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Dentists Are Frustrated Too


You may be surprised to learn that even dentists and dental hygienists are usually pessimistic when you talk to them about dental health. They frequently express frustration with the ineffectiveness of patients’ flossing and the outcomes they see in their patients’ mouths. The problem is that too few professionals know of any alternative treatments to recommend. Most dentists willingly admit that they view their job as providing treatment to fix the damage that dental disease causes. They will tell you that the damage is the result of an uncontrollable, progressive disease that gets worse as people age.
Surely it makes sense to review the methods routinely prescribed and to look closely at research and studies that support new and effective alternatives.
I have always found patients very interested in advice about dental care. People of all ages want to improve the condition of their teeth as long as the suggestions are easy to use and fit the individual’s lifestyle. What is the point of suggesting chewing gum to someone who does not chew gum? When dentists tell patients to floss more often, they forget that for many people flossing is difficult, annoying, or too time-consuming. People need to be enthusiastic about their tooth care routines, and most of all, people want to see positive results. Any system should be simple, tailored to the individual, and effective. It is easy to become discouraged if you have been told to give up your favorite food or use bad-tasting or expensive products (goop in trays, gels, and tasteless foams) that give poor results and that allow your dental problems to continue. With the program I recommend, you can enjoy your normal routines and eat and drink all your favorite foods and beverages, yet you will protect your teeth and achieve dramatically improved dental health.
Setting the Stage

Surprising as it may seem, many people are unaware that dental disease is just like any other infection caused by bacteria. It is a disease that can spread easily, is transferred from person to person, and worst of all, can grow on things like toothbrushes. Once you realize that dental disease is this kind of infection, you understand how very simple steps can be used to control it.
In the nineteenth century, progressive medical surgeons begged peers to wash their hands so as to prevent the spread of infection. Today I beg patients to clean their mouths and their toothbrushes to control the spread of tooth and gum disease between family members. Today we have become more aware of the delicate balance that exists between the bacteria that help and protect us and the bacteria that cause infection. Overuse of antibiotics showed us that if protective bacteria were removed, overgrowth by harmful ones often followed, and the same reactions can be seen when we look at mouth bacteria.

Bacteria

Bacteria that live on teeth can grow only when attached to a hard, non-shedding surface. Some kinds of tooth bacteria are harmful, whereas others are good for our dental health. In fact, it appears that teeth need a barrier of healthy protective bacteria to stop harmful ones from damaging the tooth surface. The balance between good and bad bacteria is important for dental health, and it is also important to know that this balance can change. People are often surprised to learn that they can lose healthy bacteria following an abrasive dental cleaning, after taking a course of antibiotics, or when the mouth becomes dry or acidic for long periods of time. During times of change, it is possible for a new type of bacteria to infect your mouth and suddenly cause damage to your teeth and dental health.

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