Do you know what is lurking on your toothbrush?
Your toothbrush is loaded with germs———-but don’t panic. Your mouth is not exactly a germ free environment. The bottom line is that there are hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths everyday. That’s normal, the problems start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. It is important to remember that plaque—the sticky substance you are removing from your teeth, is bacteria. So you are putting bacteria on your toothbrush every time you brush your teeth.
Could Your Toothbrush Be Making You Sick?
Probably not. Regardless of how many bacteria live in your mouth, or have gotten there via your toothbrush, your body’s natural defenses make it highly unlikely that you would catch anything from your toothbrush. The human body is usually able to defend itself from bacteria. Still–it’s a good idea to toss your toothbrush after a cold or the flu.
In 2008, the American Heart Association updated its recommendations for the use of preventive antibiotics before certain dental procedures, including teeth cleaning and extractions, for people with specific heart problems.
The use of preventive antibiotics prior to certain dental procedures is recommended for patients with:
- artificial heart valves
- a history of infective endocarditis (an infection of the lining inside the heart or the heart valves)
- a cardiac (heart) transplant that develops a heart valve problem
- suffer from a congenital (present from birth) heart condition:
- unrepaired or incompletely repaired cyanotic congenital heart disease, including those with palliative shunts and conduits;
- a completely repaired congenital heart defect with prosthetic material or device, whether placed by surgery or by catheter intervention, during the first six months after the procedure;
- any repaired congenital heart defect with residual defect at the site or adjacent to the site of a prosthetic patch or a prosthetic device.
Check with your cardiologist if you’re not sure whether you fall into one of these categories.
People who may have taken prophylactic antibiotics before the new recommendations were issued, but no longer need them include those with:
- mitral valve prolapse (may have been identified as a heart murmur)
- rheumatic heart disease
- bicuspid valve disease
- calcified aortic stenosis
- congenital (present from birth) heart conditions such as ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Talk to Dr.Shlafer about how these recommendations might apply to you.
**Source–American Dental Association
Thumb-sucking. It’s natural. Expected even. But can it hurt your baby’s teeth? That all depends.
Chances are your child will stop sucking his thumb on his own between two to four years of age. If not, there is some cause for concern. Once permanent teeth start coming in, persistent sucking can cause the front upper teeth to come in improperly, most often becoming pushed outwards, toward the lip. However, simply resting a thumb or finger in the mouth is less likely to cause damage than if your child aggressively sucks his thumb.
Tips for helping your child stop thumb-sucking:
- Praise your child for not sucking their thumb
- For an older child, involve them in choosing a method to stop
- Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure, or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause.
- Dr.Shlafer can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth as a result of the thumb-sucking.
Only Dr.Shlafer can tell you if your child’s thumb-sucking presents a problem. If you’re concerned, go ahead and schedule a visit. He is dedicated to keeping your baby’s teeth in tip-top shape throughout his developmental years.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
You can make this a day ahead. Keep it chilled in the refrigerator, and then warm it in a slow cooker or in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.
1 large head garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup plain lactose-free milk (or almond, soy, or rice milk)
28 to 32 ounces of potatoes, peeled and quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic heads, throw the tops away, and place the heads on a piece of foil. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the garlic heads and wrap them well in the foil. Bake until tender and golden (about 35 minutes). Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin away from the garlic cloves.
- While garlic is baking, place quartered potatoes in a large microwave-safe container with 1/4 cup of water and cook on HIGH until potatoes are tender. If you prefer to use the stove, place potatoes in a stockpot, cover with cold salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook until very tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potato pieces in a colander.
- Add hot, steaming, and drained potato pieces directly to a large mixing bowl, along with the garlic cloves and any olive oil drippings, and lactose-free milk (or almond, soy, or rice milk). Beat on low just until blended.
- Season with pepper and salt, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 150 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.8 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 3.2 g fiber, 29 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 9%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.2 g, Omega-6 fatty acids: 0.3 g
Coconut Tapioca Pudding
If you grew up with tapioca pudding, this may be one of your comfort foods. Here’s a quick and light low-lactose recipe.
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups lactose-free milk with a splash of vanilla extract (or vanilla soy, almond, or rice milk)
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 large egg (higher omega-3, if available)
1/3 cup shredded or flaked coconut
- Combine sugar, tapioca, lactose-free milk (or soy, almond, or rice milk), and egg with whisk in a medium, nonstick saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Stir in coconut. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil (it will take about 8 minutes). It will thicken as it cools. Remove from heat and stir in coconut extract. Cool 20 to 30 minutes.
- Stir the mixture and spoon into serving or dessert cups. Serve warm or chilled.
Yield: 5 servings
Per serving: 130 calories, 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 45 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g fiber, 78 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 28%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.2 g, Omega-6 fatty acids: 1.3 g
Excess stress may give you a headache, a stomachache, or just a feeling of being on edge. But too much stress could also be doing a number on your mouth, teeth, gums, and overall health. The potential fallout from stress and anxiety that can affect your oral health includes:
Mouth Sores, including canker sores and cold sores
Clenching of teeth and teeth grinding
Poor oral hygiene and unhealthy eating routines
Periodontal (gum) disease
Canker sores—small ulcers with a white or grayish base and bordered in red–appear inside the mouth, sometimes in clusters. Experts are not sure what causes them–it could be immune system problems, bacteria, or viruses–they do think stress, as well as fatigue and allergies can increase the risk of getting them. Canker sores are not contagious.
Most canker sore disappear in a week to 10 days. For relief from irritation, try over the counter topical anesthetics. To reduce irritation , do not eat spicy foods, hot foods or foods with a high acid content, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits.
Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that often appear around the lips. Emotional upset can trigger an outbreak. So can fever, a sunburn, or a skin abrasion. Like canker sores, fever blisters often heal on their own in a week or so. Treatment is available, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs.
Stress may make you clench and grind your teeth–during the day or night, and often subconsciously. Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism. If you already clench and grind your teeth, stress could make that habit worse. And grinding your teeth can lead to problems with the TMJ (tempromandibular joint) located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. Dr.Shlafer can evaluate you and may recommend a night guard, or different appliance to help stop or minimize the action.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Being under extreme stress may affect your mood and cause people to skip oral hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing. If you already have gum disease, skipping daily hygiene can worsen the problem. When under stress, you may also develop unhealthy eating habits, such as snacking on large amounts of sugary foods or drinks. These habits increase the risk for tooth decay and other problems. Increasing or resuming your exercise routine can help relieve stress and help you feel energized, as well as boost your immune system.
Stress can cause an increase in dental plaque, even when high levels of stress are short-term. Long-term stress can put you at risk for bleeding gums, or gingivitis which can progress to serious gum disease.
Eating a balanced diet, seeing Dr.Shlafer regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce your risk of periodontal disease.
Lactose-Free Mac and Cheese
1 1/2 cups dried whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (add more, if desired)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups plain lactose-free milk (or almond, rice, or soy milk)
5 ounces shredded or cubed soy cheddar cheese
Black pepper to taste
- Bring about 8 cups of water to a rolling boil, add macaroni noodles, and boil until tender (8-10 minutes). Once pasta is tender, drain well in colander while finishing steps 2 and 3.
- Add olive oil to a large, nonstick frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned. Add garlic and black pepper and continue to sauté for an additional minute; set aside.
- In 2-cup measure, combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup of lactose-free milk (or almond, rice, or soy milk) to make a smooth paste. Blend in the remaining lactose-free milk. Pour into a medium, nonstick saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce heat to simmer and stir in the shredded or cubed cheese. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Add black pepper to taste.
- Combine cheese sauce with the drained noodles and spoon sautéed mushroom mixture over the top before serving.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Per serving (if 4 servings): 305 calories, 18 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 540 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.3 g, Omega-6 fatty acids: 2.6 g
Nearly 9 in 10 diseases can cause symptoms in your mouth. That puts Dr.Shlafer on the front line for spotting health conditions that may be developing silently in your body. This is one reason it is so important for you to see him regularly.
When caring for your teeth and gums at home, it’s also important to watch for new problems in your mouth. They may be warning signs of more serious conditions in your body. Symptoms to look out for include:
Gum, tooth, or jaw pain
Loose or lost teeth
Recurring bad breath
Sores, irregular patches or lumps in your mouth
If you notice any of these signs, see Dr.Shlafer right away. He can diagnose specific dental issues that may be developing, or refer you to another health care professional for further evaluation.
Mouth and Jaw Pain
Along with symptoms such as cold sores, jaw and mouth pain are often signs of stress. Stress can contribute to a number of physical disorders. Dr.Shlafer can help you identify the source of your jaw discomfort, which can be caused by treatable conditions, such as a toothache, sinus problem, gum disease, or an imbalanced bite.
Bleeding and Sore Gums
Gums that ache or bleed may be the result of gum disease that is worsening. Gum disease is often more severe in people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, which reduces the body’s resistance to infection. This puts your gums at risk for inflammation due to the bacteria that live in plaque.
Loose or Lost Teeth
Teeth that move or fall out unexpectedly are a sign of advanced gum disease. Tooth loss can also be one of the early signs of osteoporosis, which decreases bone density and weakens your bones. Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease. By seeing Dr.Shlafer regularly, eating a well balanced diet, and getting regular physical activity, you can get a jump on being diagnosed and treated before any serious injuries occur.
Change in Tooth Surfaces and Enamel
Erosion and translucent tooth enamel are often signs of an eating disorder. Conditions such as bulimia can lead to other oral health issues, like dry mouth, sensitive teeth, swollen salivary glands, or dry cracked lips.
Bad breath can be minor, resulting from dry mouth or the foods you consume. But gum disease and gingivitis can also contribute to the annoying recurrence of bad breath. Beyond your teeth and gums, bad breath that persists can result from certain underlying health problems that require medical attention. These conditions include: sinus infections, chronic lung infection, liver or kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems, or diabetes.
Mouth Sores, Patches, or Lumps
Sores and unusual patches in your mouth can be a sign of something benign like a white or yellowish canker sore. Be sure to have Dr.Shlafer check out any new lesions, patches, or lumps right away. These can be the result of an oral fungal infection or something more serious. Oral cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S. You do not have to be a smoker to be at risk. We do offer an oral cancer screening–Vizilite–which is a simple test to determine if you need to have a suspicious area evaluated. Signs to watch for: bleeding gums that do not heal, hard spots or rough areas, discolored tissues, changes in the way your teeth fit together, numbness, lumps or irregular tissue in the mouth, cheeks, neck, or head. This is not something your should try to diagnose at home. If you notice something unusual, schedule some time to see Dr.Shlafer–don’t delay.
Olive Oil Wheat Crust
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons ice water (a teaspoon or two more, if needed)
1 1/4 cups plain lactose-free milk (or almond or soy milk)
2 large eggs (higher omega-3, if available)
1/2 cup egg substitute (substitute 2 large eggs, if desired)
1/2 medium sized sweet onion, finely chopped
6 slices crisp, cooked turkey bacon, crumbled (optional)
1 cup shredded soy cheese of your choice (mozzarella or Jack flavors work well)
3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and then gently squeezed of excess water
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (add more, if desired)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, white flour, salt, and olive oil and beat on low until crumbly. Drizzle ice water over the top and beat on low just until dough forms.
- Squeeze dough into a ball and place in a deep pie plate coated with canola cooking spray. Use hands to spread dough evenly into bottom and sides of pie plate.
- In same mixing bowl used for the crust, combine lactose-free milk (or almond milk), eggs, and egg substitute; set aside.
- In medium bowl, combine chopped onion, turkey bacon (if desired), soy cheese, and chopped spinach, and then pour into the prepared crust. Sprinkle nutmeg and black pepper over the top. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the spinach mixture and bake until center of quiche is set (about 55 minutes).
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 256 calories, 16 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 228 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 38%. Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.4 g, Omega-6 fatty acids: 2
……………Stop colds from spreading in your family. Even a run-of -the-mill cold can cause a lot of trouble, as it spreads from one person to the next, which can now disrupt your lives for weeks–causing missed school, missed work, sleepless nights, and frayed nerves.
So when someone arrives home sniffling and coughing, how can you stop those cold germs from dragging the whole household down? Don’t panic–here’s some tips:
1. Wash Your Hands. You’ve heard it many times before, but washing your hands is the single most important way to stop the spread of colds. According to the CDC, about 80% of infectious diseases are spread by touch. You can’t keep the cold germs out of your house, but by keeping everyone’s hands clean, they’ll be much less likely to get sick. Use soap and water and scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. When you are not near a sink, a hand sanitizer is a good substitute.
2. Cover Your Nose and Mouth. Most of us were raised to cover our mouths and noses with our hands when we sneezed or coughed. Instead, use the crook of your elbow–or a tissue. That way the cold germs won’t get onto your hands and spread.
3. Disinfect. Cold germs can live on surfaces for hours. Consider disinfecting areas like tabletops, doorknobs, remote controls, and toys.
4. Go Disposable. Colds can be spread by shared towels and cups in the bathroom. When someone in the household is sick, consider switching to paper products for the week.
5. Take Care Of Yourself. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress helps prevent colds? There is evidence that this will help keep your immune system strong.