5 dietary recommendations to positively impact oral health
- Have sufficient fat-soluble vitamins in our diet (vitamins A, D, E, and K2)
- Have plenty of vitamins B and C in our diet
- Have sufficient minerals in our diet
- Avoid too many foods that are high in acid
- Avoid eating too much sugar (in all forms)
What is dentinal fluid flow? (and how does it impact my oral health?)Fundamentally, what Dr. Steinman discovered is that our teeth are alive. Contrary to the popular cultural belief that teeth are like small rocks, the fact is that our teeth have fluid running through them, and this is called ‘dentinal fluid flow’. The dentin is the layer of tissue in each of our teeth that’s just between the hard outer (enamel) surface and the inner soft tooth pulp. Dr. Steinman discovered that this dentinal fluid flow is part of the blood circulation that goes into and out of each of our teeth. He also discovered that when the dentinal fluid is flowing from the inside of the tooth outward, the teeth are very resistant to decay. However, when the fluid flow reverses and flows from the outer surface of the tooth towards the inner portion of the tooth, decay sets in very quickly. The thug bugs in our mouths contribute to tooth decay. If the dentinal fluid is flowing the healthy way, this flow prevents the thug bugs from being able to decay the teeth; the flow washes them out of the teeth. It’s like they have to swim upstream to get into the teeth. On the other hand, if the dentinal fluid flow reverses, then it’s like the thug bugs get a free pass on a highway right into our teeth! Dr. Steinman found that dentinal fluid flow is controlled by the parotid gland, a part of our salivary system that is located in the region behind our lower jaw. Then he discovered that the parotid gland is controlled by the part of our brain called the hypothalamus. For the sake of simplicity, let’s refer to this relationship between dentinal fluid flow, the parotid gland, and the hypothalamus as ‘dentinal fluid flow’. With these pieces in place, Dr. Steinman’s work helped us to understand that a healthy, balanced diet not only helps to control the thug bugs responsible for dental decay, but also helps to maintain a healthy, living tissue within the teeth that can help resist decay through healthy dentinal fluid flow. https://orawellness.com/why-do-teeth-decay/
- dull headaches
- jaw soreness
- teeth that are painful or loose
- fractured teeth
- irritation in the mouth
- misaligned teeth
1. A receipt for your child’s toothThis little document can be left in your child’s bedroom as a remembrance of the event. Buy a receipt pad and write it out yourself. Include your child’s name, the date, a description of the tooth received, and the reward, plus a small note such as: “Thank you for this lovely tooth! I can see that you are brushing every day. Keep up the good work!”
2. A tooth fairy dishHere’s a sweet alternative to the under-the-pillow trick (and one that is much easier to access): help your child choose or create a special dish to keep their teeth. Visit a local thrift shop or housewares store to find one, or paint your own at a local ceramics studio. Talk with your child about what she or he thinks might please the Tooth Fairy’s eye … perhaps one that is shiny and bright, like a healthy smile!
3. A keepsake bookA simple blank notebook can be turned into a lasting record of Tooth Fairy’s visits. Invite your child to choose one at an office supply store or bookstore. You can have fun decorating the notebook with your child’s name, hometown and any other details s/he would like the Tooth Fairy to know. Have your child write the Tooth Fairy a note before bed every time he or she loses a tooth. When you leave your child’s gift behind, record the date and add a little note, such as: “This is a very handsome tooth! Did you know you’re on your way to having 32 grownup teeth someday?”
4. A bright-smile calendarThe Tooth Fairy’s visit is a great time to engage kids in healthy dental habits. Along with the Tooth Fairy’s gift, leave a brushing calendar in your child’s room as an extra gift. You can also make it reusable by laminating it at your local office-supply store and provide a colorful dry-erase marker for your child to record each time he or she brushes, flosses, or visits the dentist.
5. A Tooth Fairy “Smilestone” scrapbook pageIt can be fun to record how your child’s smile changes as baby teeth fall out and grownup teeth come in. Create a milestone keepsake album of “smilestones” to memorialize each visit from the Tooth Fairy. If you want to make your own, choose an album from the dollar or craft store — or have fun making one together with colored paper, stickers, yarn, and other supplies. You can also just add a scrapbook page to your baby book. Talk with your child about the experience of losing a tooth and capture memories in the pages of the album. Leave it out in your child’s bedroom for the Tooth Fairy to enjoy, too, and consider sharing with the dentist at your next checkup! https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/playing-the-tooth-fairy
- 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
What can be done to mitigate the risks of mask mouth?Thankfully there are several actions that can be taken up to help navigate this challenging situation. 1. Find opportunities to safely remove your mask during the day. Simply put, seek to limit the amount of time you are breathing through a mask. Why risk causing the physiological down-regulation for longer than you have to? For example, the next time you’re on the road, take notice of how many people you see driving in cars by themselves while wearing a mask. When you’re in the car alone, that’s a good opportunity to give your body a break by lowering your mask and breathing freely (through your nose, of course!). 2. Be conscious of your breathing and water intake. If you need to wear a mask for longer periods, tune into your breathing. By bringing conscious awareness to your breathing regularly, you can remind yourself to breathe easily through your nose, and also to take breaks for water when it is safe. While in a mask-heavy zone, try setting a timer for every 15-30 minutes. This way, your little timer can go off and remind you to turn your attention to taking 5 slow, deep breaths. 3. Learn to keep your tongue in the ‘home’ position and to breathe through your nose all the time (even when you’re not wearing a mask). This gem is a big one for us. This technique has SO much benefit for the entire being. Limiting to just the scope of this article, learning to keep your tongue in the ‘home’ position helps to maintain existing saliva levels and it can even help to naturally increase the saliva production. Also, if the tongue is trained to rest in the place where it’s meant to hang out (the roof of the mouth), it becomes natural to breathe more fully, which addresses some of the negative consequences of mask-wearing. 4. Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Some people start slacking on their oral hygiene when they know they’re going to be wearing a mask. After all, who’s going to smell your breath? While it might be tempting to save time by skipping some brushing sessions, this can be detrimental to the long-term oral health. (Also, remember that whether it’s fresh or stinky, you will be the one who is stuck smelling your breath in that mask! ) In all seriousness, it’s important to maintain diligence with healthy oral hygiene habits, including conscious brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning daily. https://orawellness.com/mask-mouth/
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