Shiny White Tips

by Edmund Celis, May 14, 2016
Edmund teaching brushing
Photo of Edmund Celis at Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County event. Courtesy of Esther Le.

Disclaimer: I am not a dentist. Please seek a dental professional for the best advice and please do your own research to make the best decisions regarding your dental health.

Teeth enable us to eat and communicate. For the majority of people, they only grow twice in a lifetime, so it is imperative to take good care of them.

The teeth are also very close to the brain and thus it is important to keep them free from infection because once the infection starts, the nerves and blood vessels are affected and the whole body suffers systemically, especially neighboring organs.

Here are some simple tips to keep your teeth healthy:

Twice is nice

Brush twice a day. Brushing in the morning and evening for about two minutes each time in a gentle circular motion is a great daily regimen to reduce the buildup of food particulates and certain kinds of bacteria that lead to cavities, or holes in the teeth. You should brush before you go to bed and try not to eat anything after but if you do, you should brush again to avoid leftover food for bacteria. As for the toothpaste, you only really need a little bit, like a pea-size, as described by dentalhealth.org (This article has great advice!) Try to get all the surfaces of your teeth. A sonicare or another electric toothbrush is best. Parents can start brushing their children’s teeth as soon as their teeth show with a small gentle finger-brush or cloth. As a parent, try to make sure your child brushes their teeth well by assisting them and don’t forget to brush that tongue at the end! Try to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, do not share your toothbrush if possible because this can lead to complicated infections.

Floss it good

Floss at least once each day, preferably at night before or after brushing your teeth before bed. This practice helps to remove particulates of food and bacteria in hard to reach areas between our teeth to help prevent tooth decay. I like to take about a foot-long of floss to get a stronger grip. Wrapping it around different fingers helps to distribute the pressure of the floss evenly on the fingers so you don’t restrict the blood circulation on one finger (and get a purple finger). There are those little plastic flosses but I prefer to have more traction with the string floss. Plus, you reduce plastic use!

Water it down

I remember as a child, I used to eat these candies called Gushers all the time and it would stick to my teeth (no wonder I had a bunch of cavities as a kid). It is difficult to avoid sugary desserts sometimes but rinsing the mouth with water after eating, especially with acidic foods, can help prevent tooth decay. Also, do not suck on lemons! Well, rinse with water after if you really need to. If you ever have acid reflux, it will help to drink water to avoid acids reaching the teeth and causing erosion. That is why it is a good idea to drink water after your meals to prevent this.

Starve them

Bacteria love sugar, especially the ones in our mouth. Less sugar means less bacteria growing in the mouth. Bacteria have to go to the bathroom too and some of them produce acids after eating the leftover sugars in the mouth, causing breakdown of the white part of our teeth, or enamel. This allows for exposure to the deeper parts of the tooth, which contain nerves and blood vessels, giving rise to pain and infection. So think twice before eating or drinking something that has a lot of sugar, such as candy, junk foods like chips and cookies, or soda. Furthermore, too much sugar can lead to diabetes and other systemic problems.

Twice a year, have no fear

While not everyone will need to visit the dentist every six months, it is a good idea to visit the dentist typically twice a year for a professional cleaning. If you are practicing the basic care for your teeth, then the visit should be quick and easy and you may not even need a cleaning. Find a good dentist near you and try to visit them every six months to keep your teeth in great shape. Ask questions too! There are many fields of dentistry such as endodontics (root canals), periodontics (gum complications), orthodontics (braces), and prosthodontics (fake teeth). You will typically be referred to these specialties by your general dentist. If you fear the dentist, just take a deep breath through your nose and hold it for three seconds then exhale through your mouth and feel your body relax. Just keep doing this and feel your body relaxing with each exhalation.

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Animation by Edmund Celis.

Usually, the dentist will just look at your teeth but if you have any cavities, they may need to fill it up to cover it and this may require an injection to numb the area. It only hurts for a little bit in the beginning but it’s only a pinch. This pain is small compared to not numbing the area because there are many nerves in the tooth. Also, if the dentist is really skilled and steady, you may not feel any pain at all. Ultimately, if you take great care of your teeth and get cleanings from a dentist about twice a year, you may never experience any tooth pain!

I may have missed some important points but please take care of your teeth by doing your own research, asking your dentist questions, and practicing good habits. Enjoy your teeth while you still have them!

Edmund with Healthy Smiles bus
Photo of Edmund Celis at Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County event. Courtesy of Kayvan Fard.


Here is an audio of the article as well.


Please see my articles, "Being Yourself is the First Step" and, "The Natural Flow of Life". They may help you to reduce any anxiety you may be experiencing. Also, please also read my article, "The Wireless Connection".

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