Can Your Dental Hygiene Be Too Good?

Our digestive system (and our mouth belongs to it)  contains trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms, that coexist in a delicate balance to regulate everything from your mental health to your skin’s sensitivity. If something happens to disturb this balance, for example, you take a course of antibiotics, you may experience symptoms ranging from digestive issues to psoriasis. The shift to more pathogenic flora causes tooth decay or caries. Oral streptococci, such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sorbrinus, are considered to be the main etiological agents of tooth decay in children. Other bacteria, such as Prevotella spp. and Lactobacillus spp., and fungus, that is, Candida albicans, are also related to the development and progression of early child caries.

That’s why fermented foods ( like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir ) that are rich in probiotic bacteria get such high marks in health circles. Your mouth, as I have mentioned before, is the entry point to your gut, and contains a similar community of important organisms that help to regulate your whole body.

Of course, we are all aware of the need to maintain good dental hygiene. What is changing about that now is twofold. One, we are understanding more about how the microbiome can impact things inside and outside our mouths. And two, the idea of “clean at all costs”  is changing.  Bad breath and cavities are signs of an unbalanced gut microbiome. It is a chicken-or-egg situation. They go hand in hand and one can facilitate the other. Some infections in other parts of your body tend to coexist with bacterial imbalances in the mouth. Some ear infections, as well as gum disease, and some infections in the throat can be a sign of problems with the oral microbiome.


Keeping balance in the microbiome isn’t just about elimination bad bacteria, however. It’s also about letting good bacteria thrive, which brings us to public-health-enemy No.1 for doctors of different specialties: mouthwashes with alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). These ingredients absolutely blast your mouth and give you this intense feeling of cleanliness. But it is ephemeral. If you checked the bacterial balance in your mouth about an hour later, it would be skewed towards the bad bacteria.  A better way to care for your oral microbiome is to keep your tongue clean. The tongue is like a rug, bacteria get into the grooves and stay there under anaerobic (no oxygen) condition. Diet also makes a big difference: the healthier, more versatile and lower in sugar the diet is, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy oral microbiome. 

Oral Health as a piece of the puzzle in overall health during COVID-19.

Nasal rinses and mouthwashes, which directly impact the major sites of reception and transmission of human coronaviruses (HCoV), may provide an additional level of protection against the virus. In the experiment, performed by Craig Meyers and his colleagues and published in the Journal of Medical Virology (2020, Sep 17), the researchers created cells grown from human tissue and then infected them with HCoV. HCoV is a human coronavirus 229e played the role of a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2. They subjected the virus to several common, over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses for 30 seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes, and measured how much of the virus was inactivated. The reported results were the following:

• Peroxide Sore Mouth (CVS), Orajel Antiseptic Rinse (Church & Dwight Co.), and 1.5% H2O2 (Cumberland-Swan) — all of which listed hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient — inactivated less than 90% to as much as 99% of the HCoV, depending on contact time.

• Crest Pro‐Health (Proctor & Gamble) mouthwash inactivated 99.9% to more than 99.99% of the HCoV during all three contact times.

• Listerine Ultra (Johnson & Johnson Consumer), Equate (Wal-Mart Co.) and Antiseptic Mouthwash (CVS) inactivated less than 99.9% of the HCoV at 30 seconds.

• Listerine Antiseptic (Johnson & Johnson Consumer) mouthwash which, according to researchers, had the same or similar inactive ingredients as Listerine Ultra, Equate and Antiseptic Mouthwash inactivated more than 99.9% of the virus at 30 seconds.

However, per Hana Akselrod, MD, MPH, before we start telling our patients to use mouthwash to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we still need to learn how mouthwashes, nasal rinses and sinus rinses would work in the nose, mouth and throat of individuals infected with COVID-19, not in a simulated environment. We also need to answer questions, like how long would you have to gargle with mouthwash, as well as how often would you have to gargle? Is it safe for people to use mouthwashes and nasal rinses for the purposes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus?



It is well known that dental visit expectation can be very stressful for many patients. While in the dental waiting room the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be practiced to reduce the visit apprehension.

One of the MBCT practices is a “breathing break”. Our breath is a window into knowing and regulating our mind-body. When we breathe in, our heart rate goes up. When we exhale, our heart rate goes down. By having a longer exhalation than inhalation, we can slow our heart rate more, and we can also stimulate the vagus nerve. Breathing into our lower belly ( abdominal breathing) stimulates the sensory pathways of the vagus nerve that go directly to our brain, which has an even more calming effect.

Focus narrowly on the breath, and then expand awareness out to your full surrounding. 

Here is one of the versions of the breathing break:

1) Becoming aware: Sit upright and close your eyes. Connect with your breathing for long inhalation and exhalation. With this awareness, ask yourself, ” What is my experience right now? What are my thoughts? Feelings? Bodily sensations?” Wait for responses. Acknowledge your experience and label your feelings, even if they are unwanted. Notice any pushing space for all that comes up in your awareness.

2) Gathering your attention: Gently direct your full attention to your breathing. Notice each inhalation and each long exhalation. Follow each breath, one after another. Tune in to a state of stillness, it will allow you to come from a place of being.

3) Expanding your awareness: Sense your field of awareness expanding around you. Notice your posture, your hands, your toes, your facial muscles. Soften any tension. Befriend all of your sensations, greet them with kindness. With this expanded awareness connect with your whole being, encompassing all that is you in the present moment.

Source: “The Telomere Effect” by Nobel Prize Winner Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel

No Dental Insurance?

We now offer an in office dental plan through QDP. No maximums, no exclusions, no waiting periods, and affordable monthly payments. The plan includes preventative care and Xrays, with discounts on all treatment. Call us at (425) 355-2330 for more information and to get signed up.

Dental x-rays: punch card or essential diagnostic tool?

X-rays help the dentist to detect problems that would be missed by just looking in your mouth, such as:

Xray Chin

1) cavities between teeth or under fillings

2) trouble with teeth and jaw development in children and teens

3) bone loss from gum disease

4) jaw bone tumors

Sometimes x-rays are needed as part of your dental treatment for diagnosis if you have a toothache or in case of tooth fracture. 

Types of Dental X-rays

Common x-rays used in the dental office include bite-wing, periapical, and panoramic x-rays. Bite-wing x-rays help dentists check for tooth decay between the back teeth or under dental fillings. Periapical x-rays help dentist observe conditions below the gum line, showing the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone. Panoramic x-rays use a machine that rotates around the head. It produces a long film that shows the entire jaw and all of the teeth in one image.

Cone-beam computed technology is used to create a 3-dimensional image from a series of images. Because it relies on multiple images, the radiation exposure is higher than that of commonly used x-rays and is used for surgical treatments. 

Are Dental X-rays Safe?

Because dental x-rays expose us to radiation, patients sometimes wonder if they are safe. Routinely we are exposed to radiation from a number of sources, even sunshine, air and soil around us. 

To help limit the amount of radiation exposure to your thyroid gland when taking x-rays, your dentist may cover your throat with a special collar. 

Source: The Journal of the American Dental Association (2019; 150: 636)

Kid’s teeth oral hygiene

In this message I will provide useful advice on children’s teeth care based on recommendations from the American Dental Association.


You can start brushing your child’s teeth twice a day when the first tooth comes in. For children younger than 3 years, use no more than a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Children 3 years and older can use a drop of toothpaste about the size of a pea. You will need to brush younger children’s teeth for them. For older children, watch that they use the right amount of toothpaste and spit out as much as possible.

Teeth are covered with a thin, sticky film of bacteria, which produces acid when exposed to sugar. This is what causes cavities. Limiting sugary drinks and snacks is important too. 

Drinks are the largest source of sugar in the American diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests avoiding juice for the first year. Also, The AAP warns that children should not sip on juice throughout the day or go to bed with juice. 

Take your baby to see the dentist after their first tooth comes in but before his or her first birthday.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a protective coating that your dentist can place over chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These areas are at high risk of developing tooth decay because they are smooth, and have deep grooves. A toothbrush cannot get into these areas to keep them clean. Sealants form a barrier over the curved surfaces. Sealants go on as a gel-like liquid and then harden into a thin but strong protective coating. 

Dental sealants usually last for years, but they can become worn. Your dentist can check them during your dental visits to see if they need to be redone or replaced.