Impress Your Friends With Dental Trivia

MOST PEOPLE OUTSIDE of teeth-related professions probably only think about their teeth when something’s wrong, like when there’s something stuck between them in the middle of a date, they’re sore from a toothache, or they’re stained after drinking coffee or juice. That’s why we thought our patients would appreciate an opportunity to think about teeth in a more fun and interesting context. So get ready, because it’s time for some dental trivia!

You Probably Didn’t Know…

These are seven of our favorite pieces of dental trivia! How many of them did you already know? If you know any cool dental facts we didn’t include in our list, feel free to share them in the comments!

  1. A Lifetime Of Brushing: If you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, that means you’re spending a whole day brushing your teeth for every year of your life! Keep up the great work!
  2. First Impressions: After your eyes, your smile is what people notice most about you, so make sure you’re taking care of it!
  3. Teeth Tattoos: It is possible to tattoo your teeth, though technically the tattoo is on a cap or crown that covers the tooth, not the tooth itself. (We probably wouldn’t recommend this one!)
  4. Super-healing: The mouth heals faster from injuries (like a bitten cheek or burned tongue) than any other part of the body. This is because of the ample blood supply, the simplicity of the tissues in the cheeks, tongue, and gums, and the healing properties of saliva.
  5. Congenitally Missing Teeth: Most of us will have 20 baby teeth and between 28 and 32 adult teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth we have) in our lifetime, but for 3-8 percent of the population, some of those teeth might never develop at all!
  6. Baby Teeth: One in about 2,000 babies are born with at least one tooth already erupted! These are called natal teeth (or neonatal if they erupt within the first month).
  7. Ice Age Dental Fillings: Archaeologists have discovered evidence of crude dental fillings in teeth from 13,000 years ago in northern Italy!

For a few more weird dental facts, check out this video:

Let’s Take Care Of Those Teeth!

There are plenty of weird and fascinating things we can learn about teeth, but if you ever notice anything about your own teeth that strikes you as unusual, come see us. It’s always better to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and your teeth will thank you for doing so earlier rather than later.

Remember to keep brushing and flossing!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Teaching Your Child To Floss

FLOSSING IS AN ESSENTIAL part of keeping our teeth clean and healthy. So how do we pass this crucial habit on to our children? This is one hurdle of parenting we’re happy to help you clear!

Why Does Flossing Matter?

You might wonder why it’s so important to include flossing when it’s hard enough to get your children to brush. Keeping baby teeth healthy is crucial because they are placeholders for adult teeth, and a toothbrush alone simply cannot get rid of all the decay-causing plaque lurking in between them. Just as important is that the earlier children learn good dental hygiene habits, the easier it will be for them to continue those habits into their teens and adulthood.

When To Start Flossing

Your child probably won’t have the dexterity to floss their own teeth until they’re around five years old, but as soon as they have teeth that are close together (usually around two and a half years old), you should start flossing for them. Try to floss each night so you can create a daily habit with them. Consistency is crucial to helping them see it as simply part of their day.

Flossing With Your Child

Knowing how to floss your own teeth and teaching a small child how to floss are very different things. Here are a few tips to make it easier.

  • If you begin gently flossing their teeth daily while they’re still toddlers, they should be used to it and maybe even eager to take the reins by the time they’re old enough to try it themselves.
  • Explain why flossing is so important. If your child understands the purpose behind flossing, it will help motivate them to do it.
  • When they’re ready to try it, show them how to pull out the right amount of floss (about a foot and a half), and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers to hold it in place, leaving an inch or two of floss to get up close between the teeth.
  • Help them gently insert the floss between their teeth using a back and forth motion without snapping their gums. Curving the floss around each tooth in a C-shape will make the process more gentle.
  • Teach them to always move the strand along so that they’re using clean floss on each tooth. If they’re using the same part of the floss the whole time, they’re just moving the plaque around instead of removing it!
  • Emphasize that flossing is something that big kids do, and encourage them to do it by themselves once they have the hang of it. They’ll be excited to do something so grown up!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydvo_XU03s4

If your child is struggling to figure out flossing, an easier alternative to traditional floss is using flossers or floss picks. They’re more expensive than floss, but they also require much less coordination.

Need A Professional Demonstration?

Building good dental hygiene habits is about more than teaching them the right technique. It’s also about giving them the right perspective: dental hygiene isn’t an unpleasant chore, it’s quick and easy and makes our teeth feel great! If you’re struggling to convince your child of the importance of good dental hygiene, maybe a fun, professional demonstration at our practice can help!

We’re happy to help you train a new generation of daily flossers!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Saliva: Oral Health’s MVP

SALIVA IS SUCH an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually as important to the healthy function of our mouths as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak, it’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.

Saliva Production And Stages

In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98-99 percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.

The last two stages are less pleasant but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health

There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balanced and flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.

The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

Thank you for trusting in our practice!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Soda Versus Our Teeth

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD of “Sun Drop Mouth”? It’s what happens to our teeth when we drink too much soda. The term comes from rural Appalachia, where that particular drink has long been the carbonated beverage of choice and tooth decay is alarmingly common. But this doesn’t just happen in Appalachia, and Sun Drop isn’t the only drink that contributes to tooth decay.

The Dangers Of Sugary Drinks

When we eat or drink something with sugar in it, the sugar sticks to our teeth afterward. Sugar itself doesn’t do any damage to our oral health, but it is, unfortunately, the favorite food of the bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria eat the sugar and then excrete acids that erode our tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. They also cause inflammation that increases the risk of gum disease.

Any source of sugar can negatively impact oral health. Sugary drinks (including fruit juice, but especially soda) are particularly dangerous because they aren’t filling like solid food and are therefore easy to keep drinking.

Effects Of Carbonation

So if sugar is the problem, then can’t we keep our teeth healthy by switching to diet soda instead of giving up carbonated beverages altogether? Diet soda is certainly an improvement, but sugar isn’t soda’s only threat to dental health. The other is acid. Sugar leads to tooth decay because oral bacteria eat sugar and excrete acid that erodes tooth enamel. Soda cuts out the middleman and applies acid directly to the teeth.

Even diet sodas and carbonated water contain acid. The three types of acid commonly found in soda are citric, phosphoric, and carbonic. Any drink with citrus flavoring will have citric acid, many colas get their flavor from phosphoric acid, and carbonic acid is what makes these drinks fizzy in the first place.

Protecting Your Smile

It would be best for your teeth to avoid soda and other sugary drinks entirely. If you can’t bring yourself to give up your favorite drink completely though, there are a few ways to enjoy it while protecting your teeth. A big one would be to only drink soda with a meal instead of sipping from a can or bottle throughout the day so that the sugar and acid aren’t sitting in your mouth for long periods.

You can also help balance your mouth’s pH and rinse away remaining sugar by drinking water after the soda. Finally, you can clean away the last traces of sugar and acid by brushing your teeth, but it’s a good idea to wait until the pH balance is back to normal before brushing, which takes about thirty minutes.

It is particularly important for children and people with braces to avoid overindulging in sugary drinks. Children have the highest risk of enamel erosion because their enamel isn’t yet fully developed, and braces plus a soda habit is a great way to end up with stained teeth when the braces come off.

Don’t Forget That We Can Help Too!

Following these good habits will go a long way towards protecting your teeth against decay and erosion from the sugar and acid in soda. Still, don’t forget that your dentist is also an important part of the equation. Keep scheduling those visits every six months!

Thank you for always being our valued patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.