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Tips to Keeping Teeth Healthy Over the Holidays

Tips to Keeping Teeth Healthy Over the Holidays

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry. Dinner tables all over the nation will be covered in rich, robust meals and decadent desserts. Don’t forget the sugary drinks that add the splash to gourmet delights. We hate to break the happiness of it all by saying celebration meals could wreck havoc on your teeth and oral health, but it’s the truth.

We do wish all of our patients the most joyful of times with their friends and families. Here’s a few ideas for you to stew upon, as you pull together your holiday medley of recipes.

1. Nuts are a favorite this time of year, just don’t crack them with your teeth! Protein found in almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and pecans are quite good for bones and strength. So if you do feast upon a bowl of mixed nuts, make sure a nutcracker is near.

2. Avoid chewing on hard candy or ice cubes. This can lead to cracked or chipped teeth, and nobody wants to experience that during such jubilant times. Whether you are enjoying a sweet, or finishing off the cubes in your beverage, let everything dissolve.

3. Brush and floss, repeat as many times as needed. Chances are you do not have a cleaning scheduled over your festivities. That doesn’t mean you should skip your periodontal health routine. Brushing and/or flossing after each meal, and drinking a lot of water to help savory foods go down helps you avoid gifting yourself a cavity.

4. Try adding sugar-free options to your menus, or make them as hostess gifts if you are going to a party. There is an abundance of recipes that are easily doable and you can count out grams of sugar this way. This means the bacteria that lives in your mouth doesn’t stand a chance of creating tooth decay.

5. Fancy dark chocolate over other sweets. Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure – these aren’t just the enemies of your heart. Studies have shown an association between these diseases, their treatments and dental health, too. That’s why if you are a chocoholic, it’s best to opt for dark chocolate because it’s packed with flavonoids, or compounds that help to protect your heart.

We would like to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season. From now until New Year’s Eve, don’t forget your oral health. Keep smiling and enjoy!

Time to Break the Barrier: Dentistry Falls Under a Medical Practice

Time to Break the Barrier: Dentistry Falls Under a Medical Practice

The first dental school was founded in the United States in 1840. Can you believe that? Since then, however, dentistry and medicine have been taught as — and viewed as — two separate professions. That artificial division is bad for the public’s health. It’s time to bring the mouth back into the body.*

Let’s get together in one linguistic tongue and realize a Doctor earns his or her title for a reason. When you go to see your primary care physician, you refer to them as Dr. {insert name here}, when go to the dentist, you also refer to them as Dr. {dentist’s name here}. So why is there a divide to who knows what, and who treats your overall health.

Dentistry used to only be able to focus on extracting decayed teeth and plugging cavities. Now, in modern times, dentists use methods for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. We implant teeth, pinpoint oral cancers, use 3-D imaging to reshape a jaw, and can treat some dental decay medically, without a drill.

Local dentists, far and wide, have discovered the innate connection between oral health and overall health. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, has been linked to the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women with periodontitis are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious complication of pregnancy, and deliver low-birth-weight babies.

For ages and ages, people have known that a lot of health issues start in the mouth. Here’s what an integrated dental health/primary care visit might look like to a patient: When you go for a routine teeth cleaning, you would be cared for by a team of physicians, dentists, nurses, and physician and dental assistants. One or more of them would take your blood pressure, check your weight, update your medications, see if you are due for any preventive screenings or treatments, and clean your teeth. If you have an artificial heart valve or have previously had a heart infection, or you are taking a blood thinner, your clinicians will manage these conditions without multiple calls to referring doctors.

Poor oral health is more than a “tooth problem.” We use our mouth to eat, to breathe, and to speak. Oral pain results in lost time from school and work and lowered self-esteem. Inflammation in the gums and mouth may help set the stage for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions.

Bottom line is listen to your dentist. Great oral care means great health.

*https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/17/dentistry-medicine-division/

Brush Up on Dental Hygiene

Brush Up on Dental Hygiene

Bad oral care leads to bad breath and not-so-good-looking teeth. Admit it, the first thing you do in the morning, or even the second, is brush your teeth. But, have you ever thought you might be doing it all wrong? You’ve probably been brushing your teeth since you could hold a toothbrush, and bad habits are hard to break. It is worth every effort, though, to try and win each time you put your toothbrush inside your mouth.

The next time you practice your tooth-care technique, make sure you do not commit these brushing crimes, and keep your teeth in tip-top shape.

Using the same toothbrush for far too long.
The average life of a toothbrush is about 2 months or 200 uses. Meaning, the bristles of the brush start to wear out and don’t clean your teeth properly. Keep changing your brush on a regular basis before the bristles wear out. Too many uses of an old brush simply aren’t as effective against plaque, gingivitis or other mouth-altering thoughts.

Not giving your tongue tender, loving care. It may feel odd to brush your tongue, but it’s an important step of oral health. When you’re done brushing your teeth, drag your toothbrush across your tongue to remove bacteria, or purchase a tongue scraper. Nowadays they are available almost anywhere.

Avoiding proper technique. Easily fixable. Dedicate minutes of your precious morning and pre-bedtime routines and try putting the toothbrush in your non-dominant hand. Then place the toothbrush over your teeth and wiggle it back and forth a little bit, making sure the bristles cover each tooth and work their way around the sides of the tooth. What you are doing is letting the bristles of the toothbrush to find their way into the spaces between your teeth. This ensures all of the food particles and plaque are removed. Stop your hacksaw moves of aggressive back-and-forth motions. Take your time and improvements will follow.

Not brushing long enough. Yes, we are all in a rush in the morning and tend to rush through brushing our teeth as well which leaves the teeth in a bad state. Two minutes is the minimum time you need to spend on brushing your teeth and nothing less than that.

Your toothbrush lives on the counter. We are aware that most people go out and buy a toothbrush holder for the decor of their restroom. As experts, we warn to not EVER leave your toothbrush out. Every time the toilet flushes, you might not see it, but it openly spreads human feces in the air, which could be settling on your toothbrush..

Oral care is one of the most important parts of life. Major organs can be hurt, or fail on you, from mouth complications. For example, according to Delta Dental, “the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.” Plus, digestion begins in the mouth, and problems that start there could lead to irritable bowel syndrome, or even intestinal failure. Absolutely no one wants to take part in any of that.

Is painful cavity treatment a thing of the past?

Is painful cavity treatment a thing of the past?

We love new technology, especially when it helps our patients feel comfortable at our office. It looks like there might be some exciting changes on the horizon regarding the way we treat cavities! There is a new product called Silver Diamine Fluoride that might help patients avoid the drill in the unfortunate event that they get a cavity.

Silver Diamine Fluoride is an antimicrobial liquid that can be brushed onto teeth directly over a cavity. This is a painless treatment that shows evidence of stopping tooth decay. In all honestly, this is not a recent discovery, in fact Silver Diamine Fluoride has been used as a method for treating oral health issues in other parts of the world for many years. For example, in Japan there are records of cavity treatment using this technology for several decades.

While we may feel a little envious knowing that SDF has been used in other countries for many years, we are thankful that the method has been thoroughly vetted before entering the United States market for use in dentist offices across the nation.

The first step in making Silver Diamine Fluoride available all across the nation was having it cleared for use by the Food and Drug administration. Though it has not been made fully available, it is making progress. For example, it is now permitted for use in people over the age of 21 to aid in teeth desensitization. Evidently it is very effective for this use in addition to healing cavities in all ages. It is our hope that in the near future, Silver Diamine Fluoride will be free for use on all ages for cavity prevention and for halting the progression of preexisting cavities.

The main benefit of using Silver Diamine Fluoride as an alternative to traditional methods of treating cavities is that it is completely pain free! We may be able to say goodbye to using the drill and injections for such common oral health issue as cavities. This will certainly make the visit to our office a lot more fun!

The one downside of SDF, is the fact that it is not always the most aesthetically pleasing alternative. When the SDF touches the cavity decay of the tooth, it turns the brown decay into a blackish color. Of course, if a cavity is small and not on the front of a tooth, this isn’t a large deterrent to treatment.

Overall, this could alter the dentistry industry in significant ways by making treatment more efficient, painless, faster, and less expensive. That is what we call a win-win.

Ouch! The best foods to eat when…

Ouch! The best foods to eat when…

Most of us love eating. We love sugary food, fatty food, crunchy, spicy, and salty foods. But are these the best things for us to eat when we are having oral health complications? We’ve compiled a guide full of yummy and appropriate foods for you to eat based on the oral health issue you currently face.

Braces

Braces are often a rite of passage for young people. Though the results are stunning the process can be daunting. Often they result in months and even years of a throbbing mouth. Each visit to the orthodontist is typically followed by several days of achiness.

Soft foods are your friend here. We suggest eating foods that are not easily stuck in your braces and pose the risk of breaking them. Food included in this list are bananas, mashed potatoes, yogurt, soups, and pasta.

Foods to avoid include crunchy foods like popcorn and tortilla chips. These can get wedged in the wires and cause bad bacteria to grow over time. Additionally, don’t snack on nuts or raw vegetables as these foods can damage and break your braces. We understand that the last thing you want is an emergency trip to the dentist because your wires snap!

Wisdom Teeth and other Oral Surgery

Many people have their wisdom Teeth removed at some point in their life. It is a relatively easy surgery with a relatively short recovery. However, it is still important to follow your doctor’s orders after the surgery. Eating things you shouldn’t can cause major oral health problems!

When you have your wisdom teeth removed you may experience soreness for 7 – 14 days. That means you may feel more comfortable eating soft and cold foods like smoothies. Since using a straw during your recovery period is prohibited, we recommend you stick to soup, applesauce, yogurt, and other things that can be eaten with a spoon.

Canker Sores

Even though you may love spicy or sour food, they aren’t your friend when you’ve got a canker sore. It is best to buckle up and opt in for bland options when you have a canker sore. Your body forms canker sores when you are short on nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12, and zinc. Due to this deficiency you can reduce and even eliminate canker sores by eating foods that are rich in these resources. For example, you can eat salmon, which is rich in B12, leafy green vegetables to make up folic acid deficiency, and yogurt to replenish your bodies’ Zinc supplies.

If you suffer from canker sores often you should watch out for sneaky foods that are generally regarded as healthy but may contain too much salt or spice. Foods to avoid include coffee, tomatoes, and prepackaged snack nuts.

Dry Mouth

It may seem obvious that when you suffer from dry mouth it is best to increase your water and liquid intake; however there is more to the solution that simply adding moisture to your diet. We suggest filling your diet with high protein foods that aren’t too hard or crunchy. A good example of high protein food with plenty of moisture is fresh red meat. Foods that are dry and salty like bread or crackers can exacerbate the complications that come along with dry mouth. Soup, stew, and yogurt are also great additions to your ‘dry mouth diet’. Additionally, if you can avoid citrus and substitute in other fresh fruit you may be able to reduce dry mouth symptoms.

In general, there are several things you can do to maintain a healthy mouth and avoid complications. We suggest that throughout your lifetime you eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, water, and protein. You should also avoid sugar as often as you can. Sugar is known to be a large contributor to tooth decay and bad health in general.

Are e-cigarettes bad for oral health?

Are e-cigarettes bad for oral health?

It is a commonly known fact that smoking cigarettes is bad for your oral health. Smoking causes tooth decay, tooth staining, gum disease, and in some cases even mouth cancer. Though traditional cigarettes are said to be worse for your mouth than smoking the new electronic cigarettes, new research shows that may not be the case.

If you smoke electronic cigarettes you may notice that you often struggle with bad breath. This is because electronic cigarettes contain the highly addictive and dangerous chemical called nicotine. Nicotine causes the mouth’s natural production of saliva to slow down, which often causes dry mouth, plaque build up, and even tooth decay.

Fortunately, e-cigarettes don’t contain many of the teeth staining chemicals that traditional ones do. For example, they don’t produce the smoke or contain tar which both stain teeth yellow. However, when e-cigarettes contain high nicotine level, the liquid does eventually begin to yellow and has some of the same staining effects.

The vapor created by burning the liquid in e-cigarettes was originally thought to be harmless to consumers but as more research is conducted it is becoming increasingly evident that this is not the case. In fact, “when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases”(Irfan Rahman, Ph.D.). This causes growing uncertainty regarding the safety of this wildly popular cigarette alternative. Little information regarding the ingredients in e-cigarettes is disclosed to the consumer. Most users have almost no information regarding the content of the product they are consuming on a daily basis, and many “e-juices” are produced overseas with little to no regulation.

Additionally, the Journal of Cellular Physiology published an article that stated over a period of three days the vapor created by e-cigarettes killed 53% of mouth cells. The deterioration of healthy mouth cells can lead to infection and a whole host of other oral health issues.

Overall, the extent to which e-cigarettes are detrimental to oral health is unclear. However, based on current research it is difficult to deny they cause damage if used regularly. We would recommend that our patients discontinue or severely reduce using e-cigarette products.

Make Oral Health Fun for the Family

Make Oral Health Fun for the Family

It can be difficult to explain the importance of oral health to children. Understandably, most are more concerned with playing than with the current and future state of their gums. We have compiled some creative ways you can teach your whole family how to maintain healthy teeth.

One idea to increase receptiveness to the twice daily brushing routine is to let your kids pick a 2-3 minute long song to play while they brush their teeth. This ensures that they brush long enough while also making the task sound a whole lot more appealing. Be warned, if tooth brushing turns into a groovy dance party, watch out for those toothbrushes becoming a hazard! A sand timer also works well if you aren’t able to play music.

Another way to add fun to oral health is by giving your child more control over the details when they brush their teeth. For example, you should change your toothbrush every three months, and you can make this a fun task for kids by letting them pick a toothbrush themed with their favorite TV characters or toys. This will help your child feel more invested and in control of their brushing routine. Additionally, you can allow them to choose the flavor of their toothpaste. Believe it or not, most kids aren’t thrilled with the taste of plain peppermint. They usually enjoy flavors like watermelon and bubblegum much more.

A great way to combine learning about oral health with gaining time management skills is to create a brushing calendar for kids in which they get a sticker each time they brush their teeth. Motivate them by offering a reward at the end of the month if there are no missed days!

On days when keeping up with oral health means actually going to a dentist appointment, we recommend making it a field trip day. For example, when you make an appointment with your doctor you can also plan something fun as a reward for your child’s bravery. After they get their teeth cleaned, head to the zoo or the park so that they will associate their dental appointments with sunshine and good times.

Finally, to continue education about the long-term importance of oral health with your child, try buying an oral health educational coloring book for kids so they can learn about eating nutritious foods and staying on top of their oral health while they play. If you your kids are tech savvy, there are also tons of great resources for learning at Mouthhealthykids.org. This website allows you to access fun quizzes and other oral health learning tools for kids.

Had your fill of fillings?

Had your fill of fillings?

There is a rumor going around that people don’t like going to the dentist since they’re afraid of having a cavity. If that rumor is true, the twice yearly visit to the dentist may be about to get a lot easier. Groundbreaking research regarding a new drug that treats Alzheimer’s Disease is proving to have some incredible oral health benefits! We may be saying goodbye to fillings and hello to a more natural alternative.

When a tooth is damaged by decay, the body creates a thin layer of dentine to fill any holes in the tooth and protect it from further damage. Problems occur when the layer of dentine that the body naturally produces isn’t large enough to fill holes in the tooth. These holes become cavities, and must be filled by a dentist using materials like gold, composite resin, and porcelain.

Though these methods of filling are effective and safe, they do not heal or restore the damaged tooth. A study out of Kings College London recently found that the molecule “glycogen synthase kinase” helps the body naturally produce more dentine to completely restore healthy levels. The researchers found that the exact molecule that was found to naturally repair the holes in teeth was already undergoing clinical trials for a drug that treats Alzheimer’s Disease.

These findings could have a huge influence on the way that we treat cavities and other oral health issues in the near future. Tideglusib, the drug found to reinforce dentine, can be applied to the teeth using collagen sponges and is completely pain free. This method would also mean that dentists wouldn’t need to drill a larger hole in the tooth in order to fill it and the overall risk of infection would be decreased. Due to the drug being in advanced stages of rigorous clinical testing for other causes, it is likely that it would be approved much more quickly for uses in dentistry.

I am always searching for the best, and newest technology to help my patients maintain dental health and a brilliant smile. I’ll be keeping my eye out for this cutting edge, pain free option for dental fillings!

What your Smile Says About You

What your Smile Says About you

Our smile is one of the first things we use to communicate with others when we have a conversation or meet someone for the first time. How we choose to present our smile to others can say a lot about our personality, health, and how we want others to see us. While clothes and other accessories may depict our style or what’s currently trending, our smile and the shine of our teeth give others a peek into our eating habits, genetics, and how comfortable we are with ourselves. Living in a society where we pride ourselves on the condition of how straight or bright our teeth are can be make looking at someone’s smile an interesting starting point in knowing the not-so-obvious traits a person has.

In terms of personality, how we smile in a social setting can tell us a lot about the people we surround ourselves with. A person who doesn’t show their teeth in a photograph may tell you that that person is shy or reserved compared to a person who shows all of their teeth and has a wide smile on their face, which most of the time, we interpret as confidence and expressing happiness.

Let’s go back and compare today to the 19th and early 20th century when it was customary not to smile in photographs. Everyone appeared to be somber, even children. It was hypothesized that because cameras where a new and developing technology, the exposure time to capture an image took as long as one minute and expressions couldn’t be held for the duration it took to capture a picture. A second theory as to why people didn’t smile in their photographs was due to the fact that they did not have good dental hygiene and, thus, were self-conscious about their smile.

As the decades went by, smirks began to sneak in and eventually smiling was an acceptable form of appearing in a photograph that lead us to where we are today. As dental hygiene methods improved, as well as quicker exposure times for camera technology, people began to show their pearly whites.

The color and shape of someone’s teeth are unique to the individual and it is natural for teeth to have a yellow tinge of color to them. However, modern dentistry has helped us improve the appearance of our teeth and now many people opt to have bright, white teeth and love to show them off in selfies. In fact, the Teeth Whitening Industry in 2015 made over $11 billion with an additional $1.4 billion spent on teeth whitening products according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Our teeth are often considered as a part of ourselves that we present to others. It is important to keep them in shape and take care of them just like any other part of our body. By scheduling routine maintenance and dental cleanings every six months and with proper daily brushing and flossing, you will keep those teeth white, bright, and camera ready well into your golden years.

All you Need to Know about Antibiotics

All you Need to Know about Antibiotics

When we have a bacterial infection, our immune system kicks in to try to rid our bodies of harmful pathogens. While fighting off foreign bacteria, the immune system sends white blood cells and antibodies to find, destroy, and repair any damage that may have been caused which often results in us feeling sick. The problem with bacterial infections is that the bacteria multiply at a rapid rate making it difficult for the immune system to respond and treat the illness quick enough. However, modern medicine has developed a way to speed up the battle our immune system takes each time a bad bacteria invades our bodies. Antibiotics are prescribed when we are fighting off a bacterial infection and typically help speed up the recovery process.

Essentially, antibiotics work by targeting the pathogens causing the damage and killing the bad bacteria while also slowing down or putting a stop to their harmful multiplication cycle. This in turn allows our bodies to take care of the remaining infection and within a week or two we begin to start feeling like our normal selves.

The problem with antibiotics is that while it kills off bad bacteria, it also rids our bodies of good bacteria as well. Our bodies maintain a balance of bacteria naturally within our digestive system and sometimes when antibiotics are prescribed, this balance can be thrown out of whack. Many doctors, regardless of what bacterial infection you may be experiencing, often recommend to supplement your antibiotic prescription with yogurt to replenish good bacteria.

Another problem with antibiotics is that while they act as a miracle drug to many bacterial infectious diseases, many people do not complete their entire set of prescribed antibiotics. Sometimes we start to feel better after just taking a few days of antibiotics and because of that stop taking what remains in the prescription. This is troublesome because it gives the opportunity for pathogens that remain in our body to find ways to react to the antibiotic and mutate a resistance towards it, making it less effective and harder to fight off the next time we get sick. Unlike a viral infection where a virus is always changing it’s gene pool, bacteria are somewhat stable in their genetic makeup, until they find ways to mutate and combat antibiotics.

The over prescribing of antibiotics is also a cause for concern. It is estimated that 70% of illness causing germs are resistant to at least one antibiotic. In 2015 it was estimated that there were 50,000 deaths due to resistant antibiotic germs. The primary reason of resistant antibiotic germs is excessive use of antibiotics. When we are given antibiotics, it is important to finish all of the pills given to us and that when we are taking medication to be sure it is for something that our immune system needs assistance with in order to get better. Antibiotics have been used for years and have helped us cure many terrible bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, mouth infections, and much more. Without the advent of antibiotics, we would be living in a much more difficult world.

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