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General Dentistry

A lot has changed over the past couple of months, and one thing that we’ve all introduced into our daily lives is the use of facemasks. Used to help minimize the risk of COVID-19, facemasks are supported by scientists and are now required at many public places. However, this daily use may raise some concerns for your dentist in Sparks

An Important Note About Facemasks 

Before we go any farther, we want to be clear that we are not suggesting that you stop wearing a mask, as the potential benefits outweigh the risks. What we are recommending is that you become aware of how your facemask can play a role in your oral health and learn what you can do to help. 

Mouth Breathing

While the mask itself isn’t causing cavities, the changes we experience as a result of wearing them can. For example, most of us are not used to wearing a facemask at all let alone daily or perhaps all day every day. Because of this new factor, many people may begin to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses because it’s more comfortable. However, this change in breathing is what can cause concerns for your dentist in Sparks

When we breathe out of our mouths, whether because of a facemask or not, it can quickly dry out saliva production and create dry mouth. Dry mouth is concerning because a mouth needs saliva to help wash away things like bacteria and neutralize acids. Without it, teeth are at increased risk for tooth decay and other intraoral problems. 

Bad Breath

Besides an increased risk of decay, mouth breathing can also cause bad breath. Since there’s not enough saliva around to wash away bacteria, they’re left free to feed on leftover food particles. As a result, these bacteria release a stinky byproduct. 

Avoid Dry Mouth

Now, even though your dentist in Sparks knows that mouth breathing and dry mouth aren’t great for oral health, there are things you can do to help avoid dry mouth or treat it if it does occur such as: 

If you’re concerned that dry mouth may be causing dental problems, or you’d like to talk to someone about getting some relief, call your dentist in Sparks. As with many dental concerns, the sooner dry mouth is diagnosed and treated properly the less chance it has to cause serious, more complicated problems.

An article recently published by the New York Times details one dentist’s experience seeing an increase of patients with cracked teeth over the past few months. What could be causing this? Well, all of our lives have been flipped upside down and shaken up this year, and this can cause some stress — naturally. This stress may just be the cause of some dental problems, including cracked teeth. Join your dentist in Sparks as we share just how stress and other factors can influence your oral health.

Teeth Clenching & Grinding

Our bodies react to stress in interesting ways. Sometimes our gut health is affected. Other times it’s our oral health. During periods of high stress, many people may begin clenching or grinding their teeth, and oftentimes they don’t even know it or they may be doing it subconsciously while sleeping. This repeated movement of teeth against teeth can cause teeth to wear down and appear shorter. It can also cause teeth to crack, break, or chip, requiring treatment from your dentist in Sparks. But even that’s not all. Clenching and grinding your teeth puts unnecessary and unnatural stress on the jaw joint and can cause severe TMJ pain or TMJ disorder.

Gum Disease

Prolonged periods of stress can also increase someone’s risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease is an infection deep under the gum line that requires professional dental treatment. However, if it’s not treated, gum disease can cause other problems throughout the body and put overall health at risk. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and even certain cancers. Besides stress, other things that increase the risk of gum disease include poor dental hygiene, smoking, and seeing your dentist in Sparks every six months for deep cleanings.

How To Decrease Stress

We understand that the current state of the world can easily cause stress levels to spike and put us at risk for both oral health problems and whole-body concerns. But one of the best things you can do during uncertain, stressful times is to learn effective ways to lower stress. Some stress-reduction techniques include:

Now and always, it’s important to keep your stress levels low and immune system high to keep yourself healthy. Find a stress-reduction plan that works for you, eat a well-balanced diet, and see your dentist in Sparks every six months.

There are a number of things that can cause our teeth to fall out, including accidents, age, decay, and disease. In fact, tooth loss is incredibly common among American adults and affects more than 178 million of us, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans missing a tooth or even several teeth, your dentist in Sparks wants you to know that you don’t need to live without a full smile. There are tooth replacement options such as dental implants and dentures available that can help. 

What are Dentures?

Dentures are a tooth replacement treatment option that has been around for quite some time but has been improved upon as technology advanced. Dentures can either replace all of your natural teeth or even only a series of missing teeth (called a partial denture). They are removable, non-permanent prosthetics that are custom-created to fit in your mouth and appear like natural teeth. 

Pros of Dentures

There are several benefits of dentures, including: 

Cons of Dentures

As with anything, your dentist in Sparks also wants you to be aware that dentures can also come with a few cons such as: 

What are Dental Implants?

Like dentures, dental implants can also replace either one missing tooth or an entire mouth of missing teeth. But unlike dentures, dental implants are permanent, and instead of sitting on top of the jaw bone, dental implants are secured into the jaw bone. Dental implant treatment starts with a titanium post being placed into the jaw bone where it will act as your tooth root. As it heals, your bone will actually grow around the post, securely locking it into place. Afterward, an abutment is added to the post, and a brand new crown custom-created by your dentist in Sparks is placed on top. Now, if you’re missing more than one tooth, a few posts may be implanted into your bone then a full set of brand new teeth will be permanently secured to them, giving you a brand new look. 

Pros of Dental Implants

Dental implants can be the best and longest lasting tooth replacement for you and can also provide some of the following benefits.  

Cons of Dental Implants

Even though dental implants may appear to be all positive, there are a few cons as well. 

If you’re tired of living your life with missing teeth, call your dentist in Sparks and schedule a consultation. Together, you can find the best way to replace your teeth and begin treatment so you can start smiling fully again.

glass of milkWhen you’re choosing the right milk for your family, you certainly have a lot of options to pick from these days. From milk made from almonds to milk made from coconuts, and from soy milk to cow’s milk, the dairy aisle is packed with so many different varieties of milk how can you possibly choose?! Don’t worry. Believe it or not, your dentist in Sparks is here to help. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how two of the most popular forms of milk, soy and cow’s milk, can affect your teeth. 

Cow’s Milk

The tried-and-true milk choice of dentists and many healthcare professionals is good old fashioned cow’s milk and for good reason. Cow’s milk is packed with two of the most important ingredients that our teeth (and our bones!) need to stay strong and healthy. We’re talking about the combination of calcium and vitamin D. This powerful duo is crucial for replenishing minerals in the teeth. You see, tooth enamel weakens when it’s attacked by acids and its otherwise suburb protection is diminished. This leaves teeth at increased risk of infection, decay, and cavities. To help remineralize tooth enamel, we need to supply our bodies with calcium and vitamin D, and as you know, cow’s milk is an excellent source of these two minerals. 

Soy Milk

Soy milk, on the other hand, still contains calcium and vitamin D but in significantly lower amounts. But that’s not all. One study found that bacteria commonly found in the mouth produced five to six times more acid when introduced to soy milk as compared to cow’s milk. An increase in acid means an increase in enamel erosion as well as an increase in the risk of decay and cavities. Keep in mind, this was one study and more research is needed to suggest a strong correlation between soy milk and cavities. 

A Few Exceptions

While the benefits of cow’s milk can certainly help build strong, healthy teeth and bones, some people can’t drink it due to lactose intolerance. Those who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting lactose, which is naturally occurring in cow’s milk and other dairy products. Instead of cow’s milk, individuals with lactose intolerance should choose a type of milk that’s easier to digest, such as calcium-fortified coconut or almond milk.

Other exceptions to choose an alternative to cow’s milk may be for religious, moral, or dietary reasons. In all cases, it’s important to your dentist in Sparks that those who can’t drink cow’s milk should supplement their calcium intake with other foods such as nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetables, and to talk with their doctor about whether or not they need a calcium supplement. 

As always, even though diet plays an important role in oral health, it’s still incredibly important that you and your family see your Sparks dentist every six months. These dental checkups give your dentist the opportunity to ensure that there aren’t any tiny problems lingering around just waiting to cause a bigger, potentially painful problem, and they give your dental hygienist the chance to thoroughly clean those pearly whites. Plus, it’s always nice to you. 

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental visit, call us to schedule an appointment today!

If you’ve ever experienced dry mouth, you know just how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be. Even drinking glass after glass of water doesn’t seem to help relieve it. Dry mouth is an incredibly common ailment that all of us experience once in a while, but if you have a chronically dry mouth that doesn’t go away, it may be time to see your dentist in Sparks.

Risks Associated with Dry Mouth
The truth is, living with a dry mouth day in and day out isn’t only uncomfortable, it can be bad for your overall oral health, too. You see, when the mouth feels dry it means that your saliva glands aren’t producing enough spit to keep your mouth lubricated and moist. A healthy mouth is constantly producing saliva which helps neutralize plaque acids, rinse away bad bacteria that could cause decay, and remove leftover food particles. However, when someone is experiencing dry mouth, there’s not enough saliva to perform those jobs properly. In turn, this increases the likelihood of having bad breath, developing cavities, and other serious oral health problems that require treatment from your Sparks dentist.  

What Causes Dry Mouth? 
There are several possible explanations for an individual’s dry mouth. For example, if you’re only experiencing dry mouth for a short period of time, it may simply indicate dehydration. Drinking more water throughout the day can make a big difference. On the other hand, there are times when dry mouth seems as if it’s never going to go away. If this happens, you may need to talk with your dentist in Sparks about what may be causing it. Some common causes of chronic dry mouth include: 

Signs & Symptoms
Most sufferers of dry mouth know they have dry mouth simply by the feeling alone. However, some other common symptoms of dry mouth include: 

The good news is dry mouth can often be treated successfully with intervention from your dentist in Sparks. There are also things you can do at home to lower your risk of dry mouth such as: 

You don’t have to live with a dry mouth. If you’re ready to talk about how we can help, give us a call today to schedule an appointment. 

We’re heading into the dog days of summer, which typically means really hot days and a lot of sunshine. This can be great for enjoying some time in the pool, on the lake, or at the beach, but your dentist in Sparks wants you to know that all of this sun can also be great for your oral and overall health thanks to the extra boost of vitamin D. 

The Power of Vitamin D
The sun is a pretty powerful thing — it helps us grow food, it keeps us warm, and it prevents the planet from turning into a giant ice ball. But the sun’s benefits run even deeper. In fact, we have the sun to thank for helping our bodies stay happy and healthy thanks to a little thing called vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our overall and oral health in so many ways, such as: 

The best way to get vitamin D is through some good old fashioned sunshine. But as we all know, too much sun can have negative effects, such as a painful sunburn and an increased risk for skin cancer. Enjoy sunlight in moderation and know your limits. Most researchers agree that anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get enough vitamin D. 

Good Sources of Vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult, especially during winter months or over several days of dreary, rainy weather. When the sun isn’t an option, you can get your vitamin D by choosing foods that contain it. Some foods that are good sources of vitamin D are: 

Knowing all of the benefits associated with sunshine and vitamin D, trust your dentist in Sparks when they say to get outside, enjoy the weather, and soak up some rays. Just make sure you limit your exposure to direct sunlight and wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time.

Oral piercings, including lip and tongue piercings, are nothing new. In fact, they have actually been around since the Mayans. However, this form of self-expression doesn’t come without its risks. If you’re considering getting your lip or tongue pierced, read this information from your dentist in Sparks before you go under the needle. 

Know The Risks
Like any type of piercing, a tongue or lip piercing requires your body to undergo minor trauma as well as introduces a foreign, metal object into your body. As a result, there are a few risks associated with an oral piercing such as: 

Protect Yourself
We’re not here to tell you that you can’t get a tongue or lip piercing, but we do encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself against the risks above. Some things you can do include: 

Most importantly, know the signs of infection and seek medical care immediately if you notice swelling, redness, fever, chills, or uncontrollable shaking. 

If you have any questions or concerns about oral piercings, talk with your dentist

You probably already know that when your teeth hurt, you should see your dentist in Sparks as soon as you can. But what do you do if you’re experiencing gum pain? When your gums hurt, it may be a sign of something serious happening in your mouth, or it could be something minor. How do you know the difference? Here are some of the common explanations behind why your gums may hurt. 

Gum Disease
One of the most common signs of gum disease is painful, swollen, red gums. You may experience increased pain when brushing or flossing your teeth, and you may also notice that your gums bleed during those activities. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that doesn’t happen suddenly but rather over time and often due to poor oral hygiene. If left untreated, gum disease can lead a whole host of both oral and overall health concerns such as tooth loss, heart disease, kidney disease, and even some cancers. However, if caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully. This is one reason why seeing your dentist in Sparks every six months is so important. 

Oral Cancer
Another possible explanation for gum pain can be oral cancer. Even though oral cancer can affect the tongue, cheeks, throat, or the gums, it’s important to talk with your dentist in Sparks about any changes in your mouth, especially if they cause pain or are accompanied by a sore that doesn’t go away. Oral cancer usually presents itself as a sore, but it doesn’t necessarily have to feel sore, too, so make sure to monitor any abnormalities and report to your dentist sooner rather than later if they don’t go away. Oral cancer can be treated successfully, but the earlier it’s caught, the more successful treatment tends to be. 

Canker Sores
Speaking of sores in the mouth, canker sores are incredibly common and usually no cause for concern. However, they can cause gum pain. There’s no magic treatment to making a canker sore go away, and they will usually disappear on their own. But again, if what started out as what you thought was only a canker sore doesn’t get better on its own, a visit to a dentist in Sparks should be the next step. 

Hormones 
Now, this explanation behind gum pain only applies to women, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. During different times in a woman’s life, she goes through hormonal changes, especially during menstruation or pregnancy. One area that can be affected by these shifts in hormone level is the gums. It’s common for women to experience swollen or bleeding gums during both pregnancy and a few days before their periods. The pain is usually temporary but you should still discuss it with your dentist. 

If you’re experiencing any gum pain, it’s important to call and schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sparks. The pain may be minor and nothing that requires treatment, however, it’s better to get it checked out so that any potential problems are caught early and treatment can begin before the problem gets bigger.

An estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Sparks, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine 

Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.  

Headache Symptoms

Migraine Symptoms

Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry? 

We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Sparks talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look. 

Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines. 

We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Sparks, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively.

You’ll always hear your dentist in Sparks talk about the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth to maintain a healthy mouth. But it may come as a surprise to you to hear your dentist talk about the benefits of chewing gum. That’s exactly what we’re here to do. However, not just any gum will do. It’s important to check the ingredients. Does it contain sugar? It’s no good. How about high fructose corn syrup or saccharine? No, those aren’t great either. What about xylitol? Now that’s the good stuff! Let’s check out why this sweetener gets our seal of approval.

Xylitol: 101

While xylitol is yet another sugar substitute, it’s actually quite different from many others available at your local grocery store. First of all, xylitol is natural — it’s found in fruits, veggies, and even in our bodies during digestion. Second, xylitol tastes like sugar but doesn’t act like sugar once it’s in our bodies. This means you can still have a sweet treat without all of the negative side effects of actual sugar. You see, sugar is pretty harmful to our overall health. It can spike blood glucose levels and, over time, cause difficulties with your metabolism. This may result in weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. Xylitol, on the other hand, is low in calories (it has 40% fewer calories than sugar!) and has a low glycemic index. As a result, blood glucose levels are nearly unaffected by xylitol, and bodies are protected. But that’s not all. As your dentist in Sparks knows, xylitol may protect oral health, too. 

The Protective Power of Xylitol 

We already know that xylitol is a healthier alternative to sugar and can protect our bodies. But the oral benefits of xylitol are also plentiful. Chewing gum that contains xylitol may: 

How does xylitol do all of that? We’re glad you asked. 

Essentially, xylitol starves a dangerous bacteria commonly found in our mouths called Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria love to feed on sugar as it gives them fuel and allows them to multiply, which is a big problem. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause of plaque buildup, and when there are too many Streptococcus mutans, there’s probably also too much plaque. The result? An increased likelihood of developing cavities. But when we replace sugar with xylitol, we see a much different result. Streptococcus mutans bacteria will still feed on the xylitol, but instead of fueling the bacteria, xylitol actually starves them and they start to die. This means fewer bacteria and a lower risk of decay. 

Even though chewing xylitol gum can go a long way in protecting teeth, it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned oral hygiene. Yes, gum can freshen breath, and yes, xylitol can help prevent decay, but if you don’t brush and you don’t floss, and if you don’t see your dentist in Sparks regularly, chances are xylitol won’t be enough to protect your teeth.