Spring has sprung – well, at least we think so. After what seems to have been a very long week filled with lots of teeth-staining coffee, tea and hot cocoa, it’s time to brighten your smile and for a good teeth cleaning. At Amsterdam Dental, we agree and also have a few other tips to pass along.
Get a new toothbrush
As you clean out draws and stow away the winter garb, remember to replace old and worn toothbrushes. Why? When the bristles wear down, they are no longer able to reach the small crevices and can leave food particles behind. Also, toothbrushes are prone to retain infectious agents that can cause colds and viruses. Therefore, in addition to regularly replacing your toothbrush every three months, it’s a good idea to grab a new one after any cold or flu.
Mouthwash can expire
Like everything else we eat and drink, mouthwash does have a shelf like. It’s indicated right on the bottle. Not only does outdated mouthwash taste bad but it will lose its effectiveness. Check yours to be sure it provides the best possible breath freshening, plaque removal and tooth decay prevention.
Stock up on floss
Did you know it is recommended that 18 inches of floss to maximize the benefits? That’s a foot and a half every time you floss and literally 45 feet per month! It may sound like a lot but after wrapping the “string” around your fingers, an inch or two is needed to that actually do the work. Since brushing alone is not enough, make sure you never run out.
Set a date in the dental chair
Brushing and flossing is great but a visit to the dentist for an exam, check up and preventative treatment is highly recommended. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry getting a professional cleaning a least twice a year can have a significant impact on your long term oral health. So, while checking the calendar to meet up with relatives or friends, remember to visit your dentist too!
Everyone’s heard the old adage – eating sugar causes cavities. Well that’s not necessarily true. There have been numerous studies over the years on this topic alone and one specifically showed there was no correlation between kids who eat those sugary breakfast cereals and dental cavities. However that’s not to say go ahead and dig into a bag of chocolate chip cookies every chance you get. Instead, as we celebrate National Nutrition Month®, it’s better to understand the what and how you eat (and drink) will make the difference.
Frequency vs. Quantity
What has come out of studies is that actually frequency is more important than amount when it comes to sugar-filled diets. This is why sugary sodas and energy drinks can cause such damage to teeth. It is the repetitive nature of sipping these beverages over long periods combined with the acidic base that causes demineralization. If you can’t escape such beverages, drink fast or try a straw.
Oh Those Carbs
No matter how infrequently your sugar intake, refined and processed carbohydrate foods – including healthy choice options – can lead to both decay and inflammation. The debris which wreaks havoc is not only found in cookies but whole grains and vegetables, too.
One Lump or Two
Over the years what has come to light in most studies is that added sugars are worse than natural sugars when it comes to dental health. So, how much is too much? If you ask the World Health Organization, they recommend no more than 10% of total calories per day should come from added sugars.
Real vs. Artificial
Whether you choose the yellow Splenda® packet or prefer the blue hue of Equal®, it appears these artificial sweeteners have little to no impact on periodontal disease or cavities. Similarly, sugar alcohols don’t seem to influence oral health and in the case of chewing gum after meals may even decrease cavity risk.
The long of the short of it
Sugar is not at the root of all dental evil. It’s actually plaque – a buildup that occurs with each meal no matter what is on the menu. Whether from candy or carbs, the erosive nature of plaque can lead to the onset of cavities if not brushed or even rinsed away frequently. The best advice is to reduce how often you eat sugary foods and beverages, watch your intake of carbohydrates and limit added sugars.
Last year during American Heart Month, we highlighted the connection between periodontal disease and overall health. One of the most often discussed is the effect on heart disease. What is less frequently highlighted is the relationship between various cardiovascular conditions and dental treatment.
So this year, we at Amsterdam Dental Group want to focus on the care and precautions important for patients suffering from the many types of heart disease. This can include reviewing medications, measuring blood pressure and even delaying treatment. But nothing is more important than open communication to provide the best possible care.
Here are some common conditions and related dental treatment.
After a heart attack, dental treatment should be delayed at least six months. Since cases, conditions and medications differ, most dentists will want to consult your physician as it may impact the method of treatment as in the case of blood thinners and cautions related to dental surgery or extractions. Another is to ensure oxygen and nitroglycerin is on hand during appointments.
High Blood Pressure
There are a number of possible oral side effects to high blood pressure medications – dry mouth, altered taste, gum overgrowth and faintness. Although most will safely interact with anti-anxiety drugs and local anesthesia, it is important for your dentist to be made aware of any prescriptions. For those suffering with this condition, a baseline blood pressure should be taken at the start of each visit and monitored throughout the procedure.
Dental treatment will vary for stable and unstable angina sufferers. Stable angina generally does not require special circumstances except having oxygen and nitroglycerin on hand. For those with unstable angina, only emergency dental care should be undertaken during which your heart should be monitored continuously.
There are various long-term effects caused by a stroke and some can impact oral health care. To help, special toothbrushes and floss holders are available along with fluoride gel and saliva substitutes. Denture wearers may require adjustments. Although routine dental care is safe, it is recommended to bring a copy of recent bloodwork and have your dental and medical professionals consult prior to in depth dental procedures.
Congestive Heart Failure
In general, there are usually no special guidelines for those with congestive heart failure (CHF), yet your dentist may choose different alternatives based upon prescribed medications. For those with more severe CHF, dental chair position should be modulated to avoid possible fluid build-up in your lungs. Patients should refrain from sitting up quickly, which can cause light-headedness. In some cases, dental treatment may be best suited in a hospital setting.
Patients with a pacemaker should avoid non-emergency dental care for several weeks after implantation. Once cleared, it is important to review any possible interactions between your dentist’s electromagnetic devices and pacemakers. The dental staff can check this in advance with a call to the manufacturer and your dentist can plan accordingly.
In the end, the interrelationship between heart health and oral health cannot be untangled. They often go hand in hand. The best advice is to open the lines of communication between your dentist and physician – both who will have your best interests and care at heart.
For more information, please contact any member of the Amsterdam Dental staff or your dental professional.
Try these tips on breaking bad habits instead of your teeth
It’s the new year and perfect time to brush away some bad habits ~ especially those that can harm your teeth and wreak havoc on a winning smile. Here are just some of the common ways we damage our teeth and tips to overcome them.
It’s not something everyone does nor taste good. But this nervous habit can do more than chip teeth. Placing pressure in a protruding position for sustained periods of time can cause jaw dysfunction. Solution: Start by recognizing some of the triggers that cause nail biting and try to keep your hands and fingers busy. Other ideas include bitter-tasting nail polish and stress reduction toys or tools.
Brushing Too Hard:
We all know the mantra – brush teeth for two minutes twice a day. However, brushing forcefully or with a hard toothbrush can often do more harm than good, including damaging both teeth and gums. Solution: A first step is to use an ADA-approved soft toothbrush and the motion should be more akin to a massage than scrubbing the bathroom floor.
Grinding and Clenching:
This habit is one that is sometimes so subconscious that we don’t realize we are doing it. Especially when it takes place while sleeping. This can result in chipped or cracked teeth but also sore muscles and joints. Solution: Relaxation is key and yes, easier said than done. In such cases, certain exercises can help. If this occurs primarily when asleep, a mouth guard may be needed overnight.
Chewing Ice Cubes:
Imagine two crystals pressed against one another. That’s the same as tooth enamel and ice – both are crystals. While more often teeth win, chewing on ice can cause a tooth or filling to break. Solution: There are a couple ways to curb this habit, including drinking cold beverages without ice or use a straw.
Who can resist noshing throughout the day but sugary foods and drinks can really put your teeth at risk for cavities. The on-going presence of bacteria produces acid and damages a tooth’s outer shell. Solution: Step one is to eat well balanced meals. This helps you feel fuller, longer. Yet snacking is far too tempting so choose something low in fat and sugar. When your sweet tooth does takeover, have a big glass of water to wash away leftover bacteria.
Using Teeth As Tools:
The only job teeth should be used for is eating. They are not a vice when hands are full nor scissors to tear a plastic bag. Such actions can cause cracked teeth, injured jaws and accidental swallowing. Solution: Take a moment to find someone or something else to help with the job at hand.
So, start the year of right and break those bad habits and not your teeth. If questions or conditions arise, contact any member of the Amsterdam Dental staff or any dental professional.
Who can refuse marshmallow-topped yams or sweetly tart cranberry sauce? Not to mention traditional pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream? Yes, it’s that time of year and Thanksgiving gatherings are upon us. As we prepare to dig in and enjoy, here are some easy yet wise dental health tips to keep in mind…
Shorten Meal Time. Enjoying friends and family for hours is great, but eating that long can wreak havoc on teeth. Prolonged exposure to the acids in food can increase cavity-causing bacteria.
Stay Hydrated. Drinking water is always good but even more so when rich, sweet foods are on the menu. A light rinse can wash away debris, prevent plaque and help improve saliva flow – all to fight cavities.
Brush and Floss. Dental hygiene diligence is key throughout the holidays so bring a toothbrush and floss for a quick powder room escape 30 minutes after the meal. No time? Keep some sugar free gum on hand.
Avoid sticky sides. Cranberry relishes, pecan pie and even mashed potatoes can stick to teeth for hours, creating an ideal environment for gum infection and enamel erosion. A swish with water or quick brush will help.
Schedule Cleaning Appointment. After days-filled with rich foods, schedule a dental cleaning visit to check for cavities, excess plaque and any signs of disease. Cosmetic treatments are also available to correct any damage.
Celebrate the holidays with a beautiful, healthy smile. If questions or conditions arise, contact any member of the Amsterdam Dental staff or any dental professional.
But we’ve got some sure fire ways to alleviate dental fear.
Studies show that nearly 75% of people in the U.S. fear going to the dentist. While women are more likely afraid than men and younger people have greater apprehension, they all have one thing in common – some level of fear. At times, it can lead to avoiding even routine oral hygiene appointments and have a detrimental impact on your overall health.
With the varying levels of fear and possible root cause, it is often hard to know what will truly help put someone at ease. In fact, the likelihood of eliminating fear altogether is rather slim. However there are some helpful tips that can make a difference.
Don’t go alone
One valuable tip is to bring a family member or friend along who doesn’t share this same fear. It’s comforting to have a familiar and trusted someone at your side even in the treatment room.
Find a distraction
Dentists are well aware of the great number of patients who are afraid and create an environment with TVs, music and other distractions. If unsure, you can also bring your own headphones to try.
Relaxation techniques can go a long way in reducing the fear when sitting in the dental chair. Whether it is slow deep breaths or tensing and relaxing certain muscles, such efforts really help.
The use of sedatives, including local anesthetic, laughing gas and even IV sedation, has become common. Trained dentists can recommend the most appropriate option based on your needs.
All dentists like to claim they cater to those most afraid. The only way to be sure is to know your dental professional and the staff. They should talk to you first even before sitting in the dreaded dental chair.
So when the ghosts and goblins are out this month, know you’re safe when you need dental care. If you have questions or concerns, contact Amsterdam Dental Group or your dentist.
Here’s a short and sweet list of oral health tips.
October – renowned for caramel apples, candy corn and all sorts of sugary-Halloween treats. But its also National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) and a perfect time to remember “Oral Health = Overall Health!”
Preventing tooth decay and gum disease begins with a commitment to “Do The Daily 4” according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. For those who need a refresher, these four most important components include:
Brush 2x a Day, for 2 Minutes
Reduce sticky-icky plaque. Prevent tooth decay. Lessen the likelihood of gum disease. Simply remember to brush your teeth for two minutes – once in the morning and before bed at night.
Reach the spaces a toothbrush won’t. Remove the food regular brushing can’t. Flossing will do both and more to prevent bad breath and avoid infection that can cause other health issues.
Daily Rinsing with Mouthwash
Swish to the right. Swoosh to the left. By rinsing with an anti-microbial, ADA-approved mouthwash even once a day can go a long way in maintaining the best possible oral health.
Chewing Sugar-Free Gum
On the go between meetings. No time before the soccer game. Grabbing a piece of sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva – a key natural defense in the fight against tooth decay.
We turn the spotlight on preventing periodontal disease.
September is National Gum Care Month and Amsterdam Dental turns the spotlight on preventing periodontal disease – a common condition that can often have no warning signs.
Simply defined… periodontal disease (or periodontitis) is a serious gum infection and one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults. While often preventable with proper oral hygiene, early symptoms of red, swollen or receding gums should not be overlooked. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious dental conditions, such as tissue damage and jawbone deterioration. In addition, periodontitis has also been linked to heart and other diseases.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, research has indicated the bacteria and inflammation related to periodontal disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also have a negative effect on existing heart conditions. Evidence has further shown a relationship between periodontitis and other diseases, including diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and respiratory-related illnesses.
At-A-Glance: Signs & Symptoms
Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
Receding gums or those that move away from the tooth
Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
At-A-Glance: Risk Factors
Poor oral hygiene
Smoking or chewing tobacco
Genetics and/or age
Crooked, hard to clean teeth
Certain medications (steroids, select anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives)
At-A-Glance: Gum Disease Prevention
Brush teeth daily
Floss teeth daily
Swish with mouthwash
Know gum disease risk factors
There is good news! Periodontal disease is treatable using special dental procedures to clean the pockets around teeth and prevent damage of surrounding bone. In advanced cases, periodontal surgery may be required. As with all diseases, early detection is best. If you have questions or show symptoms, the team of Amsterdam Dental Group periodontists can diagnosis, create and manage a personal, case-specific treatment plan.
So as we celebrate National Gum Care, keep your healthy with good oral hygiene.
Tailgating is always fun! And, yes, it can be tooth-friendly!
It’s fall and that means… Get out and start tailgating! From SUV-filled stadium parking lots to a comfortable gathering in front of the big screen at home, there is no shortage of food and fun. The good news is there are some easy ways to maintain dental health while rooting for your favorite team. Here are some quick and good-tasting options.
Take a pass on the tradition and replace hamburgers and hot dogs with some grilled vegetables, fish, chicken and other lean meats instead. All good ways to avoid bad breath and mouth sores.
Back up your starting line up with a raw vegetable tray. These fiber-rich favorites stimulate saliva and wash away cavity-causing sugars and bacteria.
Kick off the tailgate with some cheese and crackers. The calcium-infused favorite is a great source of minerals for your teeth. Go for two points by opting for whole-grain or whole-wheat picks.
Gear up for overtime with some healthy sweet treats like sugar-free peanut butter cookies or sliced fruit with yogurt dip.
Win or lose, the best end of game advice is to be sure and brush afterward or at least swish with a little water! Happy tailgating!
For those who have sensitive teeth, a scoop of cold ice cream or sip of hot coffee can be painful. But good news! The condition is treatable. It’s just a matter of determining the cause.
As with dental health in general, proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing the pain from sensitive teeth. However there are situations where additional treatment is needed. To give a little background… Healthy teeth have three layers – enamel, cementum and dentin. Enamel protects the crowns above the gum line; cementum shields the tooth root. Dentin is the least dense and last layer of defense shielding the nerves and cells within the tooth. When dentin is exposed or unprotected, pain from sensitivity can result.
So what are some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth? Tooth decay is often top on the list, followed by the wear and tear of worn fillings, eroded enamel or fractured teeth. More serious conditions, such as gum disease and tooth root exposure, may also be the basis for sensitivity. Depending on the cause, there are several treatment options dental professionals might recommend.
Desensitizing toothpaste. Specifically created to block sensations between the tooth surface and the nerve, regular use of such toothpaste can reduce sensitivity.
Fluoride gel. This in-office treatment strengthens tooth enamel in order to protect dentin and reduce the transmission of sensations to the nerve.
A crown, inlay or bonding. If the cause is tooth decay or wear and tear, one of these corrective methods may be the best course of action.
Surgical gum graft. When the root is exposed due to the loss of gum tissue, surgical grafting can be used to restore protection and reduce sensitivity.
Root canal. This is generally the last recommended option and one that would be used in cases of severe or persistent sensitivity when other treatments have not shown results.
If you have any questions or experience such symptoms, contact Amsterdam Dental Group or your dental professional.