REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
Ok, I am very excited about this post! While discussing the topic of healthy habits, I wanted to do a post on dental hygiene. I turned to my dear, cousin Meagan who seriously blew it out of the water. I could not have asked for a better post! Here she is:
First of all let me introduce myself! My name is Meagan, I have been a registered Dental Hygienist for 6 years and I believe that most, if not all, dental problems can be prevented. I am pro fluoride for reasons I will explain later, and I believe parents need to be involved in their children’s oral cleanliness until they stop paying for their children’s dental work.
The first thing I want people to understand is how inflammation in the gums can affect the rest of your body. When plaque, which is soft left over food particles, is not thoroughly cleaned out of your mouth the natural bacteria eat it and multiply. That bacteria then gets trapped when the plaque mineralizes into tarter or calculus. The gums become irritated, swollen and bleed easily. At this point the body is constantly combatting the bacteria in your mouth, the inflammatory response never turns off, and your body is never completely healthy. This can cause you to get colds and flus more easily, have stronger allergy symptoms, take longer to heal everywhere else in your body, and even make it more difficult to become pregnant. Having regular dental cleanings ensures that at least once a year your mouth is well cleaned and allowed to heal. The inflammatory response is stopped and your body is that much healthier. Keeping it that way is the difficult part!
Let’s talk about babies!
For your baby to have strong teeth they need a few things! They need calcium, vitamin D to help their bodies absorb the calcium, generally healthy bodies and parents who love them!
First thing is first. Never, and I mean NEVER let your baby fall asleep in their crib while drinking their milk. As your new babies teeth are forming they are most likely breast feeding, or bottle feeding only. Milk has natural sugars that will feed the bacteria in your baby’s mouth, and that bacteria will eat away at their brand new little teeth! Sometimes teeth develop later once the baby starts eating solids. There is not a lot to worry about except implementing some vitamin d, either drops for the baby or vitamins for the mother who is breast feeding, as well as keeping up their calcium through foods if they have begun eating solids. Once those cute little teeth start popping out, parents need to brush them, wipe them with a cloth or use a little finger brush. But as I said, milk has sugar, and a lot of babies end up with something called “Baby bottle caries” which is cavities all throughout their baby teeth from improper bottle feeding- namely letting them drink their bottle through the night, or letting them drink juice at night.
One thing to really look for in your baby is how they are doing health wise. If they develop allergies to foods or have immune deficiencies their teeth might develop weaker and get cavities easier. One sign that they were malnourished while their teeth were developing would be little white spots on their teeth.
Let’s talk about children!
Children start developing their adult teeth when they are 4-5 years old. At that age nutrition and fluoride are very important! Fluoride when ingested (eaten) will be absorbed into the teeth and make the enamel stronger. This makes getting cavities more difficult. It would be important as parents to know if you live in a place where fluoride is in your water supply or not! If your community is fluoridated, then it is important that your children actually drink the water from the tap and not always filtered water. – Now, if too much fluoride is ingested, from eating a tube of toothpaste or living in an area where there is very high fluoride content, children’s teeth may grow in with dark spots and be weaker and more susceptible to cavities. So monitored fluoride intake is important. If there is no fluoride in your city water supply some ways to get it to your children are prescription pills- like little vitamins- through your family doctor or dentist. Or sometimes schools will have a fluoride system running through the school water supply.
Whether or not your child is getting fluoride, they need to be eating healthy foods and cleaning their teeth regularly. Calcium rich foods are a staple, and always remember that bacteria eat sugar and then produce acid that eats away the teeth. No matter how old your child is, parents need to be involved in the cleaning. Small children, although stubborn, need help to brush their teeth! Do not let them go the whole day on their own brushing skills! At least once a day, morning or night, parents should have a turn making sure the teeth are clean. And for those teenagers, since you are still paying for their dental care, parents should be at least asking if they are brushing morning and night. Flossing should be introduced around the child’s first dental appointment- 3yrs. Floss picks and power toothbrushes make a huge difference to how healthy the mouth is.
Power toothbrushes have timers and the spinning or sonic movements pull the plaque off your teeth easier than a manual toothbrush. If possible, use only small brush heads. The round or oval type can be turned to reach all areas of the mouth, but large 2 piece power heads are often too bulky to get to the back and other areas. Children who use power toothbrushes properly have healthier gums than those who do not. Floss picks are easy to use, the reach between all the teeth and remove the plaque and bacteria that toothbrushes can’t.
Let’s talk about adults!
Adults who brush with power toothbrushes have healthier gums than those who do not, especially in cases where flossing is not being done. If you are not big on flossing, then buy yourself a small head power toothbrush and make a difference in your oral health. Flossing between your teeth is important, there is bacteria between your teeth, food particles, popcorn kernels, and chicken pieces. It is truly disgusting to be cleaning someone’s teeth and take out a popcorn kernel when the person doesn’t even remember eating popcorn in the past week! It is more disgusting to clean out chunks of food that are wedged between your teeth! Just think of the bacteria lingering around those left overs. One helpful tool is a waterpick. If you seriously cant use a floss pick or use a string of floss on your fingers to get between your teeth, then a waterpick will squirt water or even mouthrinse through your teeth and decrease the amount of bacteria there.
There are many reasons besides cleaning that can cause adults to have more cavities, or constant inflammation in their gums. Things like diabetes, medications that cause dry mouth, breathing through your mouth, hormonal changes (teenagers and women mostly), and the strength of your teeth. Ingested fluoride has no more effect on adult teeth once they are fully formed, but the topical fluoride offered in dental offices, or mouth rinses and toothpastes with fluoride in them will strengthen the outer layer of your teeth for a time making it more difficult for cavities to form and progress.
Things to remember:
Inflamed gums cause more problems than just bleeding.
Calcium needs vitamin D for the body to absorb it
Babies should not go to bed with milk or juice with them
Bacteria need sugars to live
Fluoride ingested during tooth development can strengthen the teeth
Parents need to help children brush and floss properly
Power toothbrushes have been proven to help the health of gums
Not cleaning between your teeth is gross for your body and the people who end up having to do it for you!