Monday, February 29, 2016

Don't Forget to Brush Your Teeth!

Would you think of crawling into bed and tucking in under the covers with muddy feet? Ewww! Probably not, right? The truth is that would not be as detrimental to your health as going to bed without brushing your teeth and yet millions of Americans have done just that. Although it is most likely an occasional occurrence, such as falling asleep with a good book or dozing off in front of the TV, it's nonetheless a bad move that wreaks havoc with your dental health.

The American Dental Association or ADA, recommends brushing a minimum of twice a day. Of course the morning brushing session is considered the best remedy for the dreaded morning breath, but there is so much more to it than that. When we fail to brush regularly, yes, between meals too-we are creating an ideal environment where bacteria can grow which leads to the formation of plaque and possibly cavities and gum disease. Even when we brush first thing in the morning, throughout the day, plaque can still accumulate on our teeth. ADA spokesperson, Dr. Ruchi Sahota, explains that we should take a moment in the middle of the day to run our tongues over our teeth and notes, "You'll find something sticky or fuzzy and that's plaque."

In a story for The Huffington Post, the dentist stated that regular brushing disrupts oral bacteria and its growth pattern. The longer that bacteria is left to its own devices, in our mouths, the more likely it is to become plaque and then tartar. If it's been a while since you thought about why tartar is so bad, remember that as Dr. Sahota reminds us, "that hard, yellow, rough material you sometimes feel in between your teeth that can cause inflammation and bleeding in the gums." As Dr. Sahota noted, when tartar takes over gum disease is likely along with tooth loss. That is because wh
en the buildup of plaque takes place, our gums react as if it is an infection. Our body will fight back and try to destroy the healthy gum tissues, which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and often leads to tooth loss.

The reason that it is so important to always brush, especially before bedtime, is that the cavity forming process can begin by forgetting to brush-just once! Scary, huh? Dozing off to the Tonight Show is bad and sloppy brushing habits come in a close second. Adults and especially young adults can become surprisingly lax when it comes to proper dental hygiene. As the ADA recommends:

Brush at least twice a day-It is ideal to brush after every meal and snack. If that is not possible, then brush twice each day and always before bedtime. Make sure to use small, gentle circular strokes to also keep the gums healthy. Pay close attention to the hard to reach spots and take the time to brush back molars, inside the upper and lower rows of teeth, tongue, and inner cheeks.

Brush for 2 minutes each time-Keeping an egg timer in the bathroom or using the timer on your phone makes this easier!

Floss - Along with cleaning the sides of your teeth and hard to reach places, flossing also stimulates circulation and conditions the gums. Did you know that each tooth has 5 sides? That is why brushing alone is just not enough.

And for a really thorough job:

Scrape your tongue - Tongue scrapers are inexpensive and great for reducing bad breath. They are extremely effective for removing decaying bacteria that lead to bigger issues.

Rinse and swish- Swishing and rinsing with a fluoridated dental rinse or mouth wash adds more protection against harmful bacteria and can reach spots that brushing and flossing miss.

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