It’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.
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.
On 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.
Just 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!
Have 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:
– Low Birth Weight
– Premature Births
– Alzheimer’s Disease
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!
This month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month — a month-long dedication to increasing the public’s knowledge of this serious and scary disease. At our dental office in Sparks, we’re all about doing whatever we can to help keep our neighbors healthy, so we’re spreading the word about just how serious oral cancer is, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Oral Cancer Statistics
The word “cancer” itself instills some fear in all of us. It’s a scary disease that affects millions of Americans every year. Oral cancer is no different. It’s a widespread problem that can take the lives of those affected. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day annually. That’s more than 8,500 people each and every year. This year alone, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can save your life. However, many signs of oral cancer can resemble other non-serious oral health problems. So if you notice any of the signs below and they don’t go away, call your dentist in Sparks as soon as possible to get checked out and ease your mind.
- Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
- Changes in voice
- A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
- A lump inside the mouth or neck
- Chronic bad breath
The most successful way to treat oral cancer is to diagnose it early. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Oral cancer can happen to anyone, but there are factors that can put someone at greater risk. Some we can control, others we cannot. Some risk factors are:
- Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
- Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
At our Sparks dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If you have any questions, are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, or it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen a dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us.
Halitosis, or more commonly referred to as bad breath, can happen to anyone. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But what’s more concerning for the team at our dental office in Sparks is that bad breath can be a sign of something more serious. Let’s take a look at what causes bad breath and some ways you can get rid of it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath can be caused by something temporary such as fragrant food or something like coffee. This type of bad breath usually resolves itself and is probably nothing to worry about. However, when bad breath becomes an ongoing occurrence, you should consider calling your dentist in Sparks.
Chronic bad breath is typically caused by an overabundance of bacteria in the mouth. Now, while the bacteria themselves don’t smell bad, the byproduct they give off after feeding certainly does. This byproduct is stinky hydrogen sulfide and it’s what we’re referring to when we talk about smelling bad breath.
Why is Bad Breath Concerning?
Besides causing embarrassment, bad breath can be an early symptom of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious problem not only for your mouth but also for your body. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, sensitivity, and has even been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Essentially, bad breath is something you should take seriously and seek proactive treatment.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
If you suffer from bad breath, there are few tips you can try.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene. Making sure that you brush and floss daily is a great way to get rid of bacteria that could contribute to bad breath if left alone. Clean the surface of every tooth, under the gum line, and the tongue.
- Choose Water. Keeping your mouth hydrated helps wash away bacteria which can lower your risk of bad breath. When our mouths don’t get enough water, they dry out and saliva production slows, leaving bacteria free to linger around.
- See Your Dentist. Maintaining regular visits to your Sparks dentist can not only help protect your smile from cavities, it can also help catch any potential problems before they have a chance to become serious… including gum disease. If you’re worried about your bad breath, or if it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, give us a call today.
By now we all know that smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, and numerous other problems throughout the body. Your mouth is no exception. This November, during the Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society, our dental office in Sparks wants to help the cause of moving towards a smoke-free life by providing our community members with some more reasons to quit.
How Smoking Affects Your Oral Health
One of the commonly overlooked dangers of smoking is how it affects oral health. But it’s certainly a concern for your dentist in Sparks. The truth is, several oral health problems are directly related to smoking, and continuing to smoke can put you at increased risk for:
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
Tips to Quit
Smoking is addictive and therefore not easy to quit. Some people even try quitting multiple times before they succeed at never picking up another cigarette. We understand how difficult quitting can be and are here to provide support for anyone looking to improve their health by never lighting up again.
- Find a Support Team. Trying to do something as difficult as quitting smoking isn’t easy to do on your own. Sometimes it’s made easier by finding trusted friends, family members, or health professionals to help. Make sure your chosen quit team can be supportive in the way you need them to be and set up a plan with them.
- Identify Your Reasons to Quit. Writing out a physical list of why you want to quit smoking can be a great first step to success. Seeing your reasons on paper may help them feel more ‘real.’ When you have a strong craving, get out your list and remind yourself all of the reasons why quitting is important.
- Know Your Triggers. Part of what can make quitting so difficult is that smokers often develop a routine to when they smoke — on the car ride to work, when drinking alcohol, drinking coffee in the morning, to name a few. While some triggers may be harder to avoid than others, try your best to steer clear of anything that will make you want to light up.
- Find Alternatives. Another thing that makes it difficult to quit smoking is that smokers get so used to having something in their hand that when they suddenly don’t, it feels uncomfortable. Keep your hands busy by holding a pencil or straw. This can mimic the feeling of a cigarette and ease the mind.
This year’s Great American Smokeout can be your time to finally quit smoking. On November 15, make a plan to quit and stick to it. Select a quit date and take the steps to become smoke free by that date. Your physician, along with our Sparks dental office, can also provide you with additional ways to help.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Dedicating four of those minutes to brushing your teeth will not only help protect your smile and keep your breath fresh, but it can also protect your overall health. While brushing your teeth may seem like a pretty simple task, there are a few tips our dental office in Sparks wants to share with you to make sure you’re getting the best clean possible so that you can keep your whole body healthy.
Choose the Right Brush
The right toothbrush for you depends on a few factors, including the size of your mouth. Toothbrushes come with various sized heads, so if you have a smaller mouth, choose a brush with smaller brush head. Also make sure the bristles are labeled as soft. Using bristles that are too tough can damage enamel and create problems.
Use Proper Technique
It doesn’t take a lot of elbow grease to thoroughly clean plaque and bacteria off of teeth. In fact, scrubbing too hard can damage teeth. Instead of using a back and forth motion, try to focus in brushing in soft, gentle circles. Don’t forget to hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to get up under the gum line, too.
Replace When Necessary
If your bristles have begun to fray, it’s time to get a new toothbrush. It’s actually overdue for a replacement. When the bristles are nice and tightly fit together they can more easily get in between teeth and under the gums. When they separate, you won’t get as good of a clean.
Commit to Twice a Day
Your dentist in Sparks and the American Dental Association recommend brushing for two minutes, twice day, every day. A thorough cleaning in the morning helps remove plaque and bacteria that have built up overnight, and another two minutes before bed removes food particles and even more bacteria. Not brushing as often as you should may lead to gum disease, which not only affects your oral health, but overall health as well.
Gum Disease & Overall Health
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria under the gum line. If left untreated it can cause tooth loss and other whole-body concerns including:
- Heart Disease
- Respiratory Problems
- Diabetic Complications
Following the two minute, twice a day guideline and using the right technique goes a long way in keeping your smile in its best shape. But it’s more important than that. Proper oral hygiene can reduce the risk of gum disease and help protect your entire body.
Besides a great at-home routine, maintaining appointments at our Sparks dental office bi-annually will do even more for your health. These regular visits provide a deeper cleaning and remove even more plaque and bacteria buildup. They also give us a way to monitor your oral health for any potential problems so we can treat them early.
If you’re overdue for a dental cleaning, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.
At our dental office in Sparks, we know that there are a lot of things that can affect oral health — from genetics to tobacco use, to not brushing enough to eating too much sugar. But can your allergies actually be one of those things that puts you at increased risk for more cavities? The truth is, they can. Let’s see how….
Itchy, Stuffy, and Drippy
Most of us are well aware of the unpleasant symptoms of an allergy flare up. The itchy, watery eyes, the neverending nasal drip, and the sinus stuffiness are all common side effects. And while they’re certainly annoying, they can also affect more than you may think. When your body comes in contact with an allergen, it responds by producing more mucus than normal. This mucus is gross, thick, slimy stuff that blocks airways and sinuses and makes it hard or impossible to breathe out of the nose. Instead, our bodies automatically adapt to breathe from the mouth. This mouth breathing is what’s concerning to your dentist in Sparks.
Why Mouth Breathing is Concerning
Mouth breathing is a bigger problem than it may initially appear. In fact, a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry reported that mouth breathing can affect oral health in a variety of ways. Too much mouth breathing as a child can cause a gummy smile or even problems with facial development. And the problems don’t go away in adults either. Mouth breathing has been linked to overall oral health issues, mostly because it causes dry mouth.
Dry Mouth & Oral Health
Dry mouth is an incredibly common complaint in many dental patients, and while it’s certainly uncomfortable, it’s also dangerous. Dry mouth essentially means that saliva production has decreased. And this is a problem. Saliva is responsible for rinsing away bacteria and neutralizing acids in the mouth that attack tooth enamel and lead to decay. Without saliva, teeth are constantly exposed. But that’s not all. Dry mouth can also cause chronic bad breath and is one of the causes of gum disease. Gum disease, if left untreated, can begin to affect the rest of the body and increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
The Problem with Allergy Medicine
To get relief from allergy symptoms, we usually turn to our trusted antihistamine. However, while this medicine may indeed ease itchy eyes or decongest sinuses, they may also make dry mouth worse. To help protect yourself and get the allergy relief you want, try:
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Using lubricating mouthwash
- Drinking water
- Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
Never stop any medication recommended by your doctor without first talking about it.
If you’re concerned that your allergies or allergy medication is causing dry mouth and putting your oral health at risk, we welcome you to call our Sparks dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help keep our neighbors’ smiles healthy and can help you find relief.
April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our Sparks dental office, we know just how serious this epidemic is in the United States. In fact, just over 51,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with it this year. While there have been advancements in oral cancer treatment, and often times the disease is successfully treated, it still takes the lives of approximately 10,000 Americans yearly. This April, join us in learning the risks and symptoms of oral cancer that could save your life.
Know The Risks
It’s important to note that anyone can develop oral cancer whether they have or engage in factors that increase their risk or not. Some of the risks are unavoidable, but many can be controlled through making smart lifestyle choices. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or using smokeless tobacco greatly increases your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users.
- Drinking Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly can also put you at greater risk. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Drinking & Smoking: Since both tobacco use and drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer, if you do both, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100%.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. While this risk factor can’t be changed, men can reduce their risk by not drinking or smoking.
- Age: Our chances of getting oral cancer increases as we age. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.
- UV Rays: Skin cancer isn’t the only thing that can happen from too much unprotected sun exposure. Oral cancer is also higher in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.
Recognize The Symptoms
Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early increases the chance of survival. Oral cancer treatment is often successful in the earlier stages, so the sooner you see your dentist in Sparks if you suspect anything, the better. The most common signs include:
- Chronic bad breath
- Sores that won’t heal
- A lump on the cheek
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in your voice
During your regular dental cleanings and exams, your hygienist and dentist will monitor your mouth for any abnormalities and can use high-tech equipment that can show what the human eye can’t see. This is just another reason maintaining your bi-annual dental appointments is so important to your overall health.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call our dental office in Sparks to schedule an appointment today. You never know, one visit could save your life.