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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.



Who would not want to use a good mouthwash before meeting that special someone for a kiss? Or just to feel minty fresh as you go about your day?

For years there has been a discussion regarding mouthwash use. This is because people are worried about the health risks associated with the alcohol based mouthwashes.

Mouthwash manufacturers have been touting extra benefits of mouthwash besides minty fresh breath. Many tout themselves as washing plaque away, teeth whitening, as well as bacteria killers and as cavity fighters.

Are all these extra benefits possible? Is mouthwash use good for you?………

Advantages of using a Mouthwash

-Fluoride Mouthwashes. Fluoride mouthwashes do have the ability to possibly help reduce cavities. There have been many studies over the years to prove that fluoride can strengthen and reduce the breakdown of enamel thereby reducing the possibility of tooth cavities. This will not work for all but has been proven to be a benefit. Some fluorides are good antibacterials as well and help fight periodontal disease (stannous fluoride).

-Fight Periodontal Disease. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque from bacteria and food that sticks to teeth. As the bacteria feed on the food particles they release acid that will break down the bone and irritate the gum tissue. Our body responds by producing more acids to kill the bacteria. This causes bone loss and inflamed, infected gums. An antibacterial mouthwash may help prevent periodontal disease by lowering the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth.

Listerine Mouthwash - Marielaina Perrone DDS

Listerine Mouthwash

-Help during pregnancy or during a systemic disease process. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene at all times but for certain members of our population it is even more important. For pregnant women it can be critical. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormones are elevated which makes them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease if their oral hygiene is not maintained. Periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to pre term and low weight babies. For others it is a matter of survival. Patients with systemic diseases that make them more susceptible to infection like diabetics need to reduce the bacteria they are ingesting. It is even more critical to maintain good oral hygiene and mouthwashes are definitely recommended for those patients.

Disadvantages of using a Mouthwash

Canker Sore Irritant. This is caused when the alcohol content in your mouthwash is too high. It will irritate the canker sore and make it quite uncomfortable to use.

-Masks bad breath but does not remove the cause. Use of a mouthwash can definitely lead to fresher breath but it is usually quite short lived. Only some mouthwashes are formulated to actually neutralize odor causing chemicals, such as Closys. Not maintaining proper oral hygiene, or chemicals from your diet are usually the underlying factor in most people’s bad breath but the mouthwash will just mask it for a short time.

Alcohol based mouthwash. Studies (Listerine) have shown that rinses with alcohol, if used as directed can actually cause saliva production to be stimulated in a semi dry mouth. The alcohol in mouth rinses has historically been used as a way to cause the essential oils (the bacteria killing aspect) in the rinse to keep from separating out in the liquid, and staying mixed. No one wants to rinse with something oily feeling. There are now quite a few alternatives to alcohol to do the job, so alcohol free rinses have become more prevalent. Many people do not like the burning sensation of alcohol, and in people with little to no saliva flow, alcohol based rinses can be quite uncomfortable. The choice is based on personal preferences.

-Tartar dissolving rinse.There is a type of rinse (Periogen) that has been found to dissolve tartar, stains, and plaque. This rinse is a great way to keep your teeth from rebuilding tartar between cleanings. This is a powder that can be diluted with water in a waterpik and tends to be even more effective if a capful of your fluoride rinse is added to it.

Bottom Line on Mouthwash Use

Bottom line is mouthwashes are an aide and not a substitute for maintaining good oral hygiene. This should include proper brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Mouthwash clearly offers certain advantages. But it’s important to know that not all mouthwash is the same. Saltwater rinses can be made at home with warm water and salt, whereas store-bought types contain a variety of ingredients ranging from fluoride (Act) to alcohol (Listerine) to highly specific antibacterial (Peridex).

In the end, each individual must choose the one that is right for them. For patients with periodontal disease, an antibacterial rinse like Listerine would be recommended to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. For those patients who are cavity prone, a high fluoride mouthwash would be the choice. These mouthwashes only work effectively if paired with a good oral hygiene regimen. Talk to your dentist about which rinse would work best for you.

 

 

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Dental Hygiene Top 10:

1) Brush Properly. Believe it or not there is a wrong way to brush for proper dental hygiene.. It is important to brush after breakfast in the morning to remove plaque and bacteria that have accumulated over night (and from your morning meal) and to brush last thing at night because saliva (which helps to wash the cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up as we sleep. Toothbrushes should come with a small head and very soft bristles. Your dental hygiene all starts with proper brushing.

2) Floss your teeth at least once a day if not more. This will keep plaque from building up. Use dental floss to clean in between the teeth where plaque collects. Floss before you brush to remove any plaque or food particles. It is important to floss regularly because about 90% of cavities occur between teeth. Hold floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers and guide it between your teeth using a gentle sliding action. When the floss reaches where the tooth meets the gum, curve it into a V shape against the tooth and gently slide it up and down between the gum and the tooth, Do Not” Shoeshine” (rubbing floss side to side ) as this motion can cause notching in the root. Repeat for the other side and every tooth. An inter dental brush can be used for larger gaps.

3) Rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash twice a day. Make sure you do not swallow it. Discuss with your dentist which rinse is best for your oral condition and dental hygiene maintenance. Listerine is a great product with many combinations to suit almost every need. It is also one of the only rinses backed by years of scientific research.  The benefits of a mouthwash are that they can reach areas not touched by brushing alone. Rinse twice a day. Once in the morning and last thing at night and always after brushing.

4) Limit your sugary foods to avoid getting tooth cavities. Think about what you are eating. Do you want the best or worst foods for your dental and overall health? If you do choose a sugary or high acid food, chew a sugar free gum or xylitol gum. This will increase salivary flow in your mouth which will get rid of lingering sugar and neutralize acids faster. The bacteria will not cause decay in a clean neutral environment.

Dental hygiene

Dental Hygiene – Fluoride Toothpaste

5) Use a fluoride toothpaste. A fluoride tooth paste will help strengthen your enamel, making it tougher for bacterial acids to break down. Toothpaste also helps control plaque build up and keeps your teeth white and healthy!

6) Electric Toothbrushes. These are recommended by most dentists for their superior performance when compared to old fashioned manual brushing. Electric toothbrushes tend to have small brush heads that cup around the tooth and are faster and more efficient in cleaning areas of the mouth where bacteria and plaque collect. They are great for people who brush aggressively, as they brush for you. They are also easier if you have limited manual dexterity. Many also have a timer so you know you are brushing for the correct amount of time. Using an electric toothbrush will make all your dental hygiene efforts even easier to attain.

7) Eat your vitamins. Maintain a healthy diet to give your teeth and oral tissues (bone and gum tissues) the nutrients they need. Make sure you have enough B vitamins and calcium to keep your teeth strong! This is often overlooked in most dental hygiene programs.

Dry Mouth

Dental Hygiene – Biotene

8) Avoid Dry Mouth. Saliva provides an essential defense against tooth decay and periodontal disease by washing and rinsing the bacteria in the mouth. Patients who experience decreased salivary flow generally have increased dental health problems. Chronic dry mouth or xerostomia could be a side effect to certain medications or a symptom of a systemic disease. Your dentist can recommend several products to combat this problem. The leader in this category is Biotene. Without proper salivary flow or moistness in oral cavity your dental hygiene will suffer.

9) Clean Your Tongue. A major cause of bad breath can actually come from bacteria building up on your tongue with a high percentage of it accumulating at the back, making it hard to reach. Use a proper tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath.

dental hygiene - orabrush

dental hygiene – orabrush

A daily tongue scraping will help remove harmful bacteria. The use of a tongue scraper is more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush. A good example of a tongue scraper for dental hygiene is the orabrush.

10) Change your toothbrush out regularly. Did you know you should change your toothbrush every two to three months for good dental hygiene? If you do not then bacteria will collect on the bristles and you will transfer them back into your mouth. Also over time the bristles will become worn and ineffective. The same rules apply for electric toothbrushes. If your toothbrushes are wearing out before two months then you are probably brushing too harshly. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you the proper way of brushing to maintain proper dental hygiene. Always chose a toothbrush with soft not hard bristles as hard bristles can cause damage to the teeth and your gums.

Follow the steps above along with regular visits to your dentist and you will be on your way to having great dental hygiene.

dental hygiene

Dental Hygiene – Listerine