Kissimmee Family Dentistry

Winter Oral Health Tips

If you get a runny nose this winter, you may be tempted to breathe through your mouth. While we know cold weather wreaks havoc on our lips (let’s just call it “Chapped-Lip Season” instead of winter), breathing through your mouth also triggers sensitivities and other oral health issues! Itchy skin and dry mouth are just two things that can irritate you this season however, here are some of tried-and-true methods to keep your mouth healthy all winter long.

Brush UpWinter Oral Health Tips

Brush gently with a soft toothbrush. Aggressive brushing can cause more sensitivity! If you find that your teeth are feeling extra sensitive, use a desensitizing toothpaste. Rinsing with mouthwash daily and flossing your teeth will stimulate your gums so that they are less likely to recede in the cold months.

Drink Up

We know our bodies need at least eight glasses of water for optimal health, but did you know it’s important for oral health too? Drinking water rinses out your mouth and keeps it moist—keeping bacteria at bay. Moisture depletion can be maintained with proper hydration reducing the feeling of a dry mouth.

Bundle Up

Our teeth may be hard, but they are not immune to extreme cold! In fact, fluctuating in temperature too drastically can cause your teeth to expand and contract, this may cause hairline fractures in the surface. Limit your time in cold weather, and when that isn’t an option, trap heat near your face by wearing a scarf or mask when you have to brave the cold!

Dental Implants: What’s All The Hype?

Dental Implants What's all the HypeThese days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

But why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss
Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet
Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!

Tooth Sensitivity: What it Means and What You Can Do

You’re eating a scoop of ice cream or sipping hot chocolate, and suddenly your tooth hurts. Or Tooth Sensitivitymaybe brushing your teeth makes you wince. These are common symptoms of tooth sensitivity, one of the most common complaints among dental patients. In fact over 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth at some point. This blog will help you understand just what this common problem is and what the cause may be.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is caused by the movement of fluid within tiny tubes located in the dentin (the layer of tissue found beneath the hard enamel that contains the inner pulp), which results in nerve irritation. When the hard enamel is worn down or if your gums have receded, the tiny tube surfaces become exposed so that eating or drinking cold or hot food or beverages, touching the teeth, or exposing them to cold air can be uncomfortable. Dental issues that may cause tooth sensitivity include: tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, worn tooth enamel, and an exposed tooth root. Excessive consumption of foods and drinks high in acid content, such as soft drinks or citrus juices, can also put you at risk for tooth sensitivity. Acid reflux may also result in the erosion of tooth enamel due to acid coating the teeth.

Treatment. If a tooth is highly sensitive for more than three or four days, it is best to see your dentist to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. We have a variety of options to manage tooth sensitivity, including in-office treatments and products you use at home. We may apply a desensitizing agent or a protective coating to your teeth. Or we may prescribe a fluoride gel or over the counter desensitizing toothpaste, which contains fluoride and potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These ingredients help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth to the nerve. It is also best to avoid using hard bristled tooth brushes that can wear down tooth enamel and expose sensitive areas.

It is important for us to accurately diagnose the cause of your tooth sensitivity for accurate treatment. Sometimes a damaged tooth may require a filling, bonding, or even root canal if the decay is severe.   Proper dental hygiene is the best way to prevent tooth pain and sensitivity. Please let us know if you have any areas of your mouth that experience sensitivity or if you have any questions abut your dental health.

After the Root Canal

If you have a root canal scheduled with our office, congratulations! You have taken an important first step toward saving your tooth and, thus, your smile and your oral health down the road! You may be wondering what to expect in terms of pain and what to do to relieve it after your procedure. Luckily, we have saved our best tips for you! Read on for information on home-care after a root canal.

How much pain will I have?After the Root Canal

You will be happy to hear that after root canal treatment, most people report little or no pain. Advancements in endodontic instruments and techniques over the years have made this procedure similar to having a filling done. While it is considered normal to have soreness for a few days following the procedure, make sure you call us if you have extreme pain or pain that lasts more than a week.

Here are our recommended pain management tips following root canal treatment:

Over the Counter Pain Medicine
For the majority of patients, an over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) is all that is needed to curb soreness and pain after a root canal.

Prescription Pain Medicine
If we feel that you may need it, we will send you home with a prescription for a stronger pain medication than can be purchased over the counter. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully on the package.

Ice and Heat
For additional comfort at home, you may apply a cool or warm compress to the cheek in the area that the procedure was performed.

Salt Water Rinse
A teaspoon of salt in room temperature water can sometimes help with pain in the days following your procedure. Rinse and spit for reduced swelling and discomfort.

Be Pro-Active with Pain Medication
Have OTC pain medications ready to go at home. Take them before the numbing solution wears off completely so that you are not caught off-guard with pain. If we give you a prescription for pain medicine, fill it before going home, even if you think you won’t use it. Stay on top of timing and dosage until you feel that the soreness is gone.

And, as always, feel free to call us anytime with your questions. We are always happy to help!

Vaping: Is it harmless?

You may have noticed a shift in the smoking world over the past few years. Smokers have been seemingly taking a step in the right direction. Smokers are transitioning away from the traditional cigarette to the e-cigarette, this act is also known as: vaping. Transitioning to an e-cigarette from a chemical-filled cigarette that decades of research have proven is deadly seems like a good thing, right? Think again. There are many people venturing into the world of e-cigarettes blindly. While e-cigarette advertisements and companies are currently unregulated, we wanted to uncover a few potential dangers of this popular fad.

VapingThe e-cigarette anatomy consists of a battery, a heating element and a cartridge that holds the nicotine, liquid and flavoring. If anyone has tried to convince you that e-cigarettes are not addictive, they’re wrong. Nicotine is highly addictive, and while many teens and young adults believe that vaping is harmless, nicotine is known to negatively affect brain development in this age group. The act of holding an e-cigarette and the presence of nicotine has indicated that it could be a very strong gateway to smoking real cigarettes for these young adults. That correlation has big tobacco firms excited for the future. Tobacco companies have been severely restricted in their advertising campaigns. In the recent past, they were forced to rely on the ‘cool-factor’ of smoking, something they hoped that celebrities and young adult’s peers would embody. E-cigarettes present a gateway to becoming addicted to the real thing. This is just what tobacco companies had been hoping for! Speaking of advertising, while tobacco companies are highly restricted in their advertising campaigns, no one is regulating e-cigarette companies. In fact, these companies can make any claims they wish. With regard to the manufacturing aspect of the e-cigarettes and their cartridges, there is also no regulating body that creates standards for the products.

We have talked about the anatomy of the actual e-cigarette, but what makes up the vapor that is exhaled by the smoker? The cloud that you see consists of aerosol, nicotine, propylene glycol, flavoring and fine particles. The hotter the body of the e-cigarette gets, the more harmful the chemicals contained in them becomes. This means that the deadly carcinogens present in a traditional cigarette are also present in their electronic counterpart.

Research is currently underway to determine the long-term effects of vaping. While current research indicates that an e-cigarette is safer than smoking an actual cigarette, research also proves that e-cigarettes are far from harmless. If you are looking to improve your mouth and lung health, experts agree that quitting smoking devices altogether is still the only 100% risk-free option available.

Root Canals: Your Toughest Questions Answered

For most people, the mere mention of a root canal sets off alarm bells in the body. These bells come in the form of nervous thoughts and sensations – that fight-or-flight response we’ve all heard about. While this is a totally normal response, most fear of root canals is based on mis-information. We feel that by giving you the right information, we can help you understand the process better and calm your fears about this routine procedure.

Root Canals Your Toughest Questions AnsweredThis is not just your average list of root canal FAQs. Here, we aim to tackle the toughest questions that you can throw our way.

I’ve heard that root canals aren’t as painful as they used to be. How can that be true?

  • Better Instruments: Endodontic instruments have improved greatly over the years. They are more precise than ever, allowing us to target only necessary areas and avoid excess irritation.
  • Better Anesthetics: The anesthetics we use today are more effective and less likely to cause negative reactions than in the past. In addition, we can use an anesthetic that has adrenaline or epinephrine added to it to make it last longer. The longer it lasts, the less pain you will feel.
  • Better Imaging: Modern imaging allows for a more precise treatment and lessens the need to cause irritation in non-infected areas.
  • Better Understanding: Today, we have a better understanding of both your body and the microorganisms that cause infected roots. This results in less invasive treatments and better overall care for you.

What can I do to calm my nerves?

  • Know the Facts:
    • Over 15 million root canals are performed each year.
    • Root canals save your natural teeth and save money down the road.
    • Root canals are safe.
    • Root canals relieve pain caused by infection – they don’t cause pain!
  • Ask Questions: Sometimes patients are unsure about a specific part of the procedure and remain silent. We want you to ask questions! Usually we are able to set your mind at ease if you simply ask us.
  • Plug In: Many patients bring music and earphones to the appointment to help pass the time in the chair. Ask us if this is an option for you before your appointment.

Why not just remove the tooth? 
When a tooth hurts, often a person’s first reaction is to get rid of the tooth. However, we know that missing teeth cause bigger health problems and expenses down the road. The first choice in dental care is ALWAYS to save the tooth when possible. Root canal treatment saves teeth. In fact, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment can last just as long as the healthy teeth in your mouth!

Seeking Whiter Teeth? Not So fast!

“Can’t I just whiten my teeth at home?” Read on to learn why it’s important for teeth whitening to be prescribed and performed by a professional.

WhiteningBlogWe’ve all seen them, those bulky little boxes of whitening strips and gel potions, calling our name out from the aisles as we casually pick up a fresh tube of toothpaste. I would even bet that more than a few of you have left the store clutching that box, hoping that the $50 will be worth it. After all, you don’t know much about how to use them properly or what chemicals are involved. The most common side effects of at home whitening are: tooth sensitivity and gum sensitivity. There are a few things that should be considered prior to using at-home bleaching treatments.

Heading into the office for a check-up should always be your first step when reaching for a whiter smile. A dental professional can help you establish whether your mouth is healthy enough to withstand a bleaching treatment. If deep cavities are present, the bleach can have a straight shot to the blood vessels present in your teeth. The bleach can also gain access to the nerve and bone at the root of the tooth through a deep cavity. Just as you should not start any diet or exercise regimen without getting checked out by a physician, you should also take the same precaution with teeth enhancing treatments. When a dental professional performs a whitening treatment, the gum area is protected at application. Another great reason to opt for in-office whitening is that the professional products used by dentists contain only high quality ingredients that are gentler on your teeth!

A whiter, brighter smile gives the impression of youth. We perceive a white, bright smile as a healthy smile. Save yourself the sensitivity and see us today!

Dieting and Dental Health

Giving up processed foods and artificial sugars is a great way to improve our overall health, but sometimes our “healthy” habits can actually deprive us of vital nutrients. Internal health is an important factor when it comes to oral hygiene, and cutting meat, dairy products or sugars out of your diet could lead to serious conditions such as gum disease if you don’t find the right substitutes. Keep reading for a list of nutrients you might be missing and some tips for balancing your diet with your oral health!

Dieting-and-Dental-HealthZinc in saliva and enamel prevents the buildup of bacteria, which eventually turns to tartar or calculus. It is essential to preventing cavities and even gum disease (periodontitis). If you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, zinc deficiency may be to blame, as it causes a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

  • Zinc-rich foods: Seafood, lean meats, dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, cashews, almonds

Gum swelling or bleeding may be a sign of Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is an essential part of the connective tissue in the gums surrounding the teeth.

  • Vitamin C-rich foods: citrus fruits
  • Alternatives: Bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes

A lack of calcium weakens the gums, and people who don’t eat animal and dairy products may be increasing their risk of periodontal disease. Calcium prevents bone degeneration, keeping the jaw strong and healthy so bacteria doesn’t destroy the bone that supports the teeth.

  • Calcium-rich foods: dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, broccoli, collard greens, oranges

Vitamin D works with calcium to promote strong bones. It increases calcium absorption, preventing tooth loss and jaw bone degeneration.

  • Vitamin D-rich foods: Fatty fish, egg yolk
  • Alternatives: mushrooms, tofu, dairy alternatives (i.e. soy milk)

If you notice a burning sensation in your mouth, specifically on your tongue, or frequent canker sores you may be suffering from iron deficiency. Iron deficiency leads to reduced red blood cells and decreased oxygen flow.

  • Iron-rich foods: Red meat, poultry, seafood
  • Alternatives: dried fruits, beans, dark leafy greens

Finding a solution to your symptoms may be as simple as picking up a few extra ingredients at your local supermarket! Adding some of these nutrient rich foods to your diet can help you get back on track with your oral health and wow us next time you visit our office!

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Fluoride Natures Cavity FighterNobody likes coming to the dentist to have a cavity filled! Many of our patients ask us how stop a cavity before it happens. Many people have heard of fluoride but wonder how it works and if it is safe. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about fluoride and to help you understand its benefits and how to use it effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally in certain foods. You might be surprised to learn that it can be found in black teas and raisins, and in our water sources, such as lakes and rivers. And, because it provides such good protection from tooth decay, it has been added to dental products to help prevent cavities.

Fluoride works for both children and adults. It’s true! Before teeth even erupt through the gums, fluoride taken in from certain foods and supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and therefore more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, reversing early signs of cavity formation. In addition, the fluoride you consume becomes a part of your saliva, constantly bathing your teeth with tiny amounts of the cavity fighter. While it is critical for infants and children to be exposed to fluoride when primary and permanent teeth are forming, new research indicates that topical fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay for adults!

Use the correct amount of toothpaste to benefit your teeth. While all toothpaste removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay), only toothpaste with fluoride can prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Make sure you’re using the correct amount of toothpaste with your children!

  • For very little ones, under 3 years of age, parents and caregivers should begin gently brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth with an amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a few grains of rice.
  • For children ages 3 to 6, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and make sure to supervise children to help instill good habits.

Some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. You may already be protecting your teeth with fluoride without even knowing it! However, mouth rinses should not be used with children under the age of 6, as they may not be able it use it appropriately.

You may have fluoride in your water. Your community may have chosen water fluoridation (simply adding fluoride to drinking water) as a public health benefit. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. The Center for Disease Control has noted water fluoridation as one of the ten best public health achievements of the 20th century.

For your best dental hygiene routine, ask us during your next visit about the right fluoride products for you and your family. Your oral health is our priority so we want to answer any questions that you have. Armed with the right information, your family can have healthy teeth for life. Contact our office to schedule your next visit! We can’t wait to see you soon!

Gum Disease Risk Factors

GumDiseaseRiskFactorsHere’s a concerning statistic: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of Americans who are over the age of 65 have gum disease. Although brushing and flossing are key factors in preventing gum disease, there are other elements that can contribute to tooth loss as well.

Smoking:

Smoking may actually be one of the most significant risk factor in the development of gum disease. Tobacco is a powerful substance that can damage teeth permanently and actually aid in the progression of periodontitis. Studies have shown that using any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of gum disease.

 Stress:

You might not believe it, but stress is actually a risk factor and can cause gum disease to progress more quickly. Stress is linked to many health issues such as cancer and hypertension. Stress takes a toll on your body and makes it hard to fight off infections. Even infections in your gums!

Genetics:

Sadly, some people just may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. These people need to try harder and brush more often to fight off gingivitis and plaque build up.

Clenching and Grinding:

Grinding your teeth is bad for your teeth’s overall health. Excess force on the tissues that support your teeth can encourage gum disease to progress.

Medications:

Certain medications can upset your oral health and cause gum disease to progress faster. Anti-depressants and certain heart medications are the biggest culprits. If you’re taking any meds and begin to see a change in your overall oral health, please let us know at your next appointment.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity:

Your diet is incredibly important and affects your overall health. Eating foods low in important nutrients weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infections. Gum disease starts with infections, which is why it’s important to take care of your body and think about your overall health.

Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be in the early stages of gum disease!