8 Ways to Sustain Your Family’s Dental Hygiene This Summer

2021-05-25T20:00:30+00:00May 25th, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Tips to Help Your Families Dental Health

Summer is around the corner, which means it’s time for all the fun things that come with Summer. Maybe your family is planning to go on a big vacation. Maybe you’re getting geared up for long days at the pool. Perhaps you’re looking forward to some sweet, cold treats to tame the rising temperatures.

But amid the summertime excitement, it’s important not to leave your dental health in the dust. The shifts in routine and the seasonal activities don’t remove your family’s need to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Adam Brown DDS is here with some practical tips and information for how your family can keep your teeth and gums healthy through the sun-kissed days of Summer:

 

  1. Stick to Your Dental Routine 

We’ll start with the basics: keeping up with your normal dental care routine. Even if your kids are out of school and staying up later than usual, don’t let them go to bed without brushing their teeth. And to the adults in the room—don’t allow yourselves to get lax either!

For many families, summer is packed with special events and relaxed bedtimes, but everyone should be brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Also, make sure you are flossing once a day; any two teeth that touch should be cleaned regularly. Many children lack the motor skills to floss until they are more than 10-years-old. If necessary, help your child floss, or invest in a water flosser. 

 

  1. Pack Wisely 

The quickest way for your family to fall behind on dental hygiene is to forget the essentials when you travel. As you plan your vacation, be sure to pack travel-sized items like these:

 

Toothbrush

Like the other items on this list, you can find a selection of travel-sized toothbrushes at most major retailers, grocery stores, and pharmacies. These brushes will fold and easily fit into a carry-on bag. Your travel brush may not be quite as comfortable or effective as your full-sized brush, but it will get the job done. 

 

Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is another essential item that you can’t go without on your trip. If you only took two dental care products when you travel, you would want them to be a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

 

Floss

You can get travel-sized packs of floss, but flossers are even better. Particularly if you have kids, flossers are easier to use on the go, and they’re effective at removing excess food particles and plaque between teeth. If possible, bring a pack of floss in addition to your flosser. 

 

Mouthwash  

While it shouldn’t be used to replace your brushing habit too often, mouthwash can do wonders for killing bacteria and germs in your mouth. You won’t have any trouble fitting travel-sized mouthwashes in your carry-on, and you can use them to freshen your breath when you don’t have a chance to brush. 

 

Toothpicks

Toothpicks are the perfect little gadgets for removing food particles after a meal. Get a travel-sized pack of toothpicks for your trip to use when you don’t have the opportunity to floss. 

 

Wisps

Manufactured by Colgate, Wisp brushes are relatively new. And they’re one of the handiest oral hygiene products you can buy. These pocket-sized, disposable brushes are surprisingly effective at removing food particles and plaque, and each brush comes with a built-in freshening bead that releases toothpaste as you brush. The best part is that you don’t even have to rinse!

 

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum is great for keeping bad breath at bay, but it also increases saliva production when you chew it. Since saliva is essential for dissolving acids and helping you fight dry mouth, this is a good thing. Stay fresh and avoid cavities by packing sugar-free gum for your vacation. 

 

  1. Consider Sustainable Products 

While travel-sized dental care products are great for taking trips, using eco-conscious products for your everyday routine is a great way to benefit both your oral health and the environment. Here are some of the most popular types of eco-conscious dental care products available today:

 

Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes typically are not compostable, nor are the packages they come in. That’s why bamboo toothbrushes are gaining in popularity. Not only are the bristles and handles easily compostable, but bamboo brushes can be just as effective for cleaning your teeth and gums as conventional brushes. 

 

Toothpaste  

Natural toothpaste has been around for a long time. But it has come a long way over the years in terms of helping you effectively remove plaque and prevent cavities. Unless you have a high decay risk, your family could benefit your oral health and the environment by using natural toothpaste that comes in a compostable tube. 

 

Floss

The packaging of conventional floss can take years to biodegrade. There are many sustainable, low-waste floss products on the market that come in biodegradable packaging and are just as effective at removing food particles and plaque. 

 

Mouthwash

Alcohol-based mouthwashes may leave you with a feeling of freshness in your mouth, but they can also dehydrate your oral cavity, hinder saliva production, and cause irritation. If you want to add a mouth rinse to your dental care routine, opt for one that contains coconut oil and xylitol, which are known for their antibacterial properties and less harsh on the gums than alcohol. 

 

Whitening

Brushing with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda once a week can noticeably brighten your smile, and it has no impact on the environment! Just make sure it’s not part of your daily routine. When used too frequently, hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on your gums while baking soda can damage your enamel. 

 

  1. Don’t Chew Ice 

Few things are more satisfying than an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. But if you’re an ice-chewer, know the risks that come with it. Chewing ice, especially large cubes, can cause a variety of oral health issues and even lead to a hefty bill from the dentist or orthodontist. Some common consequences of chewing ice include damaged tooth enamel, damaged dental fillings, cracked or chipped teeth, and broken oral appliances. 

While adults should also take precautions, kids are particularly prone to chew ice subconsciously. Make sure your children know the risks involved and try to prevent the habit if possible. If anyone in your family experiences one of the injuries above to your teeth or oral appliances, contact Adam Brown DDS immediately to arrange an emergency dental visit.  

 

  1. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks 

We get it—Summer is meant to be enjoyed. And sometimes that includes chomping on yummy foods that are not so good for your teeth. Try to moderate your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, as they can significantly hinder your oral health routine. For example, sodas, juices, and ice cream can erode your enamel and cause cavities. Even acidic fruits like blueberries and pineapples can harm your enamel. After eating foods like these, be sure to rinse your mouth, brush, and floss as soon as possible.   

 

  1. Embrace Healthy Summer Foods 

Now that you have an idea of what foods to limit in your summer diet, let’s talk about some foods that can specifically benefit your oral health:

 

Salmon 

Salmon is not only a versatile fish for recipes, but it’s also one of the best foods you can eat for vitamin D. And without vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb nutrients like calcium. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical in the prevention of periodontal disease and fostering overall health. 

 

Cheese 

For most people, this one doesn’t take a lot of convincing. Obviously, cheese is best eaten in moderation because it’s high in fat content, but it’s a wonderful source of calcium. And calcium is perhaps the single most beneficial nutrient for teeth, as it helps to keep your enamel strong and your jawbones durable. Moreover, cheese contains casein—a protein that provides a protective layer on your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. 

 

Bananas

Bananas are one of the most beneficial fruits you can eat for your dental health. They have a low acidic content, and they’re high in potassium, which helps to maintain jawbone density and tooth strength. Yes, bananas have sugar in them, but they won’t stick to your teeth like candy and other sugary foods. 

 

Oranges

Vitamin C plays a critical role in helping your gums fight off gingivitis and other oral infections, and oranges offer a beaucoup of vitamin C. Boost your gum health, and you’ll significantly lower your risk of loose teeth. 

 

Apples

If nature had a toothbrush, it would be an apple. Along with containing vital nutrients (e.g., potassium, vitamin C, fiber, etc.), apples massage the gums, increase saliva, and remove plaque. Making apples a part of your daily diet will help you maintain a clean mouth, fresh breath, healthy gums, and strong teeth. 

 

Carrots

Carrots are also a wonder for cleaning your teeth and gums. They contain lots of keratin, which combat plaque and tartar, and they massage your gums. They also have beta carotene, a nutrient that converts to vitamin A, which increases saliva production and enables oral wounds to heal more quickly. 

 

Kale 

This superfood is known for its incredible array of nutrients, and it’s one of the best foods you can eat for your oral and overall health. Kale has high levels of vitamin K, which helps to protect your bones and enamel, boost your immune system, and foster healing. It also helps the body absorb osteocalcin—another nutrient that benefits bones and teeth. 

 

  1. Drink Plenty of Water 

Water is essential for keeping you hydrated in the heat. But it also comes with specific dental benefits. For instance, it helps to keep your mouth clean by washing away leftover food and residue that would otherwise attract bacteria, in turn reducing the risk of cavities. Furthermore, water dilutes the acids produced by oral bacteria. Start your morning off with a glass of water, and always keep a refillable water bottle with you so that you can sip throughout the day. 

 

  1. Prepare for Accidents 

Finally, accidents happen. While you want to take every precaution, such as having your child wear a mouthguard while playing sports, you may not always be able to avoid injury. That’s why it’s essential to prepare a kit of supplies for your child to keep nearby in the event of a dental emergency. Whether they’re playing a contact sport, engaging in an individual physical activity, or hanging out at the pool, make sure they have easy access to a kit with these items:

  • Gauze
  • Saline solution
  • OTC pain medication
  • A small container (for a knocked-out tooth)
  • The number to their dentist 

 

Conclusion

Summertime may be when the living’s easy (especially for kids), but your family’s dental health still matters. Along with maintaining your regular oral hygiene routine, look for new products that can benefit your smile and the planet. Avoid chewing ice, consume sugary foods and beverages in moderation, and incorporate dental-friendly foods in your diet. Lastly, be sure to drink a lot of water, stay prepared for dental emergencies, and book your back-to-school appointments now at Adam Brown DDS!

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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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