Poor Oral Health

3 Health Problems Caused By Poor Oral Health

It is very important to take good care of your mouth, because your oral health can have effects on your overall health. If you are good about your oral hygiene, you can reduce your risk of certain health conditions. On the flip side, if you don’t have the best oral hygiene, you might be at risk for some potentially serious whole-body conditions. We share three health problems that are linked to poor dental habits in today’s blog.

Heart Disease

The American Heart Association recognizes that there is a link between gum disease and the onset of heart disease. Research presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting found that certain bacteria that cause gum disease can increase a person’s risk for heart disease. Although the study involved mice, not humans, the results showed that when mice had elevated levels of this bacteria in their mouth, they were more likely to have rising cholesterol and inflammation, two big risk factors for heart disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another scientific study found that the same bacteria that contributes to periodontal disease also leads to an earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Not only does it lead to its development, but it also contributes to faster and more severe disease progression. The bacteria that causes periodontal disease leads to an inflammatory response from the body, and this regular triggering of inflammation can actually lead to joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Finally, advanced gum disease can also be a sign that dementia could be in your future. Research has found that individuals with advanced gum disease (periodontitis) experience cognitive decline six times faster than individuals without the mouth condition. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, antibodies in periodontal bacteria are associated with the onset of inflammation, which can speed up the progression of dementia. However, we’ll end on a positive note. There’s reason to believe that actively treating your gum disease can help to treat and slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Freshen Your Breath

How To Freshen Your Breath When You Don’t Have A Toothbrush

We’ve all experienced that “not so clean” sensation in our mouth at one time or another, but if you’re at home, you can usually get back to a fresh mouth by brushing your teeth. But what happens if you want to freshen your breath after your morning coffee at the office, or while you’re on the road and you don’t have a toothbrush handy? Below, we share some ways to avoid bad breath when you don’t have access to a toothbrush.

Sugar-free gum or mints

Gum is probably the most commonly used product to freshen our breath outside of a toothbrush, because it’s easy to carry with you at all times and it has a refreshing flavor. Sugar-free gum or mints are great breath fresheners that won’t expose your gums or teeth to sugar, which can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Look for gum with the ADA Seal of Approval for your best options, or if you have a favorite brand, just make sure you go with the sugar-free option.

Floss Sticks

Floss sticks are small tools that you can use to remove food particles from between your teeth, but they can also double as a tongue scraper in the event that food or other particles have gotten stuck to the surface. Store a couple floss sticks in your purse or in your car so you have access to floss and a tongue scraper when you’re on the go.

Fruit

Yes, some fruits have plenty of natural sugars, but they also help to prevent excess bacteria growth in your mouth. Apples, for example, have polyphenols, which help to eliminate sulfur compounds in the mouth that can contribute to bad breath. Oranges, grapefruits and strawberries are also good options.

Water

Water is typically readily available at a lot of places, so you’re probably never too far from a water break. Oral bacteria tends to thrive in dryer areas, so when your mouth is dry, you’re more prone to bacteria growth. This is why a lot of people have worse breath in the morning if they breathe through their mouth and it gets dry throughout the night. Try to keep water nearby and take a drink if you’re feeling parched to help keep your breath fresh.

Yogurt

If you have a refrigerator in the office, consider adding some individual size, low sugar yogurts so you’ll have access to this breath freshener at work. The probiotic cultures in yogurt work against the bacteria in your mouth, which in turn lowers the amount of hydrogen sulfide your mouth bacteria gives off.

Dental Habits

5 Things Your Mouth Says About Your Overall Health

Your mouth is the gateway to your overall health, and your dentist can tell a lot about your health just by looking at your teeth, gums and tongue. Below, we’re going to share five things your dentist can tell about your health minutes in to your dental visit.

You Floss – But Only Right Before Your Visit

You may think you’re pulling one over on your dentist by flossing right before your appointment. After all, if you clean between your teeth, your dentist probably thinks they are like that all the time! Think again. If you floss once before your appointment, even if your not actively bleeding, your dentist is going to notice the redness, swelling and inflammation in gums that are disturbed by irregular flossing. Your dentist is going to be able to tell how regularly you floss by looking at your gums, not by listening to what you say.

You’re a Nail Biter

Your dentist doesn’t need to look at your fingernails in order to tell that you bite your nails. There will be wear and tear on your teeth, or there may be signs of chipping or cracking. Your fingernails aren’t the one causing the damage, the wear and tear occurs when your top and bottom teeth connect when you’re biting your nails. Kick the habit if you want to reduce stress on your teeth.

You used to Suck your Thumb

You may not even remember sucking your thumb, but in some cases, your dentist can see the telltale signs by looking at your teeth. Thumb sucking can alter the position of your permanent teeth or your jaw line. In some cases, it can also affect your speech. If your front teeth are a little protruding, your dentist may know that you used to suck on your thumb.

You have an Eating Disorder

If you are bulimic, you may be able to hide it from some people, but not your dentist. Stomach acid will cause erosion patterns on your teeth and can lead to excessive cavity development. If your tooth enamel is worn down in certain places, your dentist can tell if you’re bulimic or have acid reflux.

You have Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to sugar imbalances in your body, and one of the first places this can be visible is in your mouth. If your gums are swollen, sensitive or bleed easily, or if there are changes in the consistency of your saliva, your dentist may recommend that you head to the doctor for a health exam.

Teeth Over 60

Protecting Your Teeth After 60

Like a lot of things in life, protecting your teeth requires more work when you get older than it did in your 20s and 30s. As our teeth naturally wear down, we need to take a more proactive approach to strengthening and protecting them. There are a lot of ways we can do this, and we put those techniques in the spotlight in today’s blog.

Your Diet

Your diet plays a big role in the health of your teeth. Healthy food choices like vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins provide your mouth and your whole body with beneficial vitamins and minerals. You’ll also want to avoid sugary snacks, sodas and juices, because they can speed up tooth decay. If you want to have these products, limit your intake and have them with meals so that sugars are less likely to stay on the tooth surface. Finally, be wary of your alcohol intake, as alcohol can irritate sensitive gum and increase your risk for oral cancer.

Brushing and Flossing

Forming a good dental hygiene plan and sticking to it is especially important once we hit our 50s and 60s. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and make sure you’re flossing at least once a day. Look for dental hygiene products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval, because you can trust those products to help protect your teeth.

Regular Checkups

Just like you need regular health screenings at the doctor, you also need to be diligent about having regular dental visits. Aside from helping keep your teeth clean, regular dental visits can help spot potential problems in their infancy. As with any health condition, the sooner an issue is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Earlier treatment often leads to higher success rates. Don’t assume that your problem will go away if you grit your teeth and ignore your regular dental visits. Schedule your next appointment today.

Denture Health

Dentures are a reality for millions of Americans. Trauma, car accidents or tooth decay are reasons why young and old people need dentures, and while they can help you show off a nice smile, you need to clean and care for your dentures so as not to expose yourself to infection. Follow your dentist’s instructions for caring for your dentures, and inspect them regularly.

Natural Minerals and Vitamins

Finally, it’s important to try and get your vitamins, nutrients and minerals from natural sources. While supplements can help to provide us with nutrients that we can’t get enough of on our own, some of them can have unintended consequences. Calcium is important for teeth and bone health, but exclusively relying on calcium supplements for your calcium intake has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Strive to get things like calcium, Vitamin D and fluoride from your diet naturally, and talk to your dentist and doctor about safe supplements if you are lacking in some areas.

Dry Mouth

Be aware of dry mouth due to medication Side effects. Having a dry mouth or not enough saliva can cause someone to become very prone to decay and gum disease. It would be important to look at salivary substitutes and to also be sure to discuss with the doctor and team about options. It is also critical that you reduce the sugar in your diet.

Flouride Teeth

How Does Fluoride Help Protect Your Teeth?

When it comes to protecting our teeth, we’ll take all the help we can get. Brushing and flossing are great starts, but there are also some natural ways we can strengthen and protect our teeth. One such way is by getting plenty of fluoride in our diet.

Fluoride is known as nature’s tooth protector, as it’s a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel. Your enamel helps to make your teeth more resistant to acid degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of tooth decay. So by getting plenty of fluoride, you’re strengthening your enamel and helping protect your teeth for years to come.

So we know that fluoride is important, but how can we make sure we get a healthy amount in our daily diet? We explain the many ways you can increase your fluoride intake in today’s blog.

Where Do I Get Fluoride?

Although fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral, it has also been added to certain products to help make its way into our system. Here’s a look at some of the products and ways in which fluoride makes its way into our bodies.

  • Water – Fluoride is naturally found in almost all water sources, but fluoride is also added to public water sources in order to bring the levels up to the normal amount to protect against tooth decay. Drinking plenty of tap water on a regular basis is a great way to increase your fluoride intake.
  • Toothpaste and Mouthwash – Since fluoride is so beneficial, it makes sense that dental products incorporate the mineral. Look for the ADA Seal of Approval on dental products like toothpaste and mouthwash, because odds are that means the product contains the appropriate levels of fluoride. Check the ingredients to confirm before buying.
  • Your Dentist – Did you know that your dentist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth during a regular dental visit? Fluoride gel, foam or rinse can be applied to your teeth to help strengthen your enamel and protect your pearly whites.
  • Fluoride Supplements – Fluoride can also be absorbed through a supplement, but you’ll need a prescription in order to get the mineral in pill form. These supplements are usually recommended for children who live in rural areas where fluoride is not at adequate levels from their water source. If you think your child falls under this distinction, talk to your dentist about fluoride supplementation.

Most people get plenty of fluoride from tap water and their dental products, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water and brushing your teeth on a regular basis. For those of you without access to these sources, or if you need a little more help getting enough fluoride, talk to your dentist about fluoride rinses or a prescription for supplements. If you have questions about your fluoride intake, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today for more information.

When to Floss

When Is The Best Time To Floss?

Most people brush their teeth on a regular basis, but they aren’t as diligent about flossing. Getting people to floss regularly is like pulling teeth (pun intended), but it is a very important part of a good dental hygiene plan.

People are more likely to floss after a big meal or if they feel something stuck in their teeth, and while these are appropriate times to floss, is there a specific time when it is best to floss? We take a look at the best time to floss your teeth in today’s blog.

When Should I Floss?

Brushing helps to clean the surfaces of your teeth, but we can’t always get between our teeth with the bristles. For hard to reach places, we turn to floss. Flossing helps to remove plaque, which is a substance that contains bacteria that breaks down tooth enamel. Left untreated, plaque can harden and form into tartar, which can only be safely removed by your dentist.

So when should you pick up the floss and go to work between your teeth? For starters, if you ever feel something stuck between your teeth, or if you notice the development of plaque when you’re looking in a mirror, you should grab floss, a floss stick or a water flosser and clean out your teeth. The longer that substance stays in your mouth, the longer bacteria can hang around and break down your tooth enamel.

Others have asked if there is a specific time when it’s best to floss, whether that be before brushing, after brushing or after a big meal. The answer to that question is that there is no specific time when it is optimal to brush. As we mentioned above, you should floss if you feel food between your teeth or see plaque building up, but there is no perfect time each day when flossing is best. The most important aspect of flossing is simply making time to perform the action each day.

Find the Time that Works for You

It can be easy to skip over flossing when you’re trying to get out of the house in the morning, so a lot of people find it easier to regularly floss before they go to bed. You can do it before or after you brush your teeth, but take a couple minutes to floss between each tooth. If you don’t like using standard floss, experiment with floss sticks or water flossers to see if they are more comfortable or effective.

Make sure you floss every night, and have your spouse or kids join in on the routine. Your family is more likely to participate if they see you setting a good example. Not only will this help protect your teeth, but it can also help to reduce future dental bills by being proactive about cavity prevention!

Flossing isn’t always fun, but it’s a simple thing that goes a long way in helping to protect your teeth and gums. If you have questions about starting or sticking to a flossing routine, or you want help getting your kids to floss, bring your questions to Dr. Brooks on your next visit, or give his office a call today.

Child Teeth Discolored

My Child’s Teeth Are Discolored – What Should I Do?

Most children have very white teeth because our baby teeth are more calcified than our permanent teeth, and because they haven’t been exposed to decades of foods and drink that can stain teeth. That being said, some children do suffer from primary teeth discoloration. So what could be causing this discoloration, and is it serious? We answer those questions and more below.

Yellow Baby Teeth

Your child’s baby teeth can become discolored or yellow for a number of different reasons, including:

  • Poor Brushing Habits – If your kids aren’t properly brushing their teeth on a regular basis, plaque can develop and this bacteria can lead to teeth discoloration.
  • Medications – If your child is taking medications containing iron, or if the mother was taking certain medications during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, it can lead to primary teeth discoloration.
  • Trauma – Discoloration of one tooth could be the end result of bleeding inside the tooth due to trauma.
  • Weakened Enamel – Genetics can contribute to poor enamel formation and in turn, primary teeth discoloration.
  • Too Much Fluoride – Fluoride is present in our tap water, and if you regularly mix baby formula with tap water, there’s a chance that your child’s primary teeth may develop faint white streaks known as fluorosis.
  • Infant Illness – Some children born with too much bilirubin in their blood may eventually develop primary teeth with a discolored hue.

If you have concerns about your child’s discolored teeth, bring them up to their dentist. As you can see, a lot of the above causes are uncontrollable, so there’s not much you can do. However, if the discoloration is caused by poor dental hygiene, then there’s a lot of things you can try.

Steps to Take

For starters, work with your child to ensure they are brushing their teeth twice a day, and limit the amount of sugar and juice they are consuming, as these can break down tooth enamel. Also, be sure that your child is visiting the dentist for their semi-annual checkups, as they can usually catch problems in their infancy. Discolored primary teeth aren’t usually a big concern, but it’s worth monitoring and addressing if dental hygiene is to blame.

Oral Thrush Treatments

Diagnosing & Treating Oral Thrush

Oral thrush, sometimes called oral candidiasis, is a medical condition in which fungus develops on the lining of your mouth. This is actually a normal fungus that lives in your mouth, but sometimes it can overgrow, leading to symptoms. The overdevelopment of this fungus can lead to white lesions on your tongue, cheek, gums or tonsils. With proper treatment, the fungus can be easily controlled. We take a closer look at the condition and explain your treatment options in this blog.

Causes and Symptoms of Oral Thrush

There isn’t really a direct cause of oral thrush, but there are some risk factors that can increase the amount of fungus in your mouth or inhibit the body’s ability to maintain the correct levels of microbes in your mouth. Those risk factors include:

  • Having a weakened immune system (more common in infants and elderly)
  • Diabetes
  • Taking certain medications
  • The presence of a vagnial yeast infection
  • Wearing dentures
  • Breastfeeding a child who has the condition

Symptoms of oral thrush include the white lesions that we alluded to in the intro, redness, a burning sensation in the mouth, general mouth soreness, bleeding, difficulty swallowing, a cottony feeling in your mouth and an inhibited taste sensation.

Left untreated, oral thrush can lead to the onset of an infection, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, reach out to your dentist or primary care physician.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Oral thrush can be diagnosed with a physical exam, although your doctor may wish to test a sample to rule out any specific causes. Once diagnosed, your doctor or dentist will walk you through a treatment and prevention plan, which will likely include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Eliminating or controlling for underlying causes
  • Regularly brushing your teeth
  • Rinsing your mouth, especially if you suffer from dry mouth
  • Cleaning your dentures, and making sure they aren’t irritating your gums
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Limiting sugar intake
  • Visiting your dentist regularly
  • Warm salt water mouth rinses

Oral thrush can be irritating, but it’s a condition that can be treated quite easily, so don’t ignore the symptoms. Doing so can lead to the onset of an infection, which can have whole body consequences. Treating the condition is rather straightforward, but prevention is preferred, so make sure you are practicing good oral hygiene habits and regularly visit your dentist to make sure everything in your mouth continues to look good.

For more information about oral thrush, or to talk with a dentist about any concerns you might have, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Jaw Pain Treatments

Treatment Options For Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is a fairly common condition that millions of Americans deal with on a regular basis. It is a little easier to treat if the cause of your pain was from an acute trauma, like getting hit in the face by a baseball or hitting the ground when you fall of your bike, but that’s not the only way jaw pain develops. Other times, problems with the joints and muscles are to blame, and diagnosing and treating these injuries are a little trickier. We take a closer look at jaw joint pain in today’s blog.

Causes and Symptoms of Jaw Joint Pain

Your jaw joints, also known as temporomandibular joints, help to facilitate the opening and closing of your jaw. These joints are located on each side of your head, and they work together with muscles and ligaments in the area to help you speak, swallow and chew. If one of these structures is damaged or functions improperly, one of the most common side effects is pain. But what can cause problems with these joints and structures? Common causes of TMJ pain include:

  • Jaw arthritis
  • Dislocations
  • Tooth and jaw misalignment
  • Teeth grinding or overstressing the joint

As we mentioned above, pain is the most common symptom, but it may also be accompanied by tenderness, clicking, a popping sound or difficulty moving the jaw.

Diagnosing and Treating Jaw Pain

If you are dealing with jaw pain, make an appointment with your dentist or your primary care physician. The diagnostic process will include listening to your symptoms, a physical exam to look for signs of joint problems, and potential imaging exams to pinpoint the exact problem. One of the biggest hurdles in treating jaw pain is an accurate diagnosis, because if you’re not treating the underlying problem, you’re unlikely to find relief, so a comprehensive exam by a specialist is important.

Treatment of jaw joint problems will depend on the root cause of your pain. For some individuals, lifestyle modifications of eating softer foods, avoiding chewing gum, heat pack application and practicing jaw relaxation techniques will be the only treatment options necessary. For others with more serious joint issues, physical therapy or jaw strengthening exercises may help to prevent problems caused by arthritis, while muscle relaxants or mouthguards can protect against teeth grinding at night.

In rare cases, your dentist may recommend a dental operation to correct the issue. These can range from adjusting an uneven bite to reshaping your teeth, depending on what is necessary. Your dentist can explain the operations as well as any other treatment modalities should a dental procedure be necessary.

Oil Pulling Teeth Whitening

Does Oil Pulling Work To Whiten Teeth?

When it comes to caring for your teeth and keeping them white, there are plenty of home remedies that claim to be able to brighten your smile without the need for expensive kits or the assistance of a medical expert. One such technique that has been touted as beneficial for your mouth is called oil pulling.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient folk remedy that originated in Asia that involves putting a tablespoon of edible oil in your mouth. Common oils used include sesame oil, olive oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil. The person swishes the oil around in their mouth for a while, pushing and pulling it through the crevices in their teeth, which is where the name derives from.

After anywhere from a minute to 20 minutes of oil pulling, the individual spits out the oil. There have been claims that oil pulling whitens teeth, improves your dental health and has health benefits for your whole body.

Does It Work?

As you might have guessed, there are currently no reliable scientific studies that verify the claims that oil pulling whitens teeth, prevents cavities or improves oral or overall health. Since there is no scientific-based evidence, it is not a technique that is recommended by the American Dental Association, so look elsewhere when making an oral hygiene plan.

Instead of oil pulling, try some of these trusted techniques:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Eating healthy foods and avoiding excess sugars.
  • Drink water instead of juices and sodas.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid using tobacco products.

When it comes down to it, trust you mouth to clinically-proven techniques that have been verified by the American Dental Association. For more tips, or to talk to a dentist about your oral health, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.