Clean & Healthy – The Tooth Fairy League #3

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Most people, especially kids like us, love to eat candies! That’s why it’s hard for us to believe what our mothers said about candies: It will rot your teeth! The Tooth Fairy League finds this information about why candy is bad for our teeth. It’s very convincing…

Why Candy is Bad for Your Teeth

You’ve heard it from your dentist, your hygienist, your mother…everyone: Candy will rot your teeth!  Eating too much candy has the potential to “rot” your teeth, but what exactly does that mean, and how does it happen?

Your mouth contains naturally occurring bacteria, called streptococcus. That bacteria loves to feed on sugar, and once it does, it breaks it down into acids that eat away at tooth enamel.

The visible parts of teeth are usually pretty safe from these acids, because they’re washed away when you drink water or brush your teeth. You can run into problems, though, when sweets get lodged in the crevices of your teeth, where bacteria have more time to feed on them.

That’s the key – exposure time. The amount of sugar you ingest isn’t necessarily a determining factor in whether you’ll get a cavity; it’s more about how long sugars linger in your mouth. For this reason, soft candies like caramel can be considered particularly bad because they stick to your teeth and hang on for a long time.

There are things you can do to prevent this sugar-breakdown process from happening – brush or wash your mouth out with water after you’ve had candy, brush at least three times each day and floss at least once – but the only surefire way to keep sugar from damaging your teeth is to not ingest it. Many popular candies have sugar-free versions, usually sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute that the streptococcus bacteria in your mouth can’t break down.

Whatever you do, always be sure to take everything in moderation, develop good dental habits and make sure to regularly visit your dentist.

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Clean & Healthy – The Tooth Fairy League #2

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Not a lot of people realize that in order to keep our teeth clean and healthy, our toothbrushes must be in good conditions as well. This edition of Tooth Fairy League comic intends to support the idea of taking care of your toothbrushes first to enable us to take a good care of our teeth.

Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storing and Replacement

Toothbrushing plays an important everyday role for personal oral hygiene and effective plaque removal. Appropriate toothbrush care and maintenance are also important considerations for sound oral hygiene. The ADA recommends that consumers replace toothbrushes approximately every 3–4 months or sooner if the bristles become frayed with use.

In recent years, scientists have studied whether toothbrushes may harbor microorganisms that could cause oral and/or systemic infection.We know that the oral cavity is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, therefore, it is not surprising that some of these microorganisms are transferred to a toothbrush during use. It may also be possible for microorganisms that are present in the environment where the toothbrush is stored to establish themselves on the brush. Toothbrushes may even have bacteria on them right out of the box4 since they are not required to be sold in a sterile package.

The human body is constantly exposed to potentially harmful microbes. However, the body is normally able to defend itself against infections through a combination of passive and active mechanisms. Intact skin and mucous membranes function as a passive barrier to bacteria and other organisms. When these barriers are challenged or breached, active mechanisms such as enzymes, digestive acids, tears, white blood cells and antibodies come into play to protect the body from disease.

Although studies have shown that various microorganisms can grow on toothbrushes after use, and other studies have examined various methods to reduce the level of these bacteria,there is insufficient clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific adverse oral or systemic health effects.

General Recommendations for Toothbrush Care

The ADA and the Council on Scientific Affairs provide the following toothbrush care recommendations:

Do not share toothbrushes. Sharing a toothbrush could result in an exchange of body fluids and/or microorganisms between the users of the toothbrush, placing the individuals involved at an increased risk for infections. This practice could be a particular concern for persons with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases.

Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow the toothbrush to air-dry until used again. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated to prevent cross-contamination.

Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Replace toothbrushes at least every 3–4 months. The bristles become frayed and worn with use and cleaning effectiveness will decrease.Toothbrushes will wear out more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check brushes often for this type of wear and replace them more frequently if needed. Children’s toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes.

Clean & Healthy – The Tooth Fairy League #2

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The Tooth Fairy League recommends prevention of cavaties. Everyone knows how toothache feels like. It’s painful, and it ruins our days. So, never let cavities to build on your teeth.

Preventing Cavities

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist take place by the first birthday. At this visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques (you need to floss once your baby has two teeth that touch) and conduct a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.

Such visits can help in the early detection of potential problems, and help kids become used to visiting the dentist so they’ll have less fear about going as they grow older.

If a child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician’s office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood oral disease — dental cavities (also called dental caries).

Cavities occur when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.

Regular use of fluoride toughens the enamel, making it more difficult for acid to penetrate. Although many towns require tap water to be fluoridated, others don’t. If your water supply is not fluoridated or if your family uses purified water, ask your dentist for fluoride supplements. Most toothpastes contain fluoride but toothpaste alone will not fully protect a child’s teeth. Be careful, however, since too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. Check with your dentist before supplementing.

Discoloration also can occur from prolonged use of antibiotics, and some children’s medications that contain a large amount of sugar. Parents should encourage kids to brush after they take their medicine, particularly if the prescription will be used for a long time.

Brushing at least twice a day and routine flossing will help maintain a healthy mouth. Kids as young as age 2 or 3 can begin to use toothpaste when brushing, under supervision. Kids should not use a lot of toothpaste — a pea-sized amount for toddlers is just right. Parents should always make sure that kids spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing.

As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help seal out decay by applying a thin wash of resin to the back teeth, where most chewing occurs. Known as a sealant, this protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars.

Dental research has resulted in better preventive techniques, including fillings and sealants that seep fluoride, but seeing a dentist is only part of good tooth care. Home care is equally important. For example, sealants on the teeth do not mean that a child can eat lots of sweets or skip daily brushing and flossing — parents must work with kids to teach good oral health habits.