If everyone, starting from birth, took excellent care of their teeth and gums, dentists would be hard-pressed to make a living. Dental needs would be mostly limited to orthodontics, surgery, crowns on cracked teeth, TMD pain treatment, and an occasional root canal. None of my children or grandchildren had dental decay or gum problems and the same holds true for the families of the people who work for me. It is not because they received special care from my office, it is because the parents forced them to keep their teeth clean. It is never too late to make a difference in your oral health.
With the internet, Walmart and super drugstore chains taking over the world, do-it-yourself dentistry is becoming bigger, better and faster. This article is meant to be your “cheat sheet” on wise and unwise DIY dentistry. Home care has and will always be the gold standard of dental health. Yes, it takes a combination of brushing, water lavage and flossing after every meal to have perfectly healthy teeth and gums. New technology is making this task easier and easier. The Waterpik Sonic Fusion Flossing Electric Toothbrush is a Sonicare electric toothbrush connected to a water pick; yes, it squirts out water as it brushes the teeth, and it really works great.
Plackers have changed the world of flossing; it seems as if everyone is using them. They have a small plastic handle with two goal posts and floss strung between them. Fortunately, they are helping people floss more, but unfortunately, so many people are throwing them out the car window. We now have flossing trash. In my days, colorful cowboys put feathers in the brim of their cowboy hats. I recently saw one who replaced his feather with a Plackers. That made my day.
I prefer Soft Points to Plackers because they feel good between my teeth. I have them in my truck and use them when traveling.
Toothpaste is overrated in my opinion. The latest and sexiest is created with the addition of flavors or chemicals as a marketing tool. Mechanical brushing, water lavage, and flossing do most if not all the needed mechanical work to get food debris off the teeth and gum. Some people have very sticky plaque and saliva and need some extra help. Dr. Tim Rainey, of Refugio, has invented “Common Sense Teeth Powder” and has it for sale on Amazon. It is made with simple, natural ingredients for improved dental health. It contains Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that tastes sweet but unlike sugar isn’t converted in the mouth to acids that can promote tooth decay.
Mouthwashes that make your mouth feel fresh are just that, something that only briefly refreshes. If you like using them, do some research on alcohol content. If your mouthwash burns, more than likely the burning is due to the harshness of the alcohol. Alcohol does kill bacteria, but it kills the good along with the bad. Good bacteria are necessary for the mouth to keep the bad bacteria in check. Alcohol also inhibits saliva production which contributes to dry mouth. It is interesting to note that the primary reason alcohol is added is to dissolve other chemicals such as menthol or eucalyptol; yes, a form of marketing.
A healthy amount of saliva is a very good thing. Saliva has many important jobs: constantly washing teeth and gums, making it easier to swallow foods, antibacterial against bad bacteria, lubricates the tissues of the mouth, checks and balances PH, and remineralizes enamel.
A dry mouth, due to lack of saliva, is very detrimental to the teeth plus it is very uncomfortable. Why one has dry mouth is a complicated subject involving many variables and beyond the scope of this article. With dry mouth and no saliva to do its chores, recurrent decay becomes a major problem.
At some point in time, the importance of breathing through one’s nose is going to be common knowledge. It is so important, I am saving that topic for next month’s article. But I am going to leave you a tip on getting a better night’s sleep — one that can help with morning dry mouth. Please research “mouth taping for sleep” and see what makes sense to you.