Common Myths and Misconceptions About Cavities

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

In 2012, researchers estimated that around 91 percent of adults between 20 and 64 suffered from some level of tooth decay on their teeth. Tooth decay is an epidemic that if left untreated can lead to cavities. While a lot of information about preventing and treating cavities is out there, this information might not be accurate unless it came from your dentist.

Here are a few of the most common myths and misconceptions associated with dental cavities.

4 Fast Facts About Root Canal Treatment

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

Everyone has heard the term root canal. However, many patients are confused about the what, why, and how of root canal therapy.

You may be advised to undergo root canal therapy, or you may have a family member who needs the treatment. Here are four quick facts about root canal treatment to help you understand a bit more about the procedure.

  1. Root Canal Treatment Fixes Issues Inside the Tooth

Teeth have more than what you see on the surface. An intricate endodontic system is tucked inside the hollow center of each tooth, and this area is also called the root canal.

The endodontic system is made up of a material commonly called pulp. Pulp provides a cushioned pathway for nutrients and sensation to reach the tooth.

6 Signs of Dental Discomfort in Nonverbal Children

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6 Signs of Dental Discomfort in Nonverbal Children - Valley Oak Dental

As an adult, you know the signs of common dental ailments and emergencies such as infections. Unfortunately, when your children experience the same symptoms, they may not only not understand what’s happening to their teeth but also may not be able to express their discomfort to you.

This issue with identifying dental problems is particularly common with children who are nonverbal, either due to their age or to another characteristic such as autism, delayed speech development, or a behavioral issue affecting speech.

Luckily, in most cases, parents can identify the need for their child to see a pediatric dentist by watching for nonverbal clues that their child is experiencing discomfort, such as the following six.

1. Avoidance of Hard or Chewy Foods

If you’ve ever had a serious dental problem, you know that oral discomfort can worsen when you attempt to eat foods that put a lot of pressure on the affected tooth. Hard or crunchy foods ranging from apples to nuts can exacerbate the issue, as can chewy or sticky foods like sweets.

If your child usually enjoys apple slices with lunch or gummy candies as a treat but suddenly shows disinterest or even vehement disgust with these items, he or she may have a toothache rather than a new food preference.

Will Mouthwash Really Keep Your Mouth Healthy?

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

You don’t want to get a cavity, so you brush and floss every day. But what about using mouthwash? You may wonder if it can help prevent tooth decay or bad breath, or you may wonder if it can take the place of brushing your teeth.

Many people are not sure if they should use mouthwash, but answers are available. This blog will cover what types of mouthwash you can buy, how effective they are, and how to use them.

Eating Disorders and Teeth: What You Need to Know

Written by Valley Oak Dental Group on . Posted in Uncategorized

Your diet has one of the most significant effects on your total oral health. Drinking too much soda can accelerate tooth decay, while drinking wine or coffee can lead to stains. Some dietary problems are particularly harmful; eating disorders affect the whole body, including teeth.

Since eating disorders can affect people of all ages, it’s important for you to know the risks and signs of eating disorders. If you’re a parent, you can catch the behavior and put your child in treatment before any serious damage is done. If you’re a roommate, spouse, or friend of someone who struggles with body image, you can likewise take action to get them help.

Here’s how eating disorders affect the teeth, what you can do to realize there is a problem, and why relying on your dentist as a health professional can help stop related tooth diseases before they progress too far.

Tooth Problems

The most common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Those with bulimia go through episodes of binging and purging, either through induced vomiting or laxatives. They might also “purge” through hours of excessive exercise. Anorexia is controlled starvation where the person gradually but decisively reduces their nutrient intake to almost nothing.

The effects of these disorders on the body are marked, but the teeth are affected in the following ways:

  • Increased decay, especially on the backside of the teeth. The increased decay comes from the acidic nature of stomach contents. Occasional vomiting during illness is normal, and the teeth can handle it. Daily or even weekly vomiting will take its toll. In severe cases, the enamel completely erodes and teeth begin to lose their height. 
  • Bleeding gums. Both bulimia and anorexia will lead to a lack of vital nutrients. The soft tissue of the gums is sensitive and will bleed more frequently due to poor vitamin and mineral balance. 
  • Dry mouth. Eating disorders enlarge salivary glands, leading to less saliva. Dry mouth increases the risk of dental caries.
  • Cracks and sores. Nutrient deficiencies of iron, vitamin D, calcium, and B-vitamins will make the mouth more prone to canker sores, bad breath, and decreases moisture. It’s not uncommon to see white-tinged gums or cracked lips from excessive dryness. Increase sensitivity caused by these wounds will make brushing and flossing painful. 

As you can see, dental trouble from eating disorders can lead to serious dental injury, like gum disease and advanced decay. Fortunately, this damage happens gradually, and your dentist should notice the damage to the teeth. 

Help From the Dentist

Dentists are often the first line of defense when it comes to catching disordered eating, so you should always use and recommend a dentist your trust. If you or your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important that you or your loved one are honest with your care providers when they ask about the tooth damage. 

Eating disorders have many stages for recovery. It might take months before harmful behavior begins to subside. Your dentist can provide solutions to protect the teeth from too much harm as you work through treatment. Your dentist will likely discuss:

  • Restorative solutions for damaged teeth. When you (or your loved one) are fully in recovery, if you need restorative or cosmetic treatment like crowns, implants, or whitening, your dentist can devise a timeline for when these treatments will be wise. 
  • Protective methods to save teeth from further damage during healing. Unfortunately, as with many behavioral disorders, eating disorder recovery does not happen with the flick of switch and some medication. Healing requires time and patience, and slip ups occur. Your dentist can provide a dental care plan to navigate the ups and downs of recovery. 
  • Continued examinations. It helps for recovering individuals to be accountable to a dentist. As such, it’s important to stick with cleanings and x-rays both during and after recovery. 

Your dentist can give you more in-depth information about the right care for your specific situation. 

Help at Home

Recovering individuals need plenty of home support. Be aware of the signs of eating disorders, and try to remain supportive of attempts to heal. For dental health care at home, you can remind yourself or a loved one to:

  • Rinse out your mouth after meals or after a relapse. Brushing directing after purging can be harmful to the teeth, but it’s still important to dull corrosive effects by rinsing. 
  • Take prescribed vitamins and minerals. These will help to prevent tissue damage in the mouth. 
  • Stay out of the bathroom after meals, and perhaps take a short walk out of the house during this time. This activity can help curb the desire to purge immediately after meals. 

You should also refrain from commenting on weight. Don’t use ultimatums or increase shame by saying things like, “You’re harming yourself and your family.” Instead, provide words of encouragement and empowerment.

Also, never reduce the severity of an eating disorder with statements like, “You can choose to feel better,” or “You can improve if you only put your mind to it.” These statements simplify the complexity of eating disorders, which normally have several triggers and underlying psychological causes.

For more information on how your dentist can help you or someone you know with the dental problems caused by an eating disorder, contact us at Valley Oak Dental Group Inc.

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?

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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.

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!