August 6, 2018
You’ve been doing it since you were a kid. (Hopefully.) But…are you doing it right? Let’s talk. First of all, why are you brushing? Obviously to get rid of the build up, but it’s a little more involved. Once you know the why, the how will make more sense.
Yes, we want to get rid of build up but also bacteria, lots of it: the kind that causes bad breath, the kind that causes cavities, and the kind that causes gum disease. And these bacteria live everywhere: on your teeth, gums, tongue, the roof of your mouth, and even under your tongue.
Let’s start with the bacteria that causes cavities. That bacteria releases acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth in the presence of sugar. Your enamel becomes soft, which is how a cavity starts. Your diet, which may also include food or beverages that are acidic, are furthering this bacteria’s cause because they lower the pH in your mouth. When the pH is low in your mouth, that means it’s an acidic environment, and now we know what happens when your teeth are bathed in such an environment- they are cavity prone. So when you brush, you are using toothpaste to clean the plaque off, increase the pH in your mouth, and remove the bacteria.
Let’s move on to bacteria that causes gum disease and inflammation in your gums. In the presence of inflammation, your gums become angry and present as swollen or puffy, red instead of pink, and they bleed. When you floss your teeth and you notice blood, if you are healthy systemically then your gums are inflamed.
Take a full 2 minutes at least to brush your teeth with a soft to medium soft tooth brush, and be like Goldilocks- use a medium pressure that’s soft enough so you’re not wearing your enamel away (yes, you can wear your enamel away if you scrub too hard) but not so soft that you’re not removing the build up. Apply medium pressure in circular motions on the back, front and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Then, angle the toothbrush into the gum line, gently massaging your gums to remove bacteria and buildup that’s adhering to the gum line. Sometimes it’s hard to reach in the back, so take extra care to maneuver your brush back there, and ensure the area where your tooth meets your gums is extra squeaky clean.
Now, take your toothbrush and place it all the way up on the gums. Swipe the bristles of your toothbrush across the gums from back to front in all quadrants, and then swipe underneath your tongue on both sides. Next, brush your tongue in a scrubbing motion to release the food debris and bacteria that’s nestled around the taste buds. Use that same scrubbing motion on the roof of your mouth. Bet you never thought to brush that before!
The key is that when you brush your whole mouth, you remove all different kinds of bacteria that’s trapped on all the different surfaces and crevices in your mouth. Once you do this, you will feel so good, you’ll wonder how you never did it before. Happy brushing!
July 30, 2018
I saw this sign when I was riding the NYC subway a few years back. It’s always stuck with me because it’s an advertisement that tells it like it is. There’s no sugar coating. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes: “WARNING: CROOKED TEETH CAN HOLD YOU BACK. A better smile may mean a better job, better relationships, and a better life all around.” Truly I see this on a daily basis. What’s the first thing you look at when you meet someone for the first time? What’s the first thing you look at when you see yourself in pictures? The mirror?
Let’s expand our discussion to include not just crooked teeth, but stained teeth, missing teeth, holes in our teeth, gaps in our teeth, bleeding gums, even your breath. If you don’t feel good about your smile- they way it looks and the way it feels- it will affect every part of your life: your physical health, and your mental and emotional health. You may not smile because you’re concerned about people judging you, or you don’t like the way you look. And in turn, this affects your confidence, the way you carry yourself, and ultimately how you feel about yourself. You may not be motivated to apply for that position you’ve been wanting, or you’re scared to reach out to that really cute guy or girl because what if they reject you?
You’re better than that. You have one life and one body to take care of. Make the choice to straighten your teeth, have them cleaned, have them whitened, get them healthy. Your teeth are a great place to start because you can see immediate results, which is always gratifying and motivates you to continue to make other positive decisions. Healthy body, healthy mind. Whatever you want, it’s yours for the taking.
July 24, 2018
As a general dentist, it’s my job to educate patients on how to take care of their oral health. Most patients expect us to evaluate just their teeth and gums, but it’s critical to evaluate the soft tissue, the tongue and lips as well. Oral cancer is very real and can be very sneaky, so early detection is key. In its early and even later stages stages, you cannot feel it. It’s much more common than patients realize, and it’s imperative that everyone has an oral cancer screening yearly. Typically men are affected 6 times more than women. As the average age has historically been around 60 at time of diagnosis, this number is rapidly declining. It’s not necessarily an “old age cancer” anymore, so all of us have to take active measures every year for prevention.
While we do oral cancer screenings visually and with palpation, we also use a special blue light called a VELscope which uses fluorescence to highlight mucosal abnormalities. The ultimate gold standard for diagnosis is always a surgical biopsy, but this technology is a solid and non-invasive adjunct to early detection. The procedure is fast, easy, and is a regular part of your hygiene exam.
Risk factors that contribute to oral cancer include genetics, alcohol, tobacco use, and HPV. What can you do to prevent it? Make sure that you wear sunscreen on your face as well as your lips! Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco. Minimize alcohol consumption. If you use mouthwash, ensure that it is alcohol-free. HPV vaccines have been shown to be effective, so discuss with your physicians when to properly vaccinate your children.
As if you needed another reason to come visit @yourfavoritedentist, let’s add this to your list. Life is precious so let us keep you healthy and living your best life!
April 27, 2017
Dentists: Making the world a better place, one smile at a time.