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.
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.
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.
……………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.
Nowadays, everything from bottled water to orange juice seems to have souped-up levels of vitamins and minerals in it. That may sound like a good way to cover your nutritional bases, especially if your diet is less than stellar.
But are you in danger of getting too much of these important nutrients? And can these overloads hurt you?
Yes, if you are routinely taking mega-doses. For instance, too much vitamin C or zinc could cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Too much selenium could lead to problems including hair loss, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and mild nerve damage.
Most people aren’t getting mega-doses. Still if you eat a fortified cereal for breakfast, grab an energy bar for a snack, have enriched pasta for dinner, and take a daily multivitamin, you could easily be over the recommended daily intake.
When it comes to vitamins and mineral, more is not necessarily better. Here’s some advice to help avoid overdoing it:
Look Beyond Your Plate
Chances are, the unfortified foods you eat are not the problem. It’s pretty hard to overdo it from food alone. For example an overload of vitamin A could cause nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness. If you eat handfuls of Brazil nuts every day, you could easily be over the tolerable amount of selenium. This may not be a problem for you, but you will want to think about the supplements you take and fortified foods or drinks. Most people do not realize there is no real advantage to taking more than the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, and there can be disadvantages.
If you are taking a supplement, stick to just the daily value recommended. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you’re taking, that way your doctor can help you keep the doses in safe range.
Subtle Signs You’re Getting Too Much:
Most often you will not be at toxic levels of vitamin A or D, more likely a person would be taking a dose that is higher than optimal. There might be hints of concern, but they would be very subtle signs. These mild symptoms may include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, nerve problems such as numbness or tingling, or feeling irritable—depending in the nutrient that’s going overboard.
There is a concern that we’re “garnishing the food supply with over fortification.” Manufacturers have shifted their focus from what they have taken out of food—such as fat, sugar, or salt—to what they are putting in, whether it is vitamin D, probiotics, or omega-3-fats–whatever the nutrient is that is in vogue at the moment. When more food are enhanced, it becomes impossible for consumers to know what dose they are getting over the course of the day.
Three Nutrients to Watch:
Vitamin D, calcium, and folic acid are three nutrients you may get to much of through a combination of food and supplements. Adults that regularly exceed the daily safe limit for vitamin D might be setting themselves up for kidney stones down the road–a health problem that may also occur with excessive intake of calcium.
Folic acid is added to enriched grain products—white flour, pasta, rice, breads, and cereals–to help prevent birth defects in babies due to a folic acid deficiency in pregnant women. It’s not hard to get more than the daily recommended allowance—doing so might hide the signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency in older adults. Vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes lead to permanent nerve damage if left untreated. What’s more, some recent studies have hinted that high levels of folic acid may be linked with a greater risk for lung and prostate cancers.
Most people have no problem (with getting too much vitamins or minerals) if they start with food, which is the healthiest and safest way to get them.
The outer surface of teeth, called enamel, is designed to last a lifetime. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body. Some wear of tooth enamel is inevitable, but there is plenty you can do to keep your enamel strong.
- Limit Sugary Soft Drinks and Foods. Sugar leads to the production of acids in the mouth which soften and eventually wear away enamel. Chewy candies that stick to your teeth are particularly damaging. So are soft drinks. Artificially sweetened drinks are a smarter choice than sugary soft drinks, however sugarless sweeteners are acidic and may erode enamel over time. The best choice when you are thirsty—a glass of water.
- Help Yourself to Food That Protect Enamel. Calcium in foods neutralizes the acids in your mouth. Calcium is also an essential mineral needed to keep bones strong. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products all help to protect and strengthen enamel. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products to keep calories to a minimum. If you frequently drink orange juice, choose orange juice with added calcium–calcium buffers the normal acidity of orange and other citrus juices.
- Avoid Over-brushing. Brushing to vigorously can wear down enamel. Always use a soft brush and brush gently. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to your gums and move it back and forth in short strokes. Wait or up to an hour after you eat, giving your enamel time to re-harden, then brush your teeth.
- Treat Heartburn and Eating Disorders. With severe heartburn, stomach acids may escape into the esophagus. If those acids reach your mouth, they can erode enamel. If you have symptoms of heartburn, talk to your doctor about treatment.
- Be Alert To Dry Mouth. Saliva helps wash away food and bacteria that can lead to cavities. Saliva also neutralizes acidic foods. Drink water often to keep your mouth clean and moist. If you exercise strenuously, be sure to rehydrate during and after your workout. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy can also stimulate saliva production.
- Avoid Grinding Your Teeth. Some people grind their upper and lower teeth together,especially at night. Over time, grinding can wear down the enamel surface and destroy teeth. If you notice you are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw talk to Dr.Shlafer. Custom fitted guards can help protect teeth from damage.
To keep your enamel strong, stay on schedule with your hygiene visits this allows Dr.Shlafer an opportunity to spot signs of trouble, such as cavities, or tooth grinding, before they do extensive damage to your enamel.
Spring Vegetable Pasta
Pasta is one of those foods that much like bread, you can add almost anything to it and it will end up tasting good. The combinations of veggies, cheese and maybe a sprinkling of meat or seafood are endless and ensure that you can have a pasta night, every week. It also comes together quickly; in fact, macaroni & cheese may even take a little longer to make.
This dish came to be from a fridge drawer with some veggies that needed to be used and a pantry full of half-full boxes of pasta. It was a perfect way to get in some vegetables and whole grains, all while enjoying a satisfying meal.
- 2 cups whole-grain pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch long pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups arugula
- Parmesan cheese
- salt, pepper & red pepper flakes
- Cook pasta as directed, set aside. Heat olive oil in large pan and add onions, peppers and asparagus. Cook for about 4 minutes. Add garlic, pasta and arugula, seasoning with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese shavings if desired.
Reviewed July 16, 2012
Many people like drinking soda, a well known fact dentists must live with. Soda drinkers can be like smokers…………….in that they are hooked before they know it. Dental caregivers are concerned when they see lifestyle choices that can cause oral disease.
Soda pop is harmful to teeth on two levels. First the sugar in the soda feeds the plaque that accumulates on teeth. The bacteria feed off sugar and converts it to acid. The acid is what causes enamel to breakdown. Secondly, soda pop is very high in acid on it’s own. Citric acid is the most detrimental to your tooth’s enamel. The most popular sodas on the market today contain citric and phosphoric acids. Diet versions compensates for flavor by adding even more acids! All are very good at dissolving enamel.
You can see why it’s is tough for your teeth to survive if you are a soda drinker! Here are a few rules to help you drink your favorite beverages more safely:
- Drink it last
- Use a straw
- Brush teeth twice a day
- Use an electric toothbrush
- Rinse with tap water, which is a good source of fluoride
- Have a professional hygiene visit at least two times a years
- Chew gum with xylitol
- Start a savings account for your dental care
Using a straw and drinking the beverage last will decrease the chance of getting it on your teeth where the plaque lives. Acid baths increase with frequent sugar intake, so if you can minimize the time spent, for example: it is better to drink a soda in 10 minutes rather than sip on it all day.
The majority of the problems come if there is plaque or bio-film on the teeth. Eliminating the bacteria decreases the chance of decay. Using an electric toothbrush will increase brushing effectiveness, helping to attain plaque-free teeth.
Fluoride is essential in maintaining healthy enamel. Fluoride is effective if it comes in contact with the enamel, frequency is the key, not concentration. Fluoridated water is effective in reducing decay rates because it washes over teeth providing frequent low doses fluoride.
Lastly, visit the dentist regularly. Decay is sneaky and pain arrives only when decay is very advanced. We have a number of tools available to test specific areas for decay and take care of the problem before it causes discomfort!
Diabetes and your teeth may not seemed to be linked……….but they are. Having uncontrolled diabetes can boost your risk for oral health problems such as gum disease. The link also goes the other way, experts believe if you have gum disease, it may make it harder to keep blood sugar under control. The good news: taking care of your oral health will not only help your teeth and gums, but your diabetes as well.
Other oral health problems associated with having diabetes are:
—-Slower healing time after dental surgery
Diabetes and Oral Health Risks Explained:
Having diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to gum disease. In the early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis. The gums are swollen, soft, and may bleed, particularly during brushing or flossing.
If gum disease progresses, the gums may begin to separate from the teeth, forming pockets that can trap bacteria and boost the risk of infections. Untreated, the infections can destroy the underlying bone that holds your teeth in place.
If you have diabetes you are also at risk for fungal infections in the mouth, called oral candidiasis or thrush. This is true even if you wear dentures.
Dry mouth, called xerostomia, is another common problem among people with diabetes. Saliva is important to oral health–it helps wash away food particles and keep your mouth moist. When you don’t have enough saliva, bacteria will thrive, tissues can get irritated and inflamed, and your teeth can be more prone to decay.
Diabetes and Your Teeth: How To Minimize Risk
Taking care of your oral hygiene at home every day is crucial. Making sure you brush and floss twice a day. Examine your mouth for inflammation or signs of bleeding gums. Dr.Shlafer will customize a hygiene recall schedule to meet your specific needs. Be sure to let us know if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, or if you have added any new prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. In order for us to best care for you, it is important to keep us updated and maintain your regular visits.
The outer surface of teeth, called enamel, is designed to last a lifetime. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body. Some wear and tear of tooth enamel is inevitable, but there is plenty you can do to keep your enamel strong.
- Limit Sugary Soft Drinks and Foods. Sugar leads to the production of acids in the mouth, which soften and eventually wear away enamel. Chewy candies that stick on your teeth are particularly damaging, so are soft drinks. Along with sugar, soft drinks may contain citric acid and phosphoric acid, making them even more acidic. Artificially sweetened soft drinks are a smarter choice, but sugarless sweeteners are acidic and can erode enamel over time. The best choice—water.
- Help Yourself to Foods That Protect Enamel. Calcium in foods neutralize acids in your mouth. Calcium is also an essential mineral needed to keep bones strong. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products all help protect and strengthen enamel. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy to help keep fat and calories to a minimum. If you frequently drink orange juice, with added calcium, it will buffer the normal acidity of orange and other citrus juices.
- Avoid Over-brushing. Brushing to vigorously can wear down enamel–always use a soft brush, or the low speed on your electric toothbrush.
- Treat Heartburn and Eating Disorders. With severe heartburn, stomach acids may escape up into the esophagus. If those acids reach your mouth, they can erode enamel. If you have symptoms of heartburn or bulimia talk to your medical doctor.
- Beware of Chlorinated Pools. When swimming pools aren’t chlorinated properly, the water may become to acidic. Tooth enamel exposed to pool water can begin to erode. In a study by the Center for Disease Control, 15% of frequent swimmers showed signs of enamel erosion, compared to only 3% of people who don’t swim regularly.
- Be Alert to Dry Mouth. Saliva helps wash away food and bacteria that can lead to cavities. Saliva also neutralizes acidic foods. People with dry mouth should drink plenty of water to keep your mouth clean and moist. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy can stimulate saliva production.
- Avoid Grinding Your Teeth. Some people grind their teeth, especially at night. Over time, grinding can wear down the enamel surface and destroy teeth. If you notice yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, be sure to talk to Dr.Shlafer about a custom-fitted guard that can help protect your teeth from damage.
- Get Regular Check-ups. To keep your enamel strong, see Dr.Shlafer every 3-6 months for a check-up. Dr.Shlafer can spot signs of trouble, such as cavities,or teeth grinding, before they do extensive damage to your enamel. Dr.Shlafer will make sure you are getting enough fluoride to protect your teeth. Fluoride hardens and protects tooth enamel so Dr.Shlafer may recommend fluoride supplements, mouthwashes, or sealants for your teeth.
If you have any concerns about the enamel on your teeth, be sure to ask at your next visit to see if you are at risk.