Our Blog

The Story Of Your Toothbrush

January 16th, 2018

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED how your toothbrush was made or how it’s different from toothbrushes of the past? Teeth-cleaning tools have certainly come a long way from the frayed sticks Ancient Egyptians used around 3500 BC!

A Brief History Of The Toothbrush

The first toothbrushes that resemble modern ones were invented in China in the late 1500s, and they consisted of pig bristles attached to a bone or bamboo handle. Before long, the design caught on in Europe, with horse hair sometimes replacing pig. Can you imagine cleaning your teeth with animal hair? It doesn’t sound very fun to us, but there weren’t any other options back then, and it beats chewing on frayed sticks.

Over the centuries, the design gradually became more like the toothbrushes we’re familiar with. Toothbrushes were first mass-produced in 1780, in England. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was made in 1938. Sixteen years later, Philippe Guy-Wood developed the first electric toothbrush in Switzerland.

Even with the long history of toothbrushes and all the advances in the design, oral hygiene didn’t become a priority in the culture until soldiers brought their strict hygiene regimens home with them from World War II. Just one more reason to be grateful for our troops!

How Your Toothbrush Is Made

Nylon bristles and plastic handles were the last major change in what toothbrushes are made of, but how are they actually made? There are a few different steps. First, the handles are molded from plastic pellets. Then a machine positions and attaches the bristles. Next, another machine trims the bristles to the right length. Finally, the finished toothbrushes are packaged and shipped.

To see the manufacturing process in action, check out this video:

The most important step before a toothbrush makes it to the cup beside your sink is quality control. The American Dental Association tests new toothbrush designs on comfort and efficiency. Toothbrushes that meet their standards are given the ADA Seal of Acceptance, so make sure any toothbrush you purchase has it!

You And Your Toothbrush

A toothbrush earning the ADA Seal of Acceptance isn’t the end of the story. From there, it’s up to you. Remember to brush your teeth for two full minutes twice a day, store your toothbrush upright in a dry place preferably far from the toilet after you use it, and don’t forget to replace it every few months! A frayed, worn out toothbrush can’t do the job of preventing tooth decay and gum disease as effectively as a toothbrush in good condition.

Need A Recommendation?

We know there are many toothbrushes out there to choose from, and there is no one toothbrush that’s perfect for everyone. Children need different brushes than adults, people with braces need different toothbrushes than people without, people with sensitive teeth need toothbrushes with extra soft bristles, etc. So if you’re having trouble finding the best one for you, just ask us at your next dental appointment!

We can help you find the brush that’s right for you!

Teaching Your Child To Floss

January 9th, 2018

FLOSSING IS AN ESSENTIAL part of keeping our teeth clean and healthy. So how do we pass this crucial habit on to our children? This is one hurdle of parenting we’re happy to help you clear!

Why Does Flossing Matter?

You might wonder why it’s so important to include flossing when it’s hard enough to get your children to brush. Keeping baby teeth healthy is crucial because they are placeholders for adult teeth, and a toothbrush alone simply cannot get rid of all the decay-causing plaque lurking in between them. Just as important is that the earlier children learn good dental hygiene habits, the easier it will be for them to continue those habits into their teens and adulthood.

When To Start Flossing

Your child probably won’t have the dexterity to floss their own teeth until they’re around five years old, but as soon as they have teeth that are close together (usually around two and a half years old), you should start flossing for them. Try to floss each night so you can create a daily habit with them. Consistency is crucial to helping them see it as simply part of their day.

Flossing With Your Child

Knowing how to floss your own teeth and teaching a small child how to floss are very different things. Here are a few tips to make it easier.
•If you begin gently flossing their teeth daily while they’re still toddlers, they should be used to it and maybe even eager to take the reins by the time they’re old enough to try it themselves.
•Explain why flossing is so important. If your child understands the purpose behind flossing, it will help motivate them to do it.
•When they’re ready to try it, show them how to pull out the right amount of floss (about a foot and a half), and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers to hold it in place, leaving an inch or two of floss to get up close between the teeth.
•Help them gently insert the floss between their teeth using a back and forth motion without snapping their gums. Curving the floss around each tooth in a C-shape will make the process more gentle.
•Teach them to always move the strand along so that they’re using clean floss on each tooth. If they’re using the same part of the floss the whole time, they’re just moving the plaque around instead of removing it!
•Emphasize that flossing is something that big kids do, and encourage them to do it by themselves once they have the hang of it. They’ll be excited to do something so grown up!

If your child is struggling to figure out flossing, an easier alternative to traditional floss is using flossers or floss picks. They’re more expensive than floss, but they also require much less coordination.

Need A Professional Demonstration?

Building good dental hygiene habits is about more than teaching them the right technique. It’s also about giving them the right perspective: dental hygiene isn’t an unpleasant chore, it’s quick and easy and makes our teeth feel great! If you’re struggling to convince your child of the importance of good dental hygiene, maybe a fun, professional demonstration at our practice can help!

We’re happy to help you train a new generation of daily flossers!

Saliva: Oral Health’s MVP

January 2nd, 2018

SALIVA IS SUCH an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually as important to the healthy function of our mouths as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak, it’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.

Saliva Production And Stages

In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98-99 percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.

The last two stages are less pleasant, but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health

There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balancedand flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.

The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

Thank you for trusting in our practice!

Helping Your Child Trust The Dentist

December 20th, 2017

EVEN THOUGH WE ALL know how important it is to go to the dentist, dental anxiety can make many people avoid crucial dental checkups. For some, dental anxiety starts in childhood and lasts a lifetime. How can we help our children start out with a positive mindset towards the dentist so that they will always seek the professional care and attention their teeth need as adults?

Be Honest But Avoid Negativity

The most important thing you can do for your child is to not make a trip to the dentist into an ordeal. Simply approach it as a perfectly normal part of staying healthy. Tell your child about an upcoming dental visit ahead of time so that it isn’t a surprise, and answer their questions about what dental appointments are like. Try to avoid scary words like “pain” and “shots,” and leave the detailed explanations of dental procedures to us.

One crucial thing to do even when there isn’t an appointment coming up is to never use the dentist as a threat. Saying things like, “If you don’t brush your teeth, you’ll end up at the dentist!” will only make a child think dentist visits are punishments — something to be feared and avoided. You can still encourage good oral hygiene habits without portraying the dentist as the boogeyman, like the way this video does:

Address Existing Sources Of Fear

If your child is already afraid of the dentist, you might have a little more of an uphill battle to fight, but it’s still a battle you can win! Communication is key. Talk to your child about why they’re afraid of the dentist and help them understand that it isn’t so scary. Lead by example and show them that you go to the dentist too.

Patience is also crucial. Even for adults, the idea of having a stranger poking and prodding inside our mouths while we’re lying in a vulnerable position can be unsettling, so imagine how that must be for a child who isn’t used to it. Make sure your child understands that dental cleanings will make their teeth feel great and that the dentist is on their team, helping them fight bad germs and tooth decay.

We Are Happy To Help

Sometimes, dental anxiety is too strong for these strategies to completely cure. That’s where we come in. Our team knows how to work with children to make them feel more comfortable, so don’t feel like you have to make them love us without our help!

We’re looking forward to helping your child’s smile stay healthy and bright!