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There are many dental myths floating around the internet that have little to no basis in truth.

MYTH: I should not brush my teeth when my gums bleed.

TRUTH: Normally, when the body has a wound we need to give it time to heal. Usually that means placing a band aid over it so we do not disturb the healing process. The opposite is true of bleeding gums.  Bleeding gums could be a sign of more than just periodontal disease and should be examined by a dentist. Gingival tissue bleeds because of a buildup of plaque and bacteria. The plaque, food particles and bacteria are producing toxins that will eventually destroy the supporting tissues surrounding your teeth. The earliest form of this is called gingivitis and it is reversible. But periodontal disease is a progressive one and it will get worse without proper care. Seeing your dentist regularly will allow you to manage and stop this disease before it can progress further.

MYTH: Placing an aspirin in my mouth next to a toothache can relieve pain.

TRUTH: This is an old at home remedy that has somehow continued to linger. Even ingested orally aspirin will do little for a toothache. It is not powerful enough of an analgesic. But placing it in the mouth against the oral tissues is a recipe for disaster.

The only safe and effective way to take an aspirin tabs to swallow it. The aspirin then gets absorbed into your body through your digestion. It then enters your bloodstream and travels throughout your body. Aspirin works by stopping the production of prostaglandins.Prostaglandins transmit pain messages from the injured part of your body to your brain. This reduces pain felt in the body. Also placing the aspirin directly on the gums or lips can cause an acidic burn to the oral tissues.

MYTH: By eating more sugar, you will get more cavities.

TRUTH: Many of us can remember our parents or grandparents telling us not to eat too much sugar or our teeth will fall out. But truth be told, the amount of sugar is not the deciding factor whether or not you end up with tooth decay. How tooth decay process works is the bacteria that are naturally in your mouth are able to feed on sugars (and carbohydrates in general). In turn these bacteria produce acids that erode our teeth. The longer the sugar is able to stay in your mouth, the longer these bacteria are producing acid which will eventually erode the tooth and cause a cavity.

So, this means eating two candy bars, then immediately brushing and rinsing your teeth is less harmful than eating one candy bar and not brushing afterwards. This is why sugary soft drinks are bad for our teeth. Every sip we are reintroducing sugar into the mouth for the bacteria to feed on.

MYTH: Using tooth picks will widen the gaps between your teeth.

TRUTH: Most commercially available tooth picks are quite harmless and when used properly are a good cleansing tool for the plaque and food build up between teeth. However, it should not replace flossing and brushing as the staple to your oral hygiene program. One word of warning regarding tooth picks… careful not to injure your gums.

MYTH: Osteoporosis does not affect teeth and only affects major bones like the spine and hips.

TRUTH: Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones. It is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Osteoporosis can also affect the bones of the jaws so tooth loss is possible. Diet become doubly important in osteoporosis patients to maintain the nutrients needed for proper bone support.

MYTH: Bad Breath means you are not brushing properly.

TRUTH: A person’s bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene but it can also be a sign of a systemic disease. The foods we eat like garlic or onions will also change our breath smell but only for a short time. A well known systemic disease that gives a tell tale bad breath sign is diabetes. In diabetics this is called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is usually seen in type 1 diabetics. This complication occurs when the body is unable to use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because the patients do not produce enough insulin, and because of that the fat is used instead. Ketones build up in the body and this is the byproducts of fat breakdown. The bad breath smell is from the ketones. The body has only two ways of removing these ketones, thru our urine and thru our breath.

MYTH: Losing baby teeth from tooth decay is not a big deal.

TRUTH: This is a very common myth. Most people believe well the primary teeth are going to fall out anyway so no big deal. The tooth decay in the primary teeth can affect the erupting teeth. If the primary teeth are lost prematurely the permanent teeth may erupt misaligned. The other purpose of primary teeth is to hold “space” for the permanent teeth. if those space holders are gone prematurely then there will be less room for the adult teeth to erupt. This will cause overcrowding. and require orthodontics later on.

MYTH: Poor oral health only affects the teeth and gums.

TRUTH: This has been a big misconception for years but the media has done a good job of late bringing this to the general public’s attention. Periodontal disease has shown stperfect smilerong links to diabetes and heart disease. Untreated periodontal disease will affect your body as a whole. Research has proven this.

MYTH: Teeth whitening is bad for your teeth.

Teeth whitening when done properly is completely safe and harmless to the teeth and gums. Teeth whitening products only affect color of teeth not their strength or health. There are some possible side effects to teeth whitening that are generally very temporary. These include teeth sensitivity or possibly gum irritation if not applied properly.

MYTH: Avoid the dentist when pregnant.

When a woman is even thinking about becoming pregnant she should schedule a dentist appointment to ensure her teeth and gums are healthy for the possible baby on the way. Necessary dental treatment is safe and effective for most pregnant women throughout their pregnancy. Obviously you prefer to not have treatment in the third trimester when sitting in a dental chair may be uncomfortable for the mother.


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

Halitosis is the medical term used to define bad breath. The word halitosis was first introduced to the world in the 1870’s but made popular in the 1920’s by the Listerine company. The correct scientific term for bad breath is oral malodor. Halitosis can be a very embarrassing problem to have. Americans spend approximately $500 million attempting to treat halitosis every year. It’s no surprise then that store shelves are stocked full with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to counteract bad breath. But many of these products are merely temporary measures and do nothing to treat the condition in the long term. The makers of these products have made a lot of money out of the general population’s desire for fresh breath. These products promise that your breath can be minty fresh. However, it is only temporarily beneficial at best in controlling breath malodors. Actually, many often contain sugar and alcohol, which may lead to tooth decay and may aggravate certain mouth conditions.

The irony of halitosis is that most people have no awareness that they even have halitosis. This is because the cells in the nose that are responsible for the sense of smell actually become unresponsive to the constant flow of bad odor emanating from your mouth. If you have bad breath, you may need to be told, or you may begin to pick up the facial expressions of other people when you’re just too close!

Most halitosis originates from something in your mouth. Food can stick in between your teeth, around the gums and on your tongue. This food will breakdown and combine with bacteria to form plaque.  If not cleaned off properly thru proper brushing and flossing, the plaque will cause a foul smell in your mouth. Plaque and the bacteria which feed off of it can cause periodontal disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Periodontal disease definitely causes a distinctive type of bad breath we call “perio breath”. Other dental causes of halitosis include ill fitting dentures, yeast infections of the mouth, tooth cavities, and tobacco use. Smoking actually causes your mouth to dry out and creates its own unpleasant mouth odor. Tobacco users are also more likely to have periodontal disease(about 50% of all smokers have some form of periodontal disease).

Halitosis can also be made worse by the types of foods you eat. Many foods may cause bad breath which can include onions, garlic, cheese, certain spices, orange juice and soda. Once these foods become digested, their oils are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried into the lungs. The odor is given off in your breath until all of the food is out of your body. If you eat foods with strong odors, brushing and flossing, even mouthwash simply is a temporary cover up. The odor will linger with you until the foods have passed through your body completely.

Dry mouth or xerostomia can also cause halitosis. Saliva is needed to wet and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If they are not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by the side effects of various medications (for example, some antidepressants, anti psychotics, antihistamines, decongestants, and medications to reduce high blood pressure), salivary gland problems, snoring, sleep apnea, or continuous breathing through the mouth. A lack of saliva at night deprives the mouth of oxygen, which can promote the spread  of anaerobic germs. This is why most everyone suffers from what’s commonly  referred to as “morning breath”.

The bad odors do not come from the mouth in approximately 10% of the cases. Many other diseases and illnesses may cause halitosis. They include, respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and liver or kidney disease. Some of these conditions can have their diagnosis confirmed (along with other medical tests) by the presence of their halitosis. Diseases, such as some cancers and metabolic disorders, can cause a breath odor that is distinctive as a result of the chemicals they produce. Diabetics with uncontrolled glucose levels can have a fruity breath odor from chemicals called ketones. And chronic reflux of stomach acids has also been associated with halitosis.

Treatment and Prevention of Halitosis

Closys Halitosis spray

Closys Halitosis Spray

The most effective way to treat halitosis is thru maintenance of proper oral hygiene along with regular appointments with the dentist. Regular brushing, flossing, rinsing, and scraping of your tongue can also help keep halitosis at bay. There is one product that will not just cover and mask the odor by actually neutralizing the chemicals at the back of your throat. This product is called Closys.

Helpful hints for getting rid of Halitosis:


Halitosis – Tongue Scraper

-Tooth brushing 2-3 times per day. Change tooth brush as recommended.

-Before bedtime, clean your tongue with toothbrush or use a special tongue scraper. This will remove any particles and bacteria lodged in folds of the tongue. A good example of this is the GUM dual action tongue cleaner.

-Use an electric toothbrush, such as the Rotadent, to be more effective in your brushing.

-Keep your nose and sinuses clean.

Halitosis-Stimulate salivary flow by chewing sugarless gum during the day. This will keep the mouth awash with saliva. This can include Trident white among others.

-Drink lots of water daily to keep your mouth wet and to help rinse away odor forming bacteria and food particles.

-Lower coffee and alcohol drinking.

-Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medications are causing problems of dry mouth that may be leading to bad breath.

-Schedule and maintain regular visits to your dentist.

Most kids, will always choose to do the fun activity over the boring one. If the task is not fun it will be rushed through or avoided all together. This can also apply to how well children brush and take care of their teeth. This is one area kids definitely need our guidance to maintain a healthy smile.

The following are four easy ways to encourage your kids to own their smile and at the same time improve their oral health:

1) Make Brushing Fun! – Most dentists recommend brushing for a minimum of two minutes. Two minutes can feel like forever for a kid. To get your child to brush and floss properly, try making Pediatric Dentistrya game out it. Set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush until the timer goes off, or sing twinkle twinkle star twice. Cute, fun toothbrushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably by his or herself, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. I also recommend an electric toothbrush for little ones. Makes it easier to use and makes them feel like big grown ups. Should be replaced every few months, particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush. For babies, a soft finger toothbrush, or wet washcloth are easiest to use for you and them. Some children’s toothbrushes also have lights that flash or music that plays which serves as a built-in timer. Set the timer again for two minutes for flossing. There are also fun flossers that make it easier to do the best job possible. Another tip would be to brush with your child — Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique. I would also recommend the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This solution will allow you and them to see where the plaque is before brushing and what was missed after brushing. Then you can “help” them remove the last of the plaque. Once the color is gone, the plaque is too!

2) “But Why??” Explain it all to them – It’s important for kids to know “Why” they are doing things. Brushing and flossing are no different. If they are simply told to do it, it becomes a chore and they will most likely resist. If they realize it’s a good thing for them,  or it is fun, they may be more likely to take the challenge on themselves. Be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing in simple terms kids can understand. For example: “Flossing is important because it removes cookies and food left between your teeth. Do you want tooth bugs stuck in between your teeth?” At your child’s next dental checkup, ask your dentist to show visually proper brushing and flossing techniques.

3) Monitor Sweets and Candy – It’s no secret that kids love candy and sweets. But it’s important for kids to know that eating too many sweets causes cavities. Try to keep sugary snacks limited to later in the day to ensure you child brushes away the sugar with his or her evening brushing and flossing regimen. Or if they are going to have sugar at other times make sure they at least rinse but preferably brush as well following the sweets. Also avoid fruit gummies or roll ups these are the worst types of sugar because they lodge between teeth, stick and stay . They are candy not healthy like actual fruit and they are not nutritious.

4) Give kids incentives to achieve – Set a goal with your child to get a “perfect score” the next time he or she has a dental checkup. This, of course, means your dentist finds no cavities! Establish a reward your child will earn for having a perfect checkup, such as that new video game or doll they have been wanting. Make sure they understand that brushing, flossing, and limiting sweets are all ways to reach their goal. You can even tape a photo of the reward to the bathroom mirror for daily reinforcement. Tell yourdentist about the reward system, so he or she can also encourage your child at each checkup. If you are still finding cavities, diet may need to be looked at more closely, and Fluoride may need to be incorporated. Ask your dentist to advise. Remember to schedule your child’s dental checkups every six months. Very important to stay on schedule and go when needed. You are laying the foundation for your child’s oral health throughout life.

Ask your dentist for more tips and tricks to keep our kids teeth cavity free!