Spotlight on Men’s Oral Health

WE SHOULD ALL BE taking good care of our teeth and gums, but did you know that this can mean different things for men than for women? That’s right: one of the ways men and women are different is their oral health, which is why we’re giving guys some tips for how to keep those handsome smiles clean and healthy.
Make Brushing and Flossing a Priority
One major difference between men and women’s oral health is that men have a tendency to be less diligent in taking care of their smiles than women — up to 20 percent less likely to brush twice a day, and less likely to change their toothbrushes regularly. This is such a simple problem to address: just make sure you’re taking the time every morning and evening to brush! Flossing once a day is important too.
Oral Disease Risk Factors for Men
On average, men are more likely to drink, smoke, and chew tobacco than women, which puts them at much greater risk of periodontitis (advanced gum disease), tooth loss, and oral cancer. Avoiding these harmful substances will go a long way to protecting your teeth and gums. We recommend drinking less and not smoking or chewing tobacco at all.

Men Are More at Risk of Dry Mouth
Because men are more prone to high blood pressure and heart disease than women, they are more likely to be taking medications for these conditions. A common side effect of these medications is dry mouth, which can pose serious problems for oral health. We need our saliva to wash away bacteria and food particles and keep the pH of our mouths neutral. Less saliva means a greater chance of cavities, gum disease, and halitosis.
Manly Men Go to the Dentist
Another problem that affects men more than women is that men tend to neglect scheduling regular dental exams. Even if they suspect something might be wrong, there’s a dangerous tendency to want to tough it out in case it goes away. This is not an effective or safe strategy when it comes to dental problems. We recommend twice-yearly dental exams even when you’re confident nothing is wrong. When it comes to dental health, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!
Together, We Can Keep Those Charming Smiles Healthy!
In taking care of their teeth and gums, men should be wary of getting into a “tough guy” mindset. There’s nothing tough about not getting needed treatment for cavities or gum disease, and there’s nothing manly about skipping brushing and flossing or not scheduling regular dental appointments. Keep up with those great oral hygiene habits and don’t be a stranger to the dentist!
Helping patients is what we do!

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.

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Pregnancy and Oral Health

 

ASIDE FROM THE OBVIOUS, there are all kinds of changes the body goes through during pregnancy. Some of them can even impact teeth and gums, from morning sickness to changing hormone levels that increase the risk of several oral health problems.
Hormones Can Lead to Pregnancy Gingivitis
Pregnancy is a very busy and exciting time, but make sure not to slack off on brushing and flossing, because those changing hormones can leave the gums vulnerable to the tenderness and swelling of gingivitis. 40% of pregnant women have gum disease, and studies link pregnancy gingivitis with lower birth weights and premature delivery. Fight back against pregnancy gingivitis by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily!

 

Enamel Erosion from Morning Sickness
Not every mom-to-be gets morning sickness, but the ones who do might experience oral health problems as a result. Frequent exposure to stomach acid erodes the protective enamel on teeth, leaving them vulnerable to decay. You can minimize the effects by swishing with baking soda and water to neutralize the acid after an episode of morning sickness. Once the acid is neutralized, it’s safe to brush!
Weird But Not Dangerous: Pyogenic Granuloma
Possibly the strangest way pregnancy can impact oral health is by causing raspberry-like growths between the teeth. These are pyogenic granulomas, or “pregnancy tumors.” Don’t worry, though, because they aren’t malignant. If they appear, it’s usually in the second trimester, and while they usually vanish after the baby is born, the dentist can remove them if they get too uncomfortable.
The Impact of Diet on Mom’s and Baby’s Dental Health
What we eat always plays a role in the health of our teeth and gums, and that is especially true during pregnancy. We recommend cutting back on sugary treats and focusing on getting plenty of essential nutrients. This will help keep your teeth in good shape, and it will also help the little one. Developing babies need vitamins A, C, and D, as well as protein, calcium, phosphorous to begin growing strong teeth.
The Dentist Is Your Friend
In addition to getting the right nutrition and maintaining good daily oral hygiene habits, it’s also important to keep the dentist in the loop. Fighting pregnancy gingivitis requires routine cleanings and checkups. Whether it’s been a while since your last appointment or you think you might be expecting an addition to your family soon, we encourage you to schedule a dental appointment soon!
Our patients are the best!

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 to Do When a Toothache Strikes

TOOTHACHES CAN HAPPEN for a number of reasons. It’s important to know what to do about them, because they don’t always happen when the dentist’s office is open. Do you have a plan for how to deal with an after-hours toothache?
Major Causes of Toothaches
Tooth decay is the main culprit behind a painful tooth, but there are others too, from gum disease to pulp inflammation to dental abscess to an actual injury to the tooth. Teeth that are impacted in the jaw can also be painful. In addition to all these, tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable, and sometimes the problem traces back to simple congestion or a sinus infection.

Managing Dental Pain Until the Appointment
If at all possible, come to us right away with your dental pain, but as we mentioned before, toothaches don’t always respect office hours. Here are a few things you can do to keep the pain level manageable until you can see us:
Apply a cold compress near the sore area
Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pills or topical medication
Reduce inflammation by rinsing and spitting with warm saltwater (do not swallow)
Ways to Prevent Future Toothaches
No one who has already had a toothache wants to have another one. They can’t always be prevented, as in cases where sinus infections or an injury were the cause, but aches and pains that result from poor dental health are ones patients can often prevent with the right habits.
The most important of those habits are brushing and flossing. Brush for twice a day for two full minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Also cut down on sugary foods and drinks that feed harmful oral bacteria, and make sure to schedule a professional dental cleaning and dental exam twice a year.
Why are these regular appointments so important? It’s very difficult to completely avoid tartar buildup without professional cleanings, and tooth decay doesn’t always have symptoms at first. If a dentist doesn’t catch it early on, it is unlikely to go away on its own and much more likely to get worse and become a painful (and expensive) problem.
We’re Here for You and Your Teeth!
As much as we don’t enjoy feeling pain, it’s the body’s natural alarm system to signal when something is wrong, and we need to pay attention. If you have a toothache, no matter what you think the cause is, schedule an appointment so that we can get to the bottom of it and recommend next steps.
It’s never too soon to see us about a dental problem!

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

Spotlight on Women’s Oral Health

WHEN YOU THINK of the differences between men and women, oral health concerns probably don’t appear high on the list. In reality, men and women face very different challenges with maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Women have a few advantages that men don’t while struggling with being more at risk for certain issues.
Oral Health Conditions More Common in Women
Two conditions impacting oral health that women are much more likely to have than men are temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) and Sjögren’s syndrome. TMJ is chronic pain or soreness in the jaw joints and is most commonly caused by bruxism (chronic teeth grinding), but can also be caused by joint structure, vitamin deficiency, stress, arthritis, or hormones. 90 percent of people diagnosed with TMJ are women.
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks salivary glands and tear ducts (leading to dry mouth and dry eye), as well as other tissues and organs. Dry mouth can make chewing and swallowing more difficult, but it’s also dangerous to oral health. We need our saliva to wash away leftover food particles, neutralize the pH of our mouths, and fight oral bacteria

How Hormonal Changes Affect Teeth
The major hormonal changes a woman experiences during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can all affect oral health. During puberty and pregnancy, gingivitis and gum inflammation are common, which is why good oral hygiene habits are essential in these conditions. That means daily flossing and twice daily brushing with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
Women going through menopause are likely to experience dry mouth and bone loss. Bone loss in the jaw can compromise the gums and the roots of teeth. We recommend discussing these things with the dentist, ideally before any symptoms begin to appear.
Eating Disorders Versus Oral Health
Eating disorders are far more common among teenage girls than among teenage boys. In fact, twice as many girls develop these dangerous disorders than their male counterparts. Eating disorders are devastating to every system in the body, including oral health.
Malnutrition, including vitamin and mineral deficiency, can lead to a variety of oral health problems because teeth and gums lack the raw materials to maintain themselves. Another way eating disorders affect oral health is through acid erosion in the case of bulimia.
Those suffering from eating disorders should seek psychiatric help to begin the mental recovery process, but recovery for dental health will require help from dental professionals and a rigorous dental hygiene routine.
Team Up with the Dentist for Better Oral Health!
It might seem after learning all of this that women must be much worse off than men in the oral health department, but they do have a major advantage: women, on average, are better at taking care of their teeth. Women are more likely to keep good oral health habits, including scheduling regular dental appointments. They’re also more likely to go to the dentist when experiencing tooth pain, instead of trying to tough it out. All this means that the effects of these problems are greatly reduced.
We love working with our patients to keep those smiles healthy!

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 Teeth Sensitive?

IF YOU CAN’T REALLY enjoy ice cream because every bite sends a nasty jolt through your teeth, then you know what it’s like to deal with tooth sensitivity. You aren’t alone in that; at least one in eight people in the U.S. has sensitive teeth, including kids. So why does this happen to so many of us?
Dental Anatomy 101
To understand how teeth become sensitive, it helps to know a little about the structure of a tooth. The part above the gums is the crown, which is made of three layers. The outermost layer is the tooth enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body. Beneath that is the softer dentin layer, which is a lot like bone. The innermost layer is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels.
Exposed Nerves and Tooth Sensitivity
The way the nerves in our dental pulp detect what’s going on at the surface is through the thousands of microscopic tubules running through the dentin. However, if the enamel wears too thin, these tubules can become exposed. Then the nerves inside the teeth feel way too much, which can be painful, particularly when eating or drinking anything hot or cold or even sweet or sour.
Other Causes of Sensitivity
Root exposure is another major cause of sensitivity. Unlike the crowns of our teeth, the roots don’t have a layer of enamel to protect them; that job is performed by the gum tissue. Gum recession, sometimes the result of chronic teeth grinding or of overbrushing, leaves the roots exposed and vulnerable. Sensitivity can also be caused by cavities or an injury that chips or fractures a tooth.
Protecting Your Teeth
There are a few ways you can fight back if you have sensitive teeth, and it starts with switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush if you aren’t already using one. Hard bristles can cause additional damage to the enamel and gum tissue, and soft bristles are more than enough to effectively clean your teeth. Switching to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth can also help, as can cutting down on sugary or acidic foods and drinks (especially soda).

The Dentist Is Here to Help
If you’ve been suffering tooth sensitivity in silence, schedule a dental appointment to discover the cause. In addition to the things you can do to reduce sensitivity on your own, there’s a lot the dentist can do, such as applying a fluoride varnish to strengthen your enamel, performing dental restoration, prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste, or recommend a gum graft if needed to cover exposed roots.
Keeping your smile healthy and strong is our top priority

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.

Time for a Pediatric Dentist FAQ!

                                                                                                                              MANY OF OUR PATIENTS and our patients’ parents come to us with the same questions about childhood dental health without realizing it. These are some of the questions we hear most often, and we’re sure that more people haven’t spoken up but don’t know the answers either.
1. When should I bring my child in for their first appointment?
As soon as your child has teeth, they need a dentist! It’s a great idea to bring your child in when the first tooth erupts, but definitely no later than their first birthday. At this first appointment, we can give you tips on how to take care of their teeth as they appear and how to help them through difficult teething periods.

 

2. What’s the difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists specialize in working with children. Just like it’s better to take your child to a pediatrician than a general physician, it’s better to bring them to see a pediatric dentist. This is because we undergo an additional two to three years of specialized training beyond dental school to learn better how to treat children’s dental health problems from infancy through adolescence.
3. Is it really that important to keep baby teeth healthy?
Even though baby teeth are temporary, it is critical to keep them as healthy as possible through good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits. Baby teeth not only help children speak clearly and chew their food, they also serve as guideposts for the adult teeth to come in where they’re supposed to.
4. What should I do if my child gets a toothache?
Rinsing the area with warm salt water (which they should spit out, not swallow) and using a cold compress on the face (if swollen) are good first steps. Children’s Tylenol can also help (do not apply pain relieving medication directly to the painful tooth or gums, though) until you can bring your child in to see us, which you should do as soon as possible.
5. Are thumbsucking and pacifiers bad for my child’s teeth?
Not necessarily. These habits only become an oral health concern if they continue beyond the toddler years. Most children will grow out of them on their own, but if they don’t stop after age three, it’s time to think about ways to discourage the habit, and an oral appliance may be necessary.
6. What is the right amount of toothpaste to use on my child’s teeth?
Fluoride is important for preventing cavities, but too much can cause white spots (fluorosis) on the incoming adult teeth. A tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste is enough for brushing a baby or toddler’s teeth. By ages 3-6, you can increase the amount to a pea-sized dollop. Past age 6, they usually have enough coordination to brush their own teeth, but always encourage them to spit after they brush instead of swallowing the excess toothpaste.
Bring Us Your Questions!
We hope these answers have been eye-opening for you! The more educated you are about your children’s teeth and how to care for them, the better their chances are of maintaining adorable, healthy smiles as they grow. If you have any questions we didn’t cover here, give us a call or stop by our office!
We love our patients!

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.

Flouride and Cavity Protection

 

 

IF YOU LOOK AT ANY tube of toothpaste with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, you’ll see fluoride listed as the active ingredient. Trace amounts of fluoride are also added to the drinking water in many communities to further promote strong and healthy teeth. But what is fluoride and how does it work?
A Brief History of Fluoride in Drinking Water
First, let’s take a look back at the fascinating history of this mineral. It all starts in Colorado Springs at the turn of the 20th century. Dentists in the town encountered numerous cases of “Colorado brown stain” — tooth discoloration that, bizarrely, was connected to a lower rate of cavities. Today, we call that fluorosis. Eventually, they traced it back to the water supply and discovered naturally occurring fluoride to be the cause.
Dentists were curious to see whether it was possible to keep the cavity prevention without any of the staining by lowering the level of fluoride, and they were right! When fluoride was first added to the public water supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it reduced the rate of childhood dental caries by a whopping 60 percent, with no adverse effects except for occasional cases of mild fluorosis.
Today, more than half of the U.S. population lives in communities with fluoridated water, and the CDC considers community water fluoridation “1 of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century,” benefiting young and old, rich and poor alike. It’s similar to drinking milk with vitamin D, baking with enriched flour, or even using iodized salt.
Fluoride and Teeth
So how does fluoride actually protect teeth? It does it by helping to remineralize weakened tooth enamel and reverse the early signs of tooth decay. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste gives a topical benefit, while fluoride from foods and drinks serves as an ongoing benefit by becoming part of your saliva, where it can provide continual remineralization.

The Right Level of Fluoride: A Delicate Balance
As was the case in Colorado Springs a hundred years ago, it’s definitely possible to have too much fluoride. This is why it’s important to spit after brushing with a fluoride toothpaste instead of swallowing and only use tiny amounts of toothpaste when brushing the teeth of babies and small children, if any. It’s also why fluoridated water supplies maintain the level at a very low 0.7-1.2 parts per million. Using more fluoride than the recommended amounts won’t increase the positive effects, but avoiding it entirely will make it harder to prevent cavities.
Ask Us About Fluoride
There’s a lot of information out there about fluoride, and not all of it is from credible sources like the ADA and CDC. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! We want to make sure our patients are confident and informed about the tools they have to keep their teeth healthy and strong!
Our favorite sight is a patient’s healthy smile!

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.

5 Dental Tips for Busy Parents

 

BEING A PARENT can be incredibly hectic. It can be hard to keep track of all the things growing kids need, which is why we’re giving our patients a list of five simple tips for staying on top of their children’s dental health — and their own!

Tip #1: Know What to Expect from Whitening Toothpastes

We all love having pearly white teeth, parents included, but it’s important to know how whitening toothpastes work so that we can manage our expectations. These toothpastes contain polishing agents and mild abrasives to remove surface stains, but they won’t affect deeper stains. Those require more thorough whitening treatments like bleaching or microabrasion.

Tip #2: Teens and Pediatric Dentistry

When you hear the term “pediatric dentist,” you might think that means kids only, but we’re still the best type of dentist to take care of a growing teenager’s teeth. Caring for an adolescent’s oral health is part of our specialized training. Your child’s face and jaws will experience a tremendous amount of growth and change in these years, and their last few permanent teeth will be coming in. It’s an incredibly important period, which requires the attention of a specialist.

Tip #3: Looking for Teeth-Friendly Snacks? Try Cheese.

Recent research shows that one of the healthiest snacks your child can eat, particularly where their teeth are concerned, is cheese! On top of being a great source of calcium (which remineralizes tooth enamel), it also works to fight cavities by stimulating the salivary glands, which then help clear the mouth of debris and neutralize harmful acids.

Tip #4: Seal the Deal for Healthy Teeth with Sealants

A great way to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is sealants. Sealants are a clear plastic material painted over the deep pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth to block out bacteria and prevent decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends sealants, particularly for children with a history of tooth decay.

Tip #5: Brush Up on Brushing

The easiest and most important method of cavity prevention is brushing your teeth, but finding the right toothbrush can be tricky. Whether you get your child a manual or electric toothbrush, it will be an essential tool in keeping their teeth healthy.

We recommend that you look for a toothbrush with soft, round-ended (polished) bristles. These will clean effectively while being gentle on the gums. Look for a brush designed for small hands and mouths, and don’t forget to replace it every three months or so. Worn out brushes aren’t as effective!

Your child will need help brushing until they’re about 7 to 8 years old, so be sure to work with them and supervise their brushing when they begin doing it themselves so that they learn good techniques to get every tooth surface clean

Bonus Tip: Your Best Resource Is the Dentist

Any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth or helping them learn how to do it themselves are questions we are happy to answer. We look forward to seeing your child twice a year for their cleaning appointments. It’s an important step on the road to having healthy teeth for life!

We love to see our patients’ smiles!

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.

Pacifiers, Thumb Sucking, And Baby’s Teeth

IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to know the best thing to do as a parent. Every child is different and there isn’t a handy instruction manual. One question on many new parents’ minds is when to start discouraging a child from sucking their thumbs or using pacifiers. We might not be able to answer all of your parenting questions, but we have this one covered.

Babies And Toddlers Benefit From These Habits

Sucking on anything and everything is a natural reflex for babies. It’s soothing and comforting for them, especially when they’re teething. There’s no reason to discourage thumb sucking or pacifier use for babies and toddlers. It will help them sleep, stay calm when separated from you, and even reduce the risk of SIDS.

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Many parents are anxious to curb a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit behind as soon as possible because they worry it will cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. This is a valid concern, but not before a child is about four years old, at which point most will stop sucking their thumbs on their own. If they don’t, it’s time to start weaning them off it.

Vigorous thumb sucking beyond age four can change the shape of the palate and cause an open bite in the permanent teeth. An open bite is where the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the teeth are closed, which causes problems with chewing and speaking clearly.

Strategies For Breaking The Thumb-Sucking Habit

These dental problems are a bigger risk for thumb suckers than pacifier users, because you can simply take the pacifier away if they won’t stop using it on their own. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your child to stop sucking their thumb by age five, but if they’re close to their sixth birthday with no signs of stopping, it’s time to get serious. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Focus on positive reinforcement. Praise successes rather than punishing continued thumb sucking.
  • Make a rewards chart so that they can see what they’re working towards.
  • Keep their hands occupied with activities like arts and crafts.
  • Be careful using topical aids to make their thumbs taste bad, because many don’t work and some are actually harmful.
  • To prevent nighttime thumb sucking, restrict access to their thumbs by putting socks on their hands. (You might need to tape them in place.)

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.

Train Your Child To Be A Flossing Ninja

BEING A GOOD NINJA isn’t just about mastering the nunchaku and learning to move about completely undetected; it’s also about keeping one’s teeth and gums healthy and strong. One of our greatest weapons against gum disease and tooth decay is a good flossing habit.

The Importance Of Flossing To The Path Of The Ninja

You might wonder why it’s so important for a young ninja-in-training to floss. If baby teeth are only temporary, then why does it matter to keep them healthy, and does flossing really make a difference? While it is true that baby teeth will soon be replaced by adult teeth, it is still critical to keep them healthy and strong so that the adult teeth can come in where they should. A toothbrush isn’t enough to keep them clean, which is where flossing comes in.

When To Begin Flossing Training

It takes time for all shinobi to develop good dexterity and hand-eye coordination, so we recommend that you start flossing for them around age two and a half. If you make it into a daily habit, they will be ready to learn how to floss on their own by about age five. The most important thing is consistency. They will be much more likely to maintain a good flossing habit on their own if they are already used to it being a part of their day.

The Way Of The Flossing Master

Here are a few tips to help parents pass on the noble technique of flossing to children who are ready to learn, because what is second-nature to an adult may not be so easy for a child:

  • Explain the importance of flossing. If they understand why it matters, they will be more motivated to do it.
  • Emphasize that flossing is a Big Kid skill. Like learning to tie their shoes and ride a bike without training wheels, they’ll be eager to prove how grown up they are by flossing their own teeth.
  • Use flossers or floss picks if traditional floss is too tricky.
  • If you’re sticking with traditional floss, show them how to pull out the right amount (a foot and a half) and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers, leaving just an inch or two to slide between the teeth.
  • Show them how to effectively clean by using a back-and-forth motion without snapping their gums. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C-shape to make it more gentle.
  • Teach them how to move down the strand so they use clean floss on each tooth. We want to get rid of the plaque, not move it around!

Seek Wisdom From Your Dentist

Teaching your child good dental hygiene habits is as much about giving them the right perspective as it is about the proper technique. Ideally, they’ll see tasks like brushing and flossing as quick and easy ways to keep their teeth feeling great, rather than unpleasant chores. If you need help or advice on how to convince your young ninja that dental hygiene matters, we are always happy to provide a demonstration at our practice!

Keep up the great work training a new generation of flossing ninjas!

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.