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Eat Your Way to Healthier Teeth With These 11 Nutrients

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

You know that the foods you eat impact the health and appearance of your teeth. However, most of the connections you know about between your diet and oral health focus on the negative. For instance, you probably know that sugar and soda cause cavities, and wine, strawberries, tea, and coffee can all cause stains.

Luckily for you, there are also many foods that will help you keep your smile pristine. To preserve and improve your teeth’s health, maintain adequate levels of the following 11 nutrients.

1. Antioxidants

When it comes to healthy eating, foods rich in antioxidants top most lists. This high rate of inclusion stems from the fact that antioxidants help combat bacteria and cell damage.

In your mouth, antioxidants decrease inflammation and can reduce your risk of gum disease. Find your daily dose of antioxidants in nuts, beans, berries, and apples.

2. Anthocyanins

In recent years, scientists have begun to study the relationship between anthocyanins—or a certain type of pigment—and oral health, and the results are promising. Early results from a study funded by the Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship (CAFFRE) suggest that anthocyanins decrease the formation of plaque and may even reduce the risk of oral cancer.

Anthocyanins are found in certain stone fruit, like plums and cherries, and in eggplant.

3. Arginine

The amino acid arginine hasn’t been studied as much as antioxidants, but studies show a possible correlation between arginine and healthier mouths. According to a study published in PLOS One, arginine could prevent tooth decay by disrupting plaque buildup.

Red meats and nuts both contain arginine.

4. Calcium

Calcium is a major contributor to both healthy bones and strong teeth. This nutrient supports jawbone and tooth health by encouraging remineralization that builds enamel back up after it becomes damaged.

Calcium is present in most dairy products, as well as in seafood. If you don’t consume dairy or meat, you can get your calcium from tofu, leafy greens, and calcium-fortified foods.

5. Folic Acid

Folic acid aids in cell growth and regeneration, which helps oral tissues stay healthy and teeth stay stable. However, folic acid is only stored in the body for short periods of time before it’s processed, which means you must consume it regularly for it to positively affect oral health.

The best dietary source of folic acid is cruciferous vegetables, which are vegetables that have a deep green color and a leafy structure. Some cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cabbage.

6. Magnesium

The right amount of magnesium helps protect bones and teeth from damage. Like calcium, magnesium is an essential component of building and maintaining a strong jawbone and enamel.

Whole grains, from oats to wheat, contain magnesium. You can also get magnesium from bananas, leafy greens, and avocados.

7. Phosphorous

Calcium and phosphorus are the two main components of tooth enamel, so increasing your intake of these nutrients can fortify your teeth against erosion, staining, and other damage.

Along with consuming enough calcium, make sure you get your needed phosphorous from nuts, seeds, eggs, and red meats.

8. Polyphenols

The relationship between polyphenols and improved oral health still needs some research. However, a study published in in the Journal of Dentistry reports that polyphenols may stop plaque-causing bacteria from growing.

You can find polyphenols in in green and black tea, flaxseed, and cocoa.

9. Probiotics

Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria already found in the body. You can also consume dietary probiotics to balance out detrimental bacteria in your mouth, which improves your gum health and reduces your risk of tooth decay.

Find probiotics in low-fat yogurts, as well as in certain other fermented foods like miso paste or sauerkraut.

10. Vitamin C

When it comes to healthy eating, vitamin C gets almost as much attention as antioxidants—and for good reason. Vitamin C aids in multiple essential bodily processes that improve oral health. For instance, it helps your body produce collagen proteins and reduce inflammation, both of which contribute to healthier gum tissue.

Most fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C, but you can add kale, oranges, or bell peppers to your diet for an extra boost.

11. Vitamin D

When you think of vitamin D, you may think of its impact on your skin first. But vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium more effectively. Without vitamin D, the calcium and phosphorous you consume are less helpful.

Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but you can bolster the amount of vitamin D in your body by eating eggs and cold-water fish.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy

You may have different dietary needs based on your activity level, current oral and overall health, and medical history. Remember to consult with your dentist and your primary care physician when deciding to make changes to your diet. These professionals may recommend adding specific foods to your diet or using supplements so you can have the right nutrient levels.

Use these guidelines and advice from your care providers to eat your way to a brighter, healthier smile.

Pregnancy and Dental Health: What You Should Know

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

After you found out you were pregnant, you likely visited your doctor to start prenatal care. You want to do everything you can to keep yourself and your baby healthy during your pregnancy. You may note every future doctor’s appointment to ensure your baby is strong during the next several months. And you plan to take prenatal vitamins, exercise, eat healthy, and drink plenty of water so you can stay healthy as well.

However, don’t forget one important aspect of your overall health: your dental hygiene. Pregnant women experience multiple changes in their bodies-and their mouths are no exception.

Below, we’ve provided a guide to help you maintain good oral health during your pregnancy. Read on to learn how your mouth may change during the next few months and what you can do to keep your mouth and your baby as healthy as possible.

Hormones Will Affect Your Dental Health

During your pregnancy, your body’s hormone levels increase. As those levels get higher, you are more at risk for developing certain dental health issues.

For example, many medical professionals believe that rising HCG levels cause morning sickness and nausea, and certain tastes and smells may make you feel sick. If the taste or smell of your toothpaste causes you to feel nauseous, you may not want to brush your teeth as often.

As a result, you may have more plaque buildup on your teeth and more bacteria in your mouth-and all of these factors can negatively impact your dental health.

Pregnancy can cause some women to develop gingivitis or gum disease. You may also notice tooth erosion, dry mouth, loose or mobile teeth, and cavities.

Recent research suggests that women who have untreated oral health issues like gum disease during pregnancy are more at risk for delivering premature, underweight babies-and these children are more at risk for developing health issues like hearing and vision problems and cerebral palsy.

While you can’t do anything about the changing, rising hormones levels you’ll experience during pregnancy, you can take extra measures to maintain good oral health and protect yourself and your growing child.

Morning Sickness Doesn’t Have to Stop You From Dental Care

One measure you can take during pregnancy is to keep brushing and flossing your teeth, even if the smell and taste of your toothpaste don’t sit well with you.

Purchase bland toothpastes and floss so you can still care for your teeth without getting nauseous. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and to floss at least once a day. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush as well. Harder bristles may irritate your already sensitive gums.

Additionally, if you’ve thrown up any time during the day, you’ll need to take a little extra care to keep your teeth in good shape. The stomach acid in your vomit can cause your teeth to erode. However, after you’ve thrown up, don’t brush your teeth right away. The motion pushes acid around and deeper into your teeth, which can cause your teeth to erode faster.

Instead, rinse your mouth out with a solution made of water and baking soda. This mixture will reduce the pH level of your mouth and remove much of the acid. Wait a little while after rinsing before you brush your teeth.

Dental Checkups Are Safe During Pregnancy

Another way you can ensure your dental health is to visit your dentist regularly during your pregnancy. As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she will clean your teeth and perform a routine checkup, and all of these basic procedures are safe.

During this visit, your dentist will also create a dental plan that you should stick to for the remainder of your pregnancy. This plan will likely include additional cleanings and checkups each trimester to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy and that you aren’t at risk for developing gum disease or other dental issues. Your dentist may also provide you with tips you can use in between appointments.

If part of your treatment plan includes taking X-rays of your mouth, don’t worry. The American Dental Association (ADA) considers X-rays safe during pregnancy. Other procedures, like root canal treatment, are also safe, but you’ll want to wait until at least your second trimester to have them done.

Any time your dentist recommends a procedure, ask him or her the best time to schedule the treatment based on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Cravings Can Impact Your Teeth

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of being pregnant is realizing how many different cravings you have. Some women may crave sweet treats like candy and ice cream while others crave acidic foods like pickles, oranges, or grapefruits.

Make sure the foods you crave won’t harm your teeth. For example, too much sugar can cause more bacteria to grow in your mouth, and the bacteria can cause problems like gum disease. Similarly, acidic foods can strip away your tooth enamel if you eat too much over time.

Any food is good in moderation, but ask your dentist what tips you can use at home so you can eat the foods you crave without harming your teeth and gums.

 

Pregnancy will come with a lot of surprises and unknowns, but one thing is certain: you can still keep your mouth healthy during your pregnancy. Use the information above to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and don’t hesitate to contact the dentists at Valley Oak Dental if you have any questions.

Is Flossing Really Necessary?

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

Every dentist appointment is the same: you cringe when your dentist asks you whether you floss. You promise your dentist you’ll start flossing, but then you promptly forget.

If you question the importance of flossing, you’re not alone. Some people claim flossing is unnecessary because there’s little scientific proof that flossing prevents tooth decay.

But despite the arguing voices, there are plenty of common sense reasons to floss. Flossing the correct way can improve your dental health in many ways.

1. Flossing Cleans Every Part of the Tooth

You brush your teeth because you want to remove food particles and plaque. But brushing only cleans about 60% of your tooth’s surface. What about all the particles that hide between and under the gum line? Flossing removes those small bits and protects your teeth from developing decay in hard-to-reach places.

Without flossing, the particles hidden between and around your teeth create a breeding ground for bacteria. As bacteria grows, plaque begins to form. Plaque is a strong indicator of unhealthy teeth and gums. Flossing reduces this undesired plaque buildup.

2. Flossing Prevents Gum Disease

When you brush and floss, you think first about protecting your teeth, but you might forget about your gums. As plaque between your teeth and under your gum line hardens, it forms tartar. This tartar causes your gums to turn red and swell. If it continues to spread, it could cause severe gum disease. And if gum disease is left unchecked, it could cause tooth loss.

In a review of 12 studies, researchers found that people who both brushed and flossed were less likely to have gum disease than people who brushed but did not floss.

3. Flossing May Prevent Other Diseases

Since flossing can prevent gum disease, it can help prevent other related diseases as well.

When mouth bacteria are allowed to grow and fester, they can contribute to the development of other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. In an analysis of several studies, researchers found that people with periodontal disease were more likely to have coronary heart disease. They concluded that periodontal disease could be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

How to Get the Most Benefits from Flossing

If you don’t see any of these benefits from flossing, you might not be flossing the correct way. Many people floss simply by moving a piece of floss in between their teeth. While this may remove large debris that’s easy to reach, it leaves many dangerous particles untouched.

To see the full benefits of flossing, you need to remove particles hidden between the contact points of the teeth and under the gum line. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Get a long string of floss. Wrap the ends around the middle fingers on each hand.
  2. Use your thumb and forefinger to grasp the floss.
  3. Curve the floss and glide it into the small gap between two teeth.
  4. Move the floss up and down to remove particles between the tooth and around its curved sides.
  5. Keeping the floss curved around your tooth in a C shape, remove food particles near the top of the tooth and under the gum line.
  6. Use a new section of floss to repeat the above steps on the adjoining tooth.
  7. Repeat the process between the next two teeth.

This flossing method will help you dislodge food particles that brushing alone will not.

If you find using floss difficult, there are other types of floss that can make the process easier. Yshaped flossers, pics, and brushes can more effectively reach in the hidden areas of your teeth.

Most dentists recommend that you floss at least once a day.

 

Some people argue that there is little proof flossing prevents tooth decay. However, there is proof that flossing cleans your teeth, prevents gum disease, and keeps other diseases at bay. Floss the correct way and keep your teeth healthy all year long.

Oil Pulling and Your Teeth: 3 Things You Should Know

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Tips

In recent years, oil pulling has peaked in popularity. Red-carpet celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley swear by the technique, asserting that oil pulling naturally whitens teeth and freshens breath. And naturally, thousands upon thousands of fans have followed suit, claiming to have almost miraculous results.

But is oil pulling as beneficial to your teeth as it seems?

Here are a few of the most important things you should know about oil pulling and its effects.

1. It’s in a Scientific Gray Area

Oil pulling isn’t a newly discovered trend in pseudo-science. In fact, the technique has long been a traditional Ayurveda treatment for reducing dry mouth and inflammation.

Researchers have had plenty of time to conduct a few studies on oil pulling’s effectiveness. In one study, experts found that oil pulling reduced S. Mutans (bacteria known to cause cavities and tooth decay) levels in two weeks. Researchers concluded that oil pulling could maintain and even improve oral health.

But the American Dental Association isn’t too impressed with the research just yet. The conducted studies often had a cultural bias, a small sample size, and a lack of negative controls. Additional clinical evidence is needed to fully determine the oral effects oil pulling has and whether it compares to other oral hygiene practices.

While anecdotal evidence shows promise, you might want to keep your toothbrush and floss handy until more information becomes available.

2. It Can’t Treat Gum Disease

According to a study published in the Nigeria Medical Journal, oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis. Adolescents who practiced oil pulling for 30 days exhibited a statistically significant decrease in gingival indices.

However, researchers have not proven whether oil pulling removes enough bacteria to decrease the risk of cavities, nor have they compared the effectiveness to the brushing and flossing. While oil pulling could work well for those with relatively healthy teeth and gums, the technique doesn’t present a reliable cure for gingivitis and gum disease.

In severe infections, the gums inflame, swell, and pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that even more bacteria can hide. As gingivitis progresses, these pockets increase from a healthy two or three millimeter depth to a four or five millimeter depth (or more).

As the oils slide along the gum’s surface, they likely won’t fight or remove plaque lodged deep within the gums. Only a professional scaling (scraping) and root planning can clean tartar from below the gum line, so don’t skip out on your dentist appointment just yet.

3. It May Lead to Side Effects

Many people assert that oil pulling causes no side effects and that the technique is completely safe for anyone to try. But as with many other aspects of oil pulling, the side effects need additional study and analyzation.

Some practitioners warn against using improper oil pulling techniques. If performed incorrectly, oil pulling could result in muscular stiffness and exhaustion, excessive thirst, and dry mouth. Others have noted diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

In a few rare cases, individuals who inhaled the oils while oil pulling developed lipoid pneumonia. Symptoms of the condition varied from asymptomatic to life-threatening, but lipoid pneumonia often results in a chronic cough, chest pain, and intermittent fever.

Talk to Your Dentist Before You Try Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has the potential to improve oral health when combined with other solid habits. Rinsing your mouth regularly could stimulate saliva production, which in turn fights bacteria and lifts stains.

But oil pulling isn’t for everyone, even if it does seem to give your favorite celebrities a winning smile or your best friend fresh breath. If you try to use the technique as a cure-all or a substitute for scientifically proven practices, you may find yourself with more cavities than you anticipated.

If you are curious about trying oil pulling, talk to your dentist about the risks and whether it would benefit your teeth and gums.

The Tooth Hurts: 8 Causes of Dental Pain

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Tips

It’s been a long day, and you’re just sitting down with a bowl of your favorite ice cream. As you put on your current television obsession, you scoop a bit of ice cream into your mouth.

And then it hits: an overwhelming, stinging pain in several of your teeth.

Tooth pain isn’t fun for anyone. It can be distracting and frustrating, and it can quickly turn a great day into a sour one. But what causes tooth pain? There are actually a lot of dental conditions that can cause tooth pain, and each seems to have its own brand of intense and biting pain. Below, we’ll discuss eight causes of tooth pain and what type of pain you might experience with each condition.

1. Thinning Enamel or Receding Gums

If you’re experiencing some sharp sensitivity to cold and hot foods and beverages, you may have an issue with your enamel or gums. Avoid the hot coffee for a while and schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she can help you find the right solutions to strengthen your enamel and restore your gums.

Until you make it to your appointment, stick to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, try not to brush too hard, as doing so can have a negative impact on your gums.

2. Decay

Decay is the top cause of tooth pain, and it can lead to other painful dental issues. If one of your teeth is a bit sensitive to hot and cold foods, a small portion of your tooth is starting to decay. But if you’re experiencing a severe, sudden pain when you bite down, the decay may have overtaken your tooth.

Go see your dentist if you suspect decay is the problem. They can evaluate your tooth and determine the best course of action.

3. Cavities

Sometimes, decay can result in a cavity. Most cavities may go unnoticed until you see the dentist, but if the cavity grows enough, you may be left in a painful situation. Cold and hot foods will bring out that sharp sensitivity in the affected tooth, or biting and chewing will result in a bolt of intense pain.

Luckily, most cavities are quick fixes. Visit your dentist to get a filling and return to your pain-free life.

4. A Loose or Damaged Filling

While fillings are handy and wonderful appliances, they can sometimes turn against you. A damaged or loose filling can provoke a sharp pain whenever you bite down. Chewing gum will be painful, and enjoying a steak will be impossible. Take a trip to your dentist and have him or her take a look at your fillings. If your fillings look a little worse for wear, your dentist can replace or repair them.

5. Damaged Pulp in the Tooth

When a mouthful of cold lemonade turns into an extended bout of pain, you may have damaged pulp in one of your teeth. Pulp can be damaged by extensive decay or some kind of trauma to the tooth, and inflamed or dying pulp can cause lingering, painful sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Schedule an appointment with your dentist before the problem gets worse. You may need a root canal to prevent worse issues, but you can enjoy that cold lemonade again.

6. Temporary Pulp Inflammation

After certain dental treatments, you may experience temporary sensitivity to cold and hot foods. But don’t fret; the sensitivity should go away after a few days or so. However, if the temperature sensitivity persists after a couple weeks, check in with your dentist to ensure nothing’s wrong.

7. Abscessed Tooth or Infection

If you let tooth decay sit too long or your tooth took a beating in the annual family football game, an infection or a tooth abscess can develop. With an abscessed tooth or an infection, you may experience a constant, throbbing pain in your tooth. If you suspect this is the problem, see your dentist immediately before the situation gets out of hand.

8. A Cracked Tooth or Other Trauma

Teeth are fairly resilient most of the time, but breaking a tooth isn’t as difficult as you think. A tooth may unexpectedly crack while chewing on a handful of nuts, or you may break a tooth during a rousing game of street hockey.

When you have a crack in your tooth, it can lead to quite a bit of pain. Chewing can be extremely uncomfortable. Sharp, shooting pain can surge through your broken tooth, and your damaged tooth may also have severe sensitivity to that hot soup or chilled soda. Be sure to visit your dentist right away to repair your tooth.

No matter what kind of dental pain you’re experiencing, call a qualified, reliable dentist, such as Valley Oak Dental Group. We can take a look at your teeth and determine what’s causing your pain before offering the best solution for the situation. Don’t let tooth pain take over your life; schedule an appointment and get back to pain-free living.

What is Fluoride, and Why Does It Matter?

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Tips

You’ve likely heard about fluoride your whole life, especially in a dental context. You’ve heard about fluoride treatments, fluoride toothpaste, and fluoridated water. Dentists seem to recommend it. However, you may not know what exactly fluoride is or why it’s so important to your teeth.

On the other hand, you may have heard that fluoride is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Many people are opposed to water fluoridation and deny that fluoride has any benefits. While it is true that fluoride can have adverse health effects, when used at recommended levels, it can protect your teeth and strengthen your bones.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is an ion of the chemical fluorine and most often occurs as a salt. Many people are exposed to it naturally through the water they drink and the food they eat, but natural fluoride levels aren’t consistent around the world.

Fluoride matters to humans because it strengthens teeth and bones and prevents tooth decay. Because fluoride is a mineral, it bonds with your tooth enamel, hardening it and repairing damage.

No matter how well you brush and floss, your enamel will weaken or wear away over time and as a natural part of aging. Fluoride can reverse some of your enamel loss, which makes it harder for cavities to form.

A lack of fluoride leads to weak bones and increased cavities, so doctors recommend that adults get between three and four milligrams of fluoride a day. This small amount can easily be achieved by following your daily oral care routine.

Where Can I Find Fluoride?

Some foods and drinks, such as tea, contain fluoride. Tea leaves absorb excess fluoride in their environment, transferring the mineral to you when you enjoy a cup of your favorite hot beverage. A cup of black tea will give you about 10 percent of your fluoride requirement for the day.

Another great source of fluoride is seafood since ocean water contains high fluoride deposits. Other foods like fruits and vegetables that grew with fluoridated water also contain trace amounts of the mineral. However, most people get their daily recommended dose from drinking water and using fluoridated toothpaste.

Although fluoride is naturally present in water, the amount varies, which means that some areas receive more than the recommended dose, while others don’t receive enough fluoride. To counteract these variable levels, 25 countries, including the United States, recommend supplementing the national water supply with fluoride. Other countries provide fluoride to citizens by adding it to table salt.

You can also apply fluoride topically through toothpaste and dentist-administered fluoride treatments. These options have the most immediate effect on your teeth. Most commercial toothpaste contains trace amounts of fluoride, just enough to give your enamel a boost. But, you can get prescription toothpaste that contains more fluoride if you need to take in extra fluoride.

When you receive fluoride treatments, your dentist might use a gel or foam tray or a varnish. In each case, the treatments contain a much higher fluoride concentration than toothpaste or enhanced water, so you’ll only need one or two treatments a year.

Will Fluoride Harm Me?

Many people worry that consuming fluoride or using fluoridated toothpaste will lead to fluoride poisoning and permanent damage. It’s true that fluoride is toxic in high doses and can lead to bone deformities. However, according to the World Health Organization, fluoride only becomes dangerous when ingested at levels of 1.5 milligrams per liter.

In other words, fluoride can hurt your health if you ingest around 100 mg a day. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends community drinking water in the United States contain 0.7 milligrams per liter. These numbers are far below harmful levels and in line with the amount found to benefit teeth.

However, fluoride does pose more of a risk to children. Since the toxicity of fluoride depends on the weight of the individual, the smaller you are, the easier it is to ingest harmful levels. If you want your children to avoid ingesting too much fluoride, use only tiny amounts of fluoridated toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth until they turn three. Otherwise, drinking fluoridated water is fine, and even necessary, for developing strong teeth.

If you live in a neighborhood with fluoridated water and you regularly brush your teeth, you don’t need to worry about getting any additional supplementation (beyond annual dental treatments.) Contact your local water provider to see if your water contains fluoride. If it doesn’t, talk to your dentist about what your other options are.

Fluoride sometimes has a bad reputation, and you may be hesitant to expose yourself to this mineral. However, the WHO and the CDC both recognize the importance of fluoride to human health, particularly for those prone to tooth decay or brittle bones.

Talk to a dentist at Valley Oak Dental Group for more information about fluoride and whether you might be at risk for tooth decay.

Want to Improve Your Teeth? Break These 6 Bad Habits

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Tips

There always seems to be room for improvement when it comes to your dental and oral health. Many people want to improve how their smiles look, and those who have good oral and dental health want to maintain their pearly, straight smiles.

If you’ve tried cosmetic dentistry, orthodontic care, or other dental services to improve your smile but still suffer from crooked, chipped or otherwise damaged teeth, your bad habits may be the culprit.

Below, we list six bad habits that negatively impact your dental and oral health. Read on to learn which common habits damage teeth and what you can do to break your habits and better your smile.

1. Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

You know that you need to brush your teeth twice daily to maintain good oral health. But did you ever think that brushing could actually damage your teeth? If you brush your teeth too hard, you can cause the enamel to wear down, increase your teeth’s sensitivity to the cold, and irritate your gums.

Use gentle strokes and repetition to thoroughly clean your teeth when you brush them. Additionally, you should always use a soft-bristled toothbrush. The bristles on this kind of toothbrush are strong enough to remove plaque from your teeth, but are still soft enough that they won’t cause damage.

2. Clenching Your Teeth

Do you ever wake up in the mornings with a stiff, sore jaw or headaches? Chances are you have a condition called bruxism, or teeth grinding. Most people grind their teeth as a result of stress, anxiety, sleep apnea, or another condition.

Occasional teeth grinding or clenching won’t cause too much harm to your teeth. However, consistent grinding or clenching can wear down your teeth abnormally fast. To avoid damaging your teeth from teeth clenching or grinding, reduce your stress and anxiety levels. If another condition causes bruxism, treat that issue as soon as possible.

Sometimes, however, you may need to sleep with a night guard to protect your teeth from the effects of nighttime grinding and clenching.

3. Consuming Harmful Foods and Drinks

You don’t often think of all foods and drinks being harmful to your body. However, many foods can severely damage your teeth if you consume enough of them over a period of time. The following foods and drinks can cause damage to your smile:

  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Cough drops
  • Gummy bears
  • Lemons and other acidic fruits
  • Sports drinks
  • Starch foods, like potato chips
  • Wine

Though consuming these foods in moderation is alright, eating and drinking them in large quantities can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. If you do eat or drink these items on a regular basis, cut back.

When you drink that glass of wine with dinner or snack on potato chips, simply rinse your mouth out with water after you’ve finished. The water will wash away remaining food particles and sugars that will harm your teeth if they stay in your mouth for too long.

4. Playing Sports Without Protective Gear

If you enjoy playing contact sports, you know you must wear protective gear to keep your body safe during each game. You should also wear protective gear over your head or in your mouth (depending on the sport) to protect your mouth and teeth from harm.

Wear mouthguards while you play to protect your teeth, tongue, gums, and mouth from damage. You should also wear headgear in sports like football and hockey to prevent serious damage. If you get hit in the face or mouth by another player or by a piece of sporting equipment, your mouthguard and other protective gear will reduce your chances for losing a tooth or severely biting your tongue.

5. Sucking on Fingers

This bad habit applies specifically to children, but if left unaddressed, sucking on fingers can cause damage that affects a child into their teens and adulthood. Once a child’s permanent teeth emerge, he or she should not suck on his or her fingers-especially the thumb.

Sucking on a thumb or on fingers can cause the teeth to misalign. When a child’s teeth become misaligned, he or she could have develop other serious issues such as breathing and chewing problems. Talk to your child’s pediatrician for tips on breaking this bad habit.

6. Using Your Teeth as a Tool

At some point or another, everyone has used their teeth as a tool. You may have used your teeth to hold a writing instrument if your hands were occupied. Maybe you used your teeth to cut tape or open up a package.

This use of your teeth can cause you to accidentally chip, crack, or otherwise damage a tooth. Though it may seem easy to use your teeth for different tasks, don’t use them improperly. Don’t use your teeth as a tool.

How to Get Started

Use the tips in this blog to break any habits that could be harming your smile. Visit your dentist regularly as well to receive biannual checkups and exams. If you want additional tips on how to break these habits or how to further improve your smile, consult with your dental expert.

Halitosis and You: Overcoming Bad Breath

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

You’ve got an important interview coming up-one that you hope will lead to fantastic new opportunities. You carefully prepare, arrive a few minutes early, and anxiously wait for the door to open. Eventually, you find yourself across a desk from the interviewer. You shake hands, open your mouth to say hello, and immediately feel ashamed. The smell of your bad breath has just filled the room.

Bad breath, or halitosis, happens to most people, and it strikes at the most inconvenient times. You don’t want your stale breath to ruin that important interview, date, or special moment with friends or a loved one. But how do you keep your breath fresh, even if it’s been a few hours since you last brushed and flossed?

Understanding Halitosis

Bad breath is usually caused by bacteria in your mouth. Your saliva is filled with bacteria at all times, but if that bacteria builds up, it can give off a foul odor that hurts your reputation and your relationships.

It’s difficult to know if you have bad breath because your nose adjusts to your body’s odors extremely quickly. And to be frank, everyone has bad breath from time to time, like just after waking up or eating something garlicky. But you may have been told by a trusted love one that you have bad breath frequently, and if so, it’s time to take action.

If you’re concerned that you have frequent halitosis and that those in your life are too embarrassed to tell you, try this little test: smell your floss after you use it this evening. If your floss smells badly (or has blood on it), your breath almost certainly smells stale and sour.

Frequent Causes

So you have bad breath-now what? Understanding the causes of that smelly bacteria buildup can sometimes help you to freshen your breath. Here are some main causes of halitosis:

A dry mouth. Your saliva serves an important purpose: it rinses your mouth and washes away bacteria and food particles that cling to your teeth and gums. But if you have a dry mouth, your mouth doesn’t produce the saliva it needs to keep breath fresh. Breathing through your mouth, taking certain medications, or suffering from a salivary gland problem could be the cause.

Gum disease. Some bacteria in your mouth can build up to form a sticky yellow substance called plaque. This bacteria is a hotbed for disease, and it can damage your gums and decay your teeth. Many people can dislodge the plaque by brushing and flossing, but some people have an overabundance of plaque or already have advanced gum disease.

Smoking. Tobacco is filled with chemicals that cause severe health problems and a long list of unfortunate symptoms, one of which is bad breath. Smoking also causes loss of taste and smell, lung and throat cancer, and faster tooth decay. If you smoke frequently and have bad breath, you don’t have to look much further for a cause.

Food. Some foods are smellier than others, especially when mixed with the natural chemistry that occurs in your mouth, throat, and stomach. Foods with garlic or onion often cause bad breath, as does coffee. Additionally, all kinds of foods leave debris in your mouth, even after you’ve swallowed. These remnants often cause that stale breath smell.

Eliminating Bad Breath

There is an additional cause of halitosis that you should be aware of. In some cases, halitosis is a warning sign of a more severe medical condition; everything from acid reflux to diabetes, kidney disease, or a serious sinus condition. That’s why it’s so important that you see your dentist frequently.

If you suffer from the effects of bad breath, your dentist can identify the cause of halitosis and ensure that it isn’t the result of a more serious medical condition. If he or she suspects that something is wrong, you may need to speak with your physician to learn more.

In most cases, however, halitosis is simply the cause of smelly bacteria in your mouth, and it can almost always be treated through your own efforts. Your dentist will help you learn about how you can personally eliminate bad breath, but here are some ideas that often do the trick:

  • Brush and floss. You should be cleaning your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. If you still suffer from bad breath, you may want to brush and floss after eating as well.
  • Scrape your tongue. Your tongue collects all kinds of bacteria-in fact, if you stick your tongue out, you’ll probably see a coating on the back of your tongue that looks a bit white or brownish. Scrape away that coating with a tongue scraper or toothbrush, and your breath will immediately improve.
  • Clean your dentures or retainer each day.
  • Use a mouthwash to kill bacteria or dislodge food debris. (Remember, don’t ever replace brushing and flossing with a mouthwash rinse.) Drink lots of water, chew a sugar-free gum, or eat healthy snacks. Doing so stimulates your saliva flow and helps keep your breath fresh. Stop smoking and avoid smelly foods.

Your dentist will help you overcome bad breath. Don’t live with the embarrassment of stale, stinky breath-get help today!

Acid Reflux and Dental Health: What You Need to Know

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Dental Procedures & Services

Your teeth feel more sensitive than usual lately, especially when you eat or drink something cold. You suspect that you might have another cavity, but can’t understand how-after all, you brush and floss twice a day, and you even use mouthwash faithfully. Why are you getting so many cavities when you take such good care of your teeth?

What many people don’t realize is that tooth decay is caused by more than just built-up plaque or food-borne bacteria. One major culprit of severe tooth decay and other oral health issues is acid reflux disease.

If you never experience heartburn, you might assume you don’t have acid reflux disease. But even if you don’t experience chest pain after eating, you may have other acid reflux symptoms. Read more below to find out if you may need to speak with a doctor and dentist about acid reflux disease.

What Is Acid Reflux Disease?

Acid reflux disease is relatively common among Americans-in fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least 7 million Americans suffer from this disease. But what is acid reflux?

A little anatomy lesson is needed to understand acid reflux disease. When you swallow food, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which helps break down the food so that it can be absorbed into your body and give you the energy and nutrition you need.

Acid is hard on the stomach, of course, so the lining of your stomach simultaneously creates mucus, which protects your stomach. Your throat does not create this protective mucus, but it has another defense: a ring of tissue in your lower esophagus. This ring opens to let food into the stomach and closes before stomach acid can splash up into your soft throat.

When you have acid reflux, however, your esophagus doesn’t close quickly enough, and stomach acid damages your throat every time you eat.

What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux disease is no laughing matter, especially when you consider the symptoms. Acid on flesh doesn’t feel very good, and your throat may be experiencing that kind of pain every time you eat a meal.

Sometimes, that pain is revealed in the form of heartburn: that burning discomfort you feel in your chest after eating. Other symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Sour burping and regurgitation
  • Constant hiccups
  • Dysphagia, a reaction that feels like there is food stuck in your throat
  • A chronic sore throat or constant cough Bloody stools or vomiting

No one wants to live with symptoms like that, and you don’t have to. A gastroenterologist can treat your acid reflux disease.

But if you’re not experiencing any of these symptoms, why should you worry about acid reflux? Your dentist might have an opinion about that, and for good reason. Acid reflux doesn’t just damage your throat and your stomach-it also eats away at your smile.

What Are the Dental Implications?

The stomach acid that rushes back into your throat has a pH level of 2.0, which is extremely acidic and chemically corrosive. The enamel on your teeth-that extra layer that protects the sensitive nerves in your teeth-has a pH level of 5.5. In other words, when stacked against stomach acid, dental enamel doesn’t stand a chance.

Once the enamel on your teeth has eroded away, you can’t get it back. And because enamel is the only thing protecting your teeth from bacteria, tooth decay and painful oral issues are often the result of acid reflux. In fact, aside from heartburn, rapid tooth decay is usually how dentists and doctors figure out that a patient has acid reflux.

Symptoms like tooth decay and heartburn don’t have to occur simultaneously for you to be certain that you have acid reflux. You may only experience heartburn, but don’t be fooled. Your teeth are also taking a lot of abuse from that splashing stomach acid as well.

What Can You Do About Acid Reflux?

If you suspect that you may suffer from acid reflux disease but don’t have any symptoms beyond tooth pain, the very first thing to do is contact your dentist or doctor with your suspicions. You dentist can inspect your teeth and throat, refer you to a gastroenterologist, and help you develop a dental plan that protects your teeth from further decay.

In this case, brushing your teeth frequently more may be a detriment, rather than a benefit, to your dental health. This is because tooth-brushing can work acid deeper into your teeth and destroy your enamel faster. If you have acid reflux disease, your dentist might advise you to take the following steps:

  • Stop smoking immediately.
  • Avoid acidic, spicy, and fried foods and eliminate dairy from your diet.
  • Do not brush your teeth until about an hour after you’ve eaten. After you eat, rinse your mouth with water.

Your dentist will know how best to protect your teeth and repair any damage that your acid reflux may have caused. Don’t wait to seek treatment, and consult with your dentist and doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have this disease.

Children and Teeth: 5 Tips to Encourage Good Oral Health

Written by Valley Oak Dental on . Posted in Pediatric Dentistry

For you, brushing and flossing your teeth seems like an easy habit to maintain. After all, you’ve taken care of your teeth in this manner since you were a child. But you likely didn’t always adhere to these good oral habits when you were younger. If you have children of your own, they may not enjoy brushing or flossing their teeth either.

However, your children should develop good oral health habits as soon as they cut their first tooth-if not sooner. Even if one of your children doesn’t have a tooth, you should still teach him or her to care for his or her gums.

Sometimes children aren’t the most accommodating when it comes to caring for their teeth. But as their parent, you want your children to stay healthy-and you definitely want them to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Yet if your children put up a fight when they need to brush their teeth, you may find it difficult to meet this goal.

In the blog below, we provide a few tips that you can use to promote good oral health in your children-regardless of how much they like or dislike brushing and flossing. Read on to learn some additional steps you can take as a parent.

1. Choose the Right Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Even if your children don’t like to brush their teeth, you can still find ways to help them develop the habit. First, you should choose the right kind of toothbrush and toothpaste for your children to use. Make sure to purchase a kid-friendly, fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens and supports teeth, so you’ll want your children to use this kind of toothpaste as they brush.

You’ll also want to buy child-sized, soft-bristle toothbrushes for your children. Baby teeth require more delicate care, and the smaller brush and softer bristles make this form of care easier to achieve.

To further excite your children about brushing their teeth, let them pick out their own toothbrushes. Look for toothbrushes with their favorite TV characters or colors on them.

You can even let them pick a different flavor of toothpaste. Though plain mint toothpastes may be your preference, children don’t always like the taste of mint. Consider different flavors like strawberry, bubblegum, or watermelon.

2. Lead by Example

The easiest way to promote good oral health in your children is to show them why oral hygiene habits are important. As your children prepare for bed, brush your teeth with them. Children tend to adopt the same habits and mannerisms their parents have. So, if they see you brush and floss regularly, they’re more likely to follow in your footsteps.

3. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

According to dental experts, cavities are five times more common in children than asthma. Additionally, cavities are considered the number one disease that affects young children.

To promote good oral health and reduce your children’s risk for developing dental caries, limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks they consume each day. Use the following tips as you set limits:

Don’t give your children soda. These drinks contain high levels of sugar and phosphoric acid that can seriously damage your children’s teeth.

Swap out most drinks for water or milk. If you do give your children juice to drink, water it down if possible.

Avoid giving your children sugary treats close to bedtime. The sugars in these foods can stay in your children’s mouths as they sleep, giving bacteria a chance to grow and affect their teeth.

During the holidays, limit the amount of candy your children consume. For example, during Halloween and Christmas, you can create a candy bank and let children have one or two pieces each day.

Setting limits may seem difficult, but these rules can protect your children’s teeth from damage. If your children don’t understand why they can’t eat too much sugar, explain to them that too many sweets can hurt their teeth. You can also talk to your dentist and have him or her explain this concept to your children.

4. Provide Well-Balanced Meals

Additionally, your children should eat well-balanced meals and snacks to ensure good oral health. Limit the amount of starchy foods they consume. Bacteria can turn these starches to sugars, and then the bacteria consume those sugars and produce an acid which can damage teeth.

Instead, provide meals that include a range of fruits and vegetables. Also include meats, dairy, and good fats (like avocados or nuts).

A well-balanced diet contains vitamins and minerals your children need to stay healthy overall. And those same vitamins and minerals are crucial for good oral health. The more balanced your children’s diet, the better their oral health will be.

5. Visit Your Dentist

Finally, remember to visit your children’s dentist at least twice a year. He or she can examine your children’s teeth and catch any dental issues before they develop too far. Your dentist can even teach your children good brushing and flossing techniques to make these routines more fun.

If your children don’t brush or floss as often or well as you’d like, try some of the tips listed above to encourage good oral health. You can also ask your children’s dentist for further tips and advice to keep their teeth healthy and strong.