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.

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.

Can Snoring Harm My Smile?

couple snoringYour dentist in Georgetown always wants what’s best for you and your smile. That’s why if there’s something you’re concerned about, we hope you’ll take the time to talk to us. One of the biggest questions we seem to get from time to time is about snoring and how it affects our teeth. The truth is that this is an excellent question and we’re happy to break it down for you in this latest blog post. Read on, enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when we’re done.

There Could Be More to Your Snoring Than You Think

Wrap your head around this fact: The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that almost 90 million Americans are struggling with unruly snoring every time their head touches the pillow. This isn’t good for you or your bed partner! Sometimes snoring is just that: snoring. But in some cases, snoring is attributed to a serious condition called sleep apnea. One of the craziest things about this issue is, so many people have it and are losing sleep over it every single night, but don’t even know it!

Some of the most common signs of sleep apnea related snoring are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness throughout the day
  • Night sweats
  • Choking
  • Gasping for air
  • Sudden awakenings where you have to restart breathing
  • Falling asleep at unwanted times

Understanding Sleep Apnea

It’s important to understand that if you or someone you know thinks sleep apnea may be to blame for their snoring, that there’s a safe, personalized solution for everyone that can help you get the restful night’s sleep you need and deserve.

Sleep apnea is usually classified into two distinctively different ways:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is, by far, the most common form of sleep apnea being diagnosed across the country today. At our dental office in Georgetown, we’ll always tell you to seek help if you or someone in your family continues to have issues with snoring. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s usually caused by a blocked airflow during sleep due to your soft tissue collapsing in the back of your throat.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose because it involves a specific problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles to respond. Unlike OSA, your airway isn’t blocked in this case; it’s your brain that fails to signal your muscles to breathe.

Snoring and Your Smile

There’s no doubt snoring affects your oral health. It mainly has to do with dry mouth and the lack of saliva that’s no longer present when your mouth stays open for long periods of time. Your teeth can be subject to decay and deterioration because your mouth loses the ability to wash away harmful bacteria, acids, and plaque. This means your teeth could be susceptible to enamel erosion and foul odor.

We always hope you’ll feel comfortable discussing both your oral and overall health concerns with the talented team at our Georgetown dental office. If you think your snoring is becoming out of control and you’re worried about your smile, please don’t hesitate to talk to us. Together, we can get you the help you need and keep your teeth protected and healthy enough to last a lifetime.

Regular Dental Care Can Help Your Heart

heart health monthWe all know that it’s important to brush and floss regularly in order to protect our smiles from decay and cavities. But did you know that taking care of your oral health can also help protect your heart too? To celebrate American Heart Month, our dental office in Georgetown wants to share some information about just how regular dental care can help your heart.

Oral Health & Heart Health Connection

Keeping your oral health in tip-top shape isn’t just about the mouth itself. In fact, many whole-body concerns including diabetes, kidney disease, certain types of cancer, and heart disease have been linked to oral health, and more specifically, gum health. For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to talk about heart disease.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), gum disease has a direct connection to an increased risk for heart disease. But how can something that originates in the mouth find its way down to the heart? It’s pretty easy actually. When there’s a buildup of bacteria in the gums (gum disease) it has a direct route to the bloodstream. As the bacteria infiltrate the blood supply they can cause a surge in the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) present. This is when the problems start. Too much CRP can cause:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious health problem that requires a diagnosis from your dentist in Georgetown. If caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully before it has a chance to put the rest of your body at risk. Being able to recognize the signs of gum disease quickly can make all the difference. Some common signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

Any of these symptoms may be cause for concern, so if you notice any of these, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and the whole-body concerns that can go with it is to practice good oral hygiene habits and see your Georgetown dentist regularly. Dental cleanings and checkups every six months can help remove plaque and bacteria that your toothbrush alone can’t touch, which will reduce your risk of gum disease.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental visit, we welcome you to call our Georgetown dental office to schedule an appointment today.

How Your First Visit is Different at Trade Winds

closeup of beautiful woman

If you’ve just moved to our area, or if you happen to be looking for a new Georgetown dental office, you made have heard through the grapevine that we are different than most. We’d like to show you how different we really are by describing what an initial visit is like at Trade Winds Dental.

Let’s Talk Green

The first thing that you’ll notice is that we are GreenDoc Gold Certified. This designation means that we go well above and beyond what most practices do in an effort to be environmentally friendly. We use no paper towels, no amalgam (metal) dental fillings, and have live plants throughout our office. You’ll also see that we recycle – and we’ll offer you a BPA-free toothbrush made from recycled plastic. When it’s time to change that toothbrush (we recommend every three months), bring it back in and we’ll donate $1 to Hope Alliance when we recycle it.

Digital is Better

After you’ve toured our office, we’ll take digital x-rays using the latest technology. If you ever need dental impressions, perhaps for a crown or other restorative work, we’ll be using an intraoral scanner rather than the old fashioned goopy impression material for the most accurate scans possible.

Advanced Cleanings

When it is time for your first cleaning, you may experience something unexpected at our Georgetown dental office as perform an oral cancer screening. We will regularly check for any changes so that we can detect any anomalies as early as possible. The earlier we find problems, the easier they can be to treat. We’ll then thoroughly clean and polish your teeth, possibly more thoroughly than you’ve ever had it done before. We may also apply a fluoride treatment for extra protection.

Comfort is Key

Before your visit is complete, we’d love to offer you a fresh smoothie, lip balm, or talk to you about how you can be more green at home. If applicable, we’ll be sure that your insurance benefits are being used to the fullest, and develop a treatment plan for any work that you’re looking to complete. Finally, we’ll be sure to answer any and every question you may have about your health and our services.

It’s not just our love of the environment that makes us different – it’s a personal touch that you won’t find from any other dentist in Georgetown. Why not call and make an appointment today?