A lot has changed over the last 100 years in every aspect of our lives. The Ford Model T was the state of the art and we had just won the war to end all wars. The biggest crisis facing the world was Influenza and the life expectancy was still less than 50 years old! When it comes to dental issues, floss was unheard of and toothbrushes were still made with animal hair but were as likely to not be used at all!
Dental care was largely mercury-silver fillings because we still didn’t realize mercury was toxic to humans and it was cheap and easy to place. Plus the only real options were gold crowns or extracting teeth! Between the terrible lack of understanding of the mouth and the lack of any knowledge about proper oral care, most people were missing most of their teeth by the time they were adults and dentures were as much a right of passage as anything. In the last hundred years, everything has changed in dramatic ways; it isn’t just realizing that mercury-silver fillings are a bad idea, but so much more!
Today the average life expectancy is rapidly approaching 100 years old and optimal whole health is integral in living a long, happy, and healthy life! Today’s tools have changed the fundamental concepts of dental care and what a healthy mouth would be. In 2018, there is no reason to ever expect that you will eventually lose all your teeth and most people will enjoy a lifetime of healthy and strong teeth. We’d like to share how everyone can do that!
We all grew up hearing that we needed to brush and floss our teeth after every meal. We all grew up hearing that we should get our teeth professionally cleaned every six months. We all grew up with some level of fear or anxiety about going to the dentist and some level of guilt for not brushing after every meal and flossing like we should. Over the last several years the science has shown most of what we thought simply isn’t true!
Some myths are:
"Novacaine doesn't work on me." Actually, that is true. But novacaine doens't work well on anyone!! Today we have much better anesthetic to get you comfortably numb and lots of options to help manage the anxiety that comes with a denal visit!
How you brush your teeth isn’t what causes the notches at the gumline as “Toothbrush Abrasion” isn’t a real thing. We’ve known that since 1911 but it still gets the blame because we didn’t understand where those notched came from until recently!
Cleanings every six months usually isn’t the right interval! This 6-month cleaning was made up for a toothpaste commercial in the 1950s and, like the food pyramid, has nothing to do with the science of healthy teeth and gums. There are a few people who would do fine once a year but most people would do best with cleanings every three months! They key is to get your teeth cleaned before the gums get infected.
Metal fillings aren’t really fine. They are cheap and easy and predictable, but part of what you can expect is that as the metal expands and contracts with hot and cold inside your tooth, that it will fracture the tooth itself and ultimately destroy a lot of your tooth.
The toothbrush isn’t just for cleaning your teeth. As a matter of fact, it is more important that you use it to clean your gums! If you focus on feeling the bristles gently brush the gums on the inside and outside of all your teeth, you will do a much better job of getting rid of the bacteria and debris that are creating the problems.
And, floss isn’t necessary! I know! Thank goodness! The reality is while flossing correctly would be a huge boost to your health, most people don’t floss regularly or well. A much more predictable and better approach would be to use a Waterpik at least once daily.
Today it is not only possible but most probable that you will keep most of your teeth for your lifetime. We hope that you do! Our goal is to have 28-32 teeth all doing well and staying with you for the entire ride! The bare minimum would be routine care to catch issues at their earliest and use the least invasive solution. Periodic x-rays and dental exams allow you to fix the trouble areas much earlier in the process. Also, it makes zero sense for a tooth with a small cavity to have to cut a large hole and use a metal filling just because it is cheaper. In the long run, that is a much more expensive option than a conservative plastic filling.
Another simple and basic step to long-term health is brushing at least twice a day and using the Waterpik at least once every day. The Waterpik removes the bacterial sludge and biofilm that collects and builds below the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach. The toothbrush can only clean the part of your tooth you can see, so flossing and/or Waterpiking is crucial to keeping the other parts healthy!
Our team is always looking for ways that we can do a better job of making the current science and understanding of dental health a part of your life. We will continue to share and coach any time, so be sure to ask if you have any questions! Your teeth were designed to last your whole life, and we’d love getting to help make that a reality!