Don’t Let Those Holiday Parties Compromise Your Smile

The coming holiday season is traditionally a time to gather with friends and family. Food is often the centerpiece of these gatherings, with cocktails opening many of the events. When it comes to your smile, certain precautions can keep you from having greater risk for cavities, bad breath and gum disease.champagneclink

Let’s begin with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol has a drying effect on oral tissues, which means that saliva flow is not as efficient at rinsing bacteria out of the mouth. The more bacteria in your mouth, the faster they reproduce. This leads to bad breath and can progress to gingivitis (an initial stage of gum disease). When sugary mixers are added to alcohol, you up your risk for developing cavities and gum problems even more.

Although many people feel wine is a healthier choice, it isn’t beneficial when it comes to your smile. Not only can red wine can stain teeth, white wine has a tint and can contribute to discoloration.

Wine is also highly acidic. In the mouth, this acid mixes with digestive acids produced each time you eat or drink. This acidic double whammy can erode the protective shell of enamel on teeth, which ups your risk for cavities. This acid level is so high that it can soften tooth enamel within just ten minutes of consuming wine.

HELPFUL HINT: To minimize potential risks to your smile, ask for a glass of water and take a couple of gulps about every 10-15 minutes with your cocktail. Let the water sweep over the teeth before swallowing to dilute the acid buildup. Or, slip away to the restroom and swish with water after each beverage.

Now, let’s move on to hors d’ouevres and the nibbling that can go on for hours. The holidays are filled with delicious ‘finger foods’ that are easy to pop in the mouth as you mingle. As mentioned prior, every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in your mouth. This acid remains at a high level for 20-30 minutes.

This means that an acid attack began when you put that first sausage ball in your mouth and will continue – without a break – whenever you add in another goodie every 20 or so minutes. If the bite is sugary or carbohydrate-laden, the acid becomes even more potent.

HELPFUL HINT: Try to consume your nibbles in a short amount of time rather than draw eating out for hours. Fill a cocktail plate and enjoy it – and be done with nibbling for the evening. Consider loading up on the veggies and dip moreso than the candied pecans and cheese straws! (This is also better for your waistline!)

Because eating and drinking put teeth at risk for 20-30 minutes after consumption, wait that long before brushing. With enamel in a softened state, the abrasiveness of tooth paste combined with the scrubbing motion of a toothbrush can wear away enamel. Wait before brushing to give these acid levels time to subside.

Tooth enamel, once worn away, is gone forever. Do everything you can to protect it for the sake of your smile. Also, if you’ve experienced staining, ask us about our in-office Zoom 2 whitening system. This provides a high level of whitening in just one, brief appointment (and also makes a terrific gift for a smile you love)!

Smile with confidence as you enjoy the holidays with others! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to discuss whitening or cosmetic enhancements. We can also help you achieve a healthy mouth for fresher breath as you prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Begin with a free, no obligation consultation.

Quality Of Sleep Affects Weight

Now through the end of the year, it will get harder and harder to step on the scale. Halloween, tailgating, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas — watching one’s weight during this time of year is quite the challenge. For those who have sleep disorders, the challenge is even greater.

The obesity rate (that’s ‘obese,’ not just fat) is at 35% of the U.S. adult population. This means that more than a third of the American population are beyond fat! It’s no secret that too much sugar in our diets and not getting enough exercise are at the root of most weight problems. However, studies now show that quality of sleep may be complicating your ability to lose weight.

What does sleep have to do with your weight? It’s actually a brain-driven issue. During sleep, the brain is anything but ‘at rest.’ Sleep provides the brain an active time to sweep out toxins and other obstacles that have accumulated during the day. This helps the brain to restore itself to peak efficiency to efficiently regulate hormones and other functions that support the body’s entire system.

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that deprives the brain of sufficient oxygen. This isn’t good. It’s no wonder that Sleep Apnea has been associated with serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and impotency.

But, here’s the glitch when it comes to your weight: In addition to posing tremendous health risks, Sleep Apnea alters the brain’s ability to regulate hunger controls.

As sleep disorders are depleting your energy levels, poor sleep quality creates a reaction in the brain that triggers carbohydrate cravings. You may have noticed that eating something sweet or carbohydrate-laden gives you a quick pick-me-up.  Craving these is the brain’s way of helping you seek out energy to get you through the day when you feel groggy.

Of course, without staying active and energetic during the day, you burn fewer calories. Add brain signals for carbohydrate cravings to the mix and weight gain is the natural result. While people with sleep disorders (including heavy snoring) often feel their lack of willpower is to blame for packing on the pounds, many are simply up against the odds with this double whammy.

When the body is fatigued and the brain is urging you to eat eat eat, just maintaining your weight is a challenge. The reversal of this is simple, however. When the brain receives adequate oxygen during sleep, it can do its nightly maintenance and keep the body operating at peak capacity. With adequate, restful sleep, the brain doesn’t need to trigger carbohydrate cravings to move you through the day. And, you feel more energetic and motivated for activity.

For many Sleep Apnea sufferers, the standard treatment recommendation has been CPAP therapy. This is a mask worn over the face that is attached to a hose. The hose is connected to equipment that uses a fan to force oxygen into the airway during sleep. Although effective in its task, many CPAP users don’t wear their devices on a consistent basis. A large percentage claim they can’t get comfortable in bed, feel claustrophobic, find the devices noisy, complain they are inconvenient and even cite embarrassment at having to wear them.

For individuals who suffer with mild to moderate levels of Sleep Apnea, there is a simple alternative. We offer an FDA-approved method to restore sufficient oxygen during sleep without the bulk, noise, confinement and awkwardness of CPAP devices. By sleeping with a custom designed oral appliance, the need for wearing CPAP is eliminated.

These oral appliances are small, comfortable, and won’t interfere with your ability to sleep soundly. They are effective for many who suffer with Sleep Apnea as well as those who are heavy snorers (a typical precursor of Sleep Apnea).

If you’ve watched your weight climb as your energy has waned, lack of willpower may actually be a small part of the problem. In addition to frequent carb cravings, Sleep Apnea symptoms include daytime fatigue, a sluggish feeling, nodding off easily, lack of alertness or motivation, and feeling foggy. These problems will not go away until restful sleep is restored with sufficient oxygen intake.

Begin with a no-cost Consultation to discuss an effective and comfortable appliance made to fit the contours of your mouth. If desired, we can also put you in touch with patients who wear these simple oral appliances and now sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.

Call toll free 866-9-Smiles to schedule or to learn more.

Be Fresh-Breath-Ready For Holiday Gatherings

As we enter the holiday season, many of us find it’s a busy time of gatherings with friends, family and co-workers. These events provide wonderful opportunities to catch up in close conversations we often don’t have a chance to enjoy at other times of the year.

We’ve all been in these situations where we wondered if our breath was fresh. And, most of us have also been in conversations where the other party was in dire need of a Tic Tac!

While none of us want to be remembered for bad breath, having fresh breath all the time can be a challenge. A tuna salad sandwich at lunch, several cups of morning coffee, or waking up in the morning aren’t breath-friendly. However, with some proactive measures, you can find yourself with far less anxiety in close conversations.

In a nutshell, bad breath occurs due to oral bacteria. Bacteria are living organisms that thrive on food particles in the mouth and bits stuck between teeth. As bacteria reproduce and accumulate, they form a sticky film known as plaque that coats the teeth and gums. If not removed through brushing, plaque hardens into calculus, a cement-like mass of bacteria that attacks tender gum tissues.

As oral bacteria growth progresses, the gums become inflamed. They are tender and bleed easily when brushing.  One of the symptoms of gum disease is persistent bad breath. Brushing, chewing gum and using breath mints will mask it for very brief periods. However, the odor exists because oral tissues are being destroyed in the mouth. Until this ceases, having fresh breath is a fruitless battle.

Dry mouth is another factor when it comes to bad breath. Saliva is your mouth’s natural rinsing agent and washes bacteria away on a continual basis. Without adequate saliva flow, oral bacteria are able to reproduce at a more rapid rate.

Causes for dry mouth include smoking, certain medications, some health conditions, snoring, and breathing through the mouth. Saliva flow is also reduced by the aging process. Consuming alcohol and caffeinated beverages also have drying effects on oral tissues.

When you feel your mouth is dry, the ideal response is to drink water. Not only does water support your oral health, it helps keep your body hydrated so it can function more efficiently. Chewing sugarless gum can also trigger saliva flow. Oral rinses are also available over-the-counter, which help replenish oral moisture.

tongueA tremendous source of oral bacteria is actually the tongue. With millions of tiny grooves, oral bacteria take up residence in the warm, moist haven the tongue offers. Consider using a tongue scraper or brushing the tongue with your tooth brush to lower the bacteria levels in your mouth. Be sure to reach the back of the tongue where the majority of oral bacteria exist.

The best way to ensure your breath is fresh as often as possible is to begin with a clean slate. Schedule an exam and cleanings so we can remove buildup in the mouth and reduce the bacteria levels to a minimum. We will also check for signs of gum disease and make recommendations to halt its progress if found.

Once your mouth is ‘dental office clean,’ your at-home care will help you keep it in great shape. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, floss daily, and use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugar-laden foods and beverages. Swish after eating or drinking (especially coffee, colas or wine) to counteract drying effects.

Go into this holiday season with a confident smile and fresh breath. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for an appointment. In addition to feeling comfortable in close conversations, you’ll also be helping to prevent problems in your mouth brought on by oral bacteria overload.

Dental Implant Types Designed For Individual Needs

As a dentist who stays on the cutting edge of the field’s latest techniques, technology and materials, I am pleased to have witnessed the impressive developments made over the years. One of the most remarkable areas, to me, has been in that of implant dentistry.

Modern implant dentistry is successful, safe, dependable and often immediate. And, seeing the transformations our patients undergo after treatment once their ability to bite, chew, speak and laugh is restored has been a highlight of my career.

One of the ways that implant dentistry has been so successful is in the unique design of various systems. Dental Implant designs have been fine-tuned for decades so different systems can accommodate various challenges and preferences. There are now implants systems designed for nearly every situation. These include:

Implants Supporting Non-Removable Teeth – For some, removable teeth, although firmly secured to the implants, are too similar to the denture they had (and detested). However, some of the more

All-On-4 Dental Implant System
All-On-4 Dental Implant System

affordable systems have been those that support removable teeth. Now, advanced systems such as All-On-4 are able to support non-removable teeth using just 4 or 6 implants. By positioning the implants at unique angles, these systems distribute the biting and chewing forces evenly among several implants. Another advantage of these systems is their ability to be placed in minimal bone. This is a tremendous advantage for long-time denture wearers who have experienced severe bone loss. Some of these denture wearers were previously told they had insufficient bone structure to support Implants and needed bone grafts prior to implant placement. This new system is able to overcome this obstacle.

 

Fast-Track Dental Implants – With advanced implant systems and computerized technology, implant placement and teeth attachment can now be done quickly in a number of situations. New designs are able to pre-select ideal placement positions for the implanted portions. For some, this means that immediate attachment of teeth can occur. While this option isn’t appropriate for everyone, it works well for certain implant patients. This is why it is important to have an experienced, skilled and highly-trained doctor coordinate your treatment. When your individual needs are carefully assessed, this increases your potential to enjoy a successful outcome versus a ‘clinic’ setting driven by corporate profit goals.

Traditional Dental Implants – The tried-&-true process for most dental implant treatments still today involves several steps. Placement of the implants is performed first. Then, the bone is allowed to grow around the implants for several months. This process is known as ‘osseo-integration’ and can be likened to tying a rope around a tree branch. Over time, the branch grows around the rope. Osseo-integration occurs in a similar fashion but at a much faster pace. After several months, the implant sites are uncovered and a post is positioned inside. Replacement teeth are then secured to the posts. In most situations, patients can wear their denture or partial comfortably within a day after the implant segments are placed. However, the final teeth are not attached until the implants are fully secured.

Dental Implants are the closest thing to the natural teeth you once had. They are also designed to last a lifetime, making them an excellent investment. The type of implant system best suited to your needs will be discussed after an examination and review of Panorex (jaw-to-jaw) imaging.

Begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We’ll discuss your needs and preferences and comfort options, including Oral and I.V. Sedation. If desired, our Financial Coordinator will be happy to explain easy payment options.

Headaches, Tender Jaws May Be Related To Bite Alignment

Balance. It’s something we need in all aspects of our lives. There is a proper balance when it comes to work and home life as well as active time and rest time. Too much of one tends to eventually impact our lives in negative ways. Harmonious balance is the key.

When upper teeth do not fit harmoniously with lower teeth, the delicate balance of teeth, jaw joints and facial muscles can all be uprooted. The result may seem initially subtle, but eventually the symptoms become quite obvious. One telltale sign is worn teeth.

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

Worn teeth are obvious when the tops of teeth become flat, leaving teeth with straight-across tops rather than the natural contours typical of natural teeth. Worn teeth are typically shorter than they should be as well.

As teeth grind back and forth, tooth enamel is worn away, leaving teeth 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.

Example of worn teeth from bruxing.
Example of worn teeth from bruxing.

Misaligned teeth are also more likely to experience cracks, breaks and chips. While these problems require costly treatment, the worse scenario is when a tooth breaks below the gum line. When this occurs, the tooth will likely need to be removed.

Your regular checkups include an evaluation of your bite position and noting signs of abnormal wear. However, many people experience headaches, dizziness or jaw tenderness before their teeth reveal bite misalignment. The key is to encourage patients to communicate these symptoms since they are not necessarily associated with bite problems.

Once bite problems are discovered, the next step is to determine the its cause. In our office, we offer an advanced diagnostic system that is specially designed to pinpoint the source of TMJ disorders. If TMJ is the true source of your problem, a treatment plan is developed to restore proper alignment.

In some cases, your bite can be corrected easily by minor reshaping of selected teeth. However, if more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be advised. If your misalignment is severe, orthodontic realignment may be needed to restore the unity of upper and lower teeth.

When realignment is advised, Invisalign is an appealing option for many adults. Using clear molds, the Invisalign system moves teeth without brackets and wires. The ‘aligners’ worn are generally undetectable and can be removed for eating and brushing.

Remember, worn teeth are a sign of a bigger problem that will only worsen without treatment. Resolving it early can save you much in treatment time and expense.

For a free, no-cost consultation, call 1-866-9-Smiles. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for your needs as well as payment options so you can resolve your problem while making easy, monthly payments.