Cavities are incredibly common. In fact, nearly every American will have at least one cavity in their lifetime. Cavities, also known as tooth decay, can happen for any number of reasons including poor dental hygiene, frequent snacking, and having a diet full of food or drinks that are packed with sugar. If cavities aren’t treated promptly, they can become larger and require advanced dental care. However, when they’re caught early, treatment is fairly simple. Regular checkups with your dentist in Sparks can help spot a cavity before it becomes a bigger issue. But there are still ways you can identify a cavity at home in between appointments.
We may all experience some level of tooth sensitivity at some point, but sensitivity due to a cavity may be a new sensation or result in more severe pain than what you’re used to. Typically, tooth sensitivity related to a cavity will occur when you’re eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet. This sensitivity is directly caused by the weakening of tooth enamel from decay, making tooth roots and nerves more susceptible to feeling pain.
- Holes or Pits
Teeth are strong, but when decay takes hold, it can easily eat away the tooth structure. As a result, you may notice a deeper pit or obvious hole that wasn’t there before. If you do feel a hole or pit that’s new, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist in Sparks. You may have a cavity that requires immediate intervention to keep it from progressing. Now, there may be times when you don’t feel anything happening in your mouth. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t decay lurking. Dentists have the tools and technology to see early signs of decay before you even know something is wrong. That’s why it’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year.
Tooth discoloration can happen for many reasons – from coffee to smoking and even eating certain foods. However, the discoloration can also be a sign of active decay. Any changes in the color of your teeth should alert you that it’s time to see a dentist, even if it’s white. The truth is, decay can start as a white spot and progress into a brown or darkened appearance over time.
While a toothache can be a sign of many different things, it may have some tell-tale signs if it’s related to a cavity. For example, if you feel pain in your tooth when you bite down, it may be a sign of a cavity. However, if you have a toothache, it’s always wise to see your dentist. Pain is usually a sign of something. Whether or not it’s a cavity or something more, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
It’s important to know that sometimes cavities will have no symptoms. This is especially common when they’re small. So make sure you see your dentist in Sparks at least twice a year for preventive checkups. During these visits, your dentist will be able to see areas of decay before they become a problem and when they’re easy to treat.
During your dental check ups, it’s common to see both your hygienist and dentist in Sparks. Ideally, these check ups happen twice a year so your dental team can keep a close eye on your oral health and catch any problems early before they have a chance to become a bigger, more serious problem, and while they’re still usually treated easily. But what exactly do your dentist and dental hygienist do during check ups?
Before any type of dentistry begins, your dental team will get an update on your overall and oral health. They’ll want to gather information such as if there has been any changes to medications or newly diagnosed conditions. It’s important to be honest during this conversation as many whole-health problems are also linked to oral health, so the more your dentist knows, the better care they can provide. You should also mention any concerns you may have about your oral health such as any pain, sensitivity, or cosmetic services you may be interested in.
First Steps During an Appointment
While the order of how things happen during your appointment may vary depending on the office, the following is a typical outline of what happens during the first stage of a dental check up.
- Initial Exam
Your dental hygienist may begin your appointment by taking a peek inside your mouth and looking at your teeth and gums. They’re looking for any signs of gum swelling or redness as well as any visual areas of decay. Additionally, some hygienists will also measure gum pockets to monitor for gum disease.
Next, your hygienist will get to work thoroughly, yet gently, cleaning your teeth. This is a more in depth process than brushing and flossing at home. Special tools are used to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your gums and teeth, which can’t be done at home. They may also gently poke at teeth to check for cavities.
Following your cleaning, your hygienist will polish off your pearly whites using a special tool and paste. Polishing can help remove leftover plaque from your teeth and can even remove surface tooth stains.
Dental x-rays don’t usually happen at every check up, but they will be taken if it’s been a year or more since your last radiographs or if your dental team needs to see below the surface of your teeth to more closely check out any areas of concern. Dental x-rays are safe and emit very low levels of radiation.
Meeting with Your Dentist in Sparks
After your hygienist conducts an initial exam, cleans your teeth, and takes any necessary x-rays, your dentist will come in to check things out. If there are any areas of concern, they’ll take a closer look at the area and any accompanying x-rays or images. Your dentist will also evaluate your jaw, bite, and teeth for any signs of decay.
Dental health can change quickly, so it’s important to get a check up every six months. If you’re overdue, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sparks today.
If you’re embarrassed by your teeth, you’re not alone. More than 50% of Americans are insecure about their teeth. This may mean that you cover your mouth when you laugh or smile without your teeth showing in photographs. A lot of the time, smile insecurity is due to the color of teeth. While many things can cause tooth staining, your dentist in Sparks wants you to know that there are several ways you can stop tooth staining in its tracks.
One of the main things that cause tooth discoloration is smoking and using other forms of tobacco. Tobacco, along with other ingredients in cigarettes and even smokeless tobacco, is known to cause the yellowing of teeth. Additionally, since tobacco products also contain addictive ingredients, it’s not uncommon for these products to be used several times throughout the day. This means that teeth are constantly exposed to the staining ingredients. Additionally, tobacco stains are harder to remove. While your dentist in Sparks supports quitting smoking and using other tobacco products, we understand that they are difficult to quit. Keep in mind that tobacco use is a leading cause of oral health problems, including oral cancer.
Certain foods and drinks such as red wine, tea, coffee, soda, and even pasta sauce can cause tooth staining. But there are also some foods that can actually help reduce staining. Snacking on raw vegetables and fruits such as apples, celery, or even some types of cheese can gently scrub away surface stains.
Brush Your Teeth Often
Your dentist in Sparks will always recommend that all patients brush their teeth twice a day, every day, for two minutes. However, brushing your teeth after meals, particularly the ones that can contribute to tooth staining, is also important. If you can’t thoroughly brush your teeth, try rinsing your mouth out with water to help remove staining ingredients.
If you find yourself in a position where you can’t rinse your mouth out with water, find some sugarless gum and chew it for a little while to remove even more food particles.
Straws Can Help
While it may seem silly, a simple straw is a great way to reduce the risk of tooth discoloration when drinking a tooth-staining beverage. Straws help the liquid bypass teeth and decrease the likelihood of staining. There are several reusable straws you can buy and carry with you in case you run into a situation where straws aren’t available.
To be frank, tooth discoloration happens, sometimes even if you try your hardest to prevent it. But the good news is that there are several cosmetic dentistry options available for whitening teeth and even reversing discoloration. From smile whitening treatments to cosmetic dentistry solutions, like dental veneers, your dentist in Sparks will help you find the best way to whiten your teeth.
Everyday things such as coffee, wine, and even spaghetti sauce can take a once bright, white smile and transform it into something discolored. If you were once used to brilliant white teeth and find yourself staring into the mirror and wondering when your teeth went from dazzling to dull, you’re not alone. In fact, more than half of Americans are insecure about their teeth. The good news is that there are many different ways to whiten your smile. The most common way is over-the-counter whitening strips. However, your dentist in Sparks wants you to know the benefits and risks that go along with the use of whitening strips.
Whitening Strips: 101
Whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic covered with an active whitening ingredient. Some of the active ingredients can include hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, or chlorine dioxide. When in doubt, look for a product that offers no more than 14% of hydrogen peroxide and steer clear of anything that has chlorine dioxide – it can irreversibly damage tooth enamel. Additionally, it’s crucial to follow package instructions accurately. Whitening strips that are used too often or left on too long can cause unwanted side effects, and there’s no benefit to doing so.
What To Know Before Buying Whitening Strips
There are so many different kinds of whitening strips available to you. You can buy them almost anywhere – from your local grocery store to online without ever consulting your dentist in Sparks. However, we encourage you to first talk with your dentist before spending any money on whitening strips. After all, whitening strips are only effective at removing surface stains and not internal stains, and it’s hard to know the difference between the two without a professional opinion.
Risks of Whitening Strips
While whitening strips can be effective at removing surface stains, they don’t come without their risks. Some risks of using whitening strips can include:
- Gum Irritation – Whitening strips that contain hydrogen peroxide can whiten teeth, but if too much of the whitening strips touch too much of the gums for too long it can cause damage. Whitening strips can result in gum swelling and bleeding if used incorrectly.
- Splotchy Whitening – While whitening strips often use ingredients to effectively stick them to teeth, patchy or splotchy whitening can occur. This can make discoloration even more obvious than it was before.
- Sensitivity – Perhaps the most common side effect of whitening strips is tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity can have symptoms such as fast zaps of pain through teeth and pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Are Whitening Strips Right For You?
The absolute best way to make sure you’re investing your money into something that will give you the results you want is to first talk with your dentist in Sparks. They can help determine the origin of your tooth staining and recommend the best way to whiten your smile that will give you the results you want.
It’s a well-known fact that smoking can affect your lungs, heart, and other parts of your body. But did you know that smoking can also cause trouble with your oral health? In fact, smokers are at increased risk for several diseases and complications that affect the mouth, teeth, and gums. In celebration of the Great American Smokeout, which aims to help current smokers make a plan to quit, your dentist in Sparks wants to share a few ways that smoking can put your oral health at risk.
How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health?
Not only does smoking increase the likelihood of developing serious overall health problems such as certain cancers, but it can also cause damage to your oral health.
- Tooth Staining
Cigarettes contain a boatload of ingredients, chemicals, and carcinogens, which is anything that is known to cause cancer. But each cigarette also contains nicotine, the addictive ingredient, and tar in the tobacco. Both nicotine and tar can cause tooth staining. Smokers’ teeth may be noticeably yellow or can have brown spots.
- Gum Disease
Besides the negative cosmetic side effects of smoking, there are real health risks associated with smoking. One of those risks is gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection in the gums that may display signs of red, swollen, painful gums, or gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to various whole-health issues including heart disease, respiratory infections, dementia, and diabetes.
- Tooth Loss
While we’re on the topic of gum disease, it’s important to note that it’s also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Since people who smoke are more likely to get gum disease, it means they’re also more likely to experience tooth loss. One of the worst parts about gum disease is if it’s not caught early, the infection can be irreversible. This is one reason why it’s so important to see your dentist in Sparks regularly so they can check for early signs of gum disease and treat it quickly.
- Oral Cancer
Perhaps the most common word associated with smoking is cancer. Any type of cancer diagnosis can be scary, including oral cancer. According to the American Lung Association, smokers are ten times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. But it’s not just cigarettes that can increase this risk. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco all contain cancer-causing carcinogens and can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Making a plan to quit smoking and utilizing the resources available to you can help make what may now seem like the impossible, possible. If you are interested in quitting, let your dentist in Sparks help you learn how you can start improving your oral health the minute you put out that last cigarette.
Pointy canine teeth may be a good look for a vampire. But if you’re one of the many people whose canines are pointier than you’d like, we want you to know that there are various ways that your dentist in Sparks can use cosmetic dentistry techniques to reshape your teeth and revitalize your smile.
All About Canine Teeth
Canine teeth are those four teeth in the top and bottom of our mouths that are naturally pointy in shape. Some people refer to them as vampire’s teeth, and they can somewhat look like dogs’ teeth, hence the name canine. The unique shape of the canine teeth helps us eat by allowing us to tear, hold, and chew food. But if you think your canines are too long or too pointy, let’s check out a few ways your dentist in Sparks can help.
3 Ways to Change The Shape of Teeth
Cosmetic dentistry isn’t only meant for people who want to get a brilliantly white smile. In fact, it can fix a whole bunch of aesthetic concerns. Three of the best ways to fix pointy teeth through cosmetic dentistry are:
Dental bonding is the most conservative way a dentist can change a tooth’s appearance. The treatment involves applying a tooth-colored material to a tooth and sculpting it into an ideal size and shape. Bonding can also fix chipped teeth, slightly overlapped teeth, and even crooked teeth.
Dental veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are attached to the front surface of teeth. They can cover up discoloration, fill in gaps, and change the size or shape of teeth. The procedure requires your dentist to remove a small portion of enamel for the veneer to fit. But after that, you’re left with a new, natural look.
Another way your dentist in Sparks can change the shape of your teeth is through tooth recontouring. This quick and easy treatment allows your dentist to use an artistic eye to gently remove tooth enamel to alter the size or shape of a tooth. Only a few millimeters of enamel are removed so it’s a painless procedure.
Changing the look of your smile doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Start your smile makeover journey by talking with a dentist about your options.
Dentophobia, or fear of the dentist, affects an estimated 36% of the American adult population, all with varying degrees of dental fear. From a little bit of uncertainty to a feeling of anxiousness and a flat-out phobia, there are many reasons why someone may feel uneasy about seeing their dentist in Sparks. It’s important to know that we’re here to listen and help you relax at every visit.
Prior Dental Experiences
A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that many people who are scared of the dentist can trace their fear back to a negative experience, usually one that occurred during childhood. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dentist was bad. In fact, more research suggests that there is a correlation between the type and amount of dental treatment a child has had and the severity of their dental anxiety. For example, a child that had multiple serious treatments such as extractions is more likely to have dental fear later in life than kids who visit the dentist regularly and experience ongoing preventive care.
Even if someone personally didn’t have a negative experience in the dental chair growing up, they may still have a fear of seeing their dentist in Sparks due to learned behavior or mindset from a parent, sibling, or another close acquaintance. This is one reason why it’s so important to speak positively about seeing a dentist (or any doctor for that matter) around kids and others.
White Coat Syndrome
Occasionally, some people have a negative body reaction whenever they visit a dentist or medical doctor. This can be known as white coat syndrome. White coat syndrome can cause a spike in blood pressure whenever in a doctor’s office. An increase in blood pressure can cause someone to feel uneasy, hence the feeling of being scared of the dentist.
The same National Library of Medicine study from above also examined two types of personality traits and how they may relate to dental fear. The two traits were:
- Extraversion – warm, excitement-seeking, assertive
- Neuroticism – anxious, self-conscious, showing depressive symptoms
The scientists found that those two traits may have a correlation to dental anxiety with neuroticism being more likely to experience dental fear.
Overcoming Dental Fear
We understand that fear is a very real feeling for many people. But there are some tricks you can try to help overcome dental fear such as:
- Using relaxation techniques
- Asking about the use of sedation dentistry
- Finding the right dentist that makes you feel comfortable
- Listening to music
- Talking with your dental team about your fears and communicating often
Being relaxed and comfortable when you visit your dentist in Sparks is important for many reasons. One of those reasons is that you will be more likely to keep up with appointments every six months, which can go a long way in keeping your teeth healthy and reducing the need for complex treatment.
If you’re overdue for a dental appointment, talk with us. We’re here to help you keep you relaxed and at ease, and the more we know about your fear the better we can assist you.
What we eat and drink can certainly affect our overall health. But did you know they can also affect dental health? Some beverages are beneficial for teeth while others can wreak havoc in your mouth. Tune in as your dentist in Sparks talks about which drinks you should enjoy regularly and which you should avoid or drink in moderation to protect your teeth.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but soda of any kind is bad for your teeth. This also includes sugar-free options. Soda is typically loaded with sugar, but that’s not the only problem. It’s also acidic and can weaken tooth enamel, making it easier for bacteria to attack teeth and create cavities. In fact, studies show that even diet soda or sugar-free options can still break down enamel thanks to the acid.
Fruit Juice & Fruit Punch
Drinking something with fruit right in the name may seem like a healthy option, but this can be deceiving. Most commercial fruit juices contain added sugars and are made from concentrate, not actual fruit juice. If you can find an option that is 100% fruit juice and doesn’t have added sugars, it’s an ok option. Fruit punch on the other hand isn’t actually juice or fruit at all. They’re mostly sugar and acidic.
Not all alcohol is necessarily bad for teeth if enjoyed in moderation. Early studies on beer, for example, may show a beneficial effect on teeth because of the hops. More research is needed to be sure. But other alcoholic drinks like wine are often acidic and can weaken enamel. Alcohol is also naturally drying, so it can easily dry out the mouth. A dry mouth is a haven for bacteria to thrive.
Often marketed as a great option for active people, sports drinks are high in sugar and are also acidic. As we’ve mentioned, this duo can be dangerous to teeth and increase the risk of dental problems.
What To Choose Instead
When it comes to choosing the best beverages for your family, there are some great options available that can quench your thirst and benefit your oral health.
Your dentist in Sparks can’t stress the importance of drinking enough water every day. This not only helps keep your body hydrated, but it also helps wash away bacteria, neutralize acid, and promotes saliva production.
We all know that milk helps build strong bones, but it can also help build strong teeth and keep them strong. Milk contains calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, all of which are beneficial for teeth. Milk also contains caseins, a protein that forms a protective barrier on teeth to keep bacteria and acids away. However, because milk also contains sugar, your dentist in Sparks recommends drinking milk in one sitting and not over a period of time.
Even though drinking too much tea can stain your teeth and make you explore teeth whitening options, it does have some health benefits. Black and green tea in particular may inhibit the growth of bacteria and help keep decay away. Tea can also decrease acid production which can protect teeth even more. However, keep in mind that these studies were for unsweetened tea. Any sweetener from sugar to natural honey can encourage decay.
To help protect your teeth against decay, choose what you drink wisely. If you do indulge in beverages that aren’t so great for your smile, especially acidic ones, try to use a straw and wait at least 20 minutes after drinking to brush your teeth.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can affect both children and adults. It can cause some concerning overall health issues and, in children, behavior concerns. Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea is one of the most important ways you can help spot a problem and seek treatment. In this blog, your dentist in Sparks will cover some of the most common signs of sleep apnea as well as some of the complications it can cause.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. This can happen for a few seconds or longer, and you may not even know it’s happening. Interruptions in breathing during sleep can cause oxygen levels to drop and carbon dioxide levels to rise, making sleep and rest difficult to achieve.
Know The Signs
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may appear during sleep as well as when you are awake. Pay attention to your sleep habits and how you feel while awake, and keep an eye out for:
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Pauses in breathing or gasping for breath
- Morning headaches
- Waking up with a dry mouth
Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax so much during sleep that they block the airway, making breathing difficult. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Family history
- Nasal congestion
- Large tonsils or adenoids
Other risk factors that can make someone more prone to developing sleep apnea include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and smoking.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
The first step in getting a proper diagnosis is to see your dentist in Sparks for an evaluation. The next step can vary depending on your symptoms and exam. The following step may include tests such as a sleep study, measurement of oxygen levels overnight, or an electrocardiogram. Your dentist may also examine the size of the tonsils.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Treatment varies from patient to patient and can range from:
- Medications such as nasal spray or allergy medicine
- Tonsil or adenoid removal
- CPAP machine
- Oral appliance
Sleep apnea can be scary, but treatment is available. If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea or you share a bedroom with someone who has symptoms, consider talking with your dentist. Come prepared with symptoms and a log of when you notice them as well as any family history of sleep apnea.
Even if you see your dentist in Sparks twice a year for exams and cleanings, it’s crucial that you also take excellent care of your teeth at home between visits. Following a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing can also help your oral health and overall health. So how often should you brush your teeth, and what happens if you don’t?
Two Times a Day is What They Say
The American Dental Association and your dentist in Sparks recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Brushing two times every day is essential for a few reasons.
Think about all of the things you eat and drink throughout the day. Everything from your morning cup of coffee to your spaghetti dinner is exposed to your teeth. If you don’t brush away the food particles, bacteria, and plaque, your teeth are at increased risk for problems. Additionally, the longer food and bacteria linger around, for example, while you sleep, the more issues it can cause.
What If You Skip Brushing?
Even though you should do everything you can to brush your teeth twice a day, things happen, and there are times when you may miss a brushing. If this happens occasionally, it’s probably not that big of a deal. But if you skip brushings regularly, it can put your oral health at risk for:
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
But that’s not all. There’s also a connection between oral health and overall health, and other parts of your body can become affected by poor dental hygiene.
Oral Health & Whole-Body Health
Many studies have linked poor oral health with several whole-body health concerns, which makes brushing your teeth regularly even more important. Some of the conditions that have been tied to oral health are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
The Right Way To Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth seems like a pretty simple thing to do, but there is a right way to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning your teeth and not causing damage in the process.
- Don’t scrub, use gentle circles
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to clean the gumline
- Brush each area of every tooth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces
- Proper brushing should take two minutes
- Don’t forget the floss
Preventive dentistry like brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist every six months is the best way to protect your oral and overall health from problems. These steps can also keep larger, more expensive dental issues from popping up. Don’t forget that your dentist is here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have about how to best take care of your smile.