MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Natural oral health remedies are on the rise, even though there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness or safety. The trends that we are currently aware of include oil pulling and brushing with a charcoal derived mixture. Neither practice should be used to supplement oral hygiene practice and certainly should not replace proper oral home care.
Oil pulling is a folk remedy that has been practiced for centuries in India and southern Asia. Edible oils are used to swish and “pull” through teeth from 1-5 minutes up to 20 minutes or more. In the media, one can find people publicizing the benefits of enhanced oral health, teeth whitening and improved overall health and well-being. None of these claims are supported by peer-reviewed scientific studies. Reported negative side effects include lung problems, infection, diarrhea and upset stomach.
Charcoal Teeth Whitening
Charcoal brushing is a trend in which activated charcoal is used to brush teeth for 3-5 minutes. Among users there are different ways of using the charcoal. People on social media are posting before and after pictures, claiming that it is whitening their teeth and absorbing bacteria, toxins and stain. Indeed, in some cases of drug overdose or poisoning, activated charcoal may be used by medical professionals in proper settings. However, regarding teeth whitening, this practice can lead to enamel deterioration and tooth erosion with devastating long-term effects. Loss of enamel (outer part of teeth) is irreversible.
Teeth whitening is any process that makes teeth appear whiter, whether it is with the aid of bleaching or non-bleaching products. Bleaching products contain peroxide that helps remove intrinsic (deep) and extrinsic (surface) stains, while non-bleaching products present in whitening toothpastes only remove surface stains. If you are interested in whitening your teeth, different treatment options are available: over-the-counter (OTC) products, custom bleaching trays or in-office treatment. For the latter two options, you may seek care with a local dentist, as the Moody Dental Clinic does not currently provide this elective service. OTC products with peroxide may take longer than in-office treatment to achieve desired effect, but studies have shown they are as effective or better with long-term results. OTC products with the ADA seal are safe. If your teeth become sensitive, stop using the product and use a toothpaste specific for sensitive teeth. If problems persist after 1 month, call our clinic for an evaluation.
Here are a few tips on keeping your teeth and gingiva (gums) healthy:
Brush twice daily for two minutes with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Spit out all excess (Never swallow any toothpaste!) and don’t rinse away the little residue – this maximizes the benefits of the toothpaste’s active ingredients.
Floss once daily. It’s best to do it before brushing so you don’t forget to do it.
It’s best to rinse before brushing. There are different rinses for different dental needs.
Never skip brushing before bedtime, always go to bed with clean teeth. If you wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, drink only water.
Brushing immediately after eating or drinking can be harmful to your teeth. Wait 30 minutes to allow your mouth time to neutralize the acids from the food and drink. If time is an issue, you could swish with water or mouthwash. Xylitol chewing gum is also a great option.
Traditional floss, with proper technique, gets the job done best. If you are using other products to clean in between your teeth, be sure to use them properly to prevent damage to your gingiva.
Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper or simply brush it with your toothbrush, as this could be a culprit for bad breath.
Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed, which is an indicator that you are brushing too hard.
Replace your brush every time you have a cold, flu, mouth infection or sore throat to help prevent reinfection.
Have a sweet tooth? Enjoy sweet, acidic or carbonated drinks? Try to limit how frequently you expose your teeth by consuming such foods and drinks during mealtime. Do not sip on a sugary and/or acidic beverage for long periods, drink it and be done. This will help lower your risk for cavities.
If some of these tips leave you scratching your head, please talk to a dental provider. We love what we do and we are here to help you!
For more information, please contact the 23d Medical Group at 229-257-2778.