ONE OF THE MOST common complications of diabetes is gum disease, and that isn’t the only way diabetes is hard on teeth and gums. Diabetes and oral health have a close relationship. If the diabetes isn’t carefully controlled, it will be much harder to maintain good oral health, and vice versa.
What Does Blood Sugar Have to Do with Oral Health?
You’ve probably already heard that sugar is bad for oral health. The harmful bacteria in our mouths love to eat leftover sugar stuck to our teeth after we enjoy a tasty treat. Unfortunately, high blood sugar is just as delicious to harmful oral bacteria. High blood sugar also weakens the immune system, making that same bacteria harder to fight. This leaves diabetic patients more vulnerable to tooth decay and oral inflammation.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
An estimated 22 percent of diabetics (both type 1 and type 2) have gum disease. It might only be in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or it might be much more advanced (periodontitis), threatening the health of the teeth, gums and even the supporting bone. If the bacteria causing the gum disease makes its way into the bloodstream, it can threaten overall health too.
Symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, bad breath, gum recession, and looser teeth. Other problems associated with diabetes can also increase the risk of gum disease, such as dry mouth, impaired ability to heal, burning mouth syndrome, more frequent and severe infections, enlargement of salivary glands, and fungal infections.
How to Fight Back Against Diabetes
Fortunately, good oral health is still achievable even for patients struggling with diabetes, and maintaining good oral health will make it easier to keep good control over diabetes. Brush twice a day for two full minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, be careful with sugar intake, and avoid smoking. If you’re doing all of this and scheduling your recommended number of yearly dental appointments, you’ll be on the right track!
How Diabetes Can Impact Orthodontic Treatment
We want everyone to have healthy, properly aligned smiles, but gum disease can make it difficult or impossible to begin or continue orthodontic treatment. That’s why it’s even more crucial for diabetics who are current orthodontic patients or who are considering orthodontic treatment to maintain careful control of their diabetes and their oral health.
Take Advantage of Good Resources
We want to emphasize the importance of those regular dental visits. The dentist can recognize warning signs before you can and recommend adjustments to the daily oral hygiene routine before any problems can get worse. The dentist and the doctor can also work as a team to help keep you, your teeth, and your gums healthy — just make sure to keep them both up to date!
BLEEDING GUMS ARE the most common symptom of gum disease, but that’s not the only thing that can cause this problem. Let’s take a closer look at bleeding gums, the various causes, and what we can do about it.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Over time, plaque (a sticky, bacteria-filled film that coats our teeth) builds up along our gumlines if we aren’t careful enough in our brushing and flossing routines. Eventually, plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums, making them more likely to bleed and leading to gingivitis, or the early stage of gum disease.
More advanced gum disease is periodontitis, where the infection impacts the jaw and supportive tissues connecting the teeth to the gums as well as the gums themselves. Tooth loss is a major concern at this stage, so don’t let it get this far!
Vitamin C and K Deficiencies
If your gums are bleeding but you don’t have gum disease, ask your doctor to check your vitamin C and K levels, and make sure you’re including good sources of these vitamins in your diet, such as: citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers for vitamin C, and watercress, kale, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, soybeans, and olive oil for vitamin K.
Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue
It’s also possible (though uncommon) to damage gum tissue to the point of bleeding (and worse) simply by brushing too hard. Remember when you’re brushing that you aren’t cleaning out tile grout; you’re cleaning soft, living tissue, and gentle brushing is enough. It’s best to use a brush with soft bristles. One way you know you’re probably brushing too hard is if the bristles quickly become bent outward.
A New Flossing Routine
Sometimes flossing for the first time in a while can cause a little bleeding, but this is no reason to stop flossing. The bleeding should clear up after a few days if there isn’t another cause, but make sure that you’re gentle on your gums when you floss. You want to get beneath the gumline, but avoid pulling straight towards the gums when getting between your teeth. Instead, work your way down carefully with a back-and-forth motion.
Protecting Your Gum Health
The first step to having healthy gums is good dental hygiene. This includes twice-daily brushing for a full two minutes with that soft-bristled toothbrush, daily flossing, and twice-yearly visits to the dentist. A good way to soothe tender gums is by swishing with warm salt water (but don’t swallow it). You might also want to consider switching to an electric toothbrush. They’re better at cleaning and you’re less likely to brush too hard with them.
Let the Dentist Take a Look
If you’ve noticed your gums bleeding when you brush or if they’ve felt sore or swollen lately, the first thing to do is to schedule a dental appointment. The dentist can determine what the source of the problem is and recommend the right next steps to take to get back to great gum health!
EVEN THOUGH WE know, logically, that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of staying healthy, many of us don’t find it particularly fun to lie flat on our backs while someone pokes around our teeth and gums. For some people, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.
Dental Anxiety Statistics: You Are Not Alone
Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimatednine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better (for your wallet as well as your health) to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.
Why Does Dental Anxiety Happen?
A lot of people who avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear do so because of a previous negative experience they had that soured them on the concept of dentistry altogether. The feeling of not being in control is another reason people might be nervous. We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients feel comfortable so that they can move forward with the right professional oral health care to keep their teeth strong and healthy for life.
History and Pop Culture Skew Versus Modern Dentistry
If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before World War II made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least. The field has come a long way since then, even though movies and TV haven’t done much to update cultural expectations. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.
Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety
There are a few things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety.
Come visit our practice before your appointment, especially if this is your first time coming in. Familiarize yourself with our space and members of our staff so that it doesn’t seem so foreign on appointment day. You might even want to bring someone you trust along with you.
Learn as much as you can about what happens in a typical dental appointment. If you take away the mystery, it will help you regain a sense of control.
Talk to us about your anxiety. When we know this is something you struggle with, there’s more we can do to help you.
Bring a distraction like headphones and a playlist of relaxing music to your appointment.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Dental Professionals
Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and it’s interfering with getting needed dental care, we’d love to schedule a time for you to come to our practice so that you can get used to the facility and get to know our team. We can answer any questions you may have.
THE EXPRESSION “getting long in the tooth” refers to gum recession, but this oral health problem isn’t necessarily connected to age. Gum recession is when the edge of the gingival tissue moves away from the crown of the tooth, exposing the root. The reason we tend to think of it as an age-related problem is that it tends to be so gradual that it takes many years to become noticeable, but it can begin at any age — even in childhood! — for a variety of reasons.
Gum Recession Caused by Genetics
Unfortunately, gum recession isn’t always avoidable, because it can be caused by genetics. Some people simply have more fragile gum tissue or they don’t have enough jaw bone surrounding the roots of their teeth to support the gums all the way up to the crowns. However, other contributing factors are easier to control, so even people who are predisposed to gum recession can still minimize it.
Bruxism: Bad for Teeth, Bad for Gums
Bruxism (chronic teeth-grinding) can cause all kinds of problems for oral health, and one of them is an increased risk of gum recession. Grinding puts a lot of pressure on the gums, and they can’t always hold up under it and begin to recede. The habit of grinding is often difficult to break, particularly for those who grind in their sleep. If you struggle with bruxism, come talk to us. You don’t have to fight this alone.
Overbrushing: Too Much of a Good Thing
Dentists spend so much time encouraging patients to brush their teeth more that you might be surprised to learn that it’s possible to brush your teeth too much. It’s certainly possible to brush them too hard. We call this over brushing, and it can lead to enamel erosion and gum recession.
This problem is an easy one to avoid. Always keep in mind that brushing teeth is not the same as cleaning tile grout. Soft bristles are better for our gums and tooth enamel than hard bristles, and two minutes twice a day is usually enough. If you’re brushing so hard that your toothbrush bristles rapidly bend and fray within a couple months, it’s time to ease up. The same applies to flossing. Daily flossing is essential, but be gentle on your gums.
Gum Disease Leaves Gum Tissue Vulnerable
Gum disease, particularly in the advanced stages, destroys the supporting gum tissue and bone around teeth. It’s the main cause of gum recession. The best way to fight it is with good oral hygiene habits and regular dental appointments. Professional cleanings are absolutely crucial for maintaining good gum health, because once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by the dentist. The longer it remains, the more irritation it can cause the gums.
Kids Can Have Gum Recession?
It’s true; even kids aren’t completely safe from gum recession. The causes are the same for adults: improper brushing and flossing (specifically, overbrushing), bad oral hygiene, and teeth grinding. It can also come on as the result of an injury to the mouth. As with gum recession in adults, the best treatment is prevention through good oral health habits.
Let’s Keep Those Gums Healthy!
If you’re worried that your gums may be beginning to recede or you want to learn more about how you can prevent gum recession, schedule an appointment with us! We can help you take care of your gum health and discuss treatment options if needed.
THE TOOTHBRUSH HAS CHANGED a lot over the last century, and we consider ourselves very lucky that we don’t have to use animal hair as bristles. However, there are now so many different toothbrush options to choose from that it can be a little intimidating trying to find the perfect one.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the harder you scrub, the cleaner you get. That might be true with household chores, but we need to be a little more gentle on our teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can actually scrape away enamel and damage gum tissue — increasing your risk of gum recession, which can be permanent. This is why it’s typically better to use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
Electric or Manual Toothbrush?
When electric toothbrushes first hit the scene, there wasn’t much difference in their effectiveness compared to that of manual toothbrushes. The technology has come a long way since then. Modern electric toothbrushes actually can do a better job of cleaning the plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.
A good electric toothbrush will reduce plaque levels by up to 21 percent more than a manual toothbrush, as well as reducing the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent. With an electric toothbrush, you’ll also have an easier time brushing for the full two minutes and you’ll be less likely to brush too hard.
Sonic or Oscillating?
Even if you decide you want an electric toothbrush, there are still a lot of options to choose from, but don’t worry too much. Oscillating brushes (the ones with spinning tops) and sonic brushes (the ones that vibrate side to side) are both great ways to get a cleaner smile. And you can always ask us for a recommendation at your next appointment!
Having the world’s best toothbrush won’t do you much good if you don’t store it the right way, because an improperly stored toothbrush is a breeding ground for all the bacteria you just scrubbed off your teeth. Make sure to store your toothbrush upright somewhere with enough air flow that it can fully dry between uses — preferably far away from the toilet.
In addition to proper storage, it’s important to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head, if you have an electric one) every few months. A dirty, frayed toothbrush is nowhere near as effective as a fresh, new one.
Here’s a nifty way to store your toothbrush if you’re looking for ideas:
Bring Us Your Toothbrush Questions
We want all of our patients to have the best tools for the job of keeping their teeth healthy and clean, but don’t forget that your best resource for good dental health is your dentist! We look forward to seeing you twice a year!
Dental health is all about having good habits, the right tools, and a great dentist!
THERE ARE A NUMBER of reasons why someone might need a new dentist. Maybe their insurance changed, they’re moving to a new area, or they simply haven’t looked for a dentist yet. Whatever the reason, if you don’t already have a dentist, it’s a good idea to choose one now so that you and your family can get regular dental exams and so that you’ll be ready in the event of a dental emergency.
Five Factors To Consider In Your Dentist Search
Many variables play a role when you’re choosing the best dentist for you and your family. How you rank your priorities is up to you, but here are five items that we feel should be on everyone’s list.
The location of the practice is definitely something to consider. How close is it to your home or to your child’s school? Is the distance convenient enough that twice-yearly checkups will be easy? Set up a range based on your answers to these questions and look for dentists inside it.
What is the dentist’s reputation? Within the radius you’re willing to travel, which dentists have the best reputations among their other patients? Find out by checking Yelp and Google, and ask around if you know any of the patients in person. You can also get recommendations from neighbors and friends.
Do you need a dentist with a certain specialization? Do you need a family practice, someone particularly good with kids, someone who specializes in treating gum disease or root canals? Be sure to research different types of dentists to find the one that suits your needs best.
As important as it is to get high quality dental care, cost is an important factor too. What’s your household’s budget for dental care? Do you have dental insurance or can you get it? Keep in mind that preventing dental problems or treating them early will be much cheaper than waiting until they get serious, so slightly greater upfront costs are often well worth the investment.
How comfortable are you around the dentist? It doesn’t matter how affordable and skilled a dentist is if you can’t relax in their practice. Go in for a visit ahead of time to get a sense of the place, the team, and the dentist. Good dentists always prioritize patient comfort!
We Can’t Wait To Meet You And Your Family
Hopefully this list gives you a good place to start in your search for a great dentist, but if you’re still uncertain, come see us! We can answer your questions about our practice and find out if we’re a good fit for you and your family’s dental needs.
MAINTAINING GOOD DENTAL health isn’t just about the quantity of your brushing — it’s also about the quality. There are several mistakes many of us make when brushing our teeth, whether because we’re using the wrong tools or because we’re using the right tools the wrong way.
1. Keeping A Toothbrush Too Long
How long has it been since you got a new toothbrush? The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush at least three times a year, because broken, frayed bristles can’t do as good of a job of keeping your teeth clean.
2. Racing Through Your Brushing
The average time people spend brushing their teeth is 45 seconds, which obviously falls far short of the full two minutes recommended. If you’re having trouble making it through two whole minutes, try setting a timer or playing a song.
3. Brushing Too Hard
You might assume that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will get, but you really only need gentle pressure to scrub the leftover food and bacteria away. If you brush much harder than that, you risk damaging your gum tissue.
4. Using A Hard-Bristled Brush
Like brushing too hard, using a toothbrush with hard bristles can do more harm than good, especially to gum tissue. Talk to us if you’re not sure which type of bristles your toothbrush should have.
5. Brushing Immediately After Eating
A common mistake people make when they’re trying to take good care of their teeth is to immediately brush them after a meal. Acidic foods and drinks temporarily weaken our tooth enamel, and brushing right away can cause damage. This is why we should wait at least half an hour to brush so that our saliva has time to neutralize things.
6. Poor Toothbrush Storage
Is your toothbrush smelly? Do you store it somewhere it can get plenty of air, or do you put it in a case where it never really dries out? Bacteria love moist environments, so the best thing we can do to keep our toothbrushes clean is to store them uprightsomewhere they can air dry between uses.
7. Bad Brushing Technique
Even brushing for two full minutes twice a day with the best toothbrush with the perfect bristle firmness won’t do much for your teeth if your technique is off. Remember that you’re brushing to get plaque and food particles out of the gumline, so hold your brush at a 45° angle to the gums and gently sweep the bristles in small circular motions. Do this at least 15 times in each area of the mouth, on the tongue side and outside of the teeth, and don’t forget the chewing surfaces!
Come To Us With Your Tooth Brushing Questions
If you want to learn more about good brushing technique, toothbrush storage, or how to pick the perfect toothbrush for you, just give us a call! We want to make sure that all of our patients have the right tools and knowledge to keep their teeth healthy for life!
We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
“BRUSH YOUR TEETH for two full minutes twice a day and floss your teeth once a day.” You’ve probably lost count of how many times you’ve heard that, but how often have you heard that you should be cleaning your tongue every day too?
The Difference A Clean Tongue Makes
More bacteria likes to live on our tongues than just about anywhere else on our bodies. That’s because all those tiny crevices in the tongue’s surface are prime real estate for all kinds of pathogens. If we don’t actively keep our tongues clean, the harmful bacteria will stay put and multiply, causing bad breath and contributing to tooth decay on the inner surfaces of our teeth.
Another reason to regularly get rid of all that tongue bacteria is that it can dramatically improve your sense of taste. When the tongue is covered in bacteria, the tastebuds have a hard time doing their job, but with the bacteria gone, they’re free to absorb all those delicious flavors at their full capacity. Yum!
Chemical digestion begins in our mouths, and a clean tongue makes this process more effective too. So, if you want to enjoy your favorite foods as much as possible, keep your breath clean and fresh, and improve your digestive health, clean your tongue!
Finding The Best Tools For Cleaning Your Tongue
Keeping your tongue clean takes more than swishing mouthwash or rinsing with water. The bacteria hiding in all those tiny grooves is very stubborn, and washing with liquid won’t be enough do dislodge them. To really clear off the biofilm of bacteria, you need to scrape it with a tongue-scraper.
If you don’t find these in the grocery store near the toothbrushes, you can order one online, and some toothbrushes have tongue scrapers built in on the reverse side. Between brushing and rinsing your teeth is the best time to scrape your tongue. Start at the back and work forward, and try to get as much of the surface area as you can.
For the first few days, you might be surprised by how much biofilm comes away with the tongue scraper, but the longer you stick with it, the cleaner your tongue will become, until it seems like you’re scraping away nothing but clean spit. See if you notice the difference in your breath and your sense of taste when you get to this point!
Tongue-Scraping Is Older Than You Think
If you’ve never heard of tongue-scraping before, you might think it’s a new idea, but it’s actually been around since ancient times in some cultures. It’s part of the daily hygiene routine in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Tongue-scraping tools have been made of many different materials across the centuries, including copper, silver, gold, ivory, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. Today, they’re typically plastic or stainless steel.
Have Any Questions About Tongue Cleaning?
If you have questions about tongue cleaning or would like our recommendations on the best tools for the job, just give us a call! We’re always happy to help our patients improve their daily dental hygiene regimens, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!
HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED any extra sensitivity in your teeth after a fun afternoon swimming? You aren’t imagining things, though it usually takes more than just one trip to the local pool before there are any effects. But what does swimming have to do with tooth sensitivity?
The Effects Of Chlorine On Tooth Enamel
When you hear the phrase “swimmer’s calculus,” you might think it’s advanced math for mermaids, but it’s actually the name of what gradually happens to tooth enamel with enough exposure to acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Chlorine in pools is great for keeping them sanitary for the public to swim in, but it also changes the acidity of the water.
Prolonged exposure to the diluted hydrochloric acid in pool water can wear away the tooth enamel of avid swimmers, leading to yellow and brown stains on the teeth and increasing tooth sensitivity. A few visits to the pool over the summer wouldn’t be enough to produce this result, but members of swimming or diving teams, water polo players, and anyone who swims laps multiple times a week to work out, could be susceptible.
A Deeper Dive: Scuba Diving And Teeth
Natural bodies of water won’t give you swimmer’s calculus, but they come with their own dental concerns. If you’ve ever dived into the deep end of a pool, you’ve probably felt the pressure building up in your ears on the way down. The deeper you go, the stronger the pressure becomes, and it can even happen in your teeth.
Tooth squeeze (barodontalgia) is when tiny air bubbles that get trapped in crevices, cracks, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure, which can be painful and may even cause a tooth to fracture! This is why it’s a good idea to visit the dentist before you begin diving, especially if you’ve had dental work done in the past.
Diving Mouthpieces And TMJ
A lot of divers agree that the “one size fits all” design of the mouthpieces is more like “one size fits none,” but if you want to breathe underwater, you have to grip it between your teeth for the entire dive anyway. This can be pretty hard on your jaws.
Clenching your jaws for extended periods can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), with symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. If you dive more than once or twice a year, a good solution might be to get your own custom-fitted mouthpiece.
Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!
In addition to these issues, simple tooth injuries are more common around pools than other places. To avoid these kinds of accidents, be careful around those slippery surfaces, don’t come up out of the water too fast at the edge of the pool, and don’t dive in shallow water. If you have any questions about what you can do to protect your teeth at the pool, just give us a call!
We hope that all of our patients are having a wonderful summer!