What About Toothpicks?

Some people like to use a good toothpick or other fancy pick-like device to get in between their teeth. If you ask our Bellevue dentist, however, there’s really no substitute for floss. We recommend that you always get your daily flossing in, and never try to use a toothpick in its place.

Toothpick vs Dental Floss

While toothpicks are good for extracting an irritating chunk of food after a meal, they’re just not built to do the job of a piece of floss. Floss is capable of getting all the way between your teeth, handily drawing away the layer of plaque from where your brush and your pick cannot reach. The length of the floss also lets you cycle in a fresh bit of thread, to assure that you’re never cleaning your teeth with something that is itself stained with bacteria. Trying to force a pick to go where your floss is meant to go only puts you at risk of spearing your gums or leaving irritating splinters behind.

So only take a toothpick for what it’s worth, and never let anything try to take the place of your floss!

Bruxism in Children

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is a condition that will affect up to a third of children in the United States at some point. It commonly occurs when a child’s new teeth come in, as the pain caused by tooth eruptions encourages grinding. Most kids will quickly lose the habit after this comfort passes, but others will continue to grind long after they have their full set of teeth. Since bruxism weakens your teeth and causes them to come in crooked, you will want to take the following measures with your children:

  • Your child may very well be grinding without even realizing it, perhaps while he or she sleeps. Listen for a grinding sound during the night, particularly if your child complains of a sore jaw in the morning.
  • Stress is a big trigger for grinding. Look for ways to manage your child’s stress, particularly right before he or she goes to bed. Have him or her massage the muscles around the jaw, or apply a warm compress.
  • Dehydration is another potential cause for bruxism.
  • Your dentist can be instrumental in managing bruxism. Talk to Overlake Dental in Bellevue to help pinpoint the underlying problem and come up with effective, lasting solutions.

Is There Fecal Matter on Your Toothbrush?

Every toothbrush is going to get a little dirty as time goes by. All the time it spends in your mouth exposes it to bacteria and grime. This is largely not a big deal, so long as you periodically rinse and disinfect your brush. However, if you leave your brush out in the open, you may be exposing yourself to some unnecessary contaminates.

Specifically, an unguarded brush may be gathering human fecal matter. This is according to a study recently presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting. The study looked at an assortment of toothbrushes taken from bathrooms that were shared among at least two people, finding that over 60% of them were contaminated with fecal particles. Among the contaminated brushes, fully 80% had particles that came from somebody other than the brush’s owner, making them even less healthy than those originating from the individual’s own system.

These particles get onto your brush when you flush your toilet. Every flush launches a tiny spray of toilet water into the air, which can gradually introduce a fecal residue to any surface it lands upon. You can avoid such contamination by protecting your brush; put it into a closable container where it can still be exposed to the air, allowing it to dry out between brushings.

Taking a Bite out of Jaw Disorders

The health of your teeth is strongly influenced by the health of your jaw bone. Tooth and gum problems, left unchecked, can disastrously affect your jaw, and vice versa. This is why our Bellevue dentistry wants you to be on the lookout for the warning signs of Temporomandibular Disorders also known as TMD. Such warning signs include the following:

  • Pain or a tender feeling in the jaw joint, face, neck, or shoulders, particularly when you are moving your jaw.
  • If you grind your teeth, this may represent either a cause or a symptom of a TMD.
  • Trouble opening your jaw to its limit.
  • Jaws that lock into position.
  • Clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw when you open and close your mouth.
  • Tired facial muscles.
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together.
  • Swelling on either side of the face.
  • Dizziness.
  • Toothaches.
  • Headaches.
  • Earaches, tinnitus, or other hearing problems.

If you think that you might have a problem with your TMJ, consult your dentist right away.

Trouble with Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening Toothpaste

Have you ever considered employing whitening toothpaste as an alternative to a professional cosmetic treatment from our Bellevue dentistry? If you have, we encourage you to reconsider. The truth is that the so-called “whitening” toothpastes are probably harming your teeth far more than they are brightening your smile.

If your toothpaste identifies itself as a whitener, take a good look at the fine print on the package. You’ll likely find that it only claims to “whiten teeth by removing surface stains”. This means that it’s only wiping away potential stains on your teeth that have not yet settled. This is decent as a preventative measure, but it does nothing for the stains that you already have. To remove real stains, you need whitening agents that are too strong to come in toothpaste form; any bleach in a toothpaste gets rinsed away too quickly to have any real effect, and only serves to make your paste more abrasive on your gum tissues.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Do the right thing for your teeth, and restore their whiteness with Bellevue Overlake Dental.