Waterford, MI Dentist
Lloyd H. Alpert, D.D.S.
4025 Highland Road
Waterford, MI 48328
(248) 682-6010

Posts for: June, 2014

Plaque and tartar do not affect everyone in the same way; individuals vary greatly in their susceptibility and resistance. For many of us, these deposits build up faster as we age, meaning the older you get, the more closely you have to monitor your dental hygiene routine. There are, however, several ways in which you can alter your dental hygiene practices to help protect your teeth from the buildup of plaque and tartar.

  • Having your teeth cleaned professionally every six months, or more frequently as recommended by your dentist or hygienist
  • Brushing with a toothpaste that contains pyrophosphate, such as Crest® Tartar Protection, which adheres to the tooth surface and inhibits the formation or growth of calculus crystals
  • Brushing with Crest® Pro-Health or Crest® Vivid White, which contain sodium hexametaphosphate, a pyrophosphate specially formulated to not only inhibit calculus, but also loosen and break the bonds of extrinsic stains for powerful whitening and a protective barrier to prevent future stains


Simple Ways to Improve Oral Health: Are You Healthier Than an Olympic Athlete?

Dianne L. Sefo, RDH, BA


You probably don't think that being in better health than an Olympic athlete is something you can easily achieve, but by adopting some simple ways to improve oral health, you'll be the one wearing the gold medal. A recent study by the London Eastman Dental Institute in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the oral health of London 2012 Olympic athletes and revealed that 55 percent had cavities, 76 percent had gingivitis (inflammation or infection of the gums) and 15 percent had periodontitis (inflammation or infection of the gums spreading to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth). Nearly half of these athletes had not received a dental examination or dental hygiene care in the previous year.

It was concluded that the oral health of these athletes was poor. Many of them felt it had a negative impact on their athletic performance and well-being.

The Right Tools for the Right Regimen

Practicing proper oral hygiene regimens and using the right tools are really important ways to improve oral health. The American Dental Association's (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste to help remove food and plaque (a sticky film of bacteria that forms at the gum line and on the teeth). Correct brushing technique is to place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gum line and gently move the bristles back and forth in short strokes. Make sure to brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of all your teeth. Brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue cleaner. Use a toothbrush that fits comfortably in your mouth and a toothpaste containing active ingredients that can help protect you from specific problems, such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, tartar buildup, stains or sensitivity; Colgate® Sensitive Pro-Relief in particular addresses sensitivity. The ADA also recommends including an interdental cleaner such as floss once a day as part of a daily routine for a healthy mouth.

Other Ways to Improve Oral Health

Eat a balanced diet and limit sugary snacks and beverages. Consuming whole grains, low-sugar breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables and high-quality protein such as that contained in lean meats, eggs, fish, cheese and dry beans are the best food choices for a healthy mouth. According to the ADA, fruits and vegetables should take up half of your plate, with the other half divided between whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods. Fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial because chewing firm, coarse, watery and fibrous foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, apples and lettuce, stimulates the flow of saliva, which facilitates the digestion of foods and reduces food retention in your mouth. Calcium-fortified tofu can be substituted for animal protein sources.

Regularly visit your dental office for oral exams and professional cleanings. You should go to your dental maintenance visits twice per year, but only your dental health professional can tell you how often you should have your checkup and professional cleaning based on your needs. If you're unsure how to clean your mouth properly, ask your dental health professional to show you the correct technique. If you are experiencing symptoms of disease such as bleeding gums or discomfort, do not wait for your regular checkup because it may be a sign of a problem that requires immediate attention.

Wear a mouth guard if you play a sport. Mouth guards help prevent injuries by cushioning blows to your lips, teeth and jaw when playing sports. Not every Olympic athlete takes the precaution, but a mouth guard is the best protection against getting your teeth broken or knocked out. There are many types of mouth guards, so you will need to ask your dentist to help you decide which type is right for you.

Olympic athletes are viewed as healthy. But what does it really mean to be healthy? Oral health is an important part of your well-being. When you take care of your body, your mouth should be included — and it's simple to do.

Learn more about ways to improve oral health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

About the author: Dianne L. Sefo is a dental hygienist and dental hygiene educator. She has been involved in multiple publications, has worked in private practices in New York and Southern California, and has been a faculty member at Monroe Community College, Concorde Careers College — San Diego, and New York University. 

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral compound found in water and soil. It is also present in foods and beverages at varying concentrations. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the entire tooth surface more resistant to acid attacks from the bacteria that live in the plaque on your teeth. Fluoride also promotes remineralization (adding minerals such as calcium back in to your teeth), which aids in repairing early decay before a cavity (hole) forms in the tooth. There are two ways to increase fluoride protection: topical and systemic applications.

What is topical fluoride?

Fluoridated toothpaste and floss are examples of topical fluoride.

Topical fluoride is applied directly to and absorbed by the surface of the teeth. It is found in personal oral hygiene products such as toothpastes and mouth rinses, which contain a safe and effective concentration of fluoride to fight tooth decay. These products are rinsed from the mouth without swallowing.

Professionally administered topical fluorides such as foams, gels or varnishes are applied by a dentist and left on for a few minutes, usually during a cleaning treatment. For patients with a high risk of cavities, the dentist may prescribe a special gel or toothpaste for daily home use.

What is systemic fluoride?

Systemic fluoride is taken into the body through consuming fluoridated water, fluoride supplements or foods and beverages. Once systemic fluoride is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract, the blood distributes it throughout the entire body. Fluoride is then deposited into unerupted, developing teeth. Systemic fluoride is also found in saliva and it continually bathes the teeth, providing a topical application to protect teeth.

How do I know if my toothpaste contains fluoride?

Check the label on your toothpaste to see if fluoride is an ingredient. You should also check for the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Approval to ensure that your toothpaste contains the proper amount of fluoride. If it's not fluoridated, consider switching.

What is fluoridated water?

Fluoridated water is an example of systemic flouride.

Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride levels in the community water supply to the optimum level to protect oral health. By simply drinking tap water in communities with a fluoridated water supply, people can benefit from fluoride's protection from decay. Research for the past 60 years has shown community water fluoridation to be safe and the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay in adults and children. Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major national and international health organization including the American Dental Association, American Medical Association, World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

How do I find out if the water in my community is fluoridated?

The easiest and most accurate way to find out is to contact your local water company and ask. The CDC web site also has a page "My Water's Fluoride" (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp) that allows consumers to learn the fluoridation status of their water system.

What if I drink mostly bottled water?

If most of your water comes in the form of bottled water, you are missing out on the valuable fluoride found in tap water, which helps to protect teeth from cavities. In most cases, the fluoride concentrations in bottled water (even in some that are fluoridated) fall below the U.S. government's recommended range of 0.7-1.2 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, the ideal range to prevent cavities. If you drink mostly bottled water, you should talk to your dentist about fluoride supplements (tablets or drops), fluoride mouth rinses and topical fluoride gels.

Are children more sensitive to fluoride?

Fluoride is absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children's developing teeth. In young children, excess fluoride intake can cause dental fluorosis, typically a harmless cosmetic discoloring or mottling of the enamel, visible as chalky white specks and lines or pitted and brown stained enamel on teeth.

Parents should monitor the use of toothpaste, mouth rinses and fluoride supplements in young children to ensure they are not ingesting too much. Check with your dentist on the proper amount of toothpaste to use or the proper dosage of a fluoride supplement.

If you are concerned about the fluoride levels in your drinking water, call the local public water department or your water supplier. If the source is a private well, request a fluoride content analysis from your local or county health department to ensure that the fluoride levels are within the proper range.

What is fluoride? Academy of General Dentistry.

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

Information provided from Delta Dental. This site is the home of Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental of the District of Columbia, Delta Dental of Delaware, Delta Dental of West Virginia, their affiliated companies, and Delta Dental of New York. For other Delta Dental Plans Association member companies, visit 



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