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.

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.

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.  

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.

Those Funny Fall Feelings

autumn baby

September is the month of football, pumpkins, and crisp apples on a Saturday morning. It’s also the beginning of one of the most stressful times of the year for a lot of people. Have you ever noticed that the change in the daylight, the shortening of the days, and the impending worries of the holidays can make people….well… downright cranky? At our Georgetown dental office, we’ve got a few suggestions for keeping your spirits high as the temperatures start to drop.

Take a second for YOURSELF

Science has proved that levels of testosterone in both men and women increase in the fall. They think it may be ancient mating instincts – just like how animals ‘rut’ in the fall. If you’re looking to make a great first impression on a prospective mate, ask us about teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry options to make your smile bright and confident. We can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted quickly and easily in our Georgetown dental office.

Eat Some Pumpkin

Pumpkins are actually a super-food that we always recommend for our patients. They’re full of fiber, which helps stimulate saliva and protect your teeth against decay. They’re also full of zinc, which is often added to toothpastes to help prevent plaque buildup.

BUT… Watch the Sugar

Now when we say for you to go out and eat some pumpkin, we mean healthy options like pumpkin seeds, a smoothie, or a freshly baked pumpkin pay (maybe baked by your new sweetie!). What we do not recommend are those sugary Pumpkin Spice Latte drinks available at commercial coffeeshops — they’re LOADED with sugar and empty calories that could lead to cavities.

Let Us Help You Plan Ahead

Like we said, fall can be stressful with your kids sports schedules, school events, and the inevitability of all those holiday events on the horizon. BREATHE. It’ll be ok… let’s look at your calendar now and plan out your hygiene appointments for the family for the remainder of the year, as well as making sure you’re using your insurance benefits to the fullest before the end of 2018. We can easily plan appointments several weeks or even months out for you, and adjust them if needed as those dates approach.

We hope that these tips can help to keep the stresses of the Autumnal Equinox at bay so that you can spend more time enjoying the beauty of the changing of the leaves, the fog on a fall morning, and the bounties of nature at the farmers market. Call our Georgetown dental office today and we’ll get you scheduled with no stress.

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.  

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!