It’s that time of year already! With Halloween right around the corner I wanted to write a post on how to keep your kids teeth healthy with all the candy they will be consuming. And yours too because let’s face it, we all eat our kids candy. I probably look forward to Halloween just as much as my son! Even though we can’t control what sweet treats are given to them, we can control what they eat and when. There are also a few other things we can do to help keep those pearly whites healthy while still being able to enjoy their candy.
When it comes to the type of candy your kids eat, some are less harmful to the teeth than others. Plain chocolate is the least harmful candy to the teeth. It is easy to chew and melts in your mouth so it doesn’t sit on the teeth for a long time. There is not one specific sweet treat that is the most harmful to the teeth, there two major types. Any candy that is sticky, such as caramel and taffy, is very bad for the teeth. It sticks to the teeth during chewing and unless it’s removed, it stays there for a while after the piece of candy is consumed. When sugar sits on the teeth it weakens the enamel and causes cavities. The second type of harmful candy is hard candies. They are very tough on the teeth if they are chewed on, but generally people suck on hard candies. It takes a good amount of time to eat a piece of hard candy, the bigger the size, the longer it takes. Having a piece of hard candy means the teeth are exposed to damaging sugars for long periods of time, which causes an environment for bacteria to thrive and cavities to form. Not good!
There are ways you can help your kids teeth stay healthy while letting them enjoy their Halloween candy. Add a third or even fourth time brushing to the day. Your kids may not be thrilled about it, but they will thank you in the long run when they are cavity free. Even a quick brush is better than nothing. Make sure they are flossing or your helping them floss, even candy can get in between teeth. When you give your kids candy also give them a glass of water and try to make sure they drink it. The water will help wash away the harmful sugars and create a more alkaline environment. And no candy close to bedtime! If some sugars were missed during your children’s before bed brushing, it will sit on the teeth all night doing damage.
I know this is basic, but I hope it helps someone out. Add these few preventitive measures to your days after Halloween. Try and stick to chocolates and limit the amounts of sticky and hard candies. Now we can all enjoy Halloween and have kids with healthy teeth! Happy Halloween! 👻
Have you had your dental checkup and cleaning lately? In honor of dental hygiene month I decided we should review why our dental hygiene is so important. First off, dental hygiene consists of your at home care and regular dental cleanings. At home we should be brushing for two or more minutes, twice a day, flossing at least once a day and rinsing with an antibacterial rinse at least once a day. If you have any questions on how to brush or floss properly, ask your dental hygienist for a demonstration, or check out my earlier post on toothbrushes for brushing techniques and stay tuned for an upcoming post on flossing. Regular dental cleanings are important to remove hard tarter that you are unable to remove at home.
First and foremost, our dental hygiene is essential to living. We need our teeth to eat, without them we could not eat and without food we can not live. When we do not brush effectively plaque is left to sit on the teeth and when it is left for too long it hardens and turns to tarter. Plaque and tarter are full of bacteria that causes all kinds of problems. When this bacteria is in its soft form of plaque it causes the enamel to weaken which leads to tooth decay. If the cavity is not treated by a dentist it will reach the pulp of the tooth causing a bad tooth ache and possibly infection. The tooth will then need and root canal and many times a crown as well which is extremely expensive. If you can not afford this treatment the tooth will need to be removed. When plaque and tarter are both left on the teeth for long periods of time, the bacteria will cause and infection of the gums, also known as gingivitis. When gingivitis is left untreated it will lead to the destruction of the bone and surrounding tissues that support the teeth. If the bone loss is significant enough some or all of the teeth will begin to get loose and eventually have to be removed because there is not enough bone to hold the tooth or teeth in place. Once the bone is gone it’s gone for good. Bone grafting is an option, but again it is expensive and is not always successful. I know that some are probably thinking, if someone loses their teeth they can get dentures. Yes they can if they have enough bone left to hold them in, but they are uncomfortable and can not tear and chew food like natural teeth can.
Having good dental hygiene is not only important for your teeth, but also for the health of the rest of your body. Starting from the head down I’m going to address the other health problems that will result from having poor dental hygiene. First off is bad breath, or halitosis. The bacteria in the mouth from plaque emits chemicals that cause you to have bad breath. Sure that doesn’t seem so bad, but just wait till you hear what else this bacteria forming plaque causes. Next up is atherosclerosis, which is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. One major artery that gets commonly clogged by plaque from poor dental hygiene is the carotid artery which results in a high risk of having a stroke. Getting a bit scarier huh? This ones a doozy! It’s heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. The plaque and bacteria involved in periodontal disease enters the blood stream through the gums which causes narrowing of the arteries and heart disease in some people. When the bacteria enters the blood stream it also goes to your lungs, which causes respiratory problems. This can be very serious for someone who already has a respiratory illness. This next one may come at a bit of a surprise to most. It is diabetes. Periodontal disease is essentially an infection. Infections make it hard for your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Therefore, contributing to diabetes. This last one is just for you fellas. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to erectile dysfunction. When periodontal bacteria travels throughout the bloodstream it inflames the blood vessels which in turn blocks the blood flow to the genitals causing erectile dysfunction.
To sum things up, your dental hygiene is extremely important for not just your oral health, but for your overall health. A healthy mouth equals a healthy body! Lack of good dental hygiene will lead to life changing and life threatening consequences. So go get your check up and cleaning as soon as you can, brush good twice a day and always remember to floss like a boss!
I started practicing dental hygiene 7 years ago and getting patients to take necessary routine x-rays has always been a struggle. Patients usually deny having the x-rays taken because they don’t want to be exposed to radiation. They think the radiation is enough to contribute to the potential of them getting cancer. One reason they think this is because the staff member taking the x-rays leaves the room to take the x-ray once the film or sensor is placed. Another reason patients think the radiation exposure is high is because of the led apron they wear during x-rays. Lastly, the media plays a huge roll in influencing people’s opinions on the dangers of radiation exposure.
By all means, radiation exposure is very harmful to the body in higher levels. And it has been known to be a cancer causing agent. Most patients base their decision to not have x-rays from those facts alone without having any real knowledge of dental x-rays specifically. The lead apron placed on a patient during x-rays and the staff member leaving the room are preventitive measures that have been used for years to reduce radiation exposure. The radiation exposure used to be higher with old fashion x-rays, hence the led apron. And the staff member has no led apron and the button to take the x-ray is outside of the room, so that’s why they leave the room. X-rays have made a lot of advancements throughout the years that have significantly reduced the amount of radiation exposure to the patient and provider. Most dental offices use digital radiography now which needs very little radiation to expose the x-ray. The cone head of the x-ray machine is now longer and placed closer to the patient, both of which reduce the amount of scatter radiation, which means less radiation exposure to the patient. The most simple way I can stress the low amounts of radiation exposure a patient receives during routine bitewing x-rays is, it is the same amount of radiation you receive from 15 minutes in the sun, eating one banana, or simply living in a brick house.
Routine x-rays involve a full-set, which is 18 x-rays or a panoramic x-ray once every 5 years. And bitewing x-rays, which are 4 x-rays taken once a year. These x-rays are very important for a few reasons. First off, they are necessary for the dentist to diagnose cavities that develop in between the teeth that can not be seen during an examination. They also help the dentist detect recurrent cavities that develop under fillings you may already have, which are also very difficult to diagnose during an exam. If a cavity is detected, the dentist will use the x-ray to determine how large the filling will be and where. Basically it’s like a road map for them. Next, x-rays help to see if the patient has bone loss and if they do, how much and where. X-rays are also very useful for the dental hygienist to see where calculus, also known as tarter, is present underneath the gum tissue. The hygienist will in turn be able to perform a better cleaning. Lastly, x-rays are very important to help the dentist diagnose an abscess/infection, position of 3rd molars/wisdom teeth, and other oral pathologies/abnormalities.
So yes there is a very minimal amount of radiation exposure when having dental x-rays taken, but they are taken in long intervals and for important reasons. I would hate to see someone lose a tooth or spend thousands of dollars treating or replacing it because it was not seen in enough time due to x-rays being declined. When problems are caught early they are usually easy and affordable to fix. When they are gone undetected for too long they are hard to fix, time consuming and very expensive. When weighing the pros vs cons when deciding whether or not you want x-rays the next time you go to the dentist I hope that you and more others decide that the pros outweigh the cons. Get your routine dental x-rays and keep a healthy mouth!
I am constantly being asked questions about toothbrushes from my patients so I figured I would write a blog post and hopefully help people figure out which brush is best for them. My patients are asking, “what is the best toothbrush?” and “should I get a medium or hard brush to help do a better job?”
In my professional opinion there is no “best” toothbrush. An electric brush, either rotary or sonic will usually remove more plaque and food particles than a manual brush will. But, I do have many patients that have excellent home care using a manual brush. If your going with an electric brush the next choice to make is between a rotary or a sonic brush. A rotary brush, such as an Oral-B, generally has a small circular brush head with soft bristles and moves in clockwise and counterclockwise motions. A sonic brush, such as a Sonicare, moves in a very fast up and down sweeping motion. Both are excellent brushes, but in my personal opinion and according to scientific data collected from studies that I won’t bore you with, a sonic brush removes more surface plaque than a rotary brush.
If you are going to stick with the good old manual toothbrush then the question I get the most is, “should I get a medium or hard brush to help do a better job?” The answer is, absolutely not! Medium and hard bristled brushes are great for detailing your car or cleaning grout, but should never be used to brush your teeth. The bristles are way to rough and abrasive. Even when used with light pressure they can still be damaging to the gums and tooth surface. You should always use a soft or extra soft bristled brush. There are also so many differently designed brushes to choose from, none of which are a bad choice. I would just go with your personal preference.
No matter which toothbrush you or your dental hygienist decides is best for you, the technique in which you use the brush is what is most important. If you choose an electric brush you need to let the brush do the job for you. Very light pressure is the key to having a healthy mouth. Heavier pressure can lead to recession of the gums and abrasion of the tooth surface which can both cause sensitive teeth. If you choose a manual brush only light pressure is also needed. You should use a sweeping motion starting at the gum line going towards the top of the tooth. Another great method is brushing in big circles making sure to reach all the way to the gums. Using either of these methods or both you are sure to do a good job brushing and have a healthy mouth! Lastly, always remember to floss!