Viewing entries tagged
how to prevent cavities

Dental Questions: Can I Overbrush My Teeth?

Comment

Dental Questions: Can I Overbrush My Teeth?

thousandoaksfamilydentistry.com

Does your toothbrush get used five times a day? Are you constantly following your lunch hour with a stop to clean your pearly whites? Contrary to popular belief, there is such thing as too much brushing. Read on to find out why you might want to change your habits!

The ADA recommends using a toothbrush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, along with daily flossing. Brushing once in the morning and once at night is generally sufficient to keep bacteria at bay and ward off cavities and gum problems. However, many patients feel more comfortable supplementing this with a quick brush after each meal. To understand why this is a problem, it is important to know how tooth decay works. Every time we eat or drink anything other than water, our mouths become acidic for a 30 minute period. If you brush your teeth right after eating, you are basically taking a surface softened by acid and rubbing it down with sand paper. Over time, this can wear away tooth structure and slowly lead to new cavities. For this same reason, many dentists recommend brushing your teeth in the morning before breakfast.

Naturally, using your tooth brush occasionally after meals to clear out sticky or stringy food is not a problem. If you want to add something to your daily routine to clean your teeth after meals, there are still a number of great options. You can always swish with fluoridated water for a quick and easy clean. To get food out of the grooves and pits of teeth, consider chewing a stick of xylitol gum. Finally, try modifying the order that you eat foods to self-clean your mouth. Hard, moist fruits and veggies like apples, celery, and carrots will naturally dislodge sticky carbs like cookies and crackers. If you would like more information on keeping your teeth in top shape, feel free to contact our office!

As an aside, you can also brush your teeth too hard! Habitually aggressive brushers usually present with distinct patterns of abrasion and gum recession. To best prevent this, use a light touch while brushing (lighter than you think!). Additionally, many electric toothbrushes now come with built in pressure sensors to take the guesswork out of brushing force.

Comment

Bacteria and Tooth Decay

Comment

Bacteria and Tooth Decay

An electron microscope image of S. Mutans, a common oral bacteria. 

An electron microscope image of S. Mutans, a common oral bacteria. 

As you probably know, nearly every surface of the human body is home to bacteria. In even the cleanest, healthiest individuals, bacteria outnumber human cells by a ratio of 10 to 1! Your mouth is no exception to this, as it contains one of the the highest bacterial counts and organismal diversities in the entire body. With this in mind, microorganisms play an enormous role in dentistry and oral diseases. Today, we want to take a closer look at how bacteria are major contributors to tooth decay and cavities.

Nearly every surface of your teeth are covered in a bacterial structure called a biofilm. This formation is a sticky “home” that the bacteria produce to allow them to adhere to hard surfaces. While the biofilm is still soft and removable, we call it plaque. Proper homecare can remove plaque daily and keep the bacterial count down. However, if the plaque remains undisturbed for about 48 hours, it starts to harden and turn into tartar. Once tartar forms, it creates a strong bond to enamel that needs to be removed by a dental professional.

In the dental biofilm, the most destructive bacteria is known as Streptococcus Mutans. S. Mutans likes to colonize teeth early on in biofilm formation, along with many other species of microorganisms. When we eat sugars, starches and carbohydrates, S. Mutans processes the glucose molecules to make acid. This acid, in turn, is a primary contributing factor to tooth decay. Thus, individuals with a high S. Mutans count typically have an elevated risk for cavities.

Interestingly enough, S. Mutans species are highly correlated between children and their caregivers. Even adopted children and kids who hereditarily lack teeth tend to have the same S. Mutans breeds as their mothers, fathers or nannies. With this in mind, it is important to remember not to share utensils or cups with your children (if possible). Furthermore, cleaning off pacifiers or other teething toys with your own saliva is not recommended. Ideally, you want to lower or prevent your child’s exposure to S. Mutans for as long as possible.

Fortunately, there are a number of products targeted against S. Mutans that you are likely already using. In addition to remineralizing enamel, fluoride has been shown to disable a specific bacterial enzyme and prevent it from making energy. This has a significant impact on how fast and large S. Mutans colonies can grow. Furthermore, the sugar substitute xylitol is known to interfere with how S. Mutans can adhere to tooth structure. Xylitol is a natural compound made by plants that is used in a number of sugar free gums and mints. If you are chewing Trident, Ice Breakers or Spry gum (or others), you are getting a healthy exposure of Xylitol every day!

Our office offers Dr. John's brand candies- a great treat made with xylitol!

Our office offers Dr. John's brand candies- a great treat made with xylitol!

S. Mutans represents only one of a number of oral bacteria that cause diseases in the mouth. Gingivitis and other gum problems are mediated by entirely different breeds and colonies of bacteria that survive below the gumline. But have no fear: we will be covering those (and more) in articles to come! If you would like to know more about tooth decay, how bacteria are involved and how to best prevent cavities, please give our office a call.


Comment

Floss and Flossing Alternatives

Comment

Floss and Flossing Alternatives

As you probably know, flossing is one of the best ways to preserve gum health, prevent decay and ward off tartar and plaque between the teeth. Even though this information nearly universal, only about 50% of Americans floss daily. Where does the discrepancy originate? For many, flossing either takes up too much time or doesn’t fit in with their schedules. Others simply don’t like using dental floss. With this in mind, we wanted to take a moment to introduce different types of floss, flossers and flossing alternatives. We are sure you can find a product that fits in with your dental care needs!

This Oral-B floss is both waxed and has a threader built in. 

This Oral-B floss is both waxed and has a threader built in. 

Although there are many different brands of traditional dental floss on the market, they all generally produce the same results. The real difference comes from preferences in packaging, flavoring and texture. For patients who have found floss too “sharp” or “cutting” to use, we suggest looking for a waxed variety. Furthermore, those with orthodontic appliances, bridges or permanent retainers might benefit from floss with an attached threader tip. While these varieties may be more expensive than using a reusable threader, they offer added convenience and ease of use.

GUM Soft Picks are great alternatives to traditional floss.

GUM Soft Picks are great alternatives to traditional floss.

Beyond traditional floss, there are a number of great alternatives designed to clean between your teeth. Many patients enjoy single-use flossers with handles, as they are portable, disposable and easy to use on-the-go. These devices are also great for kids who don’t yet have the motor skills to use regular floss. Others may prefer flossing picks, such as GUM Soft-Picks. These tree-shaped products expand below the gumline to remove plaque similarly to regular dental floss. Because of their shape, they great for cleaning around orthodontic appliances as well.

A Typical Water Flosser

A Typical Water Flosser

Water flossers such as the Waterpik systems can also be utilized in cleaning between the teeth. Research suggests they are not as thorough or effective as other flossing methods, but they still represent an improvement over doing nothing. There are certain scenarios where water flossers can be a benefit to patients with periodontal disease, but this needs to be evaluated on an individual level. As with any oral hygiene product, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using water flossers. Regularly changing tips and cleaning water reservoirs prevents the buildup of harmful bacteria and biofilms.


At Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry, we know that our patients are presented with a number of choices in dental home care. We want to give you the information to make the best choices for your personal needs. If you would like to know more about flossing, toothbrushes, toothpaste or any other dental products, please give our office a call!

Comment

Video Blog on Home Hygiene

Comment

Video Blog on Home Hygiene

Greetings, my name is Dr. Kari Ann Hong, and I have a family dentistry practice where I see patients from all age groups.  In my practice, I help educate my patients about what they can do at home to help care for their teeth.  

The first topic of discussion is what patients eat and drink and how frequently they do so.  Our mouths all naturally harbor a certain amount of bacteria.  A specific strain called streptococcous mutans is responsible for eating the foods and beverages we ingest and creating acid.  This acid causes a breakdown in the calcium phosphate structure of our teeth, leading to tooth decay.  Certain foods will stick to the teeth longer than others and make the teeth more susceptible to decay.  Examples of cavity provoking foods and beverages are pretzels, crackers, cereals, sodas, energy drinks, and juices.  Natural foods that come from a tree or are picked from the ground will naturally wash of the teeth much quicker after we eat it.

Every time we eat or drink something other than water, our mouth will become more acidic for at least fifteen minutes after we ingest it.  So the more frequently we eat, the more acid that accumulates in our mouths.

In order to counteract the bacteria in our mouths and the foods that stick to our teeth, it is important that we brush twice a day and floss once a day.  I generally recommend an electric rechargeable toothbrush like a Sonicare or an Oral B to all of my patients.  These electric toothbrushes are great because they help remove plaque build up better that we can with a manual toothbrush.  Also, they have timers on them to encourage us to brush for a full two minutes.  I recommend that my patient split their mouth up into four quadrants, and spend 30 seconds on each quadrant.  If you choose to use a manual toothbrush, then I recommend a soft tooth brush.  A harder tooth brush can adversely abrade the gum tissue or the tooth surface with extended use.  Place the tooth brush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth surface.  Make sure to gently massage the tooth and focus on where the teeth meet the gums, because this is where the plaque likes to collect.  

I recommend flossing or using a hygiene tool to clean below the contact of the teeth at least once a dayThe idea behind flossing is that you want to get the floss between the gum and the tooth, by wrapping each tooth you have just flossed between in a C-motion.  For the butler soft pic, you just need to get it below the contact area.

In terms of what toothpastes or mouthwashes to use, I have a couple of suggestions.  Any fluoridated toothpaste will be sufficient to clean the teeth.  In patients that have a high risk of tooth decay, I will often recommend an additional  tooth paste to be brushed on with a dry toothbrush, after regular tooth brushing.  CariFree gel and MI paste are two of my favorite products for tooth remineralization.  Both products have calcium, phosphate, and fluoride that help to rebuild tooth structure.  

For mouth washes, I like over the counter ACT Fluoride rinse for those prone to tooth decay.  For those that are prone to gum disease, I recommend Listerine, which is anti-bacterial.  CariFree also makes a mouth wash that is pH neutral and has the same calcium and phosphate as the gel.

Finally, if you like to chew gum, then you can also fight your bacteria at the same time, by finiding a gum with xylitol. Xylitol is a plant derived sugar that prohibits the bacteria in our mouths from producing acid.  Studies have shown that 5-8mg of xylitol a day in a chewable form helps protect our teeth.  

If you would like more information about what you can do to prevent tooth decay and make your teeth healthier, contact us for a new patient exam, where we will go into your specific needs in detail!

Name *
Name
Phone
Phone


Comment