How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush

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How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush

Most people are surprised to learn that the average toothbrush contains over 700 kinds of bacteria. Fungi, viruses, and tiny microorganisms sit on the bristles of toothbrushes around the world, establishing a foundation for diseases to form.

If the thought of bacteria dwelling on the toothbrush you routinely place in your mouth doesn’t peak your curiosity about changing your oral hygiene habits, think about the poor physical condition of your toothbrush.  Over time, the bristles on your brush become fanned out and spread apart.

Keeping the threat of oral bacteria and the physical appearance of your toothbrush in mind, the important question is how often should you change your toothbrush?

Where Are the Bacteria on Your Toothbrush Coming From?

The number one source of bacteria on your toothbrush is your mouth. You routinely use your brush to clean the plaque, food, and odor-causing germs from your mouth. Considering the fact that most people don’t use soap or bleach on their brush after using it (which we definitely don’t recommend), there are certainly going to be some bacteria present on your toothbrush.

It’s also important to consider where you store your toothbrush. Many people frequently store their toothbrush too close to the sink, or even the toilet. Brushes placed too close to either of these bathroom fixtures are at risk of attracting some extra unwanted microorganisms.

Lastly, it is important to remember that how you store your toothbrush matters.  Placing your brush in unwashed containers and holders can also facilitate the growth of bacteria. 

When Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

Despite the presence of bacteria on toothbrushes, the solution here is not to brush your teeth less! That would certainly lead to a variety of other harmful dental conditions. The solution is to regularly replace your toothbrush.

Between the American Dental Association (ADA) and many licensed dental professionals, it is recommended you change your toothbrush every three to four months.  Within this time frame, the bristles usually become severely worn and are much less effective. It should be noted that most dental professionals have a general rule that trumps this timeline. If you have recently been sick with an infection or virus, dental providers recommend you change your toothbrush right away.

Children may actually require a toothbrush replacement sooner than adults. Kids usually brush their teeth more rigorously than their grown counterparts, so the wear and tear on their brushes may be more evident before the three month mark.

If you happen to be wondering if it matters whether a toothbrush is manual or electric, the answer is no. Bristles are bristles, and it is strongly suggested you change your brush (or toothbrush head) every three to four months. 

Caring for Your Toothbrush

While the average person doesn’t feel a toothbrush requires special care and attention, dental professionals are quick to point out that it is important to follow some important steps:

Rinse

For starters, after you use your toothbrush it’s important you rinse it off thoroughly with tap water. Rinsing helps wash away any remaining toothpaste, food, and saliva that may still be present on your brush.    

Store in a Dry Place

After you’ve finished rinsing your toothbrush with tap water, it’s imperative to store it in a vertical position to air dry the brush. The key word here is “air dry”.  It’s important to make sure your toothbrush is completely dry every time you use it.

If you’re accustomed to placing your toothbrush in a closed container after use, it’s time you break that habit.  This helps prevent the bacteria buildup that is present in a storage container like that.  In fact, it’s best not to even keep your toothbrush in a closed container for traveling purposes. Instead, think about purchasing disposable brushes when traveling away from home. 

Be Careful Where You Keep It

As previously mentioned, many bacteria access your toothbrush based on its proximity to the toilet or sink.  Splashing water from either one of those sources can result in unwanted germs transferring onto your brush. Therefore, you should find an appropriate place to store your brush where it can remain away from this type of water.

Additionally, it’s best not to store your toothbrush in a place where it’s consistently touching the brushes of your family members. You certainly don’t want additional bacteria from your family members adding to your own. In fact, you should always remember that your toothbrush is yours alone. It’s never a smart idea to share a toothbrush with another person. 

Keep a Spare or Two

As you surf the internet or make trips to the store, it’s wise to purchase some extra toothbrushes or toothbrush heads. It’s important to have these extra brushes around the house during those times when you are faced with unexpected challenges (I.e. you get sick, you drop your brush in the toilet, or your young kids get a hold of your brush). 

Going Forward

It’s been said that when people know better, they tend to do better. Now that you know you should be changing your toothbrush every three to four months, you shouldn’t rely on your next dental appointment to make an upgrade. Since you’re aware of the importance of keeping your brush in a dry and secure place, you’ll be careful not to lay your brush down an inch away from the bathroom sink. 

If you have additional questions about when you should change your toothbrush or oral hygiene routine, be sure to contact our Holly Springs dental office!

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10 Dental Care Tips to Keep in Mind When You're Pregnant

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10 Dental Care Tips to Keep in Mind When You're Pregnant

Many pregnant women carefully manage their diet, environment, and routine.  However, these same women often fail to consider their dental health during pregnancy.  This lack of dental health awareness can create serious consequences. Dentistry and pregnancy go hand in hand. Pregnancy often creates changes that can lead to serious dental problems, placing the mother and baby at risk.

Dentistry and Pregnancy

The development of the child inside your womb makes visiting the dentist more important than ever! There are 10 important dental care tips you should keep in mind throughout your pregnancy.

1. Visit the Dentist

In fear of harming the baby, some pregnant women skip their routine visits to the dentist during pregnancy.  Unfortunately, this poor decision actually puts their little one at risk.  During pregnancy, hormonal changes and other side effects make women more susceptible to gum disease and cavities. The resulting infections can potentially affect the baby indirectly, and it often increases your risk of a miscarriage or premature birth.

For optimal dental health, it is important to visit your dentist prior to conception. This way you enter your pregnancy with a healthy mouth.  This is also ideal because if you require extensive dental treatment, then the dentist can address it before you become pregnant and not worry about how it may affect your baby. 

Visit your dentist for a regular dental cleaning during the pregnancy as well. This will help ensure that your dental health will not trigger any additional health problems.

2. Watch for Gingivitis

Even if you make regular dental visits, it is still important to watch for any signs of gum disease during the long stretch between visits. Increased blood flow and hormonal changes can lead to pregnancy gingivitis.  With this disease, the germs that attack your gums can potentially enter the bloodstream and jeopardize your pregnancy. You can prevent this from occurring by watching for the early warning signs, including:

  • Sensitive gums and teeth that lead to difficulty chewing

  • Bleeding gums

  • Redness and swelling

  • Bad breath

  • Loose teeth

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your dentist. Do not panic if you notice small amounts of pink blood while brushing (with no other symptoms). This often occurs when your blood volume increases.

3. Floss

Flossing reaches the surfaces of your teeth that the bristles from your toothbrush cannot. This prevents the buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria.  Flossing also prevents gum disease and tooth decay. You should floss at least once a day, but twice if possible.

4. Brush Regularly

Morning sickness may make you think twice about brushing. However, it is crucial to continue brushing twice a day. Your teeth face more risks during pregnancy than normal. It is a good idea to brush after your morning sickness passes. If you struggle with gagging or taste sensitivity, try using a children's toothbrush and toothpaste with a lighter flavor.

5. Swish Baking Soda

During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience morning sickness. Though less common, some even experience this into their second trimester. Stimulated by significant hormone changes, morning sickness can cause frequent vomiting.  This vomiting brings stomach acid into your mouth, which is detrimental to your teeth. In fact, vomit can often lead to tooth decay, if not removed promptly.   

In an effort to neutralize the acid, try swishing a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with warm water. You will find it helpful to do this a couple of times a day to help protect your teeth. The baking soda will also help eliminate that sour taste.

6. Limit Sugars

When you consume sugar, it often sticks to your teeth. Microscopic bacteria enter your mouth to eat the sugar and excrete acid in return. This is precisely how sugar destroys your teeth.

You should not try to eliminate carbs completely while pregnant. However, it is ideal to consume your daily dose in the form of whole grains, fruits, and other healthy carbohydrates.

Food cravings often make this challenging, but you can combat them with compromise. For example, you might crave potato chips for the saltiness and the crunch.  Instead, munch on kale chips, a healthier alternative for your teeth.  If you must eat sweets or extra carbs, rinse your mouth or brush your teeth immediately after consumption. It is important to remember that milk contains the sugar lactose, so follow the same process after drinking milk. 

7. Control Your Pica

Some women experience extremely bizarre cravings during pregnancy. These are referred to as pica.  Women who experience pica may crave non-food items including:

  • Ice

  • Dirt

  • Glass 

  • Laundry detergent

  • Sand

These items can often destroy your teeth and result in serious infections. Aside from harming your teeth, some of these items can cause toxicity for you and the baby.

If you experience cravings for any potentially harmful non-food items, contact your doctor. Not only can these items hurt you and your baby directly, but they can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

8. Take Your Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins can help strengthen your dental health and the development of your baby. Your body requires more calcium while pregnant. A calcium deficiency can initiate decay within your teeth.  The daily consumption of prenatal vitamins that contain calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins or minerals help keep your teeth strong throughout the pregnancy.

9. Don't Refuse Imaging

If your dentist decides to take x-rays during your pregnancy, they have a good reason for it.  While it is obvious you should not expose your baby to excess radiation, it is also important to remember that the dental provider will use lead shields to protect your womb.  A one-time image does not significantly increase the risk of the baby experiencing any negative side effects. In fact, you put your child at more serious risk by not diagnosing something potentially serious.

10. Control the Plaque

Some women experience plaque buildup during pregnancy. Your dentist can provide you with a safe antimicrobial mouth rinse to help prevent this condition.  Rinsing once a day should keep the plaque away!

Show Your Baby a Healthy Smile

One of the first things your baby will see upon entering the world is your smile. Make your smile a healthy one by following these 10 tips on dentistry and pregnancy.

Enjoy your pregnancy, but don't get so caught up in the excitement that you forget about your dental health.  Contact us to book an appointment today!

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How Dental Health Impacts the Rest of Your Body

How Dental Health Impacts the Rest of Your Body

Over 3.5 billion people, or half of the world's population, are affected by oral diseases! 

It’s important to understand that oral health doesn't only affect a person's mouth. Poor dental health can lead to issues throughout the body.  Oral symptoms are often an indication of a larger health problem.  

But what constitutes a healthy mouth? And how do you know when a dental health problem is signaling something more significant?  Learn more in this guide to healthy teeth and gums.

What is a Healthy Mouth?

Our mouths contain over 700 different strains of bacteria. Most of these bacteria aren't harmful, but others can negatively affect your health if not controlled properly. 

Your body has natural defenses to fight off bad strains of bacteria.  Combining those natural processes with a good oral health care routine is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth.  Taking care of your dental health involves:

  • Brushing 2-3 times per day

  • Flossing once per day

  • Eating healthy, nutritious, wholesome foods

  • Limiting snacks and sugar

  • Replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months

  • Visiting your dentist on a regular basis and performing routine cleanings and check-ups

An important component of dental health is regularly seeing your dentist. When you notice changes or problems with your oral health, it is especially important to visit your dentist immediately.

Conditions Affecting Oral Health

Some health conditions will initially show warning signs and symptoms through your oral health. Systemic diseases, on the other hand, affect your entire body. Many systemic diseases produce oral symptoms that are easily detected with a dental evaluation.

Systemic diseases with oral signs and symptoms include:

  • Diabetes - Causes more frequent and severe gum disease because the body isn't able to resist infection. 

  • Alzheimer's Disease - As Alzheimer's disease worsens, oral health deteriorates.

  • Osteoporosis - Causes bone and tooth loss as a result of weakening and brittle bones, as well as treatment side effects.

  • Coeliac or Crohn's Disease - May cause aphthous ulcers.

  • Blood disorders - These can lead to pale and/or gums susceptible to bleeding.

  • HIV/AIDS - These diseases cause mucosal lesions in the mouth.

  • Bulimia/Anorexia - Eating disorders can cause tooth discoloration. 

Oral health has been connected to a number of other health conditions. These include head and neck cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and an immune system disorder known as Sjogren's syndrome.

Conditions Caused By Poor Oral Health

Oral health involves more than just preventing bad breath.  Maintaining a healthy mouth also prevents tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss associated with aging.

The important balancing of bacteria in your mouth requires practicing good dental health. If you don't practice proper oral care, your body is susceptible to a number of complications. We've listed some of the more common and serious health conditions below:

Oral Thrush

Saliva is one of the natural defenses against bacteria.  Its job is to fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses that grow inside your, otherwise, healthy mouth.  Your saliva fights off pathogens that cause all types of dangerous health conditions.  It also stops the growth of Candida albicans.  When Candida albicans isn't controlled by saliva, it flourishes in your mouth. This can cause a fungal infection, known as oral thrush.

Gum Infection

While it's combatting Candida albicans, your saliva is also destroying other bacteria that cause health issues. In fact, it helps maintain a perfect balance of good and bad bacteria that are present in a healthy mouth.

However, your saliva can't do this job on its own. Without a consistent oral care routine, bacteria builds up and forms plaque. This colorless film that forms on the surface of your teeth can lead to severe gum disease.

Brushing and flossing helps remove plaque from along the gumline. When plaque accumulates between your teeth and gums, the environment becomes ideal for the growth of bacteria. This eventually leads to an infection of the gums called gingivitis.  Gingivitis can become progressively worse and lead to more serious periodontitis.  If periodontitis is not treated properly, the infection can lead to trench mouth. Any of these gum infections can result in the loss of your teeth.

Cardiovascular Disease

Oral bacteria causes both inflammation and infections.  There appears to be a strong correlation between these symptoms and heart disease, stroke, or clogged arteries.

Endocarditis

When the inner lining of your heart is inflamed, it's known as endocarditis. Most often caused by bacteria, endocarditis can lead to problems in other bodily organs, blood clots, abnormal heart rhythm, and other potentially dangerous conditions.  Endocarditis occurs when bacteria travel from one part of the body to another through your bloodstream.  Poor dental health increases your risk of developing this condition.

Premature Birth

Your oral health can also have an effect on your pregnancy. Specifically, the second stage of gingivitis (periodontitis) is linked to complications at birth.  This is why it's especially important to maintain proper dental health while pregnant. Otherwise, your risk of premature birth and low birth weight are significantly increased.

Risk Factors

When it comes to oral infection and disease, some individuals are at higher risk than others. The following factors put you at greater risk for complications from poor dental health:

  • Poor hygiene puts you at risk for periodontal disease, bacterial conditions, and inflammatory conditions

  • People in lower socioeconomic statuses are at a higher risk for oral infection and disease

  • If you consume alcohol in excess, you're at a higher risk for oral cancer

  • If you smoke or chew tobacco there's a greater chance of developing oral cancer and periodontal disease

Stress also has an impact on your oral health. People with high stress are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Do You Have A Healthy Mouth?

A dentist only needs a quick look or swab to determine whether you have a healthy mouth.  With a quick noninvasive examination, a dental provider can evaluate your dental health. They may also be able to detect any underlying conditions that are causing oral health problems.

Your oral health not only affects your breath and the health of your gums, but it also affects the rest of your body. To learn more about your dental health, contact our practice for information.

How Vitamins and Minerals Affect Your Teeth

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How Vitamins and Minerals Affect Your Teeth

Poor dental hygiene is the main culprit behind oral health issues. Many people forget that a balanced, healthy diet is essential for strong teeth and gums.  The food you eat and liquids you drink can strengthen your pearly whites. The consumption of the wrong food and liquids, however, can weaken your teeth and cause you to struggle with tooth discoloration. 

It is important to understand the roles of vitamins and minerals when it comes to your oral health!

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Protect Your Child’s Baby Teeth!

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Protect Your Child’s Baby Teeth!

Healthy dental hygiene practices should be applied throughout your child's life to ensure proper tooth development and a lifetime of clean, cavity-free teeth. These practices include a healthy diet, avoiding high sugar foods and drinks, consistent, quality brushing and flossing, and regular check ups with your trusted Holly Springs dentist. However, the path to a healthy, beautiful smile begins with ensuring baby teeth are protected. All parents should make their babies' dental hygiene a top priority in order to avoid any chance of developing baby bottle decay.

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