Biofilm: Understanding the Friend and Foe in Your Mouth

Living in your mouth is a complex community of microscopic beings known as the oral microbiome. While some of these bacteria are allies, others can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. The key to a healthy smile lies in understanding this balance, with biofilm playing a starring role.

Biofilm: The Good, the Bad, and the Brush-worthy

Biofilm is essentially a sticky film of bacteria that coats your teeth and tongue. It’s not inherently bad – in fact, some types contribute to healthy digestion and immunity. However, when not managed properly, plaque, a specific type of biofilm, can harbor harmful bacteria that contribute to:

  • Gum disease: Inflammation and bleeding gums
  • Tooth decay: Erosion of tooth enamel, leading to cavities
  • Post-surgical infections: Increased risk after oral surgeries

Maintaining the Microbiome Balance:

Here’s how you can tip the scales in favor of a healthy oral microbiome:

  • Twice-daily brushing and regular flossing: These mechanical methods disrupt biofilm formation and remove existing plaque.
  • Antibacterial mouthwash: A powerful tool to target hard-to-reach areas and reduce harmful bacteria.
  • Diet savvy: Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks that fuel harmful bacteria. Opt for water and healthy snacks!

Beyond Brushing: Habits That Impact Your Biofilm:

Certain habits can create an environment for harmful bacteria to thrive:

  • Smoking and nicotine use: Dry mouth reduces saliva’s cleansing power while smoking films trap bacteria.
  • Chewing tobacco: Fuels specific bacteria types potentially detrimental to oral health.

Castle Family Dentistry: Your Partner in Oral Health

Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are vital for maintaining a healthy biofilm balance. At Castle Family Dentistry in Washington, NJ, we’re dedicated to helping you understand your oral microbiome and providing personalized guidance for a radiant smile.

Schedule an appointment today at 908-689-0911 and let our caring team help you achieve optimal oral health!

Is Water Flossing Better Than String Flossing?

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Water flossers or water picks, technically an oral irrigator, if you’re asking, are increasingly popular, but are they effective? Only 32% of adults floss daily, so there is absolutely a need for an easier way to clean between teeth. Going without daily flossing, or some form of interdental cleaning, leaves all of those people, most of us, at serious risk of gum disease. So lets find out if water picks live up to the hype.

Are Water Flossers Better Than String Floss?

Water flossers seem to be very effective according to current research. A 2013 study on the effectiveness of water flosserscompared to string floss found that water flossers were “significantly” more effective than string floss. Specifically, they found that after a single use water flossers were 29% more effective at removing plaque. They were particularly better at removing plaque and accumulations from between teeth, and that’s most of why we floss isn’t it?

Something that may be worth considering is that one of the authors of the 2013 study, Deborah Lyle, was employed by the Waterpik corporation from May 2004 until January 2022 as their Director of Clinical Research. Waterpik’s page for clinical research about water flossers lists many studies that include Deborah Lyle as a contributor.

However, other researchers were involved, and other studies exist that point to the effectiveness of water flossers. A 2021 study on the effectiveness of water flossers compared to string floss is an example, though they did not have such strong conclusions as the 2013 Deborah Lyle study did. They found instead that water flossers were just as effective as string floss, not more so. That is why they recommended water flossers to those with braces, retainers or who have fine motor skill issues.

So, water flossers do seem to work and could potentially replace string floss or floss picks in your oral health routine. But are they superior to string floss? They might be, but considering, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to knock yourself if you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon just yet.

Are There Any Downsides to Water Flossers?

While great at cleaning your teeth, there are a few things to consider before you run out and get one. Water flossers can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, according to a 2021 study. Put simply, because water flosser heads touch your mouth and stay wet, oral bacteria can grow on it. Even in spite of following provided cleaning recommendations. That’s not all, this study limited itself to studying only the nozzle, not the hose or water reservoir itself. So while trying to clean your mouth there is the possibility that you could be spraying your teeth with bacteria.

It’s no secret that tooth brushes can be a source of illness and can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. However, proper storage and sanitary precautions, even ones as simple as rinsing your tooth brush and letting it dry, have been shown to reduce bacteria considerably. Allowing it to dry is crucial and would be much more time consuming to practice with a water flosser. Because a water flosser is a reservoir of water with an attached hose it seems proper cleaning would require draining it and it’s components and allowing them to dryafter each use, at minimum. Certainly more time consuming than standard care and cleaning instructions have you to think is necessary for proper use.

Besides cleanliness, it’s also worth considering that no one is likely to travel with a water flosser. That just means that you’ll need to keep using string floss for overnight stays. That is to say, even if you get a water flosser, don’t throw out all your old string floss. You’ll still need it if you intend to keep up a daily hygiene routine.

If I Get One, What’s The Best Water Flosser? 

The ADA, the American Dental Association, has an approved list of water flossers. The ADA only allows its seal to be used on products which “include data from clinical and/or laboratory studies that demonstrate safety and efficacy according to product category requirements developed by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs”. The ADA is one of the largest professional organizations for dentists meaning that any product bearing the ADA seal can be reasonably trusted. If you are considering trying a water flosser we strongly encourage you to factor the ADA’s recommendations into your decision.

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What Does Flossing do?

Oral Hygiene Tips From Castle Family Dentistry

Flossing prevents gingivitis, or gum disease, by preventing the build-up of plaque on and between your teeth. Plaque is a form of biofilm a sticky bacteria that if left unchecked can cause serious harm to your teeth by causing cavities, decay, and even risking infections if you have an oral injury.

Flossing can also prevent halitosis, or bad breath, by removing excess food particles from your mouth. Some bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth also cause bad breath if left unchecked. The American Dental Association recommends flossing, stating that it can remove the vast majority of plaque. By flossing you prevent the bacteria from growing and spreading to the point where it can smell. Much of the bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath will also feed on food stuck in your teeth.

Is Flossing Really Necessary?

Some people might feel like they already have oral health issues or that since they’ve neglected flossing so far, so there’s no reason to start now. But the truth is that there is never a point where starting good oral hygiene habits won’t help. 

The long-term effects of allowing bacteria to grow are serious and can range from cavities to gum disease and eventually loss of teeth and bone loss. Losing bone from your jaw is a serious and effectively irreversible consequence of long-term oral health neglect. But preventive maintenance, including flossing, can greatly reduce the risk of any of these problems.   

Tips for Effective Flossing

A study published in a journal by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) found that flossing before brushing is the most effective. This is particularly true when using toothpaste that contains fluoride. 

Traditional string flossing has also been shown to be more effective than pick-style flossers. However, the most effective form of flossing is what works for you and will make you more likely to floss. While we might recommend that you try to floss the old-school way, the most important thing is that you figure out a style and routine for flossing that you’re able to maintain.

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When to Replace Your Toothbrush

Replacing Your Toothbrush in Washington, NJ

Toothbrushes don’t last forever, but it can be difficult to figure out when the time has come to replace them. Surprisingly, your toothbrush should be replaced every 3-4 months according to manufacturer guidelines. 

Signs You Need A New Toothbrush:

  • Frayed bristles
  • Your teeth feel fuzzy even after brushing
  • You were recently sick
  • A bad smell
  • You can’t remember when you last replaced your toothbrush

Your toothbrush is the first line of defense against bacteria that cause bacteria, tooth decay, and bad breath. Brushing your teeth between each meal is an excellent way to prevent tooth decay. If you are brushing your teeth for two minutes twice per day, then you are already taking actionable steps to protect your teeth from cavities. 

If you are using a manual toothbrush, the bristles will start to fall out and become mangled or twisted within about 3 months. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) also advises replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or whenever they appear to be worn out. 

Once the bristles of your toothbrush start to lose their stiffness, Castle Family Dentistry advises that you should throw it out. Without bristles that brush aside food and plaque, your toothbrush quickly loses its efficiency. 

What if I have an Electric Toothbrush?

Electric toothbrushes clean the surface area of your teeth by vibrating and rotating quickly. The heads on your electric toothbrush still have nylon bristles that will wear down after regular use. These bristles are also shorter, which can lead to fraying more quickly. 

You should plan to change out your electric toothbrush head every 12 weeks, or even earlier. You should be watching for signs of wear and tear on the bristles to know when it’s time to say goodbye to a brush head. 

All in all, your toothbrush is an important oral hygiene tool. To make the most out of your toothbrush’s lifespan, you should use only your own toothbrush and store it upright and let it air dry. You should plan to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. It might be beneficial to mark your calendar on the date of your purchase so you remember when it’s time to replace it again. If you have any more questions about oral hygiene, call our office at 908-689-0911

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Best Gum For Your Teeth

Choosing the right gum can help support your teeth and prevent cavities. The wrong gum, whether too sugary or acidic, can undo most of the health benefits associated with gum chewing. When choosing a gum it’s important to keep a few factors in mind, sweeteners, the American Dentist Association (ADA) seal, and acidity.

Sugar Isn’t the Only Sweetener

Sugar-free gum is the only choice if you’re looking for a healthy option. The best gum for your teeth will be sugar-free. Sugar-free gums usually contain xylitol as a substitute. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that provides sweetness without providing fuel to bacteria. Some sugar-free gums contain sorbitol as a sweetener rather than xylitol. Xylitol has been shown to offer better protection against cavities than sorbitol.

Be Aware of Acidity

Fruit-flavored gums in particular can have higher acidity levels than others. Research has shown that acidity can counteract the other benefits of sugar-free gum. This acidity, just like the acidity in fruits, sodas, and juices, can increase the risk of tooth decay. Sticking to less acidic flavors such as traditional mint flavors may be the safe option.

The American Dentist Association Seal of Acceptance

Some gums, along with other types of oral hygiene products, will have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. To earn the ADA Seal of Approval products are vetted to ensure they are both safe and effective oral health products. Looking for this seal can be an easy and reliable way to choose dental hygiene products including gum. 

The Best of the Bunch

  • Spry contains a large amount of xylitol meaning it’s both very flavorful and effective at preventing cavities.
  • Recaldent is another sugar-free xylitol-containing chewing gum. Recaldent however also contains other compounds that have been shown to help re-mineralize teeth in a similar way to fluoride toothpaste.
  • Trident is a popular sugar-free chewing gum brand that contains some xylitol making it a better option than many other popular brands.

If you are trying to improve your oral health routine our team at Castle Family Dentistry is happy to help, beginning with your first appointment. Call us at 908-689-0911 or schedule an appointment today to get started. 

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Castle Family Dentistry

413 NJ-57
PO Box 272
Washington, NJ 07882
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Monday: 11am-7pm
Tuesday: 8am-5:00pm
Wednesday: 10am-7pm
Thursday: 9am-3pm
Friday: 8am-5:00pm