Oral Health Stroke

Is There A Link Between Oral Health and Stroke Risk?

Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, as one person dies every four minutes on average due to a stroke or complications from the condition. Preventing strokes comes down to getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, but your oral health also can help reduce your stroke risk. Below, we take a closer look at the link between your oral health and your stroke risk.

Strokes and Your Teeth

To better understand the relationship between stroke risk and your oral health, we first must learn a little bit more about stroke onset. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, or when a blood clot prevents oxygen from getting to the brain. This can cause a variety of physical symptoms, including the inability to speak, a drooping face, limb weakness and impaired vision. Due to their onset, individuals who are at the highest risk for strokes are older individuals, African Americans, people who live a sedentary lifestyle, obese individuals and smokers.

So how does mouth health affect your risk of stroke? According to medical data, you may be more likely to suffer a stroke if you have poor gum health. Poor oral health can lead to the onset of gum disease, which is an inflammatory condition that leads to swollen, red and bleeding gums. The condition also involves the overgrowth of mouth bacteria, and this abundance of oral bacteria can lead to an infection. This bacterial infection can get into your bloodstream, which can make your blood clot more easily. If your blood clots and it prevents air from getting to your brain, you can suffer a stroke.

It’s very important to prevent inflammatory gum disease. Not only can it reduce your risk of a stroke, but gum disease has also been medically linked to an increased risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers. The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, floss daily to remove plaque and tartar from between your teeth that contributes to gum disease, and to get regular dental cleanings to stay on top of your gum health. Gum disease affects more than 64 million Americans, but we can help decrease those numbers and our stroke risk by being cognizant of what contributes to gum disease and how to best prevent it.

So if you are considered at a higher risk for stroke because of your age or other health factors, or if you’ve suffered a stroke in the past, make sure you are working to reduce your risk in every controllable way. Eat a healthy diet, give up smoking, lead an active lifestyle and take care of your oral health! If you want more information about the association between your mouth health and stroke risk, or if you are interested in setting up your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his clinic today.

Birth Control Oral Health

How Does Birth Control Affect Your Oral Health?

The decision on when to have kids looms large in our society, and birth control is one option that allows the user to have a little more control over when their family grows larger. There are a number of birth control options on the market for both males and females, and while these options may affect your hormone levels throughout the month, it can also have consequences for your oral health. In today’s blog, we explain how certain birth control options can affect your teeth, and how to have great oral health no matter what family planning choice you make.

Birth Control and Your Teeth

Birth control can have an impact on your oral health due to the changing hormones in your body. Many forms of birth control include hormones, and when there is an uptick or sizeable fluctuation in the number or hormones in your body, it can have an impact on your health. In your mouth, these hormone changes can bring about an inflammatory response in your gums. The most common oral symptoms associated with taking birth control are sore, swollen or bleeding gums. This can happen when you take birth control, or during other life stages when hormone levels fluctuate, like during puberty or menopause.

The good news is that medical science is making it so that certain forms of birth control have lower levels of estrogen and progesterone than previous versions, so the effects of hormone fluctuations aren’t typically as severe. However, if you already have gum disease or gingivitis, even these smaller hormone changes can continue disease progression.

There are also some other lifestyle factors that can affect your oral health while on birth control. For example, women who smoke and take birth control are more likely to have blood clotting issues, which can be a problem if you need to have a tooth pulled. Also, the longer you’re on birth control, the greater the risk that gum disease becomes an issue down the road. And finally, you’ll want to talk to your dentist about what type of birth control you are taking if they want to prescribe you with medication for a dental problem. Mixing medications can decrease the effectiveness of one or both medications, so to ensure everything remains effective, have a simple conversation with your dentist.

Dental Clinic in Bloomington, MN

If you are concerned about what a certain type of birth control might do to your oral health, ask your doctor about lower hormone options. Also, to reduce your risk of gum disease no matter what form of birth control you choose, make sure you are brushing your teeth at least two times a day, regularly flossing and getting semi-annual cleanings and checkups. If you need to schedule your next dental visit, or you simply want to learn about other ways in which you can prevent gum disease, reach out to Dr. Brooks and his dental team at Smile For Life Dental in Bloomington.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy and Oral Health – 5 Things You Should Know

A number of expecting mothers are very cognizant about their diet and exercise habits in the months leading up to their due date, but many of them of them don’t pay as close attention to their dental health. It’s always important to care for your oral health, but it’s especially important during pregnancy because failing to do so can cause issues for your unborn child. Below, we take a closer look at why pregnancy can be hard on your teeth, and how to protect your teeth and your child as you navigate your pregnancy.

Caring For Your Teeth During Pregnancy

Here are five things you should know about how pregnancy can affect your oral health, and how to care for your teeth during pregnancy.

  1. Pregnancy-Induced Gingivitis – Up to half of women will experience what’s known as pregnancy-induced gingivitis. This develops as a result of hormonal changes throughout your body brought on by pregnancy. These hormones make it so that your gums are more sensitive, so they are more easily irritated by plaque. This can lead to red, swollen or even bleeding gums. The good news is that the condition usually resolves on its own after childbirth, but to reduce your risk of symptoms during pregnancy, you’ll want to brush and floss regularly to help prevent the buildup of potentially-irritating plaque.
  2. Managing Morning Sickness – If you are dealing with morning sickness, make sure you are caring for your mouth after an episode. Don’t let stomach acid linger on your teeth’s surfaces after morning sickness. Be sure you are rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth after a bout of morning sickness to help protect your tooth enamel from erosion.
  3. Keep Going To The Dentist – You should still be going to the dentist for your semi-annual cleanings, even during pregnancy. It’s perfectly safe to get your normal cleaning while pregnant, and it’s even safe to get x-rays. Let your dentist know if you think you may or know that you are pregnant, but we always take precautions to minimize radiation exposure so you and your unborn child stay safe.
  4. Getting Through Brushing Nausea – If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve probably had cravings for specific foods or been nauseated by the smell of others. The same nauseating feeling can occur for some women when they brushing. If brushing is making you nauseous, try switching to a smaller brush head or changing toothpastes to one with a less distinct flavor. Others find relief by brushing at different times throughout the day.
  5. What You Eat Helps Your Baby – Did you know that your child’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy? Making sure you get plenty of nutrients like Vitamin A, C, and D as well as calcium and protein will help ensure they are getting what they need for healthy development. Foods high in folate and folic acid supplements can help to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Pregnancy and hormones can cause problems for your teeth, but if you practice good oral hygiene and are cognizant about what you put in your body, you and your baby will have a great chance of having wonderful health throughout the length of your pregnancy. For more information or to set up your next appointment, contact Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Beard Oral Health

How Your Beard Affects Your Oral Health

Have you heard the rumor that beards are full of germs and bacteria? Since the beard is in close proximity to your mouth, could these germs make their way to your mouth and cause problems for your teeth and gums? While the germy beard rumor may just be a myth, there are a couple things bearded men should know about caring for their dental health.

For starters, even if your beard isn’t exactly the cleanest, the best way to care for your mouth is with the same methods your clean-shaven brethren use, which involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each session, flossing daily, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake and getting regular cleanings from your dentist. Washing your beard frequently or using certain antibacterial creams aren’t going to do anything for protecting your teeth.

Dental Problems Caused By Beards

Your beard isn’t going to directly cause any problems for your teeth, but you need to be aware of how your beard can impact your ability to keep your mouth protected. Beards often help to hide our jawline, and that can be an issue. Changes in your jawline, numbness or discoloration are all signals that you may be dealing with a jaw or mouth problem, but these differences can be harder to spot if you have a beard.

So if you have a beard, especially if you aren’t planning on shaving anytime soon, be sure to perform regular health checks of your jawline. Look for the presence of lumps, bruises or changes to your jaw structure. If you notice anything, bring it to the attention of your doctor or dentist.

Another thing you should check for is how far you can open your mouth. Again, this can sometimes be obstructed if you’ve got a bigger beard, but decreases in your ability to open your mouth could signal some serious mouth problems, like mouth cancer. So if you’re having difficulty opening your mouth or the action is accompanied by pain, you’re going to want to talk to a specialist.

So at the end of the day, if you have a beard, take some time throughout the week to look for changes in your jaw structure, but other than that, protecting your mouth comes down to performing basic dental hygiene. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth every day, and don’t skip any upcoming appointments with your dentist! For more information, or to talk to a dentist about a tooth or jaw issue you’ve been having, contact Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Epilepsy Oral Health

How Epilepsy Can Affect Your Oral Health

Epilepsy is a condition in which nerve cell activity in the brain triggers seizures. Most epileptics have a routine for handling a seizure when they feel one coming on, but that doesn’t mean they can totally control their actions during a seizure, and one area that can often be affected by these uncontrolled movements is their mouth.

Epileptic seizures can cause a variety of dental issues, and oftentimes epileptics have to visit the dentist more frequently than an individual without these seizures. Some of the potential problems caused by uncontrolled movements during seizures include:

  • Bites to the tongue or creek from uncontrolled biting.
  • Chipped or cracked teeth.
  • Displaced teeth.
  • Jaw fractures or jaw dislocations.
  • Punctures to other surfaces, including the lips.

If you are prone to epileptic seizures, talk to your doctor and dentist about the best ways to limit and prevent damage that may be occuring to your mouth when a seizure hits. They’ll want to know more about the specifics of your seizures, but odds are they can help you minimize damage to your mouth during these unfortunate events.

Seizure Medications and Your Oral Health

The good news is that if you’re epileptic, modern medicine can likely help to reduce or even eliminate your seizures. The bad news is that a lot of the medications that can help with your seizures have potential side effects for your teeth.

For example, many seizure medications list potential side effects such as bleeding gums, overgrown gums, tongue swelling and mouth ulcers. They are common symptoms, but when they do develop they can cause a host of problems for your teeth. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about switching medications to see if you can experience seizure relief and avoid dental issues. If you can’t safely switch medications, or the oral side effects outweigh the fear of an unplanned seizure, just be sure you are doing what you can to protect your mouth throughout the day. Brush your teeth regularly, floss at least once a day, and make sure you are getting regular dental checkups throughout the year.

One last point based on that last sentence. If you are prone to seizures, make sure your dentist knows this and you try to schedule your dental appointment at times when you are low-risk for a seizure. Most dentists have equipment like eye covers, ear plugs or headphones which can help to keep a seizure at bay, so for your safety and for our safety, do what you can to help prevent a seizure at the dentist’s office. We know they aren’t 100 percent preventable, but if you take precautions and we’re on our toes, we can make sure your visit runs as smoothly as possible.

For more information, or to schedule your next dentist appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.

Oral Health

Why Your Oral Health Is Important For Your Whole Body

When you skip brushing your teeth or you ignore flossing you may think you’re just jeopardizing your oral health, but that’s simply not the case. Your mouth plays a big role in your overall health, so to neglect your oral health is to neglect your whole body. Below, we take a closer look at the link between your mouth and your total body health.

Oral Health And Your Body

There are a number of ways your mouth impacts your overall health. Here’s how:

  1. Your Heart – Poor dental hygiene has been linked to heart disease. The theory is that bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream, where they can land on existing artery plaques and contribute to clot formation. Larger clots can lead to cardiovascular diseases and other heart problems. Individuals with gum disease are also twice as likely to develop artery disease compared to people without gum disease.
  2. Diabetes – There is even more medical data to support poor oral hygiene and the onset of diabetes. Poor oral care can lead to gum disease, and gum disease can increase blood sugar levels in the body. Unregulated blood sugar levels can leave you at an increased risk for developing diabetes, or it can make the condition harder to manage if you already have it. Regardless of whether you have diabetes or you want to prevent it, you should take care of your teeth and gums.
  3. Inflammation – Gum disease can also lead to inflammation in other parts of your body. When joints are inflamed, you’re at an increased risk for developing infections which can make you sick or damage organs. We can’t stress how important it is to take care of your teeth and your gums.
  4. During Pregnancy – There have been some medical studies that have linked gum disease to certain pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia. There is also a link between oral health and premature birth. It is especially important to brush your teeth during pregnancy, because your hormonal fluctuations can make you more susceptible to gum disease, and in turn your body’s response to the condition. Be very careful to have good oral during pregnancy for both you and your child.
  5. Cancer Risk – Finally, gum disease may be linked to certain cancers of the head and neck. Other studies have linked tooth loss caused by gum disease to certain types of cancers, so again, make it a priority to care for your teeth. Your whole body will thank you for it!

Contact Dr. Tim Brooks at Smiles for life Dental for all your oral health needs!

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.


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 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.


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.