Sunday, October 16, 2022

Improving Your Oral Health

 

5 surprising ways to improve your oral health

July 29, 2022
Eating certain sugary foods...improves oral health? Learn why, along with other surprising things you can do to enhance your oral and overall health.

If you’re someone who brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and never misses a dentist visit, you may think you’re doing all you can for your oral health. However, there are actually numerous other ways to improve your oral hygiene—and some of them are quite surprising.

Since oral health is linked to your overall health, practicing good oral hygiene is instrumental in the prevention of disease in other areas of your body, including your heart and lungs. So in order to maintain good overall health at any age, you should be looking after your oral health.

Here are five surprising ways to enhance your dental routine.

1. Use an electric toothbrush

When it comes to oral hygiene, there is perhaps nothing more important than regularly brushing your teeth. However, not all toothbrushes are equal—in some studies, electric toothbrushes have been shown to be more effective than manual toothbrushes.

One long-term study found that electric toothbrushes were superior to manual toothbrushes at removing plaque, preventing gum disease, and reducing tooth decay. This is due to the vibrating mechanism and movement, which provides a deeper clean and can reach more areas in your mouth.

Many electric toothbrushes have a built-in timer, too, meaning you may end up brushing longer than you otherwise would have.

While electric toothbrushes were expensive when they first came out, the price has really come down in recent years. You can find rechargeable toothbrushes for less than $20 at most big-box retailers or online. With proper care and regular replacement of the brush head, the toothbrush can last for years.

2. Brush your tongue

Most people are aware of the importance of brushing their teeth. However, did you know that you should be brushing your tongue, as well? The tongue is home to numerous types of bacteria that can spread to your teeth and gums. While some bacteria on your tongue are benign, some can not only be harmful to your oral health but also your overall health.

Not brushing your tongue puts you at risk for health conditions including halitosis, yeast infections, and periodontal disease. While halitosis, or bad breath, may not be a serious concern, periodontal disease could put your oral health at risk. It can lead to inflamed gums, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. So to be on the safe side, you’ll want to be sure you’re regularly giving your tongue a good scrub.

To effectively brush your tongue, put a small dab of toothpaste on your brush and gently brush your tongue back and forth with your toothbrush. Another option to keep your tongue clean is to use a tongue scraper, which is a metal or plastic tool that can be particularly effective at removing particles and bacteria.

3. Eat certain sugary foods

Wait, that should say don’t eat sugary foods, right? Not necessarily!

When it comes to oral health, just like not all toothbrushes are equal, not all sugars are equal either—by eliminating all types of sugar to improve your oral health, you may end up doing more harm than good. This is because some types of natural sugar are found in foods that can actually benefit your oral health.

Although certain types of fruits, such as apples and pears, have high sugar content, the fiber stimulates the gums and induces salivation, which can promote good oral health. Other types of sugary fruits that can benefit oral health are ones that are high in antioxidants, such as berries and citrus. Antioxidants have various oral health benefits, including repairing cells, reducing inflammation, and boosting your immune system.

While foods containing refined sugars such as soda, cookies, and candy can be harmful to your teeth and gums, you don’t need to avoid sugar entirely. Consuming a whole-food diet with plenty of fiber and nutrients will be more beneficial long-term than avoiding all sugar outright.

4. Consume vitamins and minerals

Vitamins are essential for our bodies to work properly and stay healthy. However, they aren’t just beneficial for general health. Studies show that proper nutrition and adequate levels of certain vitamins can help promote good oral health.

Some vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin B, and vitamin D are particularly beneficial, as they can prevent gum disease, tooth loss, and oral inflammation. Two important minerals for oral health are calcium, which can help you maintain strong teeth, and zinc, which helps fight bacteria.

So to help ensure good oral health, you need good general health as well—and consuming proper nutrients is one of the best ways to do that. If you are not able to get all the required vitamins and minerals through diet, supplements are another option. (Talk with your doctor before starting any supplements.)

5. Chew gum

If you’re someone who enjoys chewing on gum throughout the day, we have good news for you—it may help improve your oral health. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends it as part of a healthy oral home care routine and has even put its seal of approval on certain types of sugar-free gum.

The reason chewing gum can promote good oral health is because it increases salivation, which then can strengthen tooth enamel, rinse away bacteria, and prevent cavities. However, chewing gum should not be a substitute for regular brushing and flossing.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

 

Oral health: A window to your overall health

Your oral health is more important than you might realize. Learn how the health of your mouth, teeth and gums can affect your general health.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health.

What's the connection between oral health and overall health?

Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.

Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

What conditions can be linked to oral health?

Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

  • Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Pneumonia. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Certain conditions also might affect your oral health, including:

  • Diabetes. By reducing the body's resistance to infection, diabetes puts your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.

    Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.

  • HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  • Osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
  • Alzheimer's disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer's disease progresses.

Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren's syndrome).

Tell your dentist about the medications you take and about changes in your overall health, especially if you've recently been ill or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.

How can I protect my oral health?

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid tobacco use.

Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

 

Charcoal, turmeric, and coconut oil: Don't try this at home!

April 22, 2022
A brighter, whiter smile is at or near the top of most patients' wish lists when it comes to dental care. Because of this, ridiculous trends promising teeth-whitening are prevalent. How do we best educate our patients?

Few questions are answered with a near-universal response. However, in the office where I work, 98% of people answer “yes” to one particular prompt on the new-patient form: “Would you like your teeth to be whiter?” The American Dental Association (ADA) says “whiter teeth” is the most common response given when people are asked what they’d most like to improve about their smile.1

Despite the common desire for whiter teeth, there’s widely differing information in articles, magazines, blogs, vlogs, social media, etc., about how this can be accomplished. Also, let’s face it, when it comes to teeth whitening, most people are asking Google before asking their dentist.

How can we educate patients while they’re in the chair so they’ll know how to separate proven science from passing trends?

Common trends

To understand how to communicate with our patients, we need to understand what methods they’ll commonly see peddled through not-so-trustworthy sources. Over the years of speaking with patients both in my office and at trade shows all over the country, I realized that there was a big misconception of how to whiten teeth properly, safely, and effectively. I’ve heard a lot of bizarre techniques, but these three were the most common:

Oil pulling: One client told me she was whitening her teeth via an oil-pulling technique and had added turmeric to that regimen. She would swish coconut oil in her mouth, believing it would whiten her teeth, then rub turmeric on her teeth afterward. As we know, there is no consistent scientific evidence that shows this method helps whiten teeth.2 Patients would be better off using coconut oil and turmeric to make healthy meals instead.

Scrubbing teeth with acidic foods: Another client mentioned that she would use acidic foods such as oranges and lemons to scrub her teeth to help whiten at home. However, as we know, acid does a lot of damage to the enamel.3 Acidic foods should be eaten in moderation, certainly not scrubbed against precious enamel.

Charcoal toothpaste with baking soda: During one trade show, I had an interesting question come up: “I’ve been using charcoal toothpaste and baking soda to help whiten my teeth. Does this work?” I asked the client how he came up with this idea. He said, “I saw thousands of five-star reviews on Google and thought that it would be beneficial to try.” As we know, there is no evidence that shows charcoal is effective, let alone safe for the teeth.4

Patient education

Using abrasive, unproven materials does more harm than good, and we need to urge our patients not to believe everything they read online—especially if it’s not written by a dental professional. But how can we be more proactive in explaining to patients the difference between what’s safe for teeth and what amounts to basically nonsense?

First, we need to note the patient’s response on the patient intake form as to whether they want a whiter smile. If they say yes, like so many do, we have an easy opener to the conversation. Begin by asking directly if they’ve seen any trends online or in magazines. Do they have questions about any “all natural” treatment(s) they’ve read about? Here, it’s crucial to impart that if the content isn’t created by a verified dental professional, it probably isn’t trustworthy. And beyond that, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

When it comes to recommending methods that will safely and effectively whiten teeth, we have some great options to offer. But first, we need to ask about patients’ habits in terms of what they eat and drink on a daily basis. Do they enjoy coffee, tea, red wine? Do they eat dark-colored fruits such as blackberries and blueberries? We also need to inquire about tobacco use. Once all these questions are answered, we have a clear understanding of how to help the patient.

From there, we can offer various modalities to achieve whiter teeth, such as: a whitening toothpaste (featuring an ADA Seal of Acceptance), take-home treatments, or in-office treatments.


Monday, February 14, 2022

 

Does Teeth Whitening Damage the Enamel?

enamel tubulesAmong the most frequently asked questions is “does teeth whitening damage the enamel?” The conclusive answer is no, teeth whitening gel will NOT damage or harm your tooth enamel. Enamel is considered the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel consists of tiny tubules that can only be viewed under high magnification. Even though Enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth, it is the layer of tissue beneath the enamel that absorbs the majority of the stain, called dentin. In order to achieve successful whitening, the product flows through the enamel tubules and begins to lighten the underlying stained tissue.

Whitening products can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. As the whitening gel undergoes its natural process from active to inactive, the tubules are left open and eposed, known as dehydration. The tubules are quickly remineralized by organic material found in saliva. During this time it is important to avoid consuming any food or drink containing color. Until the tooth is completely rehydrated it will absorb any color of food or liquid it is exposed to. At this time it is also suggested to stay away from extremely hot and cold along with sweet and salty substances, to avoid possible irritation of the nerve tissue.

Dehydration of the tooth can happen any time saliva flow is disrupted. Saliva flow can be disrupted by many things including; mouth breathing, smoking, certain medications, radiation treatments, autoimmune diseases and other underlying medical conditions. Although it takes a very short time to dehydrate, re-hydration of the teeth can take hours. Tooth dehydration can be identified by white spots on the surface of the tooth. As the tooth becomes re-hydrated the white spots will disappear. If you experience sensitivity while whitening, discontinue until sensitivity is no longer an issue.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

10 Dental Myths, Debunked

 

Dental Myths, Debunked

There are many misconceptions about what it takes to keep your teeth healthy. Separate fact from fiction.

Medically Reviewed
illustration of a tooth and various types of oral care products
Shutterstock; Thinkstock

When it comes to taking care of your smile, there are plenty of misconceptions out there. But while good oral health can be achieved in just minutes a day, the wrong practices can cause irreversible damage. Here's what you need to know.

Myth: The harder you brush, the cleaner you'll get your teeth.

The real deal: Brushing too hard or with too abrasive of a toothbrush (medium or firm) can actually harm your teeth by eroding some of the hard enamel that protects the inside of the tooth from cavities and decay. "I see it so much where people feel like they're getting them more clean, but actually it wears away enamel and even the gums," says Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, DMD, a dentist in San Antonio, Texas, and a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. "I always recommend a soft-bristled brush."

Myth: Flossing isn't really necessary anymore.

The real deal: The recommendation to floss regularly was recently removed from the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans based on a lack of strong evidence for the practice. However, a lack of strong evidence doesn’t necessarily mean that flossing is not effective. In fact, many dentists — including Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty — haven't changed their ways or their recommendations. "I totally believe in flossing," she says. "Intuitively, it makes sense that there is buildup you can only remove by flossing, and I see the difference every day." It’s important to still follow your dentist’s recommendation on brushing and flossing.

The real deal: If only this were true, kids everywhere would jump for joy. Chewing sugar-free gum, especially gum with xylitol, can have a protective effect on the teeth. Gum encourages saliva production, which helps to wash away enamel-eroding acids from foods, drinks, and even stomach acid in the case of issues like acid reflux. And xylitol helps to redouble the effects of saliva.

But chewing gum still doesn't replace brushing and flossing when it comes to removing plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth. You should brush at least twice a day for about two minutes, says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: If your gums bleed when you floss, it's best to leave them alone.

The real deal: "The reason our gums bleed is due to inflammation," explains Ferraz-Dougherty. Often it happens when bacteria and plaque get stuck in between our teeth where toothbrush bristles don't reach properly. Over time the bacteria builds up and causes the gums to become inflamed. Bleeding is part of that process.

If you floss once a month (or just before going to the dentist), it's likely you'll notice your gums bleeding. "That's a sign telling you something is going on there," says Ferraz-Dougherty. Make flossing a daily habit and the inflammation — and the bleeding — will go away with time.

Myth: You've been slacking on brushing and flossing and have a dentist appointment coming up. As long as you brush well before going in, no one will know, right?

The real deal: Sorry to break it to you, but you're not getting away with anything. "We can tell," says Ferraz-Dougherty. Without regular brushing and flossing, hard tartar forms around your teeth and at a certain point you can't get it off with brushing alone. Plus, you can't undo the inflammation in your gums that occurs when plaque and tartar have accumulated over six months with just a few days of flossing. "Bleeding gums and the amount and location of tartar are the giveaways," says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: When it comes to cavities, sugar is the main culprit.

The real deal: When you think of cavities, you might think of lollipops and other sweet and sticky treats. But crackers and chips might be even worse for your teeth, says Ferraz-Dougherty. "It has to do with the starchiness," she explains. "It's carbohydrates in general — they have the sugars that break down the teeth, but they also really stick to your teeth."

Myth: If you have sensitive teeth, it means you have worn away too much of the enamel on your teeth.

The real deal: Sensitivity is a key symptom of the loss of enamel, the hard protective layer on the outside of your teeth. But it can be caused by other factors as well, such as gum recession, or even the use of whitening toothpastes. "The hydrogen peroxide [used for whitening] can penetrate to remove stains," Ferraz-Dougherty says, "And it penetrates through the enamel into the layer beneath, which is the more sensitive part of the tooth." The good news: If your sensitivity is caused by teeth whitening, switching to a more gentle toothpaste can help improve symptoms.

Myth: Gum disease is only a problem for your mouth.

The real deal: Your dentist might be the first one to notice it, but if you have gum disease you're more likely to have health issues such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as certain types of cancers that are related to chronic inflammation, says Ferraz-Dougherty.

Myth: The whiter your teeth are, the healthier they are.

The real deal: This can be true but not always. "Our teeth are naturally white," says Ferraz-Dougherty. And many of the things that cause our teeth to get darker or become yellow are unhealthy, like smoking.

But there are also plenty of things that can darken the color of our teeth that aren't necessarily unhealthy, such as medication, stains from foods and drinks, or just the natural process of aging.

Myth: If nothing is bothering you, you don’t need a dental checkup.

The real deal: "This is one of the biggest misconceptions," says Ferraz-Dougherty. "With a lot of dental issues, you don't necessarily feel pain right away. I have to explain to patients and educate them that with cavities and gum disease you don't always feel it." The problem is once the symptoms appear, it's often a bigger issue. If you wait until a cavity hurts to get it checked out, you could end up needing a root canal or an extraction that could have been prevented with regular checkups.

"The point of going to the dentist is so we can prevent things happening to the teeth to protect them and notice things before they become an issue," says Ferraz-Dougherty.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

3 Types of Dental Implants(Which one is best for you?)

 

3 Types of Dental Implants (Which One Is Best for You?)

 

Missing one or more teeth? Here's the #1 recommendation!

Are you missing one or more teeth?

Would you like to find a permanent solution to replace your teeth?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog, our restorative dentists, Dr. Neal RavalDr. Stephen Kohnen, and Dr. Eddie Lee, are going to outline 3 different types of dental implants you can receive to restore your smile.

First, let’s get started with a brief background…

What is a dental implant?

dental implant is a small, titanium post (screw) that is surgically placed within your jawbone beneath your gum line. This post will fuse with your jawbone, creating a stable foundation for your tooth restoration.

A dental implant post is a replacement for your missing tooth’s root. Not only does it fuse with your bone like a root, but it also stimulates and preserves your bone structure.

On top of a dental implant post sits a restoration. Typically, it’s a single crown replacing one tooth. But dental implants can also support multiple missing teeth with a bridge and even secure dentures.

With proper care, dental implants can last for a lifetime. Dental implants have a Opens new tab to WebMD website98% success rate.

For this reason, and it’s many benefits, dental implants are widely recognized as the #1 recommendation to replace missing teeth permanently.

So, which type of dental implant is best for you?

Check out the three different types of dental implants below and discover the pros and cons of each.

3 different types of dental implants

1) Replacing a single tooth: Use a single dental implant

A single tooth dental implant

Most often, a dental implant is used to replace a single missing tooth. It requires one post and one crown.

What’s the dental implants process?

Here’s what you can expect with dental implants in Bellevue and Issaquah, WA:

  1. You will meet with one of our dental implant experts to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants (keep reading to find out what qualifies you as one). If so, a custom treatment plan will be created.
  2. The post will be placed within your jawbone using surgical-guided technology. You should not feel pain during this procedure, and we will make sure you are comfortable throughout. The healing time for your post to fuse with your bone is typically 3 to 4 months.
  3. Once healed, your new custom-designed crown is connected to your post with an abutment. Your new tooth will look and feel just like your surrounding teeth.

Unlike other restorations, a single tooth dental implant replaces your entire missing tooth from root to crown.

If you have one missing tooth or multiple that are not adjacent to each other, then a single tooth dental implant may be your best option.

However:

If you have multiple missing teeth adjacent to each other, then this may not be your best option. Additionally, the next type of dental implant may save you money if you have multiple missing teeth.

2) Replacing several teeth: Use an implant-supported bridge

An implant-supported bridge

When you have multiple missing teeth adjacent to each other, you may find your best option is an implant-supported bridge.

What is a dental bridge?

Typically, a bridge consists of two crowns on either side of your missing tooth gap with an artificial tooth held by those crowns in between.

Now, instead of having the crowns attach to teeth, an implant-supported bridge has crowns that connect to dental implants.

The process is similar to a single tooth dental implant. However, the teeth missing in the middle of the gap will not receive a dental implant.

The benefits of an implant-supported bridge are you can securely replace multiple missing teeth in a row – without the cost of replacing each tooth.

The downside is that not all teeth will receive an implant, and therefore you will lose some bone mass.

What happens if a majority or all of your teeth are missing?

3) Replacing all your teeth: Use an implant-retain denture

An implant-retained denture

If you are missing a majority or all of your teeth in an arch (upper or lower), then an implant-retained denture may be your best option.

What is an implant-retained denture?

A denture is an artificial arch of teeth. It rests on your gum line and gives you the appearance of a full set of teeth. The problem with traditional dentures is they are removable, which means they can slip, slide, click, fall out, and make daily tasks uncomfortable like eating and talking.

To fix this problem, you can permanently secure your denture with dental implants.

How does it work?

Our Bellevue and Issaquah implant specialists will strategically place four dental implants along your arch. While they heal, your current denture may be modified so it can be worn without disrupting the healing process.

Once healed, you will receive a new, custom denture that fastens to the dental implants. The result is a permanent, secure denture custom-designed to fit your facial aesthetics.

If you wear dentures, this may be the solution to all your denture problems. And if you have a lot of missing teeth, this may also be an excellent option to restore your smile and confidence.

But the key thing to all these types of dental implants is whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implant surgery. How do we determine that?

Am I a good candidate for dental implants?

At Implant & Periodontic Specialists, we evaluate Opens new tab to the American Academy of Periodontologycandidates for dental implant surgery on the following:

Bone

When a tooth is missing, the surrounding bone begins to deteriorate. You need a certain amount of bone present so the post can fuse with it. If you have been missing a tooth for a while, there may not be enough bone to perform dental implant surgery.

To determine this, we use a CBCT scanner. This modern technology gives us a 3D view of your mouth and jawbone so we can evaluate your bone quantity. If you have enough bone, we will move forward with your personalized treatment plan.

If you don’t have enough bone for dental implants, then we can often perform a bone grafting procedure. This procedure can help your body regenerate bone and tissue. When you have sufficient bone, you will be able to move forward with the surgery.

Age

Dental implants are most successful if placed in adults who are done growing and developing.

If you or your child are too young, you may need to wait until your facial structure has developed. This is typically around the age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

In the meantime, our Bellevue and Issaquah dentists can create an interim solution for your missing tooth.

Health

Like most surgeries, good general and oral health is required for dental implant surgery. If you suffer from certain conditions like diabetes, are a heavy smoker, or have gum disease, then dental implants may not be viable.

Rest assured, our dentists will evaluate you on an individual basis and if necessary, will work with your physician to find a solution.

Questions about the types of dental implants?

Whether you are missing one tooth or multiple teeth, dental implants can help you restore your smile!

What type of dental implant do you think is your best option?

  • Single tooth dental implant
  • Implant-supported bridge
  • Implant-retained denture