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Dental Care Checklist for Infants
See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.
Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.
Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.
Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).
Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.
Keep an Eye On:
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.
Signs of Teething -- Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or "cut," as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.
Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.
Smart Snacks for Healthy Teeth
Getting your kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. But it's important to encourage them to eat "smart" snacks to keep their teeth – and body – healthy.
Whether you’re transitioning your older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little ones, here are some tips for healthy snacking:
Set the tone. Your kids mimic what you do, so it’s important that you eat smart snacks too. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will too.
Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks can be fun! Prepare tasty combinations, such as apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, meat and cheese rollups, or yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.
Keep your kids involved. When you make your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they'd like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what's good for their teeth and what's not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.
We can help you come up with even more ideas for healthy snacks – come in for a visit, and we’ll work on a plan together.
Regular Checkups Can Save You Thousands
If you have dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease or even oral cancer, regular dental visits give your dentist a chance to catch it early on. That's key. Because the earlier your dentist diagnoses a problem the easier it is to treat. For example, if you have gum disease and let it go unchecked (and untreated) for too long, you may need extensive - and expensive - gum disease treatment.
Regular dental checkups allow you and your dentist to stay ahead of problems, which can translate into thousands saved.
A professional dental cleaning is also a must because it's the only way to effectively remove tartar (hardened plaque). Even if you brush and floss regularly, that’s not enough. Besides looking unsightly (tartar is a "stain magnet" and often has a brown or yellowish tint), tartar also contains cavity-causing bacteria. Preventing the need for a mouthful of fillings every year easily adds up to thousands saved in the long run.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings is that it has a positive impact on your overall health. Recent studies have shown that there’s a link between periodontal disease and heart disease; when the former is present, the latter is twice as likely.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and attach to your heart's blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart's blood vessels to swell.
In this way, regular checkups and cleanings are not only money-saving but life-saving. And that’s priceless.
Food For Serious Thought
Many different types of food can cause tooth decay in children, not just candy. Foods high in carbohydrates – as well as some fruits, juices and sodas, peanut butter, crackers and potato chips – also attack children’s teeth. It’s important to understand not only what foods children eat but also the frequency particular foods are eaten and how long they remain as particles in the mouth.
What About Soda?
In addition to serious ailments later in life (e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.), dentists believe kids who consume too much soda and not enough nutritional beverages are more prone to tooth decay. Even if children drink soda occasionally, any prolonged exposure to soda can cause damage. Sipping a soft drink all afternoon is more harmful to teeth than drinking a large soda with a meal and then not drinking any soda for the rest of the day.
Drinking carbonated soft drinks regularly – or over a long period of time – contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel and enamel breakdown leads to cavities. If erosion spreads beneath the enamel, pain and sensitivity may eventually result. This can cause nerve infection, in which case a root canal might even be necessary.
Children at school should rinse their mouths with water after meals, leaving their teeth free of sugar and acid. Children should also seek sources of fluoridation. One good source of fluoride is from fluoridated bottled water. Or, if the local water supply is fluoridated, encourage children to drink tap or fountain water.
Children should use a straw when drinking soda to keep sugar away from teeth. In fact, even bottled juices should be consumed with a straw, due to the high sugar content. Furthermore, consider sugary drinks from a can or box rather than a bottle with a replaceable cap to discourage prolonged exposure.
Children should also be supervised as they brush. Generally, when children can dress themselves and tie their own shoes (4-5 years of age), then they are ready to brush unsupervised. However, children should be supervised in proper flossing techniques at least until the age of 10.
If you have any concerns about your child's dental health, or want some additional tips on preventing tooth decay, give our office a call.
Sinusitis Got You Down?
Why Would I Need a Root Canal?
Bad breath [halitosis] is overwhelmingly the result of problems that develop in the mouth; it can be embarrassing and create psychological barriers to personal relationships. Other reasons for bad breath include kidney failure [fishy odor], infection in the lungs or sinuses, diabetes mellitus [acetone odor] and gastrointestinal disorders. Fasting may result in halitosis from metabolic waste products when, in the absence of food intake, the body breaks down fat and protein to provide energy. Most people are unaware of their own mouth odor, and it’s difficult to test you own breath. Exhaling into your hand is unreliable. Since 90% of halitosis originates in the mouth, you must understand its causes and eliminate or modify the risk factors. The most common cause of mouth odor is the decomposition of food particles or other debris by bacteria. Some of the smelly end-products of this putrefying process are sulfur compounds. Toxins given off by bacteria in oral infections also are odor producing.
A dry mouth due to decreased salivary flow is a contributory factor to oral odor. Saliva naturally cleanses, removing food and particles that may cause halitosis. Some people awaken in the morning with a bad taste and/or odor due to diminished salivary flow while sleeping. Individuals taking medications such as anti-histamines, tranquilizers and various blood pressure medicines may have decreased salivary flow as a side effect. Stress contributes to a decreased flow of saliva. Mouth breathers and smokers tend to dry out their mouths, and of course, tobacco has its own distinctive odor. People experiencing dry mouth can stimulate salivary flow with sugarless gum or candy and should increase their liquid uptake to 6-8 glasses of water a day. Some foods such as onions, garlic, eggs and others give off their own pungent smells. Mouthwash and toothpaste only temporarily mask these odors, and they will continue until eliminated by the body. Good oral hygiene will remove sticky plaque that entraps food particles and provides a home for bacteria. Daily brushing and flossing will go a long way in eliminating halitosis. Tongue scraping or brushing is also important. Full or partial dentures are harbingers of plaque and food particles and should be cleaned thoroughly. Since they also absorb odors, they should be bathed in appropriated solutions. See your pharmacist or call this office for recommendations. If you are still concerned about bad breath, please visit us for a check-up. We can find and eliminate any periodontal infections or tooth decay and make specific suggestions. Don’t risk having offensive halitosis. Take the proper steps.
How to Pick a Toothbrush
Picking a toothbrush sounds easy, right? But if you've ever walked down the toothbrush aisle of your local drug store, you know how easy it is to get confused by all the choices. Some toothbrushes promise fresh breath, deep cleaning and even teeth whitening. Others are specially designed for orthodontics or dentures. While these special features are enticing, it's best to ask your dentist if they're right for you or if you need them at all. There are, however, some toothbrush basics that you need to know -- these tips should make your search for a toothbrush a whole lot easier!
What to Look for in a Toothbrush
The right toothbrush can help turn bad oral hygiene habits into good oral hygiene habits. Without daily brushing and flossing, your teeth and gums may become especially vulnerable to tooth decay, dental plaque, dental tartar, even gum disease. Don't let that happen -- use these guidelines to help you pick a toothbrush; the more you like your toothbrush, the more likely you are to brush.
Remember: stiffer is not better. It might seem like a toothbrush with stiff bristles is the right choice -- after all, many of your household brushes probably have rigid bristles, making cleaning faster and easier. But the opposite is true when it comes to picking a toothbrush. And the reason why is simple: Softer bristles are easier on your gums. When you brush, you want to clean your teeth, not make your gums bleed. A toothbrush with stiff bristles is more likely to cause bleeding gums.
Go nylon, not natural. There's a whole slew of natural dental products available that are environmentally friendly. You may have even heard about something called a "Natural Toothbrush" with bristles made from the root of an Araak tree. Other types of natural toothbrushes have brown bristles that are reportedly softer than nylon bristles. While you may be curious to try a natural toothbrush, keep in mind that there has been little research done in the U.S. on their effectiveness (or harmfulness). Natural toothbrushes may also cost more and wear out faster than standard toothbrushes. Until there's more information about natural toothbrushes, it's probably best to stick to an ADA-recommended toothbrush with medium-soft, nylon bristles.
Get a heads up. When it comes to a toothbrush head, you might think that bigger is better. That's not always the case. If you have a small mouth, a toothbrush with a big head might make it difficult to angle your toothbrush to brush hard-to-reach areas. Go for something that complements the size of your mouth.
Choose a handle with care. The handles of toothbrushes are usually colorful, sometimes translucent or even glittery. But don't be fooled into thinking that "bright and shiny" is all you need. What you should really look for is a toothbrush handle that feels comfortable in your hand and is easy to maneuver. Also look for a non-slip surface, especially if you have arthritis.
Don't forget: After daily use, your toothbrush can lose its effectiveness and even become a breeding ground for germs, fungus and bacteria. Who wants that? To get the most out of your toothbrush, replace it frequently -- at least every 1-3 months. And if you recently had a cold or infection, you may have transferred germs to your toothbrush so be sure to use a new toothbrush.
5 Clues Your Child Is not Brushing
1. The toothbrush is dry.
It's tough to keep the toothbrush dry if you're actually brushing! Make sure to check your child’s toothbrush every day (and night ) – before it has time to dry.
2. You can still see food particles.
After your child has brushed, ask for a smile. If you can still see bits of food on or in between your child's teeth, send your child back to the bathroom for a do-over.
3. Teeth don’t pass the “squeak test.”
Have your child wet his or her finger and rub it quickly across the outside and inside of his or her teeth. If the teeth are clean, you will hear a squeaking sound.
4. Breath is everything but fresh.
If your child is brushing and flossing regularly, his or her breath should be fresh. The foul odor associated with bad breath is most often caused by food particles -- either food left in between teeth or food trapped in the grooves on the tongue.
5. Your child has a toothache.
Even if you can't tell if your child is brushing well, a toothache is a red flag. Make sure your child sees the dentist right away – a filling or other treatment may be in order.
Remember, brushing is just one part of your child’s total oral health regimen. In order to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup and prevent other dental problems, regular exams and cleanings are a must. Plus, your dentist can help reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene with your child.
Getting To The Heart Of Gum Disease
While many people value the benefits of healthy teeth, and do all the right things to keep their gums in shape, there are those who feel, "Hey, they're only teeth." Of course, if the latter group understood how gum disease contributes to other serious health issues, we bet they would whistle a different tune (provided they still have the teeth to do so).
Here’s an alarming medical fact: new studies reveal that periodontal (gum) infections may contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation's number one killer. Researchers found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without it and that diseased gums released significantly higher levels of bacterial pro-inflammatory components, such as endotoxins, into the bloodstream.
As the walls of the coronary arteries thicken, due to the build-up of fatty proteins, blood clots often form in these narrowed channels where normal blood flow activity becomes obstructed. This depletes the heart of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly. Furthermore, scientists now believe that bacteria found in the oral cavity can attach to these fatty plaques once they enter the bloodstream. Clinging to the heart walls, these bacteria may further contribute to clot formation.
And if you have an existing heart condition, you must pay particular attention. While circulating bacteria are often gobbled up by the white blood cells before they do any damage, they can pass through the body and make it to the heart unscathed. In these situations, the bacteria then colonize on a weakened valve and cause a severe problem (bacterial endocarditis). For this reason, patients with any heart conditions are suggested to pre-medicate with antibiotics when receiving dental care.
Incidentally, gum infections also pose a serious threat to anyone whose health is already compromised due to diabetes or respiratory disease. When it comes to diabetes, gum disease cannot be ignored; the link between the two has been well-documented.
We have always known that diabetics are prone to more infections and heal slowly. New studies now find that periodontal disease may make a pre-existing diabetic condition worse. It has been shown that diabetics require less insulin once their gum condition has been treated.
Since periodontal disease is a risk factor for the progression of diabetes, physicians should consider the periodontal status of their diabetic patients who have difficulty with glycemic control.
If you experience any pain, swelling, bleeding or recession of your gums, make an appointment for an oral examination immediately. We’re here to ensure you don’t develop or worsen existing health conditions.
Don’t Let Sores Make You Cantankerous
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are often confused with fever blisters (cold sores). However, they are quite different.
Canker sores only form inside the mouth on the gums, cheeks, tongue or floor of the mouth and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another. They begin as small red circular swellings that usually ulcerate [rupture] within a day, after which they become white, surrounded by reddish inflammation and last for 8-10 days.
As open sores, they can be very painful to the touch. Canker sores afflict about 20% of the population. Their cause has yet to be discovered, although they appear to breakout more in stressful situations, from getting a small "nick" in the skin [mucous membrane] or from foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
While they can occur in very young children, canker sores usually manifest themselves in people between the ages of 10-20. It's not uncommon for them to erupt three to four times a year, but they occur less frequently, or stop all together, in adulthood.
If you have canker sores, avoid rough textured or spicy foods, which irritate them. Try not to touch them with eating utensils or your toothbrush. Apply ointment that contains a topical anesthetic or some other active ingredient that will relieve the irritation.
Cold sores form outside the mouth, usually on the lips, but they may appear on the chin, outside of the cheek or the nostrils. They begin as a red blister, burst and crust over and last for 7-14 days.
Cold sores – caused by the herpes simplex virus (type 1) – are contagious; they transmit by skin-to-skin contact. The virus, carried by almost everyone, is dormant most of the time. Fever blisters occur most often in young adults and adolescents and decline in people over 35 years of age. Certain factors activate its outbreak, particularly stress, colds, fevers and/or sunburn.
To reduce occurrences, avoid kissing when the blisters are visible. Also, don't squeeze or scrape the blister. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching someone else and use UV sunscreen on your lips before spending time in the sun.
Treatment of cold sores includes avoiding spicy and hot foods that will irritate them, application of phenol-containing over-the-counter ointments and administration of some anti-viral antibiotics that will shorten their duration (but not prevent their outbreak).
If you’re worried about canker or cold sores, call our office. We’re here to help you deal with these common afflictions and will offer additional treatment recommendations, as necessary.
Special Care for Diabetes Patients
If you have diabetes, the number one thing you can do for your oral health is keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible. Here’s why: When your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you’re more likely to develop gum disease and lose teeth than people who don't have diabetes. In turn, gum disease could cause your blood sugar to rise, making your diabetes harder to control. So it’s imperative that you keep your teeth and gums clean by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. And if you wear dentures, remove and clean them every day.
Keeping up with twice yearly dental visits is also crucial for patients with diabetes. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease. Also be sure to discuss your diabetes status and current medications with your dentist at each dental visit.
Warning Signs: Gum Disease
Because diabetes makes you more prone to developing gum disease, it’s important to be able to identify the warning signs. These are the most common:
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose permanent teeth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures or a dental bridge
Also keep an eye on other symptoms that might develop, including white patches on your tongue, which could indicate oral thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and soreness and ulcers in the mouth, which could be a sign of dry mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist.
Sinusitis Got You Down?
During the winter months – in fact, any time when the air is very dry – it’s important to keep your nasal passages moist. A simple home remedy is to sniff salt solution into both nostrils 2-4 times a day.
To prepare an effective homemade solution, add ½ teaspoon of table salt and ½ a teaspoon if baking soda into one cup of distillated water. If using tap water, make sure to sterilize it through boiling and then allow it to cool. Stir the cool water until the salt and baking soda dissolves completely.
To apply, fill a squeeze bottle with the saline solution. Direct the saline solution stream toward the back of your head (not toward the top). The saline wash should go through the nose and out the mouth or other nostril. Repeat the process several times a day for best results.
Alternatively, you can buy ready-prepared nasal saline products – such as Ocean®, Simply Saline® or generic equivalents – from a drug store. As with the home solution, these products wash away mucus from the membranous lining of nasal passages.
They also help by shrinking any swollen parts of the nasal passage. If this is not done, mucus and the swollen membranes may block openings of the sinuses into the nasal passages. Sinusitis often ensues when nasal bacteria infect the mucus, which can no longer drain from the blocked sinus. Treatment of sinusitis (rather than prevention) often requires the use of antibiotics.
Some doctors are not enthusiastic about nasal saline irrigation since researchers found it does not significantly reduce the incidence of colds. However, do not confuse the common cold with sinusitis. Viruses cause colds, while sinusitis is a bacterial-induced complication of some colds.
Irrigation of the nasal passages with saline cannot kill viruses or bacteria. However, it does help to reduce the incidence of sinusitis in people with a tendency to develop this common complication.
Lemon Juice May Squeeze Away Important Tooth Enamel
A healthy lifestyle not only means eating well, but also exercising regularly and replacing your soft drinks with water or tea -- and perhaps a wedge of lemon for taste. But unfortunately, lemons can create a sour experience for your teeth.
Drinking lemon juice can put you at risk for tooth erosion, a condition where the thin, protective layer of enamel slowly wears away from your teeth. Lemon juice contains acid, which irritates gums and softens tooth enamel.
Frequent consumption of products that contain acid will eventually destroy the enamel and expose underlying dentin, leaving your teeth vulnerable to sensitivity and tooth decay. In fact, enamel erosion is one of the most common causes of cavities and tooth loss.
The Bad Seed
With a high acid content, lemon juice is one of the most erosive materials you can consume. But lemons aren't the only bad apples! Any acidic food or drink can contribute to enamel dental erosion, and you should be aware of how much acid you're consuming on a daily basis. Some of the foods and beverages that cause enamel erosion include:
- Other fruit juices: orange, apple and grapefruit juice
- Fruits and vegetables: citrus, tomatoes and pickles
- White wine
- Sports drinks
Lemon-Aid Your Habit
If you can't go without your daily coffee or other acidic items, there are some ways to ward off impending dental erosion. Drinking acidic beverages through a straw will limit the liquid's contact with teeth. Drinking water frequently throughout the day will help wash away acid and prevent dry mouth, as saliva is needed to neutralize acid.
Once you're done eating, don't brush your teeth immediately afterwards. It sounds odd, but the abrasive materials in toothpaste can further damage tooth enamel weakened by acid. Instead, try washing your mouth out with water, eating cheese or drinking milk to neutralize the acid. Consuming dairy products after acidic foods or drinks also can reduce the possibility of dental erosion. In the meantime, wait at least an hour to brush, and use a fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth and reduce sensitivity.
The Balancing Act
Of course, you may need the nutrients and vitamins found in some acidic foods and drinks. When creating a meal plan, don't rule out foods that are good for you, but do take your dental health into consideration. Eat a well-balanced diet and visit your dentist regularly to check for signs of dental erosion. Once enamel is lost, it never grows back, so take the steps necessary to preserve your enamel for a lifetime of healthy, strong teeth.
When life gives you lemons, be sure to protect your dental health. If you have any questions regarding how you can get the best out of your diet without affecting your dental health, speak with your dentist.
Smart Snack: Brought To You By Apples
Getting kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. However, it’s worth the extra effort to educate and condition them to eat “smart” snacks that keep their teeth – and entire body – healthy.
Whether you’re transitioning older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little one, here are some tips for creating lifelong, healthy snacking habits:
• Lead by example – Kids often mimic what you do, so it’s important that you eat smart snacks, too. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids. If you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will too.
• Provide “creative” snacks -- Show your kids that healthy snacks can be nutritious, good for your teeth AND fun. Prepare tasty combinations, such as apple slices with peanut butter, meat and cheese rollups, or yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.
• Involve your kids – When you make a grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they'd like to eat. This is a good opportunity to guide them regarding what's good or bad for their teeth. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
• Prepare nutritious meals – Snacking smart is a great start, and good for the teeth, but so is eating well-balanced breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids incorporate them into their long-term eating lifestyle.
As your family dentist, we can help you come up with even more ideas for healthy snacks. Come in for a visit and we’ll happily work on a plan together.
No Need to Get All Choked Up
A sensitive gag reflex acts as a source concern and embarrassment for many people. Yet, it's often beyond an individual's ability to control. Children are especially affected because, when kids are sick and need to take medications or swallow pills, adults may not fully understand the physical challenge.
Children need many years of dental visits – especially if they require orthodontics (braces) – so a sensitive gag reflex can evolve into a full-blown childhood battle. In fact, after a series of traumatic episodes, a child can develop dental phobias that last well into adulthood.
Patients may also have a gag reflex, or intolerance of foreign objects in their mouth, relating to a traumatic past. Intolerance to foreign objects in the mouth, sensitivity to tastes, textures and even foods can also be caused by a condition known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction.
Fortunately, we can do many things to make patients comfortable at the dentist and reduce potential fear or embarrassment. For example, we can use mouth rinses that dull sensation to help the x-ray process. Panoramic x-rays are also available, where no dental film is placed inside the mouth at all. In a worst-case scenario, all x-rays can be taken while the patient sleeps under sedation.
There are other techniques involving local anesthesia (commonly called Novocain) that can numb the tongue and palate to reduce gagging. Several forms of sedation are available that generally free patients entirely from the gag reflex.
If you or someone you know suffers from a sensitive gag reflex, give us a call for an appointment. The purpose of the initial consultation is to learn the needs of the patient and begin to develop a plan of care so the patient can experience dental care in comfort.
As your dentist, I hope you always feel comfortable to tell us how you feel and so we can make you as comfortable as possible. Call us today for the most comfortable dental appointment ever.
Good Oral Health Elevates Overall Health
In the last decade, scientists and researchers discovered that the mouth and its health (or lack of) weigh heavily on overall health. Any type of infection, such as periodontal (gum) disease or dental abscesses, can affect many areas of the body and impact negatively upon our general health. In fact, periodontal disease is connected with coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pre-term, low birth weight babies.
Periodontal disease affects about 75% of the adult population in the U.S. and is most common among smokers, the obese and diabetics. Consider these different conditions and how oral health affects them.
Coronary Artery Disease
Researchers found that people with periodontal infections are almost twice as likely to suffer coronary artery disease (such as clogged arteries). Periodontal infections also aggravate existing heart conditions such as mitral valve prolapse, aortic stenosis or endocarditis (a serious infection of the heart from bacteria), causing serious complications, even death.
Periodontitis increases the risk of stroke. Periodontal bacteria enter the bloodstream, invade the blood vessel walls and ultimately cause atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). Periodontal infection raises plasma levels of fibrinogen (which creates clots), c-reactive proteins and several cytokines. These all increase inflammation in the blood vessels, causing clots to form, which then get caught in the clogged arteries, causing a stroke.
People with diabetes are more prone to developing periodontal infections as well as cavities since – when diabetes is not well controlled – excess sugar gets released around the necks of their teeth. This excess sugar is a food supply for the oral bacteria and they grow rapidly. Periodontal infection also makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels.
Chronic Lung Conditions
People with lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis face even greater health risks with periodontitis. By inhaling periodontal infection bacteria, they may develop aspiration pneumonia and other associated health problems.
Pre-term low birth weight babies
Pregnant women with periodontitis often give birth to pre-term, low birth weight babies due to the infection. The rates of preeclampsia also increase in pregnant women who have gum infections. Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and infant illness and death.
Take control over your heath and call our office today to make an appointment. We are here to help.
Snoring Sounds an Alarm
Quality sleep is necessary for optimal daytime functioning. Insufficient or poor sleep quality has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, driving accidents, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and even premature death.
Research shows that approximately 87 million Americans snore and over 40 million of those are chronic suffers of sleep disorders. However, approximately only 10% of sleep disorders are diagnosed. Fortunately, dentists are now being trained to recognize signs of risk for sleep disorders and how to treat such disorders.
Snoring is a red flag as it could be an early sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In fact, an alarming 40% of snorers have been shown to have OSA. And, while snoring and sleep apnea can stem from a variety of causes, the results are always disruptive for the sufferer and nearly as disturbing for the apnea patient’s family members.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now recommends oral appliances as a primary or first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The guidelines state that patients should always be offered the choice of an oral appliance if they have mild to moderate OSA.
Our treatments include the latest in FDA-approved oral appliance therapy (OAT), also known as mandibular advancement devices (MAD), to keep the airway unobstructed during sleep. We are highly trained in fitting and maintaining a wide variety of oral devices to reposition the mandible, retain the tongue below the airway and provide positive airway space to limit apnea episodes and their related loss of sleep.
Results of this type of therapy have been encouraging, and many patients report fewer sleep interruptions, more restful nights and greatly diminished daytime fatigue as well as improved health. In addition, family members report improved sleep when their bed partners are less likely to awaken suddenly or snore.
It may interest you to know that many health insurance plans do reimburse for OAT and its related services and therapies. Our office will be happy to work with patients to assist in any coverage benefits that may apply to their course of treatment. We will work closely with you and your physician to provide the best treatment option.
Call us today to make an appointment. You’ll find yourself sleeping fitfully in no time.
Gums Don’t Discriminate
Gum disease might seem like something only adults suffer from but it affects people of all ages. So, while teens may feel – and often appear to be – indestructible, their gums tell a different tale.
TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds already have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Even more sobering, other studies show that teenage girls may be at higher risk of gum disease due to their hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) – also known as “deep cleaning” – to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
After SRP treatment, prevent gingivitis from returning by: brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once daily, getting dental cleanings twice a year AND eating healthy foods. The last one might be the biggest challenge since eating tooth-and-gum-friendly foods trip most teens up; sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are all heavily marketed to and largely consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easier for your teen to choose healthy options for their teeth and body by ensuring the refrigerator is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.
If your teen suffers from gingivitis, or you’re concerned about his or her oral healthcare habits, give us a call for an appointment. We’re definitely here for you and serve as an essential barrier against gum disease.
We're Here to Pump You Up
Can working out improve your dental health? According to one study at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, the findings were conclusive: Yes!
The researchers took the same factors that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease into account when analyzing data from 12,110 participants. They found that those who exercised regularly, had healthy eating habits and maintained their weight were 40 percent less likely to develop periodontal disease than their counterparts.
The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, even shows that those who met two of the three criteria lowered their risk by 29 percent, while participants with just one healthy virtue had a 16 percent less chance of developing gum disease.
Overall, only seven percent of those who met all three of the criteria had some form of gum disease. The participants who had a poor diet, limited physical activity and were considered overweight totaled 18 percent, suggesting that obesity can more than double the risk of periodontal disease.
Scientists aren't exactly sure why these factors may decrease your chances of developing gum disease. It’s already known that healthy eating helps build up the immune system. However, scientists now theorize that eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, may also help remove dental plaque from teeth. It's also believed that obesity promotes gum inflammation, while physical activity may decrease it.
While a healthy lifestyle may help improve your dental health, it's not a substitute for maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist twice a year are essential.
Give us a call today to make your next appointment. Your teeth and gums will thank us.
Puberty Causes Swollen Gums
Puberty is a fact of life where a child's body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. It is during this time that hair sprouts up in unusual places, voices drop, girls start menstruating and smiles can become plagued with swollen gums that are more sensitive to dental plaque and at greater risk for dental problems.
Puberty is fueled by hormonal signals to the brain and the release of those compounds is essential to the maturation process. However, while those hormones are imbalanced, growing girls and boys are more prone to oral issues including infections, gingivitis and mouth sores. Fortunately a good dental hygiene regimen complete with daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist will act as a form of preventative dentistry and minimize any oral health risks associated with the natural evolution of life.
Birth Control Pills Trigger Pregnancy Gingivitis
Being with child can be an exciting transition, but as any mother will tell you, pregnancy is no walk in the park. In order for a women to carry a child to full term, hormonal levels will change in order to help a fetus grow and develop, but those fluctuations can also put her a greater risk for dental problems such as gingivitis, pregnancy tumors and periodontal disease. Women on birth control pills have the same oral health risks as their child carrying counterparts.
Oral contraceptives use various hormones to mimic pregnancy, suppress ovulation and will thicken a woman's cervical mucus in order to block a sperm merging with an egg. Once a body is tricked into copying the indicators of pregnancy, the risks of dental problems including gum inflammation, oral infections, tooth loss will increase and pregnancy gingivitis can occur to women on the pill.
In addition to increased odds of developing pregnancy gingivitis, being on the pill can also make it difficult for women to recover from tooth extractions. Studies have indicated that women on birth control pills, that undergo tooth extractions while on the medication are two times more likely to have to endure dry socket at the tooth extraction site.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to combating the smile killing effects associated with birth control pills.
Why So Sensitive? 5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt
Do your teeth hurt when you drink or eat something hot or cold? Most people think this is normal, but that’s not always the case. When your teeth hurt, they’re trying to tell you something: See your dentist.
More often than not, tooth sensitivity is a sign of a dental problem like tooth decay or gum disease. But there are other reasons why your teeth may be hurting:
• You might have a cracked or broken tooth
• One of your fillings could be broken or rotten
• You might be grinding your teeth while you sleep
• You could be brushing your teeth too hard
• There may be plaque buildup on your tooth roots
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring sensitive teeth or trying to self-treat. If your sensitivity lasts longer than a couple of days or keeps recurring over a couple of weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse it can get and the more expensive treatment will be. A quick exam can reveal exactly what’s going on and get you back to living pain-free.
Sippy Cup: Friend Or Foe?
The sippy cup is a spill proof, lid-covered drinking cup designed to help parents teach their toddlers how to drink without spilling. Children can toss it, drop it and turn it upside down, but they can't spill its contents. That's thanks to a valve in the top that releases liquid only when a child puts his lips around the tip and sucks. Day after day countless parents reach for that sippy cup their toddlers love so well, proud that the bottle is a thing of the past, and thrilled that their car seats and living room carpets will be spared! These parents though, should think twice before resorting to extended use of the sippy cup.
Many parents operate under the mistaken impression that the sippy cup is better than allowing the child to sleep with a bottle. The damage done by the bedtime bottle is fueled by the fact that no saliva flows during sleep to clear liquids from the mouth or dilute them. Liquids bathe the teeth all night. The sippy cup filled with sweetened liquids can cause the same damaging effects. The child's teeth are immersed in the liquid during drinking and many parents allow unlimited access to the sippy cup.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age and be encouraged to drink from a cup. Parents are cautioned however that the repetitive consumption of liquids that contain fermentable carbohydrates (milk, juice, soft drinks etc.) from a bottle or sippy cup should be avoided.
• Be very selective about the liquids that you give your child from the sippy cup. Avoid milk, juice, and soft drinks. Try water or sugar free beverages instead.
• Use the sippy cup only as a transition to a regular cup or adult drinking glass with no lid.
• Consider cup design carefully. A pop-up straw reduces the amount of time the liquid is in contact with the teeth.
• Some speech pathologists have expressed concern about over use of the sippy cup and liken its use to a thumb-sucking habit, the effects of which are well documented.
Hot Beverages Contribute to Tooth Staining
Estimates suggest that annually Americans consume 45 million pounds of caffeine and hot coffee and teas are the most popular sources for the legal psychoactive stimulant drug. Both beverages are associated with having dental health perks as black coffee has been found to lower acid levels on teeth, reducing the odds of cavity development and green tea has been found to be powerful in reducing gum inflammation and subsequently gum disease. Despite the perks of the beverages, when consumed at their steamiest stage, the unflattering side effect may be tooth staining.
Science has shown that heat will cause molecules and atoms to vibrate faster, increase space between atoms and cause expansion. Tooth enamel is one such substance that will expand under heat and during that stage, the tannins in coffee and tea can lodge into the void and as the teeth cool down again, tooth staining can be the result.
Proper oral hygiene can help teeth stay clean and lower the level of dental plaque, and brushing with a whitening toothpaste may help alleviate some of the discoloration. Patients may also choose to get professional teeth whitening from a dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry.
Embarrassed It Has Been So Long?
If you’re nervous about having to sit through a lecture on the importance of dental health, you can stop worrying. We’re not here to cause you anxiety or point fingers. Trust us, we of all people know that dental health is affected by a number of factors that could be environmental, hereditary or habitual. Our goal is to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
This might surprise you, but there’s almost nothing that can surprise us when it comes to teeth. If you think your teeth are bad, we’ve probably seen worse. A large part of our training and professional work involves being exposed to just about every dental problem you can imagine. Without that kind of experience, how could we properly evaluate your teeth and treat them? We couldn’t.
One of the most important things you can do is to be up front with us. If you have dental anxiety, don’t silently suffer in the chair – tell us! The same goes for anything specific that might scare you – whether it’s needles or anesthesia or just sitting in the chair. And please tell us what we can do to make your visit more comfortable. Many people find that a blanket and pillow makes their visits much more relaxing. Others like us to explain what we’re doing before we do it. And some people find that taking frequent breaks is helpful.
Let’s talk about what you need before you talk yourself out of scheduling another visit. We’ll do whatever we can to ensure that you have a positive experience getting the dental care you need.
Swelling: A Sign to See Your Dentist
If you notice swelling in your mouth or jaw, call us right away for an appointment. Oral swelling is almost always caused by an infection of a tooth or the gums. If an infected tooth is the culprit, it usually means there’s a deep cavity allowing bacteria to infect the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. Without treatment, the infection will spread to the tissues and eventually form an abscess. Abscesses also spread – to the jawbone and cheek. And the longer an abscess is left untreated, the more the swelling will spread. A gum infection can also cause swelling when plaque and debris get trapped under the gum line. This almost always occurs in people with pre-existing gum disease. In either case, swelling is not something to take lightly; it requires immediate professional attention.
Swelling caused by an infected tooth will be treated with either root canal therapy, to remove the infected nerves, or with an extraction. In most cases, it’s preferable to save the tooth with root canal therapy rather than remove it. For gum infections, we can clean under the gum line to treat the infection.
Before your dental visit, try rinsing with warm salt water (8 oz. of water with 1 tsp. of salt) every two hours to bring some of the swelling down. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or a topical ointment like Orajel® to help with the pain.
The Dental Woes of Women
Women come in all different shapes and sizes and regardless of their form oral hygiene is vital to the success of the female of the species. Thanks to the XX genetic markers, women have their own unique biological issues, health worries and conditions. This is true for every body part, including all the features that compose their smiles.
Once facial muscles are flexed, a smile is born. While it may simply look like teeth and gums, underneath a grin is an intricate network of tooth enamel, pulp chamber, dentin and many other dental anatomy components. Those parts backed by the gender specific biology puts women at a higher risk for a multitude of dental problems than their XY counterparts.
TMJ Sufferers are 90% Female
Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, AKA TMJ (National Institutes of Health). Of those suffering with symptoms ranging from headache, facial pain, jaw popping, clicking or locking, unnecessary dental wear and tear, malocclusion and teeth grinding 90 percent of them are women.
While TMJ can be caused by facial trauma or accidents, the condition is most closely linked to women in their childbearing years. TMJ syndrome can cause discomfort in jaw joints, facial muscles, facial nerves and surrounding tissues and there are several reasons why women are more prone to developing the condition. Arthritis, hormone fluctuations, joint structure and a dietary deficiency of magnesium are all conditions more common in women and those factors are believed to negatively influence women TMJ sufferers.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Both men and women can experience the fiery sensation caused by burning mouth syndrome, however the condition is more common in menopausal women. 'The change of life' typically affects women between the ages 40-50 and it marks when the ovaries permanently shut down making conception an impossibility. When the monthly sequence of reproductive hormones comes to an end, women can experience side effects including hot flashes, weight gain, mood fluctuation and burning mouth syndrome.
While a burning sensation may be part of the condition, it is not the only symptom. The feeling may also be coupled with dry mouth, soreness, tingling or a metallic taste. Those conditions can trigger off other problems such as sleep difficulties and depression. In menopausal women the hormonal changes are thought to reduce the flow of otherwise healthy saliva production and dry mouth is thought to be the trigger for burning mouth syndrome.
Courtesy of dental neglect, both men and women can develop gingivitis regardless of their stage of life. However, statistics have indicated that approximately 50 percent of all pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis. The condition is marked by inflamed gums, potentially coupled with tenderness and bleeding. If left untreated by a professional dentist, the condition could develop into full-blown a periodontal disease infection. If the impurity from the infection manages to enter the bloodstream, the body will automatically produce antibodies and chemicals to fight of the condition. While the battle may help a smile, it can also cause premature labor, low birth rate and even miscarriages.
Girls, sisters, mothers and friends should all be warned about the specific risks associated with being a woman and become properly educated on how good oral hygiene can combat the problems. Practicing a good oral hygiene regime of brushing twice a day, daily flossing and regular dental exams and cleanings twice a year can help minimize the danger.
Deciduous teeth are baby teeth. We're born with two full sets of teeth and this first set is also called primary, milk or lacteal dentition. These teeth begin to erupt anytime after 6 months of age, which is commonly referred to as "teething." Teeth normally erupt in pairs and the first that normally come in are the lower central incisors. By the time your child is 2, he or she should have a full set of deciduous teeth.
Why Two Sets?
As an infant, our mouths are too small for a full set of permanent teeth, so we require deciduous teeth until our jaw is able to sustain the permanent set. Baby teeth are essential in the alignment, spacing and occlusion of primary teeth. They prepare the adult jaw for their permanent fellows.
As the adult teeth (seccedaneous teeth) form, special cells called odontoclasts absorb the roots of the baby teeth, so that when your adult teeth start to emerge from your gums the deciduous teeth have no roots, making them loose and able to easily fall out.
Caring for Deciduous Teeth
A gross misconception about baby teeth is that since they will eventually be replaced by primary teeth, there's no reason to take care of them. But cavities are a very real cause for concern -- even for deciduous teeth. Children who suffer from dental cavities in their baby teeth are more prone to cavities in their permanent teeth. And every dentist will agree that oral hygiene habits begin in childhood. So it is essential that you take excellent dental care of your little ones' baby teeth, as they won't be able to do so themselves for the first handful of years.
Good oral hygiene begins at teething. Simply rubbing your infant's gums with a wet washcloth will begin to develop habits that he or she will require for life. Once the first teeth erupt, begin brushing them twice a day. Once more teeth fill in, you can begin flossing, too. And be sure to set up your child's first dental visit when the first tooth appears or by age 1.
Deciduous Tooth Dental Cavities
Sometimes your toddler will get a dental cavity in one of the baby teeth. In that case, your regular pediatric dentist will take X-rays and fill any dental cavity so that tooth decay does not go unchecked and the primary tooth can emerge in the best condition possible.
Like all teeth, deciduous teeth must be cared for properly so that you have a healthy mouth and healthy body. It's up to parents to ensure that their child develops healthy deciduous teeth and good oral hygiene. If you need help maintaining your child's oral health, give us a call; we're glad to help.
Keep Waking Up With Headaches?
If the first thing you feel in the morning is a headache or pain behind your eyes or pain in your neck and shoulders, come in for a visit. What you’re experiencing could be the result of problems in your mouth. These are common symptoms of a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which basically means that your jaws don’t align properly. This misalignment stresses the jaw joints, putting pressure on nerves and muscles – which can result in morning headaches, migraines or facial and neck pain.
Not everyone with TMJ disorder shows symptoms. And not everyone has headaches or pain; TMJ disorder can also lead to broken teeth or fillings, loose teeth and toothaches. What is certain is that if you do display any of these symptoms, they won’t get better without professional help.
Many people find that resting the jaw helps ease the pain. You can do this by eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum and hard candies. We can also show you jaw exercises to stretch the jaw joints and relieve stress. For most people, the most effective treatment is a custom dental splint that fits over your upper and lower teeth. This reduces the damage done from repeated clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding.
If these conservative methods don’t work, you still have other options. The temporomandibular joints can be flushed out, or an injection of cortisone can help relieve inflammation and pain. Worse-case scenario, you might need surgery. Come in for a visit and we’ll help you find the right solution.
What is Cementum?
Cementum is a hard layer of tissue that helps the periodontal ligament attach firmly to a tooth. Made of cementoblasts, cementum slowly forms over a lifetime..
Cementum is a hard, calcified layer of tissue that covers the root of the tooth. On its outer side, cementum is attached to the periodontal ligament; on its inner side, the dentin. Along with the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingiva, cementum helps a tooth stay in its place. In fact, if it weren't for cementum, the periodontal ligament wouldn't be able to attach firmly to a tooth.
Slowly formed throughout life, cementum is created when the root of the tooth excretes cementoblasts. Though cementoblasts are somewhat of a mystery, it is known that cementum is yellow in color and softer than dentin. Its chemical makeup is similar to that of bone -- but unlike bone, cementum is avascular (not supported by blood vessels).
Types of Cementum
There are three types of cementum: acellular cementum, cellular cementum and afibrillar cementum. Acellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the root and has little to no cellular components. Cellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the apex and is permeable. Afibrillar cementum sometimes extends onto the enamel of the tooth.
If you have periodontal disease, your acellular cementum, cellular cementum or afibrillar cementum may also be diseased. A gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing can be performed to remove the diseased cementum, as well as dental tartar and diseased dentin.
If it has been awhile since your last dental visit, make an appointment today.
Dental Anxiety and Fears
The movie "As Good As It Gets" showed how an anxiety disorder could affect your interpersonal relationships. Dental anxiety has a similar effect: Skipping regular dental visits leave your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay; and when cavities form, bad breath follows. As a result, your self-confidence is compromised, which can limit your social interactions.
It's one thing when anxiety affects your relationships but something else altogether when it begins to impact your physical well-being. The health consequences of dental anxiety are very real and can be quite serious. In fact, if you put off dental visits, your teeth and gums can become chronically infected. This can:
• Affect your ability to chew and digest properly
• Affect your speech patterns
• Lead to heart disease
Ways to Overcome Dental Anxiety
• Many patients find that these methods help combat dental anxiety:
• Sedation dentistry, including oral sedation, IV sedation and nitrous oxide
• Yoga techniques for breathing and relaxation
• Listening to your iPod® during a visit
• Therapy/hypnotherapy sessions
Remember, dental anxiety is not too great to overcome, but communicating with your dentist is important.
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