By Lynette Chilcoat
Although today’s dental practitioners may be friendly and gentle, a visit to the dentist is rarely considered to be akin to a day at the beach. It is, however, necessary for your health.
According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the baby boomer generation is the rst generation where the majority were able to keep their teeth over their entire lifetime. However, CDC still reports more than a quarter of adults in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay and nearly half of adults over 30 years old show signs of gum disease. Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for going through routine practices that keep teeth not just clean, but healthy.
“As with so much of life, small daily habits matter most for taking care of not just your teeth and mouth but your overall health and wellness,” says Dr. Mesa Roth, one of a four-dentist team at Alpine Dental Health in Fort Collins. “When it comes to dental home care, daily brushing and ossing are key. Brush two times a day for two minutes and oss once daily. Seriously. It is that simple. The really beautiful thing about a healthy smile is that it also contributes to a healthier you by decreasing your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Best practices for keeping teeth into old age
Expert care is vital, as well. “Dental problems are sneaky—they often develop without pain,” says Roth. “So, by the time you realize there’s a problem it can be quite severe. Our goal is to diagnose problems early, when treatment is easier and less expensive. Twice yearly exams and good home care are the best safeguards against major problems.”
Dr. Jim Deschene of Berthoud Dental Care, with more than 30 years private dental experience, reiterates the best practices for keeping a healthy set of choppers for life are “proper oral hygiene, as well as regular professional cleanings and examinations.”
“Brushing and ossing are mainly to remove harmful dental plaque on a daily basis,” Deschene explains, and then goes on to the reasons why developing these habits is crucial. “Dental plaque causes gum disease and dental decay.”
Add to this an established schedule of frequently seeing a dentist to
take optimum care to the next level. “Professional cleanings remove hard deposits as well as stain from teeth. Dental examinations detect decay and gum disease. Early detection and treatment are critical,” adds Dr. Deschene.
Ways to mitigate poor lifetime habits
Fear of old-school dentistry has kept many people away from the dentist of ce for years on end.
Dr. Todd Rosenzweig, a general dentist and periodontist with Alpine Dental, emphasizes, “there is almost always help and hope for restoring and treating teeth that have suffered from a lack of care over the years. Don’t give up, don’t wait, and de nitely go see your trusted dentist. Once less invasive potential treatments have been worked through, the breakthrough technology of dental implants to replace missing teeth is available.”
According to Dr. Deschene, ways do exist to turn around the lackadaisical patterns of neglect if a patient truly wishes to do so.
“Oral tissues and teeth that have not been well cared for and are involved with dental disease can usually be successfully treated only if a person is willing to change their oral hygiene habits and harmful personal habits, such as tobacco use,” says Dr. Deschene. “No treatment can be successful if poor oral hygiene continues.”
One way to proceed is to seek out a dental care practitioner and team which promotes comfort and trust. Many privately-owned local dental practices feature staff who exude that neighborly, compassionate feeling—all while ful lling an indispensable need. They go out of their way to set people at ease and offer the very best service.
New trends in dental care
“There are many new trends in dental therapy,” says Dr. Deschene. “The
most signi cant is the use of dental implants for tooth replacement.
Dental restorations supported by dental implants function better and
are more conservative than traditional bridgework and removable full or partial dentures. Great improvements in root canal technology have made this treatment much easier, comfortable and predictable.”
Dr. Mick McDill of Alpine Dental takes it a few steps further. “Dentistry today looks a lot different than it did 20 years ago. There have been so many new technologies that have been developed to help improve the outcomes,” says McDill.
Continuing technical advances are always in the medical industry forefront. Dentistry is no different. But what may seem to be a fantastic step in the right direction may not always prove to have the predicted merits.
“Laser dentistry has limited clinical application in dentistry,” says Dr. Deschene. “Some
soft tissue procedures are accomplished using lasers, but teeth are usually treated by more traditional techniques.”
Then, on the ip side, there are others which show great promise. “3D technology has become
the most common method of constructing crowns and bridges. This technique is faster and much more cost effective than prior methods,” clari es Dr. Deschene.
“The bottom line on oral hygiene,” concludes Dr. Deschene, “is that mechanical removal
of dental plaque is essential, regardless of toothpaste or oss brand. Electric toothbrushes are signi cantly more effective at plaque removal than a manual toothbrush.”
Other samples of Technological advances:
CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) allows for three- dimensional X-rays, a more useful diagnostic tool than traditional X-rays.
Digital X-rays are continuing technology that keeps on getting better; with large X-ray images, patients and dentists can look at the teeth together and have a conversation about what is going on. They can be adjusted to show different contrasts as well, so dentists may see things they might have missed in the past.
“They are much safer, too, requiring less than half of the radiation than lm X-rays needed,” adds McDill, “the equivalent to the amount of background radiation we receive in Colorado in just one day.”
Zircona crowns provide both strength and beauty, thus eliminating the choice between gold or porcelain.
Intra-oral cameras aren’t necessarily new but continue to advance. Today they are lighter and take better images.
Rotary root canals are quick, painless and have great long- term success rates.
Implant supported dentures are achieved by placing as few as four implants in each jaw, then a denture made from the same super strong zirconia used for crowns is utilized.
“This creates a beautiful, natural-looking smile that patients can eat anything with,” says McDill.
A few dental trends— what they entail and are they good or bad?
“Dating back thousands of years, oil pulling began as a folk remedy in ancient India designed to help with oral and overall health,” says Dr. Seth Cowden of Alpine Dental. “A small amount of edible oil is placed in the mouth and swished around, or ‘pulled,’ between the teeth for up to 20 minutes, then spit out. Harmful bacteria are thought to stick to the oil.”
Other acclaimed bene ts are that this method moisturizes gums and increases saliva. Harmful bacteria are killed, bad breath and in inflammation reduced, and cavities prevented all while improving gum health in a cheap, easy-to-perform task.
“There is little research to show the bene ts,” continues Dr. Cowden, “although there does not appear to be a downside if you are willing to devote the time.”
However, the ADA does not recommend using this practice to replace time-tested treatments.
Possible drawbacks are upset stomach and even diarrhea from ingestion, and more seriously, the development of lipoid pneumonia due to accidentally breathing small amounts of oil down into the lungs.
Charcoal toothpaste is formulated with activated charcoal as its main ingredient, which, in theory, binds everything in its path: stains, tarter, bacteria and viruses. This is supposed to result in a more pristine oral environment and whiter smile.
“Charcoal toothpaste became popular in 2019 and seems to have started to fade as more scienti c research has shown adverse effects,” says Dr. Cowden. “Studies have shown that charcoal is too abrasive for daily use and can erode enamel, which at rst gives a whitening appearance but actually is weakening your teeth. Most charcoal toothpastes do not contain uoride, which is important for keeping teeth enamel strong and preventing future cavities.”
Charcoal itself can get caught in llings and become dif cult to get out, and also caught in gums, where it can cause irritation.
“As a dentist,” concludes Cowden, “I do not recommend using charcoal toothpastes.”
Flouride-free toothpaste is toothpaste without any added fluoride. The line of thinking behind this product is a lot of municipalities add fluoride to the community water, and if a person also visits the dentist twice yearly for clean-and-polish sessions, the teeth are receiving plenty of fluoride from these sources.
However, Dr. Deschene says, “I prefer the use of fluoride toothpaste (1:1000 ppm fluoride). Most major brands are very similar and perform well. Oral uoride rinses and gels are also beneficial.”
Types of floss
Floss comes in plentiful varieties. The usual, more mainstream forms available are waxed, unwaxed and dental tape. Soft, bristled plastic picks perform similar function, but are made from a somewhat sturdier material.
“Most floss brands shred easily which is frustrating,” notes Dr. Deschene. “I prefer Glide floss—I feel it’s by far the best available.”
Then there’s super floss, which stretches and expands into interdental spaces to clean better and is purported to remove 55 percent more plaque than regular floss.
For those leaning toward natural products, silk can also be had.
Flavors run the gamut, from classic mint to a more exotic, delicious- sounding dark choco oss. But, really now, would it not be best to simply savor a piece of the real thing?! Then, after the taste has lingered awhile, brush away the sugar content.
And there you have a happy mouth in more ways than one.
Lynette Chilcoat is a freelance writer and Colorado native based in Loveland. To comment on this article, email letters@ nocostyle.com.