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General Dentistry

swab testIt’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

Not Enough

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.  

world diabetes dayOn 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. 

young woman in dental chairThis 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. 

bowl of chocolatesJust 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!

wellness conceptHave you ever heard someone talk about the connection between your body, mind, and soul? Your dentist in Sparks thinks that maybe our mouths should be included with this special connection, too. The fact is that current research and dental technologies are continuing to evolve and improve. As this happens, new light is shed on the direct connection between your oral and overall health. Here are a few tips for understanding what’s going on in your mouth is a window to what’s going on elsewhere in your body.

Tip #1 – Keep Your Gums Healthy

There’s a reason why this is number one! Your gum health is so critically important to the rest of your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, recent studies are revealing new evidence that oral bacteria and inflammation due to gum disease are related to a variety of health issues. They include:

– Diabetes

Heart Disease

– Low Birth Weight

– Premature Births

– Alzheimer’s Disease

– Stroke

Tip #2 – Keep Plaque from Attacking Your Teeth

There’s a good chance that if you tested your mouth right now, there would be about 500 different types of bacteria hanging out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are not-so-good. The harmful bacteria have a good time sticking to your teeth, forming a colorless, sticky substance known as plaque. This stuff attacks your dental enamel and loves to create periodontal problems or gum disease. It’s important to keep your teeth clean and free from plaque buildup. You can do this by:

Brushing – Remember to brush for two minutes, twice a day. If you’re unable to brush or floss, don’t forget to try at least chewing a stick of sugarless gum to help fight bacteria. 

Flossing – Flossing recently got some bad press, questioning whether it’s necessary. We’ll always tell you to say “YES” to flossing. In fact, it’s super important to help keep your gums healthy. Flossing removes the bacteria and plaque that can get stuck between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Dental floss is one of your gum’s best defenses against harmful bacteria. 

Seeing Your Sparks Dentist – Remember to keep up with your regular dental appointments and cleanings. We make scheduling a visit comfortable and convenient, so you don’t have to worry about any hassle or issues. It’s important to have regular dental care so that we can monitor any changes to your gum and smile health.

Tip #3 – Keep Eating (and Drinking) Right

Remember to treat your body and your smile right by eating healthy. One of the most significant contributors to tooth decay and gum disease is sugar. Try to limit sugary drinks and foods for you and your family. This includes sodas and sports drinks that seem to be so readily available these days. Always opt for water when you’re feeling dehydrated. Having a balanced diet is a critical element of having optimal oral and overall health. Check out the “Food Plate” guidelines courtesy of the USDA to see how easy it is to maintain a proper, simple diet. You’ll get an idea of what food options are an excellent choice and which ones you should avoid altogether. 

At our Sparks dental office, we’ll always stress the importance of taking care of your teeth so the rest of your body can stay healthy too. We can’t wait to see what research uncovers as science and technology progresses each year. Always remember that giving your mouth the same attention you give the rest of your body is going to help ensure you’re able to live a long, happy life. Talk to us about scheduling your next dental visit today!

e-cigVaping seems to be almost everywhere nowadays — on TV commercials, print advertisements, and radio spots. Sometimes the ads even claim that vaping is a healthier, safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. But how much of that is true? At our dental office in Sparks, we looked into vaping and just how ‘safe’ this safer alternative is. Let’s see what we found. 

Whole Body Concerns

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, have been in the U.S. since 2007, but their popularity seems to have increased rapidly over the past few years. Because of this dramatic surge in popularity, science and research regarding these devices is a little behind. But recent studies show us that maybe vaping isn’t as safe as we may have thought. Vaping may be linked to an increased risk of pneumonia, rapid heart rate, congestive heart failure, and stroke. So while we may have once believed vaping was a safer alternative to smoking, that simply may not be the case. 

Oral Health Concerns

More research on how vaping affects oral health is needed, but more and more studies continue to find that there are certain risks involved, including: 

Dry Mouth

Many vape liquids include the ingredient propylene glycol, which is known to cause dry mouth. Dry mouth, if not treated, can greatly increase the risk of decay, cavities, and gum disease. Not to mention, dry mouth can also cause some serious chronic bad breath, which can be a challenge to overcome. 

Inflamed Gums

A 2016 research study found a potential link between vaping and gum disease. To be more specific, vape juice caused an inflammatory response in the gum tissue that can put you at risk for gum disease. 

Cell Damage

Vaping may also destroy cells’ DNA and inhibit their ability to divide a grow. Basically, vaping can kill cells and cause bad breath, bone loss, tooth loss, and gum disease. 

Focus on Quitting

Even though some people may have started vaping to help them quit smoking, there’s conflicting research regarding its effectiveness.  For example, one study found that e-cigarettes helped current smokers reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked by about half, while another suggested that smokers who use e-cigs are 59% less likely to quit. Instead of trading one habit for another, try to focus on proven ways to break away from nicotine once and for all. Consider:  

Finding what works for you may take time, but don’t give up. Quitting greatly reduces your risk of health problems caused by smoking and vaping.

If you are a smoker or use e-cigarettes, make sure you always see your dentist in Sparks every six months to keep a proactive eye on your oral health and so that any problems such as oral cancer or gum disease can be caught early.   

seniors take selfieAugust 21st is Senior Citizens Day, and there’s no better way for our dental office in Sparks to celebrate than by sharing some oral health information for the favorite senior citizens we have in our lives and their families.  

The truth is, our oral health needs will vary as we celebrate more birthdays, and needs will also differ from person to person. That’s one reason we believe in treating each person with individualized, custom care. When it comes to the senior population, there are a few unique things to be aware of. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way we can stop ourselves from getting older. But there are things we can do to help protect our teeth for life. Always brush twice a day and floss once a day, and get a professional dental cleaning and check-up at least twice a year. If you’re overdue for your dental appointment, we welcome you to call our Sparks dental office to schedule a visit with us today. 

calendarA visit to your dentist in Sparks is a pretty easy thing to check off your to-do list. But did you know that there are things you can do prior to your visit to make the process even easier? In this week’s blog, we provide you with a free checklist that you can use to make sure you’re prepared for your dental appointment. 

Appointment Confirmation

Many dental offices will send a pre-appointment reminder to you via text or email or call you directly to confirm your appointment. However, if your dental office doesn’t provide this service, you should confirm your appointment 24-hours in advance. These reminders not only help keep your appointment on schedule, so your dental team is able to be courteous of your time, but they’re also a great way to remove any chance of miscommunication. 

Know Your Medical History

Whether you’re visiting a new dentist in Sparks for the first time or you’ve been going to the same place for years, make sure you know your medical history as well as any changes that may have happened since your last visit. Things to remember include, new medications along with dosage, a new diagnosis or changes to overall health, and of course any concerns you may have with your dental health. 

Be Ready To Share

If you have any concerns about your oral health that you want to discuss with your dentist, make sure to be ready to share those concerns. The more specific you can be, the better. Consider things such as: 

Being open and honest with your dental team will help make sure your appointment is catered just to you and your concerns or desires. 

Look Six Months Ahead

Most people will see the dentist every six months, and you should be prepared to schedule your next appointment at the end of your first visit. Take a quick look at your schedule six months down the road so you know what you may need to avoid. Coming in with dates in mind will help make sure you’re appointment remains on the schedule and you can be seen when you want to be seen.  

However, even though you’ll be set to see your dentist again in six short months, you should always continue to do your part in between appointments to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Make sure to brush and floss regularly, take it easy on the acidic and sugary foods, and don’t smoke or use tobacco

If you’re overdue for a dental appointment, call our Sparks dental office to schedule one today. We’ll be happy to see you! 

summer foodOne of the best parts about summer is all of the picnics and the delicious foods that go along with them. And while all of the treats are delicious, they may not all be great for your teeth. At our dental office in Sparks, we’re here to help by giving you a list of the best and worst summertime snacks for your smile. 

Best Summertime Snacks for Teeth

Yummy raw, crunchy vegetables aren’t only great for your body, they’re fantastic for your teeth, too. Snacks like broccoli, carrots, celery, and peppers gently scrub away plaque buildup and give your teeth a little bit of a cleaning. This helps protect your smile against decay and can even help freshen breath. 

Veggies sweeter cousin fruits are also a great snack option. Not only are many fruits fresh and in season this time of the year, but they can also help clean your teeth and rub away plaque. Kiwis, for example, have calcium which is always great for your bones and, of course, your teeth. Another fan favorite is raw apples.

Another tasty snack that can help remove plaque is cheese. But this yummy food is also loaded with calcium and vitamin D. The duo of calcium and vitamin D is a powerhouse that works together to build super strong bones and teeth. Cheese can also increase saliva production, which will help rinse away bacteria and sugar. 

Summer Snacks That Can Harm Teeth

Dressings, sauces, and dips can seem harmless enough but the truth is these condiments are a sneaky danger. BBQ sauce and ketchup, for example, contain a lot of sugar and are acidic — both of which are bad for teeth. 

It’s well-known that your dentist in Sparks isn’t a huge fan of soda, and with good reason. Soda is packed with tons of sugar which essentially coats your teeth when you drink it. Sugar is one of your smile’s natural enemies as it can feed bacteria, wear away enamel, and increase the risk of decay. 

Drinking alcohol can greatly increase the risk of gum disease and decay. Certain types of alcohol can also lead to tooth discoloration. Lastly, alcohol can cause dry mouth, further putting teeth in danger of decay. 

At our dental office in Sparks, we’re not here to tell you to avoid these summer treats, we simply recommend enjoying them in moderation. Additionally, it’s always wise to drink plenty of water after eating or drinking alcohol to help wash away sugar or food particles.

dental x-raysWhen you visit our Sparks dental office for a checkup, there’s a good chance we may need to take some x-rays of your teeth – especially if it’s your first time seeing us. Both you and your dentist will benefit from the valuable imaging that the x-rays have the power to collect. Since dental x-rays are so valuable, let’s get to know a little bit more about what they are and how they work.

What Exactly is A Dental X-Ray?

X-rays (also referred to as radiographs) can be 2D or 3D images that quickly become an important part of how your Sparks dentist prepares an accurate treatment plan. The images give us an idea of what’s going on inside your mouth, highlighting your jaw bone health and tooth structure that lies beneath your gums and enamel. It gives us the added ability to find out if something is going on inside your mouth or teeth that’s not 100 percent visible to the naked eye.

With the advancements in dental technology, there are many different types of x-rays available on both traditional film and digitally. Most dental offices have made the switch to digital x-rays because they tend to emit nearly 80 percent less radiation than film x-rays. Many dentists find that digital x-rays free up appointment times and are easy to save to a patient’s file for future reference and use.

Intraoral and Extraoral: The Two Main Categories of X-Rays

Besides having the ability to be either taken on film or stored digitally, x-rays are divided down into two other categories of either being intraoral or extraoral. How it breaks down is pretty straightforward, and it goes something like this:

Intraoral x-rays – involve any imaging taken from INSIDE your mouth

Extraoral x-rays – involve any imaging taken from OUTSIDE your mouth

Intraoral x-rays give us the chance to see really minute or fine details of both your supporting bone and teeth. They are the most common type of dental x-ray and provide an extremely high level of detail to help us diagnose cavities, examine your tooth roots, look over your bony areas, check the status of developing teeth or ones that have yet to erupt, and more.

Extraoral x-rays are usually relied on to help dentists and orthodontists focus on the bones in your head, particularly your upper and lower jaw. Think of them as x-rays that can help us see the big picture of what’s going on in and around your head and mouth. They help us look at growth and development, monitor impacted teeth, and assess bite issues. Extraoral x-rays tend to be less detailed than the intraoral variety.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Most of the x-rays used in dental offices across the country today give off a minimal amount of radiation. It’s important to note that you should always limit your exposure to x-rays and avoid repeated use as it can damage cells over time due to the small, continued radiation aftereffects.

Dental x-rays are certainly safer than ever thanks to advancements in dentistry over the years. Dentists now rely on using lower x-ray dosages, higher quality film, film holders, and well-designed, full-body aprons lined with lead. It’s important to note though that most of the modern dental x-ray technology that’s available today give off very little stray radiation.

We hope you’ve learned a little bit about dental x-rays and how critical they are in helping your dentist in Sparks make sure your mouth is always in optimal health, from your teeth to your bones. X-rays can help you big time because they allow us to detect issues early before they become more costly to fix down the road. If you have any questions about your dental x-rays or when you’re due for a new set, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.