Side Effects of Dry Mouth

Are you wondering why you are starting to get cavities when you haven’t had them in years? As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. It is, however, a side effect of more than 500 medications including those used for asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain and anxiety.
Dry mouth is more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience. Saliva plays a big role in protecting your teeth from cavities. Saliva not only helps wash away food and plaque from your teeth it also contains substances found to help counter the acid produced by bacteria and can even help repair early tooth decay.
This is just one reason why it is important to tell your dentist about all medications that you are taking. Dr. Glass and Cindie can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and protect your teeth from cavities.

Here are some common recommendations:

• Use over the counter oral moisturizing gel or rinse such as Biotene
• Consult with your physician on whether to change your medication or dosage
• Drink more water. Carry a bottle with you and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
• Use sugar free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production. Products containing xylitol have an added protective element
• Get a humidifier to use at night to keep your mouth and airway moist
• Avoid food and beverages that irritate or further dry the mouth. Coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices are all culprits
• Dr. Glass may recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste or the application of a fluoride varnish in our office to protect your teeth from decay.

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Chemicals in your Toothpaste

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned several key chemicals in hand soap, one of them being triclosan, an antibacterial and anti fungal agent found in many consumer products including toothpaste. The decision by the F.D.A. to ban triclosan in soaps came after experts pushed the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk altering hormones in children and promote drug-resistant infections.

The New York Times reported that Colgate Total toothpaste still contains this ingredient. Colgate defends their use of the product stating that the FDA allows the use of triclosan in toothpaste because studies have demonstrated it to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis. However, according to a study put out by Cochrane Oral Health Group after 7 months of use of a triclosan toothpaste there was a roughly 22% reduction in inflammation caused by gingivitis (an early form of gum disease) More importantly, after 36 months there was no evidence of reduction in the development of periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease resulting in bone and tooth loss). For the truly dedicated, two to three years of using triclosan toothpaste showed only a 5 percent drop in cavities compared with brushing with fluoride paste alone. Colgate Total is the only toothpaste in the United States that contains triclosan.

The American Dental Association and the FDA consider triclosan-based toothpaste safe because the product contains small amounts of the chemical. Most people will likely have no adverse effects, but the question is, would you want it in your mouth if you’re concerned about it being in your soap? The answer is probably not.

Dr. Glass’ recommendation is to choose a toothpaste with stannous fluoride instead. There has been a stir in recent media regarding fluoride as well, but the addition of fluoride in water, is there to help children build stronger teeth for the rest of their lives. The fluoride in toothpaste — as well as the topical fluoride varnish that a dentist applies to your pearly whites during a routine visit — is present to prevent tooth decay. There is no evidence that the small amount of fluoride in toothpaste has any adverse health effects. Unfortunately, most of our food is very acidic, many of the beverages we’re consuming are about as acidic as stomach acid. Fluoride becomes a really necessary component and the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

To see the full Cochrane report follow this link:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010514.pub2/abstract;jsessionid=217E52E32B%2087ADA7C2AD66C3244DF

Sending your kids back to school the healthy way

Here we are again, wondering what happened to summer and ushering our kids into another school year. We have a few tips for keeping your family healthy amidst all the chaos!

1. Help your child form good sleep habits. During the summer, schedules often go right out the window and kids are staying up later and sleeping in longer. Once school starts the abrupt change can be a difficult adjustment. Pediatricians recommend children get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, so keep that in mind when considering your kids’ new bedtime. Remember that screens (TV, phone, computer, tablet) emit a light that can disrupt the sleep rhythm of the brain making you feel less sleepy then you actually are. Make it a habit to turn electronics off a good hour before bedtime (phones should be charged outside the bedroom). Get your child — and your family — into habits that will make for healthy sleep all year round.

2. Get in a hand washing habit. We all know that with the start of a new school year comes the spread of illness. Each new school year parents are battling any number of viruses that come home with their kids. Teach your kids again about the importance of washing their hands, particularly before eating. Remember to have them refrain from touching their face with their hands and also make sure they aren’t putting school supplies in their mouths. Biting on a pencil can not only spread germs, but can potentially harm their teeth by chipping or cracking them.

3. Plan healthy lunches and snacks. Use the end of summer to talk with your child about healthy food they can bring to school. Try to avoid cavity causing snacks like crackers, cookies and candy or sugary drinks. Fruits, vegetables, cheese and nuts are good snack choices along with water to wash it all down. Choosing high protein low carb/sugar snacks can not only give them brain power and make them feel great, but will protect their dental health as well!

4. Make an appealing homework place, and decide on a routine. They should have a quiet, well-lit, pleasant place to do their homework. For younger children, it should be where you can easily supervise, but not necessarily in the middle of family chaos. For all ages, the homework place should involve a desk or table, and should not be near a television. Decide together when in the day your child will do homework (right after school, before dinner, after dinner, etc.) You can always change it up later if it doesn’t work out, but having both the space and the time in place on the first day of school gets things started on the right foot.

5. Plan activities — and downtime. It’s important that your child be active, so signing up for a team sport or other physical activity can be a good idea. At the very least it is crucial that kids have some sort of physical activity even if it’s a brief walk or bike ride. Kids need to form healthy habits of fitness, but also need a way to vent any pent up energy from the day. Schools are offering less recess time than ever before so it is important to keep our kids moving! As important as physical activity is, be sure that there is downtime every day too, as this is crucial for your child’s mental health. Your child needs time to relax and play no matter what their age. Every day there should be time that is unscheduled that your child can use in whatever way they want.

Here’s to another successful school year!

Keep Smiling All Summer Long!

If you are like most families, during the summer months your schedule can get a little crazy! We wait all year for the warm weather activities that we love, but that can mean eating right and maintaining good oral hygiene goes to the bottom of the list. Here are a few tips that will help you protect your family’s oral health this summer.

Don’t forget to brush!
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is as important in the summer as it is any other time of the year. With vacations, kids away at camp and lots of days spent on the go, don’t be surprised if you frequently need to remind your kids to brush and floss.
Now is a great time to buy new toothbrushes to replace the old, worn out or “germy” ones. In fact, tossing a few disposable tooth brushes into your hand bag along with some travel sized toothpaste is a convenient way to always be hygienically prepared, particularly if your kids are in orthodontics!

Schedule your check-ups early!
Parents tend to schedule dental checkups in August, right before school starts. Keep in mind our schedule can get backed up so it’s best to plan ahead and get your family in while your schedule (and ours) might be a little more flexible!

Keep your kitchen well stocked
Keep the summer from being a sugary free for all by investing in healthy snacks. It’s hard to limit snacking when the kids are home all day, but with the availability of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can stock the fridge with healthy options. Be sure to keep the fruits and veggies clean and ready to grab on the go. It’s much easier to keep your dental health in check when your family is reaching for blueberries and strawberries instead of candy and cookies. Be sure to swap out the sugary, acidic soft drinks, juices and energy drinks with bottled water.

Prevent Dental Emergencies
It wouldn’t be summer without lots of swimming, bike riding, sports and other playground activities. While these are great fun, they can occasionally result in a dental injury. Parents can prevent the worst by following these tips:
• Make sure your kids follow the “pool rules.” According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many of the summer oral injuries dentists treat are due to a pool accident. Running on slippery pool decks, diving into shallow waters or bumping the pool ledge with their mouth causes many children to either chip or knock a tooth loose.
• Wear protective mouth guards when playing any type of sport. They not only help protect your teeth from getting knocked out or broken, but many mouth guards offer a level of protection against concussion.

Have fun and keep smiling all summer!

March is National Nutrition Month

Making good health choices is encouraged year ‘round but March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has designated for focusing the public’s awareness on what they are eating.
The Academy points out that the foods you eat not only affect your weight and your health, but they have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. Paying close attention to not only sweets but highly processed foods like crackers and sugary and acidic drinks can help save your teeth.
Instead, turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, like cheese, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.
You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Some acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes should be eaten in moderation because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.
Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

Why Was I Prescribed a Night Guard?

Here you are, heading home from your most recent dental visit contemplating why your dentist prescribed an occlusal guard, also referred to as a night guard. After all, you sleep well and certainly don’t notice that you grind your teeth. The fact is, unless your bedmate tells you, you may be completely unaware of your destructive night time habit. It is estimated that 1 in 10 adults grind or clench their teeth regularly in their sleep and most of them don’t realize it until their dentist notices signs of worn down or cracked teeth. Symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, a clicking sound in your jaw and sensitive teeth have all been attributed to night time grinding. The technical term for tooth grinding is bruxism.

Bruxism can not only impair your sleep quality and damage teeth, but in severe cases it can lead to TMJ (tempromandibular joint) disorders, and can cause gum recession and worsen periodontal disease. Grinding can not only cause damage to your teeth, but can also damage expensive dental work that you have invested in like crowns, bridges and implants.

Luckily there are ways to protect yourself from the harmful effects of night time grinding. Because bruxism can have many causes there is no single treatment to completely eliminate the condition. Stress is a likely factor, so practicing relaxation techniques can help. Smoking and drinking alcohol can also contribute, so it helps to cut back or abstain, at least late into the evening. The main treatment for bruxism is to wear a night guard during sleep. Your dentist takes impressions of your teeth and has an acrylic guard custom made for your mouth. A guard won’t prevent all grinding, but it can redistribute the forces exerted while grinding and protect your teeth and dental work. It may help you get used to keeping your jaw unclenched thus helping during the day while it isn’t being worn. Custom night guards can be costly and often times aren’t covered by insurance, but the protection they offer is invaluable. Inexpensive over the counter night guards are available at drug stores, but being bulkier and not custom fit they are likely to cause additional problems like an altered bite or mouth sores. Discuss such devices with your dentist before using one.

Holiday Shopping at the Dentist?

You bet! We carry a variety of high end electric toothbrushes like the Sonicare Diamond Clean in Purple, Pink and Black, Sonicare Flex Care in white, Oral B Professional 5000 with bluetooth capabilities. Know someone who hates to floss? We have the Sonicare AirFloss in stock at a great price. Often times our prices are lower than what you will find at other retail stores and when you purchase from a dental professional you will get an extended 6 month warranty at no extra charge and often times an additional rebate from the manufacturer!

We also carry at home whitening kits or gift certificates for in-office whitening!

Give us a call or come by Mon-Thurs to pick yours up!