As of late, many home-based Millennial blogs have exploded with the implementation of an age-old remedy into a dental hygiene routine known as oil-pulling. Albeit probably several thousands of years old and originally from an Ayurvedic Indian technique, the idea was not brought to the Western world until the early 21st century. In 2008, Bruce Fife, author and certified nutritionist, wrote “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing”. From there the concept grew steadily and gained quite a following. The trend made a comeback in 2014, where many female millennial bloggers (like a domino effect) brought it forth into the modern eye once more.
After it was discovered to have some viable testimonies, oil-pulling quickly became a well-known sensation.
How Do You Do It?
The idea is to take 1-2 tablespoons of unrefined organic coconut, sesame, or olive oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Many regular “pullers” like to spend this time answering emails, folding laundry, or showering – basically any 20-something minute activity that involves no speaking. When finished, one spits into a trash can and then continues their daily oral regimen as normal (brushing and flossing). The objective is to rinse the mouth of plaque similar to what a mouthwash will do – but instead of disinfecting the surface areas of the mouth with alcohol and harsh chemicals, toxins are supposedly “pulled” and plaque is loosened from the teeth and gums (NEVER recommended for kids).
Testified Benefits vs. Science
Because every mouth and oral health history can drastically differ from one person to the next, these “cures” are not one-size fits all, nor have all been verified by clinical studies. Here are some reported (not proven) health betterments from oil-pulling advocates representing all walks of life.
- Natural teeth whitener
- Strengthens gums/teeth/jaw (stronger jaw muscles can be attributed to the amount of mouth-movement it requires to swish that long every day)
- Hangover and migraine cure
- Helps with tooth grinding/tooth sensitivity
- Improves halitosis or bad breath
- Prevents cavities/tooth decay (sadly there is not much you can do to cure cavities other than having them removed by a dentist)
- Alleviates mouth pain
- Balances hormones
- Clears up acne & even eczema on the scalp
The list goes on and on! Yet the truth is that less than half of these healing properties can be traced back to any scientific data. As there are so many different factors that could interfere with studying the oil-pulling effects on the rest of the body (diet, body weight, uncontrolled environments, family medical history, etc), really the only way to reduce variables is to test that which takes place inside the mouth. Many of us would like to believe that fitting an additional 20 minutes into our daily routine could be a cure-all to nearly every aspect of our physical problems. While it generally would not be, any medical professional will tell you regardless that oral health and overall health are directly linked. Every life-threatening disease has an oral symptom or origin. For example, individuals with heart disease more often than not have some level of gum disease. Therefore, if oil-pulling has obvious oral benefits, it is only logical that there would be additional outward benefits.
Although not typically dentist recommended, controlled scientific studies have reassured us that, unless swallowed, oil-pulling is not harmful in any way. Swallowing oil permeated with bacteria can be known to cause upset stomach and diarrhea. In incredibly rare cases, when small amounts of oil are inhaled by mistake, it can cause lipoid pneumonia (one of the main reasons it is not recommended for children).
Mouthwash, (which much of society uses daily) is advertised as being able to eliminate 99% of germs – that includes the good germs, too! An organic oil can swish out enamel-eroding bacteria but enable healthy bacteria to live. Therefore coconut or sesame oil can be arguably a better alternative to mouthwash. In addition, it can remove plaque because of the intense pushing of fluids around in the mouth, and this can lead to visibly whitened teeth and most certainly reduce chance of cavities.
If oil-pulling works for an individual, and perhaps has more remedial effects outside of the mouth, more power to them! Again, just because it has never been proven that oil-pulling can or cannot improve any one aspect of oral health, does not mean it can’t. The practice should always be accompanied by brushing and flossing and never used by itself as a treatment. Built-up plaque is the cause of most dental problems, so eliminating this is half the battle. Doing so can have enormous oral and therefore bodily health benefits, regardless of how you choose to do it.
Have you ever had a canker sore? They are not fun, and can appear at the most random and inconvenient times! What is more, it can make simple tasks like eating and brushing pretty painful. Nearly everyone has experienced at least one canker sore in their lifetime, and they are definitely a pain in the mouth! Usually identified by a small, round white bump with redness and tenderness surrounding it, they are classified as small, shallow ulcers. These sores are much different than cold sores and can last up to a week.
What Causes Them?
Canker sores are not caused by any one thing, nor do they target any specific gender or age group (although they do seem to affect those between the ages of 10-20 more). Statistics say that 20% of people report having one at least once a year. So while they do not appear to be a constant occurrence, what does cause them?
Random sores appearing can usually be traced back to a small abrasion in the gums or the mouth. This can be caused by a dental instrument, accidentally biting your tongue or cheek, or brushing too hard. Sometimes these wounds are so minuscule they go unnoticed. From there the minor cut or scrape can become infected with oral bacteria which forms a sore.
Canker sores can also appear in times of emotional stress, certain hormonal changes, and even sensitivity to foods containing acid and citric acid like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, etc, which can erode the inside of the mouth. It can also come from vitamin deficiencies in your diet, such as vitamin B, zinc, and iron.
Wait, Aren’t Cold Sores the Same Thing?
Nope! Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus and are incredibly contagious (luckily, canker sores are not). They also occur on the outside of the mouth, whereas canker sores only appear on the inside. Cold sores are commonly referred to as “fever blisters” since they usually are accompanied by illness. Prior to the cold sore developing there is usually some redness and tenderness where the outbreak will be. Children with cold sores typically experience more severe sickness than adults. They are so named “blisters” because the cluster of painful bumps that form burst after a couple of days. They can last significantly longer than a canker sore and be of course more noticeable than one too.
Natural home remedies can include swishing with mouthwash or saltwater. Both will help to disinfect and dry up the sore, speeding up the healing process. Natural aloe vera and black tea bags can both cure canker sores when applied directly.
Despite the fact that canker sores tend to almost resemble pimples, they should not be popped or poked with a needle. This can cause them to worsen or spread. If you have an outbreak of two or more canker sores at a time and they do not go away on their own and persist after a few weeks, be sure to see a doctor for a specific remedy or even prescribed medication. If continual canker sores persist, try switching to a softer bristled brush to reduce abrasions in the mouth. If you suspect the sores could be diet related, reduce the amount of acids and citric acids you consume.
Mouth grinding is a habit that occurs during deep sleep, meaning many may be unaware that they even do it. Usually it takes a spouse or a loved one of someone that grinds their teeth to be able to notice it in the night. Also known as bruxism, this is a condition that can go unnoticed for long periods of time and is more common in children than adults.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tooth pain, jaw soreness or clicking, molars appearing to be worn flat, enamel wear, and headaches.
Chances are a dentist will be able to perform an examination to tell whether grinding is occurring. It is reported that over 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth; yet it was not until recent years that doctors have actually discovered why.
It used to be a common misconception to link bruxism to stress or anger in the same context as we feel it during the day. Naturally, it can be a natural human response to consciously clench our teeth when we are mad or feeling intensely about something; and while this can happen while we sleep, it is found to actually be more than likely linked to what is called “obstructive sleep apnea”: a disorder that cuts off breathing for anywhere from 10-30 seconds during sleep.
How it Happens
While we sleep, we drift in and out of REM and NREM cycles. These stand for “Rapid Eye Movement” and “Non Rapid Eye Movement” which represent the depth of the levels of which the mind and body rest. As our sleep and rest deepens, all of our muscles relax completely. This includes the neck, jaw, mouth, and tongue. Now, when all of these muscles are completely slack it can actually block the opening of the trachea, closing off our airways!
To counteract this, the body is brilliantly designed to begin grinding. Why? Clenching the jaw is our body’s natural response because it tenses up muscles just enough to clear whatever is preventing air from freely passing through. When the muscles tighten, it reopens the airway!
The sudden obstruction, grinding, and then release unfortunately pulls us out of that deep sleep cycle and into the first stage of NREM (the lightest sleep), disrupting the cycle without the person perhaps even realizing it.
Despite the negativity surrounding bruxism, it is true that is could very well be preventing this form of sleep apnea and allowing air to pass through to the lungs even in the deepest sleep.
Mouth guards might seem like the best solution but in truth can actually make breathing more difficult. It would treat the symptom (teeth grinding) but it would not solve the initial problem.
Sleep apnea is often found to be more prominent in:
- People with anxiety and depression
- Children with ADHD and other learning disabilities
- Children and adults who did not breastfeed as infants for very long or at all
If your teeth grinding is becoming more of an issue, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. When REM occurs, it is in the stages of the night where our skin and brain cells are replenished, our HGH (human growth hormone) is released, it boosts memory, and helps us burn fat. Sleep apnea disrupts this cycle which can lead to weight gain, heart disease and stroke. Children with sleep apnea were reported to struggle with hyperactivity, lack of focus, issues communicating, trouble adjusting to new environments, and in general received lower grades. Remember, just because you are getting an 8-10 hour rest does not always mean that this it is a wholesome, uninterrupted sleep. The good news is that most children outgrow their sleep apnea as well as their grinding, leaving little to no lasting damage on their teeth.
In a recent study, patients were given a CPAP machine (a treatment often used in severe cases of sleep apnea) or an oral device used to adjust placement in the mouth to make breathing easier. Not only did their sleep apnea stop, but so did the bruxism. Check for signs of your children grinding their teeth – chances are if it is a regular occurrence, they are not getting the sleep they need.
While grinding our teeth could be saving your life every night, it can have a long-term effect on one’s overall health. If you are concerned your child may have obstructive sleep apnea, or you yourself have it and you are concerned about your long-term health, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about steps you can take towards treatment. If the grinding persists and there is a legitimate concern about worn-down enamel, talk to your dentist about a safe mouth guard he or she would recommend.
Now that the school year has officially begun, some children may have a hard time adjusting to old social constructs after three long months of little to no interaction with so many peers on a regular basis. Being pushed around or teased by an older sibling is a completely different story than another student on the playground doing it. It can make the child feel threatened, unsafe, angry, and cause anxiety at the prospect of even going to school.
25% of public schools in the U.S. report that bullying happens on a daily if not weekly basis. Many children can be scared to admit when they are being bullied. This can be due to embarrassment, fear parents or teachers will not believe them, or that the bullying will get worse if the bully is provoked by getting punished for his actions.
How to Recognize the Signs
If your child is not telling you outright that he or she is being bullied, here are ways to identify it if you suspect it may be happening. Every situation is different, but a victim of bullying can be spotted if you know what to look for.
Anxiety can often cause loss of appetite, which can in turn lead to moodiness and fatigue. If your child is wanting to eat less or even skip meals altogether, they could be very anxious.
Very few kids are truly bouncing off the walls to go to school every day. If you notice that your child is dragging their feet more than usual, or even trying to make excuses to get out of going to school (feigning sickness, intentionally missing the bus, etc), there could be something deeper than just simply not wanting to go.
If you find your child is being unusually harsh towards you or their siblings, and perhaps exhibiting out-of-character behavior, there is a chance they are reacting from being hurt – either physically, emotionally, or mentally, by someone they must face each day. Going to school five days a week can feel like a full-blown battle for them if this is occurring. This can force the need for them to put up a proverbial wall to guard themselves as a defense mechanism.
Remember that unprovoked cruelty, violence, foul language, name-calling, and extreme rudeness are often learned behaviors. If you aren’t teaching your kids this, they could be learning from somewhere else – i.e., from the bully or bullies that are mistreating them. Children who stand out as disobedient and disruptive are usually those that are not receiving the attention that they need.
How to Respond
If you are noticing any or all of these behaviors, approach your child in a gentle and casual manner. Sometimes asking a blatant question is not enough. A way to do this would be to perhaps tell a story of how you or a family member was bullied as a kid. This makes it feel like a conversation rather than an interrogation and may help you get to the bottom of what is happening.
If and when your child has expressed to you any of their struggles, first thank them for telling you and praise them for having the courage to say something. Contact the school counselor about their bullying policies; there is a chance that they have ways to monitor certain kids closely before disciplinary action is taken. This at least makes them aware of the situation, and helps you work together as a team instead of taking the situation into your own hands – like contacting the bully’s parents directly, you “dealing” with the bully yourself, etc. Chances are, your child is not the only victim.
How to Reconcile
The common phrase of responding to bullies is often: “Stand up to them!” Depending on your parenting style and moral leanings this can look different for everyone. Most parents will give their child permission to physically fight back and defend themselves if a bully is violent. Many say that by a simple retaliation it allows a bully to “get a taste of their own medicine.”
Some parents are more pacifistic in approaching these conflicts and will teach their child to respond in non-physical ways. In verbal fights, this could mean just saying something like, “knock it off,” “please stop,” or saying nothing at all and walking away.
To avoid bullies, teach your children the value of utilizing the buddy system. When a child is alone and isolated they can be singled out quicker and become easier to corner. This means having at least one friend accompany them to their locker, the bathroom, sitting on the bus or in the hallways – basically anywhere where authority is not constantly present.
Although, many bullies will back off if they are simply ignored. The rise they can get out of someone else may be the only gratification they seek. If a bully receives no reaction from a victim at all, the need to tease and fight is lost. However, this concept can be difficult to grasp for a lot of children, as when we are provoked defense is the natural response. It may help if there is some practice role-playing that takes place between you and your child. For example, say something to the effect of, “If ____ teases you on the playground tomorrow, what are you going to do?” These discussions can stay with the child throughout their day and help them remember what to do when they are put in certain scenarios.
Each victim, parent, school, and overall situation is different, so in the event of bullying there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Whatever the case may be, bullying is not to be disregarded as something that builds character (even if this is the end result). Negativity only breeds negativity. While sure, children should learn the value of “sticks and stones” in terms of developing thicker skin, there is something about a child feeling unsafe in an environment they spend the most time in that should not be ignored. Where the character-building comes from is the confidence you place in your child no matter what; and the safety and comfort they can receive from you even in the face of adversity.
We have all been in this situation: we are deep in a discussion with a friend, family member, co-worker, etc, and a ghastly smell wafts from their mouth. Once the smell is detected, it is hard to continue the conversation! Bad breath plagues on average 65% of Americans. For the individual in question it can be a truly embarrassing condition, and even create a fear of speaking aloud if there are no breath mints or chewing gum on hand.
In general, all bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth that is not properly removed. To contrast this idea, a similar bodily process can be found in sweat. Sweating is our body’s way of cooling us off and releasing toxins. However, when sweat is not washed off properly by bathing, it can begin to smell, and become what is known as “B.O.” or “body odor”. Inside our mouths, salivating has a similar purpose. Saliva glands in our mouths are used to wash away bacteria and continually replenish the mouth. Yet when proper oral hygiene is neglected, bacteria can flourish and the mouth can produce a nasty odor.
The Three Types of Bad Breath
1. Eating Those Potent Foods
The most obvious type of bad breath is the type that is completely situational, and that is whenever we eat something with a strong taste. Foods like garlic, onions, coffee, and certain spice-laden meals can seemingly cling to every inch of our mouths after eating them.
Luckily, a quick rinse with mouthwash or a teeth brushing can eliminate these odors fairly quickly after the fact.
2. Morning Breath
Nearly everyone has it, especially if you can be hasty in your nightly dental routine or forget to brush entirely. One of the best ways to prevent morning breath is to scrape your tongue before bed. Most bacteria that breeds overnight when the mouth is closed for up to 8 hours, and overall oral bacteria in general, can be found on the tongue. Another tip is to swish coconut oil before bed. It sounds strange, but this is actually an ancient practice known as oil pulling.
For about 15-20 minutes, swish around a tablespoon of organic pressed coconut oil and do not swallow it! It is said to “catch” bacteria and toxins in a disposable trap more effectively than an alcohol based mouthwash. For real life testimonies and the exact science, research oil pulling online. You will be astounded!
Lastly, the peskiest form of bad breath is known as Halitosis; a chronic condition that is persistent despite brushing and flossing. The cause can be trickier to locate, as there are many possibilities. If you are brushing and flossing consistently and it is not making a difference, chances are it is a problem you may have to consult a dentist about. Chronic bad breath can usually be traced back to two very broad categories: poor dental hygiene (at some point in your life), poor diet – and sometimes, both. When your daily oral regimen (brushing flossing, and rinsing) is not totally thorough on a regular basis (like remembering to brush, yet never flossing), it can lead to all kinds of dysfunction in the mouth that needs to be treated by a dentist: gum disease, cavity, tooth decay – all of which can be prevented. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates, sugary and carbonated drinks, as well as habitual tobacco use can be the cause of most oral ailments especially when made a practice. In fact, most people that use tobacco products daily have bad breath, and if they do not have oral health issues now, chances are they will later in life! Remember to moderate your alcohol, soda, and tobacco use to only special occasions.
A healthy diet and lifestyle benefits your whole body, which includes your mouth. If you believe you may have halitosis, consult your dentist and they will be able to locate certain stages of decay or gum disease. They can also give you tips to improve your habits and specific diet changes you can make.
Overall, remember to visit your dentist twice a year, and to brush twice daily – because breath mints won’t always cut it!
(Please note all facts have been taken from other online sources)
- Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. (But that doesn’t mean we should use our teeth to open lids or packaging!)
- It takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile.
- Babies in the womb start developing teeth under their gums at six weeks gestation. That’s amazing!
- 78% of Americans have had their first cavity by age 17.
- 51 million school hours and 164 work hours per year are lost because of dental related illness. It goes to show that brushing 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night can save a lot more time and money down the road!
- There is more bacteria in a human mouth than there are people on the earth.
- Kids only have 20 teeth, but adults have 32 teeth.
- It is incredibly rare, but a baby can actually be born with teeth already broken through the surface of their gums.
- On average, women smile 62 times a day, where the average man only smiles 8! Kids smile up to 400 times a day. Smiling relieves stress because it releases endorphins in your brain, which in turn can boost your immune system and prevent sickness!
- Wisdom teeth are so named because they come in when one is “older and wiser.” 35% of people are born without them!
- More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones.
- 47% of people report that the first thing they notice about someone is their smile.
- The tooth from an elephant can weigh up to six pounds!
- The tooth is the only part of the body that cannot repair itself.
- Are you left handed or right handed? Left handed people tend to chew on the left side of their mouth, while right handed people tend to chew on their right hand side
- 90% of life threatening conditions have oral related symptoms. This is why it is said that flossing regularly can extend your life expectancy up to six years!
- Just like fingerprints, no two people have the same exact set of teeth or tongue print. Even identical twins have different teeth!
- Saliva has so many purposes. If our mouths were completely dry, we would not be able to distinguish the taste of anything.
- It was common practice in the middle ages to kiss a donkey to cure a toothache.
- The first bristles on toothbrushes were said to be made from cow hairs. Good thing modern day toothbrushes have nylon brushes!
- When you choose to just brush and not floss, that means you are only cleaning two thirds of your tooth surface. Imagine if we only cleaned two thirds of our bodies! That could get pretty yucky over time!
- You produce enough saliva in your lifetime to fill 2 swimming pools – up to 25,000 quarts!
- In Italy and France, they do not have a “Toothy Fairy”, but a “Tooth Mouse.” Imagine putting a tooth under your pillow to await the Tooth Mouse!
Do you long for beautiful, pearly white teeth? Personal habits such as coffee drinking or tobacco use can cause discoloration over time. It’s no wonder that teeth whitening agents have become so popular. This can be a procedure performed by a professional, or as simple as using whitening strips at home. However, have you ever experienced pain while using them?
Most of us have probably heard some not-so-great, or downright scary stories about teeth whitening! However, despite popular misconception, most whitening products have not been deemed officially dangerous by professionals. Regardless, people with sensitive teeth should use caution. It has been reported that the chemicals in teeth whitening products can be harmful if left on for too long. This is because agents such as chlorine dioxide can wear down tooth enamel in the process of removing stains. This causes the nerve to be more exposed; which leads to heightened sensitivity and ultimately pain. While enamel can be reinforced with calcium agents in our diet and certain enamel toothpastes, a tooth remains the only part of the body that cannot fully repair itself.
This may go without saying, but teeth whitening agents are never recommended for little ones and kids who still have baby teeth (12 and under). As adult teeth tend to discolor over the decades, baby teeth should have no problem sparkling as long as they are taken care of! If you have found that your child’s chompers are looking a bit off-color, chances are they are not disciplined in taking care of their teeth by brushing twice and flossing daily. Permanent correction such as whitening should only be conducted with permanent teeth.
Chemical-Free Ways to Whiten Teeth
- The dentist: sometimes all you need is a good deep-clean! Your twice yearly dental visit can clear off build-up of plaque in certain areas and polish teeth in ways department store toothpaste cannot. After your dentist visits, really make sure to be strict about flossing and rinsing daily and see if you notice a difference long-term. For an even stronger effect using this process, purchase whitening mouthwash, used to brighten teeth (not recommended for children!)
- Oil-pulling: an ancient practice, beneficial in countless ways; one of them being teeth whitening! Using organic coconut oil, swish a tablespoon in your mouth for 20 minutes a day. This is a chemical-free way for layers of plaque to be broken down as oils have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It also acts as a trap to pull and collect bacteria. (Don’t have 20 minutes? Try it while in the shower or answering emails. It goes by very quickly!)
- Sugar-free gum with xylitol: chewing gum increases saliva production which cleanses your teeth of bacteria. As we clench down, it can also get those hard-to-reach places, a bit like flossing does.
- An apple a day: a cliche that is nevertheless true! Apples can be beneficial to our teeth as well, because their flesh fibers can act as little toothbrushes in our mouths, washing away plaque and brightening teeth. Research also shows that celery has a similar effect.
One last note:
If you have sensitive teeth and are hesitant about using a whitening product, and have attempted these home remedies to no avail, discuss options with your dentist. There may be a particular product he or she would recommend that would be best for your teeth and your level of staining. Dentists know best!
As much as we love our patients at the Kidds Place, visiting the dentist for a filling can be uncomfortable! Luckily there are more specific ways to keep your teeth healthy and clean besides the obvious. We have all heard it before: brush twice daily, floss, go to the dentist, and do not eat too much sugar. It sounds simple, but does it truly guarantee a filling-free mouth? Every mouth is different, and even the best brushers can still experience decay. But there’s more steps you can take towards cavity prevention for a lifelong healthy smile.
How Does a Cavity Even Form?
Cavities are formed when plaque buildup weakens the tooth enamel, causing it to soften. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when sugar from food has been solidified over a period of time by the bacteria in our mouths. Enamel is a natural hard coating of the tooth made up of minerals such as calcium. If the plaque sticking to the surface of the enamel is not brushed away, it begins to eat away at it. When this occurs, acids begin to penetrate and diminish the tooth itself, causing the dark or black spot where decay has occurred. This is called a cavity because it is a literal chasm that has formed in the tooth itself. It is recommended that children as well as adults receive a teeth cleaning twice yearly. These remove plaque build-up and keep teeth polished and smooth. However, here are some measures you and your family can take outside of the dentist chair.
Foods to Avoid & Foods to Eat
What is the common phrase? “Don’t eat too much sugar, or your teeth will rot!” While it’s true that excess sugar can harm your teeth, there is little point trying to scare kids out of eating sugar so they wont have to “go to the dentist and get a shot”, because while sugar can cause plaque, so can anything high in carbohydrates. This is because all carbs are eventually broken down into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. The solution is simply ensuring that plaque formed from these types of food is properly removed, so no permanent damage can be done to teeth.
While we are all taught to moderate certain foods, did you know there are foods that actually help strengthen your enamel? Any foods rich in calcium – milk, cheese, yogurt, can make the enamel stronger and therefore develop a thicker shield against cavities.
Eat apples! It is said that they can actually clean your teeth. The fleshy fibers found in the white of the apple can act as tiny little “toothbrushes” that scrub at your teeth as you chew. It goes to show that “an apple a day” can keep the dentist away too! (Although, don’t skip out on your twice yearly cleaning). If your kids like celery, it too is known to have a similar effect!
Drink lots of water. Most water systems in the U.S. contain fluoride – one of the minerals commonly used to strengthen teeth. What is more, drinking water ultimately produces more saliva, which can wash away bacteria in the mouth between brushing.
Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes, twice daily – once in the morning and once at night. If your child likes to be speedy and brushes too quickly, practice setting a timer for 2 minutes to ensure they reach every area of their mouth. Remember also that if kids cannot yet tie their shoes, studies show that they have not yet developed the coordination or strength to brush their teeth on their own.
Flossing and rinsing with mouthwash every day can seem like a lot, but try to develop the habit of flossing with the morning brushing, and rinsing with the evening brushing. Floss can reach the pesky plaque that a toothbrush can not – in fact, did you know brushing only cleans two-thirds of our teeth? Floss gets between and cleans the one-third a toothbrush cannot. Imagine if you went your whole life without flossing! There would always be a third of your teeth that never got cleaned. To round it off, mouthwash kills excess bacteria all over the mouth, not just teeth, but gums, tongue, cheeks and roof of mouth where germs can also spread. Using all three can help your kids to be cavity free!
There are two types of toothbrushes on the market today – manual and electric. While there are benefits to both, the brushes themselves can wear out and accumulate bacteria. Manual brushing enables full control from the amount of pressure and movements applied to teeth, which perhaps an electric toothbrush cannot allow because of its rapid and mechanical vibrations. The benefits of electric toothbrushes are quite obvious; when in use, the bristles are able to do more than a regular toothbrush, such as massaging gums and pulsating in between the tight cracks between our teeth, giving us that “straight-from-the-dentist” clean feeling.
Whether you prefer this modern way of dental hygiene or a more traditional, inexpensive method, our teeth still take their toll on these devices and wear them out. What’s more, some researchers show that 10 million germs can be living in our toothbrush! A toothbrush can become a breeding grounds for harmful bacteria if it is not properly stored.
For best results, most experts say to replace your toothbrush every three months (if you use an electric, that means replacing the “head”, or the attachment of the toothbrush). Children may need to replace theirs more frequently because they tend to apply more pressure when brushing. Kids may grow attached to their toothbrush (especially if it has their favorite Disney character on it!) but once the bristles start to bend outwards, dentists say the toothbrush is no longer effective, and should be thrown away.
Care of Your Toothbrush & Good Habits to Form
Because the bristles of our toothbrush wear out so quickly, the American Dental Association recommends rinsing your toothbrush under the faucet between brushings to wash away saliva and toothpaste residue, and to store it upright so the bristles can air dry. If you’re a parent that is extra cautious of bacteria, soak it in rubbing alcohol when not in use, then rinse with water thoroughly.
It can be a difficult task to keep track of how long it has been since each toothbrush in the house has been replaced, especially if you have more than one kid! But remember that your child will receive a new brush with each dentist visit, and these visits occur (at the very least) every 6 months for cleaning. That means you only have to replace it once again, somewhere along the midpoint, between each visit.
*Tip: Instead of remembering to put them on the shopping list every so often, keep your bathroom cupboard or closet stocked with unopened toothbrushes. (Many stores have value packs you can purchase which contain several in a pack). This will make the transitions more convenient for you and your family.
While brushing and flossing alone reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth, did you know that over 50% of oral bacteria sit on your tongue? This bacteria is often responsible for bad breath and can also contribute to tooth decay, so properly removing it can greatly reduce the occurrence and keep breath fresh, for much longer. Caring for your tongue is just as important as the teeth and gums, so don’t leave it behind!
Why it’s important
The mouth is one of the main gateways for pathogens into your body and is also the beginning of your digestive tract. Your tongue is actually the first organ of digestion, aiding food down the esophagus as you swallow. It is also a mode of detoxification and is part of the first line of immune defense. Since up to half of oral bacteria can sit on your tongue, if you’re only brushing teeth and gums, you are leaving behind quite a bit of bacteria in your mouth as well as swallowing some of it, sending it back into your body. Bacteria isn’t the only thing on your tongue either. Food debris and dead skin cells often find their home on the surface of your tongue.
Bacteria buildup on the tongue can begin to look quite obvious. Have you ever noticed a coating on your tongue or that of your child’s? This coating is an accumulation of mostly bacteria and toxins from the body’s cleansing and detoxifying process. During sleep, the body works to eliminate toxins and waste in your system, some of which deposit on the surface of your tongue. This is often why you can see this coating primarily in the morning.
Kids generally have pretty clean, pink tongues. As we get older though, we consistently develop this coating on the back of the tongue which can vary in color from yellow, white or even orange. Breast or bottle fed babies can also develop a coating as well.
When this coating isn’t removed, not only can we reabsorb the bacteria and toxins, but it often results in bad breath, increased risk for cavities and gum disease. This coating also Keeping your mouth and tongue clean is not only important to your oral health, but also that of your digestive and immune health.
Why buy a scraper?
Dental research has long concluded that scrapers are far more effective at removing bacteria and toxins than a toothbrush. Tongue scrapers are uniquely shaped to fit in the back of the mouth, where the coating generally accumulates the thickest. They are made of metal in a long, flat, and thin “U” shape. It is designed for ease of use and to clean more thoroughly than scrubbing with a toothbrush. Many modern toothbrushes are designed with raised rubber or plastic scrapers on the backside of the bristle head as well.
You may also use the edge of a metal spoon or the backside of a butter knife. Using a toothbrush to scrub the tongue not only takes far more time and work to accomplish, but is also quite prone to cause gagging, which no one is too fond of, and can be difficult to clean out of the bristles. You can find scrapers at most health stores or drug stores in the oral hygiene section.
How to do it
Scraping is best done daily before brushing and flossing in the morning hours, say, after breakfast before you brush and floss for the day.
- Whether you are doing this yourself or you are doing so for your child, with a scraper in both hands, hold out your tongue or ask you child to and gently press the scraper on the tongue and pull lightly in a downward motion, but enough to pull the coating off. Repeat as needed until the tongue is clean and clear.
- Rinse the scraper and store in a clean place.
- If you are using a built-in toothbrush scraper, a spoon, or butter knife edge, you may need to repeat several times to cover the surface of the tongue.