This is one of our most frequently asked questions! Our answer? It’s not the brush that matters, it’s who’s doing the brushing.
Let’s break that down. The goal of tooth brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth on a consistent (daily!) basis, so that we prevent the buildup of tartar which leads to tooth decay. A manual toothbrush is a great and inexpensive tool that helps us do just that. Make sure to brush two minutes per day, twice a day. Gently brush ALL surfaces and make sure to reach those back molars.
For some people, it can be difficult to brush properly with a manual toothbrush. Those with some form of motor disability or arthritis may benefit from using an electric toothbrush. An electric brush can also be helpful for kids or anyone with braces.
The same tooth brushing rules apply – two times per day, two minutes at a time. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that some have a built-in timer. If you’re one of those quick brushers who has a hard time making it to two minutes, consider using a timed electric brush.
At your next dental visit, ask us whether we think you would do better with a manual or electric brush! And, as always, don’t forget to floss!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually. Unfortunately, because the 5-year survival rate of these cancers is about 50%, there are also 8,000 deaths attributed to oral cancer each year. However, recent research shows that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and garden cress contain a compound that helps prevent oral cancers. This compound, known as sulfurophane, encourages head and neck cancer cells to increase levels of protein that turn on specific genes which detoxify cancer cells. Researchers found that by rinsing their mouths with broccoli sprout extract, study participants could activate this protective effect in the lining of their mouths, which is certainly good news for broccoli lovers.
Nutrition is important to oral health. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts strengthen immunity and help protect the teeth and gums. Schedule your appointment today! At our office you will receive a professional exam to detect and address any existing or impending health problems.
If you ever have received a prosthetic joint implant, you may be aware that implant patients have been advised to take antibiotics prior to undergoing a dental procedure. This recommendation has been made to prevent "bacterial endocarditis," a life-threatening heart infection. The antibiotics prevent bacteria from being released into the bloodstream during a dental procedure and infecting the heart lining and valves. However, most recently, both the American Heart Association and the American Dental Association have limited their recommendation of a pre-procedure antibiotic to high-risk patients (including those with an artificial heart valve, heart-transplant patients with valve problems, and patients with specific congenital heart conditions). Routine use of antibiotics for dental patients with joint implants is no longer recommended.
If you are concerned about exposure to radiation for dental x-rays, you should know that a routine exam, which includes four bitewing x-rays, is equivalent to less than one day of natural background radiation or a short plane trip (1-2 hours). By properly shielding patients' bodies while taking x-rays, that radiation exposure is even lower. New patients are encouraged to get posterior "bitewings," which include molars and premolars, plus more extensive x-rays, such as panoramic (which create a single image of the entire mouth including upper and lower jaws) or periapical (which highlight two and three teeth at a time, from root to crown). After that, patients at low risk for decay can get bitewings every 24 to 36 months.
While the dentist's primary objective is to preserve teeth, some conditions and circumstances dictate that a tooth must be extracted. Causes include infection, crowding, and impaction. Whatever the reason, for a simple extraction, the area is numbed with a local anesthetic beforehand. After the extraction, the initial healing period typically takes one to two weeks. Within the first 24 hours, there may be some swelling and residual bleeding. It is important not to dislodge the blood clot that forms on the extraction site, which is necessary to promote healing. Occasionally, this clot can break down, leaving what is known as a "dry socket," which may lead to discomfort while the socket is repaired through a secondary healing process.
P.S. An "impacted" tooth is one which fails to erupt. Wisdom teeth are often impacted.
New research suggests that not all tooth decay needs to be treated with the traditional "drill and fill" approach. Studies now reveals that it takes an average of four to eight years for decay to progress from a tooth's outer layer (enamel) to the inner layer (dentin). In the meantime, if decay is detected early enough, the affected tooth may be treated with preventive oral care that may avert the need for drilling and filling. This no-drill approach involves the application of high-concentration fluoride varnish to surfaces showing signs of early decay. With conscientious home brushing and avoidance of decay-causing foods, this treatment can help strengthen enamel and even reverse decay. This approach requires strong commitment by the patient.
A comprehensive dental exam goes far beyond looking for signs of tooth decay. It's also necessary to take a complete medical history to alert the dentist to health conditions and/or medications that may affect future oral health and dental treatments. The dentist or hygienist will want to assess the health of the gums as well, by measuring the depth of periodontal pockets, plaque/calculus buildup, and inflammation. This is important because gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. In addition, it's important to look for signs of mouth and throat cancer, as well as other suspicious growths and cysts that a dentist may be first to spot.
P.S. A comprehensive dental exam includes assessments of tooth positioning; tooth loss; signs of tooth grinding and jaw clenching (which can lead to headaches, tooth erosion, and TMJ disorders); and signs of how previous dental work is holding up.