“You don't have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep.”
The minimum equipment for the dental hygiene is a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss (tape).
A toothbrush should be as soft as possible, not to cause harm, and I certainly recommend the use of an electric one. It should be a small rotating brush, to a certain extent fitting "around" the contours of each tooth. It can reach areas a manual toothbrush would never get close to.
Toothpaste is a complicated matter, because commercial toothpaste contains so many chemicals, some of them certainly harmful. Some people prefer to use salted water, sodium bicarbonate, or herbs (e.g. rosemary), or something else. Whatever you choose, you should take care to get two substances: fluoride and xylitol. Either in the toothpaste, or in some other way.
Dental floss is necessary to remove plaque between the teeth. A toothbrush, however it is constructed, can never reach in there.
Plaque, which is bacterial growth, becomes almost as hard as stone after as little as 20 hours, and in that state it can only be removed by a dentist. So regular cleansing is really important. Missing a day makes a difference!
Acid erodes teeth. This has been described as a growing problem, and a disadvantage of high fruit consumption. But is it really that dangerous?
It is true that acid erodes minerals, and teeth are no exception. Each time you expose them to something acidic, a very thin layer of the surface dissolves. If you have your saliva in good order, its bio-chemical activity quickly restores the surface, as long as the acidic exposure is within reasonable limits. Fruit, coffee, wine... none of these is any problem unless combined with other destructive factors. Your own behaviour affects that.
Don't eat or drink all the time! The saliva needs time and peace to carry out its task. Each time you put something into your mouth, you interrupt it. If you cause new damage faster than the saliva can repair it, you get a gradual erosion which will just grow worse.
If you drink something very acidic, like ascorbic acid, apple cider vinegar, aspirin, or some acidic medicine - use a straw and minimise the contact between acid and enamel.
Finishing a meal with something very alkaline restores the pH in the mouth and shortens the time your teeth are exposed to acid. A small piece of cheese is the ideal choice.
In my opinion mechanical erosion is a much worse problem, alone or in combination with acid. An enamel damaged by tooth brushing is very common. If you brush too much, too hard, in the wrong way, or your toothbrush is too hard, you will erode the enamel. Some toothpastes contain substances which make this even worse.
Flour or meal from stone-ground grain - or any product made from it - always contains a certain amount of stone meal (from the millstone), which grinds the teeth when you chew. If this is repeated day after day, year after year, the erosion will be considerable.
“For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.”
(Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing)
Regularly getting the teeth checked by a competent dentist is a good idea. He can discover problems while they are still small.
Caries which has penetrated the enamel will not self-heal, but needs a dentist to cleanse it and fill the cavity. While caries which has not penetrated the enamel should not be artificially dealt with (it can self-heal), a dentist can still find penetration long before you notice it yourself, and take care of it before it seriously harms the interior of your tooth.
He can also find tendencies to paradentosis etc. before it is too late to do something about it.
A dentist who examines your teeth without the use of x-ray is not doing a good job. About 70% of all caries remain undiscovered without it; and trying to examine a root without it is even harder.
The latest development has produced three dimensional x-ray, with less radiation than the conventional one, and with much superior precision. It is especially useful for root inspection.
Teeth with root fillings are dead. That means they get no nutrition, no regeneration, no defence. Such teeth often house bacteria and inflammatory processes, small and almost impossible to notice. They can spread in the body and cause many different conditions - from general fatigue to rheumatic or neuralgic symptoms, or even heart failure and cancer. A dead tooth is a constant threat to your health!
Materials for fillings vary around the world, but a general tendency is to replace metallic amalgam with composite fillings. The composite material might leak some toxic substances, but to a less extent than the metallic amalgam.
A light-activated resin is a synthetic resin which remains a thick liquid until it is exposed to light of a certain wavelength, after which it becomes solid and dense. It is adhesive.
Different resins have a number of uses, but the area where they have been of special importance, and where they have been used for over 20 years, is dentistry. Resins more and more replace amalgam fillings and are, in many aspects, superior to amalgam. They can be moulded more easily; they adhere well; their durability is at least in parity with amalgam, if not better (although that is a matter of dispute, and might depend on the position and size of the filling); and there is less toxic leaking, if they are applied correctly (step by step in thin layers). Then, of course, they are aesthetically appealing. A well made reparation with resin is almost invisible.
In dentistry, resin is usually called composite material or a composite filling, and the light used to harden the material is blue light.
Is there any risk with this blue light? For you, as a patient, no. Exposure is minor and only for a very short time. Also, the benefits of using the resin, compared to amalgam, are so overwhelming. For the dentist working with this, however, I would not rule out a certain risk. It all depends on how it is handled. But for patients and dentists alike: avoid looking at the light. Blue light is very harmful to the eyes.
The great advantage of a composite filling for you as a patient, apart from the aesthetic perspective, is that you avoid the heavy-metal exposure that is provided by amalgam. The mercury of amalgam is a highly underrated health risk, and I'm sure it is a contributing cause of many health problems.
Amalgam (which is an alloy of mercury with various other metals) is also behind the problem of so-called oral galvanism. Two metals in contact with saliva generate a small electric current. This current disturbs the body's micro-electric system and can cause a number of ailments, some of them very serious. Some people get noticeable symptoms, others do not. It all depends on various individual factors. Symptoms or not, there is no reason to believe anyone is unaffected. It might distort body functions down to the cellular level.
Composite material gives no such electric disturbance.
Amalgam contains mercury, a very toxic substance which can cause serious disease. Today it is quite acceptable to remove fillings made of amalgam/mercury and replace them with composite fillings. However it is not recommended to remove many amalgam fillings at once. When a filling is drilled out, a lot of mercury is released and assimilated by the body. If several are removed at the same time, you can get acute mercury poisoning. Therefore it is safer to take only one filling at a time, and then give the body time to cleanse out the extra mercury it has assimilated before taking the next.
Selenium protects the cells from mercury and helps the body to cleanse it out by excretion. So, in order to facilitate this process, an extra intake of 200-300mcg Selenium per day is recommended, during one month before the removal of a
filling and one month after. The time before is for building up the Selenium level in the blood, and the time after is to provide the amount needed for total cleansing.
The recommended dosage should not be exceeded. Selenium in too high doses is toxic in itself.
An implant is made to replace a tooth and its root.
During the 1950s, the Swede Per-Ingvar Brånemark discovered that titanium can be put into bone, and the bone is growing so tight to the metal that it adheres. This has great consequences for bone surgery in general and dental implants in particular. A titanium screw can be made to grow firmly into the jawbone, and when that has happened, a permanent dental crown is put in place. We will not discuss the technicalities of that here, the point is that such an implant can be very stable, and - as is assumed - permanent.
Dental implantation surgery is developing very fast, and there is much money to earn for unscrupulous people. New methods, some of dubious quality, are frequently turning up, and the big money in this business tempts operators of questionable skill to grab for their piece of the cake.
If you are a candidate for dental implantation, think carefully first, and be sure to choose a good reputable clinic. It might not be the cheapest one at that moment, but it may pay in the long run. Work done badly might leave you with endless problems and generate huge costs.
The success rate of implantation varies very much. In general, long-term success is quite unknown. Statistics usually covers only 5 years.
Needless to say, an implanted tooth is a dead tooth. So never expect it to be like the real thing!
Read the whole series:
1. Dentistry - A Modern Luxury? Why Do We Need It?
2. Preserve Your Teeth: Nutrients & Other Beneficial Substances
3. Take Care of Your Teeth: Hygiene, Prevention & Reparation of Damage
4. Animal Teeth, Sabre-Toothed Tigers & Dragon's Teeth
5. Supplement to Teeth: Etymology & Glossary
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