Dental Health and Prevention
Dental Health and Prevention
Maintaining good oral health is a key contributor to overall health. Your oral health contributes to your smile, facial appearance, ability to chew and eat food, speak, among other functions. Regular brushing and flossing are key to keeping teeth clean of food debris, and the bacteria that feed on them. Advise we recommend when brushing your teeth is to be thoughtful and thorough; imagine if you were washing your dishes and were absent minded while doing it, you would probably miss areas and the final result would not necessarily be really clean (leaving stuff for the germs that cause cavities to feed on). After a thorough, thoughtful brushing of your teeth, flossing between the teeth will help to remove debris that the tooth brush was not able to access. Be thoughtful with flossing – like brushing – seeking to clean as much of the un-brushed area as possible.
Diet is a very significant contributor to dental conditions, especially caries. Foods high in simple sugars (think sweet and sugary ‘junk’ foods) and sticky foods provide nutrients to germs living in the mouth that themselves eat these food debris, consequently causing dental decay. Avoiding sweets, snacking, sweet drinks – especially pop and energy drinks, along with brushing following meals are some of the best ways to address the problems caused through diet. Abuse of tobacco products can cause a number of dental problems; we advise abstinence or moderation in using tobacco products.
There are a number of dental products that you may find helpful, these range from water picks, mouthwashes, flossing devices, xylitol, etc. We are happy to address your questions with these products. In the clinic we offer sealants and fluoride to facilitate in preventing cavity formation.
In most cases your body wants to heal itself, if provided the opportunity. It is important to understand the decay process if one wants to fight it. Decay is often the product of demineralization and cavity-causing germs, both of these factors must be addressed for dental healing.
Cavity causing germs. These are the first things that have to be addressed for dental healing. These germs are the main culprits of dental decay. If you have these germs, they will eat the leftover pieces of your meal that is left on your teeth. Sugar is a favorite food of these germs. They eat the sugar, and excrete an acid waste product afterward. This acid waste they excrete wears down on the outer layer of the teeth, creating small cracks for the bacteria to work in deeper and form a cavity.
Some of the ways to address these cavity causing germs are first, to eat a diet that is low in sugary, processed foods. By eliminating the germs favorite food, they aren’t able to produce their destructive waste. A second method of addressing these germs is brushing and flossing. This activity will clean the food that sticks to the tooth off, thus eliminating some of the germs food. Brushing and flossing will also remove the germs themselves, by removing their ‘plaque’ structures. When brushing and flossing, it is good to be thoughtful and consider if all of the areas of the teeth and gums have been covered. This will ensure the food they eat is removed, and as many hidden germs are removed as possible. Good diet, brushing, and flossing can go a long way toward keeping teeth well and helping them to heal.
Xylitol sugar is a substance that can help maintain healthy teeth, or assist with the remineralization of teeth by obstructing the destructive process of the cavity causing germs. Xylitol sugar works by slowing these germs down because Xylitol is larger and more complex than most sugars. The germs are eager to eat the xylitol sugar (much as they are to eat a simple table sugar). However, when the germs are digesting the Xylitol, the size and complexity of this sugar make them harder to break down. This challenge can severely hamper the ability to survive of the cavity causing germs, thus causing them to starve. Other more benign germs take their place. Recent research suggests Xylitol may have a positive effect on the acidity of the mouth environment, and play a role in remineralization. Xylitol is available in granular sugar or chewing gums at many grocery stores.
Fluoride can be applied to the surfaces of teeth. When applied, microscopic amounts of fluoride are absorbed and integrated into the teeth. This helps to make the tooth more resistant to demineralization. Fluoride treatment is available at our office.
Good diet is a big part of overall health and an attractive smile. Inside the mouth is an environment, just like a forest or lake. The health of this environment is best promoted with foods and drinks that don’t greatly disrupt the pH (acidity) or fill it with sugary food that is used by the cavity causing germs. One of the greatest assaults that can be put on a tooth is the drinking of soda pop or energy drinks. These are very acidic and cause demineralization of the tooth, thus making the teeth more susceptible to decay. These drinks are often very high in sugar, which is the main food source of the cavity causing germs. Avoidance of snacking is a significant part of a good diet as snacking interferes with the teeth’s opportunity to rematerialize between meals. A plant based diet, with minimal processed foods, is best for optimal dental and physical health.
Regular dental visits and appropriate treatments, along with the lifestyle modifications listed above can have a very positive impact on overall dental health and healing of teeth which have previously been damaged.