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This post is sponsored by Crest Pro Health.

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I’ve been reading more and more about how research is linking plaque, bacteria, and inflammation in your mouth to a host of long-term diseases, like heart attack, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and dementia.  I read a Sarah Silverman interview the other day, and she (randomly) said that death creeps in through your gums, and I can’t shake that image!  It’s hard for researchers to pinpoint what’s behind the relationship between these scary diseases and gum disease, but most think it’s related to inflammation.  Chronic inflammation in your mouth (and the bacteria that causes it) can impact organs throughout your body.  (Source, Source)

 

And, as a side note, did you know that gingivitis is super common in pregnancy?  You’re more susceptible to it because of your shifting hormones.  Personally, I am more susceptible to it because the idea of brushing my teeth when I have morning sickness makes me want to curl up and die.  Hah.  No – really.  It does!  (But I still get the job done.)

 

So when I got an email asking if I wanted to interview the very dreamy Dr. Travis Stork (you know, from The Doctors TV show) about oral hygiene, I was all over it – until I realized that I had a scheduling conflict.  Boo!  I can’t believe I missed the chance to meet and talk to Dr. Travis.  But luckily, his team sent over some tips from the Doctor himself.  I compiled his suggestions – and some of my own – into this fun and helpful list of advice:

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Tip:  Floss BEFORE brushing and use mouthwash AFTER brushing.  Most of us floss after brushing, but flossing first can help loosen food particles and remove plaque.  Also, you’re more likely to skip flossing, so do it first.  By using mouthwash after you remove food and other grime, you allow it to reach the surface of your teeth.  Dr. Travis likes the new Crest Pro-Health Tartar Protection Rinse, which helps prevent tartar and cavities.

 

Tip:  Pay extra attention to oral care when you’re pregnant.  According to Dr. Travis, about about 70% of expectant mothers have gingivitis.  “Bleeding gums are common during pregnancy, but they are too often ignored. Would you pretend you weren’t bleeding from an eyeball? Probably not, and you shouldn’t ignore bleeding gums either,” he says. “Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which can deepen the gum disease infection into the bones and tissue. There are studies that have linked gum disease to preterm birth, but it is not known whether treating gum disease reduces the risk of preterm birth.”

 

Tip: Store your toothbrush in the right spot.  I am a HUGE fan of brushing my teeth in the shower.  Studies show that people who brush their teeth in the shower consider it more enjoyable and convenient and spend more time on oral care than those who brush at the sink (Source).  But I try to never leave my brush in there.  Why?  Well, I did research for a freelance article about this very subject, and it turns out leaving your toothbrush in the shower is a huge no-no. If you leave your toothbrush in the shower,  it may never fully dry out. Bacteria thrive in damp conditions, and wet toothbrush bristles are perfect breeding grounds for a variety of germs.  The best place to leave your toothbrush is not the shower, a drawer, or a toothbrush case – it is in a cup or a stand on the counter or windowsill.  Air circulation will dry it out in between brushes, inhibiting the growth of bacteria.  Now you know!

 

Tip:  Brush twice a day, for two minutes at a time, and use a ‘pen hold.’ A dentist once told me that the average person brushes their teeth for 30 seconds – not the recommended two minutes.  So brush longer than you think you should!  And I’m guilty of brushing too hard – I like to SCRUB my teeth.  The problem with this is that the action can cause your gums to retract.  A friend who is a dental hygienist told me to hold my toothbrush the way I would a pen instead of using a cast-iron grip.

 

Tip:  Check your bristles.  If they fray after a few months of use, you’re brushing too hard.  Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or so – and this isn’t a scam to make you buy more toothbrushes!  After three months of wear and tear, a brush becomes less effective at removing plaque.  I use a permanent marker to write the “expiration date” for my toothbrushes on the handle (above where I grip it and below the part that goes in my mouth).

 

Okay.  It’s your turn for toothbrush confessionals.  Do you brush in the shower, too?  How to you remind yourself to floss?  Do you think you actually brush for two loooong minutes?  Any toothbrush tips for kiddos?  

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Henry’s toothbrush chart helped us get over that initial “I hate brushing my teeth” hump, but now we’ve graduated to brushing our teeth while we watch “yay toothbrush!” videos on YouTube, which I kind of loathe (this is Henry’s favorite, and the introductory music alone makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a toothbrush!). But anything to get the job done, right?

 

This post is sponsored by Crest Pro Health.  Thanks, as always, for supporting my blog and thus my family.

{ 21 comments }

 

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  • Laura@SneakersandSpatulas June 25, 2014, 9:13 am

    I am definitely guilty of brushing my teeth too hard. If I over do it, the gums will hurt for a few days while brushing my teeth so I have to be extra gentle. And I normally floss after brushing, will switch to before!

    Reply
  • Jess June 25, 2014, 9:44 am

    My tip for flossing more are disposable floss picks. They are more expensive, but we get into the routine of grabbing a couple during a commercial and flossing while watching tv, or while reading before we go to bed.

    Reply
  • Laura June 25, 2014, 10:00 am

    The day before I went into labor, one of my front teeth chipped!! I was appalled and definitely sobbed about it, hahahah. I had a semi-miserable pregnancy and remember asking my husband why I couldn’t catch a break. And I’m sort of vain about my teeth….

    Reply
  • Sara June 25, 2014, 10:12 am

    I know I probably don’t brush for two minutes. I timed myself once and it felt like two minutes was soooo long. I have always flossed before (just made more sense to me) and rinsed with something after. We just bought the Crest Tartar a few weeks ago and love it :-) Fun post!

    Reply
  • Katie@LifesNextBigStep June 25, 2014, 10:25 am

    This made me feel like a rockstar, as I’m 10 weeks along and just went to the dentist this morning and had NO gingivitis and very little bleeding! HUZZAH! (and weirdly, I never floss [I'll start...I promise...soon...]) I’m sure they’ll sing a different tune in December when I’m 9 months along…

    Reply
    • Stacey June 25, 2014, 12:13 pm

      I’m so jealous of people like you! I floss religiously (can’t stand the feeling of not) at least 3 times per day and I always have cavities. Apparently I’m one of those lucky people who have genetically poor dental hygiene. I went to the dentist last week (9 weeks pregnant) and have 2 (more) cavities! I cannot win.

      Reply
  • Julie June 25, 2014, 10:39 am

    You did NOT pass up meeting Dr. Travis!!!! OMG you’re killing me!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Casey June 25, 2014, 11:06 am

    I am a HUGE fan of my Sonicare toothbrush. It has a timer so you know you get the full two minutes. Seriously…I love it. I make everyone I know buy one! My dentist noticed a difference in my oral health too.

    Reply
  • Meagan June 25, 2014, 11:27 am

    My daughters pediatric dentist told that if nothing else at least floss the back teeth in toddlers/preschoolers. This after my daughter had to have some extensive dental work done. We brush and floss her teeth regularly now but before we were brushing only. After that our whole families dental hygiene is much better.

    I brush way too hard and make my gums bleed often.

    Reply
  • Tanya June 25, 2014, 11:38 am

    I used to be awful at flossing and I finally realized that I was never going to be good at it if I try to do it at night. I just want to jump in bed with minimal fuss when I head upstairs. So now I floss with my morning brush. I’m sure it’s not quite as good, but doing it daily this way is better than intending to do it at night and never actually doing it.

    Reply
  • Kaella (KaellaOnTheRun) June 25, 2014, 11:38 am

    I love brushing my teeth (and going to the dentist lol) but definitely don’t brush long enough some days! I also skip flossing more than I like to admit! LOVE the tips!

    Reply
  • Alex @ Kenzie Life June 25, 2014, 11:50 am

    I actually never thought of brushing my teeth in the shower! I do floss before I brush though and I’m now pretty religious about using my Sonicare toothbrush. I have to say that going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things, but it helps that he and my hygienist are both really nice. That makes it so much easier to make my appointments!

    Reply
  • Ali June 25, 2014, 12:01 pm

    I use to brush my teeth in the shower, but then I learned that storing my toothbrush in there is a breeding ground for bacteria, so I stopped. Nursing moms are also at risk for gum disease due to hormones as well.

    Reply
  • lindsey June 25, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Great post! My son is only a few days older than Henry and he loves brushing his teeth. The problem is that he doesn’t do a great job on his molars. We’ve mastered the, “say cheeeeeese” while brushing for the front, but the back is a bit more difficult for him. The other problem is that he HATES when we help him. Do you have any tricks/tips? Or, do you just let Henry do his thing? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Alyssa June 25, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Wow, I never realized brushing your teeth in the shower was a thing! The only thing I’ve done in the shower other than clean and shave was drink wine from the bottle after my first 50 mile race because I was in so much pain. Live and learn.

    Reply
  • Suzy June 25, 2014, 12:27 pm

    We change our toothbrushes with every new season. It’s an easy way to remember and falls every 3 months.

    I like the idea of flossing before brushing. I’ll have to try that!

    Reply
  • Brittany M June 25, 2014, 12:38 pm

    I love my electric toothbrush! It buzzes to let you know when to brush each section of teeth. I would never make it to two minutes without the timer. Also, beware Crest mouthwashes. I started using it a little over a year ago and it slowly turned my teeth brown over a couple months! I had to go to the dentist to have it removed and they told me some people have a strange reaction to it. Crest refunded the money I spent on the mouthwash but now I’m afraid of using their products!

    Reply
  • Becky@TheSavedRunner June 25, 2014, 1:51 pm

    I love all of this information! I definitely don’t brush my teeth for two minutes, so I need to work on this.

    Reply
  • Alyssa June 25, 2014, 9:49 pm

    I recently switched to fluoride free toothpaste after doing some research on fluoride. There is a lot of research about its negative impacts (it collects in a gland over time, which can cause problems). My boyfriend and I also bought flouride-free drinking water! The new toothpaste is hard to get used to, but I don’t mind it. I use Tom’s flouride-free for sensitive teeth.

    Reply
  • Erica June 25, 2014, 10:40 pm

    I also really love my Sonicare electric toothbrush. I was really hesitant about buying one at first because they’re pretty expensive, but I found one on sale at Target. The best part is it makes you do it for 2 minutes, and even beeps every 30 seconds so you can do each section of your mouth and it’s all nice and even (my OCD likes it). The dentist also said he could tell a difference in my teeth, so I’m glad I didn’t waste my money!

    Reply
  • Abby June 26, 2014, 12:26 am

    You are going to laugh at this one….for my 3 yr. old, and we’ve been doing this for over a year, we pretend to clean people’s houses! People we know and especially where she loves to play! The upstairs and downstairs! I think it keeps her mind busy thinking about what “room” we are going to next! Whatever works :)

    Reply