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:
- Slight Periodontal Disease
- Moderate Periodontal Disease
- Advanced Periodontal Disease
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.
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:
- Inflamed arteries
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
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:
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Puffy, tender gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Sparks to schedule an appointment. This 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.
It’s not uncommon to hear your dentist in Sparks toss around the words ‘plaque’ and ‘tartar’ almost interchangeably. In fact, we’ve realized that this could cause some confusion, and as always, we want to help our patients understand the difference between the two. Join us as we take a look at what exactly plaque and tartar are, and how they can affect your family’s oral health.
What is Plaque?
When trying to remember the difference between plaque and tartar, it may help to think of the two Ps. Plaque is the primary, or first, thing that can affect your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that’s basically made up of millions and millions of bacteria. It naturally builds up on teeth throughout each day, and as we eat, the plaque bacteria are also eating. As a byproduct of this feeding, the bacteria release acids. These acids can erode tooth enamel, weaken teeth, and make it easier for cavities to form. However, when we effectively remove plaque through brushing, we can help reduce the number of bacteria and lower the risk of decay and the need for fillings from your Sparks dentist.
What is Tartar?
So what happens when plaque remains on the teeth for too long? That’s where tartar comes into play. When plaque isn’t effectively removed it will harden into tartar. Now, while plaque can be cleaned away through at-home brushing, tartar is a different story. Once plaque hardens into tartar it can’t be removed through regular brushing. Your dentist in Sparks will need to intervene to thoroughly remove tartar buildup. If tartar is not removed, it can increase the risk of cavities, cause tooth discoloration or tooth sensitivity, and can even lead to gum disease.
How to Avoid Plaque and Tartar Buildup
Avoiding plaque buildup and, in turn, tartar isn’t difficult, but it does require good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth each morning and before bed every night for two minutes each time. Additionally, it’s important to remove plaque that may have accumulated in between teeth by flossing once a day. In between brushings, try to drink plenty of water to help neutralize and rinse away acids, and also to remove bacteria. You can also chew sugarless gum after meals and snacks. And as always, try to avoid sugary sweets and drink as it will make for both a happier, healthier smile and a happier dentist.
The truth is, everyone’s teeth will accumulate some plaque and some tartar. The important thing to remember is that this buildup needs to be removed through both brushing and flossing properly at home and seeing your dentist regularly. That’s why we always recommend that our patients visit us every six months for a checkup and thorough cleaning to remove any tartar that may have formed since their last appointment.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, we welcome you to call and schedule a checkup today. We can’t wait to see you!
Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.
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.
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.
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
Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus, treatment for inflammation and prevention of infection and disease is more important than ever. The human body can only handle so much inflammation, and the healthier a person is – the less chronic inflammation taxing the body – the easier it is to fight off other infections, including viral. This is why we take any infectious oral conditions, even asymptomatic gum disease, so seriously. Brushing, flossing and homecare may seem mundane, but so is washing your hands. These “mundane” acts can help keep you healthy.
Our office prescribes Perio Protect, a homecare system to prevent and treat gum disease. Special prescription trays, called Perio Trays®, are made just for your mouth to deliver medication deep below the gums to fight infections causing disease. The primary medication applied with the trays, Perio Gel® with 1.7% hydrogen peroxide, is highly effective at killing infectious bacteria and reducing inflammation.
Peroxide also kills the coronavirus. Using peroxide in these special prescription trays will not prevent you from contracting the virus, but the peroxide therapy, rinsing with peroxide or brushing with the peroxide gel may help reduce the viral load in saliva and the risk of oral transmission. For this reason, dentists may ask you to pretreat with a peroxide product before coming to the dental office.
Maintain A Healthy Smile and a Healthier Immune System
It has never been more important to keep your gums healthy. Gum health is key to keeping your teeth for a lifetime and important for a healthy immune system. The chronic inflammation from infected gums is also associated with arterial inflammation, heart disease, stroke, dementia and uncontrolled diabetes. For patients with these illnesses, it is especially important to see our dental team.
If you have been told that you have gum disease or if you are concerned about bleeding gums or chronic bad breath, both symptoms of infected gums, be sure to schedule an appointment. We believe that informed patients will make informed decisions. Be sure to contact us to discuss your concerns.
You 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.
- Bad Breath – One of the most common side effects of not brushing your tongue is bad breath. While bad breath can be caused by a lot of different things, an unclean tongue can be to blame.
- Decreased Sense of Taste – Everyone loves to eat their favorite foods because they taste good. But when a tongue is not properly cared for, bacteria can coat our taste buds and decrease our sense of taste. This means that our favorite foods may not taste quite as good as they once did.
- Black, Hairy Tongue – Even though this sounds scary and gross, black, hairy tongue is a very real thing that can occur from not brushing your tongue. This discoloration happens when food and drink particles aren’t removed from the surface of the tongue and essentially stain those tiny papillae. It should go away on its own once you get into the tongue-brushing habit.
- Gum Disease – Since our tongues are in contact with our teeth throughout the day, everything on our tongues can easily transfer onto our teeth. When tongue bacteria move to the teeth, it can cause decay and, if left untreated, progress into gum disease. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can cause tooth loss if not treated.
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.
Re-posted with the permission of Perio Protect.
Ask pretty much anybody, and they’ll tell you that it’s extremely important to have a healthy heart. But despite this, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. And even though more and more people are taking steps to lead heart-healthy lives, one of the leading risk factors of heart disease is almost entirely overlooked.
A recent study published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal revealed that certain high-risk bacteria found in gum disease can be a contributing cause of arterial inflammation. And since gum disease affects most Americans over the age of 30—and is both preventable and treatable—the information found in this BaleDoneen study could literally save lives.
You can have your dentist perform a simple, painless exam to see if you have signs of gum disease, and there are several companies that can measure for high-risk oral bacteria. Some include OralDNA, Hain Diagnostic and PerioDX.
There are ways to help treat this high-risk bacteria, including more frequent dental cleanings, usually 4 times each year. At home between dental visits, patients can use prescription Perio Trays® to deliver hydrogen peroxide deep below the gum line. It’s easy, effective, comfortable and convenient..
If you have periodontal disease or are at high risk of gum disease, there are steps you can take to strengthen your oral health, including:
- Brushing and flossing twice a day.
- Stopping smoking.
- Getting a dental cleaning every 3 months.
- Using Perio Trays from Perio Protect.
A professional dental exam, some testing and a few extra minutes taking care of your teeth and gums can make a huge difference. Not only will your mouth thank you, but your heart will as well.
If 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.
- Use Care When Handling. Dentures can be pretty fragile, so the first step to caring for them is to make sure you use care when handling them and cleaning them. Also, make sure to store your dentures in a safe place where they won’t easily get knocked on the floor. Being gentle with your dentures can reduce the risk of damage or the need for repairs.
- Rinse Them After Eating. Remove your dentures and thoroughly rinse them following every meal to remove any loose food particles. If leftover food is left lingering around it can contribute to bad breath and even gum disease.
- Brush Your Dentures & Your Mouth. It’s important to brush both your dentures and your mouth at least once daily to remove any bacteria buildup. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a denture cleaner to thoroughly cleanse your denture and remove any excess adhesive. As for your mouth, also use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub any natural teeth and your tongue.
- Soak Your Dentures Every Night. In order to keep their shape and comfortably fit your mouth, dentures need to stay moist. After you remove your dentures and clean them at night, place them in a glass of water with a denture solution to soak. Your dentist in Sparks will be able to recommend a solution that’s best for you.
- Rinse Again in the Morning. You should thoroughly rinse your dentures before putting them back in your mouth after soaking, especially if you use a denture-soaking solution. While these solutions are good for denture care, they can lead to illness or burns if not rinsed off of a denture before it’s reinserted.
- See Your Dentist in Sparks. Seeing your dentist as often as recommended is key to keeping your dentures fitting well. Your dental team may also professionally clean your dentures for an ultra-thorough clean.
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.
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.
This 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.
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!