I am often asked by my patients about how they can protect their oral health when they’re not in my chair. And many ask about the value of popular alternative products such as charcoal toothpaste or bamboo toothbrushes.
I know first hand about the need to have choices beyond the traditional as I myself have a latex allergy and our office has to be latex free. But what products are worth the hype? And what about the dentist’s standard recommendation of fluoridated toothpaste? In this post, I demystify some common perceptions and provide some surprisingly simple ways to care for your mouth.
My DIY Oral Health Tips
Fluoride is a hotly debated topic. Some of my patients express concern about the toxicity of fluoride, and ask about whether it is safe to use for themselves and their children. It is a valid question as fluoride can be dangerous in large amounts. However, its benefits of preventing cavities by protecting and repairing tooth enamel are well documented.
I recommend that all my patients use a fluoride toothpaste but focus on quantity… or lack of. We all have a mental image of the fully loaded toothbrush like the one:
However, an amount as small as a grain of rice is effective, providing that brushing is thorough and gentle. The tooth enamel receives the benefit of the fluoride without ingestion.
Charcoal and Bamboo
What about alternative toothpastes like activated charcoal? Absolutely there can be whitening benefits. Be careful not to use a highly abrasive version as it can damage teeth and gums. And be sure to continue to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Bamboo toothbrushes and other plastic alternatives are becoming more mainstream as people try to use less plastic. I am a big supporter of reducing our footprint on the earth and we are working on bringing a non-plastic toothbrush into Harmony. With any toothbrush, the most important factor is ensuring that bristles are soft.
A Healthy Diet
One of the single biggest things that someone can do to maintain their oral health is avoiding common cavity triggers such as juice and other sugary foods and drinks. Chewing food stimulates saliva production and keeps the PH balanced in the mouth, so fruits and vegetables with a glass of water is a far better snack than any kind of juice or smoothie.
A Healthy Mouth
The overall health of the mouth has a huge impact on the health of the teeth. A balanced diet, lots of fresh water and good dental hygiene are all factors. However, not everyone thinks about the impact of a typical health problem like dry mouth. Many common medications for hypertension and high cholesterol can cause dry mouth as a side affect. Don’t ignore this problem! If you find that you need water in the middle of the night or have a sticky feeling in your mouth, talk to your dentist. Many over-the-counter treatments are available, such as Biotene.
Some simple steps like these will help to keep your mouth in it’s best health between visits. And a healthy mouth = healthy teeth. Because we are all about smiles for life!