Dental Hygiene Pearls of Wisdom

Fall is in the air here in Seattle.  School has started, schedules have resumed and life has gotten busy again.  Between the holiday weekend and the fact that I’m heading out of town to attend the Academy of Applied Myofunctional Sciences 1st Congress today’s post will be a little shorter but hopefully still share something new.  On my return from Los Angeles and the conference, I’ll have even more information to help you be and stay healthier!

Pearls to think about again:

#1. Does your child avoid brushing his teeth?  He may well be a supertaster and the toothpaste may be too spicy for him.  I had an 18 year old patient in that  previously had very poor oral health and brushing habits. I suggested to him to just dry brush with a manual toothbrush- no toothpaste, no water, brush until his teeth felt and tasted clean. On his return visit last week, I was very pleasantly surprised at his outstanding success!  No plaque, very little bleeding.  He was dry brushing and loved it.  He admitted to disliking tooth paste.  Too spicy.  I realized at that time he was a super taster- yes they do exist.  He did like Lusterbrush Toothpaste– it’s very mild.  It’s made for babies, those with special needs and yes, super tasters!

#2. Electric toothbrush- buy one for every member of the family. Period.  It’s just a better brush.  However, you can not dry brush with it.  The electric brushes need water to work best.  Get the best electric brush you can afford.  Cavities are expensive, what you spend on an electric brush is peanuts in comparison.

#3. Clean in-between your teeth daily.  Your toothbrush only cleans 60% of your flat tooth surface and that’s if you get every last spec of plaque off.  Imagine taking a shower with your boots on– your feet might get wet,  but they’ll never get clean, and they’ll smell a bit.  Same goes for your teeth. Cavities and gum disease start in-between your teeth.  Please clean there! I understand flossing is a pain in the you-know-what, so find other tools to help you.  I’ve listed lots of suggestions here.

#4. Clean your tongue twice a day. Make it part of your twice daily habits.  Twice a day. (“They say” you have to see or hear something seven times before it sinks in.  So yes, I suggested you clean your tongue twice a day. Do I need to write that three more times?!)  A great tongue scraper – Tongue Mate.  Even children can and should use them twice daily.  My youngest was five years old when I gave her one and it’s now ingrained in her dental habits.   Ever notice your little one has bad breath?  That’s her tongue telling you it’s filled with stinky plaque.  You will notice your morning breath is greatly diminished and your teeth feel cleaner when you wake. Twice daily 🙂

#5. Xylitol – strive for five servings a day. Between toothpaste, gums, candies that taste incredibly good, rinses and straight xylitol there are lots of options.  Your local health food store should be able to help you.  And, there’s always Amazon.com.

#6. Breath through your nose.  It will reduce the number of colds and allergy attacks you get.  It’ll improve your oxygen uptake, you’ll be healthier.  Nasal breathing will reduce the likelihood of your child needing braces.  Chronic mouth breathers have crowded teeth.  This article by Dr. John Flutter is well worth your time – click here.   Read and learn.

#7. Tongue posture– your tongue should rest on the roof of your mouth, behind the bumps on your palate. When you are not eating, drinking or talking, that’s where it should be, period.  It should not be touching your bottom front teeth, nor should it be between your teeth.  It matters to the development of the jaw.  Your tongue acts as an orthodontic appliance to create a nice round arch- that means straight teeth- and your lips are the retainer that holds them there.  If your tongue is on the floor of your mouth, your mouth will be open and you’ll be a chronic mouth breather. (see above)

#8. TMJ pain– See #7 above- putting your tongue in the proper place will rest your jaw muscles.  It may not eliminate all your jaw pain but it’s a start.  I am reading a book by Cynthia Peterson titled The TMJ Healing Plan.  If you have TMJ pain- read this book and then find a myofunctional therapist to help you reprogram your muscles.  It does work!  If you need help finding a myofunctional therapist, email me!

#9. Nasal Breathing reduces anxiety.  When you breathe through your mouth, you give off too much carbon dioxide.  This is called hypocapnia.  Exhaling too much CO2 constricts blood vessels and can bring on an anxiety attack.  Get anxiety attacks on airplanes?  Learn Buteyko Breathing and calm your breathing and your mind.  Again, send me an email and I can help you find a Buteyko counselor.

#10.  Got Scalloped Tongue?  Stick out your tongue and check it out! If it looks like someone took pinking shears to it, you have what’s called a scalloped tongue. If so, there’s an 89% chance you have sleep disordered breathing.  Sleep apnea is one type of sleep disordered breathing.  If you snore and have a scalloped tongue please see your doctor.  It really matters to those that love you!

Okay, enough pearls for today.  I’m off to Los Angeles for the rest of the week to learn more about sleep apnea, breathing, tongue ties, tongue thrust, swallowing problems and much more.

Questions or comments, please email me at barbaratritz@gmail.com.

Stay well and keep smiling,
Barbara
PS Tongue cleaning twice a day.  Your spouse will thank me

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