We will let you in on a little secret!
Excerpts from, 8 Secrets Dentists Wish All Their Patients Knew, by Lisa Mulcahy
- “Psst, We know when you’re lying about flossing.”
Unfortunately your gums give you away. “I can tell if someone hasn’t been flossing. You can’t hide the inflammation that can be caused by skipping brushing and flossing — the margins of your gums will look red, and if I’m examining your teeth, your gums might even bleed when I touch them.” Dr. Paul Rogers, DDS., Rogers Center for Dentistry. The key is to floss once a day to keep gums healthy and to keep a beautiful smile.
- One tooth can lead to big trouble.
“Once during a casual phone conversation, one of my friends said, ‘I broke my tooth — no big deal, right?’ I told him, ‘Call your dentist immediately!’ The truth is, neglecting any dental problem can have serious consequences for your health, however rare. Take my friend’s tooth: Even though the outside of it looked perfectly normal, untreated decay on the inside caused the shell of the tooth to break. Had the fracture also gone untreated, it could have infected the nerve of the tooth, which in some cases can spread infection throughout the body by way of the sinuses. It’s uncommon, but the risk is very real, so never leave an opportunity for infection to invade your body — including cavities. Get in to see your dentist ASAP. My friend did, his tooth was treated, and now he’s getting regular exams to prevent problems down the road.” — Alice Boghosian, DDS, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association
- Yes, it’s possible to over-whiten your teeth.
With all the different ideas on how to whiten your teeth as well as the countless products and gadgets to help whiten your teeth, you may begin to wonder if it is possible to over-whiten your teeth. “Tooth enamel can be stripped away with the over use of at-home whitening strips, whitening toothpastes, and brushing with baking soda. Whitening under a dentist supervision will help you get the safest, whitest smile,” Dr. Paul Rogers, DDS., Rogers Center for Dentistry. It is also possible to whitening your teeth naturally by avoiding stain causing foods and eating foods like strawberries and pineapple that are acidic in a cleansing way.
- Unhealthy teeth could affect how well you conceive.
“A number of my friends have struggled with infertility, and they’re shocked when I explain that periodontitis, or gum disease, could be one of the things at fault. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect many parts of your body. Research shows that women who have periodontitis can take longer to conceive, and unfortunately, those who do get pregnant are at higher risk for giving birth to a preterm or low-birth-weight baby. Your partner’s gum health matters too — a small study found that men with periodontitis may have lower sperm quality. The good news: Gum disease can be treated with scaling and root planing or surgery, depending on the severity. If you’re already pregnant, it’s often fine to be treated for periodontitis as well. I know several women who have gotten pregnant after being treated for gum disease — maybe that’s a coincidence, but seeing a dentist or periodontist certainly didn’t hurt.” — Griselle Ortiz-Ramsey, DMD, MS, Ph.D., diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology
- It’s okay if your kids wiggle their baby teeth.
Keeping your hands away from your face and out of your mouth is good health advice to keep germs and illness at bay, but when it comes to baby teeth it is ok to wiggle those little teeth. We are seeing an increase in kids that don’t lose their baby teeth until age 10 or later! Even if a baby tooth doesn’t come out, the permanent tooth underneath will still try to push through. The baby tooth may cause the permanent tooth to be misaligned, or come in partially, making it difficult to brush either tooth’s whole surface and leading to cavities and infection. “So teach your kids to do the ‘wiggle-wiggle-twist-twist’ — wiggle twice, then twist twice over and over again — while you’re reading them a bedtime story or during TV commercials. Just make sure they wash their hands before and after. And if you’re ever concerned that your kiddo’s baby teeth are taking too long to fall out, make an appointment with your dentist.” — Katherine Graber, DDS, MS, spokesperson for the American Association of Orthodontists
- Don’t just mask bad breath.
“Whenever a friend asks me about bad breath, I fire off a series of questions: Is she brushing (including her tongue), flossing, and using a mouth rinse daily? Then: Has she been eating foods like garlic or onion? The problem with these foods is that nothing will eliminate the odor caused by them — you have to wait until they’ve passed through your system. Next question: Does she get food stuck in her teeth, or does she have gum disease, untreated decay, or dry mouth? If she answers yes to any of those, I tell her to see her dentist. And if that doesn’t help, I send her to her M.D. because her bad breath could stem from a condition somewhere else (for example, a sinus infection or gastrointestinal issue). Spending hundreds on gums, sprays, and mints isn’t enough — you have to get to the root cause of your bad breath.” — Tawana Lee-Ware, DDS, MSD, spokesperson for the American Association of Women Dentists