Now That’s Just Gross! Bacteria and Your Mouth

Dentist in 50226When most people think of keeping their mouth clean, their thoughts turn to flossing and brushing their teeth. Actually, cleanliness goes beyond dental hygiene. It’s also about what you put into your mouth throughout the day that determines your oral health. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a dentist in 50226, shares his list of some of the filthiest objects you come into contact with on a daily basis.

Gross-out No. 1: Fingernails

Think of everything that your hands touch in a single day—money, door knobs, toilet handles in public restrooms. True, you probably wash your hands multiple times a day, but even a perfunctory hand-washing doesn’t always remove bacteria trapped beneath your fingernails. When you bite your fingernails, you introduce these bacteria into your mouth. It’s best to stop biting your nails altogether, especially as this particular habit is also rough on your teeth. If you can’t kick the habit, you should at least take good care of your nails. Use a nail brush to remove bacteria from under your nails, and wash your hands thoroughly.

Gross-out No. 2: Tags and Packages

First and foremost, says Dr. Hussong, teeth are not tools. When you use your teeth to open bags of chips or ketchup, or to pull off tags from clothing, you subject your mouth to even more bacteria. How many people tried on that garment before you bought it? How many pairs of hands touched those packages on the grocery store shelves or at a crowded fast food restaurant? It’s an unsettling thought, to say the least. Also, you are more likely to chip a tooth attempting to gnaw off a tag or bit of plastic. If this happens, you may need bonding or porcelain veneers to mask the damage.

Gross-out No. 3: Double Dipping

Double dipping introduces bacteria aplenty. What if two party-goers resort to double dipping? The amount of bacteria added to the mix is staggering, not to mention most unappetizing. Here’s an unsavory thought—birthday parties. When someone blows out the candles, he isn’t thinking about bacteria. If the birthday boy happens to be a child, well, kiss cleanliness goodbye. Double dipping and party cakes increase the risk of contracting food-borne illness, not to mention transferring bacteria from one person to many people.

Gross-out No. 4: Sharing Lipstick

Have you ever sampled the lipsticks or lip glosses at a makeup counter? Bad idea, says Dr. Hussong. Most makeup artists use carefully sanitized brushes, but your fellow shoppers? Not so much. Bacteria and viruses accumulate rapidly, especially on a busy shopping day. Even herpes can be spread this way! Do your mouth a favor and test lip products on your hand, not your lips. If you think using your best friend’s chap stick is any more hygienic, think again.

Protect your mouth with preventive dentistry. To learn more about caring for your oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We proudly serve patients living in Ames, Alleman, Ankeny, Grimes, and around the 50226 zip code.