Author Archives: Francis Nguyen

5 Healthy Oral Habits to Start Today

As we embark on a new year, let’s make 2015 the year that we vow to take better care of our teeth — and actually follow through on it. Unlike most resolutions we might make, taking better care of our mouth is not that difficult. It just requires a few really simple changes and relatively inexpensive “tools”.

Healthy Oral Habit #1 – Drink more water

This is usually a no-brainer when it comes to losing weight and being healthier overall, but there’s more to water than promoting digestive regularity and hydration. Water is also one of the easiest ways of keeping bacteria from forming on your teeth because it rinses food particles, and thus any bacteria lingering in your mouth away. It doesn’t replace the need to brush or floss, but it is part of an overall, thorough mouth-cleaning regimen.

Healthy Oral Habit #2 – Flossing

I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing our hygienist tell us how important it is to floss. The problem is, if our dentist and hygienist keep telling us to do it, why do we tell ourselves, “Oh, it’s not that important, I can get away without it.” By the way, it’s no secret to your dentist or hygienist that you haven’t been flossing. They can tell. Truth is, if you’re brushing only, you’re only getting your mouth 60 to 75 percent clean. The rest of the food particles and cavity-causing bacteria are in between teeth and potentially beneath the gumline where toothbrushes can’t reach and only dental floss can go. Most spools of dental floss can be purchased for less than $3 — a really small investment that can make a lifetime of difference.

Healthy Oral Habit #3 – Use teeth ONLY for chewing food

Our teeth are really strong. The enamel is actually stronger than bone, but that doesn’t mean our teeth are indestructible. Your teeth and mouth structures were designed for chewing food only, not crunching on ice cubes, fruit pits, popcorn kernels, pencils, pens, finger nails or anything else you might put in your mouth. Your teeth and mouth were also not designed to be used to open packages, parcels and plastic clothing tag ties. All these things can not only damage our teeth, but they can also do irreparable damage to your jaw joints, muscles and tendons.

Healthy Oral Habit #4 – Change your toothbrush at least every three to four months

If you don’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s probably time. The general rule of thumb is at least every three to four months. Some toothbrushes even indicate when it’s time to buy a new one. If the bristles on your toothbrush start to “splay” — that is, they start spreading apart and don’t look like they did when you bought it, it’s time for a new one even if you haven’t used it for three months yet. It may also be a sign that you’re brushing too hard. Also, it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush after an illness. You can leave behind cold, flu and other germs on your toothbrush and you certainly don’t want to be putting that back in your mouth.

Healthy Oral Habit #5 – Eat more teeth friendly fruits and vegetables

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What you’re looking for is fleshy fruit such as apples, strawberries and pears. These three in particular are natural toothbrushes, and strawberries have teeth whitening properties. Crunchy vegetables such as celery and carrots help clean teeth and stimulate gums. Broccoli and brussel sprouts have good doses of calcium and iron. Both these nutrients are crucial for healthy teeth and bones. You can follow up these veggies with some fruit. The vitamin C in the fruit helps your body absorb the iron, but stay away from citrus fruit since the acid can actually harm your enamel.

Five easy healthy oral habits to get you started on the year you finally take control of your oral health. Of course, these habits won’t do it on their own. You will also need to visit Choice Dental and Implant Center for regular check ups and instructions on proper flossing and brushing techniques, and any other questions or concerns you might have.

Realistic Resolutions for your Dental Health in 2015

As we just entered the New Year, it’s time to set our sights on new achievements, accomplishment or improvements. There’s something in everyone’s life that can be improved–most likely, more than one something. For some, it’s losing weight, eating healthier or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

How about some dental health resolutions this year? Many of us overlook the importance of oral health and how it can impact how people see us and how we see ourselves. Taking better care of your mouth is really not that hard and the results can be life changing.

Flossing

Flossing is one of those things that everyone knows we should do, but we still think our mouth is just fine without it. In fact, statistics show that only 12% of people in developed countries floss every day. Flossing is essential to preventing cavities from forming in hard-to-reach and hard-to-treat areas between teeth, as well as preventing gum disease. “Flossing does about 40% of the work required to remove sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth.” (WebMD) This means that if you’re brushing only, your teeth are only 60% clean. When you have a shower, do you clean only 60% of your body? Your teeth deserve the same thorough cleaning.

Regular dental checkups

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they don’t really need to see a dentist until there’s something wrong. Kinda like not seeing a doctor for annual physicals because if you don’t feel there’s anything wrong, there’s nothing to worry about. Any dentist will tell you that most dental problems are present when there aren’t any symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, the situation is pretty far advanced and will likely require more invasive, extensive and expensive dental treatment, than if it had been prevented with regular cleanings and check-ups, or caught and treated earlier. It’s only twice a year, and it will be worth it in the long run.

Brushing your tongue

Like flossing, many people don’t realize how important this simple thing is to maintaining your overall oral health. One of the principal causes of bad breath is bacteria in the mouth and that bacteria is not only on your teeth, but also on your tongue. Bacteria feeds on plaque and plaque can develop on your tongue just as well as your teeth. Our tongues are covered in hundreds of tiny, moist ridges which are prime breeding grounds for bacteria.

Drinking lots of water

Drinking water is not only critical for keeping you hydrated, but also for rinsing food particles and bacteria away from the surface of your teeth. Drinking water is particularly important after you’ve eaten something sweet, starchy or sticky and there’s no toothbrush around. Actually, it’s better to rinse with water immediately after eating or drinking something sweet, starchy, or sticky because brushing right away can actually further damage your enamel. So, rinse with water first, wait 20 to 30 minutes, and then brush.

Eating crisp, fleshy fruits and vegetables

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Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are necessary for a healthy diet. What most of us don’t know is that fruits and veggies are also necessary for dental health. Chewing fleshy apples, watermelons, and pears increase salivation and in the case of apples, act as a natural toothbrush. Carrots, celery and root vegetables and other firm veggies stimulate the gum while the water content also helps clean teeth. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to keep your teeth, bones, and gums healthy.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Such simple resolutions that can make a world of difference in your oral health in 2015.

Gluten and Your Teeth: Are they Related?

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac is an autoimmune disease that affects 1 to 4 percent of the U.S. population. Not only does celiac disease shorten the lifespan of those affected, it also increases your risk of developing other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Cancer incidence also increases with celiac disease. (living-gluten-free.com)

Approximately 90 percent of all people with celiac disease have tooth enamel defects.

Gluten and the Autoimmune Body

Those with celiac disease can’t digest and process gluten properly–this is called gluten intolerance. When gluten-intolerant people still continue to eat gluten, they experience bone-related issues such as:

  • osteoporosis and osteopenia (porosity of the bones);

  • bone loss throughout the body and in the mouth particularly lower jaw

  • loss or thinning of tooth enamel.

Celiacs also experience abscesses and other root problems, tooth decay and fractured, broken, loose or missing teeth.

Tooth enamel defects in particular, can be used as an indicator to dentists and physicians that a person has celiac disease meaning gluten intolerance can also be identified in children. It is not uncommon for a person to be told of the possibility of them having celiac disease by a dentist following an oral examination. The dentist is often the one to make the first recommendation that a patient see a gastroenterologist.

How does gluten affect the teeth?

When celiacs eat gluten, the body’s immune system reacts against one of the main proteins responsible for production of enamel. This can happen in-utero as well. This lack of enamel or poor quality of enamel can leave a person with celiac disease more prone to cavities, excessive tooth wear and tear, and the eventual premature destruction or loss of teeth.

Because of the effect on tooth enamel, celiacs experience tooth decay and other tooth-related problems far more than non-celiacs even if they have practiced good oral hygiene habits and see a dentist regularly.  

Regular check-ups involve looking for:

  • tooth discoloration such as white, yellow, or brown spots on the teeth

  • poor enamel formation including pitting or banding of teeth, and mottled or translucent-looking teeth.

These imperfections are symmetrical and most commonly affect the incisors and molars. They are common defects in people with celiac disease, although not all tooth enamel defects are caused by celiac disease.

Other Oral Conditions Linked to Gluten-intolerance

Studies have shown that gluten-intolerance and even gluten sensitivity can lead to other oral diseases. These include:

  • Canker sores

  • Geographic tongue (the surface of the tongue looks like a topographical map)

  • Tonsilar stones or exudates (white lumps of puss embedded in the tonsils)

  • Chronic severe redness in the back of the throat (Pharyngeal Erythema)

  • Excessive mucus production so that a person chronically needs to clear their throat

  • Bad breath

  • A small cyst on the frenum (the flap of skin connecting your top lip to your gums)

  • Metallic taste in your mouth

  • Gum disease (periodontal disease).

While research still needs to be done to find out exactly how gluten-intolerance and these oral conditions are connected, celiacs and those with gluten sensitivities need to discuss any tooth enamel issues with us at Choice Dental. It may just be that you’re not aware of any gluten issues until you visit us.

It’s not uncommon for the dentist to be the first line of defense, examination and diagnosis for many conditions. Many people are unaware of how their lifestyle choices, or physiological conditions affect the conditions in their mouth. Since gluten-intolerance and sensitivity can affect other bodily systems, it is important that the possibility of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity be explored to prevent further damage. Studies have shown that once consumption of gluten has stopped, the body can repair itself. Although enamel cannot grow back once lost, bone density and quality of dentin does improve which means better support, healthier teeth and a healthier mouth.