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Tooth decay is an age old problem that has affected generations of children and adults. Tooth decay is preventable, we just need to understand what causes it so that we may then prevent it from occurring.

Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial intrusion into the tooth. The bacteria feed on the buildup of food debris on teeth. The bacteria then secrete acids which breakdown tooth enamel. Once the acid forms a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then enter the tooth and progressively breakdown the tooth, causing a cavity.  Understanding this process is critical to maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Best Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay

-Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene. This is the first step to preventing tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene should include, brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Toothbrushing should be done at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Brushing more often during the day will enhance your dental hygiene. Flossing should be done at least once a day (preferably before bedtime) but it can also be done more often.  The goal in dental hygiene is to not only keep down the amount of debris in the mouth but also to keep the environment from becoming acidic which will allow bacteria to more agressively break down teeth causing tooth decay.

Use of an antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash (such as purple listerine)is often overlooked but is also important. These oral rinses are designed to decrease cavity causing bacteria in the mouth while utilizing fluoride to strengthen enamel against breakdown. If brushing and flossing is done properly, use of an oral rinse should complete the protection against tooth decay.

-Sugarless Gum. Sugarless gum is important because it stimulates salivary flow. The increased saliva in the mouth will help to keep our teeth clean. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria. Choose a sugarless gum with xylitol. Bacteria can not feed on xylitol, because it cannot be metabolized. This helps keep the acid levels lower. Xylitol has also been shown to help remineralize our teeth’s enamel.

-Maintaining Proper Nutrition. Choosing foods and drinks wisely is important to your overall health as well as your dental health. By eating properly, you are able to keep your body as healthy as possible allowing your body to fight off any attack. The best snacks for your dental health include raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Avoiding sugar is not always an option so it is important to minimize the damage. Apples are actually the perfect snack for dental health as they act as a tooth cleaner and whitener. They are able to clean your teeth by the abrasive action of the skin and hard inner surface of the apple, malic acid in the apple helps to remove surface stain and keep teeth whiter. You can actually squueze juice from an apple and mix it with baking soda to brush on and whiten your teeth. So next time you are looking for a midday snack pick up a shiny apple.

-Drink Fluoridated Water. While fluoride is a controversial topic for many. It has been proven time and again to protect our teeth from tooth decay. Fluoridated water is important for children to drink. The fluoride becomes a permanent part of the tooth when it is consumed during tooth development.  Drinking at least 16oz of fluoridated water each day will help prevent tooth decay. Another option is to use a supplemental fluoride prescribed by your dentist.

-Dental Sealants. Many believe dental sealants are just for children but that is not so. If an adult has no tooth decay on the tooth in question nor any previous dental restorations a sealant can be placed and be effective. A dental sealant is designed to cover the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars. This keeps the grooves of our teeth from developing tooth decay. In many of us, these grooves are quite deep and are an inherent weakness in the fight against tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay is preventable with diligent dental hygiene and maintaining regularly scheduled dental visits. Maybe in the future, we can eventually wipe out tooth decay . Until then, we need to follow the steps above to maintain good oral health.

Maintaining good oral and general health requires us to keep the bad bacteria out of our bodies. Many of us have bad habits carried over from childhood that introduce us Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDSto harmful bacteria throughout our days.

The Dirty Dozen

1. Fingernails – Throughout the course of the day, our hands come in contact with a lot of dirty items. It is recommended we wash our hands before we eat and throughout our day to avoid catching colds or the flu. However, even hand washing can miss bacteria that lurks under the fingernails. This bacteria can easily be introduced into the body through the mouth when biting our nails. The best thing to do is to quit the habit, but it you are unable to, try to keep your nails as clean as possible, use a nail brush and pay extra attention to them when washing your hands.

2. Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipes (and tobacco products in general) –  smoking makes the list for the pure danger it is to our oral and overall health. Smoking  brings nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide into our mouths and bodies. Tobacco use is a leading cause in the development of oral cancer.

3. Soda Cans - Who hasn’t wiped a can off with a towel before drinking from it? The answer is, most of us! Think of all the people who handle cans and all of the dirty places a can may have been in, and now take a minute to clean it off before putting your mouth on it.  The top of a can is just a dirty place chock full of bacteria.

4. Pens/Pencils – This is a childhood habit that unfortunately continues into adulthood for many. Kids in school love to play with pens and pencils while at their desk idling away the hours at school. So the pens go from back pack to desk to falling on the floor and into our mouths and they are never cleaned. A good tip is to wipe down pens and pencils with an antibacterial wipe.

5. Double Dipping At A Party, and Birthday Cake - If someone double dips into a dip at a party they are introducing bacteria into the dip. This bacteria will then get passed onto everyone else that samples that dip throughout the evening. Now, think about how most people blow out birthday candles. They are pretty much, spitting all over the cake, especially kids. This will not only contribute to possible foodborne illnesses but also transmission of bacteria from person to person. A suggestion, take a lit candle off the cake and blow it out away from the direction of the cake.

6. Kissing –  The bacteria responsible for periodontal disease and tooth decay is transferrable. Luckily, by the time we are adults we have already been exposed to most of this type of bacteria. Obviously, this will not stop us from kissing our loved ones but be smart and proactive. Avoid kissing someone who is sick with a cough, a runny nose, or poor oral hygiene.

7. Toothbrushes – Studies have found that flushing the toilet can spew bathroom-related bacteria into the air. For this reason, it is a good idea to store your toothbrush in a cabinet, or covered, and far away from the potential contaminants.

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS8. Water Bottle – Keeping healthy also means staying hydrated and drinking plenty of refreshing water. However, if you are using a reusable plastic water bottle you should be aware coliform (example E. coli) bacteria can coat the inside of the plastic bottle if not cleaned properly. Choose a wide-mouthed bottle for easier cleaning and drying, and choose a hard material that won’t get scratched during vigorous cleaning (example stainless steel). Along with regular washing, soak in a solution of bleach and water for two minutes once per week (and rinse and dry completely). As a side note, BPA is released from plastic bottles into the water, especially when the bottle gets heated, such as when left in the hot car or delivery truck. Try drinking from BPA free containers or glass.

9. Sharing Lipstick, Chapstick etc. – Whether it is sharing with friends or trying on a lipstick at the makeup counter. The bacteria, and viral buildup can be immense. Herpes can be transferred easily in this way. It is far safer to try the lipstick sample on the back of your hand to see its color.

10. Bar Snacks – These are notorious for being chock full of bacteria. Hand after hand reaching into the bowl. Many of those hands being unwashed especially after frequent trips to the bathroom. Steer clear of bar snacks unless you see the bartender put a fresh bowl out and you are the first one to indulge.

11. Biting off Tags, and Tearing Open Packages with Teeth - This may seem like an unlikely part of the list but clothing, and other items with tags,  ketchup packets, chip bags, etc. have been handled by many dirty hands. Most of us do not hesitate to put a bacteria ridden ketchup packet between our teeth and rip it open. There are so many items we place into our mouths without ever even thinking about how potentially dirty they could be.

12. Eating Food Off The Floor – Last but certainly not least, do not follow the 3 second rule! Any food that hits the floor should be thrown away. The floor is one of the dirtiest places in any location.

Conclusion

After reading the above list I’m sure you’ll think of quite a few other potentially dirty items that you may have exposed yourself to. Think about your hygiene, and the cleanliness of all items that go in your mouth, and you will keep yourself happier and healthier.

Most people would love a bright, white smile. A smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet or greet us. Did you know there are ways you can achieve this at home during your regular schedule as well as with some help from your dentist?

A smile that is dull and lifeless tends to make us feel less confident about ourselves and in turn makes us look older than we really are to people we meet. Whereas a bright shiny sparkle, gives people a self confidence boost as well as change how people look at them. Studies have shown people with whiter, brighter smiles are almost always percieved by others to be younger than they really are.

Luckily, there are some ways to maintain a white bright smile both on our own as well as with help from your dentist.

Top Tips for a Whiter, Brighter Smile

-Focus on Maintaining Proper Oral Hygiene. It is amazing how little time it takes in our day to keep our teeth brushed, flossed, and rinsed and still many of us do not find the time to do it right. Brushing at least twice a day is recommended (but brushing after every meal is even better!), flossing at least once a day and rinsing with an antibacterial or fluoride rinse. Flossing reaches areas even the best brushers and rinsing cannot ever dare to reach. If a build up of plaque is allowed to go unchecked it will make it easier for stains from foods, red wines, or tobacco to accumulate. A great product to try is Periogen, it removes stains, tartar, and plaque between dental cleanings.

-Keep Away From the Enemy. Avoid or minimize the intake of sugary drinks and foods, especially sticky candies (like gummy bears or fruit roll-ups). Acidic foods (like citrus juices) may appear healthy but are not very good for maintaining a neutral balance in your mouth or for your teeth. High intake of sugar and acids, and repetitive intake of them, can weaken tooth enamel and create an environment for cavity causing bacteria to grow and thrive. This can eventually result in enamel wear, tooth decay and discoloration on the teeth.

There are many foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth. These include red wine, coffee, tea, and sodas. A big no-no if you want to keep your teeth white and bright, is tobacco use. Smoking will yellow your teeth and age you very quickly.

-Change your Diet. Maintaining a healthy mouth is directly connected with keeping your smile as bright and white as possible. You need to start with a balanced diet with certain nutrients to help keep away oral health problems that can take away from a beautiful smile. These problems include, tooth cavities, tooth erosion, and periodontal disease. Some of the best foods for teeth and mouth are foods high in calcium and low in fat. These include milk, cheeses, cruciferous vegetables (these are mainly green leafy vegetables like broccoli), or soy products.

Vitamin C is another very important nutrient that helps maintain strong teeth by working as an antioxidant to repair tissue and prevent disease-causing bacteria from penetrating the gums. The cruciferous veggies (particularly broccoli) will do a double job, since they are rich in both calcium and vitamin C.

Any crunchy fruits and veggies, like apples and carrots, are also good for your teeth. This is because chewing them will increase salivary production which can help protect the teeth from plaque-causing bacteria by breaking down food caught between teeth and rinsing the mouth by neutralizing bad acids.

Drinking lots of water also helps rid your mouth of such bacteria (especially after meals) while also helping to prevent stains and protect your teeth from the harmful effects of acidic foods and beverages. Chewing sugarless gum is another easy way to increase salivary production. The saliva is a natural way to fight acid and keep your teeth looking bright and white.

-Use Makeup to your Advantage. This is mainly for the women but choosing the right shades of makeup can make a big difference to how your teeth look to others.

1) Choose a Color that Contrasts with natural tones.  A punch of red or pink tone on your cheeks and lips stands out from your dazzling smile while beige or orangey shades blend into discolored teeth. Bright orange and yellow toned reds, actually emphasize the yellow tones that can be in your teeth.

2) Choose lipsticks with blue undertone shades (bright pinks and reds). They pick up the reflective edging on your teeth making your smile appear whiter.

3) Experiment with bronzing. Darker complexions can offset white teeth. Sweep bronzer over the high points of your face. These areas include the hairline, bridge of your nose, cheek bones and tip of your chin. Your teeth will receive an instant benefit and appear whiter.

4) Sparkle it up!. Dab an opalescent illuminator on the Cupid’s bow of your mouth. This allows the white luminescence to pick up reflection off your teeth.

5) Save the gold tones for your eyelids and avoid gold tones near your lips or teeth. The shine from gold too closely resembles yellow. This will accentuate stains and make teeth appear darker yellow.

-Teeth Whitening for a Whiter, Brighter Smile. Teeth whitening can be done a few ways. These can include Do It Yourself (DIY) teeth whitening or in office professional teeth whitening.

1) DIY Teeth Whitening. This is a more inexpensive method but can be very effective depending on the individual. This can include, teeth whitening toothpastes and teeth whitening strips. Using the teeth whitening strips and whitening toothpaste in combination can be very effective as the whitening toothpaste removes the out stains and the teeth whitening strips are able to penetrate deeper into the tooth to remove deeper stains.

2) Professional Teeth Whitening. This type of teeth whitening is definitely more expensive but the teeth whitening results are usually much more effective and achieved in a much faster amount of time. The concentration of the teeth whitening agent is much higher when used by a dentist and therefore will get better results in a shorter period of time.

So there you have it, some very effective tips to keep your smile whiter and brighter. A whiter smile will make you feel better about yourself and change the way people look at you. It can open a whole new world for you.