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Oral Health

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. 

Dental X-Rays 

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: 

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. 

Simplifying Nutrition

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: 

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: 

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.  

father and son brushing teethYou 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. 

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. 

smiling woman with glassesWe all want to have a smile that we’re proud of and can feel confident about showing it off in pictures and in public. After all, your smile can say a lot about you. But what do you do if you’re unhappy with your teeth and shy away from sharing it with the world? Turn to your dentist in Sparks to see whether cosmetic dentistry may be the solution you’re looking for. Here is a great place to start. 

Determine What You Want

Before you or your dentist will know whether cosmetic dentistry will give you the smile you want, you need to know what it is you’re trying to achieve. The more specific you can be about what you don’t like about your smile as well as what you wish was different, the more you’ll know about whether or not cosmetic dentistry is the right solution for you. Take these questions into consideration: 

Find the Best Cosmetic Dentist for You

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of desires, the fun part of finding the best dentist for you can begin. Although it may seem like a daunting task, it really doesn’t have to be. Check-in with family and friends to see if they have any recommendations or head online to search for local cosmetic dentists in your area. Read reviews, check out websites, and look at before and after photos. After you’ve decided on a dentist, schedule a consultation

Know What Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments Are Out There

There are several treatments that all fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry, but not all of them are right for every situation. Let’s check out a few common treatments. 

Nobody should have to live with a smile they’re unhappy with. Luckily, we have cosmetic dentistry to help. If you’re considering cosmetic dentistry, make a list of what you’d like to change, research cosmetic dentists in Sparks, and become familiar with which treatments can help you get the look you want. Finally, make the move and schedule a consultation. Your journey to a new smile is only a phone call away. 

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: 

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.

Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.

beta amyloidThe connection between your brain and your mouth is not something we often think about, unless maybe you catch yourself saying something without thinking. But the health of our mouth is also important to our brain. Recent studies have shown the connection between the health of our gums and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is marked by a sticky compound that accumulates in the brain called “beta-amyloid.” Many scientists believe that build-up of this substance interferes with brain function, eventually killing neurons and brain cells permanently.

Researchers are studying the associations between oral bacteria, inflammation and the formation of beta amyloid. They are trying to determine if people with severe gum disease are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.  And another study showed that people who already had AD experienced a six fold increase in cognitive decline when they had periodontal disease. The oral bacteria in unhealthy gums causes inflammation that may contribute to arterial and cognitive decline.

This isn’t to say that periodontal disease causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but that health gums contribute to healthy brains. For good mental health, you should also maintain a healthy weight, keep cholesterol, blood sugar and high blood pressure in check, avoid nicotine, stay active, treat depression, eat a healthy diet, and stay socially engaged.

But studies show that your oral health plays a significant role as well. That’s where we can help.

We prescribe Perio Protect to help treat periodontal disease, with results reducing infection and inflammation in as little as three weeks. The easy-to-use, at-home Perio Trays® comfortably deliver hydrogen peroxide deep below the gum line. It’s easy, effective, and can help keep you in better overall health. Both today and down the road.

In addition to regular trips to your dentist to keep your teeth and gums free of disease, you should always consult your primary care physician for matters of overall health and have regular physical exams. Especially if you have a family history of dementia.

lab tech with denturesIf you’re missing your teeth, getting dentures can restore your smile and your confidence. Dentures are a popular choice among patients and are a relatively simple way to give those who have lost their teeth a reason to smile. But just like natural teeth, dentures require proper care. Your Sparks dentist is here to help guide you through the right way to care for your dentures. 

How to Properly Care for Dentures

Even though dentures are not natural teeth, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need a little TLC in order to keep them clean and fitting comfortably. 

Dentures are an investment in your smile, and you want to take proper care of them so they last a long time and the rest of your mouth stays healthy. If dentures aren’t cared for properly, plaque can build up and cause additional tooth loss, bad breath, and even gum disease. 

If you’re missing some teeth and think dentures may be right for you, call our dental office in Sparks to schedule a consultation. We’ll work with you to find the best tooth replacement option for you. 

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.  

Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.

There is a strong correlation between gum health and your general wellness. Pathogens that enter the bloodstream are likely to enter through the busiest port in the body—your mouth.

In fact, specific strains of harmful bacteria present in infected periodontal pockets have also been implicated in cases of colorectal cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  As we move into National #DiabetesMonth, November is a good time to remind ourselves how gum health impacts those with diabetes, and vice versa.

Diabetics need to pay special attention to their gum health. Not only are people with periodontal disease more likely to develop diabetes, but those same people are likely to develop more severe gum disease as a result of their diabetes. This is because heightened blood sugar can restrict the body’s immune system and lead to infection. Conversely, those with periodontal disease have more difficulty managing their blood sugar level.

It’s a downward spiral that can be difficult to remedy.

Diabetes is a serious issue. It affects almost 30 million people in the US alone. And 95% of those people also have periodontal disease.

The better news is: treating gum disease lowers the cost of treating gum disease by nearly 40%. According to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, $2,840 per patient, per year.

And while diabetes is top-of-mind during Diabetes Awareness Month, treating gum disease can be a simple, daily habit that requires very little effort on the part of the patient. Our patented, FDA-cleared Perio Trays® deliver hydrogen peroxide Perio Gel®deep below the gum line, into periodontal pockets where toothbrushes and floss simply cannot reach. It’s a safe, easy and effective solution.