The Tooth in 3 Acts

The Tooth in 3 Acts

Enjoying a long run with rave reviews is The Tooth.

Taken together, teeth constitute an engineering marvel. Individually, each tooth is an elegant design of function and beauty in three parts. Let’s look behind the scenes.

Cue the overture, bring up the curtain. Presenting: The Tooth.

Act I: Enamel

The spotlight is on the brilliant enamel!

The hardest tissue in the body is enamel. Enamel consist of parallel, near-translucent rods of calcium and other minerals. This crystalline structure can take on most foods. However, chomping on other crystals – such as ice or hard candy – can fracture the enamel. Let’s not cut the enamel from the show.

Enamel does not like acid. Acids eat away at the enamel structure. Acidic foods, such as lemons, over time can damage enamel. Moderate your intake of acids.

The acid most likely to beat up enamel is from bacterial plaque. The bacteria take up the sugar in your diet, break the sugars apart for the energy, and spit out the waste, which is acid. This is where cavities come from: Germ poop.

Toothbrushing mechanically takes off the bacteria and their acids. Saliva buffers the acids and has antibodies that attack the bacteria. Fluoride binds the minerals in the enamel, thus making the structure more resistant to bacterial onslaught.

But the defense you have most control over is your diet. The American diet is terribly high in sugars. Watch what you eat and drink. Read labels. Pare down sugars. It won’t kill you to skip the colas and candy. Eat some veggies and proteins.

Your enamel will applaud you.

Act II: Dentin

The plot takes a twist at the dentin.

Beneath the enamel is another hard tissue called dentin. Dentin is not as hard as enamel and contains more organic material than enamel. Due to these two facts, dentin is more susceptible to decay. A cavity slowly eats away the enamel, but once in the dentin, the cavity balloons out and feasts on your tooth. Poor dentin. See the above advice on brushing, using fluoride, and avoiding sugar.

Exposed dentin can be frightfully sensitive, especially at the root. Let us know if you’re having sensitivity issues. We, the backstage crew, can help.

A short intermission, then the finale.

Act III: Pulp

Enter the dark, mysterious setting of the pulp.

The most interior layer of the tooth is the pulp. Pulp is soft tissue, where the supporting cells of the tooth reside. The pulp is lodged in the hard casing of the dentin, so if the pulp is damaged due to decay or trauma, it’s trapped and dies. This would lead to extraction or root canal treatment.

How can you avoid these villians? For one, wear a mouthguard during contact sports.

Oh, and another, stay away from that dratted sugar! Brush and floss. These things help all three parts of your tooth.

One last encore: To head off potential problems, get your regular dental check-ups.

We’re here to help you keep the amazing performance of your teeth.

Steps to Fresh Breath

Steps to Fresh Breath

Experiencing problems with bad breath?  Follow these steps to get that ‘Ahh fresh’ feeling!

1.  Brush & Floss
The first step to eliminating bad breath is to get your mouth clean and germ free. This is easily accomplished by brushing your teeth morning and night and flossing daily. Brushing and flossing physically remove the plaque that causes bad breath. All that plaque is good for is eating away at your teeth and upsetting your gums. When brushing, remember to use a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). If your toothpaste is ADA approved, it will have a seal on the tube like the one pictured to the right.

2.  Use the Proper Mouth Rinse
Don’t use just any rinse! Pick up an antiseptic mouth rinse that actually kills bacteria. Rinse after brushing and flossing by swishing the product around your teeth and giving it a little gargle. This allows the rinse to target whatever you’ve missed instead of being overwhelmed with layers of germs. We recommend using a product like Listerine or an equivalent.

3.  Get a Dental Check-Up
Yeah dude, a check-up. A check-up will determine if decay or gum disease is contributing to your breath problem and will allow your dentist to recommend treatment options.

4.  Brush Your Tongue
Brushing your tongue can sometimes help bad breath, especially if you’ve been sick. You don’t need toothpaste for the tongue, simply a brush.

5.  Drink Water
Water hydrates and cleanses the mouth. A dry mouth harbors bacteria easier. You should especially drink water if you’ve been talking for an extended period of time. When I say ‘water,’ I mean water. Beverages like soda, juice, or coffee will not have the same effect.

6.  Eat Breakfast
Breakfast settles the stomach and gets those salivary glands working. After breakfast, be sure to brush and rinse.

7.  Eat Yogurt
Yogurt that contains live, active cultures replenishes the gut with helpful bacteria. This, in turn, freshens the breath. After having a round of antibiotics, it is good to bring balance back to the force – the force of good bacteria that is.

8.  Treat Sinus & Stomach Issues
Sinus drainage or stomach problems can lead to bad breath. See your physician to treat the source if you have trouble in either of these areas.

9.  Avoid Tobacco & Alcohol
Frankly, neither tobacco nor alcohol is healthy for your body or your mind and both can wreak havoc on your breath. Find something else to do.

What’s the Big Deal about Fluoride?

What’s the Big Deal about Fluoride?

Okay, here’s a dental statement to hang your hat on:

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that when used correctly is both safe and effective in preventing tooth decay.


Yes, fluoride is safe when used correctly.

So is water.  But too much water is called drowning.

Too much fluoride can make you sick.  This is based on your weight and concentration of fluoride.  But it has to be an awful lot of fluoride before this happens.  This is why we don’t want toddlers swallowing their toothpaste or eating it directly from the tube.

So much for the short term.  What about the long term?

Let me say it again:  Fluoride is safe.  It does not cause a list of diseases or even an item of disease.

It help prevents disease, and the disease it prevents is dental decay, the most prevalent disease among mankind.


Does fluoride really work to prevent decay?


For children, the optimal amount of fluoride – whether in fluoridated water or from a prescribed fluoride vitamin – can greatly lower the risk of tooth decay.  Fluoride-developed teeth are strong and hard.  Ask me your child’s optimum dose.

For teens and adults, a fluoridated toothpaste used regularly can beef up the tooth’s defenses against decay-causing germs.  For those people particularly susceptible to decay, we have a special prescription toothpaste that really helps.

How do I know these things?

One:  Scientific studies.

Two:  More than 25 years of dental experience.

Believe me:  Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that when used correctly is both safe and effective in preventing tooth decay.

Do You Use a Power Toothbrush Different Than a Regular Toothbrush?

Do You Use a Power Toothbrush Different Than a Regular Toothbrush?

The short answer:  Yes.

With an power toothbrush, you only have to move it slowly around all your teeth and let it do the work.  You do not need a lot of pressure.  In fact, many electric toothbrushes have warnings if you are too aggressive.  This is particularly helpful if you have a tendency to saw on your teeth.

That’s about it.  Still, brush for two minutes.  And floss.  Yeah, I know.  But manual or power toothbrushes can’t reach between teeth.

Power Toothbrush

Power Toothbrush photo credit: pau.artigas via photopin cc

How to Brush Your Teeth in 6 Steps

How to Brush Your Teeth in 6 Steps

1.  Correct Brush

Yes Freddie, there is a right sort of brush and a wrong sort of brush.  You should have, whether you want it or not, a soft bristle brush.  We’re not going to fall for the excuse, “But it just doesn’t feel clean unless I have a steel wire brush.”  We’re taking off sticky, soft plaque, but we would like to leave the gums and enamel undamaged.


It Is Your Destiny photo credit: _Teb via photopin cc

Change your brush about every three months, more often if it’s showing signs of wear.  If by three months all the bristles are flayed out like a bad hair day, then you’re using too much force when you brush your teeth.  This isn’t isometric exercise.  You can flex those muscles to show off later in the day.

After you’ve been sick, go ahead and change your brush.  If the dog has licked it or the kids have used it to poke around in the flower bed or you’ve dropped it in the toilet, then I’d go ahead and change it immediately.

Do not be deceived, a bad brush corrupts good teeth.

2.  Toothpaste

Okay, now don’t put so much toothpaste on your brush that you’re going to look rabid.  You need about the size of a pea.  For children under six, about a split pea.  I know, the toothpaste commercials show a pretty glob that ends in a curl.  Well, they’re selling toothpaste.  Even the instructions on the tube will tell you about the size of a pea.

Use a fluoridated toothpaste that has been approved by the American Dental Association.  These toothpastes have been proven to be effective in helping prevent tooth decay.  You can get the toothpastes with all the bells and whistles if you want – ones that decrease tartar formation, help with sensitivity, bleach, taste like pumpkin pie, cause members of the opposite gender to swoon, or allow you to sing in perfect pitch – but a good, standard toothpaste is just as good.


Table Top photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

3.  Table Tops

Scrub on the biting surfaces of the teeth, that is, the table tops of the teeth where the grooves are.  You want to get down into those grooves so that means taking your time, not bearing down like your scrubbing a tub.  Easy does it.

4.  Sides of Teeth

First, it’s a brush not a saw.  So don’t scrub on the sides of the teeth.  There are gums down there and they are finicky.  Aim the bristles toward the gums at a 45° angle and rotate slowly.  I said, s-l-o-w-l-y!  Pick up the toothbrush and move on.  Scrubbing at the gums can abrade both teeth and gums.

For brushing the cheek surfaces of the upper molars, bite down just a bit to relax your cheek.  This will allow your toothbrush to get back to those second molars and clean without having to fight a tight cheek.

For the tongue surfaces of the lower molars, do the opposite, that is, open wide so your tongue will have enough room to move out of the way while your aiming the toothbrush bristles down under those molars.


Egg Timer photo credit: comedy_nose via photopin cc

5.  Two Minutes

Yeah, two minutes.  Take your time.  We have two minute timers we can give you to help you brush long enough that everything gets clean.  You can brush your tongue if you want to, but don’t gag yourself.  We like to floss first then brush as the floss loosens the in-between plaque so the toothbrush can carry it off.

6.  Spit and Smile

Now doesn’t that feel and look good?  Yowsa!

For a helpful video, link to the following site:  How to Brush

How to Floss in 4 Easy Steps

How to Floss in 4 Easy Steps


Not That Kind of Wrap photo credit: allerleirau via photopin cc

1. Wrap

You can do it!  Take about 12 to 18 inches of floss.  Wrap the floss around the middle fingers of each hand, though more floss on one hand than the other, leaving about 3 inches between hands.  Use your index fingers and thumbs to pinch about an inch of taut floss.  As the floss becomes soiled take it up on the hand that started with less floss and give your teeth the clean floss.

2. Guide

Time to get to the mouth.  Work the floss gently between two teeth.  Watch it!  Don’t pop the floss; this will hurt your gums.  You know floss can cut cake, so misused, it can cut you.  It’s a wonder they let it on airplanes

3. Clean

Now stay with me here.  Once between the teeth, wrap the floss against one tooth in a ‘c’ shape and move the floss up and down in gentle strokes.  Gentle now!  Come back over the gums but not out from between the teeth and wrap around the other tooth.  Don’t shoe-shine the teeth with back and forth motions.  Use up and down strokes only.  Once finished with those two teeth, take a breath and proceed until all the teeth are flossed.

It doesn’t take that long, so don’t gripe.  Remember to floss the back of the last tooth; even though it’s the last tooth, the brush can’t turn the corner, so floss is needed.  Use your fingers to get to all areas and keep the floss tight.  Don’t try to stick your hand in your mouth.  And don’t cross your hands.

It all sounds much more complicated than it is.  Hurray!  You did it!


Not That Kind of Floss photo credit: meg’s my name via photopin cc

4. Habit

It takes about a week to get the hang of it, after which your gums should not bleed unless you’re being too aggressive.  Start by flossing only on the days you go to work or school.  Then of course you’ll want to floss for Jesus on Sundays.  If you get six days a week under your belt, we’ll give you the other day as your Sabbath rest from floss.

Bad habits are easy to start, but good habits take a bit of work.  It’s hard to cut out a bad habit, but a good habit is mostly easy to drop.  That said, once you’re use to flossing, you won’t want to go back to furry teeth.

Now for a whole new take on floss check out this blog on my author website:  Do Fantasy Characters Need to Floss?