Thought You Knew Everything About Brushing Your Teeth? Think Again!

Recently, we received a question from a patient, they asked:

“Does it promote cavities (or wear enamel) to eat acidic food like tomatoes and then brush your teeth shortly after?”


tooth-imageEXPLANATION: This is an interesting question that I feel like will benefit the vast majority of readers that come across it. If you ask most people when the best time to brush their teeth was, the answer you would hear over and over would be “after meals and right before bed.” WRONG. Another common answer would be “after breakfast and before bed”. Again I would argue, you guessed it, WRONG. I know this is hard to believe, because it flies in the face of what the majority of people have either been taught or assumed their entire lives. So when is the RIGHT time to brush your teeth? BEFORE MEALS!! I know this seems backwards, but that is because people either have no understanding or don’t fully grasp two main concepts: A) What causes cavities and even more surprising B) why do we brush in the first place? By answering these two questions first, we’ll be able to better wrap our heads around the logic.

Cavities are essentially caused by ACID destruction of tooth structure. Two primary factors contribute to this.
1) Acidic foods and beverages can weaken enamel and dentin. Things like soda and sweet tea are a double whammy since they are both acidic and also feed the bacteria to produce more acid.
2) Certain bacteria, specifically Strep mutans, digest sucrose (sugar) and other fermentable carbohydrates producing acid as a byproduct.

Common sense tells us that we should brush to get the food off of our teeth, right? Wrong. We brush our teeth specifically to remove plaque and bacteria from our teeth. Food and debris removal is just an added bonus so we don’t get made fun of for having that little piece of green leafy something stuck on our front tooth…you know what I’m talking about.

SO…….If we brush AFTER meals, our teeth have plaque/bacteria on them when we eat or drink. This means that our teeth are being attacked not only by the natural acidity of what we’re ingesting, but also from the acid produced by the bacteria. It only takes 5 minutes for these bacteria to start creating acid. In contrast, it takes 30 minutes for your body to regulate the acidity caused by these processes back to a neutral environment. By the time you brush your teeth, it’s too late. In addition, if you brush your teeth following this acid exposure (especially with abrasive toothpaste and/or a hard toothbrush), the tooth structure is going to be more susceptible to mechanical abrasion or erosion. If we brush BEFORE meals, the plaque and bacteria are decreased, limiting the amount of acid that can potentially harm our teeth.

SUMMARY: It’s best to brush first thing in the morning BEFORE breakfast and again after work, but BEFORE dinner. It’s still good to brush before bed, but just make sure it has been at least 30 minutes since you last ate or had your favorite carbonated beverage!

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Sedation Dentistry

The fear of the dentist is as common as the fear of heights. We know that you want to come to dentist almost as much as you want to bungee jump off a 6 story bridge, but what if we told you, coming to the dentist might not be as bad you might think, and we could quell that feeling of panic with a few simple sedative options?

At Westgate Family Dental we offer three different sedation options. Dr. Yarbrough is specially trained and certified in IV and oral sedation and has been administering IV Sedation for over 30 years in his practice in addition to Nitrous Oxide. Dr. Latiolais is also Oral Sedation and Nitrous Oxide certified.  We want our patients to feel comfort int he fact they have choices when ti comes to their sedation options, options that are affordable and effective.

Here’s what we offer:

IV Sedation

IV Sedation is a safe, reversible and effective sedation technique that puts the patient into a “twilight” like sleep, you are NOT completely under as you would be in Deep Sedation. The sedative drugs are administered through an IV that is placed in the patient’s arm. The IV administration of the drugs allows for a faster, and more effective onset and faster turnaround. Even though you are in a “twilight” state of sleep, you will be in and out of this sleep throughout your procedure, however, the memory of the procedure after fully awaking will seem foggy and forgettable. During IV Sedation, the patient is capable of breathing on their own without the assistance of oxygen unlike Deep Sedation where they are incapable of breathing on their own. During IV Sedation your vitals are fully monitored by the doctor, using a hospital monitor that monitors your, Blood Pressure, Pulse (heart rate), Blood/Oxygen levels. Pre-Operative Note: Patients who elect IV Sedation are advised to not eat or drink anything 6 hours prior to their appointment with the exception of sips of water up to 2 hours prior to the appointment. The patient must have an adult over 18 bring them to their appointment, and take them home. Patient’s are not permitted to drive, operate heavy machinery or be left alone after the IV sedation.

Oral Sedation

Oral Sedation is administered in a pill format and is also a safe and effective form sedation. Similar to IV Sedation, Oral Sedation puts the patient in a “twilight” state of sleep and allows for the patient to breath on their own without the assistance of Oxygen. Oral sedation is a more inexpensive choice for sedation however, the onset is slower depending on the patient in comparison to the quick onset of IV Sedation but the effectiveness is almost equal in comparison. Your vitals are also monitored the same as IV Sedation as we monitor your blood pressure, pulse and blood/oxygen levels. Pre-Operative Note: Patients who elect oral sedation are advised to eat a light breakfast/lunch prior to their appointment and are also requested to be at their appointment one hour prior to the scheduled procedure to administer the oral sedation medication. The patient must have an adult over 18 bring them to their appointment, and take them. Patient’s are not permitted to drive after the oral sedation.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide (a.k.a laughing gas) is a safe and effective inhalation conscious sedation method administered through breathing through a nose mask. Nitrous Oxide is the mixture of Oxygen and Nitrous gas, which  a colorless and non-flammable gas and together are an effective form of conscious sedation.  Nitrous Oxide does not require any pre-operative prepping and does not involve needing someone to bring you and take you home from your appointment. As soon as the procedure is finished we place you on oxygen which then removes the Nitrous Oxide from your blood stream and you are able to drive and function normally post-operatively.

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