Habits — both good and bad — often begin at an early age. They can be defined as recurring, mostly unconscious patterns of behavior, which are acquired by frequent repetition. Wouldn't it be nice if you could start your children off with good, healthy ones? When it comes to oral health, you can!
Practicing good oral hygiene is actually one of the easier habits to instill. The time to start is when your baby's teeth first begin to appear. To clean them, wipe gently with a clean, damp washcloth. Starting at age 2, when more teeth have appeared, you should establish a brushing routine using just a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
In the toddler years, a child-size soft toothbrush with a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste will do the trick. By this time, they should have also put away their pacifiers and stopped sucking thumbs. Continual thumb-sucking past this age can lead to later problems with tooth and jaw development.
Kids soon get used to the feel of gentle brushing, and gradually begin taking over the job. However, they may need help until they're 6 or older, and have gained more manual dexterity. Don't forget to show them how to wiggle the brush back and forth along the gum line, as well as across the biting surfaces of the teeth.
You'll have to periodically confirm whether they did a good tooth-brushing job — but you can also teach them to check their own work. There are over-the-counter products that identify bacterial plaque by turning it a bright color, making it easy for you and your children to see how efficiently they have removed plaque. Another less precise way is to just have them run their tongue over their teeth: If the teeth feel nice and smooth, they're probably clean too. If not, it's back to the sink...
Eating healthy foods, getting moderate exercise, and avoiding sugary snacks between meals are a few more beneficial habits you can foster in your children. As parents, you can set a positive example by doing these things yourselves. The professionals in our office are ready to help you learn, practice and promote these healthy habits.
If you would like more information about instilling good oral health habits in your children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Vanna White has been a household name for the last 27+ years and is best known as the first female co-host of the game show, Wheel of Fortune. She radiates a warm, friendly, down-home appeal and says when describing herself, “what you see is what you get!” While this is quite true, there is so much more to her. She has received a star on the famous Hollywood Walk Of Fame, has starred in an NBC movie and written a book. She is even featured in The Guinness Book of World Records as TV's most frequent clapper, and most recently started her own line of yarn called Vanna's Choice with half of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. And while any one of these accolades could serve as the highlight of a lifetime for most, for Vanna they fall slightly short. Her favorite job is being mother to her son, Nicholas, and daughter, Giovanna.
The following are excerpts taken from an exclusive interview in Dear Doctor magazine, the premier oral healthcare resource for patients and consumers.
What is the secret to her dazzling smile?
Vanna's oral healthcare routine is the same today as it has been since her childhood — and one everyone can follow. She brushes her teeth at least twice a day (morning and at bedtime) and flosses her teeth daily. She also has strong feelings about flossing. “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.”
What about bleaching, has she done it?
Absolutely! Vanna bleaches her teeth once or twice a year to help retain her naturally white teeth and to offset any discoloration from coffee and an occasional glass of red wine. “I have done over-the-counter and professional bleaching, but I do like the trays my dentist made because they fit perfectly.” She also states, “Anything you can do professionally is probably better because I would assume that a dentist's ingredients are stronger than over-the-counter products.”
Has she had any cosmetic dentistry?
When it comes to answering a question about cosmetic dentistry, Vanna is just as open and honest as she is about everything else — a trait for which she is known. “I had a bridge put in probably 30 years ago, where I had a tooth pulled and there was a space. And I did have a little tiny chip on one of my front teeth years ago that my dentist fixed. But that is it. Again, I feel very fortunate to have good teeth. The braces [from her childhood] straightened them out and there has been no need for any cosmetics since then.”
Does she do anything to protect her teeth?
While she admits to occasionally forgetting to use her nightguard, a protective mouthguard worn during sleep, she firmly believes in their need. “I do sleep in a nightguard because I grind my teeth. I have a filling in the back that probably has been filled five times from grinding.” She added, “Both of my children do have mouthguards that they wear for their sports.”
Want a smile like Vanna's?
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bleaching, cosmetic dentistry or mouthguards. You can also learn more about Vanna by reading the entire interview in the Dear Doctor article, “Vanna White — The Smile Defining America's Favorite Game Show — Wheel Of Fortune.”
If you like soft drinks and carbonated colas, beware. Acids in these drinks may be dissolving the minerals in your teeth — a process called chemical erosion. And don't think that natural fruit juices or sports and high energy drinks are any better than sodas. They also contain acids that dissolve the surface enamel of your teeth. Once your enamel is lost, it is gone forever. It cannot naturally recover.
Sadly, teeth in children and teenagers — an age group most likely to drink large quantities of soda and juices — may be more easily eroded by acids. These youngsters have not had long-term exposure to fluorides which harden tooth enamel and protects them from acid erosion.
The Difference between Erosion and Decay
Chemical erosion is not the same as tooth decay (cavities). In chemical erosion, acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth. In the case of tooth decay, bacteria in dental plaque (a bacterial film that forms on your teeth) utilize the sugars in the drinks and produce acids that attack your teeth.
After Acidic Exposure, Wait 30 Minutes to an Hour before Brushing
You may think that the solution to chemical erosion is to brush the acidic solution from your teeth as soon after drinking them as possible. But tooth brushing immediately after can actually accelerate chemical erosion and make it worse. After they are bathed in an acidic solution, minerals in the tooth surface become partially dissolved. Brushing at this time may brush away the affected layer. If you wait a half hour to an hour, your saliva will have time to neutralize the acids and harden the tooth surface by adding minerals back into it.
Drinks Less Likely to Cause Dental Erosion
Instead of drinking colas and sports drinks, stick to water and/or milk, which have the added benefit of supplying calcium to help add minerals back to the tooth surface.
If you must sip on juices or soft drinks, try to do so only at mealtimes. This is preferable to drinking them all day long, which leaves your teeth constantly bathed in an acid solution. Avoid swishing the drinks in your mouth, and sip them with a straw to reduce contact between acidic drinks and your teeth.
What does it mean when your dental hygienist recommends root planing? To put it simply, root planing is a method of cleaning the roots of your teeth in order to avoid periodontal (“peri” – around, “odont” – tooth) disease.
Periodontal disease happens when dental plaque, a biofilm of bacteria, is not regularly removed and begins to build up on teeth near the gum line. The bacteria cause inflammation, and this in turn causes the gum tissue to detach from the teeth. The widening spaces between the gum tissue and the teeth, called pockets, are environments in which bacteria can continue to collect and cause further inflammation and infection. Ultimately, this can lead to infection, bone loss, and loss of teeth.
Root planing is a technique designed to avoid such dire results. The bacteria, along with products they manufacture as part of their metabolism, can become ingrained in the surfaces of the tooth's root (the part of the tooth that is below the enamel). These bacterial products will form hard deposits called tartar or calculus.
Deep Cleaning Your Teeth
Of course, the best idea is to brush and floss away the plaque before the bacteria begin to build up on your teeth. If this is not done and pockets begin to form, the bacteria and toxic products are more difficult to remove in order to deep clean your teeth.
The first step is scaling. My hygienist or I will remove superficial collections of calculus. If material still remains within deep pockets, root planing is the next step. It involves actually planing the surface of the root, smoothing the surface free of calculus, bacteria, and toxins that have ingrained into the root surfaces.
Root planing is most often done under local anesthesia so that you remain comfortable while the cleaning procedures are done. The initial cleaning may be done by an ultrasonic instrument that vibrates particles off the root surfaces and flushes the pockets with water. Small hand instruments called curettes are used to finish the process. Antibacterial medication may then be used to help clear away infection from the pockets. Sometimes you may experience some tooth sensitivity to hot and cold after the root planing. If needed, this can be treated by applying fluoride to the root surfaces.
Depending on the extent of your gum disease, it may not be possible to remove all the deposits at one appointment, and it may be necessary to have multiple appointments over a few weeks to remove the remaining deposits. Often after three to four weeks the inflamed tissues have healed, leaving you with healthy gums once again.
Both diabetes and gum (periodontal) disease are chronic inflammatory diseases that have negative consequences for millions of people worldwide. But before we continue, let's define these two diseases:
Periodontal disease is a condition in which biofilms of dental bacterial plaque stick to teeth near the gum lines causing the gum tissues to become inflamed and infected. If not treated properly and in an early stage, it can cause severe damage to the bone that supports the teeth, resulting in tooth loss. It occurs in the absence of good oral hygiene which includes ineffective daily brushing and flossing and neglecting to see your dentist.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels become excessive. Glucose is the body's main source of sugar for energy. The hormone insulin, among other mechanisms, normally controls glucose. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels are harmful and ultimately can even be life threatening if left untreated. With type 1 diabetes, insulin injections (shots) are required to maintain the proper blood sugar levels because the body no longer produces its own blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is generally less severe and can usually be treated with a combination of diet and medication.
And while both of these diseases share the same common enemy, you, there is scientific evidence revealing links between the two. Diabetes increases the risk factor for developing periodontitis, and conversely, periodontal disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control blood glucose levels.
Learn more about these two diseases and their relationship by reading, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you have diabetes but haven't had a dental exam and cleaning in a long time, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also use this consultation to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your oral health and its relationship to your diabetes.