- Wearing a mask may make you less likely to drink water frequently, and more likely to breathe through your mouth.
- Both of these lead to decreased saliva and dry mouth.
- A dry mouth allows thug bugs to proliferate and gain the upper hand in the oral microbiome.
- If the above steps are habitual, then this shift in the oral microbiome causes an increased tendency for both tooth decay and gum disease
Is baking soda really to blame?Our teeth like to be polished and our gums like to be massaged. If we remember just this one thing while brushing, we’ll be much more inclined to treat our teeth more carefully: Our teeth are living gems. Yep, our tooth structure is like a crystal. But, unlike rubies and diamonds, these ‘tooth crystals’ are alive The bottom line is that most of us brush our teeth unconsciously. We call it ‘zombie brushing’. Let’s face it, if we brush our teeth like we’re scrubbing a grout line in our bathroom, then yes, using baking soda to brush our teeth could potentially cause some real problems. One way to tell whether you brush unconsciously is to note how you hold your toothbrush. If you hold your toothbrush with a closed fist, you’re most likely scrubbing a grout line. So, before we dive any further into the details of whether or not it’s safe to regularly brush with baking soda, let’s firmly state that how we brush our teeth is more important than what we brush with. Let’s explore the risks and benefits of using baking soda to brush our teeth. Here are the potential downsides to using baking soda as a tooth powder.
Risk 1: AbrasivityIs baking soda too abrasive? To answer this, let’s compare baking soda to some abrasives that are commonly included in oral hygiene products. In the world of oral hygiene products, there’s a scale called ‘Relative Dentin Abrasivity’ (or RDA). It ranks product abrasive from zero (not abrasive) to over 200 (super abrasive). Baking soda is only a 7 on the RDA scale. So, at first glance, it seems that when used consciously, baking soda isn’t too abrasive. Pay attention if you have receding gums As you know, the enamel is the outer portion of each tooth. Under the enamel is the dentin, then the tooth pulp. However, if we have receding gums, it’s very possible that the portion of the tooth around our gum line may no longer be enamel. As the gum recession progresses, the softer tooth tissue called ‘cementum’ may become exposed around the gum line. This explains why it’s more common for adults to get cavities along the gum line than on the chewing surfaces of their teeth. The receding gums expose the cementum, which is softer than the enamel that covers the crown of the tooth (therefore, it’s more prone to decay as well as structural damage from brushing too hard and using products that are too abrasive). However, overall, when used consciously, baking soda is ok to use in a toothpaste or powder.
Risk 2: What about the aluminum in baking soda?This is a common cultural myth. Baking soda does not contain aluminum. Some product manufacturers have caused confusion by listing ‘aluminum-free baking soda’ on their ingredient list, but baking soda doesn’t have any aluminum in it.
Risk 3: Daily use of baking soda by itself may be too far…There are experts in the field who suggest that brushing with baking soda alone is too ‘rough’ and compromises the healthy biofilm that our teeth need in order to be healthy. Now that we’ve unpacked some of the risks of brushing with baking soda, let’s explore some of the benefits.
Benefit 1: Supports a healthier oral pHOur mouth pH plays a big role in determining which populations of bacteria flourish there. It’s generally recognized that the lower (more acidic) the pH in the mouth, the greater the risk of tooth decay. (Enamel demineralization occurs at pH 5.5 and lower.) You see, the bacteria that flourish at a pH of 5.5 will find a pH of 6.5 or 7.0 downright inhospitable. To successfully manage our oral microbiome, our job is to help maintain a mouth pH that supports the probiotic bacteria populations that help us to live healthy, vital lives. Baking soda’s pH of 8.3 helps support a more alkaline oral pH. It gently nudges the environment in our mouths to a healthier place. For more information on pH’s role in our oral health, check out our article, “Tracking your saliva pH“. This article contains a free OraWellness saliva tracking log that you can download to help you along your path.
Benefit 2: Baking soda lowers thug bug countPlenty of research shows that baking soda can really help lower the populations of thug bugs in the mouth, so it’s an effective support tool to reduce periodontal pathogens. This makes sense if you stop and think about it. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, so it’s a salt. All salts are naturally antimicrobial.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?Given the above information, we believe that baking soda can offer support in helping us navigate to optimal oral health provided that we brush consciously and avoid ‘zombie brushing’ our teeth. Baking soda definitely provides plenty of ‘grit’ to help remove plaque. However, to avoid causing more harm than good, we must be vigilant and mindful while brushing with baking soda. You see, most of the grit from baking soda (and toothpaste, for that matter) is diluted with saliva and ‘used up’ within the first 20 seconds of brushing. So for example, if out of habit you always start on the upper left side when brushing, the teeth and surrounding gum tissue in that area are going to get more than their fair share of abrasive action, and they may weaken over time.
How to avoid overworking one spot in your mouth?To help mitigate the risk of this habitual ‘starting to brush in the same spot every time’. Here’s the simple strategy… Presuming you brush twice a day, start on one side of your mouth in the morning and the other side at night. An easy way to remember this is ‘at night, start on the right’. So, each morning, start brushing on the left side of your mouth and each night, on the right. In this way, we reduce the risk of over brushing one area and we spread out the fresh toothpaste/tooth powder to various areas around the mouth.
How to use baking soda in a homemade tooth powder?We are so grateful for the resurgence of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement. From making deodorant to raising backyard chickens, we’re all waking up to the benefits of doing or making things ourselves. If you want to try your hand at making a tooth powder, definitely consider using baking soda as one of the ingredients. You may also consider using xylitol to boost remineralization. Just make sure that the xylitol is sourced from birch and not corn, so you avoid GMO exposure. https://orawellness.com/is-baking-soda-safe-to-brush-with/
Stress affects your smileIt’s not uncommon for people under a lot of tension to begin grinding their teeth as a response to stress. Clenching the jaw or holding the teeth too tightly together during the day or while sleeping can cause jaw pain, earaches, headaches, and worn down teeth. Increased stress can also take a toll on your immune system. Evidence suggests that a compromised immune system makes it easier for infections to develop and fester. It means the infections in the mouth, like canker or cold sores, can take longer to heal. Stress can also lead to bad oral health habits like smoking, drinking, and neglecting a normal hygiene routine, including regular brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist.
Preventive oral care remains downHPI survey showed that 99% of dental offices in the U.S. are open. Patient volume leveled off at just over 80% of pre-COVID-19 levels, indicating patients have not fully resumed the usual preventive care and treatment schedules. It is troubling news because it affects adults and children alike.
Ways to reduce stress-related oral health problemsIt’s not possible to make the pandemic or the stress associated with it disappear overnight, but you can take steps to make your family’s oral health a priority and reduce stress-related oral health problems.
- If you find yourself clenching your jaw during the day, take a few moments to relax your face and jaw muscles and let your teeth part. If you’re a night-grinder, talk with your dentist about solutions, like a mouthguard.
- Build up your body’s immune system by getting enough rest and eating healthy foods full of vitamins and minerals.
- Brush and floss regularly. Keeping up a good oral hygiene habit at home is the number one way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
- Visit the dentist. Dental offices are open and taking extra measures to keep you and your family safe. It could include pre-appointment screenings, temperature checks, extra cleaning and sanitation measures, and additional personal protective equipment for patients and staff.
Gum tissue anatomy 101Our gums are nothing more than a layer of skin that covers the bone tissue of the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). As long as the underlying jaw bone is intact, the gum tissue will stay strong and at healthy levels on the teeth. In other words, the only reason gums recede is because the bone that supports the gum tissue has withdrawn. So, to figure out what’s causing gum recession, we need to first take a look at the 5 main factors that cause jaw bone tissue to withdraw, or demineralize.
5 main causes of jaw demineralizationHere are the five main factors that contribute to diminishing jaw bone tissue:
- Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
- Bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth)
- Nutritional deficiencies
How do we stop the gum recession?We must first identify what’s causing the underlying bone to demineralize, to stop our gums from receding. One common contributing factor is general nutritional deficiency, so it is always important to ensure you are eating a healthy and balanced diet. Below are some additional reasons why gums might recede.
Gum diseaseGum disease is common in modern times. So, unless we’re sure that we don’t have it, it might be best to operate under the assumption that we have an active infection. Periodontal disease is a gum disease that has advanced to a point where the jaw bone is being compromised. You see, in the mouth, the ‘thug bugs’ implicated with gum disease not only directly destroy bone tissue, but they also cause our immune system to go on ‘full alert’. In an attempt to stop the infection, our immune system creates inflammation in the localized region. When this infection is chronic (ongoing), it leads to chronic inflammation in the area, which also contributes to a breakdown in jaw bone health.
Bruxism (grinding and clenching)The stresses of our modern lifestyle may play a part in why some people grind their teeth, researchers are now finding that nighttime grinding is very strongly associated with mild sleep apnea.
TraumaThe trauma of one accident can change the course of a person’s entire life. Overall, when we damage a bone, it commonly grows back stronger than before the trauma. However, in the case of our jaw bone, there’s so much risk of infection in or around the jaw that the common occurrence of ‘break it and it gets stronger’ doesn’t seem to apply here.
GeneticsThe original thickness of the facial jawbones may be a matter of genetics. Just like we are all born with variations in our skulls, the texture of our hair, etc., the density of your jaw bone may have a genetic component. Some people may even have been born with a complete lack of jaw bone tissue on the facial surface. Like we stated above, if the facial jaw bone diminishes, the gum tissue that was being supported by that bone tissue becomes more at risk of receding.
Written by: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/
Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Often Enough
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, so resolve to change your toothbrush every season this year. If you see frayed and broken bristles, these are signs it’s time to let go of the old toothbrush. When you’re shopping, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Not Brushing Long Enough
Your teeth should be brushed twice per day for a full two minutes. The average time most people spend brushing is only 45 seconds.
Brushing Too Hard
Too much pressure may damage your gums, so be gentle with your teeth. You may think brushing harder will remove more leftover food and the bacteria that love to eat it, but a gentle brushing is all that’s needed.
Brushing Right After Eating
Wait at least 60 minutes before brushing—especially if you have had something acidic like lemons, grapefruit, or soda. Drink water or chew sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to help clean your mouth while you are waiting to brush.
Storing Your Brush Improperly
Keep your toothbrush upright and let it air dry in the open, when you’re done brushing. Avoid keeping your toothbrush in a closed container, where germs have more opportunity to grow.
Using a Brush with Hard Bristles
Soft bristles are a safe bet. And be mindful to be gentle, especially where your gums and teeth meet, as you brush. Talk to your dentist about what kind of toothbrush is best for you.
Improper Brushing Technique
Here’s one technique to try for a thorough brush: First, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Then, gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes. Next, brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Finally, to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
Using a Brush That’s Not the Best Fit for You
Try different types of brushes until you find one you’re comfortable with. For example, a power brush can be easier to hold and does some of the work for you if you have trouble brushing. No matter which you choose remember that it’s not all about the brush—a clean mouth is really up to the brusher!
Letʼs cover the statistics according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
- 92% of adults have tooth decay
- 42% of children have tooth decay
- greater than 90% of adults have gum disease
- 65% of 15-year-olds have active gum disease (YIKES!)
Given these numbers, what can we do to support our children in creating greater oral health for their lives?
How saliva benefits oral health…
1. Saliva is the way teeth remineralize!
There is such a buzz about remineralizing teeth in the whole real food movement today. What is important to note is that the teeth are remineralized through the saliva being washed over the teeth! We must have sufficient nutrition in our diet to have the necessary minerals present in the saliva to support remineralization. That said, saliva plays a key role in remineralizing the teeth.
The benefits of increased saliva production for the prevention of tooth decay are well established. Whether you believe general dental theory that decay occurs due to acids from bacteria in the mouth digesting sugars or prefer the theory most recently brought to light by Rami Nagel in his book, Cure Tooth Decay, tooth decay occurs when there is an imbalance between the demineralization of the enamel surface and remineralization produced by the return of mineral ions into enamel. The frequent stimulation of saliva, especially after the intake of sugars, will help to dilute and buffer plaque acid, bring extra mineral ions into the plaque fluid and thereby promote remineralization.
2. Saliva reduces the thug bugs that cause gum disease and tooth decay…
Research shows a clear relationship between the fact that saliva production declines with age and the fact of an increased risk of gum disease with age. Saliva has within it a whole host of ʻfirst respondersʼ for our immune system.
For example, lactoferrin is one compound naturally found in saliva. Lactoferrin is part of our innate immune system and is one of our key front lines of defense to help us live healthy lives. Lactoferrin binds iron in the mouth and thereby deprives the ‘thug bugsʼ that cause the damage of gum disease of the iron necessary for them to flourish.
Enzymes also play a key role in creating greater oral health. Of the salivary enzymes involved in maintaining the ecology of the mouth, one of the first to be recognized was the enzyme lysozyme, which appears to work by destabilizing the cell wall of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
3. Saliva helps to re-establish healthy pH in the mouth.
To maintain an optimal oral ecology is the key to creating greater oral health. While we can most effectively address optimizing the pH of the mouth through immune-supporting protocols like a nutrient-dense diet, restful sleep, and healthy coping tools for stress, saliva plays a key role in the actual mechanism of establishing what the pH of our mouth is going to be at any given time.
How to increase saliva production?
The principle “Use it or Lose it” applies when discussing saliva production. We must exercise our ability to produce saliva or suffer the fate of a dry mouth and the problems that come with decreased saliva production.
While we can eat to produce more saliva, the extra benefits to our health of the increased saliva are offset by the main job of saliva during eating, to begin the digestion process. Therefore, letʼs discuss a strategy on how to increase oneʼs saliva production without eating.
Mouth Probiotics! (AKA Exercise your spit!)
Step 1: Gather any saliva in your mouth into a pool on your tongue. Now using the musculature of the throat, draw the saliva back and forth from the back of the tongue to just behind the front teeth then back again several times (we recommend 30-50 repetitions). With practice, this action will increase the amount of saliva present in the mouth.
Step 2: Once you have a pool of saliva on your tongue, give your teeth, and gums a bath with your increased saliva! We call swishing with saliva ʻswashingʼ because itʼs like you are swishing and washing at the same time. Swash with the increased saliva for a minute or two then swallow it down and let the saliva now support greater digestion in the stomach!
This is such a simple technique that even young children can do it.
“Is the key to greater oral health already in your mouth?”, Oral Wellness.
- Men are less likely to brush their teeth after every meal compared to women
- Men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day compared to women
- Men are more likely to have untreated dental decay compared to women
- Plan ahead—book an appointment when you’re not in a rush to reduce your stress
- Take a few slow, deep breaths after arriving at the office if you feel tension rising
- Let your dentist know if you’re feeling anxious, he or she might have some relaxation techniques to try
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. There are many factors that can cause tooth decay in babies and toddlers. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar, including milk. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is frequently used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth or cleans a pacifier, the bacteria can be passed to the baby. If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Avoid sharing feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
- Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
Nutrients in Hot Peppers Are Good for Your MouthChili peppers are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, chilis contain Vitamin A, which protects your bones and teeth. Vitamin A also helps reduce inflammation and infection in the tissues of your gums. Some other beneficial vitamins include:
- Vitamin K1: Essential for healthy bones and kidneys
- Potassium: Improves bone mineral density
- Vitamin C: Strengthens gums and soft tissues in the mouth. It can protect against gingivitis.
Other Benefits of Eating Hot Peppers
- Boosts metabolism. When you pop a hot pepper into your mouth, your brain sends signals to your body to remove the hot substance, this results in increased circulation, helping to boost your metabolism. And, there is some evidence to suggest that capsaicin can promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning.
- Cools the body. Eating spicy foods can cool you down on a hot day. When you eat spicy foods, it raises your internal temperature to match the temperature outside. Your blood circulation increases, you start sweating and once that sweat evaporates, your body cools down.
- Pain relief. Eating high amounts of chili peppers may desensitize your pain receptors over time. Also, when capsaicin is used in a lotion or cream, nerves in the hands and feet can grow accustomed to the feeling of heat and lower the body’s ability to process pain.
- Release endorphins. If you’ve ever felt a bit buzzed when eating spicy food, science says there’s a reason for it. When eating spicy foods, the compounds in the spice send a message to your brain to make it think it’s in pain. As a response to this perceived pain, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine to block the pain signals.