Family Dentistry Inc

Preventing Oral Cancer

While we cannot all necessarily prevent cancer from happening, with most cancers, including oral, head and neck cancers, there are things that you can do (or not do!) to reduce your risk.

  • Preventing-Oral-CancerQuit Smoking: After five years of quitting smoking, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to just half of that of a smoker.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer. Limit drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
  • HPV Vaccine: HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the mouth and throat). HPV is also responsible for a small number of oral cavity cancers (the mouth).
  • Self-Exams: Be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Don’t forget to look under the tongue! Watch for unusual bumps, patches, different coloring, and report any to us that don’t heal within 14 days. Feel your lips, cheeks, throat and neck for unusual bumps and masses. There are a number of online guides for performing a thorough at home oral cancer self-exam.
  • Have Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals such as dentists and oral surgeons are the second line of defense (after you) in terms of screening for oral cancers. Be sure to ask us any questions that come up during your exam.
  • Eat Well: A healthy diet includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, is low in sugar and saturated fats, and includes lean sources of protein and whole grains. Incorporate new foods into your diet slowly for long lasting results.
  • Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or more!
  • Get Adequate Sleep and Minimize Stress: A lack of sleep and stress both contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game.

Dieting and Dental Health

Giving up processed foods and artificial sugars is a great way to improve our overall health, but sometimes our “healthy” habits can actually deprive us of vital nutrients. Internal health is an important factor when it comes to oral hygiene, and cutting meat, dairy products or sugars out of your diet could lead to serious conditions such as gum disease if you don’t find the right substitutes. Keep reading for a list of nutrients you might be missing and some tips for balancing your diet with your oral health!

Dieting-and-Dental-HealthZinc in saliva and enamel prevents the buildup of bacteria, which eventually turns to tartar or calculus. It is essential to preventing cavities and even gum disease (periodontitis). If you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, zinc deficiency may be to blame, as it causes a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

  • Zinc-rich foods: Seafood, lean meats, dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, cashews, almonds

Gum swelling or bleeding may be a sign of Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is an essential part of the connective tissue in the gums surrounding the teeth.

  • Vitamin C-rich foods: citrus fruits
  • Alternatives: Bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes

A lack of calcium weakens the gums, and people who don’t eat animal and dairy products may be increasing their risk of periodontal disease. Calcium prevents bone degeneration, keeping the jaw strong and healthy so bacteria doesn’t destroy the bone that supports the teeth.

  • Calcium-rich foods: dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, broccoli, collard greens, oranges

Vitamin D works with calcium to promote strong bones. It increases calcium absorption, preventing tooth loss and jaw bone degeneration.

  • Vitamin D-rich foods: Fatty fish, egg yolk
  • Alternatives: mushrooms, tofu, dairy alternatives (i.e. soy milk)

If you notice a burning sensation in your mouth, specifically on your tongue, or frequent canker sores you may be suffering from iron deficiency. Iron deficiency leads to reduced red blood cells and decreased oxygen flow.

  • Iron-rich foods: Red meat, poultry, seafood
  • Alternatives: dried fruits, beans, dark leafy greens

Finding a solution to your symptoms may be as simple as picking up a few extra ingredients at your local supermarket! Adding some of these nutrient rich foods to your diet can help you get back on track with your oral health and wow us next time you visit our office!

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Our patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQWhy do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.

Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.

  • Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction.
  • Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Disease: Narrowed spaces between molars due to impaction also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk of inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.

When should I get my wisdom teeth out? 
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction.

When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars.

Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.

Root Canals: Your Toughest Questions Answered

For most people, the mere mention of a root canal sets off alarm bells in the body. These bells come in the form of nervous thoughts and sensations – that fight-or-flight response we’ve all heard about. While this is a totally normal response, most fear of root canals is based on mis-information. We feel that by giving you the right information, we can help you understand the process better and calm your fears about this routine procedure.

Root Canals Your Toughest Questions AnsweredThis is not just your average list of root canal FAQs. Here, we aim to tackle the toughest questions that you can throw our way.

I’ve heard that root canals aren’t as painful as they used to be. How can that be true?

  • Better Instruments: Endodontic instruments have improved greatly over the years. They are more precise than ever, allowing us to target only necessary areas and avoid excess irritation.
  • Better Anesthetics: The anesthetics we use today are more effective and less likely to cause negative reactions than in the past. In addition, we can use an anesthetic that has adrenaline or epinephrine added to it to make it last longer. The longer it lasts, the less pain you will feel.
  • Better Imaging: Modern imaging allows for a more precise treatment and lessens the need to cause irritation in non-infected areas.
  • Better Understanding: Today, we have a better understanding of both your body and the microorganisms that cause infected roots. This results in less invasive treatments and better overall care for you.

What can I do to calm my nerves?

  • Know the Facts:
    • Over 15 million root canals are performed each year.
    • Root canals save your natural teeth and save money down the road.
    • Root canals are safe.
    • Root canals relieve pain caused by infection – they don’t cause pain!
  • Ask Questions: Sometimes patients are unsure about a specific part of the procedure and remain silent. We want you to ask questions! Usually we are able to set your mind at ease if you simply ask us.
  • Plug In: Many patients bring music and earphones to the appointment to help pass the time in the chair. Ask us if this is an option for you before your appointment.

Why not just remove the tooth? 
When a tooth hurts, often a person’s first reaction is to get rid of the tooth. However, we know that missing teeth cause bigger health problems and expenses down the road. The first choice in dental care is ALWAYS to save the tooth when possible. Root canal treatment saves teeth. In fact, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment can last just as long as the healthy teeth in your mouth!

Don’t Forget Your Gums!

When most people think about oral health, they consider their teeth and a sparkling smile. But your gums are an important part of your dental as well as overall health. Proper care of your gum tissue can prevent disease and help you keep those pearly whites for years to come! Here’s some information on proper care of gum tissue and facts about gum disease we think you should know.

Don't Forget about GumsCauses of Gum Disease
Just like your skin covers and protects your muscles and bones, your gums protect your teeth and the structures that hold them in place. When food particles and bacteria create plaque build up and invade the small areas between your teeth and gums, infections can form. Left untreated, these infections can penetrate gum tissue causing periodontal disease and may be painful, difficult to treat, and put your teeth at risk.

Three Stages of Gum Disease

  • Gingivitis: this gum inflammation is the earliest form of gum disease. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this stage, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place are not yet affected.
  • Periodontitis: at this stage, the supporting bone and fiber supporting your teeth are damaged. You may have pockets forming below the gum line that traps food and plaque. Proper dental treatment and home care can prevent further damage.
  • Advanced Periodontitis – the final stage of gum disease. The fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which causes teeth to shift or even loosen. This can affect your bite and if aggressive treatment can’t save them, you may lose teeth.

Treatment
Early stages of gum disease can be reversed with proper brushing and cleaning to help keep plaque from building up. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove hardened plaque, or tarter, on teeth and below the gum line. If your condition is severe, root planing, a procedure to smooth irregularities on the roots of your teeth to reduce the potential for plaque build-up may be performed.

Know the Early Signs of Gum Disease
Because advanced gum disease is irreversible, prevention is key. If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact us for an evaluation:

  • Red, puffy or swollen gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums that make your teeth look longer
  • Gums that have separated or pulled away from teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Pus coming from gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

Although gum disease is most common in adults, it can occur at any age. It is important to teach your children that good brushing and flossing routines will protect their teeth as well as their gums. Gums are a barrier that help prevent inflammation that may also be a factor in other diseases. In fact, gum disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pre-mature births. So don’t forget your gums when taking care of your health!

 

6 Reasons for Considering Dental Implants

Loss of permanent teeth is more common than you’d think. The average adult age 20-34 is missing 1 permanent tooth, the average adult age 35-49 is missing 3 permanent teeth, and the average adult over the age of 50 is missing 6 permanent teeth! There are a variety of different tooth replacement options, but we believe that dental implants offer the most success, with the best aesthetics and functionality. Take a look at just a few of the many benefits of dental implants!

  1. 6 Reasons-for-Considering-Dental-ImplantsLong-lasting. Dental implants are designed to be the permanent solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges last 5-10 years and crowns last 10-15 years, but dental implants can last 20 years, even a lifetime with proper dental care, making them a cost-efficient alternative to other modes of tooth replacement.
  2. No cavities. Because they are made of titanium, dental implants are not subject to decay. They also don’t put stress on other teeth, which helps avoid tooth erosion.
  3. Like natural teeth. Dental implants are natural-looking and fully functional. Unlike dentures, which are bulky and removable, cause sores and require the application of adhesive, dental implants are comfortable, permanent fixtures that don’t interfere with eating or speaking. And, because pressure is applied to the jaw bone when you bite down on dental implants, chewing with dental implants doesn’t feel any different from chewing with your natural teeth.
  4. Preserve jaw bone. Without a tooth to support, the jaw bone begins to atrophy, and this bone degradation makes the replacement of missing teeth nearly impossible without the help of jaw regenerative procedures such as bone grafting.
  5. Appearance. Your teeth play an important role in supporting your facial structure. Missing teeth can cause your features to sag and your face to lose shape, which tends to have an aging effect. Replacing missing teeth works wonders for improving your appearance and helping you look younger.
  6. Tooth stability. When you’re missing a tooth, your surrounding teeth are no longer stabilized and they start to shift out of position. Dental implants secure teeth in place and, as a result, prevent severe problems such as periodontal disease and further tooth loss.

Schedule a consultation with us if you’re ready to transform your smile!

What Color are Your Teeth?

What color are your teeth? Of course, there is no “right” answer. Teeth come in endless shades and ranges. When we talk about tooth color in our office, we try to break it down into no fewer than 40 shades (light to dark) and ranges (color). For example, you could have a very light shade of tooth in the reddish brown range, or a dark shade of tooth in the gray range. Everyone’s teeth are unique and the possibilities are endless.

You may be wondering, what makes a tooth the color it is now or will be in the future? We all know about coffee and tobacco as being major culprits of stained teeth, but what else goes into the making of a tooth color?

Things We Can’t Control:What-Color-are-your-Teeth

  • Genetics – Did you know that you could inherit your tooth color? You can also inherit your tooth’s propensity for staining.
  • Aging – We now know that teeth simply turn yellow, as we age.
  • Medicine Use – some medicines, such as certain antibiotics, can cause your tooth color to change.
  • Injury – Traumatic tooth injuries can cause intrinsic discoloration of the inner part of the tooth, the “dentin”, which is difficult to remedy. Have you ever seen a tooth that looks “dead”? That gray tone has most likely been brought on by a traumatic tooth injury.

Things We Can Control:

  • Food and Drinks – Certain foods and drinks, such as berries, sauces, coffee, dark soda, black tea and red wine, cause staining over time. Limit these foods and practice good oral hygiene habits!
  • Over-fluoridation – Too much fluoride in children, while teeth are still developing, can cause tooth discoloration. Be sure to follow guidelines for safe fluoride use. Don’t abandon the use of fluoride altogether though. Fluoride offers numerous benefits such as: preventing tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks and reversing early tooth decay. But, we’ve all heard that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
  • Tobacco Use – It is well known that cigarettes and other tobacco products turn teeth yellow and eventually brown. Don’t smoke or chew.

What can you do about stained teeth? We’re glad you asked! We offer professional teeth whitening options for the best and safest results. No matter what tooth shade you’ve inherited (or created), we can help make it whiter. Give us a call today to find out more!

Osseointegration: Big Word, Simple Concept

Was this word the invention of an evil doctor who loves long and complicated words? No! Osseointegration actually derives from the Greek osteon, bone and the Latin integrare, to make whole. It’s a physical process that was first observed by Swedish researchers in the 1960’s and refers to the functional connection between a titanium implant and living bone. Simply put, without osseointegration, dental implants wouldn’t work!
osseointegration

Osseointegration is a natural process: When the titanium dental implant connects to bone cells, it is locked into the jawbone, forming a solid bond. While the process is natural, the implementation isn’t simple. Implant healing times and initial stability depend on implant characteristics and to a large extent on your doctor! We have ample experience in placing dental implants and therefore can ensure that you receive the best care and outcome when it comes to implant surgery and the healing process.

The first evidence of the bone bonding with the implant occurs after a few weeks, while a more robust connection progresses over the next months or years. The osseointegration process will make the implant resistant to external shocks over time, but it can still be damaged from trauma or poor care.

The benefits of dental implants can’t be overstated! Not only do they give you a fully functioning bite back, they also prevent your jawbone from deteriorating and protect your facial profile.

Give us a call if you have questions about the dental implant process!

 

 

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Nobody likes coming to the dentist to have a cavity filled! Many of our patients ask us how stop a cavity before it happens. Many people have heard of fluoride but wonder how it works and if it is safe. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about fluoride and to help you understand its benefits and how to use it effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally in certain foods. You might be surprised to learn that it can be found in black teas and raisins, and in our water sources, such as lakes and rivers. And, because it provides such good protection from tooth decay, it has been added to dental products to help prevent cavities.Fluoride Natures Cavity Fighter

Fluoride works for both children and adults. It’s true! Before teeth even erupt through the gums, fluoride taken in from certain foods and supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and therefore more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, reversing early signs of cavity formation. In addition, the fluoride you consume becomes a part of your saliva, constantly bathing your teeth with tiny amounts of the cavity fighter. While it is critical for infants and children to be exposed to fluoride when primary and permanent teeth are forming, new research indicates that topical fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay for adults!

Use the correct amount of toothpaste to benefit your teeth. While all toothpaste removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay), only toothpaste with fluoride can prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Make sure you’re using the correct amount of toothpaste with your children!

  • For very little ones, under 3 years of age, parents and caregivers should begin gently brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth with an amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a few grains of rice.
  • For children ages 3 to 6, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and make sure to supervise children to help instill good habits.

Some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. You may already be protecting your teeth with fluoride without even knowing it! However, mouth rinses should not be used with children under the age of 6, as they may not be able it use it appropriately. 

You may have fluoride in your water. Your community may have chosen water fluoridation (simply adding fluoride to drinking water) as a public health benefit. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. The Center for Disease Control has noted water fluoridation as one of the ten best public health achievements of the 20th century.

For your best dental hygiene routine, ask us during your next visit about the right fluoride products for you and your family. Your oral health is our priority so we want to answer any questions that you have. Armed with the right information, your family can have healthy teeth for life. Contact our office to schedule your next visit! We can’t wait to see you soon!

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

 

Did you know that gingivitis isn’t actually gum disease? Most are surprised to find out that gingivitis is actually the inflammation of your gums that if untreated will lead to periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. Rest assured, not all gingivitis progresses into gum disease, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Early on in the stages of gingivitis, plaque starts to build up that causes gums to become inflamed but at this stage no irreversible harm has been done. So what’sGingivitisvsPerio the story and how do you know if you have periodontitis?

When your teeth start to become affected after untreated gingivitis, that’s when you need to start worrying. Not brushing and flossing will cause gingivitis to progress to periodontitis. When the inner layer of gum and bone pull away from each other and form pockets, food and sugars get stuck and cause further infections that can lead to tooth loss. Preventing the disease is as simple as brushing and flossing! Plaque build up is the #1 cause of gum disease and tooth loss.

The gums anchor teeth in and when periodontitis occurs, your gums have eroded to the point teeth actually become loose. This is a dangerous stage but there’s still hope! We are able to measure the amount of exposed tooth in patients with periodontitis and are trained to clean deep pockets that have formed, allowing gums to heal.

Remember: it all starts with plaque! Brushing and flossing keep gingivitis from occurring and reduce the chance of tooth loss in the long run. It’s easy to let gingivitis get out of control! Make sure to visit us regularly to ensure you’re not in the early stages of periodontitis.