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Recognizing and Treating Gingivitis

When we think about oral health, one of the major parts of our mouth that can cause problems is the gum. If gums become red and often bleed, it may be an indication of gum disease. There are two different types of gum disease. One is called gingivitis and the other, periodontitis. Periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis, and it is a serious condition. Without proper treatment, gingivitis (and subsequent periodontitis) could potentially lead to tooth loss and damage to the jawbone.

Trying to determine if this is what’s causing your mouth issues? Some of the symptoms associated with gingivitis include: bleeding gums, bad breath, swelling, frequent mouth sores, tender or painful gums, or loose teeth. It’s important to note that there are other causes of gingivitis not limited to poor oral hygiene. Ill-fitting braces or dentures, improperly aligned teeth, tobacco use, pregnancy, and even certain medications can cause gingivitis.

So if you have some of the symptoms, where do you go from there? After going to see your dentist and confirming that you indeed have this issue, the dentist will clean your teeth in order to attack the bacteria and reduce inflammation. And how to prevent yourself from ending up in the dentist’s chair like this? Brush and floss every day, thoroughly. Eat a healthy diet, watch your sugars, and schedule regular dental cleanings!

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Vitamin C Rich Foods to Improve Your Dental Health

We all know that vitamin C is useful for our overall health. From beating the common cold to promoting good eyesight, it’s known as something of a cure-all vitamin. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that increasing your vitamin C intake can be beneficial for your oral health as well. Vitamin C helps to strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation, both of which are key ingredients in the recipe for healthy gums. Furthermore, vitamin C increases collagen production, which keeps gums strong, elastic, and less susceptible to periodontal disease. So, which foods should you be eating more of to gain the full benefits? Here are 5 to get you started.

Bell peppers

Many people believe that when it comes to bell peppers, all colors are created equal. In terms of their flavor this might be true, but if you’re looking for the highest vitamin C content, pick red bell peppers over their green or yellow counterparts. Feel free to eat as many as you like, too. A full cup of bell peppers is only worth about 45 calories, so you can snack guilt-free!

Kiwi

Did you know that in addition to being significantly less acidic (and therefore better for your teeth) kiwi fruit has about twice the vitamin C content of lemons and oranges? Kiwi is also high in fiber and an enzyme called actinidain which helps to break down protein, easing digestion and overall intestinal function.

Strawberries

In addition to being a delicious summer treat, strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. But that’s not all! Strawberries are also rich in flavonoids, which can counteract bad (or LDL) cholesterol in the blood and help unclog plaque from the arteries. Sweet!

Broccoli

Turns out your mother was telling you to eat your broccoli for a reason! Besides their high concentration of vitamin C, they could also help you fend off cancer due to a high sulfur content found in most cruciferous vegetables.

Kale

Finally, this trendy superfood has received quite a bit of press in the last few years, and for good reason. It’s high in vitamins C, A, and K, as well as fiber and iron. Don’t like the taste? Stick it in a fruity smoothie and drink the benefits!

Filling your diet with these vitamin rich foods will not only help your teeth and gums, but your overall health. As with everything, however, practice moderation; there is too much of a good thing! Consult your dentist for advice on how much vitamin C you should be getting, or for more dietary tips for a healthy smile.

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The impact your diet has on your teeth

Everyone knows that eating too much sugar can cause tooth decay and cavities. But did you know there are other hidden ways your diet can negatively impact your oral health?

Unhealthy Diet & Your Immune System

Your immune system keeps you strong and healthy…but it needs the right fuel to work effectively. If you don’t eat nutritious meals, your immune system weakens and becomes less capable of fighting infections—including those of the gums and mouth. Lingering infections can result in inflamed gums, cavities, and other tooth issues, not to mention a lot of pain. Sound like something you want to avoid? Stick to a balanced diet—and remember that anything you choose to eat ultimately affects your oral health.


Not Drinking Enough Water

The bacteria that cause cavities and gum infections thrive when the mouth is dry. A dry mouth also lowers the naturally occurring acid levels in your mouth, which makes it easier for sugars and bacteria to damage your teeth. By drinking water steadily throughout the day, you’ll create a healthier environment in your mouth by increasing moisture and helping to balance acidity.


Acidic Foods & Drinks

Acid in everyday food and drink attacks tooth enamel, causing decay, sensitivity, and discoloration. It’s right up there with sugar as something to avoid to protect your teeth. You’ll find high acid levels in citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, vinegar-y foods like pickles, coffee, and wine (the latter two also tend to dehydrate you…see #2!). Sodas are another main offender—including diet. If you consume things from this list, try to drink water alongside them and use a straw with beverages to avoid contact with your teeth. You can also lessen the effect of acidic foods by pairing them with low-acid foods like cheese, eggs, fish, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, oatmeal, and fruits like bananas, apples, and melons.


Starchy Foods

When you consume starchy, carbohydrate-rich food like bread, pasta, potatoes, and white rice, you face a double whammy of oral health danger. First, whenever starch comes into contact with the plaque bacteria that coats your teeth, it produces acids which then attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating. Sustained attacks eventually result in decay and damage to teeth, bones and gums. Second, starchy snacks like chips and crackers and the foods mentioned above break down into sticky particles that are more apt to get stuck in your teeth. This gives them more time to transform into acids. To defend against the starch attack, drink water during carb-heavy meals and always brush and floss after them.

If you have questions about whether your diet may be affecting your oral health, your dentist can answer them. Feel free to ask at your next appointment.

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How Stress Might Be Hurting Your Teeth

We all know that stress can take a toll on our overall health. Chronically stressed people are more likely to develop anxiety disorders and sleeping disorders, as well as more serious health concerns such as heightened blood pressure, risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. But what impact does stress have on your teeth?

When it comes to oral health, stress can manifest itself in a number of harmful ways, not the least of which is the grinding and gnashing of teeth. Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is common among those who hold stress and tension in their jaws.
A 2010 study by Head & Face Medicine found that sleep bruxism is common in people who experience daily strain and problems at work. That means that the pressure you feel at your desk to get things done, impress your boss, and move up in the company could be hurting your oral health overnight.

It seems small in the short term, but grinding or clenching your teeth can lead to cracks and chips. In fact, many people don’t even realize that they are grinding at night until they break a tooth. In order to prevent having multiple dental procedures to reverse the effects of bruxism, try using a night guard, or talking to your dentist about how you can stop or minimize grinding and its negative effects on your teeth.

Most importantly, find a method to reduce stress that works for you. Spending time with friends, yoga and meditation, or simply taking a few moments a day to breathe deeply and regroup can have innumerable positive effects on your overall health and well-being.

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What Medication Can Do to Your Oral Health

Taking certain medications can help treat disease and lead to better overall health. However, it’s important to be aware of side effects, as some medications can harm your teeth and gums.

If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may need to take extra precautions to maintain a healthy mouth!

Abnormal bleeding

Some medications such as heparin or warfarin are used to thin blood, so taking these drugs will prevent blood from clotting normally. While thinner blood can be good for patients who are trying to prevent stroke or heart disease, it can cause issues during oral surgery or treatment for periodontal disease. After oral surgery, you need blood clots to prevent dry socket and other complications, in addition to making recovery more painful than it should be! Always make sure to talk to your dentist about the medications you are taking before deciding on a treatment or surgery to take precautions to prevent these negative side effects.

Soft-tissue reactions

Some medications may cause sores in the mouth, inflammation, or discoloration of the soft tissues in the mouth. If you are on blood pressure medication, oral contraceptives, or chemotherapeutic agents, you may be at risk for these kinds of sores.

Dry mouth

Other medications can cause dry mouth. Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and painkillers can cause dry mouth, as well as prescription medications such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and high blood pressure medications.

Dry mouth can cause cavities and decay because there is not enough saliva in the mouth to wash away bacteria. Instead, the acid and bacteria in the mouth can run rampant and wear away at enamel.

Always make sure to tell your dentist about the medications that you are on and discuss side effects with them. When dentists know your full health history, they can better consider treatment options.

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Coffee Stains Got You Down? Perk Up!

Love your morning cup of Joe but want to preserve those pearly whites? Here is some valuable information for you caffeine fiends out there!

That perfectly blended aroma, that warm sensation stimulating our tongues, how could we live without it? We all know how important it is to have our daily dose, but also how essential it is to have a white, confident smile.

So how exactly does coffee stain teeth one wonders? If you’re an occasional coffee sipper this will not entirely apply to you, but if you are a regular “daily doser” there are some ways to disrupt the buildup that causes stains. According to research conducted by dental experts at Colgate, “the pigments from dark colored drinks can embed in the enamel of our teeth,” and if not cared for correctly, can cause permanent discoloration.

There are ways to easily correct this! Even simply changing the type of water we use in our coffee can help to prevent these stains. Try using a straw or gulping down your drink all at once versus casually sipping on it throughout the day—this way, you have a lower risk for continued discoloration.

Research states: “staining molecules like to stick to our teeth because they have an affinity for calcium ions and proteins on the surface.” Because of this, the “staining molecules” mix with the “calcium ions present in the water you are using to brew, leading to potentially yellow teeth.” By switching to filtered mineral water when making your daily brew, the water will become “hard,” be naturally infused with minerals, and help to kill off the staining molecules.

We all know it would be hard to survive those 9 to 5 days without this delightful and extremely helpful caffeinated substance, so make the small changes to allow you to continue on with your daily doses of deliciousness. Ongoing research continues to show that coffee may have more health benefits than we’ve realized too! Always remember to chew sugar free gum and rinse with water to get rid of staining molecules after that coffee fix. If discoloration continues to occur, set up a time to meet with your dentist to discuss in-room, or at-home whitening treatments, or a stronger teeth-whitening toothpaste.

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