Acid Reflux & Dental Health

man wonderingEven though acid reflux is a condition that originates in the stomach, it can affect other areas of the body, including the mouth. The truth is, people who suffer from acid reflux can be at greater risk for oral health concerns than those who don’t. Our dental office in Georgetown is here to help anyone dealing with acid reflux understand how it can negatively affect dental health and what you can do to reduce your risk.  

How Acid Reflux Affects the Mouth

A natural and important part of proper digestion includes the production of stomach acids. These acids help break down food so the body can digest what we eat. But these acids don’t always stay in the stomach. They can creep up the throat and into the mouth. Normally saliva in the mouth helps neutralize the acid and wash it away before it has a chance to cause damage. But when someone has acid reflux, which may also be referred to as GERD, stomach acids make their way up into mouth repeatedly. This leaves the mouth and teeth exposed to the acid. It’s this consistent exposure to the acid that causes damage to teeth.

Acid Leads to Tooth Damage

Acid is one of the worst things for teeth as it eats away at the protective enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay, cavities, and other problems. As this erosion occurs and teeth are damaged, the need for dental treatment such as fillings, a root canal, or a dental crown may be required to help restore the tooth’s structure. Some signs that your teeth may have some level of acid erosion include:

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Painful abscess

Reduce Your Risk

Many times acid reflux can be treated or the symptoms can be minimized through the use of a doctor-recommended medication. Additionally, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of damage caused by acid reflux including:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum to help promote saliva production to rinse away acid
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth to strengthen enamel
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol to reduce acid reflux episodes
  • Seeing your dentist in Georgetown every six months to catch any problems early.

If you suffer from acid reflux and are worried about your dental health, we welcome you to call our Georgetown dental office to schedule an appointment today. We will take a close look at your overall oral health and talk with you about the best way to protect your teeth against the dangers of acid reflux.

Stressed Yet?

woman feels holiday stressIf you’ve walked into any type of retail store lately, you’ve noticed that the holidays are in full swing. No matter what your background or which specific holidays you’ll be celebrating, this can be the most stressful time of year for a lot of people. All the family gatherings, potential arguments about politics and sports, meals to prepare, gifts to purchase… it can all add up to major physical symptoms of stress, along with mental fatigue. At our Georgetown dental office, we’d like to try and help in anyway that we can.

The Jawbone’s Connected to the…. Headaches?

Do you find yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth? Are you waking up with a headache and clicking sounds when you chew? Or, even worse, locking up when you’re eating lunch? These are all symptoms of TMJ – your temporomandibular joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull are telling you that they’re overworked! These symptoms can happen at any time, but are much more frequent during periods of stress.

TMJ can lead to damage to your teeth from the grinding, muscular spasms in the face and jaw, and loss of sleep for many people. Call us to talk about your symptoms and we’ll see if a simple nightguard is all you need to stop the pain.

The Pressure to Be Beautiful

Family gatherings can cause a tremendous amount of stress because we all have family members who will immediately notice our physical flaws. There’s still time to see us for a cosmetic dentistry consultation to whiten dull, yellow teeth, fill in a chip or a gap with bonding, or even get a same-day crown to restore your smile… and your confidence… to it’s fullest potential.

No Judging. We Promise

Maybe you are completely missing one or more teeth, be it from an accident, injury, or even years of neglect. Maybe you’d love to get it fixed, but that means coming into the dentist and being stressed out about what the dental team is going to say about your oral health. Don’t worry, this is a No-Judgement Zone. It doesn’t matter how you got into the situation, we’re here to help restore your smile so that you can live healthier and happier. Dental implants are a permanent option for a missing tooth, and implants can also be use to permanently anchor dentures as an alternative to traditional dentures that can slip or fit improperly. Think of it as the ultimate gift to yourself!

Relax… with Sedation Dentistry

Maybe the holidays aren’t that stressful for you. Maybe you suffer from dental anxiety all year long, making your cleaning appointment before the holidays seem like a bigger moment of dread than getting coal in your stocking. It’s ok – dental anxiety is a very real thing that affects millions of people, and your Georgetown dental office is here to help. We offer oral conscious sedation as well as inhalation sedation to help you feel more comfortable and stress-free during your procedure.

We truly hope that with the whirlwind of activities over the next two months, you find the time to breathe, relax, and enjoy the tiny moments of bliss, like the first snowfall or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread. Our Georgetown dental office is here to help you reduce your stress, so call us today and let’s talk about how we can make you smile more this holiday season.

These Treats Are Worse for Teeth Than Candy

girl with jack-o-lanternWhen it comes to candy-filled holidays like Halloween, we usually caution our patients to enjoy sweet snacks and candy in moderation. And with good reason. It should come as no surprise that sugar is one of those things that concerns the team at our dental office in Georgetown. After all, sugar is a dentist’s worst nightmare, right? Maybe not. It turns out that there are some snacks out there that can be worse for your smile than sugar-packed candies.

What’s the Big Deal About Sugar Anyway?

Before we dive into some of the surprising snacks that are scarier to oral health than candy, it’s important to take a look at why sugar is such a concern. When we eat foods or drink beverages with high sugar content we essentially feed the bacteria that live in our mouths. This bacteria then releases an acid as a byproduct of their feasting. The acid is what contributes to decay and cavities as it wears away the protective tooth enamel, leaving teeth exposed to bacteria and more acid.

Other Spooky Snacks

While candy will always be one of those things that your dentist in Georgetown will encourage you to eat in moderation, there are other snacks that are also a concern.

Citrus & Dried Fruits

These are surprising treats that can be dangerous for your grin but usually fall under the healthy category. It is fruit, after all. But certain fruits are highly acidic, and as we know, acid is bad for teeth. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit will quite literally eat away tooth enamel and leave teeth at risk. Dried fruit is also a healthy snack that’s not so great for your smile. These super sticky fruits can get stuck on teeth and are loaded with sugar. The longer the sugar is left around, the more the bacteria will eat it, and more acid is produced.

Crackers & Chips

Chips and crackers are perhaps more surprising that fruits as cavity-causing treats. Even though these foods aren’t sweet and don’t typically contain a lot of sugar, if any, they can still be a threat to oral health. Blame it on the high starch content. These starches affect your body similarly to the way sugar does. This is due to their high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index will increase blood glucose and will feed bacteria in the mouth, just like sugar. The result is more food for the bacteria, more acidic byproduct, and more risk for cavities.

Do Your Part to Limit Your Risk of Decay

We’re not here to tell you to completely avoid candy this Halloween, or to quit eating certain fruits, chips, and crackers forever. Like anything, these things can be enjoyed in moderation. But our Georgetown dental office does encourage you to also drink plenty of water when snacking on foods that are known to increase the risk of decay. Most of all, have a happy and safe Halloween!

How to Stop a Toothache

woman with toothacheNobody ever wants to experience the pain and discomfort of a toothache. But the truth is, toothaches can happen to anyone, and they can come without warning. While the best way to treat a toothache is to see your dentist in Georgetown as quickly as you can, there are some things you can do before your appointment to help ease the pain.

5 Ways to Ease a Toothache

Toothache pain can come with a lot of discomfort. But this pain doesn’t necessarily stay only in the affected tooth. You can get a headache, your gums may pulse, and your entire mouth can feel the effects. Try these tips to help.

  • Salt Water RinseGently swish a solution of warm water and salt around your mouth a few times a day. This will help dry out fluid in the affected area and ease pressure on the nerves. Just make sure not to swallow the concoction.
  • IceJust like any other injury, ice can help reduce inflammation and pressure on the nerves. Put an ice pack or a cold compress on the side of your face where the pain is coming from. Don’t put anything cold directly onto your skin. Use a cloth as a barrier.
  • Anti-inflammatoriesOver-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may also ease toothache pain. Read the label on the bottle to determine how much should take. Remember, swallow the medication and do not apply it directly to the gums or tooth.
  • FlossIf a piece of food stuck between two teeth may be causing the pain it’s ok to take a piece of floss and gently try to wiggle it out. The keyword here is gently. Too much pressure or roughly flossing can cause damage and more pain.
  • AnestheticMany pharmacies and grocery stores carry over-the-counter oral anesthetics for tooth pain relief. They will temporary numb your mouth so you can get a little relief. However, these gels or liquids are not meant to be a permanent solution.

What Causes Toothaches Anyway?

There’s no one thing that can cause a toothache. Many things ranging from decay, cavities, or a dental injury may be to blame. While usually caused something minor which is easily treated at our Georgetown dental office, there are times when a toothache may be a sign of gum disease, infection, or chronic tooth grinding. Whatever is causing your toothache, it’s best to get it checked as soon as you can to avoid the need for in-depth treatment.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

Although toothaches can happen to anyone at any time, there are certain precautions you can take to reduce your risk of getting one. First, make sure to keep up with your dental appointments every six months. These dental cleanings and exams can catch potential problems before they have a chance to turn into an unwanted toothache. Second, practice good oral hygiene habits of brushing and flossing every day to remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque from teeth that could otherwise cause decay.

You don’t need to continue to suffer from toothache pain, and often times they’re easily treated. Try these at-home remedies and schedule an appointment at our dental office in Georgetown as soon as you can. We’re always happy to help.

How to Deal with Losing a Filling

woman embarrassedDental fillings are an incredibly common type of dental restoration used to treat cavities and decay. In fact, nearly 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 have at least one dental filling. While dental fillings are strong and can last for many, many years, there are still some things that can cause a dental filling to become loose or fall out. Here’s what to do if that happens.

Don’t Wait, Call

Before you do anything else you should call your dentist in Georgetown. Many times our dental office will be able to see you the same day or the next day. At the appointment, you can expect to have a thorough exam of the area so your dental team can assess the damage. This allows us the opportunity to determine the best way to fix it.

What to Expect

Sometimes your dentist may recommend replacing the filling with another one. This is typically what happens if the filling was small and the damage didn’t really affect the tooth. Other times a filling just won’t get the job done and a dental crown may be recommended. Dental crowns cap the entire tooth and provide greater protection.  

Do Your Part

If you lose a filling there are important steps you should take in order to protect your tooth and ease any discomfort.

  • Clean the area. When a filling falls out, your tooth is left with a small hole that food and bacteria can get wedged into. If left there, it could lead to more damage. Rinse with salt water or gently brush the area after eating.
  • Reduce the pain. Using pain reliever can help minimize any sensitivity and increase comfort. There are also temporary fillers available at many pharmacies. Look for one that contains zinc oxide and place it in the gap, but only temporarily.

Avoid the Problem in the First Place

While very common, there are ways you can avoid losing a filling… including choosing your snacks wisely. Many lost or loose fillings are the result of sticky foods or hidden popcorn kernels, so be sure to eat these in moderation and use caution. Tooth grinding or clenching is also a common cause of lost fillings. Make sure to use a nightguard if you grind your teeth in your sleep to protect both your dental restorations as well as your jaw health. Lastly, seeing your Georgetown dentist every six months can help catch any loose fillings before they have a chance to fall out when you least expect it.
We’re always welcoming new patients at our dental office in Georgetown and are here to help with any dental concern. If you’ve lost a filling or suspect you may need one, we welcome you to give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Ways to Enjoy Those Last Moments of Summer

kids swimmingIt’s August, and that means that we’re spending our free time thinking about back to school supplies, the beginning of football season, and all the pumpkin spice-ness that will come with the start of the Autumn season. What you may not have thought about are things like getting your kids sports mouthguards for fall sports, getting them their back to school checkups and cleanings, and capturing those last precious moments of summertime fun. Your dentist in Georgetown wants to help with your to-do list, so let’s check these boxes one by one…

Sports Mouthguards? CHECK.

We’ve previously shared some scary statistics with you about mouth injuries, like the fact that 5 million teeth are knocked out every year, with up to 39% of them being from sports injuries. Of those, 80% of dental injuries involve the top front teeth. No matter what age you are, or what sport you play, no one wants to deal with the pain (and cost!) of damaging your smile when it can be prevented. Just ask your Georgetown dentist about a custom sports mouthguard at your child’s next appointment. And speaking of which….

Cleanings for the Kids? CHECK.

Whether your kids are in elementary school or off at college, setting up their appointments for checkups and cleanings is easy. We offer convenient hours including super early appointments to fit into your (and your child’s) busy schedules.

Enjoying the last moments of summer? Big Time CHECK.

There’s still one more Movie In the Park to enjoy at the soccer fields on August 17th, Music on the Square on Friday nights, and of course, our three Georgetown area Farmers Markets will continue to be full of the bounty of the seasons for healthy vegetables and fruits to add to your end of summer feasts.

So go ahead, catch those fireflies in a jar, take one more dip in the pool, and eat another blue ice pop – just be sure to brush your teeth after that last one. And of course, call your Georgetown dental office to quickly and easily take care of the first two items on your to-do list, so you can spend more time concentrating on those last precious moments of summer.

Don’t forget, we’re always accepting new patients, so tell your friends and family about your favorite dental office.

A Closer Look at Sugary Snacks

yogurtMost of us know that sugar is bad for teeth. So it should come as no surprise that our dental office in Georgetown encourages our patients to limit their sugar intake in order to keep teeth healthy and decay-free. But sometimes it’s not so easy know just how much sugar is in the foods we eat. We’re here to help take a closer look…

How Much Sugar is Recommended?

Before we dive into some foods that are high in sugar we should talk about how much sugar we typically need every day. While sugar intake limits vary person to person, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following maximum of added sugars daily:

  • Men – 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women – 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons)

A Quick Note on Added Sugars

There two types of sugars found in food — natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars occur naturally in foods and added sugars are, well, added in. While both can negatively affect teeth, added sugars are worse for oral health and overall health.

Sugar-Packed Snacks

As we look at some snacks that are high in sugar, there may be some that surprise you. Remember, you don’t need to avoid these snacks entirely, but try to limit your intake of added sugars and do all you can to follow a well-balanced diet. To try to put the sugar content into better perspective, we’ll be using teaspoons for reference.

Yogurt

Yogurt is usually considered good for you, but certain types can contain loads of sugar. Varieties that have added fruit or flavors are particularly guilty. Some may even top out at more than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in only a 6 ounce cup.

Granola Bars

Here’s another snack that normally finds its way onto the healthy list. Granola bars can be a quick and easy snack, but there can also be a lot of sugar hiding in these handheld treats. In fact, some may have nearly 3 teaspoons of it.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise. Certain types of soda can have as much as 11 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can!

Candy

Another pretty common sugary snack comes in the form of candy. And while different types of candy pack a different sugar punch, most of them contain at least 7 teaspoons and some have as much as 17 teaspoons!

When it comes to nutrition and snacking smart, read the labels on food carefully and pay attention to serving size to truly know how much sugar (and other stuff) you’ll be putting into your body. If it helps you to picture sugar content by the teaspoon, keep in mind that 4.2 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

As always, when it comes to keeping your smile healthy and your teeth in tip-top shape, make sure you brush them twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Georgetown biannually.

We’re always accepting new patients at our Georgetown dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

Migraine Awareness Month

woman with headacheJune is recognized as National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and serves to not only educate the population on this debilitating illness, but also to increase funding to advance migraine research and treatment options. While numerous causes can be to blame, our dental office in Georgetown wants to take a closer look at how migraines may be related to dentistry.  

Migraine Facts

Over 39 million Americans are affected by migraines, including 18% of U.S. women, 6% of men, and 10% of children. Migraines are also rarely cured, but rather treated and managed through changes in lifestyle or medications. These treatment methods help help lessen the effects of the common migraine symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Throbbing or aching pain in the head
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

These symptoms are often so severe that many sufferers can’t go to work or complete everyday responsibilities when experiencing a migraine.

How Migraines May Be Related to Dentistry

Many migraines can be triggered by an excess surge in serotonin release caused by stress, certain foods, or bright lights or loud noises. However, more research has been showing a positive correlation between migraines and a poor bite or habitual bruxism (tooth grinding or clenching).

Poor Bite & Migraines

A poor bite is diagnosed when the top and bottom jaws don’t align properly. When this happens, the jaw muscles, neck muscles, and even the muscles in the base of the head experience unnecessary pressure every single time the jaws come together. Since that action is done repeatedly every day, those muscles get tired easily and inhibit the normal blood flow. The result could very well be a migraine.  

Bruxism & Migraines

Bruxism is a condition that causes people to constantly clench their teeth or grind them repeatedly, sometimes while they’re asleep and don’t even realize it’s happening. This repetitive stress on the jaw muscles can lead to headaches or migraines.

If you suffer from migraines or unexplainable headaches in the morning, you may have a poor bite or clench your teeth at night. But you don’t need to continue to live in pain or without answers. Start your search towards relief by calling our Georgetown dental office today. We can check for signs of bruxism and TMJ and recommend the best treatment options for you.  

What’s the Big Deal About Metal Fillings?

woman asking whyYou may have seen us mention the danger of metal fillings (we call them amalgam fillings) in our social media posts or even heard us mention it during an exam at your Georgetown dental office. Even though our office is GreenDoc Gold-Certified, believe it or not, the environment isn’t the only thing that we’re trying to protect by not using metal fillings. We’re also worried about your overall health.

What exactly is in an amalgam filling?

The mixture that is used in metal fillings is made up of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy mix of silver, copper, and tin. About 50% or so of the total mixture is mercury, and when that liquid mercury reacts chemically with the powdered items, it binds all those particles together to form an amalgam (hence the name).

Liquid Mercury — like in old thermometers?

YES, exactly right. Most newer non-digital thermometers use alcohol or another non-toxic substance in them, but those older ones that you remember, perhaps from your childhood, contain about .61 grams of mercury. If you break one of those thermometers, or otherwise accidentally spill liquid mercury, it rolls itself into a sphere shape (like a ball-bearing) and requires hazardous materials training to clean it up. You also have to contact the local health department to dispose of the mess, and keep people and animals out of the area for at least 24 hours. No, we’re not kidding.

YIKES. So that’s why it’s bad for my health?

That’s only one reason it’s bad for your overall health. Mercury can also leech out of amalgam fillings in the form of a vapor as it gets older and wears down. People who are more sensitive, like children or people with existing health problems can develop what’s called “mercury poisoning” from the toxins being released into their bodies. Women and mothers who are breastfeeding are especially susceptible to it’s effects. In fact, the UK, Canada, and Australia have all banned the use of amalgam fillings in pregnant women.

So, what do I do?

Your dentist in Georgetown only uses ceramic and tooth-colored composite materials for dental fillings…. NEVER amalgam. If you have existing amalgam fillings that may be old or damaged, talk to us about replacing those fillings with safer composite materials. We use a special amalgam separator during the removal process to be sure that none of that toxic material enters our water supply, which is a whole other realm of environmental danger that we addressed in a previous blog.

At Trade Winds Dental, we’re concerned with not only your oral health, but also your overall health today and well into the future. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

National Women’s Health Week

Iwomen cyclingn just a few days we’ll celebrate National Women’s Health Week which kicks off appropriately on Mother’s Day, May 13th. This seven day celebration serves to raise awareness of the importance of following healthy habits for women of all ages. At our dental office in Georgetown, we know that dental health is an important part of overall health, and there are certain areas of oral health that specifically affect women throughout different phases of life.

Women’s Oral Health Priorities Change Over Time

As bodies change, chemistry throughout the body tends to change too. This includes the mouth. Since women experience hormonal changes at various times in their life, they actually have more oral health concerns to worry about, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.

Puberty

Typically puberty in girls begins between 8 and 14 years old. Girls will experience quite a transformation during this time since a lot is happening inside their bodies. Hormone levels fluctuate and these hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can affect oral health. Both estrogen and progesterone increase blood flow to the gums which may cause them to become inflamed, red, and sore. Bacteria in the mouth can also build up easier, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.

Menstruation

Just as during puberty, hormone levels continue to ebb and flow throughout a women’s childbearing years. Gums may still become sore or perhaps bleed when brushing or flossing close to when a period is about to begin. Some women may even experience a canker sore during this time. During menstruation, it’s also common to experience a decrease in saliva production, which will make a mouth feel dry and can potentially cause the breath to smell bad.

Pregnancy

Another time in a woman’s life when hormones and dental health changes is during pregnancy. Since about half of all pregnant women will get pregnancy gingivitis, dental care is especially important. What’s more is that poor dental health during pregnancy has been associated with premature babies, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. It’s recommended that pregnant women visit their dentist in Georgetown during the second trimester.

Menopause

During menopause women’s estrogen levels drop… which is directly related to bone loss. Women who have gone through menopause are aware of the risks associated with bone loss and are most commonly concerned with osteoporosis. While osteoporosis leads to brittle bones, it can also decrease bone density in the jaw increasing the risk of tooth loss. There are several ways dentists can replace these lost or damaged teeth, including dental implants and dentures.

Our Georgetown dental office is here to care for all of our patients during every stage of life. If you’re experiencing changes in your oral health, or if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, there’s no better time than now to schedule an appointment. Give us a call today!