May, 2019 Dentistry Newsletter
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Gums
Your oral health is a critical component to your overall health, and within oral health, maintaining your gums is of the utmost importance. While gum care often gets overlooked in our efforts to have white teeth and a beautiful smile, they can actually lead to significant problems if overlooked. For many patients gum disease comes as a complete shock. There is often no pain to indicate a problem, but discoloration and/or bleeding may result.
Healthy gums are a shade of pink, not red. They will not be inflamed, will appear snug on the tooth, and will be shaped in a curve that follows the line of your tooth. If your gums begin to recede from your teeth, are tender, become more of a red color, bleed when brushing, or you have chronic bad breath you should visit Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. to get examined for gum disease. Gum disease begins with a buildup of plaque along the gum line which can eventually lead to a more serious infection, or gingivitis. Left untreated gum disease can impact the bones that hold your teeth in place and require removal of the tooth.
The best ways to prevent gum disease and properly care for your gums are as follows:
Floss – make it a priority to floss at least once a day. It’s critical to the care of your gums that you remove the plaque and food that builds up between your teeth and is impossible for your toothbrush to address.
Brush – be sure to brush at least twice a day, hitting your teeth a third time with a quick “after lunch brushing” is a fantastic bonus. Use a soft bristled toothbrush, either manual or battery-powered, and replace it every 3 months. Brushing removes the plaque that builds up right along the gum line. It’s recommended that you use a fluoride toothpaste to most effectively protect the gums.
Dentist – visit the dentist twice a year. The dentist is able to catch gum disease far sooner if you visit regularly. Visiting the dentist can actually help reverse the development of gingivitis. The dentist is the only one who can remove tartar, and they are the most qualified to identify a potential gum problem early on.
Quit Smoking – several studies have found links between smoking and the onset of gum disease. In addition smoking makes it harder for your gums to heal after they’ve been damaged. So even if you do all the right steps to reverse the effects of gum disease, if you continue to smoke you may be fighting a losing battle.
Whether you’re already experiencing the warning signs, or you think your gums look amazing, getting into the dental team at Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. is the best way to make sure your gums are healthy for years to come.
Is Sugar Addiction Real?
Did you know that your body can become just as addicted to sugar as it can to drugs and alcohol? Sugar acts as a stimulant to your brain and causes the release of dopamine into your body. This is what creates an addiction as your body wants more and more of this dopamine. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid sugar as it’s in roughly 80% of the foods currently found in our grocery stores, so is it even worth the effort? Many people are aware that too much sugar consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other serious health issues, but it can also wreak havoc on your oral health.
The sugar you consume mixes with the bacteria already found in your mouth and produces an acid that damages your teeth. This acid is removing minerals from your tooth’s enamel and slowly destroying your tooth’s ability to protect itself. Too much sugar will ultimately lead to tooth decay.
How do you know if you’re addicted to sugar?
- You eat more of a sugary food then you intended. If you planned to grab 1 piece of candy but finished it and then grabbed another, and another, you’re likely addicted. Your brain was sending the message that it wanted more and more because it’s addicted to the feeling sugar creates.
- You eat sugary foods even when you don’t really want them. If you just can’t NOT eat that cookie even when you don’t really want it, you’re likely addicted. For some people seeing that cookie sitting there, or knowing it’s in the kitchen, is more than they can take. They will always end up eating the cookie even when they’re not at all hungry.
- You eat to the point that you don’t feel well. If you find that you’ll eat sugary foods to the level that you feel bloated or get a headache, even when you know you should stop, you may be addicted. For some people this horrible feeling is just not enough to stop them from doing it over and over nearly every day.
If you find that you have a sugar addiction there are steps you can take to get it under control. Try substituting sweeter vegetables such as yams or carrots into your day. These will help curb cravings by putting some sugar into your body. Talk with a professional. There are many organizations out there that are ready and willing to walk with you through the process of breaking this addiction. Limit the consumption of desserts to public places. By getting these foods out of your home it reduces their availability and creates accountability when they are consumed. You’re less likely to order 3 pieces of cake at a restaurant than you might be at home.
What’s the Purpose of Dental X-Rays?
If you’re a new patient at a dental office you’re likely to be asked about getting x-rays taken. For a pediatric patient this makes sense as their teeth and jaw are still developing, and regular x-rays reveal problems early and track normal development. As an adult patient you may have no idea why you’re getting an x-ray done. Getting a dental x-ray is a good way for your new dentist to get a baseline for your teeth. It provides a point of comparison for future visits which can be helpful in detecting new cavities, tracking gum health, and watching for any changes in the health of your teeth. If you recently had dental x-rays at another office, but for some reason needed to change dental providers, simply ask the previous dental office to forward them on to the new one.
You may have wondered whether all these x-rays are safe. While dental x-rays do require very low levels of radiation exposure, the risk of something potentially harmful happening is extremely low. These x-rays are considered to be very safe. Your dentist will take into consideration many factors before ordering an x-ray, and they strive not to do any unnecessary tests. There may be times in your life where it seems that you’re getting x-rays done more frequently than before, and that may actually be true. At various times in your life you may require more, or less, dental x-rays. Some of the factors that determine the frequency of x-rays are: age, current condition of your teeth, previous dental work, current signs or symptoms of a problem, your regular dental hygiene, and even your overall health.
Dental x-rays are an extremely important diagnostic tool. They reveal hidden decay such as between teeth, underneath old fillings or crowns, and other places that are difficult to visually inspect. They also show bone loss that can be associated with gum disease. All of this information impacts the treatment plan that your dental team puts together for you. Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. regularly reviews the recommendations of the American Dental Association with regards to the use and frequency of dental x-rays. Our goal is always to provide the best care possible, which includes only performing x-rays when needed as a diagnostic tool. If you have questions about your dental x-ray, or any area of your oral care, please talk with a member of our team. You should feel confident about every area of your dental treatment.