Dentist Approved Oral Health and Hygiene Tips
A walk through the supermarket toothbrush aisle indicates how much Edmontonians care about their teeth! The variety of toothpaste alone can be a dizzying sight! Toothpaste for whitening, toothpaste for extra tartar protection, and toothpaste with and without fluoride – with so many companies vying for your consumer dollar, it can be difficult to distinguish hype from value. The truth is, oral health has more to do with your habits and lifestyle than the products you choose off the shelf. Here are some approved oral health tips from your Dentist in Edmonton to keep your family’s oral health in fine form.
Babies and Oral Hygiene
Most babies are born without any erupted teeth at all, but that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from some gentle hygienic oral care. Regardless of whether your baby is drinking formula or breast milk, sugars in their diet still contribute to the growth of bacteria and acids in their mouths. We recommend gently wiping your baby’s gums down once a day with a soft, wet baby cloth. Not only does this practice clean the gums, but it provides your baby an introduction to what a toothbrush may feel like. Babies who have a toothbrush inserted in their mouths for the first time without any experience with this may respond with a gag reflex. As baby chews and sucks on the cloth, they are building a tolerance for this feeling – and when they start to teethe you will find them chewing vigorously on your baby cloth wrapped finger which you may or may not approve of depending upon how many sharp little teeth they have erupted already!
Previous times saw some dentists recommending that a bottle of juice or milk be left in a baby’s crib as a means of soothing them in the night. The results of this practice were many unnecessary pediatric cavities and gum disease. These days science tells us that this is the wrong approach – if a baby must have a mid-night bottle, fill it with water instead. Water will still soothe the baby’s need to suck but will not adversely affect their precious enamel.
It can be common for children to use thumb-sucking or compulsive use of a soother to help them self-soothe. While thumb sucking is difficult to prevent in older children and may require a professional’s opinion, babies can be discouraged from both scratching themselves and from thumb-sucking by putting them to bed with baby mittens or socks over their hands. This way, your baby can move his or her hands freely, but they are dissuaded from thumb-sucking.
Many sleep-deprived parents will agree that there is a time and a place for pacifier or soother use, but your dentist would prefer that the course of use be infrequent and for a short duration before being discontinued altogether. Pacifiers are held up against the teeth and pressure is exerted on the teeth by the suction that their sucking motion produces. The risk is a displacement of the front teeth and subsequent developmental concerns in their oral health and speech development.
Big Girls and Boys
From birth to the age of 3, fluoridated toothpaste should only be used on the advice of your dentist in Edmonton. If your dentist has cause to believe that your child’s oral profile requires the benefits of fluoride, use as much toothpaste as the size of a grain of rice since your baby or toddler may be unable to spit the toothpaste out and it may therefore be consumed.
Big boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 6 will feel proud to brush their own teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste under the supervision and assistance of a parent. They should be learning to spit out the toothpaste when done at this age, and will enjoy squirting the right amount of toothpaste onto the brush – the size of a pea, please!
If you are responsible for your own oral health as well as your family’s, may we recommend a family dentist? Starting a partnership with your dentist in Edmonton as early as possible puts you and your family on a path to oral health excellence with a dentist who is invested in your wellness. Family dentists place great value on their long-term relationships with their clients and on their ability to provide every member of your family with a positive experience each time you visit. Ask us about our extended hours and group appointments!
Nutrition and Lifestyle
Your oral health is greatly impacted by the foods that you eat on a routine basis. While most of us will automatically think about simple sugars when the quality of their diet in relationship to their teeth is mentioned, but many of the foods we eat every day are not as healthy for our teeth as we think! Take, for example, the amount of bread and potato chips many people consume over the course of a week. Bread and chips are both carbohydrates which pack into the peaks and valleys and nooks and crannies of our teeth and form a sticky paste. Plaque bacteria love to live on the carbs in our foods and this contributes to oral decay the same way a box of candies or chocolate would.
A diet that focuses on eating green vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will support your systemic health as well as your oral wellbeing. Limiting beverages like coffee and tea and consuming more fresh water helps flush the mouth regularly, and does not contribute to the growth of bacteria the way a sticky sweet cola would when left in the moist warm environment of your mouth.
Lifestyle choices such as whether you choose to smoke or to drink alcohol regularly will also impact the wellness of your mouth, as cigarette smoke dries the mouth and contributes to staining and gum disease and alcoholic beverages tend to be acidic, sweet and staining to the teeth. If you must have a sticky sweet beverage or a glass of wine, drink it in one sitting, such as over dinner to allow the food that you are eating to regulate the pH in the mouth. An acidic mouth is an unhealthy one for your teeth and soft tissues.
Flossing – the Real Deal
If you’re brushing your teeth twice a day and skipping the flossing routine, you still might consider your hygiene game pretty tight. Great as it is to brush, however, skipping out on the floss is putting you at risk not just of cavities – but of bad breath!
Consider, for a moment, how much of your teeth are not reachable by the bristles in your toothbrush. Anywhere the teeth are touching means your toothbrush will be denied access – this can be as much as 40% of the total surface of your teeth! That means that even if your toothbrush cleans to 100% of its capacity, you’re still only rocking 60% of the show. Don’t believe us? You might after seeing the blood produced by your gums at your first several attempts to floss them! This isn’t an indication that you shouldn’t be flossing- quite the opposite. Your gums are bleeding because chronic irritation from the plaque stuck around them and between the teeth is irritating your tissues, making them hypersensitive to flossing and keeping them swollen and red. A flossing routine that is consistent over a matter of days will discourage the depositing of plaque and make your gums much more resilient to flossing.