Teeth, Gums, And Diabetes

IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE diabetes and oral health have little to do with each other, but this is unfortunately not the case. One of the most common effects of diabetes is, in fact, gum disease, and the two conditions can actually make each other harder to deal with. This is why we want to make sure all of our patients have the information they need about the relationship between diabetes and oral health problems.

The Basics Of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body makes and uses insulin, a crucial hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. When the pancreas can’t produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body can’t use it properly (type 2 and gestational diabetes), this leads to hyperglycemia. What does this mean for the teeth and gums? Well, high blood sugar both weakens the immune system and feeds bad oral bacteria, leaving diabetics vulnerable to oral inflammation and decay. 

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

By this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 22 percent of diabetics suffer from gum disease, ranging from gingivitis (inflammation) to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which threatens the health of the teeth, gums, and even the underlying bone. Bacteria from gum disease can also endanger overall health if it reaches the bloodstream, making blood sugar even harder to regulate.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, gum recession, bad breath, and loosened teethAnother diabetic symptom that increases the risk of developing gum disease is dry mouth because saliva is crucial for regulating the mouth’s pH and washing away bacteria and food particles.

While we’re focusing on gum disease, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a variety of other oral health problems, including dry mouth, impaired or slower healing, burning mouth syndrome, salivary gland enlargement, more frequent and severe infections, and fungal infections.

Fighting Back Against Diabetes

The good news for our patients who struggle with diabetes is that good oral health is still within your grasp, and keeping your mouth healthy will also make your diabetes easier to control! By brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, avoiding smoking, and being careful with your sugar intake, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.

The Role Of The Dentist

Just as crucial as your brushing and flossing routine is making regular trips to the dentist, and that might mean more than the standard two appointments a year. To play it safe, we recommend three or four yearly visits for diabetic patients. It is also essential that your doctor and your dental health care provider have the right information to be able to work as a team to keep you, your teeth, and your gums healthy.

We’re here to help you in your fight for good oral health!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Interceptive Orthodontics: The Basics

WHEN WE PICTURE SOMEONE with braces, we usually picture a teenager with a mouthful of colorful brackets. What we don’t typically picture is orthodontic appliances on younger children. However, interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for tooth extraction and jaw surgery, correct certain problems as they appear, encourage better facial development, shorten the length of orthodontic treatment needed later on, and leave patients with a better overall result in the end.

Interceptive Orthodontics Heads Off Problems Early

Conventional wisdom argues that orthodontic treatment shouldn’t start until all the adult teeth have grown in, but some issues with bite, alignment, and facial development can show up long before those teeth do. That’s where interceptive or “Phase 1” orthodontics comes in. An orthodontist can help your child’s jaw bones grow properly to have more room for the adult teeth and provide the structure for a healthier bite. Correcting problems like malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear makes future orthodontic treatment much faster and easier — and, in some cases, unnecessary!

Causes Of Malocclusions In Children

Interceptive orthodontics seeks to correct problems with jaw growth and damage from harmful habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. Each of these habits contributes to bite problems such as a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, a deep bite, and an open bite, as well as dental crowding, which in turn can make it difficult to chew and swallow effectively and speak clearly. The purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to stop those habits if they persist or repair the damage so that the adult teeth can grow in where they should.

Don’t see how something like mouth breathing can cause dental problems? Watch this video:

Common Phase 1 Treatments

One of the most noticeable differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 orthodontics is that Phase 1 is less focused on actual braces. Those typically come later, if they are still needed. Some of the treatments commonly used in Phase 1 include:

  • Upper jaw expansion to eliminate a crossbite
  • Expansion of one or both jaws to create more room for adult teeth
  • Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help adult teeth come in properly
  • Keeping space open for permanent teeth after premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Reduction of upper front teeth protrusion to protect from trauma

Is Your Child A Candidate For Interceptive Orthodontics?

Phase 1 orthodontics works better for correcting some problems than others. The best way you can find out if it can help your child get the healthy, properly aligned smile they deserve is to bring them in for an orthodontic consultation around age 7 — especially if you’ve noticed any obvious bite problems or if they have one or more of those harmful oral health habits. In the meantime, keep encouraging them to do their brushing and flossing!

Our top priority is helping patients achieve healthy smiles for life!

Top image by Flickr user Stephanie Ezcurra used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Getting Your Child Ready For The Dentist

AS PARENTS, THERE IS nothing better in the world than our children’s smiles. However, while it is easy for adults to understand the role the dentist plays in keeping those smiles healthy, a little boy or girl doesn’t always know why it’s important to go to a strange place where an unfamiliar grown-up is going to poke around in their mouth. That’s why it’s important to prepare your child for their first visit ahead of time!

Dental Anxiety Is Common For Children And Adults

There are several reasons your child might be nervous about going to the dentist for the first time. New things are often scary. Sometimes their peers at school might tell them alarming stories, and sometimes family members are guilty of deliberately scaring them. Children are also very observant, so if you are afraid of the dentist, they can probably tell and they’ll think they should be afraid too.

Helping Your Child Look Forward To The Dentist

No matter what is causing your child’s dental anxiety, there are plenty of ways you can help!

  • Start early. Ideally, the first dental visit should happen around when the first tooth erupts. If you make dental visits routine early on, your child will be able to build a trusting relationship with the dentist and grow up with a good perspective on dental care that can last a lifetime.
  • Play pretend! For younger children, the best way to explain something complicated or new can often be role play. You can play the part of the dentist and give them an idea of what to expect and why it can be fun rather than scary.
  • Explain. Your child will be much happier if they know what’s going to happen ahead of time. If your child is old enough, explain a little about what their visit will be like.
  • Meet the dentist. One of the main sources of stress for your child is that the dentist is someone unfamiliar, and you can fix that by doing a meet-and-greet ahead of time.
  • Be there for them. All the information won’t make up for the comforting presence of an adult your child knows and loves, so be there for them as much as they need you during their first few visits.
  • Teach them about dental hygiene. Understanding the value of good oral hygiene and being proud of their healthy smiles will help your child understand why going to the dentist is important.

Our Team Can Help!

If you need help preparing your child for the dentist, we’ve got your back. We want to ensure they have a happy, healthy smile for life, and we can work with you and your child to ensure their experience at the dentist is a good one. If you have any questions about what you can do to prepare for your child’s first visit, just let us know and we will be delighted to help!

We can’t wait to meet you and your child!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Impact Of Smoking On Oral Health

 

YOU’RE PROBABLY FAMILIAR with some of the ways smoking impacts our health, particularly lung cancer. However, that’s not where the damage ends. Smoking can harm every part of the body, including our oral health. And the problems don’t end with stained teeth and bad breath.

Gum Disease

Gum disease begins as an inflammation of the gums, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gum tissue, tooth loss, and even bone loss in the jaw. It can also give bacteria access to the bloodstream, risking life-threatening infections. Smoking doubles the risk of developing gum disease by introducing hundreds of toxins into the mouth, and it also makes gum disease harder to treat.

Smoker’s Keratosis

One particularly strange effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can produce white patches on the roof of the mouth. These are stomatitis nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis. The condition is not well understood, but the white patches could be the result of inflammation of the mucous glands in the mouth. It usually isn’t painful, but it can be pre-cancerous.

Oral Cancer

Four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Oral cancer is cancer that affects any of the tissues in the mouth and throat. Early symptoms include unusual white patches, persistent sores or pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, swelling, numbness, and the sensation of having something lodged in the throat. The dentist is the first line of defense against oral cancer, as many of these symptoms can be caught early during a regular dental exam.

Secondhand Smoke

Even people who don’t smoke can still be negatively affected by secondhand smoke. Studies suggest a link between cavities (in both baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The dangers of secondhand smoke are particularly serious for infants and young children. They include asthma attacks, infections, and even SIDS.

It’s Never Too Late To Quit

Luckily, smoking is a very preventable cause of all these different dental problems. All we have to do is quit smoking or never pick up the habit in the first place. Even those with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their chances of avoiding health complications by quitting, so don’t think there’s nothing you can gain from it!

We’re Waiting To Help You!

There are many resources available for smokers who need help quitting. Some of the best ones are supportive friends, family, and counselors. You can also find a lot of great information on the CDC’s website. We, as your dental health specialists, care deeply about your overall health. If you are a smoker, be sure to schedule regular dental exams, sometimes more than two a year, so that your mouth can stay healthy!

We can’t wait to see you!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Hidden Sugars In Our Food

WHEN WE THINK OF SUGARY FOOD, we usually picture things like candy, cake, pie, ice cream, and soda, but there is sugar hiding in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store — even foods we don’t think of as sweet! This is bad news for our oral health, because the harmful bacteria in our mouths love all that sugar, whether we know we’re eating it or not.

Sugar’s Many Disguises

Unfortunately, finding the sugar in the food we buy isn’t so simple these days, because it hides behind many tricky-sounding names. Here are some of the terms to look for when checking ingredient lists:

  • The “-ose” words: Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, glucose. All of these are scientific names for types of sugar molecules.
  • The syrups: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple/rice syrup, etc.
  • The sugars: Brown sugar, malt sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, etc. Whether brown or white, liquid or powder, sugar is still sugar.
  • The “natural replacements”: agave nectar, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, 100 percent fruit juice. While whole fruit is definitely a healthier snack than a candy bar, fruit juice isn’t any better for your teeth than soda.
  • Molasses.

While these are the most common disguises sugar may take, there are plenty more. A good clue is in the “added sugars” line on the nutrition labels. Unfortunately, these sugars can be found in everyday foods we often think of as healthy (or at least not unhealthy), like Raisin Bran, fruit-flavored yogurt, ketchup, barbecue sauce, granola, and even most types of bread! This is why it’s important to always read the labels!

Our Recommended Daily Sugar Intake

With sugar hiding in so much of our food, avoiding it entirely can be a difficult task, but our teeth (and the rest of us) will be healthier and happier if we can keep the overall amount to a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) a day for women, 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. That might not seem like much, but the good news is that the longer you go with less sugar in your day, the less you’ll miss it!

Healthy Sugar Replacements

At least east as important as the amount of sugar we consume is how we consume it. The reason whole fruit is healthier than fruit juice is that the sugar in fruit comes with a lot of water and fiber, making it harder for our bodies to absorb. Whole fruit is also more filling, whereas we could drink the equivalent of several oranges in juice and still have room for bacon, eggs, and toast. That right there is the difference between natural and processed sugars!

But what about when you get those sweet cravings and fruit just won’t cut it? That’s when sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol or low-sugar alternatives like applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs come in handy. You’ll also have an easier time avoiding those insidious added sugars if you stick to whole foods.

Let’s Check On Those Teeth!

Luckily for all of us, cutting down on sugar isn’t the only way we can take care of our teeth. We can also keep them healthy and bright by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling our regular dental cleanings. If it’s been more than six months since your last appointment, don’t hesitate to schedule your next one today!

Our practice has the world’s sweetest patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

 

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Your Next Dental Appointment

 

 

GOING TO THE DENTIST is something we should all be doing twice a year every year. If you’re already in the habit of coming in for regular cleanings, that’s wonderful! If not, here’s what you can expect from a typical cleaning appointment.

Your Check-Up

When visiting the dentist for a check-up, there are a few things that will typically happen. If you don’t have any existing dental concerns or conditions, the first step is usually dental X-rays. Your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health will determine how often you need these. Dental X-rays help dentists to find and diagnose tooth decay hiding between the teeth and other places hard to see with the naked eye. They also identify dental and orthodontic issues beneath the gums.

Next, the hygienist will begin cleaning the teeth. They use a small metal tool called a scaler to scrape away any tartar in between the teeth and around the gumline. Then they’ll polish the teeth using a lightly abrasive paste and a polishing tool. This gives your teeth a nice, deep clean and removes any remaining tartar. They finish the cleaning off with flossing.

Once the hygienist is done, it’s the dentist’s turn. They’ll review your X-rays, check your teeth and gums for signs of decay and gum disease, measure the depth of your gingival pockets, check for swelling and redness, test how well your teeth come together when you bite down, and examine your neck, lymph glands, and mouth for signs of oral cancer. When they finish, they’ll discuss treatment for any dental work you need and give you tips on improving your daily dental care routine.

Why Visiting The Dentist Is Important

Even for people with great oral health habits like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily, visiting the dentist every six months is crucial to maintaining good oral health. The reason for this is that dental problems don’t go away on their own and tend to get worse, which also makes them more difficult (and expensive) to fix. Regular dental checkups catch problems early so that more intense treatment doesn’t become necessary.

We Can’t Wait To See You!

Whether it’s been six months or longer since the last time we saw you, we’re looking forward to seeing you again! Schedule your next appointment right away, and we can make sure everything in your mouth is healthy and clean!

We have the world’s best patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

 

RAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples! Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to us for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

We look forward to seeing you again!

Top image by Flickr user Garry Wiseman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

SPORTS INJURIES, ACCIDENTS, and tooth decay are just a few of the reasons we might lose a tooth. Thanks to modern dentistry, however, we don’t need to settle for having a gap in our smiles for the rest of our lives. There are a few ways to fill that gap, and one of them is with dental implants.

Implants Or False Teeth?

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. The only advantage dentures have over implants is that they are cheaper. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.

Types Of Implants

The health of the underlying jaw bone will determine a patient’s eligibility for implants and which type they will receive. In a patient with healthy bone, an endosteal implant will be used. This is simply a titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone. After a healing period, the patient will have a second surgery in which a crown is placed on top of the post.

For patients with bone that can’t support an endosteal implant (or patients who don’t want the surgery involved with them), there are subperiosteal implants. Instead of a titanium post, a metal frame is placed under the gums but on top of the jawbone. Posts are then added to this framework, and they protrude from the gum line like endosteal implants so that crowns can be attached.

Check out this video to see how implants are made:

Implants And Braces?

In most cases where a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as implants, the braces come first, because once an implant is in the jaw, it won’t move. On rare occasions, if the braces only need to shift the front teeth and the missing teeth are located in the back, the implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment!

Come Talk To Us About Implants!

Getting dental implants is nothing to be worried about! 3,000,000 people in the United States alone have at least one dental implant and that number continues to grow. If you need a dental implant, just talk to us! We’ll evaluate your situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.

Keep taking care of those teeth!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

What Makes Our Smiles Unique

EVERY PERSON IS BORN with their own unique smile. Some smile with all of their teeth, some only show the top row, and some don’t show their teeth at all, and a smile can come in all shapes and sizes and still be genuine. We can also end up with smiles that look a lot like our family members’ smiles even if we have very different faces. How does this happen? What gives our smiles their shapes and makes them shine?

The Structure Of A Smile

Part of the way we smile is of course based on our personalities. Some people laugh easily, while others maintain an unbreakable poker face. Some people’s smiles light up their whole faces, spreading from ear to ear and changing the shape of their eyes. Others are less dramatic, even if their smiles are sincere.

Another component is our genes. We inherit facial features and even some of the shapes of our facial muscles (which control our expressions) from our parents. We also all have unique teeth, which is why people can be identified by their dental records. Nobody else has teeth shaped and aligned exactly the way yours are!

The Role Of Oral Health

Essentially, our individual smiles are one part personality, one part genetics, and one part oral health and hygiene. The color of our teeth plays a big role in the impression our smiles make, as does the health of our gums.

When we know our teeth and gums look good, it makes it easier to unleash our full smiles because we aren’t worried about how people will react. Taking good care of your teeth and gums by maintaining good oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will ensure that your smile always looks its best!

Gummy And Toothy Smiles

In some cases, smiles are either very “gummy” or very “toothy.” This can happen because of the way our lips pull back over our teeth and gums, which is perfectly normal. However, some gummy smiles are the result of abnormal eruption of the teeth, leaving an undesirable tooth/gum ratio.

Likewise, some toothy smiles are the result of gum recession, where the jaw bone wears away and the gum tissue draws back, exposing the roots of the teeth. There are many options for patients with gummy or toothy smiles, including same-day laser treatments, surgical lip repositioning, braces, surgical sculpting of the gum tissues, and gum grafting.

Check out this video for a few tips on getting the most out of your smile:

 

What Can We Do For Your Smile?

If your teeth are stopping you from sharing your smile as much as you want to, come see us. Whether the problem is overgrown or receding gums, tooth decay, or misalignment, together we can make a plan to get your smile to what you’ve always wanted it to be!

Make someone’s day by sharing your smile!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.