Dental Tips Blog


Dental Checkups Can Uncover Signs of Eating Disorders

It is a good idea for parents to insist that their teenagers make their scheduled routine dental cleaning and check-up appointments and to follow-up on those visits with their dentist. By now, most of us have become aware of the staggering numbers (most of them teen and young adult women) affected by serious eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Such eating disorders have a tremendous damaging affect on an individual’s quality of life, negatively impacting self-esteem, relationships, school and job performance, with severe, sometimes life threatening, destruction to physical health, including heart conditions and kidney failure. It can, therefore, be critical for a person suffering from this disorder to seek professional help; however, most often, this is a disease hidden in shame. However, it is not hidden from the dental professional.

These eating disorders that also include frequent vomiting create nutritional deficiencies that negatively affect oral health. This can be seen in symptoms such as enlarged salivary glands, complaints of excessively dry mouth, lips are often red, dry and cracked, lesions appear on oral mucous membranes and seem to bleed easily. Teeth show signs of erosion with loss of tooth enamel, change in color, shape and length, becoming brittle, translucent and sensitive to temperature; all caused from the continuous effects of powerful stomach acid.

Your dentist will provide counsel on the need for meticulous daily personal oral hygiene and will strongly recommend not brushing immediately after purging, but, rather, rinse with baking soda to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid. Additional fluoride modalities may be recommended. Above all else, the recognition of a previously unknown serious problem and a referral to the appropriate health professionals would be well worth the checkup!

Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental



Food Allergens and Dental Products

Most of the time when people think about allergic reactions in the dental office, they think about a latex allergy. Latex is by far the most common allergy that dentists and their teams are conscious of and careful to avoid. But did you know that several food allergens can be found in specific dental materials used in the dental office at at home? This is one reason why it is extremely important to let your dental office know about any medical conditions, such as food allergies, that you may have. The CDC has seen a rise in food allergies over the past several years, and now an estimated 15+ million Americans suffer from food allergies.

Some very common dental products contain ingredients that may trigger food allergies in patients. Ingredients may be brand-specific, so be sure to ask your dentist or hygienist before your next dental cleaning or treatment if you suffer from severe food allergies of any sort. Products to be aware of include:

  • Trident Gum: Contains milk protein
  • Fluoride (brand specific): Peanut / Pinenut, dairy
  • Toothpastes: Gluten, milk protein, corn
  • Recaldent: Ingredient in some toothpastes or products that contains milk proteins
  • Dental cements (used for temporary crowns): Eugenol, from refined clove oil
  • Topical anesthetic gel: Fruit flavoring
  • Polishing paste: Gluten, pinenuts, nut oils, milk protein
  • Propofol: Egg protein; used for general anesthesia procedures.
  • Nitrous oxide: Does not contain egg, but has similar molecular compound to egg and in rare circumstances may trigger reaction in patients with severe egg allergies.

Your dentist and hygienist may not be aware that these very common ingredients occur in some of the supplies that they use. Always be sure to check first.

Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental



Are Antibiotics Necessary Before A Teeth Cleaning?

If you have had a heart murmur in the past, or have a mitral valve prolapse, your dentist may have had you take antibiotics prior to having your teeth cleaned.  You may have also noticed that this is no longer being recommended, and wondered why.  This article will discuss the need to take antibiotics prior to a dental visit.

The primary reason dentists prescribed antibiotics to individuals with certain heart diseases was to prevent endocarditis.  Endocarditis is an inflammation and infection of the layers of the heart and heart valves, and it can be deadly.

For many years, any individual who had a history of a heart murmur, childhood heart disease, rheumatic fever, or a mitral valve prolapse was recommended to take antibiotics before dental procedures and dental cleanings.  After years of research, studies found that the rate of heart infections were not impacted, and the use of routine, before treatment antibiotics was discontinued.

There are still certain individuals who should pre-medicate with antibiotics prior to seeing their dentist.  Individuals who have an artificial heart valve, who have had infective endocarditis in the past, who have had a heart transplant, or who suffer from a congenital heart defect should continue to follow their cardiologist and dentist recommendations.  Other individuals, such as though with a mitral valve prolapse, a former history of rheumatic fever, or aortic stenosis, no longer need to take antibiotics.

If you are unclear or unsure if you should take antibiotics before a dental procedure, discuss this with both your cardiologist and dentist.  Together, they can determine the best course of treatment for you to make sure both your heart and your teeth stay healthy for years to come!

Posted on behalf of Marietta Family Dental Care, P.C.



Cavities Are Not Limited To Children

You may have thought that cavities only occur in children who do not drink fluoridated water, and who eat sweet things all the time.  While there is some truth in the fact that eating a diet high in sugars and sweets will increase the frequency of cavities, anyone can get a cavity.  Cavities are more common in young children, but as we age, cavities also begin to form in middle age to later adult years.

Cavities are always caused by tooth decay, and result from plaque that remains on the tooth surface too long, allowing acid to destroy the tooth enamel.

Children commonly get cavities as they have not perfected brushing and flossing techniques yet, and often have ‘treats’ of sweet things more often than adults do.  Common ways to prevent cavities in children are to limit sweets and sugared drinks and gum, as well as encouraging good oral hygiene.  Adding sealants will help children from getting cavities in their back teeth.

Adults, however, are faced with a slightly different problem.  Cavities that form in adulthood are more frequently seen with gum line recession and gum disease.  As the gum line begins to pull away from the tooth, roots of the teeth are more exposed to plaque than in the past.  A little bit of gum recession is normal as adults age, but can be prevented by practicing good brushing and flossing on a regular basis.  As the gum line recedes, and roots are exposed, a softer part of the tooth is exposed.  This part of the tooth is called cementum.  Despite sounding like ‘cement’, cementum is actually softer than enamel and is destroyed more easily by plaque than enamel is.  These cavities are sometimes called tooth root decay.

Any person of any age can get a cavity. The best way to prevent cavities is to brush and floss regularly, and to see your dentist for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.  Eating a well-balanced diet and limiting sweet and sugary items will go a long way in maintaining good oral health.


Treatment Options for Receding Gums

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Receding gums is a common oral health issue that many people don’t even notice because it happens so gradually.  Once gum recession has been diagnosed, it needs to be treated before it progresses and causes further damage to the gums  and teeth.  Without treatment, gaps form between the teeth and gum line that allow bacteria to build up and cause gum disease that can ultimately lead to damage to the gums and jawbone and result in tooth loss.

There are several options for treating receding gums.  Gum tissue grafts are a common and effective method to replace missing gum tissue.  Your dentist will remove tissue from the roof of your mouth or from nearby healthy gums and suture the tissue to the gums at the gum line.

If pockets have formed, your dentist may recommend a pocket depth reduction. During this procedure, your dentist will open up the pockets that have formed in the gums at the base of the tooth and clean out the harmful bacteria.  The gum tissue will then be securely stitched in place, closing the pocket and preventing harmful bacteria from  entering.

In more serious cases where the supporting bone has been damaged, regeneration is needed.  As in a pocket reduction, the dentist opens the pockets and cleans out the harmful bacteria.  A regenerative material will be applied to the area and the gum tissue will be secured to the root of the teeth.

Your dentist will explain your options and recommend a treatment plan that will best address your condition.   To prevent gum disease from occurring, brush carefully with a soft bristled brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist at least annually and better yet, twice a year for a dental cleaning and examination.


Access To Dental Care

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Despite the importance of good dental care to overall health, millions of Americans have limited access to dental care.  Estimates vary, but about 100 million Americans do not have dental insurance and even those covered by dental insurance may have a hard time paying out of pocket costs.  Part of the problem is the misconception that good oral health is not related to overall health but the studies have shown a link between poor oral health and diabetes, heart disease, stroke and low birth rates.  In addition, tooth loss is widespread among older Americans and leads to poor diet and reduced health.

Getting regular preventative care including dental cleanings and checkups and having restorative dental work done as soon as it is discovered is crucial for maintaining overall health.  There are numerous alternatives to help reduce the impact of dental care on your wallet.

The most common type of dental insurance is that purchased through employment.  If dental insurance is offered through your employer, you may be able to get an excellent group rate for the dental insurance that can keep a lid on your dental care costs.

Whether you are insured or not, consider paying for your out of pocket dental care expenses using your flexible spending account.  Most dental care expenses are eligible except for purely cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening.

If you are eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to obtain some dental coverage.  Dental coverage under Medicaid varies by state.  Some states cover only children while other offer benefits to adults too.

Another option is to use a financing plan to pay for dental expenses.  As an added service to their customers, many dentists have financing available.  Most dentists accept credit cards and you may be able to get a lower rate on a credit card or earn rewards on the dental expenses you put on the card.

Whatever option works best for you, the important thing to remember is that putting off dental care will negatively impact your overall health and lead to more expensive dental work in the future.


No Excuse for Not Flossing

Along with regular checkups and dental cleanings, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are important components off a good oral health program.  Good oral health habits can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, yet only about half of Americans floss daily and about ten percent never floss at all.  There are a wide range of excuses for not flossing, but the reality is that there is an answer for almost every situation.

Many people only floss when there is food stuck between their teeth.  However, the most important reason to floss is to remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, not food particles.  Plaque and bacteria accumulate between teeth whether there are noticeable food particles or not.  Removing this plaque and bacteria by flossing is critical for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Some people claim that they don’t floss because it hurts and makes their gums bleed.  Properly done on a daily basis, flossing should not be a painful or bloody experience.  The likelihood is that the person has some gingivitis which the flossing will help correct.  If you floss daily for two weeks and your gums are still sore and bleeding, see your dentist.

Many people avoid flossing because the floss catches between their teeth due to the teeth being too close together.  For these people, there are special types of floss that are flat, very slippery, or that stretches thin.  Sometimes just switching to ordinary waxed floss will get good results.  If you cannot find a floss that works for you, talk to your dentist about your options.


Choosing an Electric Toothbrush

Many dentists are recommending that their patients switch to an electric toothbrush to maximize their oral health.  Using an electric toothbrush between dental cleanings and checkups can reduce tooth decay and gum disease.  Unfortunately, your dentist probably doesn’t hand out a new electric toothbrush at every checkup and cleaning so you will have to buy it yourself.  Before choosing your new electric toothbrush, take a few minutes to learn about the options and features available so you can choose the right toothbrush to fit your needs and your wallet.

Electric toothbrushes come in two basic types:  electric and sonic.  The bristles on an electric toothbrush either rotate or move back and forth at about three to seven thousand cycles per minute.  Compared to the three to four hundred strokes per minute of the average manual toothbrush user, the electric toothbrush clearly does more brushing.

Sonic toothbrushes take it to the next level with thirty to forty thousand strokes per minute – about 100 times more brush strokes per minute than a manual toothbrush.  Both types come with options that help you brush effectively such as a timer that beeps after completing two minutes of brushing and a sensor that will tell you if you are pressing too hard on your teeth.  Most electric tooth brushes have different brushing modes such as gentle gum massage, sensitive teeth, and tooth polishing.

A true electric toothbrush has a rechargeable base with replaceable brushing heads.  The base unit plugs into the wall outlet to recharge and should last for years.  The brushing heads are meant to be replaced every three months or so.  Expect to pay between $50 and $150 for a high quality electric toothbrush.


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