Your Smile Makes Your First and Best Impression

Your smile is your calling card. It’s usually the first thing people notice about you. It also indicates (sometimes very unfairly) how intelligent and responsible you are. How often have we seen caricatures of supposedly stupid and ignorant people portrayed with spaced, bucked or missing teeth? Fair or not, your teeth say a lot about who you are.

And did you know they are the vanguards of your health? The doorway to your entire body? Yes! The contents of your mouth work together to ensure your health. And to remain healthy, you need to take special care of them! Because if you allow your teeth to fall victim to periodontal disease, you are jeopardizing the wellbeing of your entire body. Still, even with that being the case, 75%-95% of all Americans presently have some degree of periodontal disease.

As children, we were taught to brush after every meal to keep Mr. Tooth Decay away. But oral health was never that simple, nor is simple brushing that effective. So mouthwash was introduced, not to fight tooth decay, but to “freshen breath.” But most people don’t realize that to “freshen breath” the mouthwash has to kill the bacteria and wash away the waste product the bacteria created, which is the real cause of “Bad Breath.”

And it’s the real cause of tooth decay. Because periodontal disease is a silent killer of teeth. We often don’t even notice, because in its early, most toxic form, it is invisible. It not until it forms into tartar that we even realize that something may be wrong. Unfortunately, at that point something is SERIOUSLY wrong.

Beneath the hardened tartar, these anaerobic microbes are rapidly multiplying in a now oxygen free environment and the enamel on your teeth is being eaten away by bacteria. Bacteria that has loosened the gum line, allowing it to enter the bloodstream and attack other organs of the body as well. It has been known to bring about heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, low birth weight, sepsis and stroke. 

And it’s highly contagious. In fact it is so contagious that it can spread by a simple kiss, sharing a cup of coffee or soft drink, dipping potato chips, or sharing a cigarette. Basically in any manner where something that has touched the saliva of one person’s mouth somehow finds its way into the mouth of another.

And that’s where the trouble begins. Because all they need is to find small pieces of trapped food that has been missed by brushing and flossing and they get right to work taking up residence and multiplying. In a feeding frenzy they immediately begin eating their way down to the gum line, leaving acidic by-products that destroys your teeth and the connective tissue that holds them together.

That’s when loose teeth, cavities, abscesses and bleeding gums begin to appear. Unfortunately by the time you notice, a significant amount of damage has already occurred.

You likely didn’t know that did you? Not at all surprising. Most people don’t. Much of this information is only now making its way to the American people. Another reason is because we’ve been hounded since early childhood to brush after every meal and floss and use mouthwash and this and that and so on. We’ve turned a deaf ear to oral hygiene. People are tired of being told not to eat sweets, or have soft drinks or coffee or chewing gum or hard candies.

And we like those things!

Nevertheless, what you are reading here are facts. Empirical evidence that microbes called streptococcus mutans are responsible for tooth decay. They burrow into the gum line then under it and rot your teeth in areas you can’t see. However, you can prevent future cavities, by simply making sure that bacteria doesn’t have a place to set up camp and infect your gums.

That’s it! But I’ll bet you dentist never told you that. Likely your dental hygienist didn’t either. But why would they? They need to stay in business and without poor oral hygiene they would have to find another line of work.

So instead they do a little work here and there but don’t eradicate the periodontal disease completely. Instead they put you on periodontal maintenance. This is where they summon you back every six months for a cleaning and plaque removal.

And you would think they would get annoyed if you didn’t make that six month appointment. In reality, they’re likely hoping you don’t, because that’s where the real money is. As long as your mouth remains infected that’s another dollar in their pocket. The real money is in restorative work. Procedures like root canals, cutting away gums to do deep scaling, and capping rotted teeth. That’s what pays for their BMWs and Hawaii vacations.

It’s similar to taking your car to a mechanic because it’s making a small, strange sound. Well, fixing that small strange sound isn’t going to make him much money so he says it could just be some dirt or gravel that will probably clear itself out in a week or so, so it’s best to wait and see what will happen.

And so you do and the problem gets worse and now we’re talking some real repair money.

Just remember that everybody is scrambling to make a buck. Your doctor, dentist, lawyer, and anybody you’re doing business with. That’s how it works.

Another problem is that people are often more concerned with how white their teeth are, when their main concern should be how healthy. Sparkling white teeth is no indication of health. It’s the proper maintenance and daily care of your teeth, gums and the lining of your mouth that is the most important.

It’s essential that you learn how to clean your teeth correctly and how the process works. Teeth regularly go through what is known as a ‘demineralization’ and ‘remineralization’ process—if the teeth are kept clean and the conditions are right.

Your teeth are far more than enamel coated bones sticking up from the inside of your mouth. They gain and lose minerals regularly—this is a life process that is constantly taking place and ‘re-mineralization is a part of that process.  Most people don’t realize that brushing and flossing aren’t that effective when it comes to cleaning under the gum line. A person could do a 5-minute brushing and flossing job and head off to work thinking their oral health is assured. The point is, if you have any infection under the gum line, you need to address that as well.

So how do you clean under the gums?

Here's how it works. Pockets of decay form in between the teeth and gums. How extensive the decay is measured in millimeters to see how deep those pockets are. You likely had your pockets measured by your dental hygienist during your last visit. This is done by going around each tooth with a probe, measuring each pocket and writing down the measurements on a chart displaying a diagram of your teeth.

If you have had that done you were likely given a copy of your chart with instructions on how to keep those pockets from getting worse. If not, then ask for a copy and hang it next to your bathroom mirror so you can work on those pockets every day.

Cleaning those pockets isn’t difficult and is WELL worth the time and effort. 

Studies have shown that oral irrigation cleans and removes plaque far better than mere flossing. So purchase an oral irrigator and make sure it’s one that is durable and can be easily accessed while in the bathroom. Oral Breeze devices such as the Shower Breeze (Which is an oral irrigator that is attached to the showerhead) and the Quick breeze (Another oral irrigator that easily attaches to the bathroom faucet.) use water streams that blast trapped food particles from their hiding places and prevent them from causing oral infections.

Use it at least twice a day. And if you never used one before you may be quite surprised at what comes out. Adjust the water pressure to acceptable levels at first then as your gums become stronger increase the pressure for a complete and total cleaning.

If you have deeper pockets (2mm-4mm) you may want to include a salt/baking soda/water mixture. For superior cleaning, finishing with a rinse such as Listerine, Biotene, or TheraSol (available at dentists offices) is recommended.

With very deep pockets (4+mm) you’ll likely need a finer tip on the irrigator. A cannulae tip is recommended as it can fit into the deeper pockets and deliver a solution with anti-microbial properties as deeply as necessary to flood the affected area. Doing this daily can keep the area free of microbes, stop the decay process  and in this now clean environment begin the healing process.

And when this is accomplished, the teeth and gums begin to grow back and the gums resume their job of keeping the teeth securely in place. Adding nutritional supplements such as vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus will greatly aid in the process.

So, now you DO know how to keep your teeth healthy and that it doesn’t require much effort. Remember, you wouldn’t put today’s dinner on yesterday’s dirty dishes. So make sure your mouth is completely clean when you eat so those disease creating microbes will have no place to do their dirty work.

Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Keep it strong and healthy and the rest of your body will follow suit.