The Dental Health Details
At Tory Hill Dental, our philosophy is that education, compassion, and proven, effective treatment are the mainstays to helping our patients maintain optimum dental health.
Dr. Miedema prides herself on treating each and every person as she would treat her own family. She is always learning new technologies to incorporate into the practice to continually improve patient care.
Here are five little-known facts about dental health for you to advance your learning too!
Your Toothbrush Impacts Your Oral Health
In their lifetime, the average American will have spent the equivalent of 38.5 days brushing their teeth.
The average person also only brushes for 45 to 70 seconds—that’s less than half of the recommended time of two to three minutes. Not only that but 25 percent of adults do not brush their teeth twice a day as recommended, increasing their chances of tooth decay by as much as 33 percent!
Brushing twice a day for the recommended two minutes in gentle, sweeping motions helps to effectively remove plaque and food particle build-up. Plaque, when left on the surface, begins to harden into tartar—a substance only your dentist can remove during routine cleanings. Tartar buildup irritates the gums which will cause them to recede and begin to form pockets. These newly formed pockets are easy targets for food and tartar to find their way into, build up, and cause further irritation and, eventually, infection—this is how gum disease, or periodontitis, begins.
Statistically, more people use blue toothbrushes than red ones. But no matter which color you choose, you should be changing your toothbrush every three months—if you have a healthy mouth that is. Those with gum disease should be changing their toothbrush every four to six weeks. And those who have fallen ill with the flu, cold or other viral infection need to replace their toothbrush when they are well again.
Fluoride’s Important Role in Toothpaste and Water
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to prevent cavities by strengthening your tooth’s enamel, its outermost layer, and making it more resistant to acids that cause tooth decay.
These acids are a byproduct of the bacteria in plaque breaking down the sugars and starches that coat the surfaces of your teeth during a meal.
The acids break down the enamel of your teeth by leeching it of the calcium and phosphate minerals that keep it strong. This leaching, called demineralization, leads to your enamel dissolving away over time which leaves your teeth increasingly vulnerable to cavities.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can become a part of the tooth’s enamel layer through frequent exposure through fluoridated water and toothpaste. It strengthens the enamel making it more resistant to demineralization and thus reducing the chance of the decay process beginning.
While the ingredients in each toothpaste tube differs from brand to brand, they all contain the same general components: mild abrasives to remove debris and surface stains, humectants to keep your toothpaste from drying out in the tube, flavoring agents to make it taste pleasant to use, thickening agents to maintain the toothpaste’s formula and detergent which is what makes it foam up.
Whichever toothpaste you prefer, you should make sure that it has the ADA seal on the tube. The ADA is the American Dental Association and a product can only use their seal on their packaging when the product has been scientifically evaluated by independent experts to ensure that they are safe and effective, often being asked to adhere to higher standards than those required by law. Toothpaste cannot have the ADA seal if it does not contain the enamel strengthening mineral fluoride.
Flossing Cleans Where Brushing Can’t
First invented by Levi Spear in 1815, dental floss wasn’t commercially manufactured until 1882. However, it was widely used until the 1940s with the invention of nylon floss, which was stronger and easier to use than the previous silk-made floss.
Today, in North America alone, over 3 million miles of dental floss are purchased each year.
There are two types of floss available on the market: nylon, still a popular choice, and the stronger Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE). Nylon is made up of multiple strands wrapped together while PFTE is just one strand. PFTE’s strength comes from its single strand construction and is an ideal option for those who have tight spaces between their teeth that usually shreds up nylon varieties. For those with larger spaces or suffering from gum disease, dental tape can make flossing easier.
If you skip flossing, you are missing 40 percent of the surface of your teeth. This is why it is so important to floss once each day. It reaches into the areas where a toothbrush can’t remove plaque and food debris. Brush up (pun intended) on how to floss properly with this helpful illustrated tutorial.
Your Tongue Needs Good Oral Hygiene Too
Did you know that the human tongue is as unique as a fingerprint? No two people have the same “tongue print.”
Your tongue is unique but it also benefits from the same oral hygiene habits your teeth and gums do. When brushing your teeth—twice a day, for two minutes—you should also brush your tongue to remove food debris and bacteria that have collected there.
You may even want to invest a few dollars into a tongue scraper for a more thorough cleaning. You might find that your tongue has a thin, white coating on it. This is totally normal and is just a layer of food debris, dead cells, and bacteria. A few gentle passes of a tongue scraper will effectively remove this layer.
One study found that tongue scraping significantly reduced the occurrence of streptococci mutans and lactobacilli—mouth bacteria known to cause bad breath and dental decay.
Bad Breath Is an Indicator of Poor Health
Bad breath can be a sign of bad dental health. In fact, about 85 percent of people with persistent bad breath have an underlying dental condition that is to blame.
Bad breath can be an indicator of gum disease, plaque build-up, dry mouth, and even diabetes. When bad breath is caused by a dental condition, mouthwash and gum will only mask the problem—and ignoring it can make it worse.
It is important to catch any dental health condition you may have as early as possible before it causes serious harm to your health. For example, gum disease can lead to tissue damage and bone loss in the jaw when left untreated.
Flossing daily and brushing both your teeth and tongue twice a day can help to greatly reduce and possibly even eliminate bad breath. However, it is important to make an appointment here at the office to have your oral health examined so that we can diagnose the cause of your bad breath.