Archive for Archived Posts

Coronavirus Health and Safety Tips

CORONAVIRUS IS AFFECTING all of our lives right now as we work together to slow the spread of the virus, keep everyone safe, and stay positive. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation going around, and we want to make sure our patients are well-informed.

Symptoms and Testing

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough, and sometimes tiredness. Don’t confuse it with seasonal allergies, which mostly involve congestion, itchy throat, and sneezing, or the flu, which involves vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, aches, and fatigue. Until tests for COVID-19 are widely available, only people exhibiting the typical COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing.

The number of confirmed cases is likely to go up as more tests become available. Higher numbers might seem alarming, but remember that it won’t represent an increase in the number of people who have COVID-19, it will represent an increase in the number of people who have been tested, which is a big step in the right direction. The more information we have about who has the virus, the easier it will be to contain and ultimately treat it.

Social Distancing and Protecting At-Risk Demographics

Why are we being encouraged to avoid large gatherings and work from home if possible? Coronavirus spreads person-to-person through close contact and when an infected person coughs or sneezes and germs get on their hands or surfaces other people touch. Elderly people and those with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable, and the best way to protect them is by following social distancing recommendations.

Hand-Washing and the Power of Soap

Because there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, washing our hands frequently is one of the best ways that we can slow the spread of the virus. Thanks to simple chemistry, regular soap is a highly effective weapon against coronavirus. These microscopic germs have a fatty layer that holds them together, and when the fatty layer comes in contact with soap, it breaks apart and the virus is destroyed.

This is why washing our hands is so effective. We should make sure to take at least 20 seconds and get every surface, then dry our hands thoroughly. Hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol content is a decent (but less effective) substitute. It’s also important to avoid touching our faces as much as possible.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces

Washing our hands is great, but it’s even better if we can clean the germs off the things we touch. We should be disinfecting our electronic devices and the surfaces in our homes and workspaces. Don’t forget doorknobs and light switches! Soap and water, alcohol-based cleaners, or bleach are all good options, but vinegar hasn’t been shown to be effective in this case. Make sure to give those surfaces a good scrub, not just a single swipe!

Getting Information from the Best Sources

As healthcare professionals, our top priority is ensuring that our patients have the best information in times like these, particularly with such a serious subject where the situation is changing rapidly. To learn more about the coronavirus and what you can do to help slow the spread, go to the CDC’s website. In the meantime, remember that taking good care of your teeth and gums is just as important now as ever!

Stay safe and happy. We look forward to seeing you soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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How Much Sugar Are You Really Eating?

IT’S ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT to watch out for sugar in our foods while we’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. As our patient, you’ve already been advised about problematic foods for braces. However, learning more about hidden sugars in your diet can help you better protect your teeth against decay.

Sugary Foods Cling To Our Teeth And Braces And Cause Cavities

When sugar clings to teeth, bacteria feeds off of those sugars, producing an acid byproduct that wears away tooth enamel.

Studies repeatedly find that as sugar consumption increases, so do cavities (even when you’re not wearing braces). The World Health Organization’s 2014 study found that in one population, when daily caloric intake of sugar increased from 0% to 5%, the amount of tooth decay doubled.

Cut Sugar Intake In Half

After the study, The World Health Organization cut their recommendations for sugar consumption in half, from 10% of our daily caloric intake, to 5% (and ideally, less). Currently, the average American gets 12-15% of his or her daily calories from sugar—and America isn’t even the highest consumer of sugar worldwide!

How do you cut back on sugar? In addition to cutting back on sweets, it’s important to be aware of hidden sugars in our diets. Even a “nutritional” food can be packed with sugar! On our food labels, sugar goes by numerous aliases, including:

  • Molasses & Maltose
  • Corn syrup, Malt & Dextrose
  • Sorghum syrup
This list is only a sampling. Keep an eye out for anything ending in “-ose,” “sugar,” or “syrup,” and educate yourself on more alternate names here.

3 More Tips For Cutting Back On Sugar

  1. Read labels, and check for hidden sugars.
  2. Cook more at home so you know exactly what’s going into your food.
  3. Cut back on soft drinks, fruit juices, granola bars, yogurt, and sugary cereal in addition to regular sweets.

A Healthier Diet = A Healthier Mouth

You don’t need to cut out sugar entirely to have healthy teeth. That’s why brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are so important! If you’re ever feeling unsure about which foods are appropriate while wearing braces, just ask us! We’re passionate about helping you have a healthier, happier lifestyle!

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

TOP IMAGE BY FLICKR USER TOM PAGE USED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION-SHAREALIKE 4.0 LICENSE. IMAGE CROPPED AND MODIFIED FROM ORIGINAL.

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Feel Inspired By Mouth Painter, Mariam Paré

HOW OFTEN DO WE PAUSE to appreciate our own amazing gifts and abilities? It’s easy to take things that come easiest for granted. Mariam Paré’s inspiring story not only gives us courage and motivation to be our best, but it helps put life into perspective.

Paralyzed By A Bullet Wound, Mariam’s Life Changed In An Instant

Mariam, a promising 20 year old painter, dreamed about all the things her artistic future held. Today, 18 years after a tragic event that changed her life, she’s painting just as she dreamed—but she’s doing it a little differently than she imagined.

Mariam paints with her teeth, patiently and precisely clenching brushes between them as she continues to express her remarkable artistic gift. Click here to learn more.

We Can All Take Lessons In Showing Gratitude

First, let’s all be grateful for our healthy mouths and teeth. For all the things they do for us… Speaking, chewing, nourishing, smiling, and in Mariam’s case, even painting—let’s be grateful for our healthy smiles and show our appreciation by taking great care of them.

Second, we are grateful for you—our valued patients. Without your support and friendship we couldn’t do the things we love to do each day. We treasure the trust you place in us. We’re honored when you recommend us, or refer one of your friends or coworkers. Always let us know how we can best serve you.

See Mariam’s story

 

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Trust Your Smile To An Orthodontist

WHEN THE TIME FOR ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT comes, you have a big decision to make. You’ll find a variety of treatment plans, cost estimates, and projected treatment timelines. How do you decide what’s right for you?

Do It Right The First Time

Ideal orthodontic treatment has three elements. First of all, it’s a long-term solution which, if you do your part to maintain, will last a lifetime. Secondly, ideal treatment makes your mouth and jaw healthier by bringing the whole bite into balance. Thirdly, you get beautiful results that you’re proud to show off.

Discount options might seem appealing at first, but if treatment doesn’t answer the true needs of YOUR particular bite, then you may find yourself spending more time and money to get it fixed in the future. It’s not uncommon to see someone coming in for re-treatment, after having incomplete orthodontic treatment done. Make a goal for yourself to get it done right the first time around.

Orthodontists Are Specialists In Tooth Movement

Orthodontists have two to three years of additional training after dental school, in order to best understand the complicated mechanics of the bite and the alignment of teeth. We’re trained in the full range and knowledge of tools that will help your smile reach its true potential. Click Here to learn more.

Care You Can Trust

Our practice is passionate about providing the best treatment for all of our patients. From customer service, to keeping ourselves up-to-date on the most recent developments in orthodontic care, we work hard to provide the best treatment plan for your unique smile.

Your smile is too precious to discount! Invest in beautiful, healthy, professional results. Give us a call if you have any questions.

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

(Image by Flickr user Dedra Wolff used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

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3 Common Speech Problems Orthodontics Can Help

THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE THROUGH SPEECH is one of the first things people notice about us! Did you know that the alignment of your teeth can affect your speech? If you struggle with certain elements of pronunciation, it could be attributed to your teeth.

Here are 3 common problems orthodontics can help. 

1. Lisp or Whistling

A primary cause of the development of a lisp or whistle is overbite—when upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth too much. Another cause could be gaps in teeth, which impede correct placement of the tongue and allow air to escape while talking, creating a whistling sound. Braces can correct overbite, and close the gaps between teeth.

2. Word Slurring

To correctly form words and regulate talking speed, our tongues need freedom to move. If the structure of the jaw or placement of teeth restricts that movement, stuttering or slurred speech is more likely. In most cases, braces can align the teeth and open up room for the tongue.

3. Mispronunciation

Certain sounds are very difficult (if not impossible) to pronounce when teeth aren’t where they’re supposed to be. For example, fricative consonant sounds like “t” “s” or “ch” which require tongue-to-tooth contact. Orthodontic treatment places teeth where they need to be for better pronunciation.

Orthodontic Treatment Is An Investment In Confidence And Health

Orthodontic treatment isn’t a magical cure for all speech challenges. However, for people working to correct speech disorders, orthodontics can offer life-changing solutions. And the advantages of orthodontic treatment are not limited to speech therapy alone. The confidence that comes from having a straight, beautiful smile and the oral health benefits will last a lifetime.

 

Don’t let orthodontic-related speech difficulties limit your personal and business relationships or keep you from being your most confident, eloquent self. If you have a friend, family member, neighbor or coworker who would like to learn more about how an orthodontic treatment plan can lead to a happier, healthier life, please pass along this blog post. Thank you. We appreciate your kind referrals.

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends.

(Image by Flickr user tiarescott used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

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Some Helpful Ideas For Flossing While Wearing Braces

WE KNOW SOME OF YOU DON’T LIKE TO FLOSS, especially with braces on. You may be surprised to hear us say, “we understand!” Flossing each day can be difficult. In addition to the impeding brackets and wires, perhaps you have sensitive gums, your mouth is small, or you feel like floss wrapped around your fingers cuts off your circulation. There are lots of seemingly good reasons not to floss—and as you can imagine, we’ve heard them all.

However, today there are options that can help make flossing easier, even when you have braces.

Many, Many Varieties Of Floss

Try ribbon-style floss instead of thread-style. Try waxed versus unwaxed. Try one that’s specially designed to glide easily. Try a different thickness, or a different flavor. The type of floss you use doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact you’re doing it!

Consider Tools Like Flossers And Flossing Sticks

Look into some tools that are designed to help. Finding something that works for you will prove to be a worthwhile investment.

  • Flossers and floss sticks eliminate the need to wrap floss around your fingers. These tools can also make it easier to reach back teeth without having to stick your hands in your mouth. There are even ones designed to work with braces.
  • Hydro Flossers (AKA Water flossers, Water-pik) current research shows that used often and correctly, water flossers are as effective as regular string floss and much easier to use.
  • Interproximal brushes (the ones that usually look like little Christmas trees) can help thoroughly clean the space between your teeth and your brackets and wires.
  • Floss threaders help you string normal floss between teeth and through wires.

The are many different tools and many different brands available to try. And again, which tool you use isn’t nearly as important as the fact you’re doing it! Click Here to learn more.

Never Underestimate The Value Of Flossing!

Flossing is an essential part of effective, daily oral hygiene care. Flossing helps guard against gum disease, the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. While you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, it’s important to maintain healthy gums to ensure that your treatment goes according to schedule.

Make Flossing A Daily Priority

If you have questions about how to make flossing easier, please visit with us. We want to help you be successful. For more tips and “How To” videos on flossing and taking care of your braces, visit our website.

Thanks for being our valued patients and friends!

(Image by Flickr user Hey Paul Studios used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

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Conquering Dental Anxiety

EVEN THOUGH WE know, logically, that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of staying healthy, many of us don’t find it particularly fun to lie flat on our backs while someone pokes around our teeth and gums. For some people, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.

Dental Anxiety Statistics: You Are Not Alone

Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better (for your wallet as well as your health) to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.

Why Does Dental Anxiety Happen?

A lot of people who avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear do so because of a previous negative experience they had that soured them on the concept of dentistry altogether. The feeling of not being in control is another reason people might be nervous. We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients feel comfortable so that they can move forward with the right professional oral health care to keep their teeth strong and healthy for life.

History and Pop Culture Skew Versus Modern Dentistry

If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before World War II made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least. The field has come a long way since then, even though movies and TV haven’t done much to update cultural expectations. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.

Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

There are a few things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety.

  • Come visit our practice before your appointment, especially if this is your first time coming in. Familiarize yourself with our space and members of our staff so that it doesn’t seem so foreign on appointment day. You might even want to bring someone you trust along with you.
  • Learn as much as you can about what happens in a typical dental appointment. If you take away the mystery, it will help you regain a sense of control.
  • Talk to us about your anxiety. When we know this is something you struggle with, there’s more we can do to help you.
  • Bring a distraction like headphones and a playlist of relaxing music to your appointment. Click Here to learn more

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dental Professionals

Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and it’s interfering with getting needed dental care, we’d love to schedule a time for you to come to our practice so that you can get used to the facility and get to know our team. We can answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see you soon!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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How Smoking Affects Oral Health

WE’VE ALL HEARD over and over how smoking can adversely impact health, with the most infamous example being lung cancer. But smoking doesn’t only harm the lungs; it damages every single system in the body, and it also damages oral health.

Smoking Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer

Like we said before, lung cancer tends to get all the attention when it comes to consequences of smoking, but four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Early symptoms of oral cancer include persistent mouth sores or pain, unusual white patches, swelling, numbness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and a sensation of having something stuck in the throat.

What Is Smoker’s Keratosis?

The weirdest effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can cause white patches to develop on the roof of the mouth. These patches are smoker’s keratosis (or stomatitis nicotina). This condition is still something of a medical mystery, but the current theory is that the white patches are caused by inflamed mucous glands. While they typically aren’t painful, they can be pre-cancerous.

Smoking Makes Gum Disease More Likely

As many as half of adults older than 30 have some form of gum disease, and smoking doubles the risk of developing it and makes it harder to treat. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gingiva (gum tissue), bone loss in the jaw, and tooth loss. In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening if the bacteria in the mouth gets into the bloodstream through inflamed gums.

What About Vaping?

Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes is often portrayed as a much healthier option to traditional smoking, but the vapor still contains nicotine and ultra-fine toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The nicotine itself reduces blood flow, affecting teeth and gums, potentially causing gum recession and death of gum tissue. It can also reduce saliva, leading to dry mouth (which causes all kinds of problems from bad breath to tooth decay), and it can trigger teeth grinding, which damages teeth. Click here to learn more.

Secondhand Smoke Isn’t Safe Either

Sometimes smokers will claim that they’re not hurting anyone else with their habit, and they’re willing to accept the risks to their own health. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Studies have suggested a link between cavities (in baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The broader health risks are especially serious for small children and infants, including infections, asthma attacks, and even SIDS.

The Benefits of Quitting

Someone who has smoked for decades might think that quitting can’t do anything to improve their health, so why bother? It turns out that even people with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their health outlook by quitting. Obviously it’s better not to start smoking in the first place, but it’s never too late to quit!

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Quitting an addictive habit isn’t easy, but smokers who need help quitting are not alone. Some of the best resources are the support of family, friends, and counselors. There’s also a lot of great information available online, and the dentist is another great resource. If you are a smoker, make sure to schedule regular dental exams (sometimes more than two a year) to keep your mouth healthy!

We’re always happy to see our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Animal Teeth Olympics

TEETH ARE OUR PASSION, and while we spend most of our time focusing on human teeth, sometimes it’s fun to take a look at the truly amazing teeth of the animal kingdom. So today we’re going to hold the olympics of animal teeth, to see which critters win the gold for biggest, strongest, hardest, and most teeth, as well as the teeth that are simply the strangest.

The Biggest Chompers

If we’re talking teeth used for biting, then hippos are the winners. If we’re talking about any kind of tooth, however, then African elephants win easily — unless it’s a question of the ratio of body length to tooth length, in which case the narwhal steals the gold medal. Male narwhals can grow tusks longer than half the length of their entire bodies, yet scientists still aren’t entirely sure what their purpose is. Click Here to learn more.

The Strongest Bite

Having big teeth is great, but how much bite pressure can they use? Enormous tusks are useless in this area. The animal with the strongest bite in the world is the Nile crocodileThese scaly predators can snap their jaws with a whopping 5000 pounds per square inch of pressure. For comparison, we only use at most 200 psi to chew steak!

The Hardest Teeth

The hardest substance ever discovered in nature is the tooth of a limpet (sea snail). They have a tensile strength between 3 and 6.5 gigapascals, breaking the previous record of spider silk at 1.3 GPa. Limpets need super hard teeth in order to chew the algae off of hard rocks. The discovery of the hardness of limpet teeth could lead to technological breakthroughs in materials for construction, protective armor, and even dental fillings!

The Toothiest Jaw

Which animal do you think has the most teeth? Sharks, maybe? While sharks certainly do have a lot of teeth and are continuously regrowing ones that fall out, the answer is actually catfish, with the toothiest species sporting a staggering 9,280 teeth. These are cardiform teeth that look like tiny needles or hedgehog quills, and they’re arranged in rows and rows just inside their lips, angled backward so that once a catfish swallows something, it’s not getting back out.

Special Category: Weirdest Teeth

The gold for weirdest animal teeth has to go to the crabeater seal. These adorable swimmers have teeth that are individually serrated. They almost look like Christmas trees! But don’t worry; they don’t use them to saw through muscle and bone. No, the purpose of the weird shape is simply to strain krill. They take in a big gulp of krill-filled water, then close their teeth and squeeze out the excess water, keeping all that tasty krill trapped inside.

How Long Has It Been Since We Saw Your Chompers?

Do know of any other interesting animal teeth? We’d love to hear about them the next time you come in for an appointment. If it’s been a while since the last time we saw you, give us a call, and make sure you’re keeping up with your daily brushing and flossing in the meantime!

Our favorite teeth will always be our patients’!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Teeth and Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

HALLOWEEN IS A TON OF fun every year, and it’s right around the corner! We love the costumes, the decorations, and the local events, but we’re a little wary of all that candy. Sugar isn’t just tasty to us; the harmful bacteria in our mouths love it. If you want to make Halloween a little healthier for your teeth (and safer for your braces), here’s a handy breakdown of how different types of treats and candies rank in terms of promoting good dental health.

Types of Halloween Candy to Avoid

Anything hard, sticky, or sour is going to be bad for your teeth. Hard candy takes a while to dissolve, which means your teeth are exposed to sugar for a long time, and it can easily break a bracket loose. Even the nuts in soft candy bars pose a risk.

Sticky candy is a problem because it adheres to the teeth and braces, pushing the sugar right up against the enamel and gum tissue. That’s like breakfast in bed for bacteria! Sour candy might not pose the same dangers to your brackets, but it contains acid as well as sugar, so it’s doubly bad for teeth.

Candy That’s Good for Teeth?

Not all candy is awful for oral health or dangerous for braces-wearers. Chocolate is on the good end of the oral health spectrum, and the darker, the better. Chocolate contains flavanoids and polyphenols — compounds that limit oral bacteria, fight bad breath, and slow tooth decay. Dark chocolate has more of these compounds and their benefits are less offset by sugar than in sweeter milk chocolate.

Other candies that are safe to eat with braces and not terrible for your teeth include mint patties, peanut butter cups, and nut-free chocolate bars. These are soft and not too sticky, so you can safely bite into them without risking a bracket. Click Here to learn more.

Fight Back Against the Effects of Sugar

Aside from avoiding the more harmful candies in favor of chocolate, there are other ways we can combat the effects sugar has on our teeth:

  • Don’t give harmful oral bacteria an all-day buffet! If you’re planning on eating a lot of candy, it’s better to eat it all in one sitting than spreading it out across an entire day. This way, your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the acids and wash away leftover sugar.
  • Drink water after enjoying some candy. It will help rinse out the sugar sticking to your teeth.
  • Wait half an hour after eating candy, then brush your teeth! Good brushing and flossing habits are essential to protecting your teeth from the effects of sugary candy.

Another Great Resource Is the Orthodontist!

Being careful about which candy you eat and when, rinsing with water, and maintaining good daily brushing and flossing habits are all great, but don’t forget about the best resource you have: the orthodontist! If you’d like to learn more about which treats are healthiest for your teeth and safest for your braces, all you have to do is ask!

Have a happy, healthy Halloween!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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