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    A Staggering Number of Pregnant Women Suffer From Pregnancy Gingivitis. - Here Are 4 Ways to Get Rid of it For Good. [Doctor's Instructions]

    Women who are pregnant, for the first time, have been warned about many of the side effects that a pregnancy can have on their bodies. But one side effect that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the effect that pregnancy can have on the gum tissues of the mouth.

    A full 40% of pregnant women will develop something called Pregnancy Gingivitis. Gingivitis is simply a condition where your gum tissues are more swollen than they should be. They also tend to bleed more than normal. 


    What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?

    Your run of the mill gingivitis may be caused by any number of factors. The leading causes are a lack of a good oral hygiene routine or a lack of regular dental visits. Pregnancy gingivitis is a little different, however. The expectant mother’s body will produce more estrogen than normal. This increase in estrogen then causes the bacteria that cause gingivitis to increase. 

    Thus, no matter how good your home care routine and no matter how many times you have your teeth professionally cleaned, your gums still may seem a little inflamed, tender, and prone to bleeding. 

    So What Should I Do?

    While developing gingivitis during pregnancy is very common, it's not a hopeless situation. There are a few different things that can help;

    First:  Be extra diligent with your home care. If your normal routine of brushing twice a day was sufficient before you got pregnant then you may want to try brushing after every single meal during pregnancy. Flossing frequency should also increase. If you usually use a regular toothbrush, it's worth it to invest in an electric toothbrush. The powerful oscillations can remove 5x more plaque and may make all the difference to your gum health.  If you hate flossing and need some help developing a better habit, you might try using a floss pick. These handy little devices don't cost much and take all the work out of twisting floss around your fingers and angling your hand into hard to reach places in your mouth.

    Second:  Start using a good mouthwash. Make sure that you select one that is made for killing bacteria. Some mouthwashes are solely for fresh breath, fluoride delivery, and/or dry mouth and will do nothing to kill the extra bacteria in the expectant mother’s mouth. 

    Third:  Avoid sugary foods. Sugars in your diet provide food for the bad bacteria in your mouth and the rest of your body and serve to increase the rate at which they produce. 

    Finally: If the bacteria get out of hand, a dentist may actually prescribe an antibiotic. These antibiotics will be in liquid form so that they can be swished and thus kill bacteria right at the source. Antibiotics in pill form would work in a more systemic fashion, would take much longer, and could unnecessarily disrupt digestion.  

    The point here is that pregnancy gingivitis is a fairly common occurrence, but with education and diligent home care, most of the soreness, inflammation, and bleeding does not have to become a real problem.

    Click here for a video lecture on pregnancy gingivitis by Oral Care Club's own Dr. Jim Ellis

    Breastfeeding and your Child's Teeth

    Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club, answering a question about breastfeeding and infants teeth. Okay, there have been lots of studies done on breastfeeding and how it affects the teeth of the newborn. I'm not talking about the overall health of the newborn as far as nutritional benefits goes. I'm just talking about the teeth, and first all, obviously, newborns don't have teeth, but what needs to happen is after breastfeeding a newborn it's best, it's recommended that with a warm, wet washcloth that the gums are kind of wiped off to keep the levels of sugars down in the mouth. Now, I know some of you may be saying, well, this is breast milk, so it's all natural and everything, and well, sugars. It's all about sugars and there are natural sugars in breast milk. It's like eating an apple or a banana.

    There are natural sugars in all things and so it's best to keep the sugars out of the mouth to keep the bacteria from reproducing and causing things you don't want to have happen in the mouth. So, best if breastfeeding the newborn to take a wet washcloth once, maybe twice a day, and just kind of wiping down the gums of the baby's mouth. After the child does get teeth then it's absolutely essential that you either use a washcloth again or a little toothbrush to scrub those teeth because natural sugars, and it's all about the sugars. Infants that are breastfeeding can get cavities if that's all they're consuming is breast milk. It's absolutely possible. It's been clinically proven, so you need to make sure that you're taking care of the baby's teeth even if it's simply breastfeeding.

    No problems with breastfeeding after the child gets teeth and breastfeeding as far as misalignments, malocclusion of teeth. In fact, there's been studies that have shown that women that breastfeed for over six months the, at least for six months, that the child has a decreased rate of needing braces. Something about the natural shape of the breast and the child and the way they attach and all these kind of things versus bottles and pacifiers and all that other stuff that's artificial.

    So, studies have shown the children that are breastfed for at least six months have a decreased rate of needing orthodontic in the future. Obviously, many more things will apply to that, but that is a plus for breastfeeding of the children at the beginning. So, breastfeeding's absolutely fine. It's not 100%. Make sure you take care of your child's teeth and a little caveat at the end. More than six months can decrease your rate of actually needing to get orthodontic care in the future. Have a good one.

    Oil-pulling for bad breath and dental health - does it really work?

    What is oil pulling?

    Oil pulling refers to a practice where individuals will place a certain amount of vegetable oil in their mouth and swish it around, for a predetermined amount of time, then spit the oil out. The practice is not new. It dates back thousands of years and seems to have originated in southern Asia and/or India. Coconut oil is typically used as the oil of choice due to the taste difference between it and other, less palatable, oils. The claims of what the oils can, do while in the mouth, range from killing bacteria, whitening teeth, fighting bad breath, healing cavities, and a myriad of other benefits.

    What the authorities say

    The American Dental Association has yet to endorse oil pulling and came out with the following statement. “Based on the lack of currently available evidence, oil pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice, and certainly not as a replacement for standard, time-tested oral health behaviors and modalities. To date, scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.” It is clear therefore, from the governing body of the dental community that oil pulling has not passed the rigorous tests for approval as a verified dental treatment.

     What the science says

    Whether oil pulling has been approved does not cancel out the fact that there are some scientific facts that give its’ use some preemptive credibility. Swishing with fluid before or after brushing can aid in loosening up debris that may be in places where it is too hard to get toothbrush bristles into. So the swishing portion of oil pulling has already been shown to be helpful. Coconut oil, for example, contains Lauric acid. This acid is shown to have antibacterial properties. Therefore, swishing with coconut oil can aid in killing the bacteria that may lead to cavities and/or bad breath.

    What oil pulling is not

    Simply swishing with oil, of any kind is not a replacement for brushing. Fluids swishing will never remove the amount of plaque and bacteria that bristles can. Oil pulling is also not a replacement for flossing. The tight contact point between teeth must be cleaned out with more force then a fluid can provide. Oil pulling can be a replacement for certain oral rinses. Many oral rinses also use essential oil in their mixtures like Thymol and Menthol. These too have antibacterial properties.


    Using oils, in an oil pulling regiment, can aid in killing bacteria. Lower bacterial content in the mouth can lead to a decrease in tooth decay and an increase in fresh breath. Therefore, using oils in conjunction with, but not replacing, the time tested practices brushing and flossing can lead to a much healthier mouth.

    Does My Child Need Braces?

    - Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club, answering a question I get asked a lot by parents, and that is, does my child need braces? The answer to that question typically is no, because they put the word need in the sentence.

    You only really need orthodontia or braces for two reasons. Number one is loss of function. When I say loss of function, let's say you can only chew in one or two spots. Your teeth only touch in one or two spots. Well then, that becomes very difficult for the child to chew their food completely and can lead to easily choking.

    If you only touch on one side or a couple spots, then that can lead to your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ as it's commonly known, having a lot of pain and dysfunction there. Another one is development of speech patterns. If your child is unable to form words clearly, and you've taken them to tutors in speech and they still can't get them to speak clearly, maybe the teeth are misaligned.

    The teeth and or jaws are misaligned such that the tongue and the lips, cheeks, can't help the child to form the words correctly because the teeth are so out of alignment. So, number one would be dysfunction. Dysfunction in the speech, dysfunction in the chewing, dysfunction in the joints associated with the jaws. Number two would be, kind of, just a social inhibition.

    If your child can't really interact well socially due to the nature of their teeth being so misaligned, teeth and/or jaws being so misaligned that they don't feel confident interacting socially. And if it inhibits them getting a job when they turn to teenagers, and usual teenage jobs are customer service, sales, that kind of thing.

    Nobody should be discriminated against, but it's the first thing people see. And so, if it really keeps them from being able to get employment and to interact socially with their peers, then that might be another reason that you wanna do that. So just the two main reasons that you would absolutely need braces is the dysfunction and the social problems that come along with the teeth that are misaligned.

    After that, if you have a, after that, it's pretty much up to you. You have a scale, one to 1-0. 10 being perfectly straight teeth and zero being teeth that are completely, ultimately crooked and misaligned. If your child is an eight on that scale, well, what do you do? Well, it's completely up to you. I have had patients that are a six on that scale, and they and their children choose not to do any orthodontia at all. I've had patients on that scale that are a nine, and the parents and the children have decided to go ahead and do the orthodontia. So, it's really up to you.

    There are other small cosmetic concerns, straighter teeth are a little bit easier to clean. You can clean teeth that are not perfectly straight. So there's just a few other concerns. But really it's a cosmetic issue, up to you. I have put all of my children through braces, I went through braces myself, my wife did as well. So it's definitely something that can help make you feel more confident in your smile, but to absolutely need braces, the pool of those people is very small. So decide with yourself, relatives, family, whatever the case may be, whether orthodontia is right for you.