Category: General Tooth Care Info

Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
Baby Tooth Loss: What to Expect
MH_eruption_primary

via The American Dental Association

Children typically begin getting loose teeth in between ages 6 and 7. When the first tooth starts to wiggle, it marks your child’s first steps on a long journey. The last adult teeth (wisdom teeth) usually arrive anywhere from 17 to 21. This means for a decade and a half, growing, losing old teeth, and maintaining a clean mouth is very crucial. This will facilitate the transition from a child’s mouth to teeth they will (hopefully!) have forever.

New teeth growing in and old teeth falling out means that a lot of drastic changes will be taking place inside your child’s mouth, even if it is spread out over a few years. To reduce chances of infection and decay, be sure to be adamant about them keeping up on brushings, flossing, and dental appointments.

There are 20 baby teeth that arrive in totality typically by age 3, and remain for roughly two years. Age 5-6 is the prime age a child will discover their first loose tooth. If this occurs before age 5, this is nothing to worry about, as some kids are just early bloomers. However, if teeth continue to loosen and fall out at this age, consult a dentist to ensure there is nothing wrong. Most children will have lost all by age 12, but once again, this age is not indefinite.

The last teeth to arrive are the third molars, also called wisdom teeth. While these to not arrive typically until late teens, these may have to be surgically removed depending on how they affect surrounding areas.

The prospect of losing this many teeth in a few years can seem scary to a child; especially one that is very sensitive or does not like change. The best thing to do is ensure them that it is a totally normal thing (and although they won’t remember teething, it is not really more painful than that!). The good news is that, because children all begin losing teeth at around the same age, they will be having the same tooth loss-experiences with their peers and be able to swap stories; making the experience feel that much more normal. 

Baby teeth fall out typically in the same order they grew in. This usually begins with the bottom front teeth and then move on to the top front. The general rule of thumb is that roughly every 6 months, 4 teeth erupt to the surface of the gums.

It is recommended however that you or your child does not FORCE a tooth out before it is ready. While a baby tooth being knocked out isn’t the worst thing that can happen (as an adult tooth will eventually grow in its place), it can expose sensitive tissue which can get infected. Definitely encourage wiggling and moving the tooth around, as this will slowly relax the tissue around it and enable the tooth growing behind to glide gently into its place.

So give up old tricks try tying dental floss to a tooth and a door! Be patient, wait for the tooth to loosen enough to where the adult tooth is just beginning to emerge. This will make the transition faster and smoother.

What to Do Immediately After a Dental Emergency
What to Do Immediately After a Dental Emergency
unnamed

Download our app on Apple OR Android!

Uh-oh!

Many parents will have to deal with some kind of oral injury with their kids at some point. Teeth can cause quite a bit of pain if they are damaged, and are sometimes knocked out by accident!

Did you know that The Kidds Place has an mobile app? On the app is a feature specifically designed for dental emergencies and will notify one of our pediatric dentists right away! Simply take a picture of the problem and upload it via the app. Take a moment to describe the issue and you won’t have to wait until the next business day to hear back.

Here are tools you can utilize once the problem is identified before you notify a dental care professional.

Toothache –

Clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If face is swollen apply cold compresses. Take the child to a dentist.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip, or Cheek –

Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take child to hospital emergency room.

Knocked Out Permanent/Adult Tooth –

Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth but DO NOT clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is solid and undamaged, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient’s saliva or milk. The tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth. The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

What Age Should a Child Start Flossing?
What Age Should a Child Start Flossing?

Do you remember the age you started flossing?

Do you still struggle, as an adult, to floss daily?

The truth is, some of our longest-lasting habits begin at a young age. Small tasks like combing our hair or tying our shoes begin in the earliest years, long before we’ve fully developed the strength in our hands to master them.

For children, these serve as mile markers on their road to independence, as they should: learning these basic skills are those which they will use the rest of their life. Anyone who has kids knows celebrating these baby steps of development can be really special to watch unfold. Everyone has their firsts, right?

What to Look For

Kids usually have all of their baby teeth by the time they are two years old. As their mouths grow, change, and new teeth begin arriving, the space in between closes up. Experts suggest that teeth come closer together anywhere between 2 to 6 years old; basically the time between a child gets all their teeth, and the age they typically begin losing them to larger, adult teeth.

When your child’s teeth look like they’re touching, this is the time to instill the habit of flossing. Tight spaces can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which is a place a toothbrush simply cannot reach. 

By age 2, it is recommended that a child has seen a dentist at least once. So if you are unsure about beginning to floss, ask your pediatric dentist at your child’s next appointment and they will be able to tell you when the time is right. Again, every child is different.

How to Start

Depending on how old, they may insist trying to floss on their own. But remember, even if they are almost 6 or so, they will not have the full strength and dexterity in their hands to floss properly until they are at least 10.

Establish habits, and establish them early. You can do this by setting a good example and showing your child the proper technique before you do it to them.
flossing concept
Start by taking a generous amount of floss (roughly 18 inches), and hold it at either end with both hands. Then, wrap your finger around towards the center, until there is about an inch of floss remaining. This is what you will use in between the teeth. Every few teeth or so, unwrap and re-wrap the floss so that the inch is at a different place in the floss.

Gently glide in between each tooth using back-and-forth motions. Make sure your child sees this, so they know not to simply just plunge the floss deep into the gums (ouch!)

Old Habits Die Hard

Once this is developed, it can become a part of a child’s routine, and they can become quicker at it so it is not seen as an incredibly time-consuming chore. If this is the case, flossing will be done less and less and become a thing of the past. This means bloody gums at their next dental appointment (more ouch!) and flossing will be that much harder to get back into.

Set a good example, and teach your child to floss every day. It will be a skill they will carry with them the rest of their life!

Ten 30-Minute (Healthy) Recipes for Busy Moms
Ten 30-Minute (Healthy) Recipes for Busy Moms

 

Whether you have 1 child or 5, every mom knows: there is so much value to a simple and fast meal that isn’t McDonald’s!. Here are some yummy and healthy entrees (that can be modified for the picky eater in your house) for you and your family!

10 Meals in 30 Minutes or less:

Pull-Apart Ham & Cheese Sliders via Buzzfeed

enhanced-28394-1455822718-1-300x300

You will need:
1 package Hawaiian sweet rolls, sheet of 12 rolls left intact (not pulled apart)
8 slices deli ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
9 pickle slices (optional)
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

  2. Remove 3 buns on one end and cut the remaining 3×3 sheet of sweet rolls in half lengthwise. Arrange the bottom half into a square baking pan. Layer evenly with ham slices, then Swiss cheese, then pickles (optional). Cover with the top half of the sweet rolls.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and mustard, stirring until evenly mixed. Pour the butter mixture all over the top of the sandwiches. Bake for 20 minutes until the sweet rolls are golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into individual sandwiches. Delish!

    Recipe by Alvin Zhou

 

Healthy, Quick & Easy Chicken Chicken Avocado via Gimme Delicious

The title says it all! Just because a meal can be made quickly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice nutrition!

You will need:
Quick-and-Easy-Chicken-Burritos-with-Sour-cream-Cilantro-Sauce-8-300x2002 cups cooked shredded chicken
½ cup Mexican cheese blend ( or mozzarella)
1 avocado diced
2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
4 large tortillas
1 tablespoon oil
Instructions:

Mix the shredded chicken, cheese, cilantro, and the diced avocados.
Lay a tortilla flat on a plate and add ¼ of the mixture, form a roll. repeat the process for all four tortillas.
pour 1 tablespoon oil into a heated pan or griddle. Place all four tortillas on the pan and cook for 2 minutes on medium- high heat. Flip on the other side and cook for another minutes or until the the burritos are golden in color. Serve warm.
Burritos can be frozen cooked or uncooked for up to 3 months.

Bon Appetit!

Creamy 4-Cheese Spaghetti via Yellow Bliss Road 

Because sometimes adults need their Mac-n-Cheese fix… and the kids will love it too!

Creamy-Spaghetti-10-200x300

You will need:

8 ounces spaghetti, uncooked
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup freshly shredded Mozzarella
½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
½ cup freshly shredded Romano Cheese
2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
⅔ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:

Boil salted water in a 3-quart pot. Add spaghetti and cook for about 7-8 minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.


In a 10-12 inch saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir, cooking for about a minute.


Add spaghetti, 1 cup of pasta water, cream cheese and heavy cream to the skillet. Bring to a boil and add shredded cheeses. Stir constantly until cheeses are melted and pasta is completely coated; about a minute. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir until sauce is thickened and reduced; about 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Serve hot, and garnish with more fresh parsley and some fresh grated Parmesan, if desired.

YUM!


20 Minute Cashew Chicken via Chef Savvy

You will need:

super-easy-20-minute-cashew-chicken-245x300

1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized cubes
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon oil
4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
green onions for garnish, if desired
sesame seeds for garnish, if desired

 

Directions:

Add chicken and cornstarch to a large ziplock bag and toss to coat the chicken.
Heat a large skillet or wok.
Add in cashews and saute until golden brown. Remove from pan.
Add oil to the same pan.
Add in chicken and sauté for 3-4 minutes to brown the chicken on the outside (the chicken will continue to cook in the sauce).
While the chicken is cooking add soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil and hoisin sauce to a medium bowl.
Add the sauce to the chicken and stir frequently. The sauce will thicken up pretty quickly. Add in red bell pepper and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.
Stir in cashews and serve immediately with green onions and sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.



15-Minute Easy Margherita Flatbread Pizza via Let the Baking Begin
Quick and easy. Remember that you don’t need every single topping – and add your own if desired (or if that’s all you have in your refrigerator!)

Ingredients:

MargheritaFlatbreadPizzaCaprese_4-200x3001 naan bread (pita bread works too)
3 pieces of sliced to 1/3- 1/2 inch thickness fresh mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced as thin as possible
5-6 leaves basil
3 cloves garlic, pressed;  or 1 tsp dry garlic powder
1.5 Tbsp Olive oil
1.5 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Press fresh garlic and mix with oil.


Brush the flatbread with oil & garlic with half the mixture. Place in preheated to 350F oven for 5 minutes to crisp up.


Remove from oven and place 3 slices of cheese on top of the flatbread, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then place thinly sliced tomatoes on top and repeat with a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes, plus extra 2-3 minutes on broil. Watch the bread closely, if it’s too dark before 2-3 minutes remove it from the oven immediately.


Meanwhile mix the remaining oil & garlic with the balsamic vinegar, stirring until a smooth emulsion forms.


Chop the basil leaves.


Once flatbread pizza is baked and the edges are golden in color, remove from the oven, drizzle with however much of the balsamic vinegar mixture you would like, sprinkle with basil leaves, slice and serve and enjoy!


Easy Lo Mein

The easiest Lo Mein to make – in 15 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients:lomein-200x300
8 ounces lo mein egg noodles*  Coupons
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup snow peas
3 cups baby spinach


For the sauce:

2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste

 

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and Sriracha; set aside.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to package instructions; drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in snow peas and spinach until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
Stir in egg noodles and soy sauce mixture, and gently toss to combine.
Serve immediately. Voila!

 

Buffalo Style Pork Chops via The Iron You

Ingredients:
(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons butterBuffalo-Style-Pork-Chops-225x300
3 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
4 (½ to ¾-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (about 10oz each)
4 thin slices mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Season each pork chop with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet (I like to use my cast iron skillet but any will do) over medium-high heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and stir to combine.
Add pork chops and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Remove from the heat and transfer the pork chops along with the juices to a baking sheet (or leave is the cast iron skillet if you’re using one). Top each pork chop with remaining hot sauce and a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Place under the broiler on high for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
Serve hot!


Skinny Sweet & Spicy Salmon via Skinny Mom

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 salmon fillet


Ingredients:grid-cell-29198-1429891372-19-200x300

Four, 4-ounce fresh salmon fillets
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Optional*:
2 cups cooked brown rice
*Optional ingredients are not included in the nutritional calculations.

 

Instructions:

In a shallow dish, combine honey and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and lightly brush onto each salmon fillet, flesh side up.
In another shallow dish, combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin to make the dry rub. Using your hands, rub mixture onto the flesh sides of the salmon fillets.
Heat a large iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add salmon fillets skin side down and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. (If you have a splatter guard, I recommend placing it on top at this time.)
Pan-sear salmon for 7 minutes, flip and fry for an additional 1-2 minutes or until center reads 145º F. (Cooking times might vary depending on the thickness of each fillet.) Remove from heat and serve each fillet on(optional) ½ cup brown rice.

 

Rosemary Citrus Shrimp Tacos via Melanie Makes

INGREDIENTSrosemary-citrus-shrimp-tacos-4a-200x300
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and tails removed
12.4 ounces Robert Rothschild Farm Rosemary Citrus & Pepper Sauce
8 flour tortillas
8-1/2 ounces fresh cole slaw mix
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 avocado, sliced

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook for two minutes until pink.
Flip shrimp and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until shrimp is pink and flesh is opaque.
Stir in 1 cup of Rosemary Citrus & Pepper Sauce and warm through. Remove from heat.
Assemble tacos by topping a tortilla with coleslaw, pepper strips, avocado slices and shrimp.
Top with additional Rosemary Citrus & Pepper Sauce, if desired.

 

20 Minute Skillet Chicken Fajitas via The Iron You

Ingredients:
Serves 4
1 lb / 453 gr chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or parsley)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fine grain saltSkillet-Chicken-Fajitas-4-207x300, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Juice of half lime
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced thin

 

Directions:

In a large bowl combine chicken, cilantro, oregano, chili powder, sweet paprika, cumin, garlic, and salt. Toss until chicken is coated and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the peppers in a single layer. Try to get them a little charred underneath before you move them around. Once they’ve begun to brown, add sliced onion, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Wait again for some color to develop before you move them.
When peppers are nicely charred in spots and onions have softened and sweetened, scrape mixture onto a plate to clear the skillet.
Return skillet to the burner and heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
When sizzling, spread chicken strips in as much of a single layer as you can. Wait until they brown underneath to move them. Saute’ strips, regularly pausing so that they can get some color, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Add pepper mixture to the skillet along with the lime juice.
Heat again until everything is sizzling.
Sprinkle with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve immediately.

 

What Are Dental Sealants?
What Are Dental Sealants?

According to the American Dental Association, 4 out of 5 cavities occur in the many crevices of our molars. This can be predominant in children as they are not as experienced in cleaning their teeth.

The grooved areas are what are known as “fissures”, and since most of our predominant chewing is done by our back molars, that means bacteria, food, and plaque build-up often occur in these areas. In adult teeth, the fissures are deeper than baby molars. When particles become trapped, they can accumulate bacteria and ultimately break down a child’s enamel, forming a cavity. 

Because some of these cracks are so minuscule, they may be difficult to reach by way of traditional brushing due to bristles not being thin enough or strong enough. 

Sealants are a protective, clear coating that protects these fissures from decay. As adult molars begin to erupt (usually at ages 6 and 12, but the time frame can vary) these sealants can be added to a child’s tooth prevent cavities from forming. They are applied by first cleaning a tooth using a rotating brush, and then rinsed with water. The tooth is then dried, so the sealant can adhere to the surface of the tooth. Once it is placed, the substance is then dried with a special curing light which causes it to set as a hard varnish. Then viola! The tooth can now be used normally for chewing. While it is not common, adults are known to have this procedure done for preventative measures as well. 

Invented in the 1970s, sealants have been known to be fairly effective. The average life span for a sealant is 5-10 years and can be re-applied if necessary. As long as the covering remains intact, it stays effective for the child and into adulthood as well. If a sealant is broken or becomes loose, it should be removed immediately by a dentist so that the procedure can be redone. Quick and painless, you cannot really go wrong with sealants!

Wisdom for Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom for Wisdom Teeth

So named due to the time known for starting to gain “wisdom” (late teens, early 20s), wisdom teeth are a third set of usually 4 molars that appear behind the six and twelve-year old molars. Many children begin experiencing the signs of early wisdom teeth forming, which is why at times this can be a topic of discussion and concern even at a pediatric dentist level. Thirty percent of people are born without them, and not everybody has exactly four –  in rare cases, some only receive two, or three, and some even get five or six.

Most children do not have to be bothered with wisdom teeth until adulthood, but those who are ahead of the “growth curve”, (perhaps lost most of their baby teeth very early) have been known see signs of complete development as young as 14. Wisdom teeth extraction is usually performed when there is impaction, or the x-rays show the teeth coming in will be problematic.  Usually the x-rays from your routine dental exam act as a good indicator of if and when an oral surgeon should be seen.

Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tightness of teeth, gum tenderness behind molars, slight jaw pain or pressure in other teeth, and of course, teeth breaking through the surface. Partial eruption is when the wisdom tooth begins to break through the gums. Thankfully, if the teeth appear to be growing in straight, then they can be extracted the same way a normal tooth would be. However if they are impacted (growing in crooked), they will begin to affect their surrounding teeth. If this remains untreated for an extended period of time it can lead to sores, then infection, and sometimes decay. That is why early wisdom teeth extraction often for preventative reasons.

Ask your child’s dentist if there is an oral surgeon he or she would recommend. They can vary in uniqueness and different methodologies. Most patients require nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and local anesthesia, but some surgeons have the qualifications and authorization to sedate patients if the procedure is deemed more severe. For those with already intense anxiety at the dentist, an oral sedative (usually Valium) may be prescribed to the patient for added comfort.
Cheerful dentist is standing and looking at the camera with joy. He is wearing medical eyewear and a mask. Copy space in left side
Every mouth is different and will entail maneuverings specific to the situation. The surgeon will typically meet with the patient (and in the case of a minor, their parents as well) prior to the operation to go over exactly what the plan of action is, using x-rays as a form of reference if necessary. This will allow the patient to be well-informed about pre-extraction protocol, and will also give the surgeon the benefit to know about any accommodations that they might need. Oftentimes the doctor will require a parent, loved one, or good friend to be present at the appointment to understand the methods which to look after the patient post-extraction.  

After the wisdom teeth have been removed, there are certain things to expect the 24 hours following. Replace moist, clean gauze every 45 minutes over the empty tooth sockets until bleeding stops. Moist tea bags may also be effective as the natural tannic acids in tea can help the blood clot. If necessary, alternate ice packs on either side of the face in 10 minute increments to reduce swelling.

For pain, it is recommended to use Tylenol, or Ibuprofen (which is also an anti-inflammatory). It is not uncommon that heavier pain killers are prescribed by the surgeon in advance. Oftentimes antibiotics are also given to the patient if there is any pre-existing infection in the gums. Make sure solid food is not consumed the first few days. As for teeth brushing, avoid the teeth around the sutures for 24 hours and then resume brushing, but very gently.

Ask anyone who has had it, dry socket is the worst. This occurs when the scab formed over the extraction becomes dislodged; exposing the jaw and sensitive nerves. This can cause intense pain for 5 to 6 days. It can be prevented by not drinking through a straw and not swishing liquid around in the mouth. If this occurs, contact your oral health care provider.

Most individuals in their life will have to deal with their wisdom teeth at some point. With any luck, these extra molars will grow in straight and not require extraction. Some oral healthcare professionals believe in acting sooner rather than later if the need arises. The x-rays taken at your child’s regular oral check-ups will be a good indication to your dentist as to when would be a good time to see an oral surgeon – even if your child is only in their teens! Keep an eye out for those emerging little friends… and in the meantime, do not forget to floss between your back molars!

PC: Coronation Dental Specialty Group

 

 

How Does My Dental Health Affect the Rest of My Body?
How Does My Dental Health Affect the Rest of My Body?

When taking care of our mouths (and our children’s!) it is important to understand how having a healthy mouth contributes to one’s overall quality of life. Good diet and exercise are vital ingredients to a strong body; in the same way brushing and flossing are a recipe to secure a lifelong smile.

Gums have absorption qualities that our skin does not. This is why when chewing tobacco is placed in the inside of the cheek or lip, the nicotine is absorbed through the gums and into the bloodstream, making it addictive. What many people do not realize is anything that remains inside the mouth has the potential to be absorbed into our blood, even if it is not swallowed. Harmful bacteria left behind from plaque and gingivitis is often culprit of infiltrating our blood and causing a lot of problems. This is why periodontitis (gum disease) and cardiovascular (heart) disease are directly correlated. Plaque between the teeth builds up to the point of being absorbed by gums causing infection and inflammation. This can cause hardening of the arteries or even infection in the lining of the heart itself, which is called endocarditis. Not good!

Because we breathe through our noses and mouths, oral health affects respiratory health too! Just imagine breathing in microscopic particles of decay-causing bacteria directly into your lungs over a long period of time! Pneumonia can be developed from continual exposure to harmful bacteria.

In some cases, gingivitis and later periodontal disease are known to cause dementia and Alzheimer’s. Harmful bacteria can be received by the nerve receptors in the head as they travel through the bloodstream. It is also for this reason that gum disease can affect your blood sugar and people with diabetes as well.

Despite the fact that these ailments are primarily found in the elderly, it goes to show that you will never stop taking care of your teeth! A tooth is the only mechanism in the body that cannot heal itself! If anything, as our bodies start to deteriorate as we age, we must be relentless in the care of our mouths – it is our source of speech and communication, receives most of our nutrients (through eating), and enables breathing far more than the nose.

As you can see, mouths are a unique part of our body because they are responsible for so much. Our main orifice and also the most exposed – the mouth requires a meticulous grooming that is entirely its own. Medicine has come so far in 2016 that practicing doctors hundreds of years ago would have never imagined. Although, even the cultures considered more primitive in ancient times had some concept of the importance of oral care.

It is therefore universal that the care of the oral cavity is caring for the entire well-being of the body. Who knew that ignoring dental problems could create such problems down the road? You may never have considered how paramount keeping regular dentist visits and developing a proper daily dental hygiene regimen could be. Save your smile – save your life!

The Oily Truth
The Oily Truth

As of late, many home-based Millennial blogs have exploded with the implementation of an age-old remedy into a dental hygiene routine known as oil-pulling. Albeit probably several thousands of years old and originally from an Ayurvedic Indian technique, the idea was not brought to the Western world until the early 21st century. In 2008, Bruce Fife, author and certified nutritionist, wrote “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing”. From there the concept grew steadily and gained quite a following. The trend made a comeback in 2014, where many female millennial bloggers (like a domino effect) brought it forth into the modern eye once more.

After it was discovered to have some viable testimonies, oil-pulling quickly became a well-known sensation.

How Do You Do It?

The idea is to take 1-2 tablespoons of unrefined organic coconut, sesame, or olive oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Many regular “pullers” like to spend this time answering emails, folding laundry, or showering – basically any 20-something minute activity that involves no speaking. When finished, one spits into a trash can and then continues their daily oral regimen as normal (brushing and flossing). The objective is to rinse the mouth of plaque similar to what a mouthwash will do – but instead of disinfecting the surface areas of the mouth with alcohol and harsh chemicals, toxins are supposedly “pulled” and plaque is loosened from the teeth and gums (NEVER recommended for kids).

Testified Benefits vs. Science

Because every mouth and oral health history can drastically differ from one person to the next, these “cures” are not one-size fits all, nor have all been verified by clinical studies. Here are some reported (not proven) health betterments from oil-pulling advocates representing all walks of life.

  • Natural teeth whitener
  • Strengthens gums/teeth/jaw (stronger jaw muscles can be attributed to the amount of mouth-movement it requires to swish that long every day)
  • Hangover and migraine cure
  • Helps with tooth grinding/tooth sensitivity
  • Improves halitosis or bad breath
  • Prevents cavities/tooth decay (sadly there is not much you can do to cure cavities other than having them removed by a dentist)
  • Detoxifies
  • Alleviates mouth pain
  • Balances hormones
  • Clears up acne & even eczema on the scalp

The list goes on and on! Yet the truth is that less than half of these healing properties can be traced back to any scientific data. As there are so many different factors that could interfere with studying the oil-pulling effects on the rest of the body (diet, body weight, uncontrolled environments, family medical history, etc), really the only way to reduce variables is to test that which takes place inside the mouth. Many of us would like to believe that fitting an additional 20 minutes into our daily routine could be a cure-all to nearly every aspect of our physical problems. While it generally would not be, any medical professional will tell you regardless that oral health and overall health are directly linked. Every life-threatening disease has an oral symptom or origin. For example, individuals with heart disease more often than not have some level of gum disease. Therefore, if oil-pulling has obvious oral benefits, it is only logical that there would be additional outward benefits.

Young beautiful brunette woman using mouthwash at her bathroom

Although not typically dentist recommended, controlled scientific studies have reassured us that, unless swallowed, oil-pulling is not harmful in any way. Swallowing oil permeated with bacteria can be known to cause upset stomach and diarrhea. In incredibly rare cases, when small amounts of oil are inhaled by mistake, it can cause lipoid pneumonia (one of the main reasons it is not recommended for children).

Mouthwash, (which much of society uses daily) is advertised as being able to eliminate 99% of germs – that includes the good germs, too! An organic oil can swish out enamel-eroding bacteria but enable healthy bacteria to live. Therefore coconut or sesame oil can be arguably a better alternative to mouthwash. In addition, it can remove plaque because of the intense pushing of fluids around in the mouth, and this can lead to visibly whitened teeth and most certainly reduce chance of cavities.

If oil-pulling works for an individual, and perhaps has more remedial effects outside of the mouth, more power to them! Again, just because it has never been proven that oil-pulling can or cannot improve any one aspect of oral health, does not mean it can’t. The practice should always be accompanied by brushing and flossing and never used by itself as a treatment. Built-up plaque is the cause of most dental problems, so eliminating this is half the battle. Doing so can have enormous oral and therefore bodily health benefits, regardless of how you choose to do it.

What IS Gingivitis?

Did you know that every 3 out of 4 Americans experience a form of gum disease in their lifetime? Gingivitis, the most common, is a condition that encompasses the very early stages of a more severe gum disease or periodontitis. It is most quickly recognized by bleeding when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis is the number one cause of bloody gums, and should not be ignored as it is not a “normal” thing. Perfectly treatable early on, it can lead to a more serious condition (periodontitis) if neglected.

What Causes It?

Plaque is essentially a hardened film that develops on teeth, formed by bacteria. Plaque grows wherever bacteria is not being removed; which means if you do not floss, you are not getting rid of the bacteria in between your teeth!

Did you know that a toothbrush only reaches 2/3 of our mouths? That means, if a person never flosses, one third of their mouth never gets clean! Gross!

The plaque that grows between teeth release toxins into the gums which can cause an infection to develop. The infection spreads into the gums, making them red and tender. This means if you brush a little too hard one day, or floss for the first time in awhile, it can cause an instant abrasion in the gums, causing them to bleed.

Gingivitis is very prominent in children as they are still developing healthy oral hygiene habits. They are notorious for cutting corners in their daily brushing regimen. Typically children also have more of a taste for sweets. Sugar turns to acid, acid turns to plaque, and plaque seeps into the gums, causing the infection. Children and young teens are also at risk because rapid hormone changes are known to be linked to gum disease. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is also more common with little ones, which can worsen gingivitis and is hard on the enamel and overall teeth in general. All things to be considered; that children are constantly growing and developing and that taking care of their teeth at a young age will do them favors and save them a lot of trouble later in life.

Preventionmother and daughter brush my teeth

If your kids start to see that “pink in the sink”, definitely help them out! There is a statement among experts that say children do not have the proper dexterity in their hands to brush their teeth until they can tie their shoes all by themselves. Therefore it is recommended you brush your child’s teeth for them up until the hand strength and precision is developed. Small flossers are also useful to assist you with flossing and it will also teach them to do it on their own. Flossing is probably the number one thing you can do to prevent gingivitis from happening in between the gums. Be a good role model and take care of your own mouth too. This means brushing twice daily for at least two minutes, and flossing and rinsing once daily.

 

If your child’s gingivitis condition is more severe, it may be a good idea to arrange for them to start going to a pediatric dentist, as they have more experience with little mouths and have 2-3 years more schooling than regular dentists. Teach them young, and take care of their teeth now so they do not have problems with their adult teeth later! 

Why We Grind Our Teeth: A Lifesaving Mechanism?

Bruxism

Mouth grinding is a habit that occurs during deep sleep, meaning many may be unaware that they even do it. Usually it takes a spouse or a loved one of someone that grinds their teeth to be able to notice it in the night. Also known as bruxism, this is a condition that can go unnoticed for long periods of time and is more common in children than adults.

Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tooth pain, jaw soreness or clicking, molars appearing to be worn flat, enamel wear, and headaches.

Chances are a dentist will be able to perform an examination to tell whether grinding is occurring. It is reported that over 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth; yet it was not until recent years that doctors have actually discovered why.

It used to be a common misconception to link bruxism to stress or anger in the same context as we feel it during the day. Naturally, it can be a natural human response to consciously clench our teeth when we are mad or feeling intensely about something; and while this can happen while we sleep, it is found to actually be more than likely linked to what is called “obstructive sleep apnea”: a disorder that cuts off breathing for anywhere from 10-30 seconds during sleep.

How it Happens

While we sleep, we drift in and out of REM and NREM cycles. These stand for “Rapid Eye Movement” and “Non Rapid Eye Movement” which represent the depth of the levels of which the mind and body rest. As our sleep and rest deepens, all of our muscles relax completely. This includes the neck, jaw, mouth, and tongue. Now, when all of these muscles are completely slack it can actually block the opening of the trachea, closing off our airways!

To counteract this, the body is brilliantly designed to begin grinding. Why? Clenching the jaw is our body’s natural response because it tenses up muscles just enough to clear whatever is preventing air from freely passing through. When the muscles tighten, it reopens the airway!

The sudden obstruction, grinding, and then release unfortunately pulls us out of that deep sleep cycle and into the first stage of NREM (the lightest sleep), disrupting the cycle without the person perhaps even realizing it.

Despite the negativity surrounding bruxism, it is true that is could very well be preventing this form of sleep apnea and allowing air to pass through to the lungs even in the deepest sleep.

Mouth guards might seem like the best solution but in truth can actually make breathing more difficult. It would treat the symptom (teeth grinding) but it would not solve the initial problem.

Sleep apnea is often found to be more prominent in:

  • People with anxiety and depression
  • Children with ADHD and other learning disabilities
  • Children and adults who did not breastfeed as infants for very long or at all
1460577505_d9d6ba48c3_b

PC: Randen Pederson

Solutions

If your teeth grinding is becoming more of an issue, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. When REM occurs, it is in the stages of the night where our skin and brain cells are replenished, our HGH (human growth hormone) is released, it boosts memory, and helps us burn fat. Sleep apnea disrupts this cycle which can lead to weight gain, heart disease and stroke. Children with sleep apnea were reported to struggle with hyperactivity, lack of focus, issues communicating, trouble adjusting to new environments, and in general received lower grades. Remember, just because you are getting an 8-10 hour rest does not always mean that this it is a wholesome, uninterrupted sleep. The good news is that most children outgrow their sleep apnea as well as their grinding, leaving little to no lasting damage on their teeth.

In a recent study, patients were given a CPAP machine (a treatment often used in severe cases of sleep apnea) or an oral device used to adjust placement in the mouth to make breathing easier. Not only did their sleep apnea stop, but so did the bruxism. Check for signs of your children grinding their teeth – chances are if it is a regular occurrence, they are not getting the sleep they need.

While grinding our teeth could be saving your life every night, it can have a long-term effect on one’s overall health. If you are concerned your child may have obstructive sleep apnea, or you yourself have it and you are concerned about your long-term health, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about steps you can take towards treatment.  If the grinding persists and there is a legitimate concern about worn-down enamel, talk to your dentist about a safe mouth guard he or she would recommend.