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!
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.
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!
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!
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)
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
We have all been in this situation: we are deep in a discussion with a friend, family member, co-worker, etc, and a ghastly smell wafts from their mouth. Once the smell is detected, it is hard to continue the conversation! Bad breath plagues on average 65% of Americans. For the individual in question it can be a truly embarrassing condition, and even create a fear of speaking aloud if there are no breath mints or chewing gum on hand.
In general, all bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth that is not properly removed. To contrast this idea, a similar bodily process can be found in sweat. Sweating is our body’s way of cooling us off and releasing toxins. However, when sweat is not washed off properly by bathing, it can begin to smell, and become what is known as “B.O.” or “body odor”. Inside our mouths, salivating has a similar purpose. Saliva glands in our mouths are used to wash away bacteria and continually replenish the mouth. Yet when proper oral hygiene is neglected, bacteria can flourish and the mouth can produce a nasty odor.
The Three Types of Bad Breath
1. Eating Those Potent Foods
The most obvious type of bad breath is the type that is completely situational, and that is whenever we eat something with a strong taste. Foods like garlic, onions, coffee, and certain spice-laden meals can seemingly cling to every inch of our mouths after eating them.
Luckily, a quick rinse with mouthwash or a teeth brushing can eliminate these odors fairly quickly after the fact.
2. Morning Breath
Nearly everyone has it, especially if you can be hasty in your nightly dental routine or forget to brush entirely. One of the best ways to prevent morning breath is to scrape your tongue before bed. Most bacteria that breeds overnight when the mouth is closed for up to 8 hours, and overall oral bacteria in general, can be found on the tongue. Another tip is to swish coconut oil before bed. It sounds strange, but this is actually an ancient practice known as oil pulling.
For about 15-20 minutes, swish around a tablespoon of organic pressed coconut oil and do not swallow it! It is said to “catch” bacteria and toxins in a disposable trap more effectively than an alcohol based mouthwash. For real life testimonies and the exact science, research oil pulling online. You will be astounded!
Lastly, the peskiest form of bad breath is known as Halitosis; a chronic condition that is persistent despite brushing and flossing. The cause can be trickier to locate, as there are many possibilities. If you are brushing and flossing consistently and it is not making a difference, chances are it is a problem you may have to consult a dentist about. Chronic bad breath can usually be traced back to two very broad categories: poor dental hygiene (at some point in your life), poor diet – and sometimes, both. When your daily oral regimen (brushing flossing, and rinsing) is not totally thorough on a regular basis (like remembering to brush, yet never flossing), it can lead to all kinds of dysfunction in the mouth that needs to be treated by a dentist: gum disease, cavity, tooth decay – all of which can be prevented. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates, sugary and carbonated drinks, as well as habitual tobacco use can be the cause of most oral ailments especially when made a practice. In fact, most people that use tobacco products daily have bad breath, and if they do not have oral health issues now, chances are they will later in life! Remember to moderate your alcohol, soda, and tobacco use to only special occasions.
A healthy diet and lifestyle benefits your whole body, which includes your mouth. If you believe you may have halitosis, consult your dentist and they will be able to locate certain stages of decay or gum disease. They can also give you tips to improve your habits and specific diet changes you can make.
Overall, remember to visit your dentist twice a year, and to brush twice daily – because breath mints won’t always cut it!
By the ages 10-13 years old, most of a child’s baby teeth have fallen out. When the new ones grow in, they may not be ideally spaced or aligned. Whether they be for practical or cosmetic reasons, many adolescents and their parents choose to invest in braces for a child’s future smile. The need can be genetic, caused by inheriting bite or spacing problems. Sometimes it can be due to prolonged thumb sucking habits, poor nutrition, or decay. Depending on the severity of the need, your dentist may be able to recognize the early signs of a need for braces, the most common being:
- Irregular loss of baby teeth
- Chewing or biting difficulties
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
From this point, the matter is out of the dentist’s hands and he or she may recommend your child see an orthodontist. If these signs are ignored, they can very likely cause problems later on. These could include crowded teeth, an over or underbite, and even jaw problems. The “best age” is different for every child, but it usually falls somewhere between ages 8-14. Sometimes a parent or child may choose to schedule an orthodontist appointment if they notice crookedness that may not necessarily be causing dysfunction in the mouth but they choose to correct the problem for cosmetic reasons. If this is the case, the orthodontist will be able to determine when it is best to begin the treatment, and whether or not it can wait if it is a minor correction. In some situations, teeth can shift over time as the mouth grows to a place where the problem is not as visible.
The 4 Types of Braces
Metal or Traditional Braces
These are the most commonly seen braces in teenagers and even adults. Over the years, different designs have been developed to reduce the amount of metal used, making it less bulky, less noticeable, and more comfortable sitting inside the mouth. While they still remain the most noticeable type of braces, they are the cheapest.
Designed very similarly to metal braces, but they have clear or tooth-colored brackets and even wires used to blend into the mouth. Despite this convenience, they can stain easily if not properly cared for and are more expensive than traditional braces.
Lingual braces are metal braces but in reverse. They attach to the teeth from the inside rather than the outside. While not directly visible, they can be uncomfortable and very difficult to clean. They do not function well for more severe cases of misalignment but are used for more cosmetic fixes. They are also more expensive.
Clear plastic similar to a mouth guard, but for alignment purposes. They are replaced every two weeks for gradual but smooth transitions. Again, Invisalign is not recommended for severe cases. They are nearly invisible and do not restrict any food or drink. Available to teens and adults only, they remain the most expensive braces option, as well as the longest in duration.
For whatever reason you decide to invest in a beautiful smile, do NOT ever purchase “Do It Yourself” braces online and attempt to use them! These can do lasting damage and can even cause the extraction of permanent teeth which cannot be replaced! You are much better off going to a licensed orthodontist. Most are flexible and offer convenient payment plans so that a straight and happy smile is not out of reach.
Mouthwash can be one of the most refreshing steps of a daily routine. It removes excess bacteria, strengthens enamel, whitens teeth, and provides instant fresh breath. Mouthwash is the step in a dental oral hygiene regimen that can provide extra protection beyond brushing and flossing. At the Kidd’s Place, we specialize in being able to recognize the different needs presented with kids’ teeth. Here are some things you need to know about your kids using mouthwash.
Fluoride is a mineral commonly used to strengthen teeth and to prevent cavities from forming. It is primarily found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even most water systems in the U.S.! However, it is not recommended that a child uses fluoride toothpaste regularly until after age 2 (except for a small smear on their toothbrush), and mouthwash until after age 6. This is due to the risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis is something that can happen in the process of children’s teeth developing. It occurs when there is an overexposure to fluoride. It can cause the outer texture of the tooth to become bumpy, or white or brown spots to appear on the teeth. While fluorosis only causes issues in appearance and can be easily prevented, it can be difficult to remove.
Knowing When the Time is Right
Despite mouthwash not being recommended until age 6, every child is different. That being said, age 6 is just about the time adult teeth are starting to come in and certain baby teeth are beginning to loosen. When introducing a child to mouthwash for the first time, it is most important that they have the self-control and awareness to not swallow it automatically as they would a beverage.
To know whether a child is ready to use mouthwash without swallowing, there is a simple test: using a cup of water by the sink, ask the child to swish it around in their mouth and to spit it out. If they are able to do this without swallowing, then they will most likely be able to do it with mouthwash. Make sure it is used after brushing and flossing. It is not recommended to allow children ages 6-12 use mouthwash unattended.
For additional practice, try supervising your child in the form of a game. Use a mouthwash recommended for children that does not have that strong or harsh taste. With a stopwatch in hand, say “Go!” and time your child for exactly a minute as they swish and rinse. Feel free to cheer them on and have fun with it. When it reaches a minute yell “Stop!” and have them spit. This is excellent practice that engages parents and kids and allows them to adjust to the sensation of swishing.
Mouthwash & Braces
For young teens, braces can be immensely time-consuming when cleaning. Mouthwash is an excellent tool because it can reach places that plaque can build up that is perhaps difficult to reach with floss or a toothbrush alone. It can also loosen very small bits of food that can get lodged in the braces. This does not mean flossing or brushing should ever be neglected; mouthwash is meant as an additional cleaning agent and should not be used exclusively on its own for cleaning, especially since braces present such an opportunity for bacteria and plaque to flourish.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mouthwash
For adults and kids alike, mouthwash is designed to boost the effects of brushing twice daily, and flossing once daily. Talk to your child’s dentist whether a fluoride mouthwash is something that should be introduced to his or her oral hygiene regimen. Most dentists will even have a specific brand or type they would recommend. Instilling these habits early on can ensure a lifelong healthy smile!
Do you long for beautiful, pearly white teeth? Personal habits such as coffee drinking or tobacco use can cause discoloration over time. It’s no wonder that teeth whitening agents have become so popular. This can be a procedure performed by a professional, or as simple as using whitening strips at home. However, have you ever experienced pain while using them?
Most of us have probably heard some not-so-great, or downright scary stories about teeth whitening! However, despite popular misconception, most whitening products have not been deemed officially dangerous by professionals. Regardless, people with sensitive teeth should use caution. It has been reported that the chemicals in teeth whitening products can be harmful if left on for too long. This is because agents such as chlorine dioxide can wear down tooth enamel in the process of removing stains. This causes the nerve to be more exposed; which leads to heightened sensitivity and ultimately pain. While enamel can be reinforced with calcium agents in our diet and certain enamel toothpastes, a tooth remains the only part of the body that cannot fully repair itself.
This may go without saying, but teeth whitening agents are never recommended for little ones and kids who still have baby teeth (12 and under). As adult teeth tend to discolor over the decades, baby teeth should have no problem sparkling as long as they are taken care of! If you have found that your child’s chompers are looking a bit off-color, chances are they are not disciplined in taking care of their teeth by brushing twice and flossing daily. Permanent correction such as whitening should only be conducted with permanent teeth.
Chemical-Free Ways to Whiten Teeth
- The dentist: sometimes all you need is a good deep-clean! Your twice yearly dental visit can clear off build-up of plaque in certain areas and polish teeth in ways department store toothpaste cannot. After your dentist visits, really make sure to be strict about flossing and rinsing daily and see if you notice a difference long-term. For an even stronger effect using this process, purchase whitening mouthwash, used to brighten teeth (not recommended for children!)
- Oil-pulling: an ancient practice, beneficial in countless ways; one of them being teeth whitening! Using organic coconut oil, swish a tablespoon in your mouth for 20 minutes a day. This is a chemical-free way for layers of plaque to be broken down as oils have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It also acts as a trap to pull and collect bacteria. (Don’t have 20 minutes? Try it while in the shower or answering emails. It goes by very quickly!)
- Sugar-free gum with xylitol: chewing gum increases saliva production which cleanses your teeth of bacteria. As we clench down, it can also get those hard-to-reach places, a bit like flossing does.
- An apple a day: a cliche that is nevertheless true! Apples can be beneficial to our teeth as well, because their flesh fibers can act as little toothbrushes in our mouths, washing away plaque and brightening teeth. Research also shows that celery has a similar effect.
One last note:
If you have sensitive teeth and are hesitant about using a whitening product, and have attempted these home remedies to no avail, discuss options with your dentist. There may be a particular product he or she would recommend that would be best for your teeth and your level of staining. Dentists know best!