General Dental Wellness
Q: What is periodontal disease?
- Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth.
Q: What is fluoride and why it is important to dental health in children and adults?
- Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale and spinach, apples, and skim milk. Some city water contains fluoride, so by drinking tap water you will acquire fluoride. If your drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available. The lack of exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps prevent tooth decay by making the enamel outer portion of the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in the mouth. Studies have shown that children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had less dental decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay and help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes degenerative bone loss.
Q: What are cavity-fighting sealants?
- The American Dental Association points out that sealants are an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about half the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth.
Q: How can I know if I have gum disease?
- Since gum (or periodontal) disease progresses without pain or symptoms, only your dentist can tell you for sure if you have it. However, if you have symptoms, they might include pain or swelling. Gums that are red, swollen, and tender or bleed easily are signs of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. If you experience persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, these can also be signs of periodontal disease. Other symptoms include permanent teeth being loose or separating, or a change in the way teeth fit together when you bite. It’s possible to have periodontal disease and have no warning signs. This is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important.
Q: Fight bad breath and be more kissable with these great tips.
- Valley Dental can offer some tips for hygiene habits that provide you with a healthy, kissable smile. To have fresh breath, begin by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. Don’t forget the tongue, because 90% of bad breath is the result of a dirty tongue. Throughout the day use breath mints, breath strips, or gum. If you use mouthwash, use one that is clear and alcohol free–colored formulas stain teeth over time, and alcohol deteriorates gum tissue. If you chew gum, make sure you have an easy way to get rid of it before kissing. Don’t forget the floss! If you only brush and not floss, it’s like only washing one side of your dishes after you eat. Your teeth have more surfaces than just front and back, and brushing doesn’t reach all of the tooth’s surfaces. When you neglect to floss, you leave behind decay-causing (and bad-breath-causing) bacterium that leaves you less than kissable. Also, one helpful product is a tongue scraper, which can be used to scrape unwanted bacteria and left-behind food particles from the tongue.
Q: Can I prevent cavities?
- You can certainly minimize the number of cavities you get. Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria which destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard though! It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. It is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.
- Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and clean your teeth afterwards.
- If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water—which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing stimulates the flow of saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance.
- You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only half your face. The other half remains dirty.
Oral & Overall Health
Q: What causes morning breath?
- When you are asleep, saliva production in your mouth decreases. Since saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, most people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth, in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles, which produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds which give our breath a bad odor. During waking hours, saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. Saliva also helps to dissolve the foul smelling sulfur compounds. Chronic, long-term mouth odor can be a sign of more serious illness. See your dentist if this is a concern.
Q: What causes canker sores?
- The exact cause of canker sores is not known. Some factors may include genetics, allergies, stress, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can result in the development of canker sores. Ill-fitting dentures or braces, toothbrush trauma from brushing too hard, or biting your cheek, may produce canker sores as well.
- Certain foods may also be a factor. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Foods like chips, pretzels and hard candies have sharp edges that can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth. To treat a canker sore, rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm water and salt. Over the counter treatments are also available.
Q: What causes sensitive teeth?
- You may notice sensitivity if your gums have receded. Gums cover the roots of your teeth like a protective blanket. When the blanket is gone, your roots are exposed. Exposed roots contain small pores that lead directly to the nerve of the tooth. Pressure and cold can stimulate the tooth nerve causing pain and discomfort. Normally, your gums would prevent these stimuli from reaching the nerves.
- There are primarily two reasons why your gums recede. The first is improper and heavy-handed brushing of your teeth. Over time, this heavy-handed approach can also wear away tooth enamel. The second reason is poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds up around your teeth and gums, it hardens into tartar. Bacteria in tartar cause gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gum recession can result.
- Long-term sensitivity can be a sign of other problems. Ask your dentist how you can prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease and avoid sensitive teeth.
Q: I just found out I’m pregnant, how can this affect my mouth?
- About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm, low birth-weight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.
Q: I am undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation for cancer treatment, how can this affect my mouth?
- Chemotherapy and Radiation can cause a number of problems in the mouth, some of which might include: mouth sores, infections, dry mouth, bleeding of the gums and lining of the mouth and general soreness and pain of the mouth. It can be harder to control these things while undergoing treatment as the immune system is generally compromised as a result of the treatment. There are some special mouth rinses that can be prescribed to help with discomfort during treatment. It is very important to see your Dentist before treatment begins and then to continue with recommended follow-up care. These treatments can cause dry mouth, and recommendations might be made for additional care both in-office and at home.
Q: Diabetes and Dental Health
- For nearly 24 million Americans who have diabetes, many may be surprised to learn about an unexpected complication associated with this condition. The American Diabetes Association says research reveals an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, adding serious gum disease to the list of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Q: What should I do about bleeding gums?
- People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. Instead, when gums are inflamed, brushing often and effectively is imperative. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.
Q: What are the dangers of oral piercings?
- The American Dental Association recognizes that piercing is a widely accepted form of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth. However, the potential problems are numerous. Some symptoms after a piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva, none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also cause excessive bleeding. Most piercings require some sort of manipulation – putting your or somebody else’s hands in your mouth. Difficulty talking and damage to your teeth are distinct possibilities. So if you’re thinking of some sort of piercing in or around your mouth, talk to your dentist first.
Q: I have a wedding this summer, is it too late to make my smile camera-ready?
- Not at all! With most cosmetic dental treatments, results can happen quickly. Depending on the plan that’s right for you, you can improve the look of your smile in days or weeks. In-office Zoom Whitening takes only approximately an hour. The first step is a no-charge consultation with your dentist to discuss your cosmetic dental options. Camera-ready confidence is closer than you may think for summer events.
Q: How long will the results of teeth whitening last?
- Like other investments, if you whiten your teeth, the length of time you can expect it to last will vary. If you smoke, drink red wine or coffee, or consume other acid-containing foods, your bright smile may begin to yellow more quickly than you expect. In general, a teeth whitening procedure can last up to a few years. And even though the results can fade, occasional touch-ups can be done to regain luster.
Q: How can porcelain veneers improve my smile?
- Porcelain veneers can cover and repair cracked and chipped teeth in a matter of weeks from first visit to final results. These durable, thin layers of glass-like ceramic material are custom-fit to your teeth, enabling your cosmetic dentist to re-color and re-shape your smile to make it bright, straight and natural-looking.
Nutrition & Your Smile
FACT: Choose Water for Healthier Smile
- Overuse of soda and citrus drinks can be caustic to tooth enamel. The average American drinks more than 53 gallons of soft drinks each year, more than any other beverage including milk, beer, coffee or water. Phosphoric acid in soda and citric acid in citrus drinks can cause tooth enamel corrosion and the sugar can cause cavities. In addition to choosing water over sugary soft drinks and juices, if you can’t brush after meals, rinsing with water after eating helps cleanse the teeth and tongue.
10 Foods That Are Good for Your Smile & Your Body
- Good nutrition is just as important for healthy teeth and gums as it is for a healthy body. A diet low in sugar and processed foods, and one that limits sugary juices and sodas is better for your teeth and gums, and will help you avoid tooth decay and other oral health issues. Oral tissues like gums, teeth, and even chewing muscles are living tissues, and they have the same nutritional requirements as any other living tissue in the body. Diet not only affects the number and kinds of cavities, but can also be an important factor in the development of periodontal disease, or gum disease. Certain foods help neutralize the acids in our mouth which can help fight bacteria that causes tooth decay. Here are 10 foods to boost the health of your body and your smile!
- Fruits and vegetables
- Green tea
- Kiwi contains
- Sesame seeds and other naturally abrasive foods
Healthy Tips for Parents
Oral Health and Your Teenager
- If you’re a parent, here’s something you probably already know: Teenagers can be tough on their teeth! They may be so busy with school, jobs, sports and social activities that they don’t find time to brush. They’re also known for constant snacking and soda consumption, and tend to eat a lot of junk food. Combine these two facts, and you’ve got a situation ready for tooth decay. Not surprisingly, many teenagers develop a lot of cavities. Here are a few tips to help your child get through the teen years cavity-free:
- Encourage your teen to develop great habits for regular dental checkups now.
- Remind teens that tobacco use not only wrecks their medical health, but puts them at risk for bad breath, teeth staining and tooth decay on the minor end of the spectrum, and gum disease and even oral cancer on the more serious end of the spectrum.
- Provide extra encouragement or help for teens with braces. Teens in the midst of orthodontic treatment are especially at risk for decay and stains associated with poor dental hygiene from haphazard brushing and flossing. Sonicare Toothbrushes can be a big help!
- Set a good example! If you take good care of your teeth, your teenager will see that good oral hygiene is important to you.
- Have plenty of oral health-care supplies on hand.
- Make great nutrition easy by having good food choices readily available.
What is the best way to get kids to brush?
- Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Checking Plaque Removal – To see if any plaque has been missed, you can use a disclosing (staining) tablet or solution. These products are made of harmless vegetable dyes that stain the plaque a bright color, so that you can see where the plaque is.
- Begin to take your children to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their 1st birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth. Ask your dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.