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While sports and energy drinks often advertise that they provide nutritional benefits and can improve your athletic performance, these drinks can have devastating consequences for oral health. Hygienists should be aware of the effects and educate their patients about the destruction of tooth surfaces and promote healthy behaviors.

Sports and energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and carbs combined with a low pH they have the potential to cause dental caries (cavities) as well as raise the risk of weight gain due to high caloric content.  The  hygienist can ask the question if these drinks are being used as part of the patients diet then educate on the side effects and made aware of alternative choices.

Best advice hygienists and dental staff can offer is to refrain from consuming these drinks. Plain water is the best re-hydrator in people who exercise.  Good rule of thumb is to consume 1 to 2 cups of water for every 15 minutes of activity.

 

 

 

 

Do you ever experience pain or a ‘zinging’ feeling in your teeth after eating ice cream or sipping a hot beverage? Does brushing or flossing your teeth make you wince on occasion? If you answered yes to these questions, you may have sensitive teeth.

Some possible causes of sensitive teeth include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured  teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Exposed tooth root

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth- the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin.

Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin  may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Is there treatment for sensitive teeth? Yes! The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments which are listed here:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. This usually takes several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • Surgical gum grafting. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If the sensitivity is severe and persistent and no treatment has worked- this may be recommended to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Talking to your dentist about symptoms and options is the best way to diagnose and treat your sensitivity.

No matter what you choose, make sure it includes SPF of 15 or higher. Here is a great article to share with important tips and information.

Lip gloss fiends, it’s time to tweak your habit. Habitually slathering on the stuff multiple times a day, without any SPF protection, can significantly increase your risk of developing lip cancer.

Lips are already vulnerable because of regular, direct exposure to sunrays, and the lacquered lip trend only magnifies the hazard, says dermatologist Jeanine M. Downie, M.D., who says she has seen an uptick in skin cancer of the lip among women in her Montclair, N.J., practice.

Dr. Downie recommends wearing a lip balm containing sunscreen underneath lip color, or choosing a shade with a built-in SPF. Steer clear of lip products that offer single digit sun protection (it isn’t sufficient!), and opt instead for an SPF 15 or higher and make sure to reapply adequately and often to get the full benefit. Another reason to skip the glassy glean: A number of experts contend that loading up on lip gloss can actually intensify potential cancer-causing radiation. “The shiny reflective finish of lip gloss creates a mirror-like prism that strengthens sunrays like a magnifying glass,” explains Downie.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 81 percent of lip cancers appear on the lower lip and one’s risk escalates with cumulative exposure. Bottom line: Find a lip balm or lipstick with SPF 15+ and apply liberally whenever you’re outside this summer (and all year round!).

You already know brushing twice a day is the best practice for keeping your oral health care in check. There may be times when doing this more isn’t a bad thing. After eating sugary or sticky foods is also a great time to add a extra brushing and flossing.

Do you have dental anxiety? If you do, or know someone who does, try to implement some relaxation techniques. Whatever you find that works do it throughout every step of the process and all your visits. We often suggest bringing music to listen to and our office provides noise cancelling headphones.

Sensitive teeth? Generally if your teeth get that ‘zingy’ feeling after drinking something hot or cold, your teeth could be considered sensitive. Try using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.  Often brands that have the whitening ingredients can be to abrasive for some patients and increase sensitivity. If after a few weeks it doesn’t improve with using a sensitive toothpaste it may be time to have your dentist check things out.

Using a hard bristled toothbrush can often do more harm than good. They can cause gum irritation and recession in certain individuals.  We recommend using the Sonicare electric toothbrush. Not only is it gentle on gums but does a far better job cleaning teeth than any hand held toothbrush.

Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of dental floss! In most cases a length of 20 inches is sufficient for your whole mouth. While flossing everyday is a sure bet to keeping your gums healthy, even a few times a week is better than not at all.

Regularly scheduled check up visits twice a year is imperative to keeping your oral health in check, catching problems early and staying healthy.

 

 

 

Planning a trip out of the country? It’s helpful to schedule a dental checkup before you leave, especially if you’ll be traveling in developing countries or remote areas without access to good dental care.

If you are thinking about a dental ‘vacation’ outside the United States in an attempt to save money, which is often referred to as “dental tourism,” here are some things to consider:

Education and Clinical Training of U.S. Dentists

Dentists trained in the U.S. graduate from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). After earning their undergraduate degree and their dental degree (eight years for most), some dentists continue their education and training to achieve certification in one of nine recognized dental specialties. In addition, dentists must pass national examinations and meet state requirements before they earn a license to practice.

Dentists are doctors specializing in oral health whose responsibilities include diagnosing oral diseases, ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics, performing oral surgical procedures and managing oral trauma. Comparable levels of training may exist in the country to which you are travelling, but this may be difficult to find out if that country does not have similar dental regulations.

Safety

The procedures, equipment and drugs used by dentists in the U.S. are held to high standards. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published comprehensive guidelines on infection control procedures for dental health-care settings. These guidelines exist to prevent the spread of infections, including blood borne illnesses such as hepatitis and AIDS. U.S. dentists must abide by regulations for radiation safety (X-ray equipment and its use) and for proper disposal of biomedical waste. Also, the drugs and dental instruments and materials used by dentists in the U.S. are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that they are safe. These standards are in place for your safety and for that of dental office staff.

Travel Advisories

The U.S. Department of State issues travel alerts to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. In the spring of 2009, for example, the Department of State issued a travel alert cautioning people to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico because of an outbreak of H1N1 influenza in that country that resulted in a number of deaths. In addition, the alert recommended that travelers check the department’s Web site for new travel advisories as well as the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for any additional information or recommendations.

Insurance, Privacy and Dental Records

If you have dental insurance for dental care performed outside of the U.S., you should confirm with your insurer and/or employer that follow-up treatment is covered upon your return to the U.S. You should consider arranging follow-up care with a U.S. dentist prior to travel to ensure continuity of care upon your return. If you do not have a dentist in the U.S., you can find an ADA member dentist in your area.

In addition, you should confirm with your U.S. dentist and the dental care provider in the other country that the transfer of patient records to-and-from facilities outside of the U.S. is consistent with current U.S. privacy and security guidelines.

Flight and Vacation Activities After Certain Dental Procedures

It’s important to know that many dental procedures are surgical in nature. Dental implants, for example, often require months of healing. Post treatment risks after dental surgical procedures include bleeding, pain, swelling and infection. Your body may need time to rest and recover after procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction, root canals, dental implants and gum surgery, which should be factored in to flight and vacation activity schedules. In addition, it is possible that changes in airplane cabin pressure might cause discomfort in some patients who have recently had oral surgery. Bear in mind that significant dental procedures require follow-up care to make sure everything is healing and functioning properly. Continuity of care is important and should be a consideration when making treatment decisions.

Continuity of Care

The American Dental Association (ADA) encourages you to visit a dentist on an ongoing basis to ensure continuity of care. Establishing a “dental home” provides you with comprehensive oral health care so conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay can be diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is simpler and more affordable. A dentist who knows your case history can provide you with guidance on good oral health care habits, preventive oral health services and diagnosis and treatment of dental disease based on your individual needs. One dental visit does not establish the continuity of care that is necessary for maintaining good oral health.

Questions and Considerations Prior to a Dental Vacation

  • How will you determine the qualifications and experience of the dentist who will be treating you in a foreign country?
  • How is payment processed?
  • If you have dental insurance, will the benefits cover treatment that is performed outside the United States and if so, to what extent?
  • What happens if something goes wrong during or after treatment? Would you need to return to the country where you received treatment? Can you afford that?
  • If you need corrective care after you return, will that be covered by your dental insurance or will you have to pay out of pocket for another dentist to provide corrective care?
  • If something goes wrong after receiving dental care in another country, what are your legal rights?

In a recent article, the American Dental Association listed top reasons public water should be fluoridated. Here they are:

1.  Its the single, most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay

2. Natural fluoride is already present in all water sources, including the oceans

3. Similar to fortifying other foods and beverages

4. Prevents dental disease

5. Protects all ages against cavities

6. Safe and effective

7. Saves money

8. Recognized by more than 100 organizations

9. Availability of fluoridation continues to grow

10. Endorsed by the American Dental Association

For more information go to www.ADA.org/fluoride

Cold sores are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters often called “fever blisters”. These unsightly sores usually erupt on the lips, and sometimes on skin around the lips. Clusters of small blisters also may occur on the gum tissue near the teeth and/or on the bony roof of the mouth.

Cold sores are caused by herpesvirus Type 1 or Type 2 and are contagious. The initial infection (primary herpes), which often occurs before adulthood, may be confused with a cold or the flu. The infection can cause painful lesions to erupt throughout the mouth, and some patients can be quite ill for a week. Most people who become infected with herpes do not get sick.

Once a person is infected with herpes, the virus stays in the body, where it may remain inactive. Unfortunately, in some people, the virus becomes activated periodically, causing the cold sore to appear on the lips or other sites. A variety of irritants wind, sun, fever,and stress can cause a outbreak.

Cold sores usually heal in about a week. Once the blister breaks, an unsightly scab forms. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics and protectants or anti-inflammatory agents or topical antiviral agents may provide temporary relief for the discomfort, but they do little to speed healing.

As with the common cold, there is no cure for these viral infections. Topical or systemic antiviral drugs can be prescribed by your dentist, but they are ineffective after three to four days of blister formation and usually are not recommended in otherwise healthy patients.

Not all sores are harmless. Schedule an appointment if you notice any change in your mouth, including pain or discomfort, or the presence of sores in the mouth, even if they are not painful. A biopsy usually can determine the cause or rule out another disease.

Your dentist can recognize and often diagnose the type of mouth sore or spot on the basis of its appearance and location.

A strong relationship between stress and periodontal disease was recently studied and 57% of the study showed a postitive relationship between periodontal disease and psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.

How do the two correlate? Researchers think the hormone cortisol may play a role in the connection between stress and periodontal disease. Increased levels of cortisol can lead to the degeneration of gums and supporting bone due to the disease. We already know if left untreated, it can lead to bone loss or tooth loss.

Some people who experience high stress levels tend to have bad habits. They seem to be less attentive to their oral hygiene, be smokers, drink alcohol excessively or even use drugs.

Patients should seek healthy ways to handle stress. Such things as exercise, healthy eating habits, sleep, and keeping a positive attitude.

If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, it is important to see your dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums in check.

Ever wonder how birds navigate their way home? After reading a short, interesting article in the May issue of Smithsonian magazine we thought we would share the fun facts.

After being released in an unfamiliar location, homing pigeons use the sun as a compass. Knowing the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

They also use the earth’s magnetic field. Birds can see it but what it looks like to them nobody knows. Birds can detect something happening at a subatomic level. A chemical reaction from light striking the retina causes certain quantum properties telling the bird which way is north.

Along the way they will use visual clues such as highways or railroad tracks. Some also can use their sense of smell to find their way home. Once they are close to home they use landmarks to finish the journey.

While ‘homing’ is still a mystery, no mistake should be made that we live in the same sensory world as other animals.

Proper hydration is essential for everyone. Whether you are a professional athlete or someone who does the occasional workout.

Water is the most important nutrient for life. It has many important functions including regulating temperature, lubricating joints and transporting nutrients throughout the body.

During exercise, it is particularly important to stay hydrated. Proper fluid intake is essential to comfort, performance and safety. The more intense and longer exercise you do, the more important it is to drink the right fluids.

Dehydration can happen through loss of sweat leading to a drop in blood volume which in turn causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. A drop in blood volume can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue. All counter productive to an athlete in training or someone who is working at getting in shape.

So how do you find the right amount? While it is nearly impossible to provide specific recommendations, there are two simple methods for estimating adequate hydration that everyone can use.

1. Monitoring urine volume, output and color. Light colored/diluted urine and going frequently are signs you are hydrated. Dark colored and concentrated urine most likely means you are dehydrated.

2. Weighing yourself before and after exercise. Any weight loss is likely from fluid, dry to drink more to replenish. Any weight gain could mean you are drinking more than you need.

Living in high altitude increases fluid losses and ‘up’s’ the need for fluid replacement. Exercising in the heat, excessive sweating, duration and intensity also need to be taken into consideration to prevent dehydration.

Here are some guidelines on getting hydrated before, during and after exercise. Before your workout, weigh yourself and drink between 15 and 20 fluid ounces 2-3 hours before beginning. During your workout, drink 8-10 ounces every 10-15 minutes. After your workout, weigh yourself again and for every pound lost drink 20-24 fluid ounces.

Regardless if you are an professional athelete or the casual exerciser, use this information as a guideline to cater to your individual workout regimen.