How Do You Maintain a Great Summertime Smile?

When you think of summer, you probably think of swimming pools, cookouts, and sunshine — but do you also think of your oral health? During the summer, there are actually things that you should keep in mind when it comes to your smile. 105863958Armed with some information, though, you can have a fun summer while maintaining beautiful and healthy teeth.

Did you know that swimming pools can have an effect on your teeth?

The chemicals in swimming pools can lead to discoloration of your smile if you’re exposed for long enough. Research has shown that people who spent more than 6 hours a week in swimming pools ended up with discolored front teeth. The reason is the higher pH level of the water, which beaks down proteins in saliva and leave a brownish stain on your teeth. If the pool’s pH balance isn’t properly cared for, the water can also soften enamel, leading to an increased risk of decay and damage. Luckily, trips to the dentist for regular cleanings and fluoride treatments can combat both of these problems!

Summertime Foods and Beverages…and Your Smile

During the summer, you’re probably going to attend a lot of parties, and with parties come a variety of beverages and snacks. Summertime drinks include soda, sports drinks, white wine, beer, and lemonade, and these drinks are loaded with sugar. A simple tip for counteracting the effects of these beverages, however, is to rinse your mouth with water regularly throughout the party. But don’t brush your teeth too soon after consuming acidic beverages. These drinks can soften enamel, and brushing while the enamel is soft can do more damage. Wait at least an hour before you brush!

Party foods can be dark in color and full of sugar as well. Dark foods contribute to stained teeth, and we all know what happens when you eat too much sugar! Cavities!  But by rinsing your mouth after eating these dark and sugary foods, you can avoid staining and cavities — and a trip to the dentist during your summer for teeth whitening and a checkup can give your smile a boost!

It’s pretty simple to keep your smile in shape during these summer months. Brushing, flossing, rinsing after food or drink, and regular trips to the dentist can help keep you looking and feeling your best. Now you just have to figure out how to stay cool!

Hey, Dentists! Make ‘Em Laugh!

Dentists use nitrous oxide to calm mildly anxious patients.
Dentists use nitrous oxide to calm mildly anxious patients.

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, has been used routinely in dental offices since 1863. It’s a safe, effective sedation option for dental patients seeking a way to control feeling overly anxious about their treatments.

Nearly 75% of American adults experience mild to severe dental anxiety. Causes for dental fears are varied, and may include:

  • Previous painful experiences at the dentist’s office
  • Dealing with general anxiety, mood, or posttraumatic stress disorders
  • Feeling out of control or helpless
  • Having low pain threshold or fear of pain
  • Embarrassment about the look of teeth
  • Phobic about needles and/or anxious about drills
  • Sensitive gag reflex

If you do suffer fear or anxiety about dentistry, the good news is that most dentists offer sedation dentistry. One of the most common forms of sedation is nitrous oxide, often referred to as laughing gas. Continue reading Hey, Dentists! Make ‘Em Laugh!

Saliva’s Role in Oral Health

salivaWhen you think about oral health, you probably think about your gums and your teeth. After all, Americans spend about $1.8 billion on toothpaste and $775 million on toothbrushes. We’re serious about our oral hygiene habits! (And it appears we put our money where our mouths are, too!)

So, when you consider your dental wellbeing, do you think about … saliva? Most people don’t think about the role saliva plays into dental care, and how important it is for maintaining excellent oral health. It’s true! Saliva is a necessary component in preventing cavities. It clears away bacteria that cling to your gums and enamel and cause disease and infection.

Saliva is produced by … wait for it … your salivary glands, and it’s made up of 99.5% water. Big surprise, right?  So, what’s the other .5%? Believe it or not, that teeny tiny part of saliva is comprise of several components, including electrolytes, mucus, glycoproteins, enzymes, and antibacterial compounds. Now, you know why saliva is the first step in the digestion process! It helps lubricate your food, making it easier to chew and swallow. Saliva also enhances your taste, not to mention your motor functions, which helps you to talk. Continue reading Saliva’s Role in Oral Health

What is Plaque…and What Can You Do About It?

Run your tongue over your teeth. Do they feel like they have sweaters on them? That fuzzy feeling is an overabundance of plaque. But 40ish-dude-shrugwhat is plaque? Why is it so bad for your teeth? And how can you get rid of it?

Let’s learn all about plaque!

Where does plaque come from?

Tiny bacteria live inside your mouth. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains these bacteria, clinging to your teeth and contributing to tooth decay.

How does plaque cause damage?

The bacteria in plaque eat sugars, creating waste products as they digest the sugars. These waste products are acids, which then break down tooth enamel and cause the dreaded cavities.

Now…how do you get rid of it?

Continue reading What is Plaque…and What Can You Do About It?

Bad Breath 101: Why You Have It and How to Avoid It

837375_98129162SmHave you noticed friends or co-workers stand further away than necessary to talk to you? Do you receive daily offers of gum and mints? Does your dog run away when you bend down and say hello? If the answer is yes to any of these questions … you probably have bad breath, also called halitosis.

How is it possible for you to have bad breath and not know it? Your body uses a process called acclimation to filter out its own scents so you can use your nose to detect outside smells. This means your nose is used to whatever odor is emitting from your mouth. Even if you cup your hand and breathe into it, you probably won’t detect foul aromas. So, how can you tell if you have halitosis?

The easiest test for determining if your breath is rank is to ask someone. Friends or family members will probably be more than happy to render an honest opinion. Another way to test for bad breath is to wipe your tongue with a cotton ball and give it a whiff. Or go to a mirror, stick out your tongue, and see if it looks whitish. Ew! That’s accumulated bacteria, which produces the sulfur compounds that create halitosis.

Why do I have bad breath?

The most common reason people have bad breath is decaying food particles and bacterial growth in the mouth, especially on the tongue. If you have poor oral hygiene habits, the accumulation of food and bacteria will make your breath smell like you ate gym socks for lunch.

Continue reading Bad Breath 101: Why You Have It and How to Avoid It

High Blood Pressure and Oral Health

doc & adminHigh blood pressure, also called HBP or hypertension, can affect your ability to receive oral healthcare. Performing dental treatments on patients with hypertension can be detrimental! If your blood pressure is too high, many dentists won’t schedule procedures until you receive a health assessment from your medical doctor.

What is high blood pressure?

The two forces measured for your blood pressure reading are the blood pumping out of your heart and into your arteries (systolic), and the heart resting between beats (diastolic). Normal blood pressure readings for a healthy individuals who are 20 years and older should be below 120 for systolic and below 80 for diastolic. If blood pressure readings are consistently higher than 120/80 then you’re probably suffering from hypertension.

According to, the website of the American Heart Association, “Untreated high blood pressure damages and scars your arteries.” High blood pressure increases risks of blood clots, organ damage, heart attacks, and strokes. High blood pressure also results increased plaque build-up and weakening blood vessels.

How does high blood pressure affect my dental health?

In a white paper released by the American Diagnostic Corporation, it states: “…elevations of blood pressure can increase a patient’s risk of experiencing a stroke or myocardial infarctions in the dental chair.” Patients with hypertension can also be in danger from local anesthetics that use vasoconstrictors, such as epinephrine, which increase blood pressure and heart arrhythmia.

High blood pressure medications can also affect your dental wellbeing. Some prescriptions cause dry mouth and may also alter your sense of taste. Meds with calcium blockers can also create gum overgrowth, which can affect a patient’s ability to chew and may require periodontal surgery to correct.

Will my dentist still treat me if I have high blood pressure?

Most dentists will not treat patients who have high blood pressure, especially if your numbers are in the Stage 1 or higher range for hypertension. (View the chart at the American Heart Association’s website.) If you’re being treated for high blood pressure, it’s important for you to discuss your condition and your medications with your dentist before beginning any treatments. Most patients being treated for high blood pressure can still have dental procedures, take anti-anxiety medications (often used for oral conscious sedation), and safely receive local anesthetics.

How to Keep Your Teeth Happy this Holiday Season

Stuffing, rolls, pies, cakes…the holidays are a time full of carbohydrate-rich, sugary foods. This can really do a number on your oral health, but there are some simple ways you can help combat cavities while still enjoying Grandma’s pumpkin pie (or pecan if that’s your preference!).9831704

If you can, eat those carb-heavy foods such as stuffing and rolls with a balanced meal consisting of some protein. This helps to counteract some of the acids produced when sugars and bacteria in the mouth come together.

Limit your consumption of sticky foods. These foods take longer to chew, meaning they stay in the mouth longer and increase cavity risk.

Carry a travel toothbrush with you to your Thanksgiving meal destination, even if you’re just going for the day. Can’t brush your teeth immediately after eating for some reason? Rinse your mouth out with water to remove as much debris and acid as possible.

And try not to graze so much. It’s easy to spend the entire day walking around a party eating snacks, but every time you pop something into your mouth, it creates acids. Spend some time NOT eating on Thanksgiving day to cut down on the buildup of cavity-causing agents.

By following these simple holiday dental care tips, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy while still enjoying your Thanksgiving goodies. Happy holidays!

Filling in the Information Gaps about Diastema

DiastemaDiastema is a term used to describe a gap between two teeth. Many celebrities have a diastema including Madonna, Eddie Murphy, Jack Black, Lauren Hutton, Amelia Earheart, and Willie Nelson. For some people, a diastema makes their smile unique, and they choose to keep the charming midline gap.

Animal Tendencies

A diastema is a natural feature of several mammal species, especially herbivores. The diastema in the dentition of animals such as rodents, sheep, and beavers allow food to be routed into the cheek so consumption can continue unimpeded. A diastema also allows material from gnawing to be expelled through the gap. Continue reading Filling in the Information Gaps about Diastema

Five Reasons Why It’s Worthwhile to Smile

smilesNineteenth century novelist George Eliot once said, “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”

Yet smiling is more than just a way to convince your mother that you really did enjoy that meatloaf surprise. Even the smallest upward lip curve—whether or not it’s sincerely delivered—has far-reaching emotional and physical benefits.

Here are five advantages of turning that frown upside down:

1. Studies have shown that smiling lowers blood pressure. If you need some instant Zen, then all you have to do is smile. Chanting is optional (especially if you’re standing in line at the grocery store). Continue reading Five Reasons Why It’s Worthwhile to Smile

Is Your Retainer Retaining More Than Your Teeth?

Our mouths are full all kinds of interesting little organisms. It’s sort of like a mini rainforest in there –warm, wet, and home to more than 600 different species of bacteria, viruses, fungi, 100687469and even protozoa. A few help promote good oral health, some do you absolutely no harm, and others meet their fate in saliva or your belly.

Most of us don’t give mouth germs a second thought since we brush twice a day, floss nightly, and attend routine preventive dental visits every six months (RIGHT?!). But if you wear a retainer, clear aligner, or bite appliance, you may need to take extra precautions to prevent tiny invaders from taking over. Researchers have found that Candida (a type of yeast) and Staphylococcus, both potential illness-causing microbes, are present on 50% of all retainers. YIKES! Continue reading Is Your Retainer Retaining More Than Your Teeth?