Posts for: August, 2014
When it comes to our overall health, many of us think we’re pretty well-informed. But a recent survey quiz given by the American Dental Association (ADA) revealed something surprising: When it comes to dental health, most people could use plenty of “brushing up.” In fact, the average score on the true/false test was a barely passing D! Among the questions most people answered incorrectly were:
- How often should you brush your teeth? (91 percent got it wrong)
- At what age should you take your child to the dentist for the first time? (75 percent wrong)
- How often should you replace your toothbrush? (65 percent wrong)
- Can cavity-causing germs be passed from person to person? (59 percent wrong), and
- Does sugar cause cavities?
We’ll come back to the last question in a moment — but first, let’s recap some basic dental health information.
While you might think it’s best to brush after every meal, the ADA recommends brushing just twice a day. That’s because excessive brushing can erode tooth enamel (especially if it has already been softened by acidic food or drinks), and can also expose and irritate the root of the tooth. But when you do brush, you should keep at it for at least two minutes each time!
Bring your child in to the dental office within six months after the first tooth appears — but no later than his or her first birthday! The age-one dental visit starts your child off right with proper preventive care and screenings, and sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.
Most people think it’s OK to change your toothbrush twice a year — but the ADA recommends that you get a new one every three months; that’s because stiff, frayed bristles just don’t clean your teeth and gums as well as they should. Likewise, most people don’t realize that the bacteria that cause cavities can be passed from one person’s mouth to another — by putting a child’s pacifier in your mouth or sharing a toothbrush, for example.
And speaking of cavities: Technically, they aren’t caused by sugar, as 81 percent of people thought. Tooth decay occurs when certain types of oral bacteria release an acidic byproduct that attacks the tooth enamel and creates small holes (cavities). This occurs after the bacteria have metabolized sugar in your diet. So while sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, it does lead to tooth decay by feeding harmful bacteria. How about partial credit for that one?
If you have additional questions about your dental health, please call our office to schedule a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
Junk food and between-meal sweets are a habit for many of us, even though we know it is bad for our bodies and our teeth. As adults, we are responsible for our own choices. As parents, we are also responsible for our children's choices, and for teaching them to choose wisely.
Celebrity Chef Cat Cora offers the following six suggestions for leading children to a healthy lifestyle. Cora is a star of Iron Chef America and author of Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist: Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes, in which she reveals healthier versions of classic recipes. In her remakes she shows how to cook with a lot of flavor while reducing fat and sugar. Cora has four young sons, so her methods are not just theories — they have been practiced in real life.
1. Remember who's the boss.
“My kids have never had fast food,” Cora said in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine. “The parents have a choice to do that or not,” she said. “The kids are not going to the grocery store to shop; the kids are not driving themselves through fast food chains.”
2. Make your rules clear and stick to them.
“Right now my 7-year-old tries to be picky, but it's really about us being consistent as parents,” Cat said. For example, in her household pizza is served only at the weekly pizza and movie night. The kids get a healthier version of what they want, so they don't feel deprived. The evening includes air-popped popcorn without butter — and no soda, which is bad for teeth because of its sugar and other chemical ingredients.
3. Offer your children a variety of foods and tastes.
Cora made sure her children tried different foods and spices from infancy, so they are open to trying new things. It's easier to get all the nutrition you need if you eat a wide variety of foods.
4. Learn to make tasty substitutions for sugar.
When her children were babies, Cora stopped relying on bottles and sippy cups as soon as possible, reducing her children's likelihood of developing tooth decay due to sugary residues remaining in their mouths. Now that they are older, she uses tasty substitutes for sugar such as fruit purees and the natural sugar substitute Stevia.
5. Include the children in meal planning.
Kids are more likely to eat a meal they are involved in planning and cooking. For example, ask them which vegetable they would like to have (not whether they want to have a vegetable).
6. Model healthy behavior for your kids.
Parents are the best role models. This is true not only for food choices, but also for exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The most important thing you can do for your dental health is to develop a daily habit of removing plaque, the bacterial film that builds up on your teeth and the leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease. You know you need to do better — but as with other daily habits that require discipline, it can be a challenge.
One way to make it easier is to develop a plan — a step-by-step process you can use to keep your hygiene habits on track. Here’s a suggested template for such a plan.
Step 1: Partner with us for hygiene training. As with other habits, going at it alone can be daunting. As your dental office, we have the knowledge and experience to advise you on the right toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and other products to use, and to train you on the best techniques for brushing and flossing.
Step 2: Develop an evaluation system. It helps to know if your hygiene efforts are effective. You can evaluate for yourself how well you’re doing by running your tongue across your teeth (does it feel smooth?), rubbing floss against the sides of your teeth (does it make a squeaky sound?), or looking for signs of bleeding or bad odor. We can also perform tests, such as using disclosing solution dyes to reveal plaque or regular dental exams to identify any indications of disease or decay.
Step 3: Maintain the change in your behavior. The biggest obstacle for sticking with a new habit is discouragement — if you don’t eventually see progress you can easily give up. Our regular interaction with you and your own evaluations will provide valuable insight as to how you’re progressing. These tangible indications build confidence and help you cement your new habit into place.
Every new habit starts with a burst of enthusiasm. To become permanent, however, it must continue on once the “newness” wears off. By developing a plan like the one described above, you’ll be more apt to continue practicing your new hygiene habit until it becomes a permanent part of your daily life. The dividends can be healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.
If you would like more information on an oral hygiene plan, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”