Tupelo Smiles

Electronic Cigarettes

 

Smoking cigarettes is harmful to your dental health. New electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, may seem to be less harmful, but recent research says otherwise. Researchers at the University of Rochester have found that e-cigs, also commonly called vapes, are just as damaging to both teeth and gums as regular cigarettes. Previously, dentist and scientists believed the chemicals found in cigarette smoke were to blame for oral health issues. Even though e-cigs use less added chemicals, the smoke still causes damage to cells in the mouth, which could lead to a variety of oral diseases. The best way to reduce your risk of oral disease is to quit smoking, both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

Dental Insurance vs. Dental Savings Plan

 

Do you know the difference is between dental insurance, and a dental discount plan? Dental insurance works like health insurance and is often available through your employer. Most plans have a monthly premium, and when you have a dental expense, the insurance plan pays all or part of that expense, up to a stated maximum. Like health insurance, these plans come with deductibles, co-pays, waiting periods and policy maximums. Dental discount plans, however, do not pay any dental expenses for you. Instead, you pay an annual fee for the plan, and then receive a discount on dental procedures as you have them performed. There are generally no deductibles, no waiting periods, or annual maximums. Before buying a dental discount plan, make sure that your dentist participates in that plan. Contact your dentist’s office if you have any questions about which best fits your needs.

Gaps (Diastema)

 

A diastema is an area of extra space between two or more teeth, often called a gap. The most common place for a diastema is between the front two upper teeth. Many children have diastema, especially as they lose their baby teeth and adult teeth grow in. Often, this gap will close on its own as the child gains more permanent teeth. However, some adults have diastema. If the gap causes alignment problems, or is cosmetically unappealing to a patient, there are options for closing the gap. The two most common treatments are orthodontics to move the teeth together, or veneers bonded to the outside of the tooth. Many patients keep their gap, as they feel it gives them a unique smile.

Preventing Decay


 
It is very important to try to prevent decay of your child’s primary teeth. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One of the risk factors for this “baby bottle tooth decay” is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar. These liquids could include milk, breast milk, formula, and fruit juice. Tooth decay can also occur when parents or caregivers put a baby to bed with a bottle – or use milk, formula, or juice as a pacifier for a fussy baby. If you use a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey before giving it to a baby. Prolonged use of pacifiers can harm the teeth just like prolonged thumb sucking, but it is often easier to wean a child from a pacifier than a thumb. Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday, and discourage frequent use of a training or Sippy cup. Never allow a baby to take a bottle to bed at night or naptime.

The Truth About Charcoal Whitening

 

Recently, you may have heard about charcoal whitening products. These products, often sold in health food stores, claim to use activated charcoal to remove surface stains on the teeth. The charcoal is applied in powder form to a toothbrush and then rubbed on the teeth, often turning the mouth black, temporarily. Charcoal whitening advocates claim that after a quick rinse, teeth will be noticeably whiter. However, the American Dental Association states that there is no evidence that these treatments are effective in creating a whiter smile. In fact, the abrasive nature of the charcoal may damage enamel. The ADA recommends speaking with your dentist about whitening treatments that are clinically proven to be safe and effective.

Cancer

 

According to the American Dental Association, over one third of cancer patients report complications affecting their mouths. The adverse effects are usually due to chemotherapy and radiation treatments used to treat cancer. The most common side effects patients report are dry mouth, sensitive gums, mouth sores, and jaw pain. Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, making oral infections more common in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Radiation treatments to the mouth or neck can damage salivary glands, which can lead to dry mouth. Not only is extreme dry mouth uncomfortable, but it can lead to tooth decay and infection. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, make sure to speak with your dentist about any complications.

Dental Tips for Cold and Flu Season

 

Cold and flu season can take a toll on all parts of your body, even your mouth. Here are a few tips to care for your teeth when you have a cold or flu. Choose sugar free cough drops to soothe your sore throat. A sugary cough drop will promote the formation of cavities. It is also important to stay hydrated. Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, it is a breeding ground for dental bacteria that can cause cavities. While staying hydrated, it is always best to drink water. Sports drinks can be helpful in replenishing electrolytes, but they should be used in moderation and always followed with water. And finally, after you are well, toss out your toothbrush and replace it with a new one.

Chewing Gum

 

According to the American Dental Association, chewing a piece of sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum prevents decay by increasing the amount of saliva in the mouth. Increased saliva helps to carry important minerals like calcium and phosphate to your teeth, as well as to neutralize acidic bacteria, and to sweep away debris.  Gum with sugar does increase saliva in the mouth, but the added sugar causes plaque bacteria to accumulate in the mouth There are many sugarless gums sweetened with aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol that are approved by the ADA. Look for the ADA seal of approval to ensure that your gum is sugarless. This seal is your assurance that the gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.

Do I still need to floss?

You may have seen recent headlines claiming there is no indication that flossing improves oral health. But according to the American Dental Association, flossing should still be a part of your daily oral health routine. Researchers at the ADA have found that flossing daily resulted in a significant reduction of cavities because flossing can reach food and debris that would be left behind by brushing alone. Flossing also helps prevent periodontal disease, gingivitis, and plaque buildup. To maintain good oral health, the ADA recommends brushing twice per day, flossing once per day, and visiting your dentist regularly. And always ask your dentist for instructions on how best to use dental floss or other flossers.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is interrupted in your sleep. This common yet dangerous condition’s most common side effect is snoring, though not all people who snore have sleep apnea. There are 2 types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissue at the back of the throat closes during sleep; while central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to trigger your muscles to breathe. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in:

high blood pressure

stroke

irregular heartbeat or heart attack

diabetes

or depression

Sleep apnea can be treated by adjusting your sleep habits, continuous air pressure (or CPAP), and other oral devices.. If the sleep apnea persists, surgery is also an option. Your doctor and dentist can work together to find the treatment that is best for you.