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.

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!

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.

“Will that Green Beer Affect My Teeth on St. Patty’s Day?”

green beerIf you’ve known our Georgetown dental team for more than a hot second, you know that we’re constantly talking about being green. Taking care of the environment, while taking care of others, is the hallmark of our practice. But today, we’d like to talk to you about something ELSE that is green… and frothy… and is only celebrated once a year in March. Even if you’re not of Irish descent, there will be plenty of green beer available to you at any number of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But can those shamrock-colored suds take a toll on your teeth? Let’s find out…

It’s Not Just the Food Coloring

Having a pint or two (responsibly of course) of green beer can dye your teeth pretty quickly, depending on the strength of the food-grade dyes used in the making of the festive brew. This hue can easily be removed by using a slightly more abrasive whitening toothpaste, or if needed, contacting our Georgetown dental office for a cleaning. But there’s something you should know – drinking beer in general, even when it’s not springy green, can turn your teeth yellow or even slightly brown. Darker beers in particular like stouts can make your teeth take on a dingy appearance over time. If your teeth aren’t as pearly white as the cliffs of Dover, call us to schedule an in-office whitening treatment.

Beer Can Also Damage Enamel

If you think about all the different things in a pint of beer, you might forget that there’s actually a lot of acid in that bubbly brew. Acid, of course, can eat away at your tooth enamel and lead to sensitivity and decay. And, like we just mentioned, your teeth can become discolored when the layers of enamel are worn away and the inner part of your tooth, which is actually darker, starts to peek through.

So Protect Your Health

We’re certainly not saying that you shouldn’t have a small glass of once-a-year beer this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, as long as you have it responsibly and in moderation. But if you do, remember these tips:

  • Drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage
  • Be sure to brush twice and floss once a day (like you already do, right?)
  • Don’t forget to schedule and keep your regular cleaning appointments with our office

If you’re due for an appointment, or perhaps your grin could use a bit of extra attention, give us a call to schedule a dental checkup today.

Always welcoming patients from Georgetown and the surrounding areas.

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?

What Vitamins Are Good for Oral Health?

vitamins in palmOur bodies rely on the vitamins and minerals obtained through what we eat in order to function properly. Our mouth and teeth are no different. The truth is, in order to keep our oral health in good shape we need to make sure we’re getting enough of the right vitamins. In this blog, the team at our dental office in Georgetown cover the most important vitamins you need to maintain good oral health and protect your smile.

Calcium

We all know that bones need calcium in order to grow and remain strong. But getting enough calcium is also crucial for building strong teeth. Calcium helps strengthen enamel which protects teeth from bacteria and lowers the risk of decay. Some foods that are packed with calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important to oral health for several reasons, such as lowering the risk of infection and keeping enamel strong. Your body also needs vitamin D in order to properly absorb calcium. Find vitamin D in:

  • Canned tuna
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

Phosphorus

Similarly to vitamin D, phosphorus is also needed in order to give your body the biggest benefit from calcium. Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus are a strong triangle of needed vitamins that all work together. You can get phosphorus from:

  • Salmon
  • Lentil beans
  • Beef

Vitamin C

Besides boosting your immune system so you can more effectively fight off germs, vitamin C also protects your gums and reduces the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection in the gum tissues that can lead to tooth loss. Protect your gums by eating:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough of the vitamins that keep you healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and include all food groups. However, if it’s tough to get vitamins through your diet,  you can consider a supplement or multivitamin if appropriate.

Fueling your body with the proper mix of vitamins is a great way to protect your oral health. Of course, you still need to brush and floss daily and maintain regular dental cleanings at our Georgetown dental office.  

Top 5 Most Common Dental Misconceptions

boy brushing teethCaring for your smile may seem as simple as brushing and flossing every day and visiting our dental office in Georgetown twice a year. While those things are certainly important for oral health, there are some common misconceptions out there that, if followed, can either damage your smile or make your oral hygiene routine less effective. Let’s take a look at the top five…

  • Sugar is the Main Cause of Cavities

This misconception isn’t entirely false as eating or drinking things with a lot of sugar can definitely increase your risk for cavities. But it’s not necessarily the sugar itself that causes decay. When we eat sugar, the bacteria in our mouths feed on it and produce an acidic byproduct. It is actually this bacteria and acid combo that contribute the most to cavities.

  • Brushing Harder is Better

When you have a dirty dish or sink, you scrub… and scrub… and scrub in order to make it squeaky clean. This vigorous cleaning method is good for most household items, but not so great when it comes to your teeth. Brushing your teeth too hard can actually do more harm than good. A rough brushing can damage tooth enamel, irritate gums, and cause several oral health problems such as sensitivity and an increased chance for cavities.   

  • You Should Rinse After Brushing

After brushing our teeth, it’s incredibly common practice to spit, rinse, spit, and perhaps rinse again. But in order to get the best cleaning and keep the protective fluoride doing its thing for as long as possible, it’s best to pass on the rinse. Instead, spit out any excess toothpaste. This will allow the fluoride to continue to protect teeth over time.

  • You Shouldn’t Brush Bleeding Gums

If gums are bleeding, it may make you think that you shouldn’t brush them so that you don’t further irritate them. However, bleeding gums are usually an early sign of gum disease. The best thing you can do is continue to brush your teeth and gums, but make sure to do so gently. Brushing helps remove bacteria that can make gum disease worse. If you notice bleeding when you brush or floss, you should also schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can.

  • If You Don’t Have a Problem, You Don’t Need to See Your Dentist

We often hear of patients who don’t go to the dentist unless they have a problem. In fact, when it comes to dental care, the best way to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place is to visit your dentist in Georgetown at least twice a year. This can save you from experiencing the pain of many dental problems, as well as the cost of extensive treatment.

Maintaining a good oral health routine of brushing and flossing daily is only half of what it takes to keep your smile healthy for life. Make sure you’re using proper brushing and flossing techniques, eating a well-balanced diet packed with vegetables and fruits, and seeing your dentist every six months. We’re always welcoming new patients at our Georgetown dental office. Call to schedule an appointment today.