Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some dental facts to chew on

She sheds, she smiles, she multi-tasks.

Our writing projects are at full speed this summer. I often go to bed while Ernst is still up writing, his diligence is inspiring. Yawn. Stretch. Snooze. Poor guy, he types while I snooze and the dog slumbers. He types so fast and furiously, the sound of his fingers hitting the keyboard is hypnotic, relaxing, sleep-inducing...

I've been putting in my two cents to every dollar of his writing, and together we have been keeping up. I almost curled into a ball on the floor when he needed some help writing for a carpet website. What do I know about rugs, especially tapestries? All I know is that ours get covered in dog fur if I don't vacuum them everyday. They are currently covered with dog fur, but it's still before noon, so the day is not a complete wash. Speaking of wash, that's piling up like shag carpet, but I had to spend the morning pulling out my teeth writing about dental issues. The more I learn the more I think teeth are about the most amazing things we have. In very non-technical terms, here are some neat things I've discovered:

  • Good dental care starts before a baby's teeth come in. Making a routine of rubbing a baby's gums with a soft cloth each morning and evening starts things off right. When the baby's cute little perfect teeth come in, continuing this practice wipes off the film of bacteria and yuck that collects. (I can't use the word yuck on a dental website, but it fits here.) Even if mom or dad or caregiver use the hem of the baby's shirt once a day to clean the baby's teeth, this helps keep them healthy. Brushing can come later and flossing isn't necessary until the baby's teeth come together and the spaces go away. 
  • Breastfeeding increases jaw size. (In the baby, not the mom.) Also letting a baby munch on hard stuff like corn cobs and whole pieces of fruit, while supervised, puts good pressure on the jaw and makes it grow bigger. This may leave more room for the molars as they come in and eventually enough room for the wisdom teeth. Isn't that cool? Avoiding braces with hard and chewy foods - maybe an apple a day keeps the orthodontist away, not just the doctor!
  • A variety is best when it comes to home dental care. While a good routine is essential, mix up the products and supplies. Try some of the less waxy dental floss, they grab more yuck when they have less wax. Use a water pic type appliance, a battery operated toothbrush, different kinds of mouthwash, tongue scrapers, inter-dental picks - they are all good and keep your gums happy. Happy gums are better than happy cows.
  • If at all possible, don't get teeth pulled. Keep your root even if it's expensive to do so. Your jawbone wants stuff to hang on to, and when you lose your root your jawbone gets all miffed and pulls away. That leads to bone loss and that caved in look. Implants (not that kind) are the next best option because they give your jaw something to aspire to grow back. Isn't that amazing, your jaw bone can grow back?
  • Another amazing thing I've learned is that around each root of our teeth there is a ligament that senses pressure. This allows us the sensitivity to chomp down hard without damaging our teeth. If we lose a tooth along with the root, we lose the ligament. That's why it's easier with a bridge or dentures to lose the ability to know how hard to chomp. Isn't that incredible? 
  • One of the best things we can do for our teeth is swishing with water. Simple and cheap, it can be done anywhere. After eating, after a citrusy drink, after eating sour candies (bad bad bad) the simple habit of swirling water around our mouth does wonders. Carrying a toothbrush and paste is even better, and chewing sugar-free gum is great too, but just plain water is doable just about anywhere. Simply amazing.
With all we've learned about taking care of teeth, we've been lax about taking care of our dog's teeth. She's not the most cooperative when we pull out her doggy toothbrush and meat flavored toothpaste. But we've just discovered a new way to get this important job done. Take a ball. Go out to the pool. Put the ball on our lap. The dog is putty in our hands and willing to get her teeth brushed. That and corn cobs. I doubt we can teach her to swish with water. Or vacuum. That would be biting off more than we can chew.