Oral Care as You Age

As you age, life begins to look different. You might appreciate your family more, dive deeper into hobbies or simply take things slower. However, just because you’ve grown wiser with time doesn’t mean you can stop caring for your teeth. Like other parts of your body, your teeth, gums and mouth will begin to show signs of aging. Find out some helpful tips to combat the health problems that come with this.

Common Issues

Dry Mouth

This condition comes from physical changes in your body as it ages. However, some medications can aggravate an already tough case. The CDC estimates that over 400 commonly prescribed medications have dry mouth as a symptom. Without normal saliva levels, your mouth has a harder time controlling bacteria and rebuilding enamel.

Attrition

After decades of chewing and grinding, your teeth will show signs of wear and tear. Attrition is simply a medical term for worn enamel and teeth. The less enamel you have to defend your teeth, the more prone to cavities you are. Similarly, as you age you become more susceptible to diseases of all kinds. With age may come a higher risk of conditions like oral cancer or thrush.

Root Decay

This issue is usually paired with gum disease, causes the roots of our teeth to become exposed as your gums recede, worsening tooth decay as you age. Root decay can be caused by neglect by a dentist, bad habits like tobacco use or a lacking diet. The best way to handle this and other problems is by talking to your dentist.

Combating Tooth and Gum Disease

While visiting your dentist is the best way to keep your mouth healthy, there are a few ways to keep your choppers in top shape. We recommend more fluoride to keep your teeth strong. Look for fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash to use daily.

Tobacco is one of the big culprits behind mouth diseases. After decades of use, chewing tobacco or smoking can take a toll on your mouth. Beyond simple tooth and gum disease, these habits increase your risk of mouth and throat cancer as well as heart disease.

If you’re subject to dry mouth through medication, speak to your physician about switching the prescription. Dry mouth can impact your eating habits and harm your oral health. If a new medication isn’t an option, drink more water, chew sugar free gum and avoid alcohol to stay hydrated.


How your Oral Health Affects your Body

You’ve probably heard about the importance of oral hygiene all your life – brush twice a day, floss once a day, eat fruits and veggies, and avoid sugar. Easy enough, right? However there are deeper reasons to follow these guidelines beyond pearly whites. It’s no secret that gum disease comes from bacteria in your mouth, but the same bacteria that cause gum disease can affect other parts of your body such as your heart, brain, pancreas and more.

Saliva – The First Line of Defense

Spit may be gross, but it’s part of your body’s defense system. Chock full of antibodies and histatins to ward off viral pathogens, your saliva traps initial invaders that try to enter your system. This means your mouth is a good way to judge the overall flora inside your body. For example, 90 percent of systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Your spit is a powerful trap that clings onto bacteria as well as drugs, environmental toxins, hormones and antibodies. That’s how physicians test for data like Cortisol levels or bone-specific proteins for osteoporosis patients.

While saliva is useful for your body’s immune system, it can’t do everything. Bacteria that survive your mouth’s defense systems form plaque that clings to your teeth and cause problems like gingivitis, periodontitis and trench mouth.

When Gum Disease Spreads

When these microscopic pests build up in your saliva and on your teeth, it can affect your gums. If left unchecked, the plaque buildup they create can cause gum disease. Severe gum disease doesn’t just end in missing teeth. Oral infections are linked to poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. Furthermore, the bacteria that cause these diseases can enter your bloodstream during invasive dental treatments and sometimes, normal brushing and flossing. Once these pathogens enter your bloodstream, they can affect your arteries and strain your heart and other organs.

Prevention & Care

Some diseases are linked to poor oral health, while other conditions make their hosts more prone to gum disease. If you have a poor hygiene routine for long enough, you might be prone to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and, for women, risky complications during labor. On the other hand, conditions like diabetes, HIV/AIDS and osteoporosis can lead to gum disease without proper oral care. The best way to prevent these issues are the same methods you’ve heard all your life – brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss, eat healthy, replace your toothbrush frequently, schedule regular dental checkups and avoid tobacco use.


What to Look for in an Electric Toothbrush

Learn about what to look for in an electric toothbrush in Murray, UT.

Electric toothbrushes aren’t anything new on the market, but they’ve seen vast improvements over the last decade. There are so many choices available, it can be hard to know which features are bells and whistles and which are useful. Everything you need in an electric toothbrush can be condensed into three categories: design, features and portability.

Design

These categories go hand in hand in manual and in electric models. No matter what type of electric toothbrush you get, it needs to be comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. Massage brushes with smaller heads are often better for mouth feel and can clean tight spaces more effectively. Most adults need a toothbrush with a head around a half inch wide and one inch tall. Soft bristle brush heads are also the dentists’ choice because they do not damage gums, especially for those aggressive brushers. Of the brush head types, look for models with a rotation oscillation. These round-headed brushes pulse and spin, allowing you to focus on one tooth at a time and rotate up to 8,000 times a minute. This makes them more effective than other styles.

Features

Not all electric toothbrushes are created equal, but in the end, a toothbrush is only as effective as your brushing technique. That’s why there have been new models sprouting up that help you improve your own brushing skills. Look for the two-minute timer feature that will help you get the minimum brushing time in and whiten your smile. Other common, useful features include charging stands, travel cases and different settings like massage or sensitive modes.

You should also remember to replace brush heads every three months. The less expensive, battery operated models last about two weeks with a normal brushing, creating a hidden cost in replacement batteries. Look for brushes with replaceable heads, you’ll need to replace your brush every three months or so.

Portability

If you travel often, portability is an important quality to look for in an electric toothbrush. Even if you aren’t a frequent jetsetter, you still need to brush your teeth while you’re away from home. Depending on the power source, a toothbrush can become unwieldy or come with extra components to pack. Many budget friendly models use batteries while those on the higher end usually use charging stands with cables. The rechargeable models are often better performers, but battery operated models are more portable and less expensive.


Poor Dental Health Consequences

While we know that not taking care of our oral health will be detrimental to our teeth, did you know that it could influence the health of your entire body? Poor dental health can have greater consequences on your overall health than you may realize. Take a look at some of the biggest problems that can arise from neglecting this part of your body.

 

Dental Health Steps

 
 

 
To ensure proper dental health, it is important that all things associated are in place. This includes:

 

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, morning and night. This is the simplest and most effective way to rid your mouth of bacteria and plaque before it has the chance to do damage.
  • Flossing is just as important as brushing for your health, but an alarming number of people don’t floss on a regular basis. It is estimated that only half of Americans will floss their teeth daily. This is essential for getting rid of any leftover particles between the teeth.
  • Scheduling a dental appointment for every six months can help detect problems before they become serious. More than a third of the American population did not have a dental appointment in the last year.
  • Eat the right foods that will promote healthy teeth and gums rather than causing more advanced problems.

 

These four steps together will be key in preventing the following health problems.

 

Health Consequences

 
 

 
These health consequences will make themselves known the longer you neglect the most basics of oral hygiene:

 

  • Halitosis – bad breath is often a complaint from many that can be taken care of with proper oral hygiene. Often when food gets stuck between our teeth and as they collect bacteria they begin to smell. Flossing and brushing together can remove these particles, reducing this occurrence.
  • Atherosclerosis – when there are high levels of bacteria that can cause disease in your mouth, it can cause the clogging of the Carotid Artery. This can lead to serious problems, including the risk of stroke.
  • Heart Disease – people who have periodontal disease (a bone deterioration around the teeth) have a higher risk of developing heart disease. The periodontal bacteria and plaque will enter the bloodstream from the gum, causing the arteries to narrow. In addition to this, cholesterol levels can rise in the face of gum disease and cavities.
  • Diabetes – Almost all adults, about 95%, who have diabetes also have periodontal disease. This can be the first indicator for this dangerous condition.


These are just a few of the health consequences that come when your teeth are not properly cared for. Make the changes in your dental hygiene to prevent more serious problems down the road.


Tips for Whiter Teeth

Your teeth are important to your overall dental health. Your permanent teeth should be attended to throughout your life, as they are the last set of teeth you will have. While professionally whitening your teeth is always a great way to keep your smile fresh, there are things you can be doing at home to maintain a healthy smile. Follow these tips for a whiter, healthier, and all around better smile.

 

Drink Plenty of Water

 
 

 
Water is essential to good health. It is essential that we drink enough water for many reasons, one of which is saliva production. This substance protects our teeth from bacteria, flushing away cavity causing agents. In addition to this, get into the habit of drinking a glass of water after every meal. This will rinse away acids, bacteria, and other elements that are a potential threat to your teeth.

 

Chewing Gum

 
 

 
While sugary gums are bad for our teeth, sugarless gum can be beneficial, helping to keep your teeth clean. As we get older, our mouth’s ability to produce saliva diminishes. This can lead to tooth decay if nothing is done to prevent it. By chewing sugarless gum, you can stimulate the production of saliva, protecting your teeth from decay.

 

Avoid Damaging Drinks

 
 

 
We often think about our diet in terms of the foods we eat, but what about the drinks we consume? Not only do some of these drinks have high concentrations of sugar and calories, their coloring and acidic composition can be dangerous to your teeth. Those who drink coffee, red wine, tea, and certain energy drinks will eventually start to notice stains on their teeth. Either cut down on these beverages or instead drink them through a straw to better protect your teeth from damage.

 

Raw Vegetables

 
 

 
Vegetables are good for our health for a number of reasons. As opposed to fruits, most vegetables are low in sugar. When raw, these foods can act as a scrub against your teeth, cleansing and removing harmful stains and plaque. Find some vegetables that you like and can incorporate into your daily diet for healthier teeth.


There are many changes you can make in your life for a healthier whiter smile, and these are just a few. Make sure you take part in the changes now that will make an impact in your dental health over time. By doing this, you will have less trouble down the road in keeping and maintaining a healthy smile.


Tips for Stronger Enamel

 

While the enamel of your teeth is the strongest substance in your body, it can be damaged just as everything else. Take care of your tooth enamel and make it stronger through these methods. These simple yet important solutions will be instrumental in your oral health, keeping your teeth white, healthy, and strong.

 

Eat Right

 

There are foods that are healthy for your teeth, and others that do more damage than they are worth. Those foods that are high in calcium including dairy will help to strengthen the enamel, protecting your tooth all around. Citrus foods can also be a good source of calcium, but should be eaten with caution as the high sugar content can be damaging to teeth.

 

Foods that are high in sugar, sticky, and rest against the teeth for longer periods of time can all damage enamel. These will rest against the exterior of your teeth, wearing it down. Foods such as caramel, suckers, and popsicles should be avoided whenever possible.

 

Don’t Over Brush

 

Brushing is an essential part of keeping your tooth enamel healthy, but bad brushing habits can be just as damaging as forgetting to brush. Be sure to use a soft bristle toothbrush and be gentle in your brushing pattern. Using excessive force will put additional wear on the enamel of your teeth.

 

Take Care of Heartburn

 

Heartburn can not only be damaging to the esophagus, it can cause damage to your teeth. The acids emitted from your stomach will work their way up. When the acids pass too often against the teeth, they will begin to break down the enamel. Make the changes in your diet or find other solutions to prevent heartburn.

 

Avoid Dry Mouth

 

Not only can dry mouth be an uncomfortable condition, it can be damaging to your teeth as well. Saliva is one of the most important substances in maintaining healthy teeth. Keep yourself hydrated, drinking plenty of water to prevent sugary substances from resting against your teeth. If your mouth is dry, chewing gum is one way to increase saliva.

 

Don’t Grind Your Teeth

 

Grinding your teeth will have negative consequences over time. This will wear directly on the enamel, causing damage. If you find yourself grinding your teeth during the day, making a conscious effort to stop it. For those who grind their teeth at night, a night guard may be necessary to stop the problem.


Protect the enamel of your teeth from damage. By making the appropriate changes in your daily routine, you will reduce the chance for enamel erosion, preventing tooth decay and cavities.


Steps for a Healthier Smile

Your smile is one of your most defined and best features. Taking better care of your smile will be instrumental in boosting your confidence, along with a number of other advantages. Follow these steps for a healthier smile, ensuring a bright and beautiful look for years to come.

 

Visit The Dentist

 
 

 
The dentist is there to help keep your smile healthy. By keeping your appointment every six months, your dentist can determine how effective your daily dental habits are, and if more advanced help is needed. During this time you will have your teeth professionally cleaned, protecting against some of the plaque you may have otherwise been unable to reach. In addition to this, your dentist is trained to identify oral problems that could indicate a deeper problem is at work, including cancer, and diabetes.

 

Daily Habits

 
 

 
You should be brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day to promote a healthy smile. Brushing is the most fundamental step in oral health, as this will remove most of the food particles left in your mouth. Get these out before bacteria has the chance to take root, doing damage to your teeth and gums.

 

While brushing is important, it cannot stand alone. Flossing every day will remove food particles from the hard to reach places between your teeth. This is especially important to do before bed, since saliva production isn’t as heavy during sleep. Make this a part of your daily habits following brushing.

 

Diet

 
 

 
Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health, and this includes your dental health. Make sure to include foods high in calcium and vitamin C. Calcium will help maintain the strength of your teeth while vitamin C is crucial for healthy gums. Just as important as it is to choose healthy food options, it is equally important to avoid the bad ones. Avoid soda, sticky foods, and those high in sugar for better oral health.

 

Avoid Tobacco

 
 

 
Tobacco is one of the most damaging substances to your overall health. Because it passes through your mouth to consume, your oral health takes the first hit. Those who smoke are at a much higher risk for gum disease. In addition to this, many types of oral cancer become far more likely when tobacco is involved.


Your teeth are important, pay attention to your oral health to guarantee your perfect smile. A healthy smile will go a long way in your personal and professional interactions, as well as your own self confidence.


Fighting Tooth Stains

Have you noticed a coloration change to your teeth over the past couple years? Even those who are diligent in their brushing and flossing routines may over time begin to notice stains to your teeth. While whitening is an option, there are other cures to the problem before it gets to this point. Fight stains to your teeth with these solutions.

 

Foods to Avoid

 

Some foods we eat may be reversing the good brushing, flossing, and mouthwash are doing. Whenever possible, avoid these foods:

 

  • Tea – the most common teas are dark in color. While this alone wouldn’t be the issues, the tannin present will easily stain the teeth. In comparison, tea will be more likely to stain teeth than coffee.
  • Coke – because cola drinks are high in acid, they can cause staining to the teeth. In addition to this, the carbonation present in any soft drink have a high acidity sometimes compared to that of battery acid. If you drink a significant amount of soda, it may be the cause of your stained teeth.
  • Sports Drinks – these may seem to some like healthy alternatives to carbonated beverages, but the high concentration of sugar and the acidic content make these drinks almost just as bad.
  • Sweets – those sticky sweet foods that allow sugar to rest against the teeth will be damaging including popsicles, hard candies, taffy, and more. Avoid these sugary treats or opt for those with lower sugar content.

 

Just as there are foods you should avoid, there are foods bringing benefits to your teeth, helping to fight stains. These include celery, apples, cauliflower, and more. Each of these contain lower sugar content, while gently scrubbing your teeth clean as you eat.

 

Tips and Tricks

 

After choosing the best eating habits, there are a few additional things you can do to keep your teeth free of stains. This includes:

 

  • Brushing, flossing, and rinsing – while most people follow a regular brushing schedule, too many forget to floss and rinse. By doing these three things twice a day, you will keep sticky plaque from resting between your teeth, preventing cavities and discoloring.
  • Use a straw – most of the damage done by food and drink comes from these substances resting against the teeth for too long. By using a straw, you will reduce the amount of time drinks have here, keeping the damage away from your pearly whites.
  • Avoid tobacco – tobacco is one of the most damaging things to your overall health, including your teeth. Don’t smoke or chew to avoid stains.
  • Visit the Dentist – keeping your six month appointment is important. This will be a time to get your teeth cleaned and avoid larger problems.


Keep your teeth clean and clear of stains, make the changes necessary in your diet and habits to ensure your teeth will remain bright and beautiful.


Tips to Prevent Bad Breath

There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking through your daily routine with the constant shadow of bad breath following close behind. Don’t let this become a reputation you carry around. Follow these tips to prevent bad breath.

 

The Causes

 

 

There are a number of things that can cause bad breath. The key to controlling yours is to pinpoint the direct cause. Some of the most common causes of bad breath include:

 

  • Your tonsils may be causing your bad breath. There are holes in your tonsils known as crypts. A smelly substance will collect in these holes, sometimes falling out while chewing and getting stuck in the teeth. These will create a very distinct smell.
  • There is a need for bacteria inside your mouth, but too much can be a bad thing. These smelly micro organisms rest on the tongue and between the teeth.
  • Be aware of the foods you are eating. Pungent foods like garlic, onions, and more will linger in your mouth.
  • The cause of your bad breath might not be coming from your mouth at all, instead coming from your stomach. GI problems can result in gas being released, making its way up to your mouth.
  • Harmful habits such as smoking will give you bad breath. Quit immediately for many health benefits.

 

The Tips

 

 

If you can identify your cause of bad breath, you are well on your way to achieving better smelling breath. Follow these additional tips to better rid your mouth of the smell, giving you more confidence in your daily interactions:

 

  • Brush at least twice a day. This includes not only your teeth, but your tongue as well. Make sure to get the back of your tongue where bacteria hides. For those who want an even better clean, invest in a tongue scraper as well.
  • Floss your teeth on a daily basis. You’d be surprised the food particles that remain wedged between the teeth, even after brushing. In addition to this, the white substance coming from your tonsils has the potential to get stuck here.
  • Skip the soda and instead drink lots of water. Without sufficient amounts of water your mouth will become dry, causing bad breath.
  • If you feel a disturbance in your stomach, take an antacid as soon as possible. This will help calm it before it has the chance to cause problems for your breath.
  • While yogurt also contains bacteria, this is the good bacteria that is healthy for your breath. The bacteria here will cancel out the bad breath causing bacterias, freshening your breath.
  • Keeping your six month appointment at the dentist will help keep your breath fresh. Here the dentist can check your mouth for problems and give your teeth a thorough cleaning.

Bad breath doesn’t have to be a problem in your life, identify where it is coming from then take the steps to prevent it. By making these changes in your routine, you will feel more confident with better smelling breath.


Don’t Forget Your Dental Benefits!

BlogGraphic-UsingBenefits

Another wonderful year is coming to a close. We have enjoyed getting to know each of our patients better throughout the past year and look forward to our visits! As we get closer to 2015, it is important to look at your insurance benefits still available for the 2014 calendar year. We have sent out letters to those who, according to our records, still have these benefits available to them and must use by the end of the year. If you have received one of these letters, it is time to start looking at your options for the end of the year.

 

Check your records and see what benefits you have left in your insurance plan. These advantages can be used for regularly scheduled visits, or more advanced treatment. If we have talked through a treatment plan with you, let’s get you in to complete the work, benefiting your oral health and subsequently your overall health. We look forward to working with each of our patients, helping them achieve their ultimate health goals. Together we can help you achieve these oral health goals by the end of the year, or at least gain significant headway in the process.

 

Don’t let these important dental health benefits go to waste by waiting too long, we want to work with you to take full advantage of these! Call our office to schedule your treatment as soon as possible. We want all our patients to know just how much we value your trust in our services, and your loyalty to our practice. It is an honor and pleasure to be on your healthcare team.


Don’t wait another year, schedule your appointment with Dr. Thomas today: 801-322-4900