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A toothbrush is our tool to keep our teeth clean and our breath fresh but, did you know, they can harbor bacteria that grow and diversify over time? The main recommendation has always been to change to a new toothbrush every six months mainly because the toothbrush bristles eventually lose their ability to clean your teeth gently and effectively. New research says that your handy toothbrush may be a haven for bacteria and other microorganisms. Not only do they harbor the bacteria but they can also transfer them to your loved ones with each use.

Tips To Keep ToothBrush As Clean As Possible

Leave Brush Out In Open – This allows your toothbrush to air dry. Bacteria generally thrive and flourish in cool, humid, and dark places. This describes most bathrooms. Studies have shown that toothbrushes kept in a humid, dark environment retained almost 50% of the Herpes Simplex Virus (type 1) for almost a week. Further studies have shown that placing a toothbrush too close to the toilet bowl can introduce new types of bacteria every time you flush. Water particles are launched up to a 6 foot radius surrounding the toilet possibly contaminating your toothbrush and other bathroom items in the process.

Helpful Tip: Do not keep toothbrushes stored away inside your dark medicine cabinet. Consider leaving your toothbrush in a place with dry, well lit area like a nightstand.

Change Brush Earlier If Possible – Replacing your brush more frequently to ward off progressive bacteria growths. The American Dental Association now recommends changing out your toothbrush every 2-3 months. A good tip might be to buy 12 new toothbrushes at the start of the year and replace the old one at the start of every new month. This makes it easy to remember and keeps your toothbrushes from becoming biology experiments.

Helpful Tip: Select toothbrushes with translucent bristles. Research has shown that these brush heads contain 50% less bacteria than the colored ones. It might be also helpful to use an anti bacterial mouth rinse to protect your mouth and also to rinse your toothbrush in after brushing to keep the numbers of bacteria down to a minimum.

Nuke Your ToothBrush? – Some studies have advocated microwaving your manual toothbrushes (do not try this with an electric toothbrush!). This technique may eliminate several forms of bacteria and viruses that can form on tooth brush heads. This is an out of the box tip and has not been endorsed by anyone. People have been microwaving pacifiers for years to sterilize them. Just be careful not to ruin the integrity of the toothbrush in the process.

Helpful Tip: Never microwave a toothbrush with metal parts!

UV (Ultraviolet Light) Sanitizers– There are many highly effective sanitizers which utilize UV light to kill  up to 99 % of toothbrush germs. This is especially helpful when a family member is sick and there is a stronger need to protect from cross contamination onto other toothbrushes.

Conclusion

Toothbrush maintenance and cleanliness is an often overlooked part of our oral hygiene regimen. We must remember how much bacteria we carry in our mouths on a daily basis. We certainly do not want to introduce any new germs to the mix that might be growing on our toothbrushes. Change a few habits and add some simple steps to help you and your family stay happy and healthy for many years to come.



Tooth decay (also called dental cavities) is the destruction of tooth structure. It can affect both the enamel (outer layer) and the dentin layer (inner layer) of the tooth. Tooth decay is the most common cause of loss of teeth and it affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. Tooth decay is also the second most common disease in the U.S. (the common cold is first).  Luckily, cavities can be easily prevented.

It is normal for bacteria to be present in the mouth. Certain types of bacteria are able to attach to hard surfaces in the mouth like the enamel that cover the teeth. If these bacteria are not removed, they are able to multiply and grow in number until a colony forms. Proteins that are present in the saliva also mix in and the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film (plaque) on the enamel.

These bacteria feed on sugars and starches from the food like chocolates, sticky sweets, ice cream, milk, cakes, and even fruits, vegetables and juices, producing acid as a byproduct. This acid then erodes the tooth enamel slowly dissolving the tooth. A cavity is formed causing a hole or break in the tooth structure. If not fixed at this stage, the tooth decay can progress further reaching the dentin where it can spread even quicker. The cavity can progress very quickly after entering the dentin. This can lead to a larger issue of a dental abscess if untreated.

Unfortunately for the patient, this process moves very slowly so there may not be any pain or tooth sensitivity until the cavity becomes quite big.

Preventing Tooth Decay

-Maintain a regimen of Dental Hygiene. This is a necessity to prevent tooth decay. A good dental hygiene program includes regular visits to dentist and hygienist, brushing after every meal (with a fluoride containing toothpaste), and flossing at least once a day. You should especially remember to brush before bed. Food can get stuck in between our teeth when we eat. If the food particles are not removed, it can lead to tooth decay. Flossing at least once a day is the best way to remove food from in between the teeth.

-Eat well balanced nutritious meal and limit snacking. Stay away from carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels and chips. These can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterwards. Eating fruits and vegetables for snacks and limiting the amount of sugary drinks and foods will help to prevent plaque from forming on the teeth.

-Supplemental Fluoride. Fluoride can strengthen your teeth. Your dentist may recommend a daily fluoride rinse (ACT anticavity rinse is an example) as part of your dental hygiene. This will help in cavity prevention.

Fluoride Rinse - ACT

Prevent Tooth Decay – ACT Fluoride Rinse

regimen.

-Dental Sealants. These can prevent some tooth decay. Sealants are ultra thin coatings applied to the top (chewing) surfaces of the molars. This coating helps prevent the build up of plaque in the deep grooves on these molars. Sealants are generally applied on the children’s teeth soon after the molars erupt into the mouth. Adults can also benefit from the use of sealants if they have a high risk for decay or have deep grooves in the molars and premolars.

-Antiseptic Mouth Rinse. There are several antiseptic mouth rinses on the market that have been clinically proven to reduce plaque. These include Listerine or Crest Pro Health. Rinsing with either of these mouth rinses after brushing or eating can help in cavity prevention. They work by reducing the number of bacteria present in mouth as well as acting as a rinse to wash away plaque and film on teeth.

-Sugarless Gum. Chewing sugarless gum will help prevent tooth decay by stimulating salivary flow. In studies xylitol has shown to temporarily slow down the growth of bacteria that causes tooth decay. There are several brands of xylitol gum including epic, wrigley’s, and trident.

To reduce tooth decay, eating less sugar, regular cleaning and flossing are all needed to keep the bacteria that causes tooth decay from getting out of control. Tooth decay is preventable and treatable in most stages. Diligent dental hygiene along with regular dental visits will keep you cavity free!

tooth decay prevention

 

 



Periodontal disease (or commonly called gum disease) is a very serious and chronic dental infection of the periodontal tissues that can result in the breakdown of the tissue as well as the loss of bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. This dental infection disease begins when bacteria and plaque form a sticky bio film on your teeth and causes inflammation of the periodontal tissue.  Periodontal disease will continue a downward progression if this is not resolved by maintaining proper dental care and hygiene. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Scientific studies show that somewhere between 75% and 95% of all adults are suffering from some stage of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease and tooth decay (cavities) are caused by different types of bacteria, and are considered to be two separate and distinct conditions, however, you can suffer from both issues. Poor oral hygiene promotes the risk of both cavities and periodontal disease. Swollen and receding gums open up the more vulnerable areas of the tooth…The root areas, which, are not protected by enamel and can break down quickly to form root decay.  On the flip side, in patients with significant tooth decay, the broken down teeth allow for food trap areas which keep periodontal tissue chronically inflamed.

Gingivitis

Periodontitis

Stages of Periodontal Disease

The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis (or simply inflammation of the gum tissues). This is the most mild form of periodontal disease. Symptoms include red, swollen (or puffy) and inflamed gums due to plaque-bacteria build-up. The gums may also bleed easily during brushing or eating of hard foods. During the earliest of stages the periodontal disease process it can be reversed thru proper brushing, flossing and professional dental care to remove the excess bacterial plaque. If the required oral hygiene does not occur, the periodontal disease then progresses  to the next stage. The majority of people with this early form of periodontal disease, do not even know a dental problem exists. This is a crucial period for the patient, as the condition can be reversed (since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place have not yet been adversely affected) at this point if it is recognized, diagnosed, and properly treated by a dental professional. Gingivitis is commonly seen during puberty, pregnancy, times of high stress, and menopause, as raging hormones can make you more prone to inflammation. As for the rest of the population, poor dental hygiene is generally the most common cause, followed by medication and certain medical conditions.

Periodontitis

As the periodontal disease progresses it is now becoming harder to treat and control. The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis only infects the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth while the periodontal disease process also invades the bone that provides support and stability for the teeth. The bacteria eventually invades past the initial the gum line area and destruction begins to the point that gums may begin to separate or pull away from the teeth (taking away support and connective fibers with it). What results are called periodontal pockets. These pockets allow for bacteria to invade below the gum line.  They eventually become loaded with toxic plaque and bacteria that moves and works its way deeper. It begins to erode the bone below the gum line. A patient’s bite will be affected (as the teeth shift or loosen) by the lost support which then affects chewing and other daily functions.

Advanced Periodontitis

As the periodontal disease process advances further, the fibers and bone that provide support for the teeth are broken down and  destroyed. At least half (50%) of the bone support (if not more) will have broken down at this late stage of periodontal disease. It does not grow back naturally. Teeth may begin to loosen. Deep root cleanings and surgical intervention are typical at this stage. This may include cleaning with a periodontal microscope, (Perioscope), grafting of tissue, bone, placement of growth factors, (Emdogain), periodontal antibiotic regimen (Periostat), placement of antibiotics directly into pockets, (Arestin), open periodontal flap surgery, and, possibly even tooth removal.

How Do I Know If I Have Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease can happen to a person of any age. It is most common among adults. Remember, if periodontal disease is detected in its earliest stages it can be reversed so it is important to see your dentist right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

-Gums that are red, puffy or inflamed, or tender.

Periodontitis

X-Ray showing Periodontal Disease Progression

-Gums that bleed easily during routine brushing or flossing.

-Teeth that appear longer due to recession of gum tissue.

-Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite or chew.

-Pus coming from between your teeth and gums

-Bad breath odor or bad taste in your mouth.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease

Arestin use in Periodontal Disease

The earliest stages of periodontal disease are reversible. This is accomplished thru proper brushing, flossing, and maintaining a regular schedule with your dentist. A professional cleaning by your dentist or hygienist is the only way to remove plaque and tartar especially below the gum line. The hygienist will clean (also called scaling) your teeth to remove the tartar and plaque buildup from above and below the gum line. If the periodontal disease condition worsens, then a root planing procedure may be necessary. Root planing helps smooth irregularities on the roots to make it more difficult for plaque to deposit and stick there. Also makes it easier for you to keep your teeth clean at home. Treatment may also include use of antibiotics.

If you have advanced periodontitis, your gum tissue may not respond to nonsurgical treatments and good oral hygiene. In that case, your periodontitis treatment may require dental surgery. This surgical intervention may include:

-Pocket Reduction Surgery (also called Flap surgery). In this procedure, your periodontist makes tiny incisions in your gum so that a section of gum tissue can be lifted back, exposing the roots for more effective scaling and planing. Because periodontitis often causes bone loss, the underlying bone may be recontoured before the gum tissue is sutured back in place. The procedure generally takes from one to three hours and is performed under local anesthesia.

Soft tissue grafts. Gum tissue is often lost as part of the periodontal disease process making your teeth appear longer than normal. You may need to have damaged tissue replaced to return your cosmetic appearance back to normal. This procedure can help reduce further gum recession, cover exposed roots and give your teeth a more cosmetically pleasing appearance.

Bone graft. This procedure is needed when periodontitis has destroyed the bone surrounding your tooth. The bone graft helps prevent tooth loss by holding your tooth in place. It also serves as a platform for the regrowth of natural bone.

-Antibiotics and medicaments – A wide array of antibacterial rinses(Peridex), antibiotics taken in pill form, (Periostat) or localized placement directly into the affected pockets(Arestin), can aide in and promote healing of the affected gum tissue.

-Guided tissue regeneration. This allows the regrowth of bone that was destroyed by bacteria. In one approach, your dentist places a special piece of biocompatible fabric between existing bone and your tooth. The material prevents unwanted tissue from entering the healing area, allowing bone to grow back instead.

-Enamel matrix derivative application. Another technique involves the application of a specialized gel to a diseased tooth root. This gel contains the same proteins found in developing tooth enamel and stimulates the growth of healthy bone and tissue. An example of this is the use of emdogain.

To ensure a successful result following periodontal therapy, patient cooperation in maintaining excellent oral hygiene is essential. More frequent professional cleanings can help reduce the likelihood of the periodontal disease ever returning.

By scheduling regular checkups, early stage periodontal disease can be treated before it leads to a much more serious condition. If your periodontal disease is more advanced, treatment in the dental office will be required. Periodontal disease can be managed and controlled for most patients. Following a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist should be enough for most to keep periodontal disease at bay.