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Toothpaste Guide

July 17th, 2024

Between the huge number of toothpaste brands on the market today, the different flavors, and claims from most to do different things, it isn’t surprising that people feel so confused when it comes to something that should be as simple as buying a tube of toothpaste. This guide will help you identify the common ingredients in toothpaste, and help you understand the important factors to consider before buying toothpaste again.

Toothpaste comes in gel, paste, and powdered forms. When it comes to the type of toothpaste, the choice is more a matter of preference.

Basic Ingredients

  • Abrasive Agents – Abrasive agents are the scratchy substances added to toothpastes to help in the removal of food particles, bacteria, and minor stains. Calcium carbonate is one of many abrasive materials, and arguably the most common.
  • Flavor – When toothpastes are flavored, they almost always have artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor of the toothpaste and increase the likelihood that you’ll use it. Flavors run the gamut from traditional mint to cinnamon that may appeal to adults, and bubble gum or lemon lime – flavors to target children.
  • Humectants – Humectants are moisturizing agents that keep paste and gel toothpastes from drying out. Glycerol is commonly used as a humectant.
  • Thickeners – Thickeners are used to give toothpaste its distinctive consistency, and to make it maintain a uniform consistency and come out of the tube easily.
  • Detergents – Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in products that foam up, like toothpaste does in your mouth.

What to Look For in Toothpaste

Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral. It is the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste. Although there are people who argue against using fluoride toothpaste, dental professionals like Dr. Michael DeWeerd emphasize that the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has decreased so significantly in the past 50 years is because of fluoridated toothpaste.

The suggestion that fluoridated water gives you enough fluoride to protect your teeth is wrong. Fluoride toothpaste is the best cavity protection there is. In addition to strengthening tooth enamel and protecting teeth from acid erosion (from acidic foods and drinks,) it remineralizes the surfaces of teeth that are suffering from early acid damage and may prevent developing tooth decay from worsening.

Tartar Control

Tartar is the result of hardened plaque buildup on the teeth. Good oral hygiene and in between twice yearly cleanings from a dental hygienist are the best defense against plaque buildup. Plaque turns to tartar when people neglect their oral hygiene. Over time, tartar can build up on teeth and under the gums, increasing the risk of gum disease.

Your best bet is to use a toothpaste that has a combination of anti-plaque agents. Products containing more than one plaque reducer may be more effective than products that only one. Common ingredients to look for are zinc citrate or pyrophosphates. Triclosan is an antibiotic that is believed to kill bacteria in the mouth, and it can be found in some anti-plaque toothpaste.

Look for toothpaste that bears the seal of the American Dental Association. That seal is an endorsement of the ADA – and it means that many dentists agree that that particular toothpaste does what toothpaste is designed to do. We can also recommend toothpaste to meet your specific oral health concerns at your next visit to our Wayland, MI office.

Clean Toothbrush/Healthy Toothbrush

July 10th, 2024

We’ve all learned a lot about keeping healthy lately. Thorough hand washing, disinfecting cell phones and keyboards, wiping down shopping carts and door handles—all these low-maintenance cleaning habits can have a high impact on our health.

So, in that spirit, let’s talk about low maintenance cleaning routines for something you put in your mouth at least twice a day—your toothbrush.

Brushing Habits

Don’t let germs hitch a ride on your toothbrush before you even begin! Make sure your hands are clean before brushing, and rinse off your toothbrush before you put it in your mouth.

After brushing, be sure to rinse your brush carefully to get rid of leftover toothpaste, food particles, and other debris. And don’t forget to clean your toothbrush holder regularly. Talk to Dr. Michael DeWeerd or your hygienist when you visit our Wayland, MI office for suggestions for deep cleaning brushes to eliminate bacteria if that’s a concern.

And while we’re talking about germs, how about…

  • Flushing Habits

Most toothbrushes share their living space with another bathroom essential—the toilet. Every time we flush, microscopic particles are propelled through the air. And while no definitive relationship has been shown between flushing and disease transmission, closing the toilet lid before flushing is an easy way to reduce unpleasant particle transmission—and reduce the possible risk of toothbrush contamination.

  • Airing? Yes!

Keeping a toothbrush in a dark, moist environment is the perfect setting for bacterial growth. Instead, let your toothbrush air dry after use in an upright position. Give it a shake first for a head start on the drying process.

  • Sharing? No

We’re not talking about sharing a brush, which you would never do. We’re talking about sharing toothbrush holders. If your brush touches other brushes, you’re probably sharing germs as well as space, which can be especially problematic if someone in the house has immune concerns. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be too close to other toothbrushes, no matter how close you are to the other brush’s owner!

Finally, no matter how well you take care of your toothbrush, there comes a time when you must part with even the cleanest and best-maintained of brushes. After three or four months, bristles become frayed. This means you’re not getting the most effective plaque-removal from your brush. And to be on the safe side, consider retiring your toothbrush if you’ve been ill.

Dental self-care is a vital part of keeping yourself healthy, and a clean toothbrush is a simple way to support your oral health. High impact/low maintenance—win/win.

A Word to the Wise about Wisdom Teeth

July 3rd, 2024

There are some pretty exciting rewards to look forward to as you transition from your mid-teens to your 20s. Driving! Voting! Graduation! But there is one rite of passage that you might not be looking forward to quite so much: getting your wisdom teeth. What are wisdom teeth? When are they a problem? And, most important, how can Dr. Michael DeWeerd help?

Children have 20 baby teeth that are replaced as they grow up with 32 adult teeth. The last to arrive are the four third molars more commonly known as wisdom teeth. But that “32” number is a little flexible. Some people never develop wisdom teeth at all. You can stop reading here if you are one of this carefree group. The rest of us have from one to four wisdom teeth. Some people have enough room in their mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth without affecting the alignment of their other teeth or their bite. But for many of us, wisdom teeth extraction is often the best and healthiest option.

When do wisdom teeth become a problem? Most generally, when there is simply no room for them to erupt properly. As a result, the wisdom teeth become “impacted.” An impacted tooth can cause you trouble in a number of different ways.

  • Completely Impacted Tooth

Some wisdom teeth never erupt at all, staying within the jawbone. If there are no problems with these teeth, your dentist might recommend leaving them in place. If your other teeth become crowded or otherwise affected, if cysts develop, or if other complications arise, these teeth should be extracted. Even if you are symptom free, regular exams and X-rays at our Wayland, MI office are important for monitoring the condition of impacted wisdom teeth to make sure they remain problem-free.

  • Partially Erupted Tooth

A wisdom tooth can also begin to erupt, but never break completely through the gum tissue. The tooth and gum area can’t be cleaned properly, trapping food particles and bacteria. The gums can become easily irritated and even infected, and these teeth are much more prone to decay. When infection and rapid decay are present, extraction is often considered the best treatment option.

Dr. Michael DeWeerd might be the first to mention your wisdom teeth at your regular checkup, or you might be surprised to see a new tooth appearing while you are doing your nightly brushing and flossing. Impacted wisdom teeth can be symptom-free, or may present with pain, redness, swelling, or bad breath. Whenever the first signs of wisdom teeth appear, it’s time to discuss your options.

Your dentist or oral surgeon is your best resource for helping you decide on the wisest course of action for your wisdom teeth, whether it’s extraction or regular monitoring. After all, transitioning to adulthood is even more rewarding with a beautiful healthy smile.

Teeth Grinding

June 26th, 2024

It might seem like you’ve gotten a great night’s sleep—but why aren’t you well rested? Worse, why are you waking up with:

  • A headache
  • Ringing in your ears or an earache
  • Pain in your jaw
  • Worn or sensitive teeth
  • Dry mouth or mouth and cheek injuries
  • An unhappy partner who’s been kept awake all night?

If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, you might be one of the millions of people who have a sleep-related disorder called bruxism, better known as teeth grinding.

There are any number of causes that have been linked to bruxism. Stress and other negative emotions seem to trigger episodes, as can lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeine. Sleep apnea can lead to grinding your teeth, or you could have bite or tooth alignment problems. Certain medications might set off this disorder, and some studies have shown a hereditary tendency in families. Whatever the reason you grind your teeth, there are many important reasons to stop as soon as you can.

As bad as the nagging headaches and earaches that can accompany bruxism can be, long-term damage to your teeth can develop over time. With continuing grinding pressure on the teeth, enamel is worn away prematurely. Teeth can crack or chip. They may loosen or develop sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure. Gum tissue can recede or become inflamed. Dental restorations can be cracked or broken.

If you—or someone in your house—suspects that you are grinding your teeth at night, give our Wayland, MI office a call! We can recommend relaxation techniques, diet changes, or tips to help you relax your jaw. Dr. Michael DeWeerd might suggest a nightguard, a custom-fitted appliance worn while you sleep, to reduce the impact of grinding. There are options available. Let’s work together to make every night’s sleep a restful, healthy one.

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