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National Dental Hygiene Month - Tips for Everyone

October 16, 2013
by Lory Laughter

October is Dental Hygiene Month! While no presents are required for celebration, it is the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gif of clean teeth, fresh breath, healthy gums, decay free teeth and overall better health. My tips for a healthier oral environment and decreased inflammation system wide are the following:

  1. Of course, BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Do it twice a day - at least and keep the brush there for 2 minutes. Why? Because none of us are as talented at reaching all the nooks and crannies as we suppose. Take your time and do it right. For best results, use a powered toothbrush with timer. My suggestion is Sonicare, preferably a DiamondClean or FlexCare Platinum. Both have quad timers to assist you in covering all the sufaces of your teeth and gums. You can purchase a Sonicare in most pharmacies or department stores or online at www.sonicare.com. Some dental offices also carry Sonicare brushes for patient purchase.
  2. Clean between your teeth. You thought I was going to write 'floss' didn't you? While floss if the most widely accepted method for cleaning between your teeth, it is not the only way to accomplish the task. In fact, because floss cannot reach in concavities, it isn't even always the best method. Floss picks, interdental brushes, oral irrigators and even shower flossers are often effective alternatives. For those non-flossers among us, AirFloss (also by Sonicare) is a great alternative to placing string between your teeth.
  3. Use the proper dentifrice (toothpaste). This one gets tricky. The best paste is the one recommended by your dental hygienist or dentist to it your particular needs. Generally the less ingredients the better. Sentitive ProRelief by Colgate is good for those with sensitive teeth, but be sure to have those choppers checked first to rule out decay or broken/cracked theeth as a reason for sensitivity. I highly recommend Livionex (www.livionexdental.com). A gel that quite simply stops plaque from adhering to teeth and gums. If the bacteria do not stick and colonize, it is not harmful. The ingredients in Livionex are all safe for ingestion and the studies show superior results in decreasing plaque, bleeding and gingival inflammation.
  4. Bad Breath or halitosis can be a sign of a larger health problem. Do not be ashamed to discuss any concerns about your breath with a medical or dental professional. If the underlying cause is not due to a systemic disease, it is most likely coming from a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. The most common culprits are bacteria which produce VSC (volatile sulfur compounds) and they thrive on your tongue...mostly toward the back. Tongue scraping is a vital part of good oral care. I like BreathRX scrapers best, but there are a variety of choices in the oral care aisle. When indoubt, ask your dental professional to teach you the proper technique or visit www.breathrx.com for more information.

    Another great way to address halitosis is through the use of essential oils. Dentiva lozenges have the right balance of essential oils and zinc to combat most bad breath cases. The lozenges are pleasant tasting and last for hours - in addition to providing needed calcium, phosphate and xylitol to the oral environment.

    Dry Mouth is also a major contributor to bad breath. While some OTC products claim to stimulate saliva flow, most fall short. Salivary function is regulated by the M3 mucsarinic receptor in your guy and while some flavors can cause a release of spit from your salivary glands, they do not actually increase saliva production. This is a long topic I enjoy presenting, but more than you want to read here. Salese is an excellent aid in treating the symptoms of dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. The lozenges help with moisture retention in the oral tissues and also contain ingredients needed for overall oral health. www.nuvorainc.com Xerpstomia (dry mouth) can lead to a number of dental issues, so please be sure to discuss any symptoms with your dentist or hygienist.

  5. Let's not discount fluoride. Fluoride in toothpaste or an oral rinse is a short acting, yet effective agent against tooth decay when combined with good oral homecare. Professionally applied fluoride in the form of a gel or varnish are longer acting applicatioins in the fight against dental decay. Fluoride treatments are not just for children. Fluoride varnishes can remain on the teeth and actively fighting decay for 12 hours or more.

    Xylitol is also very effective in fighting tooth decay. (As well as ear infections, but that is another blog). Recent studies are showing it is the time of contact that is most important for dental benefits of xylitol and not so much the dose. Good news for those with intestinal systems sensitive to the effects of xylitol. Chewing a pure xylitol gum or better yet, placing a pure xylitol mint in your mouth a few times a day is very beneficial in keeping your teeth strong and cavity free. Whole Foods has a good selection of 100% xylitol products and you can also find these products at www.sprydental.com

  6. Perhaps most important on this list is regular visits to your dentist and dental hyienist. There is no one size fits all plan for how often you need an exam or preventitive care - your best outcomes come from following the suggestions of your dental professional. Your insurance company is not a dental professional and cannot best decide your dental needs.

My list is not all inclusive. Your dental hygienist may have additional recommendations and guidelines. These tips will start you on a road to better oral health and serve as a good guide for better dental checkups.