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.

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.

Periodontal Disease, Early Indicator of Pancreatic Cancer? Research Points to Yes.

Periodontal Disease, Early Indicator of Pancreatic Cancer? Research Points to Yes.

The link between your oral health and physical health is growing stronger every day as more and more research is completed. Many illnesses and diseases develop preliminary symptoms that are being found, firstly, in a patient’s mouth. One of the newest correlations found, is between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer – the 4th most common cause of cancer related mortality.

Pancreatic cancer is expected to rise to the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths, and even though it accounts for only 3% of new cancer cases each year, it’s lack of symptoms can lead to a late diagnosis. In this particularly aggressive form of cancer, and a late diagnosis is the difference between life, and death.

Thankfully researchers come bearing good news. Evidence indicates that chronic infections, and inflammation, of the gums is associated with an increased risk of cancer development. Frequent occurrences of periodontal disease may be one of the earliest forms of detection available for pancreatic cancer. Now before you become worried about the state of your health, keep in mind there are two types of bacteria that can cause periodontal disease. Participants with Porphyromonas gingivitis had a 59% greater risk of cancer development than those without. This study concluded that those who had poor oral health, may be at a predisposition for pancreatic cancer to develop.

While genetics still remain to be the most steadfast way of determining a person’s likelihood of developing cancer, the new research available from NYU concluded that periodontal disease, did, in fact, precede pancreatic cancer. This is important and exciting news for anyone with a history of illness. Being able to catch pancreatic cancer in its developing stages might be the best way to decrease its mortality rate.

It is important to acknowledge that these findings do not confirm that one causes the other, only that, in some, way they’re correlated. It’s more plausible to think that periodontal disease acts as a symptom of developing cancerous cells. Inflammation in the body is a known precursor for cancer development.

The medical field is expanding constantly, and rapidly, and we’re lucky to live in a country that is on the cutting edge of research. I’ve always known that the mouth is a glimpse into the rest of the body and being able to monitor my patients’ health more thoroughly is exciting and important to me.

Most of my patients have been with me for many years, their loyalty is my bread and butter. Keeping them healthy is my top priority and in hard cases like these, cancerous illnesses and the like, it breaks my heart to discover bad news. But with early detection, as this research detects, hopefully we can start winning more battles against pancreatic cancer.

Be sure you’re scheduling with me regularly especially if you notice inflammation in your gums. Keeping your mouth healthy is a necessary step in keeping the rest of you healthy as well.

Marijuana and Gum Disease, What’s Really Happening.

Marijuana and Gum Disease, What’s Really Happening.

As more and more information gets released about medical marijuana uses, one of the less than appealing aspects about its users, is the increased likelihood they’ll develop periodontal disease. A strong correlation between heavy users of the herb, and the increased incidences of gum disease (especially in young adults), has been noticed by researchers, doctors, and dentists alike. So before you light up, consider the harms associated with heavy smoking.

Since it’s recent, State-specific legalization, studies can, and will, be coming to more concrete conclusions about the positive, and negative, aspects of marijuana use. Those prescribed the herb are usually looking for safer ways to alleviate various pains and discomforts, without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. But like any medication, this, of course, is not without its respective challenges.

The mouth’s ecosystem is a series of routinely healing the attacks our environment takes on it. Foods, drinks, brushing and flossing habits, all greatly affect overall mouth care. Drinks and food eat away at enamel and create plaque. That, in it of itself, is already a difficult repair to naturally reverse itself. This is why we need to brush, floss and visit the dentist, because without those things we’re prone to disease and our health is adversely affected.

Anytime you introduce smoking to your habits, your mouth has an even more difficult time recovering. The hot smoke held in your mouth wreaks havoc on your gums that normal maintenance doesn’t help fully recover from. Studies show that with time, the mouth repairs itself quite well. Those who quit smoking in their late 20s had almost no signs of oral health problems in their 30s. But if you’re smoking every day, the mouth doesn’t have time or resources to properly heal itself.

The most common issue with marijuana use, is the dry mouth it causes with most users. There are a lot of medications and habits that contribute to dry mouth, but the effects of it are all the same. Dry mouth leads to less saliva production which helps keep the bacteria in the mouth balanced. ‘Cottonmouth’ can lead to periodontal disease for simply allowing the acid in the mouth to get out of control.

Some studies have found that the actual chemical THC found in marijuana can’t be completely broken down by the mouth and can lead to gum disease. As marijuana usage increases each year with its movements towards legalization, new and more comprehensive studies of side effects can be completed.

I recommend, if you are a smoker of any kind, that your visits to me are well maintained. I’m always invested in the health of my patients and being in dentistry as long as I have, you learn that the mouth can tell you a lot of secrets about a person’s health. Don’t be embarrassed about confiding your habits in me, together we can better monitor your health and figure out what’s working for you and not working for you.
The times maybe changing, but I’m not going anywhere. So be sure you’re checking in with me on a regular basis.

Soda – Kryptonite for your Teeth

Soda – Kryptonite for your Teeth

Almost no one reaches for a glass of milk or water anymore, instead our convenience stores are lined with refrigerated soft drinks and sports drinks. We start our mornings with coffee or juice and end our evenings with wine or beers. While these things are okay in moderation, they may be doing more harm than good to our teeth.
These drinks cause suffering to the consumer by altering the natural PH balance in your mouth. An overall mouth PH balance less than 4.0 is considered to be corrosive to teeth, and make them more prone to decay. Most sodas have a PH of 2.37 – 3.4. Gatorade and Powerade have a PH balance in the high 2s, things like Vitaminwater are doing a little better, at around 3.2 and orange juice is at 3.8.

For adults, alcohol can cause some serious damage to our teeth as well. Alcohol not only strips away at the enamel; it can also turn into sugar in your metabolism which settles onto your teeth. Alcohol also strips your body of water, leaving you dehydrated and with a dry mouth. A lack of saliva means that bacteria is more likely to grow out of control and we know what that means – more plaque buildup.

It’s near impossible to keep track of the PH levels of all the drinks you’re consuming throughout the day, but it is important to keep in the back of your mind that sugary drinks have real ramifications on the health of your teeth. When the sugar interacts with the natural bacteria in your mouth, acid is formed that latches onto the surface of the teeth. This creates plaque and plaque dissolves the tooth structures and can even leave holes, cavities, in the teeth.

For the parents out there, kids and teens are much more susceptible to decay and tooth erosion because the enamel isn’t quite developed. Teach them good brushing habits young and try to encourage as much water intake as possible so they learn to think twice about reaching for that soda first.

Enjoying the things we sip on is a wonderful facet to life, and like with anything, everything is okay in moderation. If you’re prone to dental disease, sugary drinks might be the culprit. There are some easy tricks to make sure that your mouth stays balanced and your teeth stay healthy.

You can use a straw to make sure the soda stays as far away from your teeth as possible. ‘Rinse’ or swish your mouth with water after drinking a soft drink so that the natural PH balance is restored more quickly and the sugar doesn’t have a chance to settle on the surface of your teeth. Never go to sleep without brushing your teeth and try to only keep water at your bedside to rehydrate. The longer sugar sits on your teeth, the more problems it leads to.

Also be sure you schedule checkups regularly with me so I can keep your teeth in tip top condition. I’ll be able to tell you if your diet is working for you just by looking at your teeth and you might hear me suggest to cut back on sugary and acidic drinks, but only because I’m looking out for you!

Medicare and Dentistry

Medicare and Dentistry

If you’re nearing 65 this year, or headed for blissful retirement, you’ve likely heard of your eligibility to start receiving Medicare benefits. This is great news in some aspects of coverage. Medicare is a great social program that helps build a safety net for injuries and diseases, whose treatment costs can get expensive. However, the list of benefits and services Medicare provides is limited, it won’t cover everything. There are a handful of very basic healthcare services you might be surprised aren’t covered by your new benefits plan. Being aware of the gaps in your coverage is necessary because what used to be considered a routine health care appointment, all of a sudden, might no longer be covered.

One of the biggest gaps in Medicare’s coverage is dental care. If you’re looking for a preventative cleaning or routine checkup – you’re looking to foot the bill for those expenses. Cavities fillings, oral surgeries, root canals and even dentures are not covered by Medicare’s senior plan. As people age, they grow increasingly susceptible to cavities. An increase in medications that increase dry mouth among patients come with an increased difficulty in maintaining good oral health. Dry mouth affects your teeth and gums which leads to a higher probability of gingivitis and cavities. Besides being just a nuisance to deal with, these symptoms can often be a warning sign for other greater health issues that might make someone sick, like, strokes, diabetes and pneumonia.

This makes a good oral hygiene system almost essential for any senior. Brushing, flossing, mouthwash every day. But even taking these careful measures might not be enough to stop the onset of dental problems. Routine trips to the dentist are just as important as an at-home-maintenance ritual but with Medicare not covering even these routine examinations, many seniors are finding themselves footing the whole bill for their dentist visit.
The only time Medicare will step in to cover a dental expense is a service that renders the patient hospitalized. In that case, the Medicare Part A plan will help cover some cost of the service. Beyond that, seniors are on their own with the expense.

This, is obviously, a huge inconvenience for anyone 65 or older. As we age, the teeth age too, making them, just like any other body part, more susceptible to problems and wear and tear. Most people will need dentures at a point in their life and without insurance coverage, the bottom line of that bill can get pricey.

We understand your frustration with this insurance policy. My passion since entering Dentistry has always been, bottom line, the love of helping people. If you find yourself in a sticky situation regarding your Medicare coverage, call our offices today and set up an appointment, we can talk about solutions and discuss different options available to get you the care you need and depend on.

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Your dentist may be the best line of defense when oral cancer is in question. Whether or not you’re aware of it, part of your routine examination at your dentist’s office is a cancer check. When your dentist asks you to say “AHHHH”, he is looking into your throat for any abnormalities. Additionally, when you move your tongue around your dentist is looking for cancerous abnormalities around, under and on the sides of the tongue. Same goes for that nice neck massage you receive with cold gloved hands: checking for lumps in the passageways that could be indicative of a much more serious health issue.

Oral cancer screening is a routine examination performed at your dentist’s or doctor’s office. Screening for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions at least yearly keeps you informed of your health. An early diagnosis could be the difference of life and death, and you, as a patient, are probably not even aware that a screening is happening. If abnormal looking cells are found, then your dentist might order more tests to be done. Some argue the necessity of a screening but most dentists perform them routinely for your own benefit. Consequently, if your dentist is aware of risk factors that may increase your chance of oral cancer, they might screen more in-depth or more frequently.

As with any cancer, engaging in risky health habits increase your likelihood of contracting oral cancer. Tobacco use of any kind, which includes: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, hookah, and many others – increase that risk exponentially. Heavy drinkers or alcohol abusers also suffer heightened risk of contracting cancer. Even a history of significant sun exposure plays a role in increasing the likelihood that you’ll contract lip or skin cancer which can migrate or show in other areas such as your mouth or throat.

A screening isn’t the best way to determine if you do or don’t have cancer but a second set of eyes from someone who cares about you might lead to finding abnormal cells. The findings of these abnormalities gives the patient leverage in their own health. If precancerous cells have been found, more tests are probably going to be the first thing recommended. As just a simple screening can’t detect all mouth cancers, anything that looks fishy will need to be reevaluated for clarity. There is no proof that routine examinations reduce the numbers of death caused by oral cancer. But if a diagnosis is made early enough then the patient has the option to start treatment earlier, where remission is most possible.

Some dentists use special tests in the addition to the oral exam to screen. Some of these practices include having the patient rinse their mouth with a special blue dye for an exam. Abnormal cells in your mouth may take up the dye and appear blue. Shining a bright light into your mouth during an exam is another practice. The light makes healthy tissues appear dark and makes abnormal tissues appear white. None of these procedures are uncomfortable in any way for the patient.

Since most of my patients are like extended family to me, I take the time to do cancer screens on each of them. Being privileged to look into the lives of the people I treat, sometimes I’m aware of habits they’ve picked up that pose a threat to their health. This is an area I’m passionate about and I love helping people dearly, so looking out for their best interest is in my best interest as well.

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

Using a microscope in dental procedures is a guaranteed way to achieve better and more accurate results. Cosmetic, root canals, crown procedures and fillings all serve to be improved by microscopic precision. This technique provides me with a feeling of thoroughness and professional enjoyment.
Most dental offices that do microsurgical endodontics use loupes that magnify at about 2.5-3 times the magnification. Our office uses a microscope that can magnify up to 16 times. This is to ensure the maximum possible accuracy when working on our patients.
Loupes are used to scrutinize and examine a patient’s oral cavity. In order to make improved diagnosis’s or allow for a better visualization of details, we can use a microscope. Looking at these details is important to many procedures. For example, I may want to determine how far a crack runs along the surface of a tooth. What is the risk of the tooth fracturing or having that crack extend into the nerve, thus needing a root canal. With a microscope a diagnosis can be made with a higher level of definiteness and the proper treatment can be provided or determined that no treatment is necessary
Studies have demonstrated a much higher success rate in procedures that utilize surgical operating microscopes. Even with all the positive attention garnered around using these tools, it still isn’t considered standard practice among dentists. These microscopes have a steep learning curve and require extensive practice and training to master. Yet, for me the ability to see at this higher level makes the daily grind much more enjoyable.

Santa Brings Coal but Plaque can Bring Holes

Santa Brings Coal but Plaque can Bring Holes

The Holiday season is in full force and if you’re anything like us, resisting those winter treats is probably not going as well as you anticipated. Between all the Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving pies, and cozy comforting bakes and breads, the things we eat are often our favorite part of the Holidays. If you’re a parent, you might start telling your kids this season that all those treats will rot their teeth. Maintaining their sugar intake and your sanity is important and while we won’t give away your secrets, we will reassure you that your sweet tooth is not your enemy this season. Well, it is not your enemy if you keep your teeth clean.

Plaque is the culprit. Plaque is that sticky stuff that clings to your teeth. The plaque consists of mostly germs. When you brush your teeth you’re actively removing plaque, which starts building up after every meal. When plaque builds up and doesn’t get brushed away, it erodes the outer layer of enamel by producing acids. This leads to the formation of cavities – or those little holes we find in your teeth. Kids are more susceptible to cavities, given their brushing and eating habits, but since the introduction of fluoride (which hardens the teeth} in water systems, that statistic has gone down.

Adults are not risk free. The chance of decay can occur throughout our lives. Yet, adults can reduce their risk of decay by good oral hygiene, proper diet (less sugary foods) and regular dental checkups. I CANNOT RECOMMEND ENOUGH THE NEED FOR REGULAR CHECKUPS FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. These checkups allow us to thoroughly remove the plaque, examine the teeth, and apply fluoride and to repair early decay before it causes major problems.

The How To On Dental Hygiene From Dr. Jay

The How To On Dental Hygiene From Dr. Jay

  1. Maintaining your dental hygiene may seem like an easy task but it is an increasingly tough issue for all ages. As we age, remembering to complete simple dental routines tend to lapse. We’ve come up with these 8 tips to achieve healthy oral hygiene, and make it easier to maintain overall health. Lets start with the more well known habits we tend to forget.
  2. Brush twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride. Fluoride strengthens enamel and helps teeth resist acids that lead to cavities. We brush to decrease the amount of bacterial load in our mouths to prevent disease, get rid of bad breath, etc… You would be surprised to learn that it’s not necessarily the frequency, rather the efficiency in which you brush your pearly whites. Dentists most commonly re teach patients how to brush teeth properly for the maximum impact. Since people don’t usually know how to properly do this, we stick with the twice a day rule.
  3. Floss, floss, floss!! Not only does flossing remove plaque from between teeth where the brush can’t reach, it also helps prevent gingivitis which can become irreversible. If flossing causes bleeding, then this may already be onset of gum disease-but don’t worry! With consistency this can discontinue in about two weeks. If flossing is beyond uncomfortable for you, try an oral irrigator.*
    Break up with your habit of smoking. Smoking causes a myriad of issues, dentists claim to be nightmares if gone on for too long. Though smoke stains are surface and and can be polished off by your dentist, some can soak deep into your enamel and stay there permanently. It inhabits healthy gums and can cause teeth to appear larger and have dark spaces between them, making your smile an Austin Powers look-alike and that is not so “groovy baby”.
  4. Make water your best friend- or at least one of them. Water is the healthiest drink for your body. It flushes out bad bacteria and replenishes your system with healthy nutrients. It does the same thing for your mouth! It flushes your teeth clean and discourages tooth decay
  5. Limit coffee, tea and red intake to avoid unwanted staining. Don’t give up your Friday evening glass of wine or Monday morning cup of joe, but reducing overall consumption of these liquids will be beneficial to your health and mouth hygiene. Try drinking these beverages through a straw to limit the amount of stains on your teeth and to reduce dreaded morning coffee breath.
  6. Diet is actually a key factor in oral hygiene.sticky and sugary foods can produce acids that lead to unwanted outcomes like decay and gum disease. Healthy foods like fruits and veggies are awesome for your teeth due to the increase in cleansing salvia, which gives your mouth a fresh feel.
  7. Diet is actually a key factor in oral hygiene.sticky and sugary foods can produce acids that lead to unwanted outcomes like decay and gum disease. Healthy foods like fruits and veggies are awesome for your teeth due to the increase in cleansing salvia, which gives your mouth a fresh feel. Fun fact- raw onions have powerful antibacterial properties and studies have shown that onions have wiped out four strains of bacteria that can cause gum disease.
  8. See your dental hygienist the recommended amount per year, which is about once every six months. We’re here to help keep you and your mouth healthy! In addition to removing stains and tartar, dental hygienists can screen for health conditions like oral cancers and gingivitis. Many health conditions manifest themselves in your mouth, so your dentist can make your aware of systematic issues that you should then follow up about with your MD.