Going to the dentist can be a dreadful experience; the probing, scraping and drilling can send chills down your spine just at the thought of sitting in that chair.
You may also experience some anxiety when your dentist asks how often you floss and brush, since you may not be as consistent as you'd like. Don't even bother trying to lie; the dentist can always tell.
You may already know that you need to be brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash on a daily basis, but do you really understand why?
When you don't take care of your mouth, you're more prone to experience infection and disease, which could cause larger problems down the road.
Having good oral health goes far beyond white teeth, a pretty smile, and tolerable breath. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to diabetes, stoke, and heart disease.
You may also think by just brushing, or using mouthwash as a substitute, it will help keep your mouth in good shape. Unfortunately, that's far from the truth.
In order to keep your mouth (and the rest of your body) healthy, you must use a combination of brushing, flossing and rinsing.
Mary Ziomek, DDS, shares why brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash is so important to your overall health.
RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: April 9, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD
Dr. Pam Peeke founder of the Peeke Performance Center and renowned nutrition and fitness expert, and Michelle King Robson, leading women's advocate, cut through the confusion and share the naked, bottom line truth about all things woman. It's HER Radio.
PAM: Michelle, you and I both have pretty pearlies, don't we? Little pearlie teeth? Right?
MICHELLE: Uh, yes.
PAM: We spend a lot of time, right?
MICHELLE: Hold on a second. I have to go brush mine.
PAM: Excuse me while I, (gurgle noise) you know, do a little gargling here. So, I thought I had this all down to a fine science until I read that article that you and I both picked up from the Wall Street Journal.
PAM: And, it said there's a lot more to your mouthwash than a minty taste. There was another one on toothpaste and then I got all confused and that's when you and I decided we have to get our dentist on the line.
Dr. Mary Ziomek is here and she is a dentist par excellence and our "go to" tooth person with all things mouth here and is going to help us understand what the heck?
The first thing is, Dr. Ziomek, welcome to HER Radio.
DR ZIOMEK: Well, thanks for having me.
PAM: Let's go right to the toothpaste thing. So, forever, we've had these fluoride toothpastes and now there's a controversy about fluoride in there. I got so flipped out that I went over and I bought Tom's of Maine toothpaste.
MICHELLE: Oh, god. You didn't?
PAM: I totally did. And there was no fluoride and whatever. Then, I read all these scary reports. Alright. So, Dr. Ziomek, what gives with the toothpaste thing?
DR ZIOMEK: Well, it is confusing. That naturalists don't like fluoride. They really would rather not have fluoride, but the American Dental Association and almost every dentist that you talk to realizes the importance of fluoride for healthy teeth.
DR ZIOMEK: We have assaults with acidy drinks and vinegary salad dressings all day long and the acid attacks really weaken the enamel. Diet is bad. There's hidden sugar in everything we eat. So, our enamel gets weak. The fluoride gives us a lot of protection. We've been fluoride dating for probably close to 50 years and we can see the difference in the quality of the enamel in kids today as compared to the adults that grew up without the fluoride and it's a huge difference. We feel the benefit of the fluoride far outweighs the risks of any controversial warnings that you might here.
PAM: Well, what are those risks? You know, what are they?
DR ZIOMEK: Well, I've heard everything from neurological problems...About three years ago, there was a scare about adolescent boys having bone tumors and they have since dispelled that as not being true when they researched it. Other than that, I don't know of anything that can be substantiated with science. There's natural fluoride in water in different parts of the country, so people ingest it all the time. Now, with that said, you don't want to have too much fluoride because too much fluoride can damage the enamel.
DR ZIOMEK: And cause the enamel to be ugly. You don't want little kids who can't spit to be getting fluoride toothpaste because you don't want them to swallow it because that would mean too much fluoride.
MICHELLE: Going in their gut. Yes.
DR ZIOMEK: Yes. With well-controlled fluoride levels and there are safety parameters that have to be followed for fluoride dating the water and for toothpaste. But, most people, in my opinion, need fluoride and sometimes they even need a therapeutic dose of fluoride and we'll write prescription toothpaste for them.
DR ZIOMEK: People who have dry mouth have to have...
MICHELLE: Dry mouth. That's another one. A big one. From medication and other things, right?
DR ZIOMEK: Yes. Yes. People with chemotherapy who can't brush or who are handicapped and they just don't have the manual dexterity to clean, the fluoride is really a benefit for them and it would be a shame if they didn't have access to it. So, I really believe in it and so does the ADA.
MICHELLE: So, talk to us about mouthwash. There's this whole controversy there, too, and so no one knows what kind of mouthwash to use. And, is there science behind this? It's like with fluoride. There really isn't any science behind it to prove it. It' just people who are more naturalists, as you said, and it really messes with peoples' minds as it did with Pam's. She went and bought Tom's toothpaste, right?
DR ZIOMEK: Yes.
MICHELLE: So, talk to us about the mouthwash side of this.
DR ZIOMEK: Well, you know, there is a lot of confusion about mouthwash. I kind of laughed a little bit when I knew I was going to be on your show. I looked on one of the online retail websites and Googled "mouthwash" and 153 pages of mouthwash came up.
MICHELLE: Oh, yeah.
DR ZIOMEK: So, I went through 1,000 mouthwashes. Well, when I was a retail pharmacist 35 years ago, before I went to dental school, my mouthwash section in my drugstore was probably 10 items.
DR ZIOMEK: Now, it's got to be over 1,000 and, I mean, if I had to sum up the differences, what I would say is, what are you looking for? What are you trying to accomplish with your mouthwash? Some of them are therapeutic. Some of them are just cosmetic. For fresh breath and maybe some whitening in that. But, a lot of the toothpastes are therapeutic. There are mouthwashes that kill bacteria, the antimicrobials. There are mouthwashes that prevent tartar. There are mouthwashes for fluoride like we talked about. Those are really good for kids wearing braces because kids who have braces and are in orthodontics, a lot of times don't brush that well and they'll get more plaque.
DR ZIOMEK: And they'll end up with decay everywhere when the braces come off. So, we like to boost their fluoride. For people who have dry mouth, there are lubricants, artificial saliva, if you will. Some of those also are helpful for people who are on a lot of medications that give them the dry mouth.
PAM: What about one of the things that everyone is looking to do: whiten their teeth. You have all of those teeth whiteners, you know?
MICHELLE: Toothpaste, mouthwash, yes.
PAM: Exactly. So, what do you say about those? Do those really work?
DR ZIOMEK: They do.
MICHELLE: And, are they good for you?
DR ZIOMEK: We haven't found that anything is harmful if used in reason. You will get sensitivity. You definitely don't want to be using the whitening products if you haven't seen a dentist in a while or if you know that you have active decay because as the whitening products get into those area of cracked teeth or decay, then a lot of times, your tooth becomes really inflamed and then it could lead to a root canal. That's rare. That's rare.
PAM: Hmmm. But, the lesson there is important. Did you hear, everyone, out there in HER Radioland? That means that, when's the last time you had your teeth cleaned for crying out loud?
PAM: That someone could actually scope it out and, at the same time, don't be treating yourself with a bunch of whiteners, etc., etc., if you haven't seen your dentist. So, Dr. Ziomek, how often should someone have their teeth cleaned?
DR ZIOMEK: Most people need to be seen twice a year.
MICHELLE: That's me. That's me.
DR ZIOMEK: I'm going to take the opportunity to tell you that it's National Oral Awareness Month and that's one thing that we do a lot. We do it and we take it very seriously. We do oral cancer exams on our patients and if they're not going to the dentist, they may not get that any other place.
PAM: That's fantastic. I didn't even know that. Did you know that, Michelle?
MICHELLE: I did know that.
PAM: For crying out loud. Good heavens.
MICHELLE: It's more common than you think, but yet, people don't...aren't diagnosed.
PAM: Oh, this is so helpful, though. I mean, Dr. Ziomek, you have just been so amazingly helpful with all of your guidance on toothpaste and mouthwash. Thank you for being on HER Radio with Michelle and I. I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson.
MICHELLE: You're listening to HER Radio on RadioMD. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Stay well.