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.

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.

How gum disease is related to pancreatic cancer

How gum disease is related to pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer that can develop in the human body. Responsible for over 40,000 deaths a year, 95% of people diagnosed die within the first 5 years. More and more doctors are turning to the mouth as an early detection tool for these kinds of cancers and diseases.

A certain kind of bacteria that causes periodontal disease has also been linked to patients that have pancreatic cancer. Looking at oral samples, researchers have found connections between Porphyromonas gingivalis. In this study the prevalence of this bacteria was accompanied by an overall 59% greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Those who carried Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans were 50% more likely. Both types of bacteria cause periodontitis which is a serious gum disease.
The microbiome of the mouth is a really fascinating place to do bacterium studies. With over 700 different kinds of species of bacteria, there’s a lot of variation. Five previous studies show that those who suffer from gum disease – bleeding, or swollen gums, and those who have missing teeth associated with gum disease are also linked to have an increased likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.

It seemed odd at first but the statistics don’t lie. Looking at what general inflammation means and how that’s important in relation to cancer is important to help with an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis with a cancer as aggressive as pancreatic could mean the difference between life or death with most patients.
Your dentist could be the first line of defense in knowing what’s going on with the rest of your body, so it’s important to make sure you’re regularly seeing them and taking care of your oral health. Anything that raises a red flag to me, I’m sure to notify my patients. I’m always thinking of their health collectively.

The Flossing Feud

The Flossing Feud

As unpopular as flossing may be, the recent post from the Associate Press that claims it’s not important at all, is pure baloney. As much as we’d all like to believe flossing isn’t important, and excitedly cross that off our nightly ritual, countless years of studies have proven flossing’s effectiveness. If you want to keep your mouth healthy, you better keep that string moving.

Most dentists agree on the importance of flossing. With so many years of experience I can tell you that I’ve seen the benefits of flossing, first hand. Not only is plaque removal vital to the sustainability of a healthy oral ecosystem – flossing plays a direct role in removing plaque from the teeth. The trick is to make sure you’re flossing in a C-shape around each tooth. Flossing with intention rather than haphazardly makes a world of difference.

There are so many options available for flossing as well, if you don’t like standard string floss, technology has created water powered flossers for you home. These use gentle water pressure to remove plaque and are very effective in cleaning all your teeth but for those who don’t want to spend extra money on a flossing device, good old traditional floss does the trick just fine.

The studies that were ran that allegedly disproved the notion of flossing haven’t been running as long as the studies that prove its effectiveness. Preventing tooth decay in the long run, into our older years, starts with good flossing habits young. Maintaining the integrity of your mouth is a lifelong battle that’s best set-up for success early on.

Not to mention there are specific people who benefit from flossing more than perhaps the average person. People who suffer dry mouth or who drink coffee or eat other acidic or high – carbohydrate diets will see an improvement in their mouth through flossing. Since these things aid in plaque production, removing it from the source every day becomes especially important to avoid the onset of gingivitis. Flossing also strengthens the gum line so that means when you see your dentist there’s less discomfort and bleeding than in the patients who don’t floss.

Although new data keeps being released all the time about what’s really effective and what’s not, I can say from firsthand experience that I’m pro-flossing, as are most dentists. So when you come to visit me for your next checkup, you’ll still be hearing that timeless reminder to keep floss in your daily care routine.

How Being Pregnant can Change Your Mouth

How Being Pregnant can Change Your Mouth

Being pregnant is such a magical time, bringing with it, glowing skin, luxurious hair, and fantastic nails. Those same hormones that bring you your pregnancy glow are the same hormones responsible for the changes you may also experience in your mouth. Due to this constantly changing hormonal state the gums become very sensitive, and pregnant women may find themselves more vulnerable to oral problems. These discomforts can manifest in a few different ways, but with a diligent maintenance routine, they’re easily manageable.
Pregnant women may find that they become more susceptible to gingivitis because of their changing hormonal state. It is a mild form of gum disease that causes your gums to be red, tender and sore or irritated. Keeping your teeth clean, with flossing and mouthwash diligently on top of brushing, should keep the susceptibility of the disease developing very unlikely. If for whatever reason you’re experiencing any symptoms that look like gingivitis, go to your dentist before the problem worsens. Gingivitis can become a serious issue if not treated and taken care of appropriately.
What you eat is also really important when you’re thinking about how to take care of your teeth. Being sure you’re stocked up on vitamins and healthy snacks are a great way to keep your Ph balance in check and keeps your teeth and bones strong and healthy. Also keep in mind that whatever you eat, you also pass down to your developing little one. Although cravings can be a humorous aspect of pregnancy, as your appetite increases with your growing body and baby, keep in mind that mindless snacking can be an invitation to plaque. Foods that are low in sugar and nutritious for both of you are things like, raw fruits and vegetables, and/or yogurts and cheeses. Your physician will be able to provide advice as to what foods to avoid and enjoy while pregnant.
Morning sickness is a less fun side effect of growing a little one, but it happens to almost every woman. Unfortunately, on top of being uncomfortable, vomiting can also be detrimental to tooth health. The rising acid levels eat away at your enamel, and some women who experience many months of morning sickness can also experience unpleasant mouth symptoms. If you are getting sick frequently, be sure to take extra care of your teeth and mouth. An easy swish with a mix of baking soda and water will neutralize any acid left hanging around and will protect the integrity of your teeth.
It’s safe to go to your dentist at any point during your pregnancy if you’re having uncomfortable symptoms or have questions about oral changes. Dentists, like doctors, are well versed in handling dental care at any point of a person’s life and if you’ve been with your dentist a while, like most of my patients have, they’ll be excited to see you during this beautiful and exciting time of your life. A little extra TLC will go a long way in protecting your new, slightly more sensitive teeth so be sure you’re flossing with every brush and not skipping.
Never hesitate to get your dentist’s opinion on anything that may pop up that you’re not sure about. Sometimes mild canker sores and ulcers can form due to the changing hormones, if you have a question, contact us! I’m always happy to see and answer any questions my patients may have so I can support and be excited for them on the next chapter in their lives.

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.

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!

Straight from the Mouths of Smokers

Straight from the Mouths of Smokers

As more and more research gets released on the negatives health consequences of smoking, it comes to no surprise that oral health is on the front lines of assault in the mouths of smokers. The mouths of people who smoke are a difficult terrain for even the most experienced dentist to navigate. Patients who smoke up to a half a pack a day are 6 times more likely to suffer from Periodontal disease than those who abstain from smoking. Most procedures, like dental implants, which normally have a 95% success rate, are at a high risk of failing in smokers vs. nonsmokers. So before you pick up another pack, think about these few things:

1. Periodontal disease is a very real problem. Although most adults, at some point in their life, will suffer from some form of this, the likelihood of recurring infections and severity of the disease increases dramatically with smoking. Since smoking dries out the mouth, there is a higher buildup of plaque along the teeth, which leads to the formation of harmful bacteria. The first sign of gum disease is usually bleeding, but if you smoke, the gum has become hardened due to the inhalation of tobacco and chemicals. Because of this, smokers are less likely to show these initial symptoms. This allows disease to spread unnoticed and can wreak havoc on the soft tissues of the gum and can even lead to jaw bone infection.
2. Procedures like crowns and bridges can have a dramatically positive effect on your smile and they look amazing when first placed. If you smoke, the gum pulls away from the teeth and what once looked shiny and perfect, becomes deteriorated. Porcelain laminates also start to lose their luster much faster if you’re a smoker. Those cosmetic procedures aren’t cheap, and it’s a shame to see them go to waste.
3. Dental implants can replace damaged and lost teeth in the mouths of smokers, but smokers should know they have an increased risk that the procedure will fail. Especially in the first weeks of the healing process, which lasts between two and three weeks. Smoking in the post-surgical time period after implants are inserted delays healing and increases the likelihood of infection and complications.

Smoking is incredibly hard on all aspects of our health and places and immense amount of stress on our bodies. Your mouth and teeth are just one facet of this problem, but they often are the most visible indicator of poor health. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting before you run into oral complications. If you have no intention of quitting soon, be sure you’re paying extra time and attention to your oral hygiene. Schedule dentist appointments regularly and keep on top of attending them. I love taking care of my patients and aim to make sure they’re looking and feeling their best, reminding them of the consequences of their habit is a well-intentioned attempt to look after their wellbeing.