The Germs on Your Toothbrush (and How to Brush More Effectively)

2021-04-13T18:01:00+00:00April 13th, 2021|Toothbrush Hygiene|

Hidden Germs on Your Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth is the most essential practice of an oral health routine. Most of us know this because we are taught at a young age to brush twice a day. But besides the act of brushing itself, there are other factors involved in a proper brushing routine. 

For example, what if the toothbrush you’re using could be causing more harm than good? There are millions of bacteria on the average toothbrush, including E. coli, Staph, and many others. In fact, the water in your toilet often contains fewer germs than your toothbrush. And while not all bacteria are bad, some bacteria are flat-out ugly. Knowing how to to take care of your toothbrush and when to replace it are key to long-term oral health. 

Another question to ask yourself is whether you’re using the right kind of toothbrush. If you want to ensure you are reaching all areas of your mouth and removing plaque effectively and safely, then the type of brush you use is something to be carefully considered. Adam Brown, DDS is here to help you evaluate your brushing routine and, if necessary, determine how you can improve it:

 

Bacteria: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 

First of all, it can help to understand what kind of bacteria are in our mouths. Experts estimate that 500 to 700 different types of bacteria can live in a person’s mouth; typically, an individual will host 250 to 300 at one time. Some of these bacteria are harmful. If left unaddressed, the bad bacteria can lead to ugly conditions like gum disease and leave you vulnerable to contagious illnesses. 

However, your mouth also contains bacteria that are responsible for promoting your oral health. Here are a few examples of how good oral bacteria fights for you:

 

Mitigating Bad Breath

Studies have shown that if we removed all the bacteria from our mouths, then it could have a negative impact on our oral health. Certain oral bacteria kill other, more offensive bacteria in our mouths. For instance, there are bacteria that survive off of food particles and cause a foul odor (hello, bad breath). Then there are good bacteria like Streptococcus salivarius K12, which help to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath. So, if you have a healthy amount of good bacteria, it can help neutralize your breath. 

 

Aiding in Digestion

Digestion consists of the breakdown of proteins and sugars in the food you consume. This process begins in the mouth, and good oral bacteria can help make it more efficient. In fact, healthy bacteria like probiotics can trigger enzymatic reactions in your saliva that kickstart digestion. 

 

Staving Off Disease 

Saliva production is an integral part of oral health. Harmful germs from food particles and sugar can cause a host of oral health issues, and saliva is what removes those bad bacteria from our mouths. Good bacteria from probiotics can increase or maintain your saliva production, in turn reducing the likelihood of periodontal disease, oral candida, and many other problems. 

 

How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean 

OK, so we’ve discussed how good bacteria can help you maintain oral health. But there is no shortage of bad bacteria out there, many of which end up on your toothbrush. Depending on the study you read, the average toothbrush contains anywhere from 10 million to 100 million bacteria, including E. coli and staphylococci (Staph). 

Whichever side of the spectrum your toothbrush falls on, it’s safe to say that you want to take the necessary steps toward keeping it clean. Here are a few practical ways that you can do that:

 

Keep it Away from the Toilet

The most convenient spot to store your toothbrush may be on the bathroom sink, which is why so many people keep it there. But this also happens to be one of the worst places to store your toothbrush, especially if your sink is in close proximity to your toilet. 

Each time you flush the toilet, fecal bacteria are released into the air. If your toothbrush is sitting out in the open next to the toilet, well, you get the picture. No one wants fecal bacteria finding a new home in the bristles of their toothbrush. Find a spot that isn’t near the toilet, and if possible, store your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet for better protection. Moreover, close the toilet lid before you flush to minimize the circulation of bacteria.

 

Clean Your Toothbrush Holder

Your toothbrush isn’t the only thing catching bacteria in the bathroom. If your toothbrush holder is near the toilet, it’s likely collecting bacteria as well. In fact, toothbrush holders are among the most germ-infested items in the average household. It’s right up there with the kitchen sink and dish sponges! 

You might be thinking you’re going to toss your toothbrush holder right about now. While that’s an option, you can also just clean your toothbrush holder daily to keep the bacteria to a minimum. 

 

Store It Properly

So, you have moved your toothbrush away from the toilet and made your toothbrush holder a part of your regular cleaning routine. Now, there are a few other things you can do to minimize bacteria when you’re not using your toothbrush:

  • Thoroughly rinse your bristles after each use. 
  • Make sure your toothbrush air dries completely between brushes; storing your toothbrush upright in the holder helps with this. 
  • Avoid toothbrush covers, as they inhibit drying and create a breeding ground for bacteria. 
  • Use only your toothbrush, and don’t let anyone else use yours. 
  • Prevent germ swapping by keeping your toothbrush separate from others. 

 

Clean the Bristles 

You know that you should replace your toothbrush every three months, but what about the time between replacements? If you wash your bedding or bath towels more regularly than that, why wouldn’t you take the same precautions for your toothbrush? Fortunately, there are simple ways to clean your toothbrush each week to keep bacteria at bay: 

Rinse with hot water. Before and after each use, run hot water through the bristles of your toothbrush. This will help eliminate any bacteria that has accumulated between brushes, including new bacteria from your most recent use. 

Soak it in mouthwash. After brushing, fill a small cup with an antibacterial mouthwash. Put your toothbrush into the cup head down, and allow it to soak for at least two minutes. This thoroughly cleans your bristles and leaves your toothbrush smelling fresh; the downside, however, is that it can also cause the bristles to wear down faster. 

Boil the bristles. One of the most effective ways to kill bacteria in your bristles is to boil them. But you must use this method with caution because the plastic handle on your toothbrush can easily melt. Heat a small pot or tea kettle on the stove, and once the water is boiling, turn off the burner. Then, dip the head of your toothbrush in the water for about 30 seconds. This will kill most of the bacteria while preventing the plastic from melting.  

Put it in the dishwasher. Just as it works for cleaning your kitchen utensils, a dishwasher is a wonderful device for cleaning and sanitizing your toothbrush. Put your toothbrush in the utensil container, and run it through a cycle with the rest of your dishes. Depending on how hot your dishwasher gets, you may want to adjust the water temperature to avoid melting. 

Use a UV sanitizer. Many medical experts agree that UV sanitizers are the most effective way to eliminate bacteria on utensils. In fact, laboratories and hospitals across the globe use UV sanitation because it has been shown to kill millions of bacteria in minutes. There are several UV sanitizers on the market designed specifically for toothbrushes. These products tend to be a little expensive, but some people consider them worth the investment. 

 

When to Replace Your Toothbrush  

Virtually every dental organization in the world recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. While some people think this is a marketing scheme aimed at selling more toothbrushes, there are legitimate reasons why three months is the standard:

Bacteria. Each time you brush your teeth, new plaque and bacteria get on the toothbrush. It’s only a matter of time until the buildup overtakes the toothbrush, even if you routinely keep your toothbrush clean between uses. 

Bad bristles. Bacteria buildup isn’t the only way your toothbrush is affected over time. Your bristles also become worn out. When this happens, it inhibits you from being able to properly clean your teeth and gums, including the surfaces of your teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, worn-out bristles are harder on your gums and can cause inflammation and premature gum recession. 

Contamination. Anytime you get sick with a viral infection (e.g., cold, flu, etc.), you should change your toothbrush afterward. The bacteria and viruses can cling to the bristles. If you neglect to replace your toothbrush once you recover, it can cause you to become reinfected or contaminate other people in your household.  

Keep an eye on the bristles in your toothbrush. The harder you brush, the faster they will wear down. So, if you tend to apply a lot of pressure when you brush, you may need to replace your toothbrush more often than every three months. As soon as you begin to notice worn-out bristles or bristles pointing in the wrong direction, get a fresh brush. 

 

Getting the Best Brush for Your Mouth 

Along with keeping your toothbrush clean and replacing it when necessary, it’s essential that you are using the right kind of toothbrush. Here are a couple of factors to consider:

 

Bristles

There are several different types of toothbrush bristles. They come in soft, medium, and hard. Most dentists recommend soft bristles because; they are effective at removing plaque yet less harsh on the teeth and gums than hard or medium bristles. 

You can also choose between rounded and flat-top bristles, as well as those that are uniform and those that vary in lengths and angles. Rounded bristles are most often recommended for the same reasons as soft bristles. And bristles with variations help some people clean their teeth more thoroughly. At the end of the day, however, it really comes down to using a toothbrush that is comfortable, safe, and effective for you. 

 

Manual or Electric 

Another consideration when choosing a toothbrush is whether you want it to be manual or electric. Both types can be effective at removing plaque and promoting oral health. As with bristles, this comes down to preference. As long as you brush twice a day for two minutes with a manual toothbrush, it will work well. But if you are more likely to maintain your oral health routine by using a battery-powered toothbrush, then an electric brush might be the way to go. 

 

Conclusion 

Brushing your teeth is likely such an ingrained habit that you don’t give it much thought outside of the four minutes per day you spend doing it. But there are many things to consider if you want to ensure you are cleaning your teeth and gums as effectively as possible. 

Always keep your toothbrush clean, and replace it at least every three months. Make sure you’re using the right kind of toothbrush for your routine. And remember to call Adam Brown, DDS to schedule an appointment if you have any dental health concerns!

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Staff Spotlights: Meet Your Dental Hygienists

2020-06-11T13:20:23+00:00February 24th, 2020|Adam Brown DDS|

At Carolina’s Dental Choice, we know that excellent dentistry is all about the people serving you. A great dental hygienist can truly make all the difference when it comes to how your dental experience will go. Your hygienist will spend the most time working one-to-one with you, developing your baseline and initial care plan, and assessing your overall oral health and conditions related to your oral health. Because our hygienists are dedicated to providing quality dental care and getting to know their patients, we figured that our patients should get to know our hygienists.

Without further adieu, meet your Carolina’s Dental Choice hygienists, Kristi Eudy, RDH, and Donna Young, RDH.

 

What inspired you to choose dentistry? How did you come into healthcare?

Kristi: Growing up, I was actually one of those kids that loved going to the dentist! I was never afraid of a dental appointment, and I really liked my dental hygienist. She was a big inspiration for why I chose this field.

When I was in college, I was exploring another career path and finding that it wasn’t my thing. So after I went to UNCC for a year, I had a dentist appointment and my hygienist chatted with me about her career and why she entered the field, and that’s how I came to pursue dental hygiene! I love that my career comes back to having a really great experience with my own hygienist.

 

Donna: When I was a student at Wingate University, I took a part-time job cleaning dental patient rooms after treatment and working sterilization. The dental assistant actually started training and teaching me more about the field. The more time I spent there, it became clear to me that I really wanted to pursue dental hygiene. After I finished my Bachelor of Science at Wingate, I went onto dental hygiene school, obtained my license, and I’ve worked here ever since!

 

What’s the best part of your day?

Kristi: The best part of my day is making my patients smile and ensuring that they leave happy from our office. Even just a cleaning can make such a difference in a patient’s day; it’s so rewarding to see how a smile they’re confident in can bring out their personality.

 

Donna: The best part of my day, by far, is interacting with my patients! Sometimes it may be catching up on what has been going on in their lives the past six months, or sharing joys and concerns. It’s like reconnecting with longtime friends. The rewarding part is when trust is established in a relationship with a patient. Then, you have the opportunity to be real. I think patients appreciate that. They appreciate the truth, especially when it comes from an honest place.

And best of all, it’s rewarding to know I made a difference in someone’s smile, which speaks volumes.

 

How do you make people more comfortable at the dentist?

Kristi: At the start of an appointment, I always talk to my patients and assess if they have any fears about the dental visit. For example, if someone has a deadly fear of needles, I assure them that the appointment won’t include any needles, and the patient can see what equipment we’ll be using before we start actually using it. Just talking patients through what the appointment will entail can make them more at ease. We want to ensure our patients are comfortable for their entire experience, so if you’re ever uncomfortable or unsure about something, let your hygienist know!

 

Donna: The fear of dentistry is real! Dental anxiety could stem from something someone told them about the dentist or a bad experience as a kid, but we’re here to make our patients comfortable, ease them into the appointment, and talk them through their experience while they’re with us. Most often, I help talk patients through their fear. The biggest way to make our patients more comfortable is simply by talking to them.

 

Best dental product or technique you’d recommend?

Kristi: I recommend an electric toothbrush for all of our patients! An electric toothbrush tends to remove more plaque from your gums and teeth without you having to do more work. Even if you’re brushing thoroughly with a manual toothbrush, an electric toothbrush covers more hard-to-reach places and does a better job overall.

 

Donna: My top recommendations are electric toothbrushes and flossing. I really like the Oral B electric toothbrush; it does so much more than a manual brush can do. Flossing might sound simple, but it does so much more for your oral health than people think it does. There are many effective dental tools available for use, but they should be used in addition to a quality electric toothbrush and daily flossing.

 

Any tips or tricks for children to have better dental routines?

Kristi: I like setting a timer on their phone or having some sort of hourglass in the bathroom for brushing their teeth. Then, as long as the timer or hourglass is going, they have to brush their teeth. You want them to brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes, and make sure they brush their teeth at least every morning and every night.

 

Donna: I always recommend to parents that when their children are old enough to sit in a tub, to give them an age-appropriate toothbrush to hold. Kids might chew on a toothbrush and get used to the feel of it in their mouth, and adapt to the feel of toothbrush in their hand.

I also like the idea of parents and children making a routine of brushing their teeth, side-by-side, together! Maybe put on a song for the duration of brushing, and really make it a positive routine for the child. It’s important not to skip a night of brushing your child’s teeth because you’re tired or heading to bed late because then it becomes easier to fall out of routine.

So my advice overall is to always start young with your children and be consistent! And don’t forget to visit the dentist sooner rather than later with your young children, especially for preventative care – don’t wait until they have a problem to go to the dentist for the first time!

 

What’s a misconception that people have about dental hygiene?

Kristi: I think a common misconception is that people see us as an elective. We’re not always treated along the same line as other careers in the medical field, and I think people tend to think of hygienists in the cosmetic side, rather than as a necessity. But being a dental hygienist is so much more than plaque and tartar being scraped off every six months – dental hygiene correlates directly to the health of your whole body, not just what’s in your mouth.

 

Donna: Some people think we’re just cleaning their teeth, but in reality, dental hygiene is truly preventative care for much larger issues they could encounter down the road. We’re doing a whole lot more than cleaning off what you can’t do with your toothbrush.

 

What’s a cool part of your job that most people don’t know about? /What do you wish people knew about your position?

Kristi: Dental hygienists are always learning! We’re required to take six hours of continuing education a year in North Carolina, that you can do online or in the classroom. I’m one of those people that would be a perpetual student if I could, so being a dental hygienist means I always get to pursue my love of learning. Outside of those six hours, I also like to read weekly updates from the Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) Magazine and Dimensions of Dental Hygiene journal.

 

Donna: I think what’s cool is really becoming engaged with the patient and their life, and their families. You develop deep relationships with people. I’ve been a hygienist here for 22 years and I’ve seen patients, watched their children grow, and experienced whole generations in this practice. We get to know our patients as real people and become part of their lives too – we’re not just working in their mouth every six months. It’s really incredible. Plus, when we get to know people and serve them for that many years, you already know their likes and dislikes when they’re in the chair and we can just work seamlessly together.

 

What’s the next big thing that makes you excited about dentistry?

Kristi: I’m really looking forward to sub-gingival air polishing! It probably doesn’t sound very cool or mean anything to people outside of dentistry, but it’s exciting because it actually goes below the gum line to remove the biofilm that hangs out under the gums and the base of the pockets.  A lot of the continuing courses I take are talking more and more about this, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to implement it soon into our own bio-film removal processes. 

 

Donna: That’s a tough question! It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing because dentistry is always changing, and we’re constantly learning better techniques to serve our patients, and learning about new products to be more in tune with our patients’ needs. Honestly, the constant change and innovation in the field is what makes dentistry exciting to me!

 

 

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The ABC’s of Whitening Toothpaste

2020-07-16T16:54:54+00:00July 8th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, General, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

Teeth whitening is on the rise across the country. In 2018 alone, over 40.5 million people used some form of bleaching product to improve their smiles. Whitening toothpaste, in particular, is marketed as an affordable way to brighten your smile, but is it actually doing more harm than good?


    

A Brief History of Tooth Whitening

Despite its recent rise in popularity, you might be surprised to learn that the process of teeth whitening has been around for over 4,000 years. Egyptians were some of the first known people to follow the practice. They used ground pumice stone soaked in vinegar to improve their overall smiles. As time progressed, so did the methods. During the 1600’s people actually relied on their barbers to whiten their teeth in addition to cutting their hair. The barber would file the teeth down and then soak them in nitric acid as a way to whiten someone’s smile. Fluoride was discovered as a way to protect teeth in the early 19th century and toothpaste as we currently know it began to make its way to the public around 1945. Finally, in 1989, Rembrandt officially launched the first whitening toothpaste into the grocery market effectively empowering the general public to whiten their teeth with an affordable over-the-counter product.

Today there are hundreds of different brands of whitening toothpaste to choose from and not all are created equal. With everything from big names to natural alternatives vying for space on the shelves, it’s hard to know which path to take.

     

Understanding Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Whitening

In order to understand how whitening toothpaste affects your smile, it’s helpful to first understand how the process of whitening works. When we observe stains on our teeth, we are generally seeing two types, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are considered surface stains whereas intrinsic stains run deeper inside the tooth and are more difficult to remedy.

 

Causes of extrinsic stains include: Causes of intrinsic stains include:
Coffee or tea Tooth decay
Dark fruits such as blueberries and cherries Overuse of fluoride
Red wines Cracks/Scratches in enamel
Dark vegetables such as carrots and beets Genetics
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco Certain Antibiotics (Tetracycline based)
   

Over the counter products such as whitening toothpaste and strips are only strong enough to handle extrinsic stains. For intrinsic stains, it is recommended that you see a cosmetic dentist to learn more about safe, professional procedures that may be available to you.

 

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

Contrary to its name, one of the main ways whitening toothpaste works to remove stains is through abrasion. Tiny silica particles are added to the paste and are used to essentially “scratch” the stains off of your teeth. While this method may initially remove some of the discolorations, overuse can actually cause staining to become worse. This is because the abrasive material doesn’t just eliminate the tinge, it also scratches through the protective enamel. Loss of enamel can eventually lead to deeper, more permanent intrinsic staining. As the unprotected dentin becomes increasingly exposed to everyday food and drink, discoloration is able to penetrate past the surface and into the underlying layers of the tooth below.

In addition to abrasive particles, whitening toothpaste can also contain bleaching agents. The two most common bleaching agents used to whiten teeth in toothpaste include hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. While these ingredients are shown to be effective at whitening teeth, they should always be used in moderation as overuse can lead to demineralization of your teeth and if swallowed, can potentially inflame your internal organs or cause internal bleeding.

 

Common Dental Issues that Arise From the Use of Whitening Toothpaste

Some common dental issues that arise when using whitening toothpaste include sensitivity, retracting gum lines, and even increased discoloration as the enamel breaks down and stains are able to penetrate to deeper levels inside the tooth.

Sensitivity – sensitivity can occur for a number of reasons. Some of these include overuse of whitening toothpaste, keeping the paste on your teeth for an extended period of time, and allowing the toothpaste to penetrate through cracks or openings that are exposing the inner dentin. It should be noted that it’s never a good thing to feel sensitivity from the use of whitening toothpaste. If you have this issue, stop using the toothpaste and consult with your dentist for alternative options.

Receding Gums – if whitening products aren’t used properly and in moderation, they can irritate the gums and cause them to recede. Receding gum lines are harmful for a number of reasons. Healthy oral tissue is important not only to help prevent your teeth from getting infected but also to protect the internal area of the tooth from negative exposure to bacteria and germs. When whitening toothpaste isn’t used properly, it can cause permanent damage to gum lines, causing them to recede, and eventually exposing the vulnerable dentin and root below.

Loss of Enamel both abrasive particles and bleaching agents can lead to a loss of enamel over time. It’s important to understand that enamel does not grow back so great care should be taken any time you choose to use a whitening product. Always consult with your dentist before using over-the-counter products so they can instruct on the safest way to achieve the results you want.

 

The Dangers of Children Using Whitening Toothpaste

While whitening toothpaste is problematic for adults, it can be even more detrimental to children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children under the age of 15 refrain from teeth whitening.  This is because a child’s enamel is thinner than an adult’s and the nerve and dentin on the inside of the tooth are still developing. Tooth enamel isn’t fully calcified until approximately two years after the permanent teeth finish emerging. The Pediatric Safety Organization warns of teenage use of whitening products in particular. Teenagers are at a greater risk for misuse and/or overuse because they tend to want to hasten or intensify the process without fully understanding the consequences. This can cause the developing teeth to become over-oxidized, resulting in a permanent breakdown of the teeth’s structure.

In general, improper use of these types of whitening products before a child’s smile is fully developed can result in increased sensitivity, demineralization of the enamel, and variations in tooth color. Children with braces or other mouth hardware are also at risk of uneven coloring to their teeth, as the portion of the tooth that is covered will not be affected by the whitener and will end up showing as a different shade from the exposed portions of the teeth.

 

Natural Alternatives to Traditional Teeth Whitening

Having whiter teeth doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthier smile. However, if you decide you want to brighten your smile using safer, more natural methods, you have a handful of options at your disposal.

Oil Pulling – oil pulling has been shown to have numerous benefits for oral health. In addition to killing the bacteria in your mouth that is responsible for plaque and gum disease, it also helps to reduce inflammation. Currently, there is no definitive evidence showing that oil pulling whitens teeth, however, many people who use the practice claim they notice a visible whitening of their teeth. Add to the fact that it’s a safe and beneficial method overall, and there’s really no reason not to give it a try to see if it works for you.

To try oil pulling, simply choose an oil of your choice (recommended options include coconut, olive, and sesame) and swish it around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes. You can also use a soft toothbrush to apply the oil or wipe it over your teeth with a washcloth.

Baking Soda – Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda as it is commonly called, is another natural product that can help to whiten your teeth. When used properly, it can reduce plaque, fight bad breath, help maintain a healthy pH inside your mouth, and assist in the overall whitening of your teeth. For the safest use with regards to oral health, it is recommended that you mix a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Gently apply the mixture using either your finger or a soft toothbrush and let it sit on your teeth for approximately two minutes followed by a thorough rinse. You can apply this tincture multiple times per week for best results. Just be careful to apply gently as baking soda is abrasive and can harm your enamel if applied too strongly and too often.

Apple Cider Vinegar – apple cider vinegar is another effective way to help whiten your teeth. The reason vinegar works as a whitener is because it contains acetic acid which helps to remove the plaque and clean teeth. To use vinegar effectively as a whitener, mix one part vinegar with three parts water and swish in your mouth for about a minute. Be sure to spit it out once you’re finished. A couple of tips to remember when using Apple Cider Vinegar include:

 

  1. Always dilute the vinegar with water before swishing. Straight vinegar has a highly acidic pH and will damage the enamel on your teeth if overused.
  1. Only use organic brands of apple cider vinegar. This is because non-organic brands are typically pasteurized, which removes the majority of the beneficial properties contained in the vinegar.
  1. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after use. Residual vinegar remains on your teeth and can harm your enamel if you brush while it’s still present.

 

Brush and Rinse After Eating and Drinking – being vigilant about your teeth after eating and drinking can really make a difference in the amount of staining you accumulate over time. Make an effort, when possible, to brush your teeth after eating food and drink so that you can alleviate stains before they happen. If you drink coffee or other staining drinks, try to follow it up with a glass of water to help mitigate the effects. Regular coffee drinkers or smokers may also want to consider a visit to the dentist every three months instead of six to help keep their smile bright and healthy.

Naturally, one of the best ways to keep a sparkling, white smile is to take care of your teeth on a daily basis. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months. If you are interested in learning more about professional teeth whitening, please feel free to call our office. We’ll be happy to help answer any questions you might have and discuss how we can safely and effectively help you to achieve a brighter, whiter smile.

 

– Julie Mastbrook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar Teeth Whitening: Can You Safely Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Whiten Teeth?” Emergency Dentists USA, www.emergencydentistsusa.com/apple-cider-vinegar-teeth-whitening/.

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar vs. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/107959-apple-cider-vinegar-vs.-organic/.

 

Axe, Josh. “6 Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth.” Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/6-ways-to-naturally-whiten-your-teeth/.

 

“History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History.” History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/history-of-toothbrushes-and-toothpastes.

 

“Is Teeth Whitening Safe For Children?” Kids Dental Online – Plano & Carrollton, www.kidsdentalonline.com/dental-topics/teeth-whitening-safe-children/.

 

Lee, Sean S., et al. “Tooth Whitening in Children and Adolescents: A Literature Review.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, 17 Aug. 2005, www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/publications/archives/lee-27-5.pdf.

 

Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “The Dark Side of Teeth-Whitening Strips.” MarketWatch, 10 Apr. 2019, www.marketwatch.com/story/the-dark-side-of-teeth-whitening-strips-2019-04-10.

“The Risks of Tooth Whitening Toothpastes | Winston Salem Dentist.” Distinctive Dental, 30 Nov. 2017, www.distinctivelydental.com/can-whitening-toothpastes-damage-teeth/.

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The Hidden Dangers of Mouthwash: What You Need to Know

2021-02-05T18:11:46+00:00June 5th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

Mouthwash is often touted as a safe and effective method for curing bad breath and improving overall oral health. But recent studies show that not all mouthwashes are created equal. Before you add a mouthwash to your daily dental regimen, take a minute to understand some of the potential dangers that might be hiding in that morning and evening routine.

 

The Problems with Conventional Mouthwash

While advertising may state that conventional mouthwash kills 99.9% of all bacteria, that’s not always the full dental story. Many conventional types of mouthwash contain up to a 26% alcohol content in addition to other dangerous ingredients. When you swish mouthwash twice a day in your mouth for an extended period of time, a number of things occur.

  1. Alcohol destroys the friendly bacteria your body needs to maintain normal blood pressure and positive oral health. Think of it like an antibiotic for your mouth. It doesn’t distinguish between good and bad oral bacteria, it simply kills it all.
  2. Conventional mouthwash dries out your mouth and affects saliva production. This can actually result in worsened breath over time in addition to increased cavity production because saliva acts as a natural barrier for both of these dental conditions.
  3. Recent studies have shown that using conventional mouthwash may potentially lead to high blood pressure issues because of disruption with the body’s production of NO (Nitric Oxide), a molecule inside the body that helps to regulate blood pressure.

A sample of ingredients that are the biggest culprits for these dental issues include alcohol (associated with drying your mouth and killing bacteria), Chlorine Dioxide (used as a bleaching agent to whiten teeth), Chlorhexidine (an antiseptic that is also an allergen), and formaldehyde (dangers include cancer risk and respiratory problems).

 

Discovering Natural Mouthwash Alternatives

There are several natural mouthwash alternatives available over the counter that provide a safer option for those that want to maintain their daily swishing regimen. A few choices are listed below.

  1. The Natural Dentist
    This mouthwash can be found at most major retailers and is tailored towards those with sensitive teeth and gums. The ingredients are all natural and contain 20% Aloe Vera which is a natural antiseptic that replaces conventional use of Chlorhexidine without the side effects.
  2. Therabreath
    This mouthwash is also available at most major retailers and helps increase saliva production instead of drying out your mouth. It also uses natural ingredients including aloe vera and tea tree oil which is another natural antiseptic used to aid in overall oral health.
  3. Oral Essentials
    Created by dentists and thoroughly tested, this mouthwash contains sea salt to help maintain the healthy mineral balance in your mouth. In addition, you’ll find such natural ingredients as aloe vera, coconut oil (a natural teeth whitener), and essential oils (aids in freshening breath). This mouthwash can be found on Amazon in addition to other online retailers.

  

Do-It-Yourself Mouthwash? Why not!

A quick search on the internet for do-it-yourself mouthwash will yield plenty of recipes for you to experiment with. When wading through the never-ending list of oral options, keep a few essential ingredients in mind. 

  1. Aloe Vera
    As mentioned above, Aloe Vera is a top-notch replacement for the conventional mouthwash ingredient, Chlorhexidine. Studies have shown that it is equally as effective as an antiseptic but without all the harmful side effects.
  2. Essential Oils
    Essential Oils are a natural way to freshen breath without the drying effect of alcohol. They also contain antibacterial properties and oils such as lemon contain whitening properties to help keep your teeth shiny and bright.
  3. Sea Salt and Baking Soda
    Both these ingredients have strong benefits for oral health. Used as mouthwash ingredients, sea salt will help to restore the mineral balance of your mouth while baking soda will help to ease gingivitis and whiten teeth.

 

Final Thoughts on Mouthwash

Studies show that conventional mouthwashes are not as effective or as safe as typically advertised. They can contribute to dry mouth, mess with the balance of bacteria in your mouth and even cause increased gingivitis and cavity formation. The best way to keep your dental health in tip-top shape is to work on the problem from the inside out. Keep a balanced diet and stay away from processed foods and sugars. If you still want to make mouthwash a regular part of your dental routine, stick with all natural brands or create your own recipe so that you are in control of the ingredients going into your mouth and body.  For more information, please contact Carolina’s Dental Choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gifts to Make Them Smile | Holiday Gift Guide

2020-07-16T16:58:42+00:00December 15th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, Teeth Whitening|

stocking stuffer santa dentistPerhaps when you were younger, Santa stuffed your Christmas stocking full of chocolate coins and peppermint twists — and a new toothbrush to remind you not to let all that candy rot your teeth. Santa’s always been a smart guy.

Whether Dasher, and Dancer, and Donner and friends will deliver dental care to your door this holiday season, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to help you give the gift of dental health this year. We’ve put together a list that includes something for everyone.

PRESENTS WITH A PURPOSE

Do you have a co-worker that likes to travel or travels a lot for work? Consider travel-sized toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and other small packables (like shampoos) and put them together in an attractive travel bag. Tuck in a small first-aid kit, sewing kit, shower cap, earplugs and other travel must-haves or comfort items. Travel items are also great for anyone planning a get-away. Combine the above items with a travel journal, pen, or guide book.

Got a college kid? Put together a semester’s worth of dental supplies including a toothbrush in their favorite or school colors, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, sugar-free gum, breath mints, single use travel brushes for those late nights in the library in a reusable tote.

And if you’ve got a sports fan, use the same idea but customize it for the team. You can find a Carolina Panthers toothbrush and partner it with a black, blue and silver toothbrush holder or rinse cup. Or consider a Charlotte Hornets toothbrush with a purple or teal hand towel.

Kids can benefit from the same kind of package featuring their favorite characters like Spider-ManHello KittyStar Wars, and The Secret Life of Pets.

Dental insurance for a year would make a wonderful gift for someone who might need an extra hand with expenses in the short-term, a student, or someone waiting for benefits with a new employer. Many options can be found online with different levels of coverage, so check carefully before signing up. In North Carolina, options include: Blue Cross Blue Shield NCAflacHumana, and United Health Care. Low-income children in North Carolina who do not qualify for Medicaid may be able to obtain health and dental insurance through the North Carolina Health Choice Health Insurance Program for Children.

MAKE IT HOMEMADE

Do you have a small child on your list who has not yet lost their first tooth? Sew up a customized Tooth Fairy Pillow with a little pocket in it for the tooth (and later the money)!

teeth cookie cutters dentistNot crafty? No worries! The artists of Etsy have you covered. There is a wide selection of dental-themed gifts available, sure to initiate grins from lots on your list like personalized tooth ornaments, tooth-shaped earrings and charms, tooth-shaped soap, wall art, and even a Tooth Fairy wand (should she need a hand during busy season). Meanwhile, Shutterfly can help you put together a customized mug or calendar or mousepad featuring photos of all your family members’ smiles.

If you’re a baker, there are tooth-shaped cookie cutters perfect for whipping up a batch of cookies for your dental office or dental student.

BE PRESENT

So many times we focus on giving things, but things may not be what a person actually needs. Instead hands-on help would be most appreciated! Whether that person is elderly, has mobility issues, or is a new parent, consider being present as a present.

Make a “gift card” for a homemade dinner once a month throughout the year. Whether you invite the recipient over — which also provides social support — or take a casserole over to their house, you’re giving more than just food.

Offer to drive. Making it to appointments can be a hassle without transportation. Talk about coordinating so that you can give your lunch hour to help someone get to the doctor, dentist, or even just run errands.

Lend a hand. Little things like taking out the trash each week, raking leaves, mopping the floor, or walking the dog are great ways to help someone mark a chore off the list. Maybe you have a skill that could be useful like repairing a porch railing, painting the bathroom, or organizing, but always make the effort to learn what kind of help a person needs.

EXPLORE DENTAL HISTORY

Books are a great gift and there are many available with a take on teeth. For the beginning reader, “I Lost My Tooth” by Mo Willems features an ensemble cast of squirrels and “The Tooth Fairy” with Peppa Pig both help explain the process of losing and regrowing teeth. Adult readers with an interest in non-fiction will find the “The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine” by Thomas Morris a fascinating jaunt through the things we’ve done to the human body in what’s described as a “wryly humorous collection of stories about bizarre medical treatments and cases offers a unique portrait of a bygone era in all its jaw-dropping weirdness.” And keeping with the science theme, “Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins” by paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar studies human evolution and climate change through the records stored in fossilized teeth.

Surprise your family with a vacation to Baltimore, Maryland! The world’s first dental school was founded there in 1840 by Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris. The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (which later merged with the University of Maryland) taught generations of dentists. You can visit the National Museum of Dentistry located on the campus and explore dozens of exhibits featuring some of the objects from their 40,000-piece collection.

Vintage dental tools can make for a wonderful (if not quite unusual) conversation starter. Forceps, pelicans and toothkeys were commonplace in by-gone dental offices and some were made by blacksmiths. Many pelicans, aptly named for their shape, are made of silver and have hallmarks from a variety of countries, including England and France. Old dental chairs and equipment can be found at local antique shops and online as well as old dental advertising for products or services. In the early days, the local barber doubled as the neighborhood dentist!

DESIGNER GIFTS FOR DESIGNER SMILES

Rhythm is Love (Ylang Ylang + Mint) Organic Toothpaste, made in France, is a collaboration between dental and artistic professionals. Uniquely flavored with ylang ylang, yuzu, and mint, the toothpaaste is sure to add a flavor and flair to anyone’s brushing routine.lebon mint toothpaste designer

Twice Early Bird and Twilight Toothpaste is a morning and night duo lights. The Early Bird formula is wintergreen and peppermint, and the Twilight blend combines lavender and mint for a relaxing finish to a long day.

The Burst Sonic Toothbrush is a powerful electric toothbrush with charcoal bristles that sonically vibrate 66,000 times in two minutes to get teeth super clean. It also features a quadpacer that will gently buzz every 30 seconds to ensure that every area of the mouth gets equal attention.

Minimalist, metallic and cool, the electric toothbrushes from Quip were one of the first approved by the American Dental Association. Compact and lightweight, the design looks and works great. Quip brushes suction cup to surfaces like mirrors or counter tops and are shower safe! 

Cocofloss bills itself as freshening, whitening, and soothing this colorful alternative to traditional floss adds a colorful and fun twist to the flossing routine. The 9-piece Floss Fanatic Set is available in a variety of flavors including coco, vanilla, mint, strawberry, and orange.

An electronic UV toothbrush sanitizer from Pursonic protects your toothbrush from germs and bacteria floating around and uses ozone and photo catalyst technology to kill germs and bacteria left behind.

Steripod makes an easy to use toothbrush protector great for home or travel as well as a razor protector and tongue scraper. The protective pods are designed to prevent cross-contamination like beard whiskers in toothbrush bristles.

Dental care can be part of a luxurious self care routine with a whitening treatment followed by a massage, manicure, and facial. Carolinas Dental Choice offers Opalescence whitening products to brighten your smile!

SOMETHING SWEET

Giving something sweet to eat seems like a holiday tradition. If you’re shopping for someone with braces or orthodontic work, avoid these foods in order to protect their teeth: popcorn, nuts, hard candy, caramel, pretzels, and peanut brittle. Foods that are good for teeth are whole grains, fruits, lean meats, and vegetables. Sugar-free gum and candies are great options. And get creative when putting together a basket of goodies. Don’t forget treats for all family members! Pick up some dental chews for Fido or tartar cleaning snacks for Fluffy too.

If you’re looking for another way to recognize a caregiver such as a dental professional or nurse, think about things that will help them care for themselves. Massages, pedicures, manicures, a trip to the salt cave, compression socks, aromatherapy treatments, and meal delivery kits are great ways to support those whose job is to focus on others.

GIFT BY GIVING

For the person who has everything, consider making a donation to a dental organization such as Operation SmileDental Lifeline, the American Dental Association initiative Give Kids a Smile, or America’s Dentists Care Foundation’s Missions of Mercy. Helping others guarantees a smile. You can also ask your dental practice how they are involved with the community and support their individual efforts.

Everyone at Carolinas Dental Choice wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. Are your regular cleanings scheduled for 2019?

 

reindeer teeth gift guide

 

Did you know?

Reindeer only have front teeth on their bottom jaws! Reindeer have what’s called a dental plate or pad, which is a somewhat like an extra strong gum. Their premolar and molar teeth are made for grinding grass, hay, moss and lichen, and are very similar to those of other grass-eating animals such as cows and horses. Reindeer have 34 teeth total, compared to 32 teeth in people.

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Teeth As Tools: How Our Teeth Have Been Used Throughout History

2018-11-05T14:35:48+00:00October 31st, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, Teeth Cleaning|

Our teeth perform so many important functions throughout our life and on a daily basis. On a basic level, we use our teeth to talk, chew, digest food, and properly fill out our cheeks and lips to form our face shape. Without knowing it, you have probably used your teeth as tools in a multitude of ways. Whether you’re opening a bag of snacks by ripping open the seal with your teeth, cutting meat with your teeth, or holding bobby pins as you fix your hair, our teeth are one of the most important tools on our body.

While many of the ways that we use our teeth as tools aren’t particularly healthy for our teeth, and constantly put our teeth at the risk of damage, typically, a healthy tooth will not chip or break during normal function.

Now imagine a time and place where there were no electric toothbrushes, mouthwash, or even dental floss, and suddenly your teeth are one of the most important tools you possess. If teeth have less enamel, decay, or gum disease, they are more likely to chip, shift, or become loose, resulting in eventual tooth loss.

How have humans used their teeth throughout their history when they possibly weren’t as strong and healthy? What did it mean for humans to use their teeth as tools?

Early Ancestors: Teeth as Tools

Eating chocolate

Much of what we know about the life and diet of ancient humans is due to finding their teeth! Archaeologists find dozens to hundreds of teeth for every skeleton or skull. Why do our teeth survive at such high numbers? Our teeth are covered by enamel, which is 97 percent mineral, making our teeth stronger and more easily preserved than the rest of our bones. From the shape of the tooth to the thickness of the enamel, scientists can understand the evolution of humans, how our ancestors lived, what they ate, or even what diseases they had. Variations in teeth are a great way for scientists to classify early human species. As humans migrated across the globe, so did their diets; we know this because human teeth developed thicker enamel to eat other animals, seeds, nuts, and roots.

Looking back to Neanderthal teeth, scientists have hypothesized that they use their teeth as a tool, possibly gripping and clamping with their front teeth as they prepped animal hides for clothing and shelter.

What’s clear is that our teeth have evolved to serve us in similar ways as our ancestors. Like our ancestors, we use our teeth to access food or drink. Our teeth can still tell us a lot about our day-to-day life and culture as well!

Early tools to clean teeth

As far as we know, the earliest toothbrush dates back to around 3000BC, where Babylonians and Egyptians configured a toothbrush from frayed twigs. Fast forward a bit to 1600 BC, and we have the Chinese using aromatic twigs from trees as “chew sticks” to freshen their breath.
Some of the earliest tools to clean teeth were made from animal bone. For a stretch of history, and even today in certain parts of the world, coarse animal hair, such as hair from cows, was used to form the bristle on toothbrushes.

Did people in the past constantly have rotted teeth, cavities, and gum disease? Despite a lack of teeth brushing among ancient people, most people did not suffer from dental problems. There are a few explanations:

• The food being eaten was natural, unprocessed, and pure, containing nutrients and vitamins that strengthened teeth against bacteria
• Ancient diets were filled with fibrous foods, where the fiber acted as a brush against the teeth to filter away plaque and food
• Earlier diets lack sugary foods and acidic soda, two of the main detriments of modern diets
• Before cigarettes, humans didn’t smoke, and thus didn’t experience the harmful side effects of smoking on the teeth and human health

About 10,000 years ago at the dawn of the Neolithic period, our ancestors began farming, our teeth began to experience more decay, and dentistry emerged. As recent as the last decade, archaeologists found teeth that had been scraped and even drilled to possibly remove decayed tissue. With the onset of farming came carbohydrate-rich grains and starches. Some oral bacteria actually convert carbohydrates into enamel-destroying acids. There is evidence in numerous cultures across the world at various time periods where people combated decay by hand-drilling small holes into the teeth and scraping with different tools. At this point, you’re probably extremely thankful for the profound progress dentistry has made, even in the last century!

Cosmetic dentistry throughout history

It’s hard to pinpoint when improving the appearance of teeth became more fashionable rather than undergoing treatment to improve teeth function, but we know for sure that it has taken off in the past few years. Patients can now receive whitening treatments, veneers, and dental implants, all of which are cutting-edge procedures for a brighter, whiter smile! But cosmetic dentistry isn’t anything new—it goes back ancient times, where we know people developed tools to clean their teeth as early as 3000BC.
We’ve also been fixing our teeth since prehistoric times. Around 700 BC, there is evidence that Etruscans made dentures with ivory and bone, or constructed dentures from human or animal teeth. This practice lasted all the way up until the 1800s!

In 200 AD, the Etruscans also were using gold to create dental crowns and bridges, although it’s unknown whether this was for a dental treatment or for a fashion statement. The Ancient Egyptians used pumice stone and vinegar to create a toothpaste, and they hammered seashells into their gums as replacements for their teeth.

The 1700’s led to human teeth being used more commonly as dental implants, but our bodies tend to reject other humans’ teeth. In the late 1770’s, the first porcelain dentures were made, and they became extremely popular in the 19th century. By the early 20th century, dentists had switched to plastics and acrylics for dentures.

One of the most famous representations of cosmetic dentistry that comes to mind is that of the United States of America’s first president, George Washington. The legend surrounding Washington’s teeth was that they were made entirely of wood. But, in fact, they were actually made of animal bone!

How do our teeth become damaged from using them as tools in the present day and age?

Well, consider this: when we speak, our teeth are naturally separated during normal speech, and when we eat, food separates our teeth as we chew. When we use our teeth as tools, say to rip open a package or grind into tough foods, our teeth make contact, and suffer damage.

If your tooth has a filling or crown, using your teeth as tools they’re not intended for can pull out the filling or cause the crown to fall off. To those of you constantly holding bobby pins with your teeth to fix hair, bobby pins can actually pop off porcelain veneers on your teeth!

What does this have to do with our ancestors? Well, history repeats itself! We’re prone to using our strong, capable teeth as tools. Although we use our teeth as tools on a daily basis to eat, speak, and chew, improper use can lead to cracking and fracturing your teeth.

However progressive our dental care and habits are, we can truly damage our teeth. In comparison to the pain of damaging your teeth and the price of dental work, recognizing and changing our bad habits is better for our teeth and our wallets.

What if I already damaged my teeth?

You’re not alone if you didn’t know that using your teeth in certain, commonplace ways was damaging. What you should know, is that early treatment is always less extensive and less expensive. If a tooth suffers from minor cracks or chips, your dentist can easily repair them with a filling. If left untreated, these minor chips and cracks make the tooth weaker and more likely to break further, possibly chipping away at enamel and leaving the tooth exposed to bacteria.

Basically, the sooner you act with damaged teeth, the better for your wallet, your comfort, and the overall health of your teeth! Set up an appointment with Carolina Dental Choice to be proactive with your smile.

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Dental Anesthesia Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

2020-07-16T16:59:14+00:00September 14th, 2018|Dental Implants, Dental Trends|

If you’ve ever undergone a dental procedure such as a tooth extraction or root canal at Carolinas Dental Choice, you’re most likely familiar with — and have been the grateful recipient of — a dental anesthetic. Numbing agents, like novocaine, work by confusing communication between nerve cells so that the brain doesn’t register pain. However, today’s modern medicine hasn’t always been available, and the path to its discovery and use is a sordid one.

Teeth have been causing pain through the ages and remedies to fight the pain are recorded as far back as 2250 BC. A Babylonian clay tablet reveals the recipe to repair cavities — mixing henbane seed and gum mastic. In 1000 BC India, oral care relied on wine. It wasn’t until 1540 that ether was introduced. And while there is no evidence, one can imagine early cave people simple using a large stick to pry out any source of pain.

Early dentistry was commonly performed by barbers. Beginning in the Middle Ages, barbers were performing dental work and surgery in addition to cutting hair and shaving. Blood-letting and leeching, extractions and enemas all were services of the local barber-surgeon. Shave and a root canal? Two bits!

Historical documents from the Wood Library Museum of Anesthesiology detail a Dr. Horace Wells bravely volunteering to inhale nitrous oxide for his own dental extraction in December 1844. Despite nitrous oxide’s reputation as laughing gas, Dr. Wells was a “humbug” during the procedure.

The first nurse anesthetist dates to 1877, but it wasn’t until 1889, at the Philadelphia College of Dentistry, Henry I. Dorr, MD, DDS was appointed as the world’s first Professor of the Practice of Dentistry, Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia.

Dental pain relief developed from the humble beginnings of ether (a pleasant-smelling colorless volatile liquid that is highly flammable) to laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and more recently from ethyl chloride (a gas or volatile liquid) to Procaine (commonly known as Novocaine).

Now dental anesthesia makes what was once a truly torturous process into something that may be simply unpleasant.

Your first experience with dental anesthesia may have been during wisdom tooth extraction (the four hindmost molars which come in during young adulthood) which can cause issues including pushing other teeth out of alignment. Wisdom teeth also tend to be impacted meaning they are stuck just below the gum surface. Nearly 85 percent of adults have had wisdom teeth removed. Another common dental procedure is a root canal, which hollows out a tooth and removes infected pulp inert material.

Dental anesthesia falls into three basic categories:

  • Local Anesthesia — Medication is injected into nerves within the gums to numb the area to be treated. This type of anesthesia is commonly used during fillings, treating gum disease, or preparing teeth for crowns.
  • Sedation — Administered by inhaling nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, or orally in the form of a pill taken prior to the dental procedure, this form of anesthesia is commonly combined with a local anesthetic to help relieve anxieties and reduce pain.
  • General Anesthesia — The strongest form of anesthesia available for dental procedures involves intravenous medications that produce a temporary loss of consciousness. General anesthesia is usually only used during extensive oral surgery procedures and requires a medical facility more advanced than a typical dentist’s office.

 

You may have heard of I.V. sedation and wondered if it were for you. Intravenous (I.V.) sedation has become more common and works well for those with fear of the dentist and dental procedures. It is also ideal for patients whose fear of dentistry has led to a large amount of dental work needing to be completed. I.V. Sedation is also used for outpatient procedures, like colonoscopies. Referred to as “twilight sleep,” the sedation allows patients to wake with little or no memory of the procedure.

While in the United States and much of the developed world there are many options available for safe and pain-free dental procedures, much of the world still has limited options when it comes to oral health care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In developing countries, oral health services are mostly offered from regional or central hospitals of urban centers and little, if any, priority is given to preventive or restorative dental care. Many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin-America have a shortage of oral health personnel and by and large the capacity of the systems is limited to pain relief or emergency care. In Africa, the dentist to population ratio is approximately 1:150,000 against about 1:2,000 in most industrialized countries.”

This continues more than 20 years the primary care initiative “Health for All,” which has yet to be fully implemented. According to WHO, “in many countries, national capacity and resources — human, financial and material — are still insufficient to ensure availability of and access to essential health services of high quality for individuals and populations, especially in deprived communities.”

The Dental Anesthesiology Research (DAR) Group, based in Alexandria, Va. was founded in 2000. They focus their research in: 1) local anesthesia: anatomy, pharmacology, and therapy. 2) sedation: general anesthesia, deep sedation, moderate and minimal sedation, and, 3) pain management: acute and chronic orofacial pain, orofacial cancerous pain and synalgia.

While those are a lot of big words, the point is that dental anesthesia continues to develop and address more complex patient care including: intravenous and inhalational sedation, sedation in hospital and ambulatory environments, sedation for all dental procedures, including oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, and general dentistry, perioperative patient management: intellectual disability, physical disability, comorbid illness/medical complexity, and dental phobia.

Despite continued advances into pain relief in dentistry, a third of Americans have not seen a dentist in the last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways poll. Many do not see a dentist because of the expense and only wealthier individuals seeking regular dental care, but another reason cited for not pursuing dental care is being the lack of realization that good oral health is key to overall good health. Poor oral care has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke; and research has found that those who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. The Mayo Clinic suggests brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and eating a healthy diet, along with attending regular dental check-ups.*

While dental procedures can seem scary and overwhelming, advances in anesthesia, options for pain relief during and after procedures, and continuing research to develop additional care methods, are making it easier for you to get the dental care you need.

 

*Medical Daily.

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