Spring is a time to start cleaning out our homes from being shut in all winter long, and your oral health is kind of similar to that. Without regular checkups and cleanings, damaging bacteria, acid, and plaque are able to pile up, which can lead to problems. However, the risks of these dangers don’t stop at your mouth. In fact, oral health is strongly connected to your overall health, and visiting your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year can help protect you against both the risks of oral and overall health problems.
Isn’t Brushing & Flossing Enough?
Even if you practice a great oral hygiene routine in the comfort of your home by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, you may not be fully protecting yourself against some of the dangers lurking in our mouths. Professional dental cleanings and comprehensive checkups can catch potential problems early and do wonders in keeping both your mouth and your body healthy.
One of the things you’ll usually experience at one of your bi-annual dental visits is having x-rays taken. These often digital photos allow your dentist in Sparks to take a peek under the surface of your teeth and gums to get a full picture of what’s going on in your mouth. Images created from x-rays can allow your dental team to catch any decay that may not yet be visible to the naked eye. When decay is caught early, it’s treated easily and protects you against the need for advanced dental treatment such as root canals or even tooth loss. X-rays can even help diagnose an abscess (infection). If not treated, a dental abscess can affect overall health and lead to:
- Tooth loss
- Sinus infection
- Bacterial endocarditis (when the infection makes its way to the heart)
- Infection in the face and jaw which can restrict the airway (Ludwig’s angina)
Oral & Overall Health
As we’ve mentioned before, there is a strong connection between oral health and overall health. For example, gum disease can potentially be a serious infection that can easily contribute to health problems outside of the mouth. If not treated promptly and it’s allowed to progress, gum disease puts patients at an increased risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.
But that’s not all. Many whole-body diseases may first show signs in the mouth including diabetes, kidney disease, certain cancers, and heart disease. The sooner these health concerns are diagnosed, the more successful treatment tends to be. This is one reason you should see your dentist in Sparks every six months.
Your dentist will usually recommend that you schedule and complete an appointment twice a year. However, if you’re at higher risk for some of the problems listed above you may be asked to be seen more often. These preventive appointments can go a long way in not only protecting your smile and oral health but your overall, whole-body health as well.
If you’ve been putting off your dental checkup and cleaning, call to schedule an appointment today.
Every March is recognized as National Nutrition Month and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Its purpose is to raise awareness of just how important it is to eat healthily. But good nutrition doesn’t only benefit our bodies, it can also help protect your oral health. Join your dentist in Sparks as we do our part in promoting good dietary habits for your oral health and whole-body health.
The truth is, eating right doesn’t sound too difficult. But fully understanding nutrition and those crazy nutrition labels can be confusing. The basics are, well, basic — don’t eat too much sugar, avoid indulging in fast food, eat more vegetables, etc. However, truly fueling your body with what it needs to perform at its best is complicated. In fact, even the Food Guide Pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed twice since it was created in 1992. And the current MyPlate dietary guidelines are individualized based on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. Essentially, what’s right for one person may not be right for another. No wonder we’re all confused! The best way to find out the best dietary recommendations for you is to check out the MyPlate checklist to find your ideal combination of:
- Whole Grains
- Lean Proteins
Nutrition & Oral Health
We know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can certainly benefit our bodies and help keep us healthy. The same is true for your oral health. Sugary foods, carbs, and acidic foods and drinks can definitely put teeth at risk for decreased enamel protection and, as a result, more susceptible to decay and cavities. Try your best to avoid those foods in high quantities. Instead, choose some of the best foods for your smile (and your body) including:
- Fatty Fish
- Raw Veggies – especially the crunchy ones!
More on Sugar
It’s no secret that your dentist in Sparks really, really doesn’t like sugar. This is because sugar is one of the top contributors to decay. When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid attacks tooth enamel, weakening it, which makes it easier for bacteria to find its way into teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies. The result? Decay, cavities, and the need for dental treatment such as fillings or even a root canal. Reduced tooth enamel can also make teeth very sensitive to hot or cold or change the color from bright white to a dull, darker appearance.
However, sweet treats aren’t the only snacks that are packed with sugars. In fact, there are foods out there that don’t even taste sweet but have the same effect. Carbohydrates have something called the hidden sugar effect. As we eat them, carbs break down into simple sugars, and we know what happens in our mouth when we give the bacteria sugar. So even if you don’t have a traditional sweet tooth, check out the nutrition labels and try to limit not only foods with high sugar content but also those with a lot of carbs.
Choosing healthier meals and snacks for you and your family can help you all live a healthy life. Eating foods that are good for your body can also protect your teeth from the damaging effects of sugar and acid. Try to pick foods that are good for you overall. Your body, your smile, your dentist in Sparks will thank you for it.
Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.
If you’ve never heard of National Dentist Day on March 6th, don’t feel bad. It’s not exactly a time where people exchange dentistry-related gifts, browse the dental section of the greeting card aisle or sit down for a feast that includes brushing and flossing immediately afterwards. Maybe National Dentist Day isn’t widely celebrated—but we sure think it ought to be.
First of all, dentistry has resulted in a higher quality of life—and longer lives—for people all over the world. For most of human history, people suffered from oral diseases and really had no way of treating them. Today, not only do you not have to worry much about serious oral diseases, but the ones that do occur can be treated quite comfortably. And then there’s the added benefits of a bright, white smile, healthy teeth and gums, as well as fresh breath—all thanks to dentists who are just an appointment away.
As a certified Perio Protect provider, those benefits are even closer for our patients. Perio Protect is a non-invasive periodontal disease treatment. It’s a simple, convenient way to treat gum infections (that 80% of American adults have!) comfortably in your own home, and on your schedule.
The FDA-cleared Perio Trays® are custom-molded to fit comfortably over your teeth and gums while delivering antimicrobial medication deep below the gum line. It’s great for treating and preventing gum disease.
We love to share good news with our patients about treatment that prevents disease or addresses it in its earliest stages. Contact us if you have concerns about bleeding or inflamed gums. Or even just to wish us a happy National Dentists Day.
You will hear your dentist in Sparks talk a lot about how important it is to brush and floss your teeth every day to protect your teeth and keep your mouth healthy. But did you know that you should also brush your tongue as well as your teeth? The truth is, people who don’t brush their tongue regularly are putting their teeth and overall oral health at risk.
The Fascinating Tongue
Our tongues may not seem that fascinating, but to your dentist in Sparks, these muscles are actually quite interesting and important. Not only are our tongues one of the strongest muscles in our bodies, but they also help us do many useful, everyday tasks such as speak, chew, and swallow. Tongues also have about 10,000 taste buds that allow us to taste every bit of our favorite foods. But these taste buds are also really great places for bacteria to hide. If those bacteria are not removed regularly, they can start to negatively affect oral health.
What Happens if You Don’t Brush Your Tongue?
Our tongues are made up of tons of tiny bumps called papillae. These papillae create peaks and valleys on our tongues and give bacteria the perfect place to settle. If the bacteria aren’t removed, you may experience some unwanted side effects. Let’s take a look at a few.
- Bad Breath – One of the most common side effects of not brushing your tongue is bad breath. While bad breath can be caused by a lot of different things, an unclean tongue can be to blame.
- Decreased Sense of Taste – Everyone loves to eat their favorite foods because they taste good. But when a tongue is not properly cared for, bacteria can coat our taste buds and decrease our sense of taste. This means that our favorite foods may not taste quite as good as they once did.
- Black, Hairy Tongue – Even though this sounds scary and gross, black, hairy tongue is a very real thing that can occur from not brushing your tongue. This discoloration happens when food and drink particles aren’t removed from the surface of the tongue and essentially stain those tiny papillae. It should go away on its own once you get into the tongue-brushing habit.
- Gum Disease – Since our tongues are in contact with our teeth throughout the day, everything on our tongues can easily transfer onto our teeth. When tongue bacteria move to the teeth, it can cause decay and, if left untreated, progress into gum disease. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can cause tooth loss if not treated.
How Do You Clean Your Tongue?
It’s important to brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. This will give you the cleanest mouth. You don’t need to scrub your tongue hard, and truth be told you shouldn’t. A gentle brushing from the back of the tongue to the front and from side-to-side will do just fine. However, patients with a strong gag reflex may have trouble with this method. If this is the case, try using a tongue scraper that you can buy at any pharmacy. It’s just as effective as brushing but may not trigger the gag reflex as much as a toothbrush.
Brushing your tongue is a crucial step in making sure you’re caring for your overall oral health as well as possible. Of course, seeing your dentist in Sparks at least every six months is also necessary.
Have you ever bitten your tongue and then thought to yourself, “How did that happen? Am I resting my tongue in the wrong place?” The truth is, about 50% of Americans have something called improper tongue posture or positioning. That’s right, there is, in fact, a correct place to rest your tongue. But where exactly should the tongue rest? Should it relax at the bottom of your mouth? Or the top? Maybe it’s between the teeth. Let’s check in with your dentist in Sparks to find out.
What is Tongue Positioning?
Tongue positioning and tongue posture are interchangeable terms used to describe the positioning of our tongues while at rest. Even though this may sound silly, there is such a thing as good tongue positioning and bad tongue positioning, and the truth is, bad tongue positioning can affect oral health as well as other parts of the body.
Why is Bad Tongue Positioning Bad?
Do you remember the song that goes, “the leg bone is connected to the knee bone?” Well, our tongues are kind of like that. You see, tongues are super strong muscles that impact several areas of our bodies, including our mouths, eyes, noses, heads, necks, and shoulders. Knowing this, it probably comes as no surprise that if we don’t have proper tongue positioning, it can cause trouble in these other areas of our bodies. Improper tongue posture can contribute or lead to:
- Sleep Apnea
- Problems with Vision
- Bad Body Posture
- Tooth Damage
What is Proper Tongue Positioning?
So, what exactly is proper tongue positioning? Simply put, proper tongue positioning occurs when someone gently rests their tongue on the roof of the mouth and away from the teeth. During rest, the lips should also be closed, and the teeth slightly parted. Practicing proper tongue positioning can help protect teeth from shifting and can improve sleep, decrease neck and jaw pain, and reduce the number or intensity of headaches.
What is Bad Tongue Positioning?
Your dentist in Sparks will tell you that if you rest your tongue on the bottom of your mouth or up against your teeth that you have bad tongue positioning. Besides the concerns listed above, putting repeated pressure on the back of teeth can cause them to shift, become crowded, or even result in tooth grinding and decay. Additionally, resting your tongue on the bottom of your mouth can cause increased neck pain, jaw pain, and even change the way someone looks. Go ahead and try something for us. Rest your tongue up on the roof of your mouth, then move it down to the bottom of the mouth. You should notice an obvious shift in your chin, neck, and head. Now, if the tongue is rested on the lower mouth over several years, it can create a longer, flatter face shape or cause the chin or forehead to jut forward permanently.
How to Fix Bad Tongue Positioning
The good news is you can work to improve your resting tongue positioning by first becoming more aware of where your tongue falls at rest. If you notice that your tongue is falling to the bottom of the mouth or is pushing up against your teeth, focus on consciously changing its position. Keep in mind, permanently changing your tongue positioning can take time and practice, so be patient.
Of course, if you have concerns about your tongue positioning and how it may be affecting your oral and overall health, talk with your dentist in Sparks.
Almost all of us have experienced the annoyance and pain associated with tooth sensitivity. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry estimates that 40 million American adults have sensitive teeth. That’s quite a lot of people who suffer from those unexpected zings of nerve pain every day. So many, in fact, that your dentist in Sparks wants to talk all about sensitive teeth in this week’s blog.
Top Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
What exactly is going on when our teeth feel sensitive? Tooth sensitivity is ultimately caused by enamel erosion, which can leave the inner workings of the teeth, including the nerves, exposed to the elements. However, there are a variety of things that can cause enamel erosion, which makes each situation of sensitive teeth unique to the individual. Let’s take a look at some of the top causes of enamel erosion and, therefore, sensitivity.
Brushing Too Hard – Even though it’s important to brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day, it’s equally important to do so properly. Many patients think that the harder they brush the cleaner their teeth will get. But that’s just not the case. Scrubbing too hard can damage that important protective layer of enamel and cause sensitivity.
Grinding Your Teeth – Similarly to brushing too hard, grinding your teeth puts a lot of pressure on the enamel and can easily wear it away. Tooth grinding can also cause chips or cracks to occur which can also increase the likelihood of someone experiencing sensitive teeth.
Gum Disease – A lot, if not most, tooth sensitivity starts and occurs at the gum line. When plaque buildup is not removed and good oral hygiene is not maintained, bacteria get up under the gums which, if not treated, will lead to gum disease. Gum disease can most definitely cause sensitivity and other problems.
How to Treat Tooth Sensitivity
It’s important to note that sensitive teeth aren’t something you should treat at home long term. You should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sparks to find the best treatment for your sensitive teeth. However, there are things you can do to help reduce sensitivity or avoid it in the first place.
Easy on the Hot and Cold Foods
Many times tooth sensitivity is made worse when exposed to hot or cold foods or drinks. We encourage you to try to avoid foods or drinks at these extreme temperatures to help keep sensitivity at bay. Also, another surprising culprit is acidic foods and drinks. Enjoy these in moderation and avoid them if you find they make your sensitivity worse.
Brush With a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Everyone should be using a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush their teeth as they’re easier on tooth enamel. Stiffer bristles can easily damage enamel and contribute to sensitivity.
Pick Toothpaste for Sensitivity
Consider switching your toothpaste to one specially formulated for sensitive teeth. Be sure to look for one that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This means the product has been tested and its advertising claims validated.
Tooth sensitivity is nothing to take lightly, and nobody should have to live with the surprising zaps of pain or avoid their favorite foods long-term. If you have sensitive teeth, call your dentist in Sparks to schedule an appointment today.
It’s true, we just used the words ‘fun’ and ‘spit’ in the same sentence. We’re not crazy, and we understand that many people don’t associate something typically considered gross to be fun. But to your dentist in Sparks, spit is a rather fascinating and helpful part of your oral and overall health. Let us explain.
25,000 Quarts of What?
In your lifetime, you’ll produce an average of 25,000 quarts of spit. That’s enough saliva to fill a standard size swimming pool. But why do we need so much spit? We’re glad you asked.
Spit is an extremely important part of a healthy mouth as it helps remove food particles that may linger around after a meal. This is key to protecting teeth against dangerous bacteria that just love to feed on leftovers. The more spit we produce, the more food is rinsed away, and the better protected your teeth are. Spit’s superpowers don’t end there. Saliva can also help neutralize plaque acid, which can protect your pearly whites from decay.
There are times when you may not be producing enough spit. If this is the case, you probably feel as if your mouth is always dry, no matter what you do. Don’t ignore this symptom – call your Sparks dentist as soon as you can. A dry mouth is a serious problem that can increase the risk of decay since there’s not enough saliva to wash away food and bacteria and neutralize acids. Talk with your dentist to find out what may be causing your dry mouth and work together to find the best solution.
Spit and Overall Health
Spit’s benefits reach beyond oral health alone. Spit can help find bone marrow donor matches to help those with blood cancers. Unfortunately, the prevalence of blood cancers is extremely high, and every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with blood cancer. This makes bone marrow really important. But patients can’t use just any bone marrow. There has to be a match. BeTheMatch.org is an organization that encourages people to join the bone marrow registry by simply swabbing the inside of the cheek and submitting it to their library where they’ll scan the registry to help find matches for patients. Who knew something so simple could help save a life?
Even though your dentist in Sparks may be more used to spit than you are, and while it may be a little gross, try to remember just how important it is for oral health and how it can help someone battling a very serious and very scary disease.
On November 14, the world will celebrate World Diabetes Day, a momentous occasion that serves to bring awareness to the seriousness of diabetes. In fact, more than 30 million Americans alone are living with the disease. But why is your dentist in Sparks talking about a disease that affects the pancreas? As it turns out, diabetes and dentistry are more connected than you may think.
Oral Health & Diabetes
Diabetics and their caregivers are well aware of just how much the disease can affect the body, but an often overlooked side effect of diabetes is directly related or oral health. The truth is, diabetes can increase the risk for gum disease, oral infections, poor healing after dental treatment, and dry mouth. If you’re diabetic or have a loved one with diabetes, try these tips to keep oral health in tip-top shape.
Tip #1 – Regular Dental Care is Key
Practicing good dental habits at home is a great way to reduce the risk of diabetic complications related to oral health. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, every day, for two minutes. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and scrub gently to avoid damaging your teeth or gums. Also, brushing your tongue and flossing every day can take your at-home oral hygiene routine one step further and remove even more plaque and bacteria. At our dental office in Sparks, we also recommend maintaining regular visits with our team so we can keep a close eye on oral health. This is especially important if you’re diabetic.
Tip #2 – Eat Smart
Those with diabetes know the importance of eating healthy to control their blood sugar levels, and we can’t stress enough how important a well-balanced diet is for your oral health, too. Minimize your sugar intake to avoid blood sugar spikes and to protect your teeth from its damaging effects. Choose fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains for a complete diet that’s not only good for your body but also good for your smile. If you’re unsure which foods are best and worst for diabetic patients, talk with your doctor about creating a meal plan.
Tip # 3 – Level Out
Diabetics are accustomed to checking and maintaining their blood glucose levels, and for good reason. Spikes in blood glucose levels can damage essential organs such as the heart and kidneys. But increased blood glucose can also cause problems with your mouth. High blood glucose in diabetics also means a higher chance of loose teeth or even losing teeth altogether. Another oral health concern related to diabetes is gum disease. Gum disease is a serious condition for anyone, but diabetics may have more problems fighting the infection and, in turn, keeping their diabetes under control.
Join our dental office in Sparks in celebrating World Diabetes Day by wearing blue, scheduling a check-up with your doctor if you suspect you may have diabetes, and of course, always brush and floss.
This time of year, there’s football and Halloween fun festivities. There’s also a lot of fright and anxiety going on, and your dentist in Sparks isn’t referring to haunted houses and ghosts. We’re talking to the patients who genuinely dread having a dental appointment looming on their calendar like a ghastly, ghostly goblin.
We’re here to remind you…it doesn’t matter if it’s been a few months or even a few decades since your last trip to the dentist. You have nothing to be afraid of or feel anxious about. We’re here to tell you why and show you how you can feel better fast.
Tip #1 – Take Your Comfort Seriously
We understand how uncomfortable it can be to have severe dental anxiety. It’s downright debilitating for you and your smile. Your Sparks dentist will tell you that you deserve so much better! There’s a sense of calm and relaxation in everything we do. You’ll feel assured and soothed, maybe even pampered during your dental visits.
Tip #2 – Don’t Avoid Your Appointments Out of Fear
Meeting a patient of any age who is afraid of the dentist is always disheartening. Whether they have fear because of a traumatic dental experience in the past or because they don’t like doctors, we believe every patient should feel happy and worthy of a beautiful, healthy smile.
So many times, we meet patients with loose teeth, missing teeth, bleeding gums, bad breath, and more. They’re usually experiencing these issues due to untreated dental problems. The good news is, we can get you out of pain fast and fix your smile back to perfection.
Tip #3 – Know You’re Not Alone – Ever
From the moment you walk in the door to our state-of-the-art office, you’ll have someone with you, a partner who cares about your comfort. This is especially true for our most fearful or anxious patients. That’s why it’s important to discuss your worries with us before your visit, so we can be prepared to pamper you with relaxation.
Like we’ve said before, you’re not alone if you don’t like going to the dentist! The Cleveland Clinic says between 9% and 15% of Americans say they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Does this hit close to home for you or someone in your family? As your appointment approaches, so does the feeling of anxiety or uneasiness. Maybe your heart races and your palms begin to sweat. While this sounds like the beginning of a spooky story, we know it’s all too real for patients who are afraid of seeing the dentist.
Patients who are afraid of or anxious about getting the dental care they need are some of our most treasured patients. We’ve seen how the most fearful patient can transform into one of our best dental patients in terms of keeping up with regular checkups and cleanings.
If there’s something we can do for you to make visiting our Sparks dental office a more relaxing experience, we hope you’ll share it with us. It could make a huge impact on your life or someone else’s! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us online or by phone with questions about your oral and overall health.
Just like you, your dentist in Sparks is overwhelmed this time of year by the amount of sugary Halloween treats on the market. Did you ever notice how much candy there is at every single store, from pharmacies to supermarkets? Where does it all go? (We sure would like to know.)
These little bite-sized treats are tricky because you think you can have one and just be done. You give in to your cravings and then “BOOM” the next thing you know there are wrappers everywhere and an empty bag to boot. We tried these three easy tips to help stop you from wanting to indulge in everything sugary and sweet, and they actually worked.
Step #1 – Drink Water (Lots of It)
We’re sure you’ve been told somewhere along the way, sometime in your life about the importance of drinking enough water daily. The key is staying hydrated so that your body can function optimally and maintain a proper eating or digestive routine. If you’re craving something sweet, don’t be tempted to reach for an energy drink or a sports beverage. They’re not healthy (like they labels might lead to you believe), and they contain sugar that sticks to teeth and leads to decay.
While opinions differ about how much water a person should consume each day, there’s a little handy, dandy trick called the 8×8 rule you can use. Most health authorities suggest drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily, or 8×8! (This is equivalent to about two liters or half a gallon).
Step #2 – Eat Healthy
Cravings for sugar are different than your body telling you it’s hungry. It’s your brain playing a little trick on you compared to when you need to refuel for energy, and your body says it’s hungry. Your mind wants you to eat the sugary treat because you’ll feel a release of dopamine as part of your body’s “reward system.” Try to opt for healthy snacks such as fruits and veggies. Go ahead and eat a meal that’s rich with protein, which is excellent for helping to curb cravings and hunger.
We understand that eating real, healthy food isn’t the same as diving into that bag of candies or indulging in that cupcake. But your body (and your smile) will surely thank you for making the right choices now, so they’re there for you in the long run.
Step #3 – Get Enough Sleep
Your Sparks dentist will be the first one to tell you how important sleep is in our lives. It does make a difference in both your oral and overall health. Sleep loss can dramatically change the timing and release of certain hormones responsible for controlling your appetite. When you’re deprived of a good night’s sleep (especially regularly), these hormones get released in larger amounts. Your stomach also releases the hormone that makes you feel full in smaller amounts, causing a perfect storm for cravings and binge on sweets.
What’s more interesting is this: studies show that we change what kinds of foods we purchase when we’re overly tired, too! Researchers found that an increase in hormone levels contributed to us wanting to buy foods that are high in calories and sugar. Both our bodies and brains crave the rewards of unhealthy foods when we get less than seven hours of sleep each night.
We hope you’ll give these three steps a shot, whether it’s on a small or even a bigger level. We know how hard it can be to say no to sweets, no matter what age you are. This time of year, with all of the added pressure, is an excellent opportunity for you to use these tools discussed here to keep your body and your smile healthy. If you have any questions about these tips or would like to know more about how to take care of your teeth, email or give our Sparks dental office a call!