Caring For Your Smile
They destroy your smile, and all three are prevalent in mature Adult teeth.
“The miracle cure for tooth decay will happen within twenty years” said the discoverer of the effects of fluoride, Robert Knudsen in a Symposium in the early 1960’s.
It’s 2010 and teeth are still decaying.
To get the whole picture, you first need to understand why adult teeth are suseptable to decay…
The simple answer is bacteria. The complex answer is that the mouth is a hostile environment.
When is the last time you saw a car last 80 years?
Drenched in acid, attacked by bacteria, eroded by strong abrasives a car would not last 5 years. Drive down to the beach and look at the local cars. Pitted chrome on the bumpers, and rust stains around the doors are just like decay on teeth.
Why expect teeth to last a lifetime when you can’t even protect your Mustang?
Its Amazing teeth can last 80 years or more with some simple rules. “A clean tooth is a happy tooth” said Chuck Luscia an Navy dental technician fifty years ago. Today a clean tooth is likely to be an eroded stump stripped of enamel by abrasion from chewing, eroded by food acids and sanded clean by heavy brushing with sand treated with phosphoric acid. (Silica Gel – a.k.a. whitening tooth paste).
When teeth come together small bits of the surface of the tooth wear away. So why not keep the teeth from coming together? Teeth touch when you swallow more than when you eat so not eating is not the answer. (and would be a poor answer even if it worked!)
Teeth dissolve slowly in acid. So why not keep the acid from coming in contact with the teeth?
The problem is that any liquid with a ph of 5.5 or less will cause erosion of the teeth. It’s virtually impossible to avoid these things… For example:
- Tea has a ph of 4.0
- Sports drinks have a ph of 3.3
- Soft Drinks have a ph around 2.8 (which is why drinking them is a fast-track to tooth decay).
- Even bacteria produce lactic acid as a byproduct of its digestion of food.
- The stomach contains acid under ph 2.5 so gastric reflux from our own body can do severe damage.
Watching what you eat can help but even healthy foods can be acidic. Orange juice, Tomatoes, Vinegar and wine (especially white wine) are very acidic. The elimination of soda and sports drinks are a good start though…
Want to eat something really destructive to the teeth?
The recipe is simple:
- Take stone ground tortillas deep fried till they are hard, and then cover them in salt to make them extra abrasive.
- Dip the chips in a salsa made with tomatoes, onions lime juice and vinegar to make a really acidy mix.
- Eat as many of the chips as possible so any weak tooth calcium can be eroded away to expose the tiny strings of protein that held the calcium together then chew another chip to destroy the only hope to re mineralize the surface of the tooth.
- Clear the debris away with a sangria made from highly acidic white wine and soft drinks.
- Place your hand over the part of your mouth where it hurts and call your dental office!
Ouch there goes happy hour.
That may be an extreme example but it is all natural.
Translated into tooth talk, DON’T DO THIS:
Take something really hard, mix in some rock particles and cover then with an abrasive. Then add a catalyst made from a good tasting mix of acids in an organic base, boost the acidity with distilled acids then erode away.
Want some answers? I’ve painted a dismal picture to try and help you see the kind of battle your teeth go through every single day. You destroy your teeth daily.
But there ARE some simple techniques and concepts that can really make a difference!
In the 40+ years I’ve been a dentist, I’ve determined that the following really help:
Re mineralizing teeth is possible daily when eating. A clean tooth will accept calcium to re establish the tooth crystal called calcium hydroxyl apatite. There is a paste called recaldent that can put the calcium back on the tooth. Even sharp chedder cheese has high levels of calcium. Skim milk may also work since it has calcium without the fat that can interfere with calcium uptake.
Brushing can help if is done right. Like cars the decay starts around the edges not on the smooth surfaces. A dentist named Bass described a method called sulcular brushing in the ADA journal (Oct. 1958) that aims the tooth brush down toward the gum into the tough around the tooth. This cleans around the edges of the tooth and goes a long way to preventing the erosion described above.
The problem is changing your technique to be able to aim the brush.
My old golf pro said it all. “Doc if you don’t have the right grip you will never hit the ball straight.”
The same is true for tooth brushing.
Holding your tooth brush like a hammer is not going to get the job done.
Hold your toothbrush like a pencil or a chop stick to get the grip right. Keep the elbow down against your side. If the elbow is up you are holding the brush like a hammer. Then aim the tip of the brush down towards where the tooth and gum come together at about a 45 degree angle.
Brush by going around in circles not back and forth. This is the basic idea. Give it a try… I’ll wait. 🙂
You can even use an electric toothbrush. Again hold it like a pencil, then dab the head of the brush using your wrist, keeping it at a 45 degree angle to where the tooth and gum meet. Again no back an forth motion. (The brush is already doing the circular movement.)
And what about that miracle cure?
Dentists and researchers are still working on it… But there IS light at the end of the tunnel…
As mentioned earlier, one of the primary causes of tooth decay is a bacteria called Strep Mutans. One cure is to stop the ability of S.mutans to cause decay by modifying its ability to cause decay. According to a recent British Study, use of a prescription medication called Peridex combined with the daily use of Xylitol (a natural sweetener) appears to neutralize Strep Mutans ability to decay your teeth.