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What You Need to Know About Fluoride

fluoride conceptFluoride has been used in the prevention of tooth decay and cavities since it was first introduced into public water supplies in 1945. But there are some research studies that suggest that fluoride isn’t safe. At our dental office in Georgetown, we’d like to help debunk that theory and explain the benefits and importance of fluoride treatments. 

What is Fluoride and What Does it Do?

Before we go any farther, we should first take a close look at what exactly fluoride is and how it works. It’s important to note that fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally found throughout nature and even in some foods and water. But why is it an important part of oral health? Essentially, fluoride makes it more difficult for acids released by bacteria in the mouth to wear away tooth enamel. When tooth enamel erodes, it leaves teeth exposed to those acids and bacteria and increases the likelihood for cavities. By adding fluoride into the mix, the teeth are protected.

Is Fluoride Just for Kids?

Fluoride is most important for growing smiles. Your dentist in Georgetown will most likely recommend that infants and children be exposed to fluoride from 6 months of age until they’re about 16. This may mean changing to a toothpaste that includes fluoride or receiving fluoride treatments at bi-annual dental visits. However, the benefits of fluoride don’t go away once someone hits their 16th birthday. In fact, fluoride can be beneficial for adults too. Adults should also receive some sort of fluoride treatment occasionally in order to keep fighting tooth decay. Fluoride treatments may also be recommended to help combat tooth sensitivity.  

How Much Fluoride is Too Much?

Fluoride is safe and beneficial to dental health, but there is such a thing as too much. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kids under 8 years old should not use products containing fluoride if the public water supply in their hometown has more than 2 mg/L of fluoride. The biggest risk to kids of being exposed to too much fluoride is something called dental fluorosis, or staining and pitting of tooth enamel. 

Fluoride should be used only as directed or prescribed, and intake should be monitored. Here are a few tips to help you monitor the use of fluoride products in your family:

  • Keep fluoride supplements out of the reach of children
  • Avoid flavored toothpaste to discourage swallowing 
  • Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste with fluoride in it

If you have any concerns or questions about how dental fluoride can help protect your family’s smiles from damaging decay and cavities, we welcome you to call our Georgetown dental office to schedule an appointment with us today. 

How Does Wine Affect Your Teeth?

toasting with wine glassesWith the 12th Annual Georgetown Wine and Music Festival coming up at the end of September, the staff of our Georgetown dental office is excited to try the new varietals from local wineries while we stroll around the square. We get a lot of questions about how wine and it’s effect on your oral health….. Are red wines good for your heart, but bad for your teeth? Or is it the other way around? And what about white wines? Do they turn your teeth yellow? Are organics better? So many questions could make your head spin more than the wine. We thought we’d address the basics here in our latest blog so that you don’t have to worry before the big festival.

Does Red Wine Stain Teeth More than White?

This is probably the most common question that we get about wine and your oral health. The truth is, all wine is acidic and has the potential to stain your teeth. We frankly just notice it more with red – the slightly purple smile after a few glasses of Merlot. The acid levels in white wine can still break down tooth enamel and leave the teeth looking yellow, as well as leaving the teeth susceptible to decay

What Should We Do To Avoid Staining?

Believe it or not, your Georgetown dental team is going to tell you that you should not brush your teeth immediately after drinking a glass of wine. Why? If you brush too soon, you’re actually spreading those wine acids around your mouth exposing more tooth surfaces to those acids and potentially damaging them. Instead, swish your mouth with a glass of water after drinking wine – no matter what variety. The water will help to neutralize those acids and wash them off of tooth surfaces. 

Are Organics Any Better?

As much as we love organic wines that are free of chemical pesticides and other compounds that are bad for the planet, organic wines still have the same levels of acids in them, and have the potential to discolor or damage tooth enamel just like the ones full of extra chemicals that speed up the fermentation process. 

What If My Teeth Are Already Stained?

If you’re concerned that your teeth are discolored, either because of wine or just the effects of time, give our office a call to schedule a teeth whitening treatment. We can also discuss other cosmetic dentistry solutions if your teeth require more than just whitening to get back to their best. 

Swimming and Your Oral Health

kids swimmingThere’s nothing quite like hopping in a cool swimming pool during these hot summer days. It’s relaxing, it’s fun, and it’s good for you! Swimming is a summer favorite for the team at our Georgetown dental office, but there are a few things we want to warn you about when it comes to your pool water. 

The Dangers of Pool Water

Swimming pools are often sanitized using a combination of chemicals, including chlorine. This chlorine helps keep harmful bacteria from swimming around in your pool water and protects you and your family. It also plays a role in the water’s pH level. However, if proper balance isn’t maintained, your pool water could put your teeth at risk.

Pool water should be kept at a safe pH level at all times — usually between 7.2 and 7.8. If the pH drops below this safe zone, it becomes acidic and can cause eyes to burn, skin to become irritated, and tooth enamel to erode.  

Acidic Water and Enamel Erosion

Enamel is the hard coating surrounding each tooth’s surface and protects teeth against bacteria, decay, and sensitivity. It’s one of the hardest materials in our bodies, but that doesn’t make it unbreakable. Enamel can erode due to a diet high in acid, brushing too hard, or yes, swimming in a pool with a low pH. Of course, those who spend a lot of time in the pool like competitive swimmers are at greater risk for this type of enamel erosion. 

This correlation between pool water with a low pH and enamel erosion dates back to the 1980’s. In fact, one study showed that nearly 40% of competitive swimmers had some level of enamel erosion. Continued research appears to support the notion that pool water may, in fact, put tooth enamel and oral health at risk. 

What to Look For

The first sign that your pool’s pH may be too low is burning eyes or irritated skin. But when it comes to your teeth, the signs may take a bit longer to show up. There are two main signs you may be suffering from pool-induced tooth problems — increased sensitivity or unexplained brown spots on your teeth, known as swimmer’s calculus. If you’re noticing signs of a dental problem, call your dentist in Georgetown as soon as possible. 

How to Keep Your Smile Safe

If you’re going to spend some time a pool this summer, make sure to test the water regularly to ensure it’s at a safe pH level. Additionally, try to keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible. And of course, always brush and floss properly and maintain regular appointments at our Georgetown dental office.

“I have dental anxiety. Can you help me?”

anxious womanDental anxiety is nothing to joke about. Many people have had a painful or scary experience at a dental office in the past that has left them feeling stressed and downright scared of going to another dentist… even for a cleaning. At our Georgetown dental office, we never want our patients to feel uncomfortable or fearful. There are some things we can do to help ease dental anxiety…

Peaceful Surroundings

Many people have said that our office feels more like a spa than a dental office. We’ve decorated the office with soothing Thai and Balinese accents, along with live plants, to help you feel relaxed from the moment you walk through the door. Let us make you a smoothie while you relax and gaze out at the duck pond. 

Trouble Getting Numb? Consider Sedation

Some patients who have come to our Georgetown dental office from other places have told us that they developed a fear of needles, and dentists in general, because of the pain of lots of Novocaine and difficulty getting numb. We have two different options for sedation dentistry that can help to alleviate that fear.

  • Oral Conscious Sedation this is sometimes called pill sedation. We’ll give you an oral medication to calm you and take the edge off of your worries. You’ll still be fully awake, but much more relaxed. 
  • Inhalation Sedation – which is often called “laughing gas.” A combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled through a mask to help you relax. Again, you’re not going to be put to sleep. You’ll be able to ask questions and be fully alert, but without the tension or nervousness.

Talk To Us

Oftentimes there’s something simple that we can do during a procedure or cleaning to help you relax. Maybe you’d like to listen to your favorite tunes, or wear sunglasses so that the light isn’t so bright. Or perhaps you’d like a big, soft blanket on your lap, or a friend to be sitting in the room for moral support. We are here to help you have the healthiest, most confident smile possible, so if there’s something that we can do to help, please just ask!

We hope that we’ve eased some of your fears or nervousness about going to the dentist. If you haven’t been to a dentist in a long time, don’t worry. Give our dental office in Georgetown a call, and we’ll work together to get your smile back in shape. 

Gum Disease & Your Overall Health

examining gums with mirrorYour dental care isn’t only about your teeth. Your gums also play a key role in not only the health of your mouth but also the health of your body. At our dental office in Georgetown, we care for your entire mouth and are always on the lookout for gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection that can lead to concerns with your overall health and, of course, your oral health.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection within the gum tissue. You may have heard gum disease referred to as periodontal disease, gingivitis, or periodontitis. While these are all gum disease, they do not all mean the same thing.

  • Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is the technical name for gum disease. While there are different stages of gum disease, the term periodontal disease essentially refers to gum disease in general.   
  • Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the term used for early-stage periodontal disease. During this time, you may not be able to recognize the symptoms. In that case, your gum disease may go untreated and get progressively worse. If that happens, your gums are harder to treat, and your teeth and overall health can be at serious risk.
  • Periodontitis – Periodontitis is used to describe gum disease that has progressed into a more severe stage. This happens when bacteria spreads below the gum line. Your gums may become irritated or inflamed and can cause the gum tissue to weaken. This can cause loose teeth or even the loss of one or more teeth.

How Does Gum Disease Affect the Body?

The bacteria in gum disease can cause various health issues throughout the body. Numerous studies have shown that gum disease has been linked to serious medical conditions and diseases including:

Early diagnosis and treatment of gum disease can help keep your body protected from these serious health concerns. This is one reason you should see your dentist in Georgetown regularly.

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?

  • Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth

If you’ve noticed any signs of gum disease if you’re due for a dental checkup, we welcome you to call our Georgetown dental office as soon as possible. We’re here to keep your mouth, and your body, healthy.

How Can I Learn to Be Greener?

heart in hedgeA lot of patients at our Georgetown dental office see all of the environmentally friendly things that we do and think, “Wow. I can barely recycle soda cans. How do they do all that?” It really isn’t as hard as it looks, it just takes the time and commitment to change your routine. We’d like to talk about a couple of changes we made in our office, and suggest a couple of changes that you can easily make at home to help reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on waste, and save the environment.

We Embrace Technology

Transferring all of our patient records from paper to electronics wasn’t just convenient, it was in an effort to reduce all that wasteful paper and file folders taking up space. Think of all the trees that have to be cut down and processed to print out all that intake paperwork. Now, we can do it on an iPad and easily access that information without using reams and reams of paper.

How can you embrace technology?

Have you thought about converting some of your utility bills to paperless billing? Or filing your taxes online and saving the finished forms as a pdf on your computer? Just think of all the paper you wouldn’t have to touch.

We Reduce Waste

When you come to our Georgetown dental office for an appointment, you’ll see soft, cloth towels in the bathroom rather than rolls of paper towels. Why? We’re cutting down on waste by using towels that we can easily pop in the wash and re-use, rather than rolls and rolls of paper that will clutter up a landfill.

How can you reduce waste?

Consider using a mop with a reusable, washable head for cleaning floors, switching to cloth dish-towels in the kitchen instead of disposable paper ones, and think about buying soaps and other liquids in bulk and refilling bottles rather than constantly having to throw them away.

We Save Water

When you come for your preventive cleaning, we’ll encourage you to turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth everyday. Leaving the water running wastes up to 90 glasses of water per day! This is something that we all do here at the office, and we encourage everyone to pass on our message of environmental stewardship.

How can you save water?

That’s easy! Take the “Save 90 a Day” pledge and show that you really do want to help make a difference and protect the world around you.

We hope that these little tips have made you realize that being environmentally conscious, both at work and at home, isn’t as hard as you might think. For more ideas, or if you’re due for your hygiene visit, give us a call today!

I’m Pregnant and Nervous About Seeing the Dentist. Help!

pregnant woman brushes teethThere are so many new questions and complications that can arise when you find out you’re expecting a little one. It’s such a beautiful time and moment in an expectant mother’s life, and we want you to be able to relax and enjoy all of the positive sides of pregnancy. Your Georgetown dentist doesn’t want you to worry about taking care of your smile, no matter if you’re an existing patient or someone new who is looking for a dental family they can trust.

Let’s explore some of the dental-related questions or concerns some pregnant women seem to struggle with. We’ll show you how everything is going to be alright, no matter what your smile needs to stay healthy during pregnancy.

Helpful Tip #1 – Blame Your Hormones

One of the first things that happens when a pregnancy begins to develop is your hormones get all out of whack thanks to rising and falling levels of both estrogen and progesterone. In about half of all pregnant women, there’s a risk of developing something referred to as “pregnancy-related gingivitis”, according to the American Dental Association. It causes pain, swelling, tenderness, and excessive bleeding in your gums. Your dentist in Georgetown can always take a look at your gums and bleeding to determine a plan of action. Sometimes we recommend more frequent cleanings, and sometimes the issue clears up on its own.

Helpful Tip #2 – Take Additional Steps to Protect Your Teeth from Acid Erosion

Sickness and vomiting during pregnancy are one of the most common side effects that most women tend to experience early on in their pregnancy. When you get sick, excess stomach acid can eat away at your tooth enamel leading to decay. Remember these helpful tips you can use at home to help protect your teeth from acid:

  1. Rinse with water – Swish some water around in your mouth following a bout of morning sickness to remove some of the acid from your teeth.
  2. Wait an hour – Wait at least an hour before brushing after you’re sick. Rinse with water in the meantime. The acid may weaken enamel, and brushing can scratch the enamel and lead to decay.  
  3. Keep drinking water – The more water you drink, the lower the acidity level in your mouth will be.
  4. Smear on toothpaste – Putting a dollop of toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it on your teeth can further protect them against acid.
  5. Use a tongue scraper – After you get sick, if you take a tongue scraper across your tongue, you can successfully remove some of the acid that may stick around on the tongue and then transfer to the teeth.

Helpful Tip #3 – Don’t Ignore Your Oral and Overall Health Connection

You might have heard at our Georgetown dental office about how closely your mouth is connected to the rest of your body. It can act as a mirror for underlying medical conditions present elsewhere in your body. This is why not one but three of some of the country’s most respected dental/medical organizations (the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics) encourage every mother to see the dentist, especially during the earlier phases and stages of your pregnancy. It’s important to address any issues early for improved health for you and your baby.

By now, you probably know how crucial it is to see your Georgetown dentist throughout your pregnancy along with maintaining your brushing and flossing routine at home. No matter where you are in the course of your pregnancy, we hope you’ll give us a call to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your smile health. We’ll be here to help you every step of the way on your beautiful pregnancy journey!

Options for a Whiter Smile

woman hiding her smileHave you ever wished that your teeth were whiter? We understand. We all want a bright, white smile that we’re happy to show off to the world. But many things can cause tooth discoloration — from your daily cup of coffee to your nightcap glass of red wine, or delicious tomato sauce to yummy berries. What can you do to take your teeth from dull to white? Our dental office in Georgetown is here to help with some solutions to brighten your smile.

Professional Tooth Whitening

If you’re looking for a fast, dramatic tooth whitening option, consider a professional smile whitening from our dental office in Georgetown. A professional teeth whitening can transform your smile quickly and can even make your smile several shades whiter in just one treatment. All you have to do is sit back and relax, and a professional smile whitening can give you the immediate results you’re looking for.

Over-the-Counter Smile Whitening Products

There’s a certain appeal to over-the-counter smile whitening products. They’re often cheaper than a professional whitening, and they can brighten your teeth. However, results usually appear over time and are certainly not immediate. There are also some risks involved with over-the-counter whitening strips and trays. For example, if the solution stays on too long or it sits on your gums, it can lead to damage and increased sensitivity.

When Whitening Isn’t Enough

There are times when neither over-the-counter whitening nor professional whitening is enough to get you the look you want. In fact, there are some types of stains that don’t respond to the whitening solution and will never go away no matter how much you try. When this happens, the best way to whiten your smile is through dental veneers. Dental veneers are thin sheets of porcelain that are fixed to the surface of your teeth covering up any imperfections, including stains.

When deciding on the best way to whiten your smile, start by talking with our Trade Winds dental team! We will be able to help you determine what kind of staining you have and which whitening solution will work best for your particular needs.

If you’re looking to brighten and whiten your smile, call our dental office in Georgetown to schedule an appointment. We’ll work with you to determine the safest and most effective solution to get you smiling bigger and brighter than ever!

Oral Cancer Awareness

oral cancer ribbonEvery April, the dental community recognizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month to educate our patients and neighbors on this scary, and sometimes deadly, disease. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed every year. At our dental office in Georgetown, we want to do our part and help our community recognize the risks and signs of early cancer.

Who is at Risk of Getting Oral Cancer?

Anyone can get oral cancer. But there are several things that can put someone at greater risk. While we can’t change some of these risk factors, there are definitely some we can control. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
  • The Sun: Unprotected sun exposure tends to put people at greater risk of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Even though oral cancer can be treated successfully, treatment and survival increase greatly when oral cancer is caught early. This is why it’s incredibly important to know the signs of oral cancer. Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • A sore that doesn’t go away
  • Irregular areas such as lumps, rough spots, or erosion
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain or numbness
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your dentist in Georgetown and schedule a checkup.

Regular dental appointments don’t just help protect your teeth from cavities. They’re also crucial to monitor your overall oral health. During your dental cleanings and exams, your dental team will be on the lookout for any concerning areas or warning signs that there may be a problem so that treatment can begin sooner rather than later. Early diagnosis of oral cancer may save your life.

Don’t put off your dental appointments. Call our Georgetown dental office to schedule an appointment today.

Could It Be TMD?

grinding teethApril is the month of spring showers, spring cleaning, and……. TAXES. If you haven’t filed your federal income taxes yet, you may be feeling the stress of tax time. One thing that we know well at at our Georgetown dental office is that feeling in your jaw and your head may be more than stress. It may actually be temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMJ disorder or TMD.

What Exactly is TMJ?

Technically speaking, your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the ones that connect your lower jawbone to your skull. If you touch just below your ear you’ll feel it moving as you speak, chew, and swallow. They’ve got a lot of work to do, and sometimes those joints can be thrown out of alignment by an uneven bite, an injury, or stress on the joint from the stress in your life making you clench your jaw. (sound familiar?)

Symptoms of TMJ

There are a ton of different symptoms of TMJ/TMD, but these are some of the most common ones that we see at our Georgetown dental office:

  • Popping, clicking sounds in your jaw when you eat or talk
  • Ringing in your ears or generally stuffy ears
  • Frequent headaches and / or neck pain
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw

And the most dreaded symptom of all…

  • Occasional locking of the jaw or limited movement

Any of these symptoms are concerning and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not just stress! Call our office to set up a consultation to see if your feelings of discomfort, even minor ones, could be the beginnings of TMD. Something as simple as a dental nightguard could make a world of difference and prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw.

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort of TMJ/TMD. Give our office in Georgetown a call today to see what treatment may be right for you… and your smile.