Friday, September 30, 2011

Flossing for Flawless Dental Health

By Aishwarya Jayadeep

I always had problem flossing, as my teeth are all tight together. But now with the waxed flosses that are available, flossing is a breeze. I didn't  know anything about flossing until I went for dentistry. So you can guess how popular flossing was fifteen years back, where I come from. I still remember the first time I tried flossing  and how much I hated it; as it was not something I was used to, growing up. Still, I try to find excuses for not flossing. But it is different with Aishwarya. As she has always flossed  regularly since childhood, flossing comes as second nature to her. So friends, if you are someone like me who didn't floss growing up, my advice is to start flossing as it is never too late and you will get used to this with time. And if you have a little one, make sure you imbibe this habit in him or her so that flossing becomes a breeze to him /her.

Flossing removes the bacteria that escape the toothbrush by hiding in the tiny spaces in between teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only 65% of your body. The other 35% remains dirty! The American Dental Association recommends that you floss at least once a day. Plaque (the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings) is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease -- and, eventually, tooth loss. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.
Effective flossing does take a while -- once a day for a “good three to five minutes”. But even 60 seconds of flossing is of enormous benefit.
If flossing causes gum pain or bleeding, odds are you have gingivitis or gum disease -- precisely the conditions for which flossing is beneficial.With daily brushing and flossing, gum pain and bleeding should stop within a week or two. If either persists, see a dentist.

Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide.They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean.
You may prefer a prethreaded flosser or floss holder,these disposable plastic Y-shaped devices (some equipped with a spool of floss) hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use. which often looks like a little hacksaw. Flossers are handy for people with limited dexterity, for those who are just beginning to floss, or for caretakers who are flossing someone else's teeth.I recommend this for kids too.

How to floss?
Here’s how the American Dental Association describes the process:

Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and use a gentle shoeshine motion to guide it between teeth.
When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth (“unspooling” fresh sections of floss as you go along).
Don’t forget to floss the backs of your last molars. “By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth,”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sealants: A way to seal cavities

By Aishwarya Jayadeep

I still remember vividly the first caries that I ever had. It was on the biting surface of my first lower left  molar  when I was about 10 years old. Now I realize that had I treated my teeth with sealants (and not taken chocolates before going to bed..or had brushed my tooth afterwards as my parents had asked me to :-) ), I could have avoided the onset of caries. I can't blame my parents for not giving me sealant treatment. I am sure they would have done it had that been available then. But in this time and age when there is this option, I still find parents who don't take this as an effective measure to prevent caries; that too even when the dentists suggest doing it. This posting is for those of you who are in two minds about getting sealants for their little ones or for those who haven't heard of this wonder method to prevent caries on the biting surfaces.

Studies have shown that sealants are very effective in preventing dental decay. Studies suggest that dental sealants can lower the risk of cavities by up to 90%.
Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to act as a barrier between the tooth and harmful bacteria. They are most effective when applied to decay-susceptible biting surfaces on the grooves and  pits of the teeth as soon as the teeth come out. Here's how sealants work: The sealing material is applied to the tooth surface using an "etching" fluid. The sealant partially penetrates the tooth enamel, ensuring that it is firmly attached to the tooth. Once applied, the sealant fills in the tooth's grooves, hardens and creates a thin plastic barrier that keeps cavity-causing bacteria out of the pits and fissures. There is no drilling and no discomfort.
A dental sealant can only provide adequate protection when it is fully intact. If you notice that even a small portion of the entire sealant has come off you should let your dentist know.

Not all teeth require the protection that dental sealants can provide. .

  1. It is the shape of their grooves (pits and fissures) that can place some teeth at greater risk for cavity formation than others. Those people whose grooves are deep and narrow will have a more urgent need for dental sealants than those people whose grooves are naturally shallow and rounded as tooth brush bristles will not be able to reach the food lodged in the narrow deep groves hence providing a breeding area for the caries causing bacteria.
  2. Beyond pit and fissure anatomy, your dentist will consider other variables that might indicate that a tooth is at risk for developing decay and thus a candidate for a sealant. They will evaluate the amount of dental plaque they find present, the amount of decay the patient has experienced in the past, and the patient's current exposure to an appropriate amount of fluoride.

Molars, the first of a child's permanent back teeth to come out, are typically sealed at around age 6. Other permanent teeth can be treated when they too first appear. Usually the last teeth to be sealed are the permanent second molars, which comes out at around age 12. Of course, teeth that don't yet have this protection can be sealed at any point or age.
An adult's teeth also can be sealed, although this procedure is typically utilized as a preventive measure for children so to help protect their teeth during those years when they are most likely to experience tooth decay. The need for dental sealants for either a child's or an adult's teeth should be considered on a case by case basis.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Selecting the Right Tooth Paste

By Aishwarya Jayadeep
As a small kid I used to insist that my parents buy only that brand of toothpaste that had  a miniature toy that came with it. When I grew up a little more, I fancied the more colorful gel toothpaste with sweet, clove flavor only. Now a days this cycle is repeating itself through my daughter. But as a parent, I am not that lenient as my parents used to be on this matter. Ever since I studied dentistry, I started looking into the ingredients and basing my buying decisions on that. So let me discuss with you what to look for in your toothpaste, that most used item in your toiletry kit.
What is the role of toothpaste in keeping up good dental health?
Brushing with toothpaste is recommended due to the following reasons.
 1. A toothpaste along with a correct brushing technique helps  remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth that causes caries, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss if not controlled.
2. Fluoride contained in the tooth paste  makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and
promotes remineralization.
3. Gentle abrasives in the toothpaste help to clean and polish the teeth and remove stains over time.
4. Toothpastes help freshen breath and leave your mouth with a clean feeling

Toothpaste need not always be in the paste form. It can be a gel, powder, or paste that you brush onto your teeth and gums to help get rid of accumulating plaque and improve your oral health.
What are the typical ingredients of toothpaste?
In general, toothpastes include the following ingredients:

  • Gentle abrasives,to polish the teeth and remove stain
  • Humectants ,to keep the toothpaste from drying out.
  • Thickeners to give the toothpaste a homogeneous appearance and texture.
  • Fluoride to help make tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
  • Flavoring agents that do not cause tooth decay, such as saccharin.
  • Detergents,  to make the toothpaste foamy.

With so many toothpastes in the market, it is natural for you to feel confused about which toothpaste to buy, when shopping for a tooth paste. Here are some useful tips:
Most experts said that as long as your toothpaste contains fluoride which is the most crucial ingredient in toothpaste, the brand you buy really doesn't matter. All toothpastes with fluoride work effectively to fight plaque and cavities. Some toothpastes offer tartar control pyrophosphates to prevent the build-up of soft calculus deposits on teeth, while others offer whitening formulas to safely remove stains making teeth brighter and shinier. But, contrary to clever advertising and popular belief, fluoride is the true active ingredient that works the hardest to protect your teeth. Some other considerations while selecting your toothpaste are:
1. If you have sensitive teeth, desensitizing toothpaste should be used as the key ingredient, strontium
chloride or potassium nitrate protects the tubules in the teeth that are connected to the nerves.
2. In tartar-control toothpaste, the key ingredient is sodium pyrophosphate. This type of toothpaste will not remove tarter but only keep it from forming above the gum line. Prolonged use of this type of
toothpaste may cause sensitivity in some people.
3. In antimicrobial toothpaste such as Colgate Total, the key ingredient is triclosan which is an antibacterial agent. This type of toothpaste is supposed to remove bacteria that can cause gum disease but it will not remove existing tartar.
4. In baking soda toothpastes, the key ingredient is baking soda. Baking soda is a mild abrasive and may cause gum irritation after prolonged use. The only benefit to this type of toothpaste is that it leaves you with a fresh feeling in your mouth which can be an incentive to brush longer.
5. Whitening toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that lighten teeth. These ingredients may cause
gum irritation and sensitivity to teeth. They are also not as effective as the bleaching kits found in your
dentist’s office.
6. Children's Toothpaste. These toothpastes have been developed to meet the special needs of children. As children are extremely susceptible to dental cavities, their toothpastes often contain fluoride. Younger children should only use a small amount of toothpaste to avoid ingestion and prevent dental fluorosis and should be always supervised during brushing.
7.Tooth Powders. Dry powders are also available to clean your teeth but they are often more abrasive
than toothpaste.
So now you can know which kind of toothpaste is right for you. Anyway, it would be a better idea to change the type of toothpaste you use often  enough in order to have clean, healthy and white teeth.
As important as the type of toothpaste you use is the way you use it. Adults usually only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste nothing more or nothing less.

Monday, September 5, 2011

All About Cavities

By Aishwarya Jayadeep
What harm can possibly come from eating some delicious fresh fruit? Well, we experience it the hard way, over and over again. Whenever it is the season for "Cuties", the delicious California Manderins (these are cute, sweet, little cousins of oranges), we buy them in bulk. And we eat loads of them. But in two to three weeks time, we would invariably end up having sensitivity on our teeth! Even though I had studied all the theory about what is bad for your teeth, it is difficult to put everything into practice -as whenever I see those cuties, I can't resist myself. This is just to illustrate my point that even some of those foods that you would consider healthy otherwise, could harm you if taken in larger quantities.
But having said all this, I am not sure if I could ever resist a cutie any time :-)
I thought of talking to you all about cavities, sensitivity and some foods that can contribute to that.
Tooth enamel is much like bone; a kind of lattice skeleton with minerals packed in between the lattice. (It would be easier to visualize  it like a honeycomb with the honey being the minerals packed between the structure).
Many of the common food that we take can damage the enamel and trigger cavities. Anything acidic will dissolve the minerals out of the lattice structure(demineralize). Some fruit juices like apple juice are extremely acidic and contains sugars that feed harmful bacteria in the mouth. Sodas are also very acidic - this is true even for the diet ones. Fruited waters, vitamin waters,wine, pickles ,honey,sports drinks- all these are very acidic. It may come as a surprise to many that even our own saliva could turn acidic sometimes. All these can cause tooth enamel to wear away and teeth to become sensitive, cracked and discolored.
People with acidic saliva are usually those under stress, those with some kind of hormonal imbalance or anyone with a dry mouth. As we age our bodies become more acidic and this can be reflected in our saliva. When it comes to cavities, bacteria are public enemy number #1. Our mouths, teeth and toothbrushes are full of bacteria which settle on our teeth in plaque, a goo of proteins, saliva, and food debris.  Bacteria devour food particles left on our teeth. Ungrateful guests, these bacteria produce acid as a by-product of their feasting. It is this acid which eats into the tooth enamel creating cavities.
However teeth have a moderate ability to repair tooth enamel by remineralizing the affected enamel with minerals from saliva. Unfortunately, in most cases the rate of destruction by acid exceeds this rate of repair.
But it is not all bad news.
Some foods may actually help defend against tooth decay in special ways. For instance, recent studies have indicated that fresh cranberries interrupt the bonding of oral bacteria before they can form damaging plaque. Other foods that have beneficial effects on oral health include:

  • Calcium-fortified juices, milk and other dairy products, which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, help promote healthy teeth and bones, and reduce the risk for tooth loss
  • Cheese, which unleashes a burst of calcium that mixes with plaque and sticks to the teeth, protecting them from the acid that causes decay and helping to rebuild tooth enamel on the spot
  • Crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery, which help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath
  • Tannins found in coffee,cocoa and tea  helps in your fight against caries ,though they stain  pits and grooves of tooth enamel, producing a rough,stained surface
Timing is everything
A diet that promotes good oral health is not just about the foods you eat or avoid — when and how you eat them is equally important.

  • Foods that take a long time to chew or that you hold in your mouth (such as cough drops) can damage teeth as they hold sugar against teeth longer than do other foods
  • Instead of snacking on sugary, carbohydrate-rich or acidic foods throughout the day, eat these foods just during meal times in order to minimize the amount of time the teeth are exposed to acid