Take care of your teeth

Your smile is one of the most beautiful things about you, next to your winning personality and compassionate heart. Today we will focus some attention on those pearly whites and refresh your memory on the basics of oral health.

Brushing basics

You have heard all of this before from your parents and your dentist, ad nauseum. Here it is explained clearly, because your oral health is just that important:

Use a soft brush and a gentle touch. Plaque is not tile cement, it doesn’t take much force to remove it from the tooth surface. Manual and electric toothbrushes are equally effective.
Hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums. Use short up and down strokes and don’t forget hard to reach areas like behind those second molars.
Brush twice daily.
Brush for two minutes. Experts recommend dividing the mouth into four quadrants and brushing for 30 seconds on each. Some electric toothbrushes are equipped with timers, if you like that sort of thing.
Replace your toothbrush after three or four months. Don’t be afraid to throw your old one out before that if it starts to look worn.

[(1) Primary source: WebMd.com]

To floss or not to floss, that is the question

Recent news reports have suddenly made flossing, that pillar of good dental health, controversial. The New York Times broke a story in August of 2016 that the benefits of flossing were not well supported by science. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found little evidence in a review of 12 randomized controlled trials that flossing reduced plaque or prevented cavities. Yet just a paragraph or two later, the same article quotes Dr. Wayne Aldredge, the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, as saying that not flossing could lead to periodontitis, a “slow, bone-melting disease,” and that individuals not flossing are “rolling the dice.” (2) In other words, flossing does serve a beneficial purpose in dental hygiene, but might not be accomplishing all we originally thought it to do. The feds and the ADA were quick to respond to the controversy, assuring the populace that flossing was still an important element of oral health. (3)

Watch what you eat

Diet, important to all aspects of our health, also plays a role in keeping our teeth in top shape. Here are five foods (and drinks) you should get plenty of for optimal oral health:

  • Fluoridated water. About 75% of Americans have fluoride in their water, but if your community does not, drink plenty of water anyway and be sure you are brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt have protein and calcium to strengthen teeth.
  • Lean proteins. Lean meat, chicken, fish and eggs help rebuild tooth enamel and strengthen teeth.
  • Fruits and vegetables. High in water and fiber, they are useful in cleaning teeth.
  • Nuts. Nuts provide more proteins and minerals for tooth health. Chewing nuts, fruits and vegetables has the additional benefit of stimulating saliva production, which helps reduce the risk of cavities.

[(4) Primary source: Mouthhealthy.org, by the American Dental Association.]

Video how-to for proper brushing
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth

Oral health linked to total health
http://www.healthline.com/health/preventative-dentistry#Effects2
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475?pg=2

The federal government and the ADA speak out on flossing and interdental cleaners
http://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2016-archive/august/statement-from-the-american-dental-association-about-interdental-cleaners

References

Grant L. 9 toothbrushing mistakes — and how to fix them. WebMD. Accessed Sep 15 2016.
Saint Louis C. Feeling guilty about not flossing? Maybe there’s no need. The New York Times. Aug 2 2016.
Federal government, ADA emphasize importance of flossing and interdental cleaners. News Releases: American Dental Association. Aug 4 2016.
Good foods for dental health. Mouthhealthy.org. Accessed Sep 15 2016.

Dana Vaughan

About Dana Vaughan

Dana completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Social Work (MSW) at San Diego State University, and has worked in family planning education, prenatal counseling, and child development. She loves her mountain bike, her husband, her kids, and her faith—although possibly not in that order.

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