Healthy Mouth=Healthy Body

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a Registered Dental Hygienist. Married with one incredible child. Yes, I really do love having my hands in your mouth! *LOL*

Monday, June 01, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Hey there! I have decided to start my very own blog about one of my favorite health. Yes, I am a strange person. *grin* BUT, I hope to be able to help people by giving some information that you may have never learned about your own body and how to keep it healthy, specifically through oral health which is all too often overlooked.

I know most of you are reading this are thinking, "Come on, it's just teeth. Big deal. They aren't that important and I can't afford to go to the dentist anyway. Besides dentists aren't even real doctors. They are just out to suck as much money out of me as possible".

Sad to say, but this last part is probably true of some dentists. Just like any profession, there are good dental professionals (who go out of their way to make you comfortable and genuinely care about your well-being), and those who are subpar (they really are just in it for the money and do not give a thought to what is best for their patients). HOWEVER, taking care of your mouth really is "that important" important that you should make it a priority to find one of those quality, caring dental offices and visit as often as they recommend. You will know you've found the right office for you when you are able to trust their opinions and respect their knowledge and recommendations for your dental condition.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why use a Soft Toothbrush?

I have been asked recently why I always recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes to my patients. This is actually very important. Many people brush their teeth incorrectly. Yes there really is a right way, or at least a better way to keep those pearly whites sparkling clean. You can view a good tutorial on the proper way to brush here. Many people scrub their teeth in a horizontal motion which allows them to put too much pressure on the toothbrush and scrubs away their gums. When the gums are brushed too vigorously they will recede leaving part of the tooth's root exposed. Exposed roots are often sensitive to cold food and drinks, and are also unprotected from cavity causing acids.

So, what is the best way to brush your teeth?

Gentle but thorough.

The soft bristles are gentle and you want to use a soft touch while brushing. You don't want to press the toothbrush so hard against the teeth that the bristles splay open. But, you need to make sure that you are not missing any areas, so definitely brush for the entire 2 minutes recommended and be sure to brush the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces of the teeth completely. You should also brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth (at least twice a day), to keep it free of bacteria and stain.

If you are switching from using a harder toothbrush, such as medium or hard,you will most likely feel that you are not getting your teeth clean enough. The soft bristles will feel too soft to you at first. I have come up with a good solution to this - I recommend that you brush without toothpaste for the first 2 minutes, then go back and put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your brush and brush around the mouth and tongue to get that fresh, minty feeling you crave. The fact is that you don't need toothpaste at all to get your teeth clean. The toothbrush bristles are what are truly cleaning your teeth, and the paste can actually cause a false sense of freshness where your teeth are not truly clean but because your mouth taste minty you think they are!

So now you know why everyone should be using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Now why does it seem that the stores only stock medium?! I suppose that is a question for another day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Mouth-Body Connection

Did you know that bleeding of your gum tissues may be a sign of chronic inflammation and that this inflammation can lead to stroke, heart disease, complications in diabetics and low birth weight premature babies?

This inflammation in your mouth is something your dental hygienist can help you prevent with proper treatment. Your hygienist can also teach you proper oral hygiene techniques which will help your body recover and stay healthy.

Your mouth is connected to the rest of your body, so if it is unhealthy, your overall health will be affected.

There are recent studies that correlate the plaque-forming bacteria in your mouth with the plaque which can form in your heart valves leading to heart disease!

When your body is infected with bacteria (such as the bacteria in your mouth which causes cavities and bone loss), it releases chemicals which communicate that it is under attack. These chemical signals can make your body react in such a way as to induce pre-term labor!

If you are diabetic you already know that, due to your illness, your body does not heal as quickly as a healthy person. Therefore, gum disease is more common in diabetics. People with poor diabetes control may also suffer from a dry, burning mouth. Lack of saliva increases your risk of tooth decay as plaque acids are not cleared away as quickly.

The good new is that your dental team is available to help you stay healthy, and not just in your mouth. Modern dental professionals are educated in diseases of the body which may affect, or be affected by, the conditions in your mouth.

This is why my blog is named Healthy Mouth=Healthy Body, and why it is so important to not put off that visit to your dental office any longer. If you would like more information on illnesses connected to oral health, Pfizer (the makers of Listerine) has a short explanation of multiple conditions and how they are effected by your dental health - click here to check it out.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

How Nutrition Affects Your Mouth

We all know the old saying, "You are what you eat", right? Well, your eating habits have a huge effect on the health of your teeth! If you think about it, it makes perfect sense since your teeth and mouth are the first to encounter the food you eat everyday.

Probably the most obvious aspect of your eating that affects your teeth is the sugar content. Soft, chewy, sugary foods or carbohydrates that stay on your teeth such as white bread, taffy, sugar-based chewing gums and the like are smorgasbords for those hungry bacteria. Remember that the bacteria in your mouth breakdown sugars and carbs into acids that attack your teeth! The longer the sugary foods and drinks stay in your mouth, the longer the ACID ATTACK lasts.

Here is a great example: You are drinking a cold soda pop on a hot day. You are very thirsty so you drink the entire can in one quick gulp. The bacterial acid will attack your teeth for 20-30 minutes. On the other hand, say you are not that thirsty and decide to sip that soda pop every few minutes for 2 hours...your mouth is being assaulted by acid for over 2 hours!!! Not only is soda pop extremely high in sugar, it also is full of it's own acids - a double assault on your precious teeth.

The acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth cause two problems: the first is CAVITIES (the acids sit on the tooth until it is cleared away by brushing and flossing, and all that time it is eating away at the outside of your tooth - not good), the second problem caused by bacterial acids in your mouth is PERIODONTAL DISEASE (this one happens in two ways: the acids are attacking your mouth, PLUS when your body detects that it is under attack it automatically tries to fight off the invaders. However, some of the chemicals that your body produces to fight off the bad bacteria actually breaks down the bone that holds your teeth in place - really not good)!

Now that you know how harmful some foods can be if left in the mouth for the bacteria to munch on, lets find out what steps you can take to avoid these problems. The most important steps that you can take to avoid the problems caused by bacterial acids, is to try to eat less sugary foods and if you do eat sugary or starchy foods to always brush and floss as soon as possible afterward. You also want to try to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of firm, fiber-rich foods such as raw apples, carrot or celery sticks, and whole grains. These are foods that help to clear your mouth of debris. Drinking plain water after or with a meal will also help to clear some of the food particles from your teeth and gums.

Your teeth are important and can never be replaced. Please take good care of them so they can take good care of you for many years to come! :)

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Facts about Dental Disease


* Plaque (a sticky invisible film) forms on your teeth within 30 minutes of brushing!

* Plaque that is not removed from your teeth (by brushing and flossing) will use the minerals in your saliva to form tartar (also called calculus) that is hardened and must be removed by a dental hygienist

* Plaque and tartar act as harbors for bacteria - if not disrupted daily, the bacteria multiply

* There are “good” bacteria (which are helpful to your system) and “bad” bacteria (which cause disease) throughout your body and the mouth is no different

* Bacteria are bad in 2 ways:
#1/They breakdown the carbs and sugars you eat into ACIDS which attack the outer layer of your teeth (this is how cavities are formed!), and

#2/Bad bacteria also force your body's immune system to react by trying to kill them...but some of the chemicals your body sends out to battle the bad bacteria actually destroy the bones supporting your teeth!

* Once part of the bone supporting your teeth is destroyed it will not grow back on its' own, and you will be classified as having Periodontal Bone Loss and will most likely need expensive treatment and possibly even surgery!

Prevention is much less expensive than repair - seeing your dental hygienist as often as they recommend could save you money, embarassment and pain.

Please don't neglect your dental health again this year!

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Dental care can be expensive.

If you are one of the majority of people in this country without dental insurance (just like me and my family!), I highly recommend looking into joining a DISCOUNT DENTAL PLAN. These programs are not insurance. They are just what they say they are - they give you a discount on the services you receive when you visit your dental office.

Read what Bankrate has to say about fighting high dental bills:
"Evaluate dental discount plans.
These aren't insurance plans, they're simply discounts on dental procedures. For example, if the cost of an adult teeth cleaning is $75, then a typical discount rate might be $39, saving you $36 on that procedure. The premiums are low (fees are usually less than $12 a month for an individual and less than $30 a month for a family), but these plans usually limit your choice of doctors.

There have also been scams involving discount plans. "None of the legitimate companies are going to ask you to pay before you see an outline of the plan," says Ireland. "If you don't see something in writing, don't send them any money." Check out where you can type in your ZIP code and see a list of dentists in your area who participate in each discount plan, as well as the average discounted cost of each procedure..."

There are lots of different plans to choose from, including some plans which include specialty providers such as orthodontists (specialize in alignment of your teeth), periodontists (specialize in gum disease and bone loss), pedodontists (specialize in treating children), and endodontists (specialize in replacing missing teeth) in addition to General Dentists.

If you do not have a dentist right now, this is a great way to find one close to where you live and research how reasonable their fees will be before stepping foot in their office! Depending on the plan you choose, basic services may be free. It is like having an ongoing coupon for the dentist!

Some of the characteristics of Discount Dental Plans include:

* No annual limits- members enjoy discounts on most services all year long
* Most plans activate within 1 - 3 business days
* No paperwork hassles, plan membership card is presented for discounts on most dental services
* No health restrictions
* Select plans include discounts on dental specialties, including cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics
* Consumers pay affordable membership fees for access to a network of providers offering discounts on most dental procedures
* Available directly to individuals, families, businesses and groups

In short, discount dental plans are an affordable and easy-to-use alternative to dental insurance, and offer plan members significant savings on most dental procedures.

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