6700 West Gate Blvd, Suite 101 Austin, TX 78745

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Brushing 2.0 – Get Informed!

Thought You Knew Everything About Brushing Your Teeth? Think Again!

by Trey M. Latiolais, D.D.S.

Taken from our blog: www.westgatefamilydental.wordpress.com

Recently, we received a question from a patient, they asked:

“Does it promote cavities (or wear enamel) to eat acidic food like tomatoes and then brush your teeth shortly after?”

SHORT ANSWER: YES!!!

tooth-imageEXPLANATION: This is an interesting question that I feel like will benefit the vast majority of readers that come across it. If you ask most people when the best time to brush their teeth was, the answer you would hear over and over would be “after meals and right before bed.” WRONG. Another common answer would be “after breakfast and before bed”. Again I would argue, you guessed it, WRONG. I know this is hard to believe, because it flies in the face of what the majority of people have either been taught or assumed their entire lives. So when is the RIGHT time to brush your teeth? BEFORE MEALS!! I know this seems backwards, but that is because people either have no understanding or don’t fully grasp two main concepts: A) What causes cavities and even more surprising B) why do we brush in the first place? By answering these two questions first, we’ll be able to better wrap our heads around the logic.

WHAT CAUSES CAVITIES?
Cavities are essentially caused by ACID destruction of tooth structure. Two primary factors contribute to this.
1) Acidic foods and beverages can weaken enamel and dentin. Things like soda and sweet tea are a double whammy since they are both acidic and also feed the bacteria to produce more acid.
2) Certain bacteria, specifically Strep mutans, digest sucrose (sugar) and other fermentable carbohydrates producing acid as a byproduct.

WHY DO WE BRUSH?
Common sense tells us that we should brush to get the food off of our teeth, right? Wrong. We brush our teeth specifically to remove plaque and bacteria from our teeth. Food and debris removal is just an added bonus so we don’t get made fun of for having that little piece of green leafy something stuck on our front tooth…you know what I’m talking about.

SO…….If we brush AFTER meals, our teeth have plaque/bacteria on them when we eat or drink. This means that our teeth are being attacked not only by the natural acidity of what we’re ingesting, but also from the acid produced by the bacteria. It only takes 5 minutes for these bacteria to start creating acid. In contrast, it takes 30 minutes for your body to regulate the acidity caused by these processes back to a neutral environment. By the time you brush your teeth, it’s too late. In addition, if you brush your teeth following this acid exposure (especially with abrasive toothpaste and/or a hard toothbrush), the tooth structure is going to be more susceptible to mechanical abrasion or erosion. If we brush BEFORE meals, the plaque and bacteria are decreased, limiting the amount of acid that can potentially harm our teeth.

SUMMARY: It’s best to brush first thing in the morning BEFORE breakfast and again after work, but BEFORE dinner. It’s still good to brush before bed, but just make sure it has been at least 30 minutes since you last ate or had your favorite carbonated beverage!

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5 Simple Oral Hygiene Tips

Life has become more and more demanding every day and sometimes our oral healthcare takes a backseat as a result. In addition to having your teeth professionally cleaned/examined every 6 months, there are some home care tips that will help you maintain your oral health in between your 6 month checkups. You have to view your oral healthcare as maintenance and for lack of a better analogy you can compare your mouth to your car. Every 3-5000k miles we have our oil/filter changed to help maintain our engines and longevity of our car. In addition to that regularly scheduled maintenance, and driving reasonably we can prolong the longevity of our vehicle’s life far longer than if we didn’t. This plays true in oral healthcare as well. Over time, if you do not have good home care and you forego your regular cleanings/exam, a plethora of issues can occur such as: periodontal disease, bone loss, tooth loss, cavities and costly dentistry. Here are some home care tips that can help you effectively maintain your oral healthcare.

Brushing

Daily brushing is the most important first step anyone can take in achieving healthier oral hygiene. Brushing not only cleans the teeth but if done correctly, it cleans the gums as well. Trying to brush at least 1x day is good, but 3x’s daily is ideal. Brushing after every meal is even better, as you can remove plaque from your teeth and gums created from the food we eat. Also, using an electric toothbrush, any electric toothbrush is a worthy compliment to any brushing regiment. An electric toothbrush is able to do a more thorough job than the human hand and it implements the elliptical motion that is most effective when brushing. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on an electric toothbrush; you can purchase a $10 Crest toothbrush at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Make sure you use a soft or super soft brush head and when brushing let the electric toothbrush do the work. If you are manually brushing your teeth, brush in an elliptical motion (circular) and massage the gums as well as the teeth!

Flossing

Flossing is the most overlooked home care routine; yet the most imperative to your oral healthcare. Flossing is an assistant to your brushing; floss can get down beneath the gums and clean the roots of the tooth where the brush is incapable of accessing. The biggest technique error of flossing for most people is the idea that just flossing between the teeth is the accurate way to floss. This is partially true; flossing in between the teeth is just part of it; when flossing, it is essential to floss on both sides of the teeth and below the gum line as well. This in turns massages the gums, keeps the blood flowing to the tissues, and also removes plaque and debris from below the gum line in turn keeping your bone/tissue healthy and strong which in turn keeps your teeth healthy and strong. Flossing 1 x’s a day is great, flossing 2x’s a day is ideal. Then there is that common complaint of bleeding gums when flossing. Look at flossing like working out. The first time you work out ever, you find yourself sore and tired the next day. Think of flossing as the same thing, the more you floss the more you increase blood flow to the gums and maintain health gum tissue. After a couple for weeks of flossing, you will find that the bleeding will decrease and eventually stop all together.

Oral Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash will also help keep your mouth clean and free of bacteria. Mouth Rinse does not take the place of brushing and flossing your teeth, it simply helps with your oral health by killing bad bacteria inside of your mouth, on your gum tissues and teeth. There are several mouthwashes to choose from; however antiseptic mouthwashes are your best bet.

Drink Water

Believe it or not, drinking water can help with your oral health care. It is possible that you might not be able to brush your teeth after every meal; by drinking water throughout the day you can increase your salivary flow and also wash food particles away from your teeth and gums. This doesn’t take the place of brushing or flossing, but it will certainly help from a preventative standpoint. Not only is water better for your oral health but it is better for your overall health!

Xylitol Gum

If you choose to chew gum, chew sugar free gum with Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener and is dynamically helpful for dental health, by reducing cavities by a third in regular use, and has also been shown to decrease the frequency of acute middle ear infections. “Early studies from Finland in the 1970s found compared to chewing sucrose-flavored gum, Xylitol resulted in nearly two fewer cavities or missing teeth.[15] Cavity-causing bacteria prefer six-carbon sugars or disaccharides, while Xylitol is non-fermentable and cannot be used as an energy source, interfering with bacterial growth and reproduction.”

By taking a few extra steps in sustaining a healthier approach to your oral health care, you can reduce cavities, bone loss and long term oral health problems. By adapting just a few of these tips, you can reinvent a healthier, happier you! And by all means, Smile!!!!


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Do not just brush, brush well!

Everyone understands the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day, but I find that many people underestimate the emphasis of brushing their gums as well. Although you cannot get cavities in your gums, they can harbor and accumulate plaque, thus creating bacteria that cause bad breath and gingivitis.

The most vital part of your gums that need to be brushed is around your teeth. The reason for this specifically is because this is where bacteria have direct access to your bloodstream. When brushing your teeth, point the bristles at a 45° angle towards the gum-line and use small circular motions, while focusing on feeling the bristles on the teeth AND the gums. This will sweep the bristles up underneath the gum-line to effectively remove more plaque. Your gums are living tissues that hold your teeth in place, so don’t forget to brush them well!


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6700 West Gate Blvd
Suite 101 Austin
TX 78745
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