. Sonicare® FlexCare (4)
It is still important to use the powered toothbrush 2 times daily for at least 2 minutes and allow the toothbrush to clean along the gumline. If you have an electric toothbrush but it mostly sits on your counter, that doesn’t count when we ask if you use an electric toothbrush!
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean
Oral-B® Professional Precision 5000
Electric toothbrushes come in many different models and prices. Take a look at a store like Target or Walgreens, they have lots of choices so you can find one that will fit your budget and taste. We carry our favorite electric brushes and replacement brush heads in our office as well, and we are happy to answer any questions you might have about toothbrushes. I like to answer questions about brushes so much that I go to Target and walk up and down the dental isle just so I can give advice to shoppers!!
So, remember what I tell my younger patients: 2 times a day for 2 minutes. It’s easy to do and easy to remember!