Things You Might Not Know

From the National Museum of Dentistry

Museum Bites: The Invention of Floss

Most people think of dental floss as a modern phenomenon. However, Dr. Levi Spear Parmely advocated its use as early as 1818. Parmley stated that waxed silken thread, though simple, is more important than even the brush or a dentifrice*."

*Dentifrice: a powder, paste or liquid used for cleaning teeth

Cherish Your Chompers
Want to keep your teeth? Here's some helpful advice:

Break-A-Sweat...Recent studies suggest exercise may lower the risk of gum disease

Power Up...Use a high-quality power toothbrush to optimize the removal of plaque

Go Beyond Floss...The rubber tip stimulator is the best remedy for receding gums (Which happen to the best of us!)

Wait to Brush...It takes 30-minutes to an hour for saliva to neutralize the acids in foods. According to one noted periodontist: "Brushing right after eating can brush the enamel away."

Excerpt in part from AARP The Magazine


True or False? Coffee and cigarettes are the only two culprits of teeth discoloration.
If you chose "false" ... you are correct. Although these are two of the top tarnishers - there are several others including:

  • Some antibiotics and over-the-counter medications dull your smile. Tetracycline can turn teeth yellow in small children and its derivative - minocycline -  can cause a permanent bluish-gray stain in adults. Certain antihistamines can also discolor teeth.
  • Fluoride is generally good for your smile but too much can cause chalky white spots to appear on your teeth. Dental experts recommend a sensible pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpase each time you brush.
  • Trauma can cause a tooth to become discolored - in children and adults. A root canal is as traumatic as damage from a fall or an accident. Any time a tooth dies it may discolor.
  • As you get older the enamel of your teeth wears thin and the natural yellow or brown color of the underlying dentin layer shows through. Genetics play an important role for the intensity of the whiteness of your teeth. You can thank Mom or Dad for naturally brighter, thicker enamel.
  • Many dark liquids, like fruit juice - red wine and soda can also turn teeth yellow. Even beer has an acidic effect on those pearly whites.

Ladies…Brighten your smile in an instant – with a simple tube of lipstick!

Did you know the proper shade of lipstick can create an illusion of whiter, brighter teeth? A recent ad campaign for Clinique boasts: “Clinique can’t whiten your teeth. But we will brighten your smile. Instantly.” They used a dental color guide to create more than ten shades of lipstick that boost a smile by at least one shade! Beauty experts from New York have been offering this “bright idea” for years: You need contrast between the shades of your lips and teeth. Lip colors with yellow undertones tend to muddy the teeth. Instead, choose bright hues in the coral, rose or soft red families. High gloss, lacquered lipsticks – which reflect the light – almost make teeth seem dull by comparison. It’s best to choose those that have a cream matte finish. Another tip: To make uneven teeth appear straighter, be sure to stay away from mulberry, wine and brown colors. The darkness accentuates any misalignment of the teeth. Finally beautiful teeth are further enhanced by well-cared-for-lips. Treatments to try:

  • Blistex Lip Ointment and Neutrogena Lip Moisturizer both smooth dry, chapped lips in minutes. 


A Kiss is Just a Kiss...but...

Saliva becomes more abundant during kissing. It has antibacterial properties that help limit halitosis, tooth decay, and gum disease. 

Source: Inside Dentistry, February 2010

For Men Only....
Men's Health Magazine (November 2009) offers some interesting advice: "Stay Firm With Floss".

Researchers found gum disease was seven times more common in men with erectile dysfunction than in those men who reported no difficulty. Bacteria in gum tissue can travel throughout your body, causing inflammation that may damage blood vessels essential for erectile functions. Read the full article on page 30 of the November edition.

Do you know why they recommend a mouthguard or a helmet? Safety and protection are the obvious reasons…but did you know one without the other is less than an ideal situation?

Athletic Performance
Some Olympic competitors and professional athletes wear mouthguards to correct an imbalanced bite to enhance their performance. If the upper body muscles are not in harmony with the muscles that control the jaw, upper body coordination and strength can be compromised. Try this: Do a practice golf swing, or swing a baseball bat. Do it again with your mouth wide open. Do you feel the difference? Do the muscles pull differently?

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)
Soft mouthguards can reduce the risk of MTBI in certain types of accidents. While the use of a helmet is very valuable in preventing brain injury when a stationary person is struck by an object, it is not as effective if the person is moving and the head strikes an object. In that case, the brain continues to move until stopped by the skull. Since the jaw is the prominent, lower and frontal part of your head, it often is the first area to be struck. A soft, flexible mouthguard can absorb some of the force and prevent it from reaching the brain.

Wear a helmet; use your mouthguard.

You’re on vacation and get a toothache…but haven’t had one for years! Why now?

Dental Pain Can Ruin a Vacation...
Barondontalgia is defined as pain in the teeth due to pressure changes. It is extremely difficult to foresee the potential for this pain in a ground level clinical setting. If you’re experiencing mild pain before flying or scuba diving, it could become very significant with the pressure changes associated with either of these activities. Diseased tooth nerves, periodontal pockets and impacted teeth should be remedied before traveling by air or diving.


“Grow, grow, grow up with me. It’s time to leave your binky on me.” – The Pacifier Tree

Babies are born wanting to suck. It is a natural behavior that allows them to eat and grow. Pacifiers can be helpful between feedings, but do not use them instead of feeding. A pacifier is sometimes better than a finger or a thumb, because you can’t throw away a thumb! You can wean a child from the pacifier before it becomes his/her “rubber soul.” The pacifier is not really needed beyond 10–12 months; however, most don’t give it up on their own until two to four years old.

Useful Tips:

  1. Don’t put the pacifier on a string
  2. Don’t dip it in honey (botulism) or sweets (decay)
  3. Make sure it’s one piece and not liquid-filled
  4. Don’t use the nipple from a bottle (it may come apart)
  5. Inspect and clean it regularly

After 12 months, the pacifier can begin to interfere with speech development. It’s a good idea to find alternative calming techniques between six to twelve months and up to two years of age. An American Academy of Pediatrics study showed a reduction of 33% of the number of ear infections in children who gave up continuous pacifier use between six and ten months. Start the weaning process by beginning to limit the use; for example, offer it only at bedtime. Never use punishment or humiliation to force your child to give up using the pacifier; instead use encouragement and praise. At four and five years old, your child’s pacifier can affect the shape of the roof of the mouth and the position of the teeth.

Pick a day...

  1. Give your child advance notice of the day he/she will give up the “binky”
  2. Make a celebration out of it (see the following information about the Binky Tree)
  3. When successful, do not let him/her return to pacifier use

The Binky Tree
We believe the Binky Tree in Ford Field (on Griswold just north of Main St. in downtown Northville) is the first Binky Tree in the United States. The Binky Tree is located near the playscape. It is a place of ceremony, a rite of passage so to speak. Children see it regularly and can see others giving up their pacifiers. You can plan a party and make the ceremonial visit a special occasion. Youngsters of all ages can come back and visit their binkies throughout their lives, if they wish. There is a world-famous Pacifier Tree in Frederiksberg Gardens in Denmark.