Why Healthy Teeth & Gums Improve Overall Health

We’ve all had moments where we wanted to take the easy route to solve a problem. This is especially true when adults feel stressed and money is tight. These circumstances make it hard to ‘stay the course’ when a less costly, ‘quick fix’ solution seems so appealing.

For missing teeth, dentures and partials may seem like such a simple solution. Although these recreate the presence of teeth in the mouth, these do little to improve one’s oral or overall health.

The pressure of dentures or partials on the gums actually contributes to bone loss. Bone loss occurs naturally when tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw bone(s). Bone loss is what causes difficulty eating, embarrassing slips and changes that age facial appearance far beyond one’s actual years.

Although it may seem ‘easier’ to have teeth removed or cheaper to avoid dental visits, the long-term health repercussions will eventually emerge in costly ways — physically, emotionally and monetarily.

When your mouth is healthy, you avoid the expense of dental repairs, including tooth replacement. It requires just minutes each day to keep teeth and gums in good shape through a twice-a-day commitment of brushing, daily flossing and regular dental check-ups.

However, problem after problem and frequent dental visits and associated expenses can be depleting. For those who are contemplating dentures to ‘solve’ their dental problems, here’s my advice: Ask someone who has worn dentures for over ten years, if they could go back in time, would they have made more effort to keep their natural teeth?

At this time, nearly half of all American adults fail to brush twice a day. When you assess the damage to not only your teeth and gums, but your overall health, these few minutes at the sink are the simplest ways to enjoy a healthier YOU! And, research has proven that your oral health affects many other aspects of your overall health.

Research has shown that adults who are missing all of their natural teeth die at an age that is ten years earlier, on average, than those who have their natural teeth. Research also indicates that toothless adults (regardless of whether they wear dentures) have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

One study linked the effects of having fewer teeth and bleeding gums. In the study, cardiovascular (heart) problems, high blood pressure and high cholesterol showed a connection to the number of natural teeth and gum disease.

Poor dental hygiene and bleeding gums contain up to 700 types of bacteria. Through tears in weakened gum tissues, these bacteria are able to penetrate the bloodstream. This bacteria, once bloodborne, can increase the risk for heart attack regardless of how fit and healthy the adult is otherwise.

Studies have also shown that the number of natural teeth one has affects their potential for internal inflammation. A Swedish study of over 15,000 adults showed that, as the number of teeth declined for an adult, the higher the levels were for increased inflammation and conditions that lead to hardening of the arteries.

Along with higher cardiac risk, having few teeth was related to higher levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and waist circumference. Those with fewer teeth also meant a higher potential for developing diabetes.

It is also important to understand that your gum health is just as important as healthy teeth. Gum disease symptoms are often ignored when “nothing hurts,” including bad breath and tender, bleeding gums. This results in plaque, a sticky film of oral bacteria, on teeth and gums. Once it hardens into calculus (which takes less than two days) the results are the beginning of cavities, gum disease, receded gums and tooth loss.

It’s amazing that the risk of developing heart disease can be reduced by maintaining a healthy mouth. As research continues to reveal correlations between oral health and overall health, our population’s commitment to achieving and keeping a healthy mouth will hopefully increase significantly.

Call us toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to begin a path to achieving a healthy smile and an overall well-being.

Excuses, Excuses! Reasons We Hear For NOT Flossing!

Modern advancements in dental technology, techniques and materials are amazing. Yet, to avoid cavities and gum disease, there is still nothing better than a tooth brush, tooth paste and dental floss — AND a diligent user!

ToothbrushBrushing and flossing has progressed somewhat over the years. Toothpaste now has a fluoride additive. Some have whitening agents. Toothbrushes offer better shaped to reach tight angles. Electric toothbrushes can also make brushing more effective.

But flossing? That is the missing link that is often overlooked in the daily oral hygiene routine of American adults. Yet, it’s so necessary! While brushing removes oral bacteria that accumulates in the mouth, flossing removes the particles that create it in the first place!

While we encourage our patients to floss, we know lecturing is not helpful. And, whatever the excuse is, we’ve probably heard it over and over. Some of those we hear most often include:

“My hands are too big.”
Consider using floss holders. These are especially helpful for people with dexterity problems, such as arthritis sufferers.

“My gums bleed.”
Gums that are red, swollen, or bleed easily indicate gingivitis, the initial form of gum disease. This should be treated immediately. Gum disease can damage your oral health and create inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.

“I have my teeth cleaned twice a year, so I don’t need to floss.”
In less than two days, plaque on teeth can harden into calculus. To remove calculus, a professional cleaning is required. The easiest way to prevent calculus is through daily flossing. Once in the habit, flossing takes very little time and energy.

“My teeth are too tight for the floss.”
Waxed or polymer floss is recommended for people with tight spaces between teeth.

“Flossing takes too long.”
Once you have the hang of daily flossing and are comfortable with the technique, the time required is less than two minutes. This brief amount of time can save you greatly in time and money by helping you avoid dental problems.

“I may damage my gums when flossing.”
Technique is important and our hygienists are happy to help you with proper motions to avoid popping the floss between teeth onto tender gum tissues.

Begin your commitment by watching a brief video on our web site that walks you through simple steps for thorough flossing: http://www.banrbarbatdds.com/dental_care.php

Think of brushing without flossing as taking a shower without soap. Yes, you’ll get cleaner than not taking a shower at all, but your time in the spray will be far more effective with a good sudsing up!


Energy Drinks Not Good For Your Smile

For over 15 years, energy drinks have grown in popularity, giving consumers an added boost in their day. While a quick and easy pick-me-up sounds appealing, these drinks could have unpleasant results when it comes to your smile.Soda Can

Previous research findings have attempted to caution consumers on how the pH levels in beverages (such as cola) can cause tooth erosion. These pH levels can break down tooth structure from the effect that acid has on teeth, leading to decay. Studies have revealed that, whether diet or regular, iced tea or cola, the acidity in beverages that consumers drink every day contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel.

However, a study published in General Dentistry revealed how the pH level of soft drinks isn’t the only beverage that delivers elements that are a path to dental erosion. Apparently, it’s how a beverage neutralizes acid that plays a significant role in dental erosion.

The study examined acidity levels of five popular beverages on the market. The results proved that popular energy and sports drinks had the strongest potential for enamel erosion.

The popularity of energy drinks is increasing, especially among adolescents and young adults. Growing use among these ages are a particular concern due to the porous quality of immature tooth enamel. The acid levels found in soft drink has been found to leave permanent teeth more susceptible to attack. This means there is greater potential for erosion among this age group, with the percentage affected likely to increase as consumption grows.

The results, without early treatment or if allowed to become extensive, can lead to severe dental issues that can require expensive, time-consuming full-mouth reconstruction to fully correct.

All ages, of course, are susceptible to enamel erosion from these beverages. Drinking water is not only safer to your teeth, it replenishes oral moisture. This helps saliva flow, which flushes oral bacteria from the mouth. However, for those who cannot part with their energy drinks or colas, a few tips may help to lower the risk . These include:

  • Use a straw angled toward the back of the mouth so the liquid avoids the teeth.
  • Swish with water after drinking acidic beverages.
  • Limit your daily intake of sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Remember, once enamel is worn away, it is gone for good. Protect your pearly whites by being conscious of the actions that create dental health risks. Preventive measures help you to save time and money and have greater potential to keep your natural teeth throughout your life!

If you have delayed regular dental visits, call us toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule an appointment. Or ask for a free Consultation. During this time, I’ll be happy to meet personally with you to answer your questions.

Enjoy Wine Without Causing Damage To Teeth

"Glass of Red Wine ©1995 PhotoDisc, Inc. Images ©1995 PhotoLink Call PhotoDisc @ 800-528-3472 for the High Resolution Images Outside of U.S. Please fax @ 206-441-9379 Please see End-User's License Agreement"Wine lovers may be pleased to learn that the United States now ranks as the leading consumer of wine. While France has seen wine consumption fall by 17% over the past decade,  the U.S. has had a 20% increase. Many Americans have begun enjoying a glass of wine as an accompaniment to meals and often include wine in many social settings.

Most consumers believe that wine is a healthy beverage, especially when compared to beer and liquor. It has been shown that, when consumed in moderation, wine does have health benefits, from reducing blood pressure to lowering the risk for diabetes and stroke.

However, the health benefits of wine when it comes to your smile simply don’t exist. Quite frankly, wine is detrimental to your oral health. While it’s pretty obvious that red wine can cause staining of teeth, the problems can go far deeper.

You may be unaware that wine is highly acidic. It is. And, when this acid mixes with the acids in the mouth that aid in digestion, the intensity can erode tooth enamel. This leaves the protective enamel on teeth in a weakened state and increases your risk for cavities.

According to some studies, wine is so acidic that tooth enamel has been shown to soften in only ten minutes of drinking wine. Since many wine drinkers sip a glass of wine before dinner or linger with several glasses over the course of an evening, the long period of acidic damage can have costly consequences.

Any alcoholic beverage has a drying effect on gum tissues in the mouth. The alcohol in wine can add to oral dryness, which leaves you more vulnerable to bacteria growth in the mouth. This can lead to bad breath and contribute to your susceptibility for cavities and gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you give up wine. However, you can minimize damaging your precious teeth by following some simple tips. First, try to alternate sips of wine with water. Allow the water to wash over your teeth before you swallow, which will help dilute acidity. Also, conclude your wine for the evening by swishing with water.  And, since cheese is high in alkalinity, eating cheese with wine can help to neutralize it’s acidity.

At home, consider using a prescription level fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse. This aids in strengthening tooth enamel. Because the enamel is already soft from high acid levels, avoid brushing your teeth just after wine consumption. Instead, wait 30 minutes to allow acid levels in the mouth to subside. Brushing while enamel is weak and vulnerable will damage teeth due to the abrasiveness of tooth paste and the brush’s bristles. Remember, once enamel is worn away, it is gone for good.

Yes, you can indulge in your favorite wine AND keep your smile healthy and looking great! Remember these helpful tips and say Cheers!

Bite Mis-Alignment Can Lead To Worn Teeth, Migraines

Have you ever driven behind another vehicle and noticed a rear tire that was obviously out of alignment? Without all four tires in proper balance, we know the driver will likely be looking at replacing tires worn from the imbalance. Had standard measures of periodic tire rotation and balancing occurred, the cost to replace abnormally worn tires may have been avoided.Tire

The same problem can occur with teeth. Although an individual may not sense their upper and lower teeth are out of alignment, signs eventually emerge. This is commonly seen when the tops of teeth become worn down. Often, this occurs from night-time grinding during sleep with most people having no idea it is taking place.

Worn teeth can be seen when their tops are smooth rather than having the natural contours typical of tooth shapes. Teeth that are worn are typically shorter than they should be as well.

What causes this?

When upper and lower teeth do not meet properly, the jaws attempt to self-adjust during sleep in an effort to alleviate stress or strain to the TMJ (‘temporo-mandibular joints’ or jaw joints). In the process, the action tends to transfer one problem to another.  As the jaws shift during sleep, the teeth clamp together, triggering a grinding motion.

When teeth grind back and forth, the action can wear down tooth enamel, making them vulnerable to decay and sensitivity. Grinding and clenching can also lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, dizziness, ear ringing, and limited ability to open the mouth.

Teeth that are misaligned are also more susceptible to cracks, breaks and chips. When these problems occur, costly repairs are often needed. If a tooth breaks below the gum line, however, it will likely require removal. Losing a natural tooth leaves the patient with an entirely new set of decisions and associated costs.

During your regular checkups, your bite position is checked and any signs of abnormal wear will be pointed out. Once the problem is found, treatment to correct the problem will be recommended. We’ll also discuss the best way to repair any damage that has occurred.

To determine the precise cause for misalignment, we may advise diagnostics for the TMJ. This process determines if your TMJ is the actual source of your problems. If so, a treatment plan is devised to help restore your bite to proper alignment without over-treating or under-treating.

In some cases, misalignment can be easily corrected by reshaping selected teeth. If more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be necessary. In situations where misalignment is more severe, orthodontic realignment may be needed to fully restore harmony of upper and lower teeth.

When realignment is necessary, Invisalign may be an option. This is especially appealing for those who prefer to avoid the brackets and wires of traditional braces. Invisalign uses clear molds to move teeth that are generally undetectable when worn. They can also be removed for eating and brushing.

Worn teeth are an indication of a larger problem. As a Neuro-Muscular Dentist, I know that the problem will only worsen without treatment. Resolving it early can save greatly in treatment time and expense.

Begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for your needs so you can determine the best way to proceed.

Dry Mouth Cause Of Many Problems

As the weather warms, those fun-in-the-sun activities make us thirsty. With summer comes a barrage of TV commercials showing hot, thirsty people downing sodas to quench their thirst. As a dentist, I know how detrimental this is to your smile.

Before you load a cooler full of soft drinks, there are many reasons to choose bottled water instead. Most colas contain caffeine, which actually flush your system rather than moisturize it. And, caffeinated drinks are also drying to oral tissues. Throw in the sugar contained in most colas and you’ve got a recipe for costly dental problems.Soda Can

Oral dryness is a frequent cause of bad breath and one of the biggest influences in developing gum disease. Even though poor oral hygiene is a key factor when it comes to bacteria overload in the mouth, dry mouth is a common contributor because it has many causes.

Saliva is your mouth’s natural cleansing agent. It aids in the digestive process and serves as a constant rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. This helps to keep bacteria levels under control.

When saliva flow is compromised, oral bacteria are able to reproduce and accumulate at a rapid pace. Factors such as smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine (coffee, colas, chocolate), and some medications can be drying to oral tissues.

Once saliva becomes unable to efficiently rinse the mouth, bacteria can quickly multiply. This is what forms a sticky film you may feel on teeth at the end of the day. This film is a buildup of oral bacteria.

If this film (known as plaque) is not removed daily, it can hardened into a concentrated mass of oral bacteria. This hardened form of bacteria is commonly referred to as tartar, or calculus. Tartar attaches to teeth and eats away at tooth enamel and gum tissues.

While some causes of dry mouth are obvious, others may surprise you. In addition to mouth breathing (which can result from snoring and sinus problems), some illnesses or health conditions can lead to frequent mouth breathing.

People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome or are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer are more susceptible to dry mouth. Aging is a common factor as our bodies produce less oral moisture in our senior years.

Obviously, good saliva flow is necessary to help in the prevention of gum disease, cavities and even tooth loss. Rather than colas, drink plenty of water during the day. Also, consider using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if your mouth is frequently dry.

It is also important to be proactive when dry mouth becomes an ongoing problem. While oral bacteria can lead to gum disease, cavities and tooth loss, research has also found it is an inflammatory trigger for health problems elsewhere in the body.

Through years of research, the bacteria of gum disease has been linked to serious conditions far beyond the mouth. Studies have found a correlation between this bacteria and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, pre-term babies, memory loss and even impotency. Obviously, oral bacteria is potent stuff.

If you aren’t worried about oral bacteria, look at it another way. Note how a sticky film can form on teeth in the brief time between brushing in the morning and at night. Now, imagine the damage these bacterial ‘critters’ can do without the continual cleansing action of saliva.

As a common cause for problems that can require expensive and time consuming treament, simple measures can help you avoid the damage of oral bacteria. Let’s work together to avoid the problems that come from dry mouth.

If you feel your mouth is occasionally dry during the day or struggle with factors that contribute to dry mouth, call 1-866-9-Smiles for an exam. Preventing problems in the first place is the best way to save both time and money!