March 2015 Entries

Protecting Your Protection: Ways to Care for Your Tooth Enamel


Tooth enamel is your first and last line of defense against the outside world.  It is like a force field, shielding your teeth from external physical damage, protecting it from extreme changes in temperature, and combating some of the harmful effects of chemical reactions from the foods you eat.  It is considered the hardest substance in the human body.  However mighty, tooth enamel does have a major flaw; susceptibility to the damages caused by erosion.


Tooth enamel, like most hard substances, are vulnerable to the constant pressure of rubbing and pushing against each other.  For as hard as these substances are, they will break down with time.  The same can be seen in our geological history, as time and pressure cause the outer layers of rocks to erode and break down.  Unfortunately, once erosion sets in, and your tooth enamel fades away and it’s gone forever.  It is one of the few things in the body that doesn’t grow back, such as skin, and hair. 


It is paramount, then, that you protect your protection as much as possible from the harmful effects of erosion.  First, to know how to protect and prevent, we must know how erosion can take place.  First, grinding your teeth is a sure way to cause erosion.  If by habit, or if it is from overuse of eating, grinding your teeth will quickly cause your force field to vanish.  Also, eating highly acidic foods, can cause the enamel on your teeth to erode.  Foods such candy, honey and sugary foods as well as liquids such as sodas, fruit juices, and soft drinks are such examples.


In order to keep your enamel strong and healthy there are several actions to take.   For one, your water consumption is very of the utmost importance.  Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water serves two purposes: rinsing your mouth of the acidic substances and preventing buildup of food on or between the teeth.  Next step is to reduce the amount of acidic foods you ingest.  Another prevention method is to follow your recommended brushing and flossing of twice and once daily respectively.  Believe it or not, chewing gum of the sugar free sorts can also help your cause by building up saliva which acts as a coating for the enamel for food to slip off of.  Finally mouthwash that has fluoride will also help prolong the life span of your tooth enamel.


If you grind your teeth, or if you feel as though you may be chewing inappropriately it would be a good idea to try and stop on your own, although further help from your dentist may be necessary.  If your dentist determines that your tooth enamel is either gone or almost gone, your dentist may have a solution for you.  Your dentist may opt for tooth restoration in order to repair the damage to your enamel caused by erosion.  See your local dentist for further tips and recommendations on how to protect your enamel.

What To Do If You Have a Toothache


This may sound familiar.  You order your favorite lunchtime meal, sit down at your desk and bite into it.  You use your incisors (four front teeth) to rip into it and push it to the side of your mouth to start chewing when BAM, the pain hits you like a ton of bricks!  You grab the side of your mouth in pain and wonder what to do and how could this have happened.  You have a toothache, and you’re not sure what to do.

            The above example is just one of the many ways you can experience the pain and discomfort associated with a toothache.  You may also experience toothache symptoms when there are changes in temperature, such as extreme cold or heat, trauma or injury, or if you are experiencing the symptoms associated with sinusitis.   But, it is important to differentiate which of these is actually what dental professionals will diagnose as toothache.  A toothache occurs when the nerve of a tooth is irritated.  This is usually caused by diseases and infections in the mouth from gum disease, excess buildup of plaque, and erosion and decay of the teeth and gums.   If any of these causes seem to be the reason for your symptoms then here are some tips for remedying your painful situation:


1) Call your dental professional and ask for an immediate appointment.

Most dental professionals will be able to accommodate an emergency appointment if the pain from the toothache is severe.  Dental professionals will be able to diagnose the problem and formulate a strategy with you on how to tackle the pain.


2) If you can’t get to a dentist immediately and have to deal with the pain for a while you can try to rinse your mouth with salt water.  This will help alleviate some of the pain.


3) Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  This should help to reduce the pain symptoms by numbing the signals sent to the nervous system.


4) Use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce the swelling and pain.  Be sure to apply the cold from the outside of the mouth and not the inside or it may increase the pain!


Once you reach your dental professional, he or she will be able to take certain steps to diagnose your problem.  In many instances your dentist will take specialty xrays called “Panorex” which photograph x ray images of the teeth and jaw.  In addition to Panorex the dentist will take a full medical history and a physical examination of your mouth and problem area to determine what the best solution is.  In most cases, prescription medication will help reduce the inflammation of the area and thus reduce the pain.  However, in more severe cases, the dentist may opt to remove the tooth or admit to the hospital for further evaluation and remediation.


Some things to avoid if you have a toothache are obvious such as avoid chewing on that side of the mouth, avoid eating anything very hot or very cold, and try not to perform any strenuous physical activities as increased blood flow may cause more severe pain.

Natural Toothache Cures


It is the middle of the night or a national holiday and there are few chemists or dentists open and even those that are happen to be located miles away. And then it happens…dreaded toothache strikes and causing pain that you can only relate to if you have experienced it yourself.


If you are lucky enough to have some codeine or co-codamol (paracetamol and codeine) then these will be your best over the counter pain relief. If not then ibuprofen is the second best pain relief followed by paracetamol as a ‘better than nothing’ option.


However, if you are one of the increasing number of people who prefer not to take over the counter medicines or you don’t have any available when the toothache strikes here are a few suggestions of alternatives you might want to try out.


Garlic is one of those things that you either love or hate but it is great at providing pain relief for toothache and let’s face it if you have raging toothache you are going to be more concerned about pain relief than taste! You can either chew a clove of garlic directly or mix it together with a little salt if you prefer and rub it on your gums.


Try this and you will be surprised how effective it is but you may need to repeat the process over a few days for the antibiotics benefits of the garlic to take effect. If you do not have garlic in the house then try its close relative the onion as an alternative. You can either chew the raw onion or if this is painful place the raw onion or garlic onto the affected area of your mouth.


Salt water is a completely natural although not particularly tasty toothache cure that can be used safely in conjunction with some of the other suggestions given here. Simply dissolving salt into some warm water and using this as a mouth wash can help fight any infections and sterilise the affected area thoroughly. It is not advisable to put salt directly onto the affected area as it may rub against your gums and be very uncomfortable. You can use sea salt or table salt depending on your preference and / or what you have available to hand.


These simple toothache cures may not be the most appealing solutions particularly taste wise but they are considered to be effective. Most will target the underlying causes of toothache such as inflammation or infection. Of course, if these suggestions (including the over the counter solutions) do not help then you must make an appointment with your dentist to check for any problems that may require a further treatment or investigation.

Natural Toothpaste Alternatives


Many commercial toothpastes are full of chemicals and ingredients that can actually be harmful to our bodies particularly over the longer term. Yes, it is true that you can purchase ‘natural toothpaste’ but even with some of these it is worth checking out the ingredients just to make sure that the substitutes they have made are an improvement on what you are replacing.


In short, whilst it is true that there are exceptions when it comes to commercially available natural toothpastes the word ‘natural’ does not necessarily mean that it is better for you. A little like some diet foods that may be reduced in fat but contain increased salt to improve the flavour.


Luckily, there are a few truly natural alternatives to commercial toothpastes that you might want to experiment with to see if they suit you or not. Some of these may not be particularly pleasant but could be better for your overall health in the longer term. Why not at least give them a go?


Baking Soda is a great natural toothpaste with very few side effects or health implications. It is relatively cheap and easily available in your local supermarket or store. By mixing it with some natural peppermint oil and a little water until it forms a paste you have a cheap, effective and most importantly natural toothpaste. Baking soda can be found as an active ingredient in certain toothpastes and is well known for its benefits in terms of helping to whiten your teeth.


If you are feeling brave then sea salt dissolved in water is a great natural toothpaste solution. It is not particularly advisable to add peppermint oil if for no other reason than the taste combination is not great but feel free to experiment if you want to do so. Sea salt is readily available but it does take a little commitment to stick with the taste unless it is naturally to your preferences.


The most surprising natural toothpaste on our list is Coconut Oil. It has naturally occurring anti-bacterial properties and is a sweeter alternative (actually more like the polar opposite taste) of its sea salt alternative. If you are looking for the ultimate natural combination then you can do a lot worse than combining baking soda, a couple of drops of peppermint oil and some coconut oil into a paste and using that mixture for brushing your teeth on a regular basis.