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General Dentistry

Any type of pain or discomfort in the mouth can be concerning, and it may leave you wondering if you have a serious dental problem or simply sensitive teeth. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, and getting relief from the discomfort will depend on the cause. It’s important to see your dentist in Sparks as soon as possible if you’re experiencing any pain, especially if it’s new or comes on suddenly. If a problem is left alone, it can get worse. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how you can tell if you have sensitive teeth or perhaps a bigger problem. 

Signs of Sensitive Teeth

There are some telltale signs of tooth sensitivity, and most commonly they occur when eating or drinking something hot or cold. Think back to the last time you drank something hot or when you bit into a cold popsicle. Did you feel a zing of pain through your teeth? There’s a good chance you just experienced the most common sign of tooth sensitivity. However, there are other symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore, including: 

Even though these symptoms are often common with tooth sensitivity, it’s important to remember that some of these symptoms can overlap with signs of other problems and you should always seek advice from your dentist in Sparks

What Causes Sensitive Teeth? 

Many things can cause sensitive teeth. Usually, tooth sensitivity is a result of either enamel erosion or gum recession, both of which can cause the insides of teeth, including the nerves, to become exposed. When this happens, every time something hits those nerves, you will experience that shooting pain. The main causes of enamel erosion and gum recession include: 

When is Sensitivity a Sign of Something Serious?

It can be hard to tell when tooth sensitivity is a sign of something serious, but if it’s left untreated, the pain will increase and the problem will get worse. Sensitivity can also be a sign of: 

This is why it’s so important to see your dentist sooner rather than later. 

How to Reduce Sensitivity

The good news is that there are treatments available, but which one is appropriate for you depends on your individual situation. Some treatment options include: 

Dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, inlays, or onlays may be the best way to relieve tooth sensitivity if you have decay, a failing previous restoration, or a broken or cracked tooth. 

There are times when a root canal may be the best option to relieve tooth sensitivity. This treatment will remove the roots and the nerves of the affected tooth, giving you instant relief. 

Your dentist in Sparks may also recommend some changes to your oral hygiene habits. This can include changing your toothpaste, adding a desensitizing rinse, using a different toothbrush, and applying fluoride treatment at your appointments. 

Our teeth are essential to our health and well-being, but unfortunately, they can also be one of the most fragile parts of our bodies. Cavities, broken or missing teeth, and gum disease all weaken your teeth and can cause you serious problems down the road if they’re not taken care of properly. Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to strengthen your teeth so that they last a lifetime and stay healthy. These seven methods from your dentist in Sparks will help you have strong teeth that will last you a lifetime!

1. Brush & Floss

One of the most important and easiest things you can do to keep your teeth strong is to brush and floss them regularly. Your dentist in Sparks recommends brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day. This duo of brushing and flossing will help remove dangerous bacteria and plaque from not only the surfaces of the teeth but in between the teeth as well. If bacteria and plaque are allowed to build up on teeth, they will produce an acidic byproduct. This acid will wear down tooth enamel and can leave teeth at greater risk for decay. 

2. Don’t Forget Your Tongue

Our tongues have a ton of tiny nooks and crannies for bacteria to hide, and it’s important to remove these cavity-causing culprits. The best way to do that is to gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. This can remove even more bacteria and can also make you less likely to experience bad breath.  

3. Reduce Sugar & Carbs

We all know that dentists don’t like sugar, but what’s that have to do with carbs? Well, the truth is, our bodies break down carbs into glucose and they can act a lot like sugar. So when you’re looking for smile-smart foods to eat or snacks in between meals, try to limit your intake of sugary treats or those high in carbohydrates. Too much sugar or too many carbs can feed plaque bacteria and increase acid production, again increasing the risk of weakening teeth.  

4. Treat Grinding

Many people grind their teeth in either times of stress or when they’re sleeping. Most of the time, they may not even realize they’re doing it. But teeth grinding can lead to a whole host of dental problems, including wear and tear of enamel. If you think you grind your teeth, talk with your dentist in Sparks about the best ways to stop grinding in order to protect your teeth. 

5. Don’t Ignore Reflux

Although reflux, indigestion, and heartburn are digestive problems, they can still affect your oral health. These conditions can cause stomach acid to enter the mouth which can damage enamel. If you have reflux or other digestive concerns, we recommend talking with your doctor about treatment options. 

6. Stay Hydrated

Many Americans don’t drink enough water, but we should all do our best to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. Not only can being hydrated help you feel better overall, but it’s also beneficial for both your overall health and oral health. Drinking water helps neutralize acids, keep bad breath away, and wash away bacteria. 

7. Schedule Bi-Annual Dental Visits

Besides taking good care of your teeth through a great oral hygiene routine, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water, there’s one more thing you should do in order to protect your teeth — see your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year. Professional dental cleanings will help remove plaque and tartar buildup that could wear down enamel and exams can help catch any problems before they turn into complex concerns. 

If you do have weakened enamel, don’t fear. Your dentist can help you control erosion and talk with you about treatments and any additional steps you can take at home to keep erosion at bay.

Did you know that dental insurance benefits can expire if they’re not used? While some dental plans renew at odd times during the year, most plans renew on January 1st. This means that if you haven’t used all of your benefits, you’re missing out on some dental care that you’ve earned. Luckily, your dentist in Sparks is here with a friendly reminder to use your dental benefits before they expire. 

No Rolling Over

Many dental insurance plans place a yearly maximum on their plans that will not roll over into the next year if they’re not used. However, many people don’t actually use the full maximum and lose out on the benefits. 

Overlap Treatment

If you want to have some cosmetic dentistry done or perhaps some restorative dentistry to renew your smile, chances are your insurance won’t cover the entire cost. However, if you start treatment this year, you can use your 2021 benefits and the benefits that renew in 2022. Talk with your dentist in Sparks about the best way to get the dental care you need and want without breaking the bank. 

If You Pay For It, Use It

Dental insurance costs you money to have, so it’s wise to use all of the benefits available to you. However, many people do not do this and rather treat dental insurance as a safety precaution in case something happens. Many times, doing this means losing money and can cause bigger problems. 

Dental Problems Worsen Over Time

The best way to avoid costly dental treatment is to, in fact, use your dental benefits on preventive care. Seeing your dentist in Sparks twice a year can help keep dental problems from occurring or catch them early when treatment is easy and less expensive. 

FSA

While a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) isn’t traditional dental insurance, it can function very similarly. These benefits don’t last forever and may expire at the end of December. Essentially, if you’re putting money into an FSA and can use it for dental care, make sure you do so before it expires in January.

Sparks dentist’s schedules book up quickly this time of the year, and we don’t want to see you lose unused benefits. Schedule your appointment today! 

In order to have strong and healthy teeth and gums, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene habits regularly. However, it can be difficult to remember all of the things you should do (and shouldn’t do) every day to keep your mouth clean. To help you, let’s check out six of the most common dental hygiene mistakes your dentist in Sparks sees so you can help keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape!

1. Not Flossing Regularly

Many patients tend to only when they feel like it, such as right before a dental appointment, rather than at a regular schedule. While flossing can seem inconvenient to floss every single day, your dental health depends on it. Brushing alone will not get rid of plaque between teeth, which can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay over time. You should floss daily with either standard floss, a floss pick, or a water flosser. 

2. Brushing Too Often

Your dentist in Sparks recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. So, if brushing two times is good, wouldn’t brushing more be even better? In fact, the opposite is true. Brushing your teeth too often can wear down tooth enamel, making it easier for cavities to form and teeth to become sensitive. Additionally, you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating sugary sweets or acidic foods. Instead, try rinsing your mouth out with water. 

3. Improper Brushing Technique

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as bad brushing. For example, if you scrub too hard you can damage enamel and irritate gums. This can lead to gum recession and tooth sensitivity as well as increase the likelihood of cavities. Instead, brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle and in gentle circles to get a thorough clean.

4. Using The Wrong Tools

There are tons of toothbrushes and flossing products to choose from, but how do you know what’s right for you? First, talk to your dentist in Sparks. However, many times, patients should use a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect tooth enamel while brushing. When it comes to flossing, the best floss is the floss that’s used daily, so find a product that makes flossing easier so you can stick to a routine. 

5. Brushing Before Flossing

The best way to get your teeth squeaky clean is to floss first and then brush. Otherwise, bacteria can remain in between your teeth which will only spread around your mouth after you’ve already brushed. Flossing first will ensure that none of these germs remain when you start brushing. Instead, all that bacteria is swept away by your floss and into the trash where it belongs!

6. Not Seeing Your Dentist in Sparks Regularly

Seeing your dentist twice a year is essential for not only keeping your teeth clean and healthy but also preventing issues before they can become serious. If you wait until you start having tooth pain or seeing things like decay or gums that are pulling away from your teeth, you’re putting yourself at risk for more invasive treatments. Schedule appointments with your dentist twice a year to keep your smile healthy and bright. 

Since dental hygiene plays such an important role in our overall health, it’s essential to make sure we’re doing everything right. Making small changes to your oral hygiene routine can make all the difference in having a strong, healthy smile. 

There’s a reason why your dentist in Sparks encourages you to visit every six months. What happens if you wait longer than six months, or don’t go to the dentist at all? The truth is, missing just one dental appointment can lead to multiple problems. Here are a few things that can happen if you don’t visit the dentist twice a year. 

Cavities

The most obvious and most common result of not visiting the dentist regularly is cavities. 

Without regular visits, our teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay, which is caused by bacteria eating away at our enamel. Left unchecked, cavities can lead to serious problems like painful abscesses. Cavities are preventable through regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings. Even if a cavity develops, treatment is quick and easy if caught early. 

Gum Disease

A more serious side effect of avoiding dental appointments is gum disease. Gum disease is caused by bacteria in plaque, which forms when food particles collect between teeth and along gum lines. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to serious oral health problems and even some other illnesses. In fact, gum disease increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. When caught early, gum disease can be treated before it can cause serious problems. However, when it’s left to progress, it eventually reaches a point where it’s irreversible. 

Tooth Loss

According to a 2013 survey, nearly one in four American adults have lost all of their teeth, while a third of Americans aged 30-64 have no natural teeth left at all. Early tooth loss is often due to a lack of dental care, and other studies have found that just one missed dental appointment can significantly increase your risk for gum disease or tooth loss. Tooth loss can affect both your oral health and overall health. Missing teeth make it hard to eat a balanced diet and can take a toll on your self-confidence. But there is some good news. Teeth can often be replaced with dental implants, dentures, or a dental bridge. 

So How Often Do You Really Need to See the Dentist? 

Usually, the recommended maximum amount of time between dental appointments is six months. However, your dentist in Sparks may recommend that certain people visit more often, including those who are at higher risk of developing dental problems such as: 

Why People Avoid The Dentist 

There are a number of reasons why some people avoid going to the dentist. People may not like the sights and sounds of a dental office, or they may be embarrassed about having to talk about their oral health and hygiene issues in front of others. Fear and anxiety over what the dentist might find can also cause people to put off their dental checkups for months at a time, which could lead to serious problems down the road. If you’re nervous about your dental checkups, make sure you talk with your dentist in Sparks so they can help find ways to help you relax during your visits. 

As we get older, we’re naturally going to experience some changes in our oral health. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year. After all, gum disease and cavities become more common as we age. Even if you take really good care of your teeth, you can still experience some wear and tear and other problems. Follow these dental care tips for seniors to reduce the risk of oral health complications. 

Brushing & Flossing Habits May Change

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, it’s critical that you clean your mouth regularly with proper oral hygiene products like floss or a toothbrush. However, sometimes brushing and flossing becomes more difficult as we age, especially if we no longer have the dexterity in our hands that we used to. It’s important to find the right tools for your specific needs so that you can thoroughly brush and floss properly. Brushing and flossing are crucial, especially in seniors, to reduce the risk of gum disease, which affects nearly half of all adults over the age of 65 and can contribute to other health complications such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

Dry Mouth is a Real Concern

Dry mouth is a common side effect of certain medications that affect saliva production, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics. Dry mouth can also happen due to age-related changes in your salivary glands and related issues. While this problem can certainly be uncomfortable, it can also cause serious problems. Dry mouth can cause decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Be sure to speak with your dentist in Sparks about what steps you can take at home to relieve dry mouth issues. Most dentists will recommend:

Dental Visits Are Even More Important

As we age, we are more susceptible to tooth decay and oral infection. We also know that seniors can also have a harder time keeping their mouths clean. This can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, and other oral health problems. This makes it extra important that you see your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year. In fact, some older adults that are at increased risk for dental problems may want to visit their dentist more than two times per year.

Losing Teeth Isn’t a Guarantee

When many people think about how getting older may affect their oral health, they automatically think about tooth loss. The truth is, you don’t have to lose your teeth. The best ways to prevent tooth loss as you age is to take excellent care of your oral health, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, avoid smoking, and see your dentist regularly. However, if you do lose a tooth or two, we always recommend replacing it with a dental bridge, dental implants, or dentures. Without a full set of teeth, your oral health and overall health can suffer. 

At every age, it’s important to take care of your teeth. But as we grow older, that care may change. Make sure you adapt your oral health care routine to protect your teeth long into your golden years. 

It’s common knowledge that high sugar diets are bad for your teeth, which is one reason why your dentist in Sparks recommends limiting your sugar intake daily. But what you might not know is that many of the foods and drinks that you enjoy may be secretly packed with sugar. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the top 6 foods and drinks with the highest levels of sugar.

1) Soda

Soda is an excellent source of sugar. In fact, it’s even worse than chocolate bars because there’s less food value to balance out its calorie content. The phosphoric acid in sodas can destroy tooth enamel and make teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities. Excess consumption can also lead to diabetes due to elevated blood glucose levels. Pairing soda with other sweet or acidic drinks will increase your risk as well, so if you are serious about protecting your smile and achieving long-term oral health, avoid them altogether.

2) Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are commonly perceived as healthy options due to their bright colors and phytonutrients (natural chemicals in plants that have antioxidant properties). This is true, but many store-bought fruit juices also contain additives such as sweeteners or flavorings that boost sweetness levels. To avoid consuming excess sugar without even knowing it (especially if you do not typically drink other sweet beverages), consider drinking freshly squeezed or 100% pure fruit juice only occasionally.

3) Energy Drinks

Most people know that energy drinks can do more harm than good over time, especially when combined with alcohol. But your dentist in Sparks has even more concerns. A 2012 study by the Center for Science in Public Interest found that an 8-ounce serving of a popular energy drink contained 44 grams of sugar! 

4) Granola

Granola is another one of those foods that’s often marketed as healthy. However, granola contains plenty of natural sugars — one cup of homemade granola has on average 36 grams of sugar. What can be even more confusing is that store-bought varieties often contain added sugars, and can contain up to 61 total grams of sugar!  

5) Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies can be made from fresh fruits, so they provide additional vitamins and minerals that may not be found in sodas or other sugary drinks. However, it is important to note that any drink containing more than 50 grams of sugar per serving should be consumed moderately because of its potential to cause dental decay and other oral health problems.  

6) Spaghetti Sauce

Perhaps one of the most surprising on our list, tomato-based products like spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, and ketchup tend to have more sugars than non-tomato items because of their fruit content. Spaghetti sauce for example contains 16g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving, which is a whopping 28% of the recommended daily value. 

There are many high-sugar products at your disposal, with levels of sugar you may not even know about. But any time you’re consuming something sugary, or that has a high sugar content on the nutritional label, you should watch out for its impact on your oral health — as well as other areas of your life, such as weight gain or diabetes. Rinsing your mouth with water after eating anything sugary can help, but as always, it’s best to enjoy sugary treats in moderation, and of course, see your dentist in Sparks twice a year. 

Did you know that using a straw to drink some of your favorite beverages can actually help your teeth? Even though this little trick may seem silly, your dentist in Sparks knows just how much of an impact choosing a straw instead of sipping straight from a cup can have on your smile. Today, we’re going to look at four ways drinking out of a straw can benefit your oral health.  

1. Protect Against Stains

Many of the drinks we use to quench our thirst contain staining agents. These include, but are not limited to: red wine, dark sodas or pop, tea, coffee, and colored sports drinks or fruity drinks. When we drink these without a straw, the staining components can cover our teeth, oftentimes along with sugar. We can limit the amount of sugar and staining agents that come in contact with our teeth by choosing a straw. The other good news is that oftentimes your Sparks dentist can whiten stained teeth through a professional smile whitening treatment. 

2. Less Enamel Loss

Our teeth are covered with a tough layer of protection called enamel. However, even though this sturdy substance can withstand a lot, it’s not impervious to damage. One of the things that can deteriorate enamel is acidic drinks such as lemonade, alcohol, and juice. When too much of the acidic pH comes in contact with teeth, it can wear down the enamel and leave teeth at risk for decay, tooth sensitivity, and other oral health problems. 

3. Keep Cavities Away

Both sugary and acidic drinks are bad for teeth, but as we’ve mentioned a few times already, the more chances these beverages have to come in contact with teeth, the worse it can be for our pearly whites. Too much exposure to liquids that are acidic or sugary will essentially coat teeth in a film of the stuff that bacteria love. This will increase the likelihood of cavity development. Cavities need to be treated promptly by your dentist in Sparks to keep them from causing more damage. One of the ways you can prevent cavities is by choosing a straw. 

A Note For The Environment

Now, we know there are many environmental concerns when it comes to straws. While we want to encourage all of our patients to drink from a straw whenever possible, we also want to minimize the environmental impact of doing so. To help, consider reusable straws at home. There are even reusable travel straws for on-the-go! 

Looking for more helpful tips on how to protect your teeth? Never hesitate to call us or schedule an appointment. We’d love to see you! 

Whenever a patient is diagnosed with a cavity that needs a filling, it’s common that they’ll have several questions for their dentist in Sparks. We’re often asked things like, “Does getting a filling hurt?”, “How long will it take?”, and “How long will it last?” Today, we want to tackle that last question regarding whether or not a filling will need to be replaced. 

What’s a Filling? 

First, let’s take a closer look at what a dental filling is and how it’s beneficial. When a tooth develops a cavity, one of the best ways to remove the decay and protect the tooth from more damage is a filling. Now, not all fillings are the same. In fact, there are several different types of filling material that may be used, and each one can be expected to last a different amount of time. To find out what the best filling material is for you, talk with your dentist in Sparks

White Fillings

Nowadays, many cavities are restored using white fillings. Also known as tooth-colored or composite fillings, these virtually invisible restorations are custom created by your dentist and are designed to closely match the color and shape of your other teeth. These types of fillings are super strong and withstand a lot. However, the cosmetic benefits of tooth-colored fillings do have a potential downside. Composite fillings are estimated to last anywhere between 7-12 years, depending on the area of the filling and your oral hygiene habits. 

Silver Fillings

Another common material used for filling a cavity is silver or amalgam. These types of restorations typically last a little bit longer than white fillings, usually around 10-15 years, but many people choose to avoid these fillings if possible. Silver fillings can create a darker appearance, and there’s been an increase in concern about the mercury levels in amalgam fillings. We always recommend talking with your dentist in Sparks about any concerns you have about any materials. 

Gold Fillings

While gold fillings are less common these days, they may still be an option for some patients at some dental offices. A filling made of gold is the strongest, longest-lasting but will typically cost more than composite or silver. Additionally, while some people may really like the aesthetic look that comes with a gold filling, it may not be for everyone. 

Why Would a Filling Need to be Replaced? 

Our mouths help us do a lot of things every day, including eating and chewing. Over time, these daily habits can take a toll on dental fillings. This will require a replacement filling simply due to regular wear and tear. Other ways a filling can become damaged include accidents, biting on hard food, or if a composite filling becomes discolored.  

If you’re experiencing pain or increased sensitivity in an area that already has a filling, don’t hesitate to get it looked at. Call your dentist in Sparks as soon as you can to schedule a checkup.  

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health. But there are numerous things that can keep us from sleeping soundly, especially snoring. In fact, if you or your bed partner snore, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting enough sleep. But why does your dentist in Sparks care about snoring? The truth is, snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that not only keeps you and your loved ones from getting a solid eight hours of sleep a night, it could also mean that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen while you’re catching Zs. Sleep apnea occurs when someone stops breathing during sleep, sometimes up to 100 times a night! One of the most concerning parts about sleep apnea isn’t even the snoring itself, it’s the fact that you may not even know that it’s happening. 

Types of Sleep Apnea

It’s important to note that not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea, that’s one reason why it can be so hard to diagnose. However, snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea. There are two types of sleep apnea:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – The most common form of sleep apnea is the type called obstructive sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep due to the soft tissues in the back of your throat collapsing.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea may not directly involve a blocked airway, but it does involve a problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles. Oftentimes, the brain fails to signal the breathing muscles to breathe. Cases of central sleep apnea are more difficult to diagnose. 

Snoring & Oral Health Concerns

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, roughly 90 million Americans snore. And, as we’ve noted, sometimes snoring is simply annoying and not caused by sleep apnea. But that doesn’t mean these primary snorers aren’t at risk. In fact, your dentist in Sparks may ask if you snore because it can affect your oral health. Snorers breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses which can quickly dry the mouth out and reduce saliva production. Saliva is crucial to maintaining good oral health as it neutralizes acids and helps rinse away bacteria. Without it, snorers may be at increased risk for: 

If you wake up with a sticky mouth, dry mouth, or bad morning breath, you may be mouth breathing or snoring during sleep or have sleep apnea. Your dentist in Sparks, will encourage a visit to a sleep center and want to keep a closer eye on your oral health. 

Preventing Problems

To combat any negative side effects of snoring or sleep apnea, you should always make sure to:

Snoring isn’t something you should take lightly. If you’re concerned about your snoring, talk with your dentist about possible treatment options either from a medical doctor or dentist.