The Five Most Important Tools to Have in Your Medicine Cabinet to Ensure a Healthy Smile

It’s no secret that taking good care of your teeth is essential to keeping them healthy and maintaining an attractive smile. However, poor oral hygiene and inconsistent dental care can result in many more severe health problems beyond the deterioration of your teeth. 

 

Since digestion begins with chewing your food and thereby reducing it to smaller bits and pieces, if your teeth become decayed or weakened from improper maintenance, chewing becomes more difficult, placing a far more significant burden on your stomach to break down the food you eat. With your stomach having double the digestive workload, it will struggle and eventually fail to adequately convert the food you eat into the nutrients and other compounds essential to getting the vitamins, minerals, and other resources your body needs. 

 

The result is a cascading effect and, if not rectified, could lead to more serious health problems like an infection that can spread to the jaw, head, and neck, and even turn into sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

 

While it is crucial to keep your teeth healthy and see your dentist on a regular basis, there is a lot you can do at home to maintain good oral hygiene. Here are the top five most important tools to have in your medicine cabinet to safeguard your smile’s health.

 

  1. Your Toothbrush

 

While it might seem obvious, brushing your teeth is essential and should be done first thing when you awake, as a multitude of cavity- and plaque-producing bacteria have been growing in your mouth since your saliva hasn’t been active while you’ve been sleeping.

 

How long should you brush? The standard recommendation is to brush for two minutes twice a day, ideally when you awake and again before bed, to minimize bacteria growth while you sleep. However, it would be best if you brushed your teeth after every meal, too, and especially after drinking red wine, since it stains teeth more than nearly any other beverage. 

 

Of course, using the right toothbrush is also critical to achieving the most satisfactory results. It would be best to use a toothbrush with scientifically-designed contours that aren’t too big for your mouth, which will enable you to brush most effectively, allowing you to get into all of the tight areas inside your mouth. Electric toothbrushes are great as well; just make sure to use a slow setting so you won’t damage your tooth enamel. Also, selecting a toothbrush with softer bristles will let you brush your gums comfortably, which significantly helps to prevent gum disease. 

 

It is important as well to consider how you brush your teeth. Place your toothbrush at approximately a 45° angle in relation to your gums, then gently move your toothbrush in short strokes back and forth, up and down, and in small circles, making sure to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth. 

 

  1. Your Toothpaste

 

There are many different kinds of toothpaste on the market, and some are better than others. Many include mint flavoring added as a breath freshener; however, be sure to avoid any that contain sugar, artificial colors, and other unnecessary ingredients. 

 

Generally, it’s best to look for a toothpaste with fluoride, as it can help remineralize your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Baking soda-based toothpaste is also good because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and there are a wide variety of specialized toothpaste options for those with sensitive teeth, too. If you drink coffee, tea, or red wine, you might consider a toothpaste with added teeth whitening features, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

 

  1. Your Floss 

 

Brushing your teeth with the right toothpaste is great for removing stains, bacteria, plaque, and other unwanted elements from the surface of your teeth, but brushing the front, back, and crown of your teeth does little to reach the other 40% of your total tooth surfaces — the spaces in between your teeth. 

 

Food particles, plaque, and bacteria left to rot in your interdental spaces can eventually cause tooth decay. The way to clean that bothersome 40% is by using dental floss to clean in between your teeth at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, but ideally also in the morning after breakfast. 

 

The best floss to use is waxed or Teflon, which allows you to get into all of those tight spaces and lowers the risk of your floss shredding and tearing while you’re using it. 

If you have trouble using traditional string floss, you can use a dental harp or flossette to clean between tooth surfaces quickly and easily. 

 

  1. Your Tongue Cleaner

 

Since your tongue tends to host an abundance of oral bacteria, keeping it clean won’t just improve your overall oral health, but help your breath stay nice and fresh as well. One way to disinfect your tongue is to brush it with your toothbrush once you’ve finished brushing your teeth. Another way is by using a tongue scraper, which is a dental tool specifically designed to help you clear away the bacteria that collects on your tongue. 

 

  1. Your Mouthwash

 

The foregoing are fantastic ways to keep your teeth, tongue, and breath fresh, clean, and healthy, but there is one more thing to consider: mouthwash. While it’s not an acceptable substitute for daily brushing and flossing, the use of a minty mouthwash is an excellent final step to add to your daily oral self-care. 

 

The two primary types of mouthwash are over-the-counter and prescription. Each significantly helps to reduce plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, and bad breath. The prescription version is generally more aggressive, while the over-the-counter brands, flavors, and types include everything from being alcohol-free, less-stinging, and extra-minty. Some even offer teeth whitening and longer-lasting freshness. The choice is yours to make. 

 

Unless directed by a dentist, children younger than 6 years old shouldn’t use over-the-counter mouthwash, as they may be tempted to swallow it. 

 

Using a mouthwash:

  • kills bacteria in your mouth, 
  • rinses away any little leftover bits of food that may remain on your teeth or gums, and,
  • leaves your mouth and breath feeling and smelling fresh.

 

With these five items in your medicine cabinet, you are well on the way to attaining and maintaining a healthy smile! To learn more about how to get the most out of your home-care oral hygiene, and to discuss any issue with your oral health, contact Oral Surgery DC for a consultation today (https://oralsurgerydc.com/contact/).

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Almost half of all adults over 30 will experience some level of gum disease, or periodontitis, in their lifetime. Globally, it’s estimated to affect nearly half of the world’s population. The good news is, periodontitis has few long-term side effects if detected and treated early. However, if you ignore the signs of gum disease and fail to seek treatment, it can have severe implications, including tooth loss.

 

Here’s what you should know about the causes and risks of gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is a serious infection in the gums. The build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene, creates an environment where bad bacteria thrive. That bacteria, along with the “good” bacteria your immune system releases to fight them, will over time break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

 

Healthy gums feel firm and are snug around the teeth, while someone with gum disease will notice puffiness, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, pus, loose teeth, tooth loss, discomfort when chewing, pockets around the teeth, and receding gums. If you have any of these symptoms, you might be suffering from gum disease. 

 

Gum disease is easily diagnosed by a dentist or dental hygienist, and so is gum inflammation, which we call gingivitis. Gingivitis is a precursor to severe gum disease and is considered the mildest form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about how gingivitis begins and how it can advance into periodontitis if not treated properly. 

Causes of Gum Disease

The biggest cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing often enough, which leads to the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and food particles. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep plaque at a minimum, but poor dental hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque (and the bacteria it contains), which leads to the gum inflammation and bleeding associated with gingivitis. 

 

If you don’t brush, floss, and rinse for some period of time, plaque starts to build up on the surface of your teeth, releasing acid that damages the outer shell known as enamel. This marks the beginning of tooth decay. In these early stages, plaque can be easily removed and gingivitis is easily reversible with consistent brushing and flossing. If left unchecked, however, gingivitis will begin to turn into periodontitis. 

 

In just 72 hours, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which is a hard layer that will begin to grow along your gum line. Tartar makes it impossible to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums unless it is scraped away by a dentist. The build-up of plaque and tarter starts to worsen a person’s dental hygiene, inflame the gums, and eventually pull the gum and bone away from the teeth.

 

With gum disease, pockets start to form between the teeth and gums, which opens the door to more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. As gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. That’s how gum disease leads to loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Reversing Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontitis are easily prevented with proper dental hygiene. Gingivitis is also easily reversible, so if you begin to notice some mild inflammation and bleeding, you probably just need to start brushing and flossing better. Check in with your dentist and they’ll let you know if you’re experiencing gingivitis and what you can do to treat it.

 

With that in mind, while gingivitis can often be reversed by merely improving dental hygiene, periodontitis is not so easily reversible. Treating periodontitis also requires improved dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing alone cannot remove the hard layers of tartar that begin to form at the gum line. Advanced gum disease will also cause pockets in the gums and these pockets must be cleaned out with special scaling tools. 

 

If you think you have periodontitis, you should schedule an appointment. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning of your teeth in order to clean the visible tooth surface and go below the gum line to clean out any pockets. For someone who has severe periodontitis that has led to the destruction of bone or soft tissue, or the loss of teeth, seeing an oral surgeon is the best option.

How an Oral Surgeon Can Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.

 

If you’re suffering from periodontitis and it has led to the loss of soft tissue, bone, or teeth, an oral surgeon can help restore your healthy smile and your confidence. In our next article, we’ll explore all of the methods and techniques used in oral surgery to successfully restore the smiles of those who have suffered from periodontitis. 

 

At our clinic, we employ the latest technology and tools to speed recovery and restore oral health for patience experiencing periodontitis. If you have questions about gum disease or the best treatment path for you, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.