One of the most recent oral health news stories involves an enterprising college student named Amos Dudley. This 23-year-old, who attends the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wanted straight teeth. Instead of going to a dentist or an orthodontist, he created his own 3D sets of plastic braces, treated himself, and documented the journey on his blog. To Dudley’s delight, the entire endeavor cost $60 and helped him “stick it to the dental appliance industry” by shunning what he considers the pricey methods of straightening a smile. But just because one clever college kid was seemingly successful – time will tell whether the long-term effects of how he moved his teeth will have caused irreparable harm – that doesn’t mean everyone else who attempts DIY oral health will be so lucky.
Stay away from the do-it-yourself Invisalign trend, and think carefully before buying into any experimental techniques, products, or myths. Here are some oral health truths and falsehoods that have been circulating lately:
Milk Your Tea
The University of Alberta’s School of Dentistry announced that adding milk to tea reduces tea’s ability to stain teeth. The protein casein – found in milk – binds to the tannins which cause tea to stain. This combo supposedly protects your enamel from stains. However, developing a tea habit is just as bad, if not worse, than relying on a coffee or cola habit. All that drinking exposes your teeth and gums to a constant, unhealthy sugar and acid bath. Go ahead and add a little milk to your cuppa, just watch the amount of tea you consume overall, for the sake of your oral health.
Blast the Microbeads
Exfoliating mini beads are found in face scrubs and body wash and hand sanitizer, and the presence of these little beads can make you feel like you’re really blasting away dirt and grime. Now, some toothpastes are boasting these microbeads in their formulas too, a fact that got national attention when a Texas dental hygienist blogged about the little blue particles she kept seeing in her patients’ mouths. But microbeads are made of polyethylene, a non-biodegradable plastic – yes, plastic. There is a possibility that the beads can get trapped in a user’s gums and between teeth, creating a risk of developing gingivitis and, eventually, full-blown periodontal disease.
Floss Yourself Thin
Flossing your teeth daily is an incredibly important act for maintaining oral health, but for some reason nearly half of all Americans can’t take 30 seconds a day and clean between their teeth. Perhaps flossing would be a more attractive option if there was a promise of weight loss at the other end of it. When you don’t floss, your teeth and gums are susceptible to bacteria, and that can cause a person to develop gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Animal studies have discovered that, when your body is in a state of inflammation, there is a link between inflammation and weight gain. Inflammation also causes stress in the body which can affect metabolism, inflame fat cells causing them to poorly control insulin, and this can cause hypertension, high cholesterol, and even diabetes. In other words – if you have gum disease, you’re more likely to carry a few extra pounds. Treat the periodontitis and you may just lose weight. Oh, and don’t forget to floss.
There will always be quick fixes for oral health complaints, particularly tooth stains. (Charcoal is the hot topic now and rumored to whiten your teeth – we don’t recommend it.) But the safest way to get a healthy and gorgeous smile is to see your holistic dentist. She will be able to tell you what will do your body good, from your mouth to your toes. A holistic dentist is interested in your entire well-being – she wants to find the source of your complaint, not just cover up what’s wrong. Make an appointment with holistic dentist Dr. Yolanda Cintron at the International Center for Dental Excellence in Fort Lauderdale to discuss your concerns, doubts, and DIY questions about oral health trends.