Check us out on YouTube as we talk teeth #watchyourmouthSpanish
Check us out on YouTube as we talk teeth #watchyourmouthSpanish

Dental Expert Shares His Own Dental Hygiene Journey & Daily Routine

Well, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And I figure what better way to get to know me than to share my dental experience and how I take care of my mouth. 

Do you Brush Before Breakfast or After Breakfast?

I brush every morning before breakfast. I wake up and I brush while I’m in the shower because I’m highly efficient and I like to get things done.

Do You Brush for the Whole Two Minutes?

I do. I brush. I used to not be very good about that, but now I have an electric toothbrush. After two minutes, the little timer goes off, so it keeps me honest. 

How Many Times a Day do you Brush?

I always brush at least twice a day. I brush in the morning when I first get up and I always brush before I go to bed. Usually I’ll try and sneak one in the afternoon. Sometimes when we’re working, we work through lunch so we don’t get a chance to stop and eat, so I don’t really feel the need to brush. But when we do have lunch and it’s something that has a lot of sugar or something that is going to stain the teeth, I’ll get a good brush in. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes that one is not the full two minutes. It’s better than nothing.

How Many Times a Day Do I Floss?

The correct answer is at least once a day. But I am a little academic. There is actually a study, and we probably shouldn’t say this, that found that brushing and rinsing with Listerine or something similar to that is almost as effective as brushing and flossing. So sometimes I use that as my excuse, but you’re not allowed to use that as your excuse. We still highly recommend flossing at least once a day. 

Do Your Gums Bleed When You Floss?

They do not. I’ve been blessed with very healthy genetics. I have luckily, healthy teeth, and healthy gums. When I was a kid growing up, I would sneak into the bathroom and wet the toothbrush bristles and pretend to brush my teeth. So when I was younger, I did have issues with bleeding gums. But I have since learned the era of my ways. Now with regular maintenance, I have a nice and healthy mouth. That’s a true story, too. I was trying to fake my mom out. I don’t know why I did that, but yeah, I could have totally just brushed my teeth.

Do You Clean Your Tongue Regularly?

Yes, absolutely. Every time I brush and once the little alarm goes off after two minutes, I go in there and brush the tongue just to make sure it’s clean. We also have these pretty cool things called tongue scrapers. They’re little plastic tools that almost look like magnifying glasses that have a loop on them. You can just get back there and just scrape your tongue off. You’d be amazed at the stuff you can scrape off. It just makes your mouth feel fresher after brushing.

What Happened to Your Sophomore Year in College?

Best year of my life. 

Did You Ever Have Any Teeth Knocked Out?

No, I did not. I’ve been very fortunate. Although when I was in the Army, I was stationed at Fort Drum in New York. I was the chief of Prosthodontics and I had another general dental officer with me. We decided to be really healthy and fun to join a mixed martial arts club. 

So the first training session, when we were sparring, he came over to me halfway through it missing half his front tooth. It dawned on me that the two dentists in the class were the only ones that didn’t have mouthguards. So it was very fortunate that it was him and not me. So needless to say, we went and made nightguards and I’m a very big proponent of mouthguards. It’s kind of interesting. 

There have been a couple of studies that show that having a mouth guard opens the mouth up and even at rest, it increases sports performance. I think it was Underarmor that did this study with athletes. So using athletes like Seth Curry and LeBron James, they found that you can increase physical performance by keeping that bite open a little bit. I guess it has to do with the airway, but also it protects the teeth.

My own personal journey with teeth. I was missing my laterals, and so I went through orthodontics braces to kind of bring everything together. But the shapes and sizes weren’t right. So by the time I was in, I think it was sophomore year of high school, I had veneers put on there, which looked great. Dr. Hamlet did an awesome. Shout out to him. Those were great for me. But then, as I got into the army and the residency, I had one of my fellow residents, Jared Sanders make me a new set of veneers. So I’ve had these veneers for almost about 12-13 years now. Veneers can last a long time. I’ve got a healthy mouth. I take care of them. Dr. Sanders knew what he was doing. He did a good job for me. So that may be one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of Veneers. Because they’ve done such a good job for me. And I’ve been happy with them.

Do You Yell at Your Kids if They Don’t Brush or Floss?

Yell no, but we try the shame thing. Like if you don’t brush, your breath is gonna be stinky and no one’s going to want to talk to you. We try to do the subtle, so they think about it. Luckily, my girls are awesome. They’ve always been toothbrushers. Unfortunately, my son might be following my sneaky path, so we have to kind of watch him and stay on top of him. 

Is There Any Part of Dental Care That You Wish You Didn’t Have to Do?

Flossing. I don’t like flossing and I realize a lot of people don’t like flossing. Part of that actually stems from flossing the wrong way. A lot of people think if you just jam the floss between the teeth, you are doing the right thing. You’re getting the debris off between the teeth, but you don’t have to go so hard and aggressively hit the tissue. You kind of hug the tooth on either side and go nice and slow. Flossing doesn’t have to be this terrible thing. But flossing has always been my burden to bear on home care. I understand why people say they hate flossing often because it’s something I struggle with. But it definitely does the job of removing debris you can’t get to with a toothbrush. 

Do You Use Any Special Medical Tools That Most People Don’t Have Access To?

No, no. All I use is an electric toothbrush and regular old floss. You know, the cool thing is there are lots of different types of floss.

There’s wax floss. There is flavored floss. There are lots of different types of floss. And if you have bridges, there are floss Threaders. There are lots of different things. These are all things you just get at your local Walmart or Walgreens. I love electric toothbrushes. They do a really good job of physically removing the debris. There are some really cool studies about how much that actually knocks debris off, which is pretty awesome.

Do You Have Floss in Your Car?

Yes, I have floss on my car. I also have lots of other weird things like cryptocurrency books and weird knives and safety blankets. I’m kind of a little bit of a prepper, so I try and be overly prepared. So floss is definitely one of the things in my emergency kit.

What’s the Longest Time You’ve Ever Gone Without Brushing Your Teeth?

Oh, that is a great question. The longest time I’ve ever gone without brushing my teeth is during high school. Let’s say I just had some shady home care message when I was younger.

I think I’ve gone a weekend before. Either when I went camping or out of town, and I didn’t bring a toothbrush. And you do the best you can with, you know, swishing with Listerine if you’ve got it. And I tell you what, nothing feels better than getting back and getting everything nice and cleaned up. You know, it’s funny. On that note, we have a lot of patients that absolutely love coming in to get their teeth cleaned. The other day we had somebody come in and say they would come in every week. And I said, hey, let’s do it. Let’s get you scheduled every Thursday. That would probably be overkill, but there’s nothing like a nice, good clean by our hygienist. That just really sets you back to fresh and it’s awesome. 

Have You Ever Substituted Brushing or Flossing with Unconventional Tools to Get the Job Done?

I’ve tried fishing before with floss. It did not work. I’m not a good fisherman, but we had no line. Yeah, no. Other than that, I wish I had a better story. 

Have You Ever Used Your Finger or a Toothpick?

Definitely. The problem with toothpicks is that they’re so bulky and they’re not designed for going in between the teeth. I used to have that habit of chewing toothpicks and always poking around the gum. There are lots of dental options that are specifically made to be friendlier to the gum tissue. But yes, Unfortunately, I have substituted a toothbrush by using my finger. Definitely not anywhere near as efficient, but with fluoride just getting there and you scrubbing around is better than nothing for sure. It works in a pinch, but I would not recommend it, otherwise, you will be spending a lot more time with us. 

What Does My Dental Future Look Like?

I don’t foresee anything major in my path. I think I’ve been blessed with good bones and healthy teeth. I definitely have an underbite, which we actually were gonna correct in college, but the whole process of the surgery involves breaking the jaw, moving it back, and wiring it shut. As a swimmer, I didn’t think that would be a good combination of having your jaws wired shut, and trying to swim competitively. But no, I don’t. I think my teeth are going to be healthy. I think I have great home care and regular cleanings. We’re staying on top of anything and knock on wood, I don’t have any cavities.

Have You Ever Had a Cavity?

I never had a cavity. A lot of times when I talk to patients,  they’re like, you know, why do I get cavities? Why do I have bone loss? It’s the genetic lottery. So there are basically four kinds of bacteria in your mouth. 

The first kind attacks the teeth. So it causes cavities because of decay. Those patients, no matter what they do, no matter how often they brush, they get decay and break down a lot of times. It’s because they didn’t have fluoride in their teeth. They’re just soft. It stinks because that’s just the kind of bacteria you have. The second kind of bacteria actually attacks the bone and that causes periodontal disease. So these patients can have great teeth and no cavities, but they lose a lot of teeth by 25, 30, or earlier on in life. They can have great home care but the bacteria just attack that bone. The third type of patient has both sides of bacteria, cavities, and bone loss. Worst case scenario. And unfortunately, it is all genetic. It comes from your parents.

My parents both lost their teeth at 30. And unfortunately, that’s genetics. Now there are a lot of things we can do in the future of periodontology. We can look at bacteria and change that bacterial makeup, which is really cool stuff. But we’re not there yet. The fourth kind is the bacteria that are totally beneficial to your teeth and bone tissue. When I was in the military, we had a lot of soldiers in processing from rural areas that never seen a dentist and didn’t really know what a toothbrush was. Yet their teeth were great. You know, their breath was not the best and their gum tissue wasn’t the happiest. But they had no bone loss, had no cavities. So again, it just goes back to genetics.

Knowing where you are is the most important thing and we can always have a treatment plan to get you fixed. 

What Is the Saddest Story You Have About Your Time as a Dentist?

It is a story about an older patient that had a removal appliance. So basically, it was a partial denture, which by design, is designed to be put on in the morning. You rock and roll all day. You take it out at night and you clean everything. You go to bed and you put it back in the morning. For whatever reason, this patient never took it out. And so when we finally did take it out,  there was just food and debris. There were cavities there as well. I felt really bad for them because that, unfortunately, led to them losing more teeth.

I’m Dr. Brett Langston. Thank you for being my neighbor. And don’t forget, watch your mouth.