Meyer & Johns Dental Blog

Advice and Education on Your Dental Health

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Brushing Alternatives Away from Home

Brushing alternative
A few simple steps can help your school-age child have cleaner teeth.

By now everyone has settled into the school year routine of homework, carpools, and lunchboxes. But does your child’s routine include tooth care at school? Do they have any brushing alternatives?

Ideally, your child has the tools, time, and opportunity for brushing their teeth after finishing lunch. But because most schools can’t facilitate mass brushing, here are a couple of tips you can teach kids. These early actions may help instill a habit of good oral care around meals – even when it’s inconvenient.

Rinse

rinse brush alternative

All it really takes is a mouthful of water from the drinking fountain, a couple of quick swishes around their mouth, and then spit it back out. This helps to dislodge food particles from nooks, crannies, and in-between spaces of teeth. It also helps by washing away any sugary or acidic residue from the surface of teeth. (Just make sure that the Spit Out is back into the drinking fountain or a sink – not at another student!)

Rub

If your child is old enough, they can bring their own travel brush and paste and visit the bathroom sink after lunch. But if a brush isn’t an option, using a finger with a paper towel or napkin wrapped around it makes a decent substitute. This simple contact with tooth surfaces, along with rinsing, is great at removing meal residue.

Chew

Do you know those gum commercials that claim to help prevent cavities? They’re true. We’ve often pointed out the importance of saliva and the natural substances it contains. Chewing stimulates saliva production and helps flood teeth with natural cleaning and strengthening compounds. The kicker? It MUST BE Sugar-Free!

As children’s teeth are developing, it’s more important than ever to keep cavity-causing substances from settling on their teeth for extended periods of time. We can help reinforce these brushing alternatives with them at their next visit. Just have them ask us!

 

Advances in Dental Care

dental advances
Expanded use of 3D modeling technology is advancing dental precision.

We spend a lot of time telling you when and how often to brush, as well as ways you can do it better. But we also ask ourselves and our staff the same question: How can we do our part better? 

Anyone who grew up in the last century will remember what it used to be like — more frequent fillings, bigger x-ray machines, and noisier equipment. Not to mention those fluoride treatments that consisted of holding trays of goo in your mouth for hours. Okay, maybe more like 5 minutes, but it felt like forever. 

Modern dentistry is progressing as fast as the rest of our society. While the basic principles remain the same, Drs. Meyer & Johns and our whole team of hygienists go out of their way to incorporate the latest techniques and technology into your treatment. 

 

Happening Now

One of the greatest modern advances was the emergence of ceramic materials in dental work. From replacing the amalgam and metal fillings used for more than 100 years to the construction more-durable crowns and tooth replacements, these new composite materials do everything better. Recent progress includes refinements made to these materials, as well as advances in the tools and techniques used to apply them. 

Our instruments and tools have gotten smaller along the way. Modern implant fasteners are far less invasive, allowing a more secure hold, less discomfort, and shorter recovery time. Likewise, technical advancements in our plaque removal tools allow our hygienists to provide a more thorough cleaning in less time. 

 

On the Horizon

The forecast for dental advances includes further refinement of our processes and materials. Imaging technology will continue to improve, allowing earlier identification of problems, and more closely matching repairs to the original tooth shape. Other tech developments on the horizon will center around the application of existing technology to dental processes and procedures, including: 

  • Expanded use of lasers for non-surgical and whitening procedures
  • 3D printing of dental crowns and dentures
  • Advances in bio-coatings to protect teeth against bacteria

So it may be a while before we print out a tooth crown in our offices. But we are constantly looking for ways to apply new technology for a better dental experience to you and your family.  

Threats to Your Dental Health

Tooth enamel is important
Unseen threats may be putting your teeth at risk!

 

As we noted in our last post, Missouri lags behind most states in the U.S. for accessible dental care. But it made us think about other threats to your dental health that have emerged in our modern society. 

 

What We Eat 

Dental health is tied closely to overall health, and most Americans aren’t doing a very good job of managing either one. Most of us consume lots of processed foods with high sugar and chemical content. These food additives are designed for flavor and shelf-life, but are generally bad for your teeth, as they stick around longer and can upset your mouth’s natural balance

What We Drink

In an effort to combat the obesity epidemic, communities around the country are considering the restriction of super-sized sodas. For teeth, this is great news! With a combination of acidity and sticky chemicals, soda and other carbonated sweetened beverages wreak havoc on teeth. The American Dental Association recommends at least a 1:1 ratio of soda to water consumption. Plus, there are numerous benefits for both your mouth and your body when you replace soft drinks with water. 

How Much Stress

As we’ve said, Anxiety Bites. But in modern life pulls everyone in more different directions than ever before. Stress-related bruxism presents a significant threat to your overall dental health. If tension and anxiety have you gritting and grinding your teeth, find ways to counteract the chaos of modern life — Unplug, go outside, exercise, meditate, develop a hobby. All of these activities can help bring balance in a world dominated by ugly headlines, looming deadlines, pinging email reminders and text alerts stacking up like a Tetris game. 

 

If you have other concerns or questions about how you can improve your dental or overall health, ask us at your next appointment

 

MO Bad Grades for the Show-Me State

Missouri Dental Health rankings
Missouri scored poorly in both physical and dental health categories.

A few years ago we told you about our Missouri dental health rankings, which were not great. Unfortunately, our streak of unfavorable ratings has continued.

A recent report published by the United Health Foundation took a look at America’s Health Rankings. Missouri – the 18th-largest state – ranked 43rd out of 52. The study’s main focus was on overall health, including access to physicians, affordability of care, and the prevalence of chronic and/or preventable conditions. We rank in the bottom 20% of states in deaths caused by both cancer and cardiovascular disease. But there were numerous categories that Missouri scored poorly on that were specific to oral care. 

The Show-Me State has the 9th-lowest number of dentists per capita, with just 48.5 per 100,000 residents. And despite our cautionary tales, Missouri has more active smokers –21%– than 40 other states. This last statistic can clearly be linked to our high cancer death rate, but what does the other data say about dental care? 

Behind the Numbers

Some of the individual metrics point to more disturbing trends. There is an increasing lack of access to dental care for Missourians, mirroring statistics in the medical area healthcare industry. Another study by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted the number of Missouri adults who have gone without a dental visit in the past year. That number has increased steadily, outpacing the national average since 2014. The number of adults missing six or more teeth due to decay, infection, or gum disease also increased. Other studies have also shown our state lagging behind nearly all others in adequate dental care for adolescents.   

Not Just About Mouth Health

We will point out (again!) how closely dental health is tied to overall health. Research proves that oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease are more closely associated with:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and congestive heart failure 
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Low birth weight 

Not coincidentally, Missouri scored poor ratings for all these conditions. Maybe it’s time we took a closer look at how overall health may be affecting your dental health and vice versa. If you have questions, just ask us at your next appointment. We can offer tips for making sure you (and your mouth) stay healthy!