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!

Keep your kids smiling through the school year!

It’s that time of year again! Parents everywhere have picked up school supplies, packed lunches and sent their little darlings off for another year of school. Did you remember to include a new toothbrush in that list of school supplies?

Continuing good oral health habits, like brushing and flossing twice a day does more than send kids to school with minty fresh breath. Studies have shown that kids with healthy pain-free teeth have more success in school because they leave the classroom less and are able to concentrate on their studies and not their bothersome teeth.  Scary as it seems, tooth decay is now the No. 1 chronic infectious disease in children. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is five times more common in kids than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
Parents should realize that a child’s mouth is a gateway for their entire body and overall health. If a child’s tooth decay goes untreated, the child is subject to many harmful infections.

The care of primary teeth is just as important as the care of permanent teeth, so parents should make sure their child’s first teeth are kept healthy. There are many ways that parents can ensure the best dental health of their kids:

  • Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush; hard bristles can break down the teeth and gums and cause infection. Don’t forget the floss! Many companies make fun, kid friendly flossers now, making the whole process so much easier.
  • Make sure your child is drinking enough water; it contains small levels of fluoride, which protects teeth.
  • Don’t use bottles or sippy cups as a way to keep your child busy as these containers allow sugary drinks to attack the teeth from behind.
  • Choose healthy snacks for your kids. Fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses and nuts are best. Avoid sugary foods and even carbohydrates like crackers which can stick to the teeth giving plaque fuel for causing cavities.

If you have teenagers, their teeth need special consideration. They may be in braces which require even more attention to oral hygiene. With the rising popularity of Gatorade and Energy Drinks, your teens could be risking their dental health. Not only are these drinks particularly sugary but they are also very acidic, breaking down healthy tooth enamel and opening a gateway for decay.

Paying attention to your kids oral health will keep them smiling all year long!

Don’t forget your mouth guard!

As we get into the heat of summer we get more and more involved in fun activties. We remember our sunscreen, helmets and sunglasses but do we think about protecting our teeth? We have seen patients with dental injuries that occurred while cycling, swimming, playing baseball, jumping on trampolines, and even walking the dog. It is important to remember there are some things you can do to protect your teeth while you are enjoying your sports and activities. Dr. Glass would like to see everyone wearing athletic mouth guards for sports. The type that you purchase over the counter and mold yourself at home are just as effective at protecting your teeth as an expensive custom made guard. Many mouth guards now have the added benefit of concussion protection as well. If you have an accident and break or chip a tooth, come for a visit as soon as possible to let Dr. Glass determine what repairs, if any, need to be made to preserve the tooth. If the worst should happen and you knock a tooth out, quick action is necessary to save the tooth. Dentists refer to a knocked-out tooth as an “avulsed” tooth. When a tooth has been knocked out, the nerves, blood vessels and supporting tissues are damaged, too. The nerves and blood vessels can’t be repaired which is why all avulsed teeth will need a root canal treatment. If you act quickly after an accident, being careful not to damage the tooth further, the bone can reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place and the tooth can be saved. An avulsed tooth is fragile and needs to be handled delicately to give it the best chance at survival. Try not to touch the root (the part of the tooth that was under the gum). If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it. Don’t wipe it off with a washcloth, shirt or other fabric. This could damage the tooth. Keep the tooth moist. Many people have heard they should store it in a glass of milk. While this is a better option than water it is best if you keep the tooth moist with your saliva, by either placing the tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum or placing it in a cup or container with your saliva. If nothing else is available it is ok to place the tooth in a cup of water, the most important thing is to keep the tooth moist. If you feel comfortable, try slipping the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, if the accident just happened it will slip right in. Make sure it’s facing the right way and that it is in straight. Don’t try to force it into the socket. If it doesn’t go back into place easily and without pressure, then just keep it moist (in saliva, milk or water) and get to the dentist as soon as you can. It is very important to re-implant the tooth as soon as possible, ideally within the hour of the accident. After slipping your tooth back into the socket, your dentist will decide if a root canal treatment needs to be done immediately or at a later date. The tooth will then be splinted with a wire to the teeth on either side of it for stability. If the bone around the tooth was not fractured, the root usually will reattach firmly to the bone in about three to four weeks. More damage to the area may require six to eight weeks of repair time. Your dentist should examine the tooth again in three to six months. Unless there are signs of infection, the next visit will occur at your yearly checkup. The dentist will follow up for the next two to three years to ensure that the tooth re-implanted successfully.

Fluoride is in the news again!

As you have undoubtedly heard by now, the government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride added to drinking water for the first time in more than 50 years. Since 1962, the government has been advising water systems maintain a level of 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates, where people drink more water, to 1.2 parts per million in cooler areas. The new standard is 0.7 ppm everywhere. Grand Rapid, Michigan, became the world’s first city to add fluoride to its drinking water in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there, and the US surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation. But adding fluoride was – and has remained – controversial. Some people have vehemently fought adding fluoride to local water supplies.

Here are some facts you should know about fluoride. Fluoride is a natural element found in rocks and soil everywhere. In fact, waters in and around the United States have natural fluoride levels that range from 0.1 to more than 12 parts per million. Some communities are lucky enough to have naturally occurring levels of fluoride in the optimal range. However, most are not. Adjusting the fluoride level by either adding to or removing fluoride from the supply has helped reduce the incidence of tooth decay by 18-40% among children and 35% in adults.

Despite the evidence that fluoride has helped reduce the incidence of tooth decay in areas that have optimal levels of fluoride there are still those that fear fluoride is toxic. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “ Acute fluoride toxicity occurring from the ingestion of optimally fluoridated water is impossible. The amount of fluoride necessary to cause death for a human adult (155 pound man) has been estimated to be 5-10 grams of sodium fluoride, ingested at one time. This is more than 10,000-20,000 times as much fluoride as is consumed at one time in a single 8-ounce glass of optimally fluoridated water. The possibility of adverse health effects from continuous low level consumption of fluoride over long periods has been extensively studied. As with other nutrients, fluoride is safe and effective when used and consumed properly. No charge against the benefits and safety of fluoridation has ever been substantiated by generally accepted scientific knowledge. After 50 years of research and practical experience, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that fluoridation of community water supplies is both safe and effective.”

While 1.2 ppm is still considered a safe level of fluoride, today people have easier access to other fluoride containing products like toothpaste and mouthwash reducing the necessity for higher fluoride levels in the drinking water .

Oral Cancer Detection – Another Important Reason to Visit your Dentist Regularly!

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month. Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers that fall into the head and neck cancer category. These types of cancer can develop in the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, throat (at the back of the mouth), tonsils and roof of the mouth. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation approximately 45,750 people in the US alone will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015. This is the 8th year in a row in which there has been an increase in the rate of occurrences. While some people think oral cancers are rare, about 115 new cases will be diagnosed each day in the US, and one person will die each hour of every day from oral cancer.

Many times oral cancers can be prevented with certain lifestyle measures. While no one is exempt, those most at risk include people who smoke, drink excessive alcohol, have HPV (Human Papilloma Virus, also known to cause cervical cancer), overexposure to sunlight, those age 55+, and are male. Poor oral hygiene and gum disease have also been implicated as risk factors. Some studies even suggest that diets low in fruits and vegetables can elevate cancer risk.

When oral cancer is detected in the early stages patients have a survival rate of 80-90%. Unfortunately at this time, the majority of oral cancer cases are found in later stages of development greatly reducing the survival rate to around 43% at 5 years from diagnosis. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because oral cancers are hard to diagnose, it’s mostly because of lack of public awareness coupled with lack of routine screenings.

Because early detection is key to survival, it is important to see your dentist regularly. Dr. Glass and Cindie perform an oral cancer screening each time you visit our office for your routine dental cleaning and exam. We are able to take the screening process one step further with ViziLite Plus. The ViziLite Plus exam is a painless screening that we can perform in just a few minutes. ViziLite Plus uses a light source to improve the examiners ability to detect abnormalities that will require further evaluation. It often picks up lesions that would have been difficult to detect under normal lighting. We recommend a ViziLite exam for all of our patients who fall under a higher risk category, but with 25% of oral cancers occurring in people who don’t smoke and who have no other risk factors, everyone can benefit from the screening annually. Make sure we are aware of your health history including tobacco or alcohol use and if you have been diagnosed with HPV.

In between dental visits you can perform a self exam, use a mirror to take a close look at your lips, gums, insides of the cheeks, tongue, back of the throat, and floor and roof of the mouth. Call us if you find sores especially those that bleed easily, any color changes particularly those that present as red or white patches, loose teeth or a change in how teeth fit together, mouth pain that doesn’t improve, a persistent sore throat or feeling that something is stuck in your throat, problems chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or a feeling of a mass in your throat or neck that persists for more than two weeks.

Are 6 month dental cleanings really necessary?

Your dentist says your teeth look great but wants to see you back in 6 months for a cleaning and check up. Your spouse also doesn’t have any cavities, but the dentist wants to see them 4 times per year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a checkup?

The fact of the matter is, there is no magic number of visits you should schedule per year. The industry standard dictates that for most healthy patients twice per year is optimal, however if you are prone to periodontal issues you may require more frequent cleanings to maintain optimal oral health. Dental cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.

Timing of dental visits can also be driven by your insurance plan, if you have one. There are people we want to see every three to four months, but their coverage is lacking so they ask to stretch the check-ups out a bit, but it isn’t wise to let insurance dictate treatment. Periodontal issues can advance quickly if left un-treated and the result can be devastating and irreversible.

With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you , your hygienist and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of twice per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems. Our best tip for reducing trips to the dental chair? Keep on flossing.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

 

With the New Year right around the corner, you may have already begun to think about your New Year’s resolutions. You may be considering resolving to save money, get a better job or lose weight. Many people set new goals about having a healthier lifestyle in the New Year. Why not make 2015 the year you include better dental health in your list of resolutions?

Any of the following life style changes will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile and may even help you stick to some of your other resolutions as well!

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

Quit Smoking or Using Other Tobacco Products

Using tobacco can harm your mouth in a number of ways, increasing your risk for tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum disease and throat, lung and oral cancer. Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. It’s not just smoking tobacco that has negative effects on your oral health: use of smokeless tobacco can be just as harmful to your oral health. The good news is that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

You may already know that excessive alcohol intake can have an effect on your overall health, but did you know that it may also affect your oral health? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who smoke, eat poorly and consume excessive alcohol also have increased gum recession (periodontal pocketing). Their studies show that smokers who regularly consume alcohol are less likely to brush their teeth on a regular basis and are less concerned about their basic health than nonsmokers.

 Brush at Least Twice a Day and Floss at Least Once a Day

Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from decay and gum disease, which is caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque – a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day. Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health: according to the Academy of General Dentistry, only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline, where decay and gum disease often begins.

Without proper brushing and flossing, you may develop bleeding gums, which may worsen to severely swollen, red, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and, eventually, gum disease. Because diseases of the mouth can affect the rest of your body, it is especially important to maintain good oral health.

See Your Dentist for Regular Checkups

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year, you can help prevent any dental health problems before they cause discomfort or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment. Regular visits allow your dentist to monitor your oral health and recommend a dental health regimen to address areas of concern.

For this new year, resolve to treat your mouth right: improve your diet, quit smoking and improve your oral hygiene habits – your teeth,  your body and your pocketbook will thank you for it!