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Choosing and Caring for your Toothbrush
By Sherman
October 23, 2013

Your toothbrush is the most important item in  your oral health toolkit. But with such a wide variety of toothbrushes available, how do you choose the brush that's best for you? And once you've made your selection, how do you care for and clean your toothbrush? Learn how to improve your oral health care habits by properly selectting and caring for your toothbrush.

What should I look for when choosing a toothbrush?

The best toothbrushes have a long, wide handle that facilitates a firm grip. the toothbrush head should be small enough to reach all areas of the mouth, with soft nylon bristles that won't  hurt the gums.

Should I use an electric toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes, which use an oscillating or rotary motion to clean the teeth, are beneficial because they can cover a larger area of the mouth faster and more effectively than a manual toothbrush. They're especially well-suited for those with braces, those who need extra motivation to brush, and those who have difficulty operating a manual toothbrush due to age, disability, or other factors.

If you use an electric toothbrush, avoid pressing down too hard; instead, use light force and slow movements, letting the brush do the work for you. Those using an electric toothbrush for the first time may experience slight bleeding from the gums, which will subside over time. Children age 10 and younger should be supervised while using an electric toothbush.

Dr. Zieve's recomendation for the most efficient electric toothbrush with a Life Time Guarantee is the RotaDent Plus.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

Old toothbrushes with worn and frayed bristles will not clean your teeth effectively, and they also may harbor harmful bacteria. You should change your toothbrush--or brush head, in the case of an electric toothbrush--every three to four months. However, if you get sick with a cold or the flu, you will need to change your toothbrush as soon as the illness begins and again once the illness has subsided. This will help to get rid of any germs and bacteria on your toothbrush.

How can I keep my toothbrush clean?

Wash your hands both before and after brushing to avoid transferring bacteria and food particles to your toothbrush. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly to remove excess toothpaste and other debris, and soak the brush in antiseptic mouthrinse to eliminate any lingering bacteria. Remember: Never share toolthbrushes, as this habit can lead to the transmission of colds and /or bacteria.

How should I store my toothbrush?

Store your toothbrush upright and let it air dry before using it again. Microoganisms are more likely to grow in a moist environment, so don't cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. Because bacteria can travel easily from brush to brush, don't store your toothbrush in the same container as someone else's. Finally, keep your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible to avoid contamination from the airborne bacteria that are released with each flush.

No matter which kind of toothbrush you have, make sure to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health.

(AGD, September 2013)

Spin Brush Warning
By Sherman
May 16, 2013

FDA Warns Spinbrushes Can Be Choking Hazard

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to parents, caregivers, consumers and dental care professionals about reports of serious injuries and potential hazards associated with the use of all models of the Spinbrush--specifically the Arm & Hammer or Crest Spinbrush.

While turned on, the brush head has come off in the user's mouth or near the face, causing cuts to the mouth and gums, chipped or broken teeth, swallowing and choking on the broken pieces, or injuries to the face and eyes, according to the FDA's warning. (Update vol. 24, Issue 4, April 2012, pg. 18)

Dr. Zieve highly recomends the RotaDent Plus tooth brush.

Recent News on Dental X-rays & Brain Tumor Risk
By Sherman
May 16, 2013

Dental X-rays and brain tumor risk(Ada.org)

A recent study published in Cancer, a scientific journal of the American Cancer Society, associates yearly or more frequent dental X-rays with an increased risk of developing meningioma, the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor in the United States.

The study included 1,433 patients with a diagnosis of intracranial meningioma and a control group of 1,350 individuals. Study participants self-reported having had bitewing, full-mouth, and/or panorex dental X-rays.

Results showed that over a lifetime patients with meningioma were more than twice as likely as controls to report having ever had bitewing X-rays. Individuals who reported having panorex X-rays yearly or more frequently at ages less than 10 years had a nearly 5 times greater occurrence of meningioma.

A neurosurgeon and lead author of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Claus, stated in an interview with CBS News, "This research suggests that although dental X-rays are an important tool in maintaining good oral health, efforts to moderate exposure to this form of imaging may be of benefit to some patients."

The ADA Division of Science has carefully reviewed the study and notes some weaknesses in the study design and interpretation of the results:

  1. The findings are based on patient recall of X-rays taken years ago and people's memories can be unreliable.
  2. Advances in X-ray technology—equipment improvements, faster film speeds and digital imaging—have successfully reduced radiation exposure.
  3. The study was observational, meaning it cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship between dental X-rays and meningioma.
  4. The results of the study did not appear to be dose-related as would be expected.

Considering these weaknesses and the small size of the reported effect, this study shouldn't raise significant concerns. However, it's a good reminder that dental X-rays should be taken only when the dentist expects the diagnostic yield to affect patient care.

The ADA's long-standing position is that dentists should order dental X-rays for patients after a clinical exam when necessary for diagnosis and treatment, and not for screening purposes.

Because of widespread media coverage on the study, your patients may have questions about the study and the safety of dental X-rays. Below are some potential questions and talking points.

I heard on the news that dental X-rays can cause brain tumors. Is that true?

  • There was a recent study that showed patients with a certain type of brain tumor were more likely to report they had dental X-rays in the past. But, that doesn't mean dental X-rays cause brain tumors. The reliability of the results is uncertain because they were based on people's memories—which are not always accurate—of dental X-rays taken many years ago. In some cases, the patients were asked to remember the type and frequency of X-rays taken when they were 10 or younger.
  • Some participants in the study had X-rays taken decades ago. Advancements in technology have successfully reduced radiation from dental X-rays to very low levels. In fact, they are among the lowest levels of all medical tests. This means that radiation levels were likely higher for the study participants than they are for patients today. As a point of comparison, the amount of radiation you'll get from one bitewing X-ray is the same as from one hour flying in an airplane.
  • The good thing about the study is that it raises awareness that getting X-rays should not be taken lightly and should be done only when necessary.

What precautions do dentists take to reduce the radiation risks of dental X-rays?

  • Dentists use leaded aprons to protect the body and, whenever possible, thyroid collars around the neck to protect the thyroid gland. Both of these devices limit radiation exposure.
  • New technologies, like faster speed films and digital imaging, reduce exposure to radiation.

I am worried about having dental X-rays. What are the benefits?

  • There are many oral diseases that can't be detected with just a visual or physical exam. Dental X-rays can help your dentist find cavities between your teeth or under fillings, gum and bone diseases, infection under your gums, and some types of tumors. X-rays help dentists catch and treat these hidden problems at an early stage before more extensive and expensive dental treatment is needed.
Food Protects Against Gum Disease
By Sherman
May 16, 2013

Diet High in Fish and Nuts Can Protect Against Gum Disease

High consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in nuts and fatty fish, has been shown in a study to lower the risks of gum disease and periodontitis.

Durinjg a five-year study of 184 adults, those who ate the hightest amounts of fatty acids were 30 percent less likely to develop gum disease and 20 percent less likely to develop periodontitis.

"This study show that a small and relatively easy change in peoples's diet can massively improve the condition of their overall well-being," said Nigel Carter, DDS, chief executive of the British dental Health Foundation.

"Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life," said Carter. "What people tend not to realize is that it can actually lead to tooth loss ifr left untreated, and in this day and age, most people should be able to keep all their teeth for life."