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Overall Health

Pyramid Family Dental

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? 

Health Updates

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. 

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. 

Pyramid Family Dental

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. 

Stop Smoking

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.   

Eat Healthy

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.

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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:

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. 

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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. 

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. 

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.  

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. 

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.

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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. 


Pyramid Family DentalDentophobia, 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. 

Learned Behavior

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. 

Personality Traits

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:

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: 

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. 

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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. 

Sports Drinks

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. 

Pyramid Family DentalSleep 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: 

During Sleep

While Awake

If you notice any of the signs of sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sparks


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: 

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: 

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.

Each and every February, loved ones throughout the United States go above and beyond preparing for Valentine’s Day. Whether you choose to show your love with chocolates or flowers, one thing remains constant — bright red hearts are everywhere we look. But there’s another reason (besides Valentine’s Day) that we should pay attention to these hearts. February is American Heart Health Month and focuses on raising awareness of how daily choices affect our risk of heart disease. In fact, this holiday has a special place in your Sparks dentist’s heart because there is a strong connection between oral health and heart health. 

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues usually caused by a buildup of bacteria and plaque. When someone doesn’t brush their teeth often enough or well enough, plaque is left behind and can easily work its way up under the gum, settle in, and cause trouble. 

There are four stages of gum disease including: 

Gum disease can be treated if caught in the gingivitis stage, so make sure you visit your dentist in Sparks every six months for dental cleanings, x-rays, and thorough exams so we can identify any problems early.

What Does This Have to Do With Your Heart?

If gingivitis isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly it will progress into slight, moderate, or advanced periodontal disease, all of which are irreversible. When gum disease progresses into these advanced stages, the infection can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. This can affect areas outside of the mouth, including the heart.  

Heart Disease 

Bacteria from gum disease in the bloodstream causes the body to produce too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as: 

Knowing that your oral health can have such an impact on your overall wellness makes it so incredibly important that you practice good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing every day.   

Signs of Gum Disease

Since early diagnosis is so crucial to treating gum disease before it has the chance to affect the rest of your body, you need to know the signs of gum disease. Keep an eye out for: 

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Sparks to schedule an appointmentThis American Heart Health Month, commit to reducing your chances of heart disease by brushing and flossing every day, seeing your dentist in Sparks twice a year, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. For more ideas on how to live a heart-healthy life, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.

Casey HeinOne of the strongest defenses we have against virus’, such as COVD-19, is a robust immune system so we can fight infection – that’s why we’re doing our best to help our patients boost their immunity.


There are a number of scientifically-based recommendations to help boost your immune system such as eating nutritious foods and balancing our diet, making sure to get adequate sleep and physical activity, getting outdoors for some sunshine, and managing stress.


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But also, research suggests that treating chronic infections, including in the mouth, may help improve immunity.





Poor oral health influences immunity and if periodontal disease (gum disease) is left untreated, it may negatively impact your overall immunity.



For many years we’ve known that bacteria from gum disease can be aspirated into the lungs. When this happens, the lung’s ability to fight infection is disrupted, which may increase the risk for co-infections, such as virus’, like COVID-19.


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That’s why, more than ever before, we’re being especially diligent in examining patients for gum disease or any signs of oral inflammation. And, for those who have gum disease, it’s important to get treated as soon as possible.


Thorough oral hygiene will reduce the bad bacteria in your mouth. That’s a good thing! This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with an anti-microbial toothpaste, and cleaning in between your teeth with floss or pics. A water irrigation device and antimicrobial mouthwashes are other tools for keeping your mouth clean. The goal is to decrease the bacterial burden in your mouth.


© 2020 Casey Hein BSDH, RDH, MBA. All Rights Reserved