Posts for: November, 2014
Olivia Newton-John, now in her early 60's, is still a fresh-faced picture of health — with a radiant smile to match. How does she do it? She does it with healthy habits learned from her German-born mother, Irene.
“I love greens, and as many organic vegetables as possible,” Olivia recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “From spinach to salads to beets — pretty much any and all greens!”
Olivia credits her mom with instilling her lifelong love of healthy foods. Irene used dark bread rather than white bread for sandwiches and even made her own yogurt — which she used as a topping on baked fruit for dessert.
“Growing up, my mum really taught us some great eating habits,” Olivia told the magazine. “When I was a girl in school, all of my friends would have cakes and cookies and fun foods but my mum was all about teaching us to eat healthy foods and to be very aware of what we were putting into our bodies. At the time I was annoyed about it, but looking back now I thank her for teaching me at an early age to eat healthily.”
Irene paid particular attention to her children's oral health. “My mum always made us brush and floss after every meal so, once again, like the foods we ate, she taught us early about the importance of great dental hygiene,” said Olivia, who has an older brother and sister.
As a mom herself, Olivia passed those healthy habits down to her daughter, Chloe.
“I always insisted on regular dental checkups and limited sugar, especially in soft drinks — they were never in our fridge,” she said.
Parents do play an important role in developing healthy oral habits from the very beginning, starting with proper tooth-brushing techniques. By age 2, a brushing routine should be established using a smear of fluoride toothpaste. For older toddlers, parents can use a child's size soft toothbrush with water and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Children need help brushing until at least age 6, when they can generally take over brushing by themselves and also learn to floss.
The point of a good daily oral hygiene routine is to remove the film of bacteria that collects daily along the gum line, and in the nooks and crannies of teeth. Effective daily removal of this biofilm will do more to prevent tooth decay and promote lifelong dental health than anything else.
If you would like to learn more about preventing tooth decay or teaching your child to brush and floss correctly, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Olivia Newton-John, please see “Olivia Newton-John.” Dear Doctor also has more on “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Tooth decay is a primary cause of tooth damage and loss, with annual treatment costs in the billions of dollars. It arises mainly from oral bacteria, which proliferates in the absence of effective oral hygiene. There are, however, other risk factors besides poor hygiene that could make you more susceptible to this disease.
Many people, for example, have genetically inherited deeper grooves (fissures) and depressions (pits) than the average tooth anatomy. These may be harder to reach with a toothbrush and can become havens for bacterial plaque. Others may have health conditions that indirectly affect the mouth: bulimia or anorexia, psychological conditions that involve self-induced vomiting, or GERD, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, in which stomach acid could regurgitate into the mouth. These conditions could result in a highly acidic mouth environment.
Some medical and — ironically — dental treatments could also increase your tooth decay risk. Some medications can reduce saliva flow, which inhibits acid neutralization and re-mineralization of enamel. Retainers, braces, bite guards or other dental appliances may also reduce the saliva wash over teeth, and can make brushing and flossing more difficult.
There are also risk factors that result from our lifestyle choices. Eating a lot of foods rich in sugars and other carbohydrates, for example, or acidic beverages like soda, energy or sports drinks contributes to the rise of bacteria in our mouths.
There are ways to reduce the effects of these risk factors. In addition to a daily habit of effective brushing and flossing, you should also include semi-annual cleanings and checkups at our office a part of your routine. If you have genetic, medical or dental issues that are out of your control, we can discuss solutions, such as alternatives to medications or different techniques for cleaning around dental appliances. For lifestyle-related factors, you should consider removing the habit or modifying it: for example, snacking at specific times or drinking acidic beverages only at mealtime.
While tooth decay is a serious, destructive disease, it is highly preventable. Addressing all your risk factors, not just hygiene, will reduce your chances of having it.
If you would like more information on tooth decay prevention, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How to Assess Your Risk.”