Taking care of your pearly whites isn't rocket science, but it's easy to slip into habits that could cause heartache—er, toothache— in the long run. We got the latest on giving your teeth the TLC they need from two New York City pros: Alice Lee, DDS, an assistant professor in the Department of Dentistry for Montefiore Health System, and Alison Newgard, DDS, an assistant professor of clinical dentistry at Columbia University College of Dentistry, will clue you in on where you could be going wrong.
Multitasking while you brush
Every minute in the morning feels precious, so it's tempting to brush your teeth in the shower or while scrolling through your
Twitter feed. "To each his own," says Dr. Newgard, "but I prefer patients to be in front of a mirror, over the sink; you can be sure
to hit all the surfaces of your teeth, and you'll do a more thorough job when you're not distracted." Better to leave the bathroom a
few minutes later having given proper attention to each step of your prep.
Overcleaning your toothbrush
Thinking about running your brush through the dishwasher or zapping it in the microwave to disinfect it? Think again: While we've
all seen those stories about toothbrushes harboring gross bacteria, the CDC says there's no evidence that anyone has ever
gotten sick from their own toothbrush. Just give your brush a good rinse with regular old tap water, let it airdry, and store it
upright where it's not touching anyone else's brush. More drastic cleaning measures may damage your brush, the CDC notes,
which defeats its purpose.
Using social media as your dentist
The web is full of weird and (seemingly) wonderful DIY dental tips that can hurt much more than they'll help. Read our lips: Don't
even go there. "I've heard of patients who go on Pinterest and find ways to whiten their teeth there—by swishing with straight
peroxide, for example—which are not good for their teeth," Dr. Newgard says. "Use ADAapproved products that have been
tested." (Another online tip to skip: trying to close up a gap in your teeth with DIY rubber band braces.)
There have been several recent scares about dental xrays, including a 2012 study published in the journal Cancer reporting a
possible link between dental xrays and benign brain tumors. However, the American Cancer Society notes that the study does
not establish that xrays actually cause the tumors, and that some people in the study had xrays years ago, when radiation
exposure from dental xrays was much higher. "Xrays are important because not all conditions can be identified with a visual
exam," says Dr. Lee. "For example, there might be cavities between the teeth, or there might be a cyst or other pathology in the
jaw." If you're concerned about radiation, talk to your dentist about ways to minimize the number of xrays you get.
Storing your wet toothbrush in a travel case
It's important to stow your brush somewhere sanitary before you tuck it into your luggage for a trip—and equally important to set
it free once you unpack. "Bacteria thrives in moist environments," says Dr. Lee. "While you should use a cover or case during
transport, make sure you take your toothbrush out and allow it to air dry when you reach your destination." No standup holder in
your hotel room? If you've got a cup for drinking water, that'll do just fine.
Drinking apple cider vinegar
According to assorted Hollywood celebrities and natural health experts, drinking unfiltered applecider vinegar can have nearmiraculous
effects on your insides. Research doesn't support those claims, but dentists are sure of one thing: The acetic acid in
the vinegar is terrible for your tooth enamel. When it comes downing ACV (as proponents call it), Dr. Newgard says, even a good
rinse with water afterward might not mitigate the quaff's potential damage: "I just think you shouldn't use it at all." (Our
suggestion: Instead of drinking apple cider vinegar straight, try it in a vinaigrette, or use it to soothe sunburn or get chlorine out of
Ditching your retainer
If you once had braces, whether as a teen or as an adult, it's smart to keep wearing your retainer for as long as your orthodontist
recommends—which may mean several nights a week, forever. "A patient will have perfect teeth from braces," Dr. Newgard
says, "and then they won't wear a retainer at night and their teeth will shift and they'll be unhappy all over again." Honor thy
adolescent self, and keep those teeth in line for good. (Got a fixed retainer? Be sure to keep the device clean: "They can be
plaque traps," Dr. Newgard says.)
Brushing right after your morning
Like to start your day with a glass of orange juice—or ohsotrendy lemon water? Brushing right afterward can wear away your
enamel. "The acidic environment weakens the teeth enamel and erosion can occur during this vulnerable period," Dr. Lee says,
"so neutralize your mouth first by drinking milk or water, or rinsing with a baking soda solution—or just waiting 30 minutes." The
same goes for vomiting, Dr. Lee says, since that's acidic, too. (Gross but true!) If you've thrown up, be sure to rinse before
scrubbing out your mouth.
Ignoring your daily (or nightly) grind.
While mild bruxism—that is, clenching your teeth or grinding your jaw—might not seem like a big deal, severe cases can lead to
everything from chipped and worn teeth to headaches, jaw trouble, and even changes in facial appearance. It's hard to know if
you grind your teeth at night if a partner doesn't tip you off, of course, but if you experience telltale signs such as jaw soreness or
a dull, constant headache, make haste to the dentist; he or she can fit you with a mouth guard to protect you from additional
You already know smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. In case you need another reason to quit smoking: Besides the bad
breath and stained teeth, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease
(and the gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss that come with it), according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial
Research. Worse yet, smoking can also lower your chances for successful treatment if you've already got gum disease, since
nicotine compromises your body's ability to fight infection.
Skipping dentist appointments
Hate sitting in the dentist's chair? The very best trick for shortcircuiting anxiety about going to the dentist is—surprise—going to
the dentist. "Most patients who don't like to come in feel that way because when they do, they need a lot of work," Dr. Newgard
says. "If you're in every six months for your checkups, you're less likely to run into problems." Moreover, dentists are beginning to
employ everything from serene, spalike settings to animalassisted therapy (that is, a gentle dog who sits beside you at your
appointment) to alleviate patient discomfort; you can find a dental practice in your comfort zone.
Not drinking enough water
If your part of the country fluoridates its water (find out by visiting the CDC's My Water's Fluoride page), you're in luck: The
simple act of sipping tap water can help strengthen your teeth. (Prefer bottled? Some bottled waters have fluoride, and some
don't; if it's not listed as an ingredient in the one you favor, Dr. Newgard says, it's extraimportant to use toothpaste with fluoride.)
Swishing with and drinking water is also an important way to rinse accumulated sugars and acids from your teeth.
Skimping on calcium and vitamin D
Minerals and vitamins are building blocks for bones and teeth, of course, but they're also key to maintaining their strength and
density as we age—and these two are bones' strongest allies. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, adult women
need 1,0001,200 milligrams of calcium and 4001,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day from food, sunlight (for
vitamin D) and supplements. Consult your GP on your nutrient needs and be sure your teeth and bones are getting the support
Reaching for the wrong mouth rinse
There are as many ways to wash that gunk right outta your mouth as there are types of gunk to have in your mouth. "Cosmetic"
rinses, for example, will merely control bad breath and leave you with a pleasant taste in your mouth. Therapeutic rinses with
ingredients like antimicrobial agents and fluoride, on the other hand, can actually help reduce gingivitis, cavities, plaque, and bad
breath. (Fluoride rinses aren't recommended for children under 6, as they might swallow instead of spitting.)
Source: URL http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/10/06/14-mistakes-youre-making-with-your-teeth/
Monday, 9 February 2015
By Julie Revelant
You know regular brushing, a healthy diet and dental visits are some of the best ways to prevent cavities, yet experts say many parents are falling short when it comes to oral hygiene.
In fact, 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their baby teeth. And 21 percent of children ages 6 to 11 have had them in their permanent teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Here, find out the biggest mistakes dentists say parents are making and learn what you can do to keep your children’s teeth healthy throughout their lifetime.
1. Letting kids brush alone
Since most children don’t have the motor skills to brush effectively until they’re 8 years old, parents need to supervise brushing and check to make sure every surface of each tooth is clean.
“It’s not that they don’t want to do a good job, they’re just not physically capable yet,” said Dr. Edward H. Moody, Jr., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
2. Putting baby to bed with a bottle
It’s the easiest way to cause tooth decay, yet parents are still doing it, experts say. In fact, according to a survey by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 85 percent of parents said it wasn’t a good idea to put their babies to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, yet 20 percent did it anyway.
Whether it’s a bottle at bedtime or a sippy cup all day long, the habit keeps the sugar and bacteria levels in the mouth elevated all the time, Moody said. If your baby wakes up at night for a bottle or to nurse, wipe out her mouth with gauze or a soft cloth or brush if she has teeth.
“If you start early on it becomes part of the normal routine,” he said.
3. Making the first dentist appointment too late
Expert say it’s common to see children 2 or 3 years-old who need to go under general anesthesia to treat cavities and infections. One of the explanations for this is that parents aren’t bringing their babies to the dentist early enough.
The first trip should either be when the first tooth erupts or by your baby’s first birthday. Dental visits every six months from the get-go will also help your child feel comfortable—and even excited—to go every time.
4. Offering “healthy” foods
Bananas, raisins, and whole-grain crackers seem like healthy fare but foods that are sticky and have concentrated sugars like these will sit in the grooves of the teeth and create cavities. Instead of nixing them entirely, eat them with meals— when there’s more saliva— and always brush afterwards, said Dr. Joseph Banker, founder of Creative Dental Care in Westfield, N.J.
5. Thinking cavities are no big deal
You might think treating a cavity is an easy fix, but cavities can affect your child throughout his lifetime. For starters, healthy baby teeth are necessary to maintain space for adult teeth. They help guide the jaw so it can grow.
Plus, if a cavity becomes infected, it can affect the development of the adult teeth and if there’s an abscess, the child will likely need sedation to treat it, Banker said. Cavities at an early age, especially if they’re not treated, can also lead to problems with speech articulation, poor sleep, and even low self-esteem and school performance.
6. Not using fluoride
Last year, the American Dental Association revised its recommendations and now suggests children age 2 and under use fluoride toothpaste, too. Although fluoride is controversial, experts agree that the research is clear: it’s one of the best ways to prevent cavities.
The appropriate dose, however, is key. For children 3 years old and younger, use the equivalent of a grain of rice, and for children 3 to 6 years old, a pea-sized amount is enough. Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about your child’s exposure to fluoride in the water and toothpaste, talk to your dentist.
7. Loading up on sports drinks
A common cause of tooth decay in older kids is sipping on sports drinks and soda at lunch, at games and at home. By bathing their teeth in acid all day, there’s no opportunity for the PH to re-balance, Banker said. If you can’t persuade your child to completely nix it from his diet, encourage him to limit the amount, then drink it and be done with it.