DISCLOSURE: Noelle Copeland RDH is the oral care specialist and dental consultant to the Brilliant and Baby Buddy oral care lines through Compac Industries. See terms below
Oral health and systemic health are intricately connected, so any well rounded wellness program should have a purposeful section on maintaining or achieving good oral health. Resolutions really aren’t my thing, but I know a lot of people are successful with them. The dawn of every “New Year” signals a new start that motivates and supports new goals, and I think that is awesome!
If upping your oral care is on your list of “To Do’s” for 2021, then you came to the right place.
Visit the Dentist
Just like visiting the doctor for a physical and annual exam is the starting place for a systemic health evaluation, so is visiting the dentist for your oral health. I really don’t recommend trying new things at home, like bleaching, oil pulling, or mail service orthodontics, until you have an established relationship with a dentist whom you see regularly and have consulted with.
This is important to know because if there are underlying oral health issues, those need to be addressed first. I will give you an example. The new rage is at home aligner trays. However, if you have gingivitis or periodontal disease and you leave that unaddressed then it will only grow and get worse, which threatens the stability of the teeth.
For an aligner tray to work it has to be worn 24 hours a day, except when you are eating. That means when the aligner tray is in your mouth all day and all night, if you have active periodontal disease, you are literally incubating the bacteria underneath the tray and accelerating their growth and infection. I have seen horrible case studies where someone did this exact scenario, got straighter teeth but then ended up losing some teeth to severe bone loss and periodontal infection. Teeth are kinda useless if they don’t stay in your mouth.
Periodontal disease is an active infection, affecting the teeth and the supporting structures they sit in, the bone and gum tissues. Periodontal disease is NOT reversible, It can be treated and health can be restored, but the damage it does to the teeth, gums and bone is permanent. Once the pathogenic bacteria starts to erode away the bone that teeth are securely sitting in, the body does not regenerate that bone. Bone levels are important, it’s what keeps your teeth in your mouth, so you don’t want actively shrinking bone levels.
Professional dental visits may include any combination of the following
- Thorough medical and dental history review.
- Oral cancer screening.
- Head and neck exam.
- Blood pressure reading.
- X-rays may include one or multiple sets of: FMX, bitewings, occlusals, panorex, cephalometric.
- Full periodontal charting.
- Complete oral exam by the hygienist and the dentist.
- Prophy: Regular and yearly cleaning for relatively healthy mouths.
- Periodontal SRP: Treatment cleaning for infected gums and bone.
- Debridement: Diagnostic cleaning; used when a complete diagnosis cannot be determined initially because of plaque/tartar buildup, inflammation, bleeding or other determinant factors.
- Application of therapeutics in office or as prescribed for home use.
- Treatment: Restorations, Crowns, Fillings, Surgery, drug therapy.
This is not an exhaustive list but a pretty typical experience for most patients. The mouth seems so small and can often be overlooked when it comes to wellness. Start with the right foundation and see your dentist today.
Step up your homecare routine
Getting to the dentist is the first step, now you need to buckle down your routine at home!
I think the number one thing patients need to do more is…FLOSS!
Most people don’t forget to brush, but I think most people floss sporadically, or not at all. The other problem is brushing too fast. Instead of taking the time to brush the teeth and mouth for 2 minutes, people typically spend about 45 seconds brushing.
A fun way to incorporate a better routine at home is to buy new things. It’s kinda like buying new workout clothes, to start a new exercise routine. It’s motivating! So what might that look like.
Oral Care Products to try
- Electric Toothbrushes: High VPM sonic, Low VPM battery powered sonic, Rotary, Oscillating, Ultrasonic Units.
- Coconut dental floss, Bamboo dental floss, flossers, reachers.
- Activated Charcoal toothpaste, eco friendly unpaste tabs, tooth powders.
- Brushing apps for tracking and accountability.
- Interproximal tools.
Once you have a few new oral care items in your arsenal, it’s imperative that you use them correctly, otherwise, they are utterly useless. Start by carefully reading the manufacturers insert for the items and follow the instructions as directed. For all manual toothbrushes, the following is a guide for how to brush your teeth.
How to brush with a manual toothbrush
- Wash your hands with hot soapy water before brushing.
- Pre-rinse your toothbrush with hot water and tap off excess before applying toothpaste or putting the brush in your mouth.
- Apply a small amount of gel or paste to the bristles.
- Hold the brush and place it in the mouth, preferably starting in the back of the mouth, top or bottom, it doesn’t matter.
- Angle the bristles to 45 degrees by tilting the brush slightly up or down, toward the gumline.
(this applies only to one-sided toothbrushes but not Brilliant® toothbrushes since the angle is built into the bristle design).
- Brush every tooth, with small back and forth strokes.
- Reach each tooth individually and one at a time. Do not use long sweeping motions, but rather short brushing strokes, focusing on one tooth at a time.
- Moving from one side of the mouth to the other, from the back of the mouth to the front of the mouth, repeating this sequence on the tongue side of the teeth.
- Brush every surface of every tooth, including the top chewing surfaces and don’t forget the tongue.
- Follow up with a swish of water to remove any toothpaste residue.
- Optional = Finish with a final mouthwash rinse, for thirty seconds, to give a glistening antiseptic finale.
It’s imperative that you brush for at least 2 minutes at every brushing.
30 seconds of brushing in each of the 4 quadrants of your mouth.
Upper Right UR, Lower Right LR, Upper Left UL, Lower Left LL.
Eat to support your oral health
“You are what you eat” also applies to your teeth! So taking an inventory of your diet may help in your quest for a better and brighter smile in 2021. I think most people understand that refined sugars and carbs negatively affect the teeth when consumed too often and when the remnants of those sources are left lingering in the mouth for too long. But it’s not only what you eat that matters, but how often you eat, that equally matters.
Snacking too much provides a constant source of food for oral bacteria and limits the time frame the oral Ph is balanced and recovering. It is better to eat balanced meals 2-3 times daily, with limited snacks, while choosing healthy options.
Limit or Avoid
- Sugary sweets and candies.
- Sugar Soda.
- Excessive amounts of citrus.
- Sports drinks.
- Dried fruits.
The best options for oral health are whole foods, green leafy vegetables and water. If it comes in a bag, bottle or a box, more than likely it is processed, has added sugar and contributes to a more acidic oral environment in the mouth.
Resolutions can be great markers for getting a jump start on any sort of wellness program. Never hesitate to talk to a dental professional about your specific oral care needs, fears, or past experiences.
Don’t forget to check out the entire Brilliant® Oral Care line of products. You will find specialty toothbrushes, some of the best toothbrushes for kids, and products that span from birth all the way through adulthood. Better brushing for a better and brighter year! Brush Brilliant!
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