Do you ever wonder about how certain foods and drinks really affect your teeth, about the kind of toothbrush you’re using, or even why we take your blood pressure during hygiene appointments? In this article, Dr. Gio Iuculano and hygienist Laura Steinmetz respond to some of our patients’ most frequently-asked questions.
- Are sugar-free sodas harmful to my teeth?
- How long should I wait before cleaning my teeth after a meal?
- Why does my dentist’s office take my blood pressure at every cleaning appointment?
- Does it matter what kind of toothbrush I use?
- Do I need dental sealants?
Laura: Yes! Don’t be fooled by artificially sweetened sodas. Even if they are made with a sugar substitute, the carbonic acid in artificially sweetened sodas is still bad for your teeth. Many sugar-free sodas contain multiple kinds of acid, including carbonic acid, phosphoric acid, and citric acid. Carbonic acid can be harmful to teeth, and much more so when combined with additional acids. The best drinks for your oral health are pure water and unsweetened teas.
Laura: I usually tell patients to wait 20 to 30 minutes after a meal to brush. If you’ve just had an acid-forming food or drink, the pH level in your mouth may be lower (acidic), and brushing under those conditions could be harmful to your teeth. Waiting 20-30 minutes to brush allows your teeth to remineralize. In the meantime, it’s okay to rinse with water.
Dr. Gio: A routine blood pressure check before your hygiene appointment begins is now the standard of care. By ensuring that your blood pressure level will allow your cleaning to proceed safely, we help you to maintain your overall health.
Laura: I only recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes. Some patients may need electric toothbrushes as opposed to manual ones. Some patients may need to choose a brush with a smaller head if they have a smaller or constricted mouth. Whether your toothbrush is manual or electric, larger or smaller, choose the softest bristles possible.
Dr. Gio: We typically recommend sealants for younger children, and dental insurance usually pays for sealants up to age 14. Younger patients are more prone to cavities for various reasons: diets high in sugar, brushing haphazardly or for less than two full minutes, or neglecting to brush and floss. We normally place sealants on molars because they are the ones that have the deepest grooves on their biting surface and are the ones more likely to develop cavities. For adults, we normally don’t recommend dental sealants—but as always, if you are concerned about your own situation, just ask us. We’ll be glad to discuss it with you.