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5 myths about oral care that you may have taken seriously

You must have heard the joke about brushing meticulously just before going to the dentist.  It ain’t gonna help improve your oral hygiene nor your standing with the dentist. It is a daily process (yes, boring I know), and the earlier you incorporate it into your lifestyle, the better the results will be. Here are 5 myths about oral care and hygiene:

  1. Brushing using more force or for longer periods results in cleaner teeth. This is not true. It is the technique of brushing that is important. The right technique ensures removal of plaque without excessive abrasion of the enamel on your teeth. Brushes that get worn out in a month indicate you are applying too much pressure on your teeth while brushing.
  2. An expensive toothbrush does a better job at cleaning teeth. Continue Reading…

6 Points to Healthy Dentures

Natural teeth replacements in the mouth are referred to as dentures. They can be for a single tooth or for multiple teeth, and either removable or fixed. They can take their support from an adjacent tooth or an implant or rest on the bone. Here are a few points to keep in mind for those who have removable dentures – complete (replacing all teeth), or partial (replacing only a few) :

  • If you get sore spots soon after getting your denture, like within a few days time, it would probably be due to any rough edges or high points on the denture. Your dentist will be able to smooth them out for you.
  • Keeping your dentures clean, should be an essential part of your daily routine. It is equally important to ensure your gums and palate are clean and plaque-free. Painful inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth often occur associated with improperly cleaned dentures. Continue Reading…


Toothpicks. They often come free at restaurants, on flights. So no one really gives much thought to how beneficial they are. Oh yeah, they can remove the most annoying piece of meat stuck in between your teeth. But how effective is it for the long run.

As comforting as their use maybe, toothpicks are not indicated for long term usage. In fact, all overzealous toothpick-users will have tell-tale signs of injury caused by inserting toothpicks into the region between teeth. It can cause ulcers too if you prick yourself in the wrong spot or push too hard. A groove or notch can often be seen where people habitually bite into toothpicks.

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Is mouthwash safe to use?

When it comes to good oral hygiene, the rule is to brush twice and floss daily (and to visit your dentist regularly). But have you ever heard any dentist say “Use mouthwash daily to maintain good oral hygiene”. Yet it’s funny how most people still manage to make this a part of their daily oral hygiene regimen.

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m sure everyone is relying heavily on their mouthwashes and breath fresheners today. But bad breath is an indicator that something is not right in your body. You may be having an overload of bacteria in the calculus on your teeth, causing inflammation of your gums. Or you may be having a dry mouth due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome. Or it may just be the colds, making you breathe through your mouth (since your nose is blocked), drying it up and causing the bad breath. Whatever it may be, treat the root cause, don’t cover up the symptoms.

Visit your dentist and see if your oral hygiene is good. If not, you can definitely have bad breath, which should be relieved after you get a scaling, followed by good oral hygiene. If the bad breath doesn’t go away, you need to check with your physician for any underlying medical conditions. If you are having dry mouth due to a medical problem, salivary replacements are available to help keep your mouth moist.

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Why should you worry about your child’s teeth? And what you can do about it.

Is it okay to ignore your child’s primary teeth (or milk teeth) because they are going to get replaced with permanent teeth anyway? Or, is it okay for kids to not brush regularly or binge on sugary treats without bothering to clean their teeth later? Since milk teeth fall off, most parents believe that it is okay if kids are not very diligent about their daily brushing regimen. On the contrary, it is very important for children to be disciplined when it comes to brushing their teeth. Here’s why: Continue Reading…

Does more toothpaste mean cleaner teeth?

Most people think using a larger quantity of toothpaste ensures cleaner teeth. But in reality it is the right technique of brushing that gets better results. In fact, brushing improperly, using more paste can be injurious to the teeth. Imagine using something abrasive, like sandpaper for instance, on the same spot over and over again. Initially of course you get a nice, polished surface. But if you keep at it, you may even succeed at scraping away a few layers, that were meant to stay.

That is the same principle involved in brushing. You want to use just enough quantity of paste and pressure on the brush to get rid of the plaque adherent to your tooth, without abrading away precious tooth structure. A dab of toothpaste and gentle pressure on the tooth would be sufficient to ensure clean teeth (unlike the typical – toothpaste enough to cover the head of the toothbrush), especially when you brush twice daily. This is also the reason why dentists recommend soft brushes. But it really depends on the amount of pressure you apply while brushing, level of your gums and a couple of other factors. Your dentist can recommend the right brushing technique for you, based on these criteria.

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Conspiracy Theory Part 2: Your diet may be responsible for more than your weight

One of the things my mother takes pride in, is the fact that she cooks most of the food in her house. In other words, she doesn’t buy a lot of ready-to-eat food at home. That also means food gets cooked in its full nutritional value. And that makes a huge difference, not just in your diet, but in your dental hygiene and health.

So what’s the conspiracy? Refined foods. Available at any store near you. Feel hungry? Grab a cupcake and a can of sweetened aerated beverage or a bag of chips and pack of biscuits. Foods that have been stripped off their true nutrient value and fiber. Food that is so sweet, it could provide sugar for an entire classroom. Foods that get so sticky – there is no way they are going anywhere with a simple mouth rinse.

I’ve had parents trying to get me to tell their children, that they shouldn’t eat chocolates. But in reality, will staying away from chocolates alone keep your teeth free from cavities? Unknown to many, all sugary and sticky foods are good at lodging in the hard-to-clean areas. Sweetened drinks are equally to blame since they can access any corner of the mouth. And in the process of relishing these drinks we swirl them around in our mouths, all the while, exposing them to other areas of the teeth.

Imagine this scenario – you’ve had a nice, sumptuous dinner followed by a rich dessert. Shortly after this, you hit the bed, maybe without even rinsing your mouth. This is what happens – as you sleep, the flow of saliva decreases. As you are  not active, there isn’t anything to stimulate a fresh flow of saliva. And all those foods remain adherent to your teeth overnight. That gives the bacteria, plenty of food to act on and break down into acids. You won’t notice any changes overnight. But watch out for cavities (caries) in the long run.

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Is flossing really as important as brushing?

sAP asked, “Is flossing really as important as brushing?”

Flossing targets areas that cannot be reached while brushing. Brushing targets all the visible tooth surfaces – labial (facing the lips), buccal (facing the cheeks), palatal (near the palate) and lingual (near the tongue).  It also covers the biting (incisal) and chewing (occlusal) surfaces. But there are two more surfaces that go untouched by the tooth brush. The mesial and distal, the sides contacting the adjacent teeth. Flossing removes plaque from these surfaces. So yes, it is as important as brushing. Since it caters to surfaces we do not see, we tend to undermine their role in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Dental floss is available at most pharmacies and stores. For those who don’t know how to floss, break off a piece of floss and entwine it between the forefingers of both hands or hold it between the fingers. Pass it in gently between 2 teeth, until you are beyond the contact point between teeth, and near the gums. You can make use of a floss holder, if you find it difficult to floss using your fingers. Take care not to injure the gums in the process. If you are not sure how to floss, your dentist will be able to show you the technique or check out the video embedded below. The wax-coated dental floss is easier to slide in between teeth. Once you have slid the floss in between the teeth, gently slide it back out contacting the sides of the tooth all along the way. Repeat this for each tooth using a clean portion of the floss each time.

Those who have crowding or improperly aligned teeth should take flossing more seriously, since they have more area untouched by the brush due to overlapping of the teeth. Food tends to get lodged in these areas that can lead to plaque accumulation.

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Conspiracy theory: why we brush our teeth?

Our mouths are a natural home to millions of bacteria. These normally do not pose a problem, until one eats. What happens then is a long story.

First the bacteria start breaking down these food particles, sticking to our teeth. This leads to the formation of a thin film called Plaque (not visible to the naked eye). Plaque disclosing solutions are available in some pharmacies which will colour the plaque. This is help you know how efficient your brushing is.

Our saliva carries buffers, which maintains the pH in the oral cavity. Once plaque forms, saliva is unable to reach those areas of the tooth. As a result of the breakdown of food particles by bacteria, acids are formed, which will act on your teeth breaking down its structure. You end up with tooth cavities, which in turn, aid in lodging more food particles…and more break down by bacteria…..the process continues.

Tartar is what forms on your teeth over a period of time due to improper brushing. The plaque, when left overnight and then not removed by proper brushing, hardens and becomes calculus. Calculus by nature has a rough surface, and so indirectly it lodges more food (repeating the whole process over again). The resulting bacterial action in turn releases toxins causing the irritation & inflammation of the nearby gums (gingivitis)​. At this stage if you get a professional cleaning (scaling) done by a dentist or a dental hygienist, it should reduce the inflammation. But you would still need to maintain the health of your gums by proper brushing.